Annabelle started mainstream nursery at 8 months of age, before we knew she had cerebral palsy.
As Annabelle’s disability became more apparent and she left the ‘baby’ room to move on to the ‘toddlers’ room it became more apparent that she would need extra support and equipment whilst in the nursery setting. She loved the ‘baby’ room as was able to sit with the staff, read books and cuddle for a large proportion of her days there but she needed to start playing and interacting with the other children to aid her cognitive and social development.
Annabelle takes a while to settle with new people so every room move led to us being anxious as to whether she would resettle and us questioning whether mainstream nursery was still right for her.
We have been very lucky and Annabelle has taken to most of the nursery staff. The sheer love most of the nursery staff provide Annabelle is indescribable. There has only been one member of staff who happened to also be her keyworker at the time that she was not able to create a bond with and that was primarily the time where we were really considering whether it was time to move her to a special needs nursery.
We persevered and are so glad we did because quite soon after she was allocated a new keyworker, one with more experience who improved nursery life massively within a few days.
Every change of room and keyworker from then on was always positive.
Annabelle move to the final room ‘pre-school’ slightly sooner than she was meant to as the previous room was very small meaning it was a struggle for Annabelle to access everything with her equipment.
We wanted her to have her walker with her and wanted her to have a standing frame there but there just wasn’t the room so collectively it was agreed she would make the move to ‘pre-school’ where she would be back with a previous keyworker so there would at least be some element of familiarity despite the change of room and the last increase of other children who would be around her.
We knew this was 100% the right thing to do for her as she needed to develop some independence within nursery. Soon after joining the room she created a new bond with a different member of staff and since then we haven’t looked back! She quickly became Annabelle’s keyworker and I cannot praise her enough. She cannot do enough to help Annabelle and the bond is magical.
Due to COVID we pulled Annabelle out of nursery for 15 weeks. We were nervous when the time came to send her back. After 15 weeks of only seeing her dad, her sister and myself would she still enjoy nursery?
Would she settle back in?
We didn’t need to worry; she was so happy to be back and overjoyed to be back with her keyworker. The break from nursery was only positive. She went back a different girl. She is more confident, her speech had improved, she is happy being left to do her own thing and looks forward going in to see her friends, whereas before she was just interested in seeing the nursery staff.
Seeing how the staff in ‘pre-school’ are with Annabelle and making sure she is included in everything, has made us realise that mainstream is a great place for her and we hope that we are lucky enough to find a school for her next year that has teachers that can provide the same care and compassion as we were lucky enough to find at her nursery!