In the fifteen months that Little Chick has attended nursery, it’s incredible to see how much progress he has made. There are no longer any concerns in any areas; he is meeting or suitably working towards all his expected targets. It’s gratifying to see his progress quantified in this way, but it’s not especially important. Or rather, it is the subtle differences the things that are hard to register and record that are more valuable in my eyes. I’ll try to give some examples of what I mean.
When he first lived with us, Little Chick’s eating habits and table manners were poor. Partly, this was due to the inevitable regression caused by the emotional upheaval of leaving his safe person (his foster carer) and coming to us. Partly, this was due to his complicated relationship with food, which included eating lots, fast. Over time he has grown more comfortable with us and he has slowed down when eating, looking less like a competitive eater and more like a typical pre-schooler. He still needs to work on his cutlery skills (but he’s consistently competent). But his table manners are impeccable (well, they can be. He can also be a whirling dervish come mealtimes. There doesn’t seem to be any middle ground). And we can’t even try to take any credit for this because he occasionally, but firmly, corrects us. When checking if we can all start or asking if we have all finished so he can be excused, he is showing a greater understanding of other people’s needs. Which leads me to my second point.
He is much better at thinking of others. I realise that this is a natural progression with age, but the extent of his development has only been possible from the time spent with his peers. During drop offs and pickups, we have observed him consoling other children, usually with a gentle hug or reassuring peck on the cheek. With smaller boys he may affectionately ruffle their hair and this practice has extended to his younger cousin. He is generally well liked by his peers and, in part, I think this stems from his caring for others.
People are often surprised when I say that Little Chick is extremely shy. His perceived confidence is either a result of faking it, to mask the fear, or borne of feeling comfortable with particular people in certain situations. At nursery, we can always tell which staff members he trusts and likes and those he still hasn’t measured up or knows less well. His behaviour with his key worker is joyous and boisterous. With the nursery manager, whom he spends less time, he is more cautious and reserved. When he feels comfortable (an alternative word here could be safe) he radiates confidence. He likes to try new things. Even if he knows he might not be able to do something he knows it is OK. Because of this he is liked at nursery and gets on with everyone. He gives everything a go with a smile on his face: what more could we ask for?
I appreciate that these do come under broader headings in the EYFS Curriculum, but they are grouped with other skills and targets and can be seen as less important than areas such as numeracy and literacy.
Probably the one area where he is showing slight delay, and especially when compared to his peers, is self-care, particularly toileting. But when I see how much progress he has made in just the past two months I’m confident he will be fine. I suspect there will be some regression when he starts school, but he is already in a better position than I imagined six months ago. He can afford to take a step (or two) backwards without it derailing the whole process.
His time at nursery has been invaluable – for him and for us. We will all miss it over the summer months. But I think we are all ready for school now. Crikey, I hope we are!