The Learning in Loose Play items

In a world in which we are preparing our youngsters for jobs, it is imperative to fuel children’s curiosity and appetite for learning. This love of learning, along with the skills to communicate, problem-solve, and self-regulate, will lead to life-long success no matter the profession. Some might say that learning these skills will only happen behind a desk in a typical classroom, but educational research  tells us that children who spend time in well-designed, nature-filled outdoor classrooms develop skills across all learning domains.

This finding is based on over a decade of  research. It also adds to the growing body of evidence that substantiates that, for young children, play is learning, and intentionally designed outdoor spaces provide powerful contexts for children’s growth and development. What makes an outdoor classroom different than the traditional classroom? For one thing, the availability of nature’s loose parts.

This is why, at Claylands Nursery, we keep a large stock of loose items in the garden such as planks, logs, crates, steering wheels, cones and other loose items which enable the children to play in an imaginative and open ended way.


The importance of an uncluttered learning environment!

Shelves overflowed with piles of games, equipment and donated items, making the room look more like a car boot sale than a classroom. In fact, there seemed to be more storage space than floor space.…

A cluttered play environment can make children restless and unfocused. When toys do not lead to deep engagement, children are easily distracted and tend to flit between occupations. Having more stuff certainly does not make children happier and often stifles imagination. Educational consultant Sandra Duncan refers to this as “mental clatter” which has a “negative impact on children’s growth and development—and especially their behaviours.”

We like to think that Claylands embraces this philosophy.

Claylands nursery tour look around!

Outdoor Play at Claylands Nursery

Outdoor play is central to early development. Exploring, risk taking, fine and gross motor skills development, and indeed the majority of cognitive development, is best learned outdoors. Children need spaces large enough to run, jump, shout, hide, explore freely, have free access to sand, mud, water, freedom to explore – and Claylands Nursery is unique in providing such a large, safe, natural learning environment. Indeed, over the years, research has proved time and again that we are doing all the right things. We will never have artificial grass! Or over- structured learning environments which benefit adults rather than children.

Claylands Nursery Look Around!

Healthy Eating at Nursery

Here at Claylands we have an on-site cook who uses the Care Inspectorate Healthy Eating Document called “Setting the Table” (See Below)

Every Meal is nutritionally balanced for young children and follows their guidelines. It is cooked fresh on the premises every day and our meal times and snack times are social occasions where the children learn, not only the taste of good wholesome food, but also the value of sitting together and sharing conversation.

Finally because the food is prepared fresh on site each day the children serve themselves which is in itself a valuable skill and they can have seconds and even thirds because they love Isobels food so much.

Setting the Table Nutritional Guidance and Food Standards


Manager Qualifications

Nursery Management has become a discipline in its own right, and our Claylands Nursery Manager is qualified not just to degree level, she has also gained the Post Degree Diploma in childhood practice from Glasgow University. She is one of only a very few people in Scotland to have already qualified at this level. You may be interested to see the contents of the course below.

Childhood Practice MEd/PgDip

This programme is designed for current and aspiring leaders and managers in childhood practice who have, or are willing, to undertake a practitioner qualification. It provides a practice-based examination of the theoretical approaches important to leadership and management within childhood practice.

Why this programme

  • On successful completion of the programme you will meet the requirements of the Standard for Childhood Practice (Scottish Social Services Council, 2007).
  • On successful completion of the diploma you will be given the opportunity to progress to masters and undertake the dissertation element.
  • You will gain experience of relevant theoretical approaches which will develop an understanding of the leadership and management in childhood practice.
  • The programme will also develop research, writing and professional skills which will enable practitioners to register with Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) at a manager level.
  • You will review your own work experiences and use the findings to set your professional development targets within the programme.

Programme structure

You will take six core courses. Courses will be delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars, tutorials and group project work.

Core courses

  • Childhood practice: building a professional learning community
  • Contemporary perspectives on children and childhoods
  • Leading improvements in childhood practice
  • Practice placement A
  • Practice placement B
  • Practitioner enquiry and decision making.

The Benefits of Sending your Child to Nursery

The Benefits of Sending Your Child to Nursery

Sending your child to nursery is one of the biggest steps you will have to make as a parent. It can be a very sensitive time, but nursery can have a positive and long-term impact on children’s capabilities, progress and social development.

A child’s brain develops more in the first five years than at any other stage of their life. During this time they develop emotions, speech, taste, touch, behaviour and so many more important skills that will shape the rest of their lives, so allowing them to have rich experiences will help to maximise their growth and learning.

A recent study commissioned by the Department of Education (June 2015) looked at how pre-school influences children and young people’s attainment. The study found that children who had attended a nursery and pre-school setting had a better overall attainment than children who did not, and that an early start for children in a high quality setting showed especially beneficial.

Choosing to send your child to nursery can play a big part in their childhood; it is a focused environment for children to flourish and grow to the best they possibly can. Children are able to make new friends of a similar age, develop relationships and social skills that will shape their growth when going forward. These skills will help when children go on to start school, out-of-school activity classes, university, etc., to help build them as confident individuals.

Water Play

Making the most of water play

“Water is one of the basic raw materials for purposeful play. Just like sand, clay and blocks, children can use water without being constrained by the one right way to use it,” writes Sandra Crosser, Ph.D.

“Water is intriguing. It seems to draw children to explore its structure and properties. Because water is naturally fascinating, the thoughtful teacher can structure the environment and materials in the water centre to make the most of water play.”


Play in child development

“Play is fundamental to human creativity and well-being.…the structure of values, beliefs and attitudes that we develop in the early years creates the strong and permanent roots that will underpin our whole lives,”

“The core characteristics of childhood are curiosity, playfulness, wonder and joy.” At Claylands Nursery we strive to create an environment which encourages and nurtures these characteristics.