About our preschool classes
At our Family Centre in Hampshire we provide preschool classes for deaf children from around two and a half years of age until they start primary school. For younger children we run baby classes and toddler classes.
The preschool nursery sessions run from 10am to 2.30pm each week day and children can attend up to four sessions a week - although most attend for one or two sessions as we encourage parents to also place their child in a mainstream nursery where appropriate.
Through these services we aim to engage and stimulate deaf children throughout their preschool years, helping nurture strong listening skills that will equip them in their journey to developing speech and language.
These services are provided by our skilled and experienced Education team of Teachers, Speech and Language Therapists, Classroom Assistants and Regular Volunteers.
"Our son flourished under the guidance of the wonderful staff ... As well as the loving home we give him, I attribute his confidence, self-esteem, sense of humour and lovely nature to the staff at The Elizabeth Foundation."
We have an "open door" policy in the nursery, where we encourage parents to participate and observe their child in the preschool setting.
This, along with regular written information and informal advice, enables parents to observe strategies and gain information about the language objectives we cover during the lessons in order that they reinforce this language at home. At the beginning of each language-learning topic we also provide vocabulary sheets, song sheets and ideas for activities to do at home are also provided.
We believe that one of the most important aspects of our preschool services is the support that parents give to each other. During their time attending our preschool nursery parents and children form relationships and friendships with each other which often last for many years.
The preschool class curriculum
Our teaching team plans the lesson content carefully, ensuring that our Preschool curriculum follows the objectives of the Department for Education's Early years foundation stage statutory framework (EYFS) that sets out the standards that school and childcare providers must meet for the learning, development and care of children from birth to 5 years of age.
Activities during the preschool day
In our preschool nursery, the children participate in specially-planned activities which aim to develop attention, listening and talking skills. We aim to provide opportunities for each child's social, emotional, intellectual, and physical growth based on their own individual needs and abilities.
The preschool classes encompass a wide range of activities that aim to engage and help stimulate the children's residual hearing to help nurture strong listening skills and to foster early communication skills that will equip them in their journey to developing speech and language.
A typical session includes the following elements:
- 'hello' circle time,
- a focused activity,
- snack time (incorporating listening, language learning and turn-taking opportunities),
- music and singing,
- lunch time,
- free play,
- story time,
- creative activities, and
- 'goodbye' circle time.
We also run regular fully-supervised trips in the local area when relevant to the language-learning topic we are studying in the classroom.
Specialist Speech and Language Therapy
We offer each child access to a service provided by our Specialist Speech and Language Therapists (SALTs). This service is currently funded by a grant from BBC Children in Need.
One of our Therapists will see children who require extra input for one-to-one or small group therapy sessions on a regular basis, and will give practical demonstrations so parents can provide further language-learning opportunities at home. Our Therapists work closely with parents and their colleagues on our Education team to monitor and develop the children's receptive and expressive language skills (what they can understand and what they can say), their social skills and their speech clarity.
With parental permission, our Therapists will also liaise with other professionals working with the child to ensure the best outcomes and to facilitate a smooth transition to primary school.
Assessing progress and setting targets
We regularly assess, with the parents, each child’s early listening skills and their nonverbal and verbal communication skills. These assessments form the basis of regular Individual Education Plans that target specific language and listening skills for development.
In addition, every baby has the opportunity of individual sessions to help support and consolidate the work done in the nursery environment and develop listening and related language skills.
We currently request a parental contribution of £12 per preschool session.
The Elizabeth Foundation is a registered charity and we rely on income from a range of sources to support as many deaf children and their families as possible, wherever they live.
In order to ensure that our Education service is sustainable in the long term, we ask for a sessional contribution fee for this service and rely on this to maintain the outstanding services that we provide.
However, we have done everything we can to keep these fees as low as possible and they do not cover the full cost of providing this specialist service for preschool deaf children which we subsidise using other sources of charitable income.
You can pay for the fees in a variety of ways, including using Early Years Funding or Childcare Vouchers / Tax-Free Childcare. If you are experiencing financial difficulty and feel that you will be unable to pay these fees please let us know.
Our education services are rated as 'Outstanding' by Ofsted: "This provision is outstanding. Staff promote children’s communication and language skills exceptionally well using highly effective strategies, giving children the confidence to join in ... Children play in exceptionally well-resourced play areas where they enjoy rich and varied learning experiences. The staff provide exciting and enjoyable activities that motivate and inspire children’s thinking."