A couple weeks ago, my son started at Pied Piper Pre-School on Gloucester Road, Bishopston.
That morning, packing his first ever packed lunch, I felt slightly emotional (daft, I know). When it was time to go, he set off with his dad, his new shark rucksack on his back, looking unbelievably cute.
His first day went fine, no problems. Apparently, he went straight for the corner where the toy garage and cars are kept (no surprise there then). Since then, he seems to have settled into Pied Piper well.
He has actually been going to another pre-school in Bishopston, two mornings a week since September. However, until recently, the sessions have been only two-and-a-half hours long, without lunch, because this pre-school do not offer Lunch Club until a child is eligible for their 15 free hours funding.
My son’s third birthday is 31st January so he is not be eligible for lunch club until April.
But Pied Piper do offer Lunch Club for children before they are eligible for funding, if wished. So this would be my son’s first, proper session, with lunch, at pre-school.
My son should have actually started at Pied Piper in September and we were told he ‘definitely’ had a place. However, an unexpected waiting list backlog prevented him starting then as planned.
My daughter was 10 months old at the time and the thought of my son starting pre-school had been keeping me going somewhat. From five months, my daughter had been a VERY bad sleeper, waking continually every night. I was struggling with exhaustion and the demands of two small children.
But I was also disappointed for my son. I felt he was missing out on activities and playing with other children due to his baby sister’s routine dominating the day.
I immediately rang around other pre-schools nearby to try and get him in somewhere else but all had waiting lists. Luckily, my son’s current pre-school were able to find space for my son to start later that month. We decided to start him there two mornings a week. We also decided to keep his name down to start Fridays at Pied Piper in January.
It has actually worked out really well. My son’s current pre-school has a very calm, organised atmosphere which struck me immediately when I first visited to look round.
There seems to be an emphasis on organisation, routine and manners which I feel is good for my son. The main room is very large, light and airy, with lots of big windows. Indeed the whole building is ideal as a pre-school. It is also closer to us than Pied Piper (a five-minute journey from home if I walk fast!) and it is a lovely walk, too.
The only disadvantage for me is that up until now my son has only been allowed to start at 09.30 rather that 09.00 and finish at 12.00 instead of 12.45, without lunch. This does limit mornings for me somewhat, and makes time a little tight in terms of times of playgroups and classes I can do with my daughter as well as doing drop-offs and pick-ups at pre-school.
However, this has been the only downside for us. Most importantly, my son loves his pre-school, is excited to go there in the mornings and has had no problems whatsoever settling in. To me, this is proof indeed that it is a good pre-school.
But I was also impressed to hear how Pied Piper regularly arrange for interesting people to come and give talks to the children. Recently, they even had a former acrobat from a circus who came in to talk to show the kids what she used to do.
Pied Piper has a very warm, busy and interesting atmosphere. The building is actually a church and is in itself, interesting. The main room has a stage and there are little corners in the room which can only be reached by small flights of stairs which are used for different aspects of free play, such as the cars and garage corner.
A full session at pied Piper, 09.15 – 13.00, including lunch, is £11. I think having lunch at pre-school is also really good for my little boy. I think (hope!) it will improve his table manners. Attending two pre-schools doesn’t seem to be a problem or confuse him either.
My son doing a full morning with lunch at Pied Piper on Fridays, gives me a chance to spend time alone with my daughter. I take her to Little Fishes Toddler Group and it is so good to spend quality time with her and give her my full attention.
Our Friday routine is Little Fishes at 10.00, meet two good friends at 12.00 at Lashings for lunch and then pick up my son at 13.00. I like Fridays!
As my son only started at Pied Piper a few weeks ago, it is still early days and probably too soon to tell whether it will work out well or not. But for now, he seems happy and one of his little girl-friends from his babyhood days goes as well which is great.
Since my son started at Pied Piper, I have re-thought his packed lunch, however. On his first day, I packed sandwiches, some blueberries and some cake. When I opened his lunch blox later that day, I found the blueberries gone, the cake gone, but, yes, you guessed it, the sandwiches still there. No more cake in your packed lunch, little man!
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