Today on Bishopston Mum is a local mum’s review of Parkway Parent & Child Project Playgroup, a pre-school situated in St Werburgh’s. Parkway Parent & Child Project Playgroup is for children aged 2.5 years to school age and is open Monday to Friday 9.15am – 2.15pm. This pre-school has an OFSTED rating of 2: “Good”.
But what better way to learn more about a pre-school than by a local parent with a child who goes there? I will leave it to this local mum to explain more…
1) What made you choose Parkway Parent & Child Project for your child?
I looked around some of the playgroups around the Gloucester Road area, but nothing quite grabbed me. A friend in St Werburgh’s has had all her children at Parkway, so I went to have a look, and something about the staff and the environment just felt really different – open.
2) How long did it take for your child to settle in to the pre-school?
She was amazing. I stayed with her for the first day (with her little sister too, who loved it), and then she had a couple of shorter days, finishing before lunch, and that was pretty much it. She struggled a bit with eating with the other children, and needed a bit of encouragement there, but she found a couple of friends early on and seems to have stuck with them since.
3) How did staff manage the settling in process?
They are very friendly and gentle with the kids, and have a lot of compassion for those who are struggling.
They make a big deal of the kids waving their parents off (you can see us exit on the security video), and provide endless cuddles for those who want them. Other kids just need something to get stuck into, and there are always engaging activities for the kids.
4) What do you like best about Parkway Parent & Child Project?
The staff, without a doubt, they really do seem to care about the kids and put their needs ahead of anything, including their own pay and work conditions!
5) What do you like least?
Personally, I would advocate a more minimalist approach to the toys on offer. I remember the first week was just chaos with all sorts of things being emptied on the floor in a seemingly uncontrolled fashion.
6) What kind of activities do Parkway offer?
They do loads of crafting, painting, sticking, etc, baking most weeks and lots of brightly coloured play dough. They have an outdoor courtyard area with trikes and sand pit and a climbing frame which keeps the kids active. They also have a room for soft play, so even on wet days the kids get loads of running around time.
On a Thursday they have a mini bus that goes to Leigh Woods for forest school, which is brilliant, and the kids are incredibly well-behaved and seem to love it.
There are endless toys like Lego, animals, cars, trains, dressing ups, dolls, kitchen play, etc, a book corner and more. My daughter likes to keep it a secret these days, so I don’t know a lot!
7) What does a typical day involve?
They usually have an adult led activity first thing. There is a circle time, snack time and outdoor/soft play. Lunch at 12, and the last hour is fairly relaxed with some of them outside, back in soft play or having a quiet time.
8) What do you think of the staff?
I love how different they all are, and how they all relate in completely different ways. They are really open adults, and so easy to talk to (admittedly, we don’t talk about my daughter much).
They are really strong personalities and in their own way manage all the different children really amazingly and with seemingly endless patience and enthusiasm. They must be exhausted when they get home. And they are very tolerant of parents running late etc, which frankly must be very trying!
9) Do you think your child has benefited from his time at Parkway Parent & Child Project?
I really do. She was just at the age by 3 when she needed to start interacting with peers, and also being guided by other adults who can reinforce the ideas she has been introduced to at home.
It has felt to me like a totally safe environment, where I don’t need to know what has been going on because whatever it is undoubtedly just fine (which is lucky really given how little I get told these days).
10) Anything else you would like to add?
I found the whole preschool choice totally baffling at first. The places I visited just kept saying that I just needed to choose somewhere that I felt was suitable, and I kept saying, well I don’t know! How am I supposed to know when I am not a trained early years’ educator?
But eventually I established that there appear to be (generally) three general categories of care, which I call nurseries (commercial places that are for birth to fives and often used by working parents), preschools, which are either attached to schools or Sure Start centres and playgroups, which are community led, often in (though not usually affiliated with) a church and sometimes require parent volunteers to keep up the numbers.
There are differences between and within these three categories, and after consideration it was possible for me to realise that I did not feel I needed my three-year old to be trained/prepared for school (which the preschool environment seems to be geared towards) and since I have no affiliation with a commercial nursery that left the playgroup style. I think I made the right deduction and choice!
* * * *
I hope you found this local mum’s review of Parkway Parent & Child Project Playgroup useful. If you would like to contact this pre-school, please fill in the online Contact Form on the Project’s website or phone 07847 480942.
If you would like information for other local pre-schools in and around Bishopston, please see the Pre-Schools page on Bishopston Mum.