If you are a regular reader of Bishopston Mum, you will know that it often features local parents’ reviews of local pre-schools. Today’s review is a little different – it is written by me!
Magic Dragon Pre-school has been a big part of my family’s life for four years. My daughter went there until this Summer, and, before she started my son went there also.
Magic Dragon is at the Church of the Good Shepherd on Bishop Road, Bishopston and is held on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings in term-time. It takes children from 2.5 to 4 years of age and has an Ofsted rating of 2: Good.
Why Magic Dragon Pre-school?
Before my son started at Magic Dragon, he had actually been on the waiting list for another pre-school for some time and was due to start in the September when he was 2.5 years. My little girl is only 22 months younger than him and I was in dire need of a bit of let-up to my mornings and the thought of him starting pre-school had been keeping me going.
Less than two weeks before he was due to start at the first pre-school, I was told that there had been an unexpected backlog to the waiting list and that it wouldn’t be clear in time for him to start that September after all.
I quickly phoned around other local pre-schools and managed to get him a place at Magic Dragon. I am so glad that things happened that way. Magic Dragon has been a big part of our lives since then and we have been so happy with the care and early education that both our children have received there.
Also, one of my closest friends now is a mum whom I met through Magic Dragon so maybe things worked out that way for a reason!
To be honest, both of my kids settled in straight away. I think my son needed the extra stimulation of pre-school so he was off very happily playing on the first morning there.
By the time my daughter started when she was 2.5 she was so used to coming into Magic Dragon every morning with me to drop off her big brother and pick him up again later that it was a very smooth transition.
She knew all of the staff, was familiar with the layout of Magic Dragon and had been itching to get her hands on all the toys and activities for a long time!
The settling-in period at Magic Dragon is structured so as to help a child settle in as smoothly and happily as possible. When a new group of young children start in September, they have a few days there to settle in before the bigger, older children start back after the Summer.
When a child first starts Magic Dragon, they start half-an hour later than the other children so as to get them used to the morning gradually. All of the staff are always very aware of each child at any moment in time and deal with any tears or upset in a really kind, reassuring manner.
The building and facilities
Magic dragon Pre-school is held at the church of the Good Shepherd on Bishop Road, Bishopston. The main room is the church hall, which is a big, clean space and which is also very light owing to lots of large windows. There are also other rooms leading off from the church hall which the pre-school uses.
There is also an outdoor area at Magic Dragon which includes an enclosed garden.
Magic Dragon is set apart from Bishop Road which makes it a safe area for the children waiting outside with parents before it opens in the mornings.
What I liked best about Magic Dragon
The staff at Magic Dragon are wonderful: caring, kind, thoughtful and wise. They always put in a lot of effort into each child and see them as individuals and encourage them in their individuality.
For example, my son went through a period of being robot-mad. His key-person knew about his fascination and so brought in a few robot pictures she had seen in her newspaper at home. For a while he was also interested in the paintings at Bristol Museum so the Magic Dragon staff borrowed some library books about art to bring into Magic Dragon, plus some postcards with famous paintings on.
Parents are asked to help once a term if possible and I was always struck by the complete calmness and order of the mornings at Magic Dragon; staff are so well-organised and in control of everything. I actually used to come home at the end of those mornings positively inspired with ideas to apply in my own home!
A lot of thought is put into producing interesting, varied and fun activities for the children. There are lots of learning materials in Magic Dragon, dressing-up clothes and toys, lots of craft activities, singing, music, cooking, counting and trips to interesting places, such as the Golden Hill Community Garden and a recent mini-trip to feed some local chickens!
The staff also sort out any disputes between children calmly and wisely.
At the end of every year a party is always held at Magic Dragon for children and parents and they always go home with a bag full of goodies – each item obviously picked with great care and enjoyment!
A typical morning
First thing in the morning it is free play where kids can choose what they would like to play with or what activities they would like to enjoy. Then it is group time when the children go into their little groups (each group is made up of children of a very similar age). There they sing songs, talk about their weekend, play games, etc.
There are always crafts of some type every day and sometimes cooking activities too. If there is a particular festival or celebration coming up the children enjoy craft activities along this theme.
The children have outside play in Magic Dragon’s outdoor area every morning. There are interesting things to do in the garden, including a sand pit, water play area and lots of outdoor toys to lay with.
Later on in the morning there is more free play and also snack time. Snacks are varied and healthy and are often relevant to the particular theme or festival children have been learning about.
Later on there is lunch club; this is optional. Following lunch, there is a sit-down story read to the children.
Last words on Magic Dragon Pre-school
Writing about Magic Dragon has made me feel a little sad – my children and I will miss it! I consider my children to be very lucky to have gone to such a lovely pre-school and with such kind people who work there.
If you would like to find out more about Magic Dragon Pre-school, please visit http://magicdragonpreschool.org.uk/
If you would like to find out more about more local pre-schools, please visit https://bishopstonmum.com/pre-schoolsschools/pre-schools/