Pre-school education in the UK, like in many other European countries, is optional. But this is the first step in the long road of preparation for admission to universities in the UK. Parents decide for themselves whether to send their child to kindergarten or not. Usually, children in England go to pre-school institutions from the age of 3. And they go to the kindergarten until the age of 7 (sometimes up to 6 and even up to 5), when the parents see that their son or daughter is ready for school.
Types of pre-schools
In Britain, there are several types of institutions for young children. Kindergartens are the most widespread. Children’s centers are in second place in popularity. There is also a day nursery for 3 year old or even 2 year old. There are also so-called playgroups – play groups where children spend time with their parents.
Nurseries in England are both public and private. Public nursery schools, unlike private ones, are open for only half a day. Therefore, they are not popular with busy English parents.
They are divided into private and public. It is also possible for them to work at a school. There are very few state-owned nursery schools in the country. They differ in part-time work. Usually the child is sent there for half a day. Not all parents have the opportunity to take their children home so early. Meanwhile, private Nursery Schools are extremely popular.
Groups in private Nursery Schools are divided by age:
- groups for children from 3 months old;
- groups for children from 2 years old.
Great attention is paid to the child in the nursery, because there is one teacher for every 3 children. A distinctive feature of such institutions is the individual approach to the student.
Children in the UK go to “zero grade” at the age of 4. Classes at reseption are free and take half a day for a child – from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. The peculiarity of such classes lies in the special atmosphere of the classes. Here children are motivated to study, given new knowledge, told something new and exciting. A large volume of educational literature with pictures, fairy tales, various puzzles helps to learn numbers, syllables, color combinations.
Preschool education in the UK is expensive – an average of around £ 5,000 per year. For preschool children, the amount is even slightly higher. In London, a child’s stay in a kindergarten can even go up to £ 15,000 a year.
The high cost is due to the predominantly private ownership of pre-school educational institutions in the UK. The kindergarten management sets the cost of their services and meals at their discretion.
But the state does not stand aside. Starting from the age of three, it provides parents with material support – it pays for 15 hours of the child’s stay in the kindergarten. If the baby is in the garden for more than this time, the parents pay the difference. On average, the amount allocated by the state is around £ 120. If the family has twins, the amount, respectively, doubles. There is also another system of childcare vouchers in England, when the pay for the child’s attendance in kindergarten is paid monthly from the income tax from the wages.
Daily routine, nutrition and activities
A day in UK kindergarten is conventionally divided into two shifts. The first is before noon. The second is until 16pm. There is a lunch break between them. Each parent has the right to choose: to give the child in the morning or in the afternoon. It is also possible to take your son or daughter home for lunch. This option is suitable for those parents who have free time in the middle of the day and want to spend time with their child.
There are no large groups in kindergartens. They tend to be more individual. The average number of kindergarten groups is about 10 people. The older the children are, the less caregivers are needed to care for them. The usual activities in kindergarten are sculpting, drawing, reading, writing, excursions.
Kindergarten classes begin with a greeting. Later, the children are told what day it is, why it is significant. Then the group is divided into two parts, depending on the age and academic performance of the students. One group sculpts, children are shown objects and asked to name them, tell why they are used. Another group reads, writes letters. After these activities, the children have free time allotted for games. Children can play peacefully, communicate with each other.
After finishing playing, every kindergarten student in the UK must clean up after themselves. The cleaning is initiated by the educators. Although, their task is to develop in children the habit of doing it on their own. After everything is cleaned up, it’s time for lunch. In many gardens, meals are free.
After lunch, children begin to develop their creative skills – singing, composing sketches, collecting mosaics, painting, molding with clay. There are even classes on etiquette, dancing, rules of communication with parents. And finally, it’s time to walk. For this, a special area is set aside, fenced from all sides. There are sandboxes and slides for children to ride.
In all preschool institutions, educators have a duty to prepare a kind of report every day, in which they describe what the child did during the day: how he slept, how he ate, how he walked, what he played.
Parents must follow all kindergarten rules. The child should not be late for the garden. In some cases, you may be asked an explanatory note where you will need to indicate the reasons for being late. Be prepared to pay overtime if you are late to pick up your child. The penalty in such cases is about a pound per minute.
If the child is sick and does not go to the garden, a doctor’s certificate will be required upon his return. In Great Britain it is issued by a GP (General Practitioner). The fact that the child will miss kindergarten must be warned in advance. It is advisable to do this in writing to the management of the institution. However, parents must pay for the days when your child is absent from kindergarten.