SENDING BABIES TO SCHOOL
Recommendations for Pleasant Education By Our Educational Correspondent The main recommendations in the Hadow Report are now well-known but other conclusions have been reached and suggestions made which involve expenditure by Catholic managers if their schools are to remain complete units in the educational system of this country.
The Hadow Report recommends that "education of children from 2 or 3 to 7 should he continuous and unbroken and under the same headmistress."
Since in many schools the infants' department caters for the children from 5 to 7 years, extra facilities have to be provided for those of less than 5 years, and whose attendance is not compulsory. Thus is envisaged a nursery school or nursery section of an infants' school.
Under Section 21 of the Education Act (1921) local education authorities have power to make arrangements for supplying or aiding the supply of nursery schools for children over 2 and under 5 years of age whose attendance is necessary or desirable for their physical health and mental development.
The children that require first consideration are those whose physical condition and surroundings necessitate the continuous medical care and feeding which are characteristic of a nursery school. Obviously, the necessity arises in those areas where unemployment is widespread. It is clear also that this type of school is desirable in districts where housing conditions are poor.
At the end of 1935, there were only 78 recognised nursery schools, with accommodation for 6,000 children. Of thesh, 18 were in London, 8 in Bradford, 5 in West Ham. 4 in Manchester, 4 in Birmingham and 3 in Leeds. It is clear, therefore, that additional nursery schools are needed in many districts.
Nearly half the total of nursery schools are non-provided schools though the size of the provided school is twice that of the non-provided school where the average number in attendance at the former is just over 100.
Since the area from which the children are drawn must be small because they cannot walk long distances, the desirable and most economical way of providing this type of school is to establish nursery classes in all infant schools; and allowing the spirit and atmosphere of the nursery section to permeate the whole of the de,3artment.
The Ten-Year Plan
Parents may wonder what their children will do' when sent to these schools.
The Ten-Year plan recommends" the transformation of all infant schools into open-air nursery infant departments, suitable for children from the age of 2."
The building must be light and have rooms on the ground level opening on to the garden by means of French windows. The garden should contain a grass plot,
flower beds and sandpit and should have asphalted paths and an asphalt square for games. Classrooms should be spacious and face south, looking on the garden. Round three sides of the room there should be low cupboards with sliding doors large enough to take large toys and apparatus. There should be a small store room adjacent to the classroom in which may be stored the children's folding beds. Whilst to ensure real rest, dark easily-worked blinds should be fitted to the windows. There should also be a washing-room with hot and cold water, with a large, deep sink, and safety pegs for individual towels. Each classroom should have a cloakroom attached with low seats in order that the babies can learn to change their footwear.
The Horizontal Position Since only young children spend a great deal of time on the floor playing with the apparatus, the floor should be provided with a covering.
Now the whole of the nursery-infant department should be planned to provide a happy, colourful but harmonious environment, which will give to every child an atmosphere of well-being which will have far reaching effects, morally, mentally, physically and ;esthetically.
The furniture should consist of tables, chairs and beds, which must be light in weight, brightly-coloured and washable To these should be added coloured, washable mats for floor games and occupations The latter should consist chiefly of toys of various kinds. as little children work and are trained through their play. Toys for amusement: for sense-training: for physical devetoement, e.g., the see-saw. swing. slide, pushing and nulling toys: for social play—a shop, the Windy House and its equipment for communal play: individual toys—dolls. prams. bricks and trains: inventive toys—bricks, meccano sets, modollino• merliq Dicture books for observation and speech training.
The effect of good music on young children is far-reaching, hence there must be a piano — and every infant and nursery teacher should be a musician — a gramophone or radiogram available for musical appreciation, singing and dancing.
Doubtless the reader has come to the reasonable conclusion that life of a little one in the elementary school of the future will be that which at one time was only available for the child of the well-to-do. That the children do enjoy themselves, and yet are being educated will readily be seen ,17hooLthe visitor to one such up-to-date It is interesting to note that educationists from foreign countries and distant lands who visit London to study the education method of infant training in London nearly always pay a visit to the Catholic nursery-infant school in the parish of the Bishop of Pella. who is rightly deemed to be England's foremost Catholic educationist.