Nursery school children in Rastrick have been striking up unlikely new friendships with elderly residents at a specialist dementia care home across the road from where they work and play.
Children from Smarties Nursery on Field Lane have been befriending elderly residents at Rastrick Hall and Grange after visiting them once a week for the past twelve months to share activities including painting, crafts and conversation.
The nursery, which was rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted in January this year, organised the trips as part of its inter-generational learning programme.
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Claire Gibson, manager at Smarties Nursery, said: “The programme has been fantastic and it’s lovely to see the children’s excitement on the build-up to every visit.
“They often come to nursery and share their ideas about activities they would like to do and interesting stories they would like to tell the residents.
“We have noticed significant progress in the children’s personal, social and emotional development. They have grown to care for the residents and have formed some strong bonds."
Joanne Davy, home manager at Rastrick Hall and Grange, said: “Our residents really enjoy the interaction with the children and there are always lots of smiles and interesting conversations. It’s really touching to hear the residents say how happy they are that the children have come to visit.
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“We have observed our residents taking part in more activities and being more sociable, and the project has given some residents more of a sense of purpose as the children relate to them without any judgement and with ease.
“Many of the residents have said that they look forward to spending time with the children more than anything else.”
Smarties Nursery opened in 2015 and is a wholly owned subsidiary company of Rastrick High School.
Steve Evans, headteacher at Rastrick High School, said: “Staff at Smarties continue to work extremely hard to provide an exceptional and stimulating learning environment for our children focused on enabling them to establish highly effective relationships with other children, staff and the local community.
An Ofsted report in January this year stated that staff at Smarties “support children’s emotional wellbeing exceptionally well”, while children “thrive and build extremely secure emotional attachments to their key persons.” It also noted that staff “provide activities that are highly appealing” and “precisely meet the learning needs and preferences of individual children.”