There were smiles all round this week as Scotland’s first fully outdoor children’s nursery opened for the first time since lockdown began.
The Secret Garden Outdoor Nursery in Letham, Fife, welcomed back its first ‘pods of kids this week after being shut since March because of the lockdown restrictions.
The nursery is based in a 25-acre woodland in Fife and as it provides a service which is fully outdoors, was given the green-light to reopen when the first easing of restrictions was announced by the Scottish Government.
Sarah Latto, care manager at the nursery, described the precautions staff had put in place to ensure the safety of the children when they returned for the first time.
She said:”It was a challenge to begin with because we normally operate with one large group of 16 children and three staff but with the new guidance we have to have pods of eight children.
“Since we work in an outdoor environment, we like to have two adults with each group so we’ve decided to bring in additional staff.
“There are staggered times for parents to pick up and drop off their children, so the two pods don’t come into contact with each other throughout the week.”
Earlier this month, the nursery had consulted parents and the wider community to gauge opinion on a possible reopening.
Through this, they f0und that there was overwhelming support for plans to bring the kids back in.
Sarah explained: “The whole staff team have been itching to be back. We’ve been surveying and communicating with our families during the lockdown and they have been really great with giving us lots of input.
“About 90% of our families were very keen to get the nursery reopen and as soon as we were given the go-ahead, we decided to go for it.”
“Once we decided we were going to fully reopen, it probably took us about two weeks to get everything fully ready.
Getting back to normality after several months in lockdown can be a daunting prospect even for adults but the youngsters appeared to have taken the return to the nursery in their stride.
“There’s been a few that we’ve had to support, as you can imagine after being at home with parents all this time it could be a daunting experience for them to be back at nursery,” Sarah explained.
“But it’s been fairly straight forward so far and the children seem really happy to be back.
“As soon as they were up in the woods they were happy!”
About 90% of our families were very keen to get the nursery reopen and as soon as we were given the go-ahead we decided to go for it.”
Sarah Latto, care manager
Life at the nursery will not be able to return fully to normality, but for the time being staff are hopeful they will be able to provide the kids with the support they need before heading off to primary school and meeting new friends.
Sarah added: “I think it’s important that we opened when we did. There’s a lot of kids here that are leaving to go to school so we want to offer transition support and celebrate when its their last day.
“And there are a lot of others that are new as well so we wanted to have that time to make sure they were settled in before more new kids arrive in August.”