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Best possible start for a child

By Dr. Philippa Lazarus

The Torah Montessori nursery provides the best possible start for a child’s education and development. Jacob started at the nursery when he was twenty months old and Jasmine started just before she was two.

I have to give Steph particular credit for the thoughtfulness, care and warmth shown in settling in Jacob (and later Jasmine), which was fantastic, as well as the support given to me from everyone as an anxious mum putting my child in any form of childcare for the first time.

After very little time what struck me is that it felt like I was leaving Jacob with family and this feeling alleviated my anxiety completely.

My son Jacob developed in every way whilst at the Torah Montessori Nursery. He was not speaking when he started nursery although he could communicate impressively non-verbally. All the staff sensitively thought of ways to develop his confidence and speech which came on in leaps and bounds over the coming months. Not only did Jacob and Jasmine progress across all the areas of the early years curriculum but what mattered most to us was how happy they were, their growing confidence and how the nursery taught them to love learning which in my opinion is essential to instil early in all children.

The Montessori approach used by the nursery has been extremely important in providing a combination of order and structure within which children have the freedom to explore their interests. Additionally, the Montessori approach uses incredibly creative sensory materials for learning and emphasises valuing each child as an individual who learns at their own pace. Roberta, who is a Montessori teacher is inspirational in creating wonderful materials for the children and really getting to know each child and what will enable each child to learn best and maximise their abilities.

The nursery also adds a wonderful Jewish layer to the education and learning. Coming from a Reform background I had some initial concerns about whether there would be judgments made of us and how inclusive of difference the nursery would be. I need not have worried. Penina has been amazing in how she teaches the children not only about the Jewish festivals and religious practices but also about Jewish values and kind, helpful and caring ways to behave.

By the time the children leave the nursery they do have a strong Jewish identity and have also had a lot of fun along the way. We’ve noticed how this has generalised at home with the children commenting on behaviour in the family and who has done a mitzvah! They both have a very strong moral sense of right and wrong and justice and are not shy in letting us as parents know when we may have been in the wrong or unreasonable! Jacob may have taken this too far now when he comments if he sees a white van parked on double yellow lines or in a disabled bay as he has, on occasion, gone up the driver and told them it is “naughty parking”!

Their interest in the Jewish festivals, prayers and Jewish values has had a very positive effect on us as parents in that we have had to reflect on our Jewish practice and what messages we are giving our children and what we need to incorporate into our lives to support their Jewish learning. It has made Julian and I, as a couple, discuss what values and aspects of the religion we want to ensure we follow through at home. We know this is going to be essential in the coming years now both kids have left the nursery and are at school.

The Torah Nursery is the only remaining Jewish educational establishment in Brighton & Hove and for its survival I feel passionately that it needs the support of the whole community. It provides the best possible start for any child and I feel lucky that both my children have benefitted from this. Anyone unsure about whether this nursery is for them should keep an open mind and visit the nursery, which is what I did, and I believe any concerns will disappear rapidly.

It is indeed ‘Outstanding’!