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Nursery school moves with the times and now takes infants

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A lot has changed since Victoria Fisher Cunningham first set up her nursery school, Bright Beginnings. Her clientele has changed from mainly expatriates, to mainly Bermudian. The little nursery school in the church hall at St Mark's Church will begin taking on infants in September, and Mrs Cunningham even has a new perspective, that of a parent.

She has a new baby, a 10-week-old daughter.

The Smith's nursery school will be holding an open house on Saturday afternoon so parents can see all the changes for themselves.

“The expatriate exodus put a lot of pressure on us, as happened to a lot of nurseries,” said Mrs Cunningham. “We had to see what else we could do to cope with it. That is one of the reasons we opened an infant school for babies three months old and older. A lot of parents said to us, if you accepted babies we would bring both our children to you.”

They now have nine babies on the roster and have taken on three extra staff members.

“All of our staff is Bermudian,” she said. “I think the need is there for more infants, we just need to reconfigure our space.”

Sometime in the distant future, Bright Beginnings would like to find its own space.

“Where we are now is lovely,” said Mrs Cunningham. “We have a lovely outdoor play area that is shaded and secure. The children need to run and get their energy out.”

Mrs Cunningham started out as a teacher at the Bermuda High School for Girls as a primary one teacher. After seven years she decided to start her own business.

“I always was interested in early childhood education,” she said. “Once I got my Master's degree I was thinking I wanted to open my own business.”

With a young daughter of her own, she said parenthood has changed her outlook.

“I am more aware of how hard it is to leave your child with someone you do not really know,” she said.

“From the business angle, you know children have to socialise. I have the luxury of being able to bring my daughter to work with me. Most parents don't have that. For most parents it is hard to find a suitable space. It is not like the old days where grandparents were at home to care for babies. Now, very often, they are out working. There is not a lot of care options around for infants.”

She said parents have to ask more questions before leaving their child with a nursery school or caregiver.

“Sometimes parents don't know what questions to ask,” she said. “Some questions might be, what is the staff to child ratio; how experienced are your staff, and have you had any issues with the Health Department.”

Mrs Cunningham recommended a local website called weereview.com which provides reviews and commentary on local nursery schools and caregivers from parents.

“It is interesting to go through and read some of the comments,” Mrs Cunningham said. “I would suggest that if parents have their child in a nursery school, pop in once in a while without calling ahead, to see what goes on. Maybe sit out in the parking lot and listen to what goes on inside. Granted we all have days that are chaotic.”

The open house is this Saturday from 10am to 1pm. Parents who attend may be entitled to discounts.

Changes: Bright Beginnings nursery will be celebrating ten years with an open house tomorrow. The nursery is now accepting infants aged three months and older.
Changes: Bright Beginnings nursery will be celebrating ten years with an open house tomorrow. The nursery is now accepting infants aged three months and older.

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Published August 23, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated August 22, 2013 at 7:57 pm)

Nursery school moves with the times and now takes infants

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