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A NURSERY which specialises in musical and child-led learning has proven so popular with parents it is doubling in size and creating new jobs following a £380,000 investment.

Do Re Mi Day Nursery, in Durham, was set up by former Teesside High Prep School Director of Music, Dr Jane Todd, in 2013 to give young children the opportunity to thrive through their musical programmes.

The nursery’s range of music lessons, from birth to five year-olds, are designed to allow the children to progress musically as they reach school. Dr Todd said that their approach also had a positive impact on a child’s speech and language development.

Now, after becoming oversubscribed, the Ofsted ‘outstanding’ rated nursery has completed a £380,000 expansion, £20,000 of which was a capital grant from Durham County Council, and has plans to take on two more staff.

Said Dr Todd, who also lectures in musical education at Newcastle University:

“We were initially known for our musical approach but more and more parents tell us they choose us because we nurture their children. The expansion has allowed us to pursue our natural, child-led way of learning. Parents know this isn’t a place which is filled with plastic toys.”

In line with its child-led learning philosophy, the new expansion has allowed the nursery to start The Curiosity Approach Accreditation Scheme, based around play without toys.

The nursery has created a new woodland-themed play area which is filled with natural materials, such as tree stump stools, cardboard boxes and wooden trays with stones and pine cones.

“It’s all very natural and child led,” said Dr Todd. “There are recycled things, open ended and loose parts. It’s the opposite of pre-determined play and our staff are trained in this wonderful approach too.

“It’s very tranquil and it keeps the room fresh. It sparks their imagination and curiosity so instead of playing at a plastic kitchen, they might build their own using the materials at hand. I’ve seen kids literally blossom before my eyes using this approach.”

Dr Todd frequently travels abroad to bring back best practice ideas to her nursery and recently returned from kindergartens in Budapest. She is working with Professor Adam Ockelford, Professor of Music at the Roehampton Institute, on research into children’s emerging musicality in early years.

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