The Nurture Room
On 6th November last year, following a whirlwind of preparations the previous few weeks, the Nurture Room at St Mary's Primary School was ready to welcome its first children.
The room is designed to be bright, cosy and not like a classroom. A bridge between school and home. It is intended to offer a space in which the children can feel safe enough to share their concerns or let out a range of emotions - from excited and happy to confused, hurt and angry - and relaxed and free enough to express themselves creatively without inhibition. One child said one day that being in the Nurture Room is "like letting out a big sigh".
The session starts with the children gathered on the sofa, cuddling the teddies that live there, for news sharing and then a story. In a group setting this can bring up a mix of shared experiences, both positive and negative, and offers an opportunity to discuss issues that they may be dealing with at home or in school. It is noticeable as the weeks have progressed that the children have felt more able to share their concerns and anxieties, and that the relationships that are building within the group have allowed them to offer each other support and comfort.
We then move to the art table. The structure of the sessions enable the children to work on a project that might take a few weeks to complete - encouraging them not to rush is really important - and results in a tangible object that they feel proud of. That they can take home, show to their family and cherish. One of the projects this term was a treasure box and the idea of having something that they had created, to put their most precious things in lit their imaginations.
We end the session with a snack of fruit and toast. The children enjoy sitting round the table together, talking and are learning to share well. We take a few moments to look at the work that they produced that day and talk about the positives or challenges that have been overcome.
As with any group of children, especially those who have a turmoil of emotions and circumstances to deal with, it is not all smooth-running. Getting to grips with the group dynamic is a steep learning curve and each week can bring different issues and behaviours! However, this space is there to contain that and nurture that and allowing them to know that is vital. A Year 5 girl walked into the room on the first day, stopped, and slowly looked around before saying: "Have you done this all for us?" God has done this all for them so that they can come and be in that room exactly as they are. Let us pray that He continues to open up these incredible opportunities within the school and wider community so that they can know His name and feel His love.