What's the difference between Preschool and Nursery?

When we asked our Deputy Head (Early Years), Kate Wilson, to give us a good reason to send your child to George Watson’s Preschool, the reply isn’t necessarily what you would expect. 

“Because they’ll have fun, and be well looked after,” she told our Why Watson’s Blog. 

One of our school’s longest-serving colleagues, Kate knows what she’s talking about, and there’s a great deal behind the sense of having fun, and being safe. 

Preschool is a place where we believe in magical adventures, where the journey is as exciting and important as the destination. 

We have smart uniforms, delicious hot, nutritious lunches, and an outdoor environment which is very special. 

But the decision to send your child to Preschool, rather than a nursery, should be rooted in much more than that. It’s the thought, the detail, and the culture which matters. At Watson's, it’s the real deal. 

“Preschool is about the here and now, how a child presents,” Kate says by way of explaining the way it works in maroon. 

“It’s not about preparing them for school. Yes, that comes as part of the experience, but it’s not the whole experience. 

“We’ve talked about the magic of Preschool, but it’s the children who bring it to life. They bring the magic because of their creativity and their imagination, ingenuity and their enthusiasm brings the resources we have to life.”

As you may know, Watson’s is a Gold Rights Respecting School. Kate Wilson actually sits on the national standards and accreditation committee at the Unicef-run project, one of two representatives from Scotland. 

One of the fundamentals for our children is that they have the right to be heard.

“If you stand back and listen it is amazing what the children will say,” Kate explains. 

“The craft of an early years practitioner is to be responsive to that, to take that learning a bit further; to challenge them and their thinking. 

“When you do that you are preparing them for the next stage in their journey, wherever they may go to Primary 1. You are helping them to develop and be confident; to try things and make mistakes - and not to worry!”

Having fun means taking risks and that’s possible because of the care and overarching ethos that exists in our Preschool. 

“Resilience is something you hear a lot,” Kate continues. 

“It’s a capacity that you have to learn. You are not born with it. The adults around them have to learn. We have the capacity to help them to develop that, but we also have the capacity to stump it, too.

“If you are not prepared to let children take a few risks then you stop them from building resilience. 

“In the world today we are so risk averse. Children need to be able to take risks so when things don’t go according to plan they are able to rationalise that. We try to do that right from Preschool.”

We create an environment where children don't fear failure, where they are prepared to take risks. This is something very important to Watson's

“We do make sure all the building blocks for feeling secure are met. If you are in a good place emotionally then you are in a good place for learning,” Kate adds. 

“If you are not in a good place, if you are not calm and comfortable and safe, if you are so busy with your antennae protecting yourself you won’t take anything of value in or move forward in your learning.” 

Children in our Preschool benefit from structure, incredibly well thought out opportunities to play, and a group of staff who are exceptionally responsive to the needs of their class. 

That culture, underpinned by living our four values, means that each child has the opportunity to be themself, but feel part of something. Relationships are key to that. 

“We put a great deal of focus on relationships; the children with each other, our staff, and also the relationships we have with parents, and external agencies beyond that,”  she explains.

That is how you create a safe space, where having fun and being well looked after, enables you to have the freedom to learn, explore, grow and be yourself. 

And that’s why Preschool really matters.