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Hugh’s smooth nursery move

Photo: Hugh’s story: how he settled into a new nursery

Faced with the choice of moving their son to a new nursery or seeing his classroom support taken away, Stacey and Darren threw themselves into preparing Hugh (now 5) and everyone at the new nursery for the change.

As he walked onto the stage for his graduation from nursery, four-year-old Hugh was brimming with confidence. He collected his graduation certificate and sat down with his friends at the front of the hall. Just six months earlier, parents Stacey and Darren couldn’t imagine their son being so happy and relaxed to take part.

“I thought he would cling to me and refuse to get on the stage,” says Stacey. “But his confidence has grown massively and I’m sure what he’s been through has contributed to that.”

It’s been an unsettled time for Hugh. When he was two years old, and at his first nursery, he was diagnosed as moderately deaf and started wearing hearing aids. “We had a close bond with all the staff there, especially because they supported us with the diagnosis,” says Stacey.

Just months before he was due to finish there and start school, the local authority told the family it could no longer provide support for Hugh in his nursery. The family live close to the border of two local authorities and the nursery Hugh attended for two years was just the other side of the boundary of the local authority they live in. To continue getting support, including a Teacher of the Deaf (ToD), speech and language therapy and sensory support workers, Hugh would have to move to a nursery in his local authority area – even though he would only be there for six months.

“Being told he would have to leave his nursery was a real blow, it was so distressing,” says Stacey. “Hugh’s communication had come so far and we were worried that a big disruption would set him back.”

Stacey and Darren channelled their worries into how they could make the move to a new nursery easier for Hugh. There were transition days, led by the ToD, but the family knew there was a lot they could do too.

The whole family got involved. They visited the new nursery several times so Hugh could meet the staff and familiarise himself with the setting. They took photographs of the building and the staff and went through them with Hugh at home. His sister Charlotte (17), who wants to work in early years education, helped too as they all walked past the nursery together with Hugh in the lead up to him starting.

Despite the hard work the family put into making the transition smooth, Stacey recalls a difficult few weeks while Hugh got used to being somewhere new. “There were tears and Hugh was clingy and wouldn’t leave me. There were also some toileting issues while it was all so new,” she says.

Fortunately, Hugh wasn’t unsettled for long. Within a few weeks things started to improve and in six months he’d formed relationships with the staff and made new friends. “When he woke up in the morning, he’d look forward to going. I knew then that everything we’d put into the transition had paid off,” says Stacey. “I’m so glad we got involved and didn’t just leave it to the professionals. As well as helping Hugh, it set our minds at ease.”

Everyone at Hugh’s new nursery even got involved in the Deaf Awareness Week activities Stacey helped organise this year, including a ‘wear it loud’ fancy dress day and a bake sale. “The support was phenomenal,” says Stacey. “Hugh had only been there a few months but we felt so welcomed.

“In spite of the upheaval, he had a lovely six months there. It wasn’t easy and it was incredibly frustrating the move had to happen when it was just for a few months. We’ve faced constant challenges but the love and support we all have for Hugh has helped us through it. And the challenges have helped build his confidence and prepare him for the future.”

The nursery Hugh transitioned to was attached to the primary school he’d be moving up to months later – one of the family’s main reasons for choosing it. “The level of support he receives is set to drop when he starts school so that will be a huge challenge,” says Stacey. “But he actually left nursery feeling excited about the next step and starting school.” Good luck Hugh!