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Full text of "The Open - Air Nursery School"

37202 



THE 
OPEN-AIR NURSERY SCHOOL 



THE OPEN-AIR 
NURSERY SCHOOL 



BY 

E. STEVINSON 

SUPERINTENDENT OF THE RACHEL MCMILLAN 
OPEN-AIR NURSERY SCHOOL 

Author of "Handwork and Social History," 
" Pictures of Social Life " 




1923 

LONDON & TORONTO 
J. M. DENT & SONS LTD. 
NEW YORK: E. P. DUTTON & CO. 



All nghh reurved 



PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN 



IN MEMORIAL 



RACHEL MCMILLAN 

" The Works of the Just we m the Hand of God " 



INTRODUCTION 

THIS vivid book, like Mr. Alec Paterson's Across 
the Bridges, makes the reader see things which he 
ought to see, and know things which he ought to 
know. It gives the human side, which had to be 
portrayed too sparingly in Mr. Charles Booth's great 
work on the life and labour of the people of London. 
It is full of experience, insight and observation. 
For us, living to-day, it has a plain message of 
citizenship. For those who come after us it will 
have the value of history. How much we should 
learn from such a book, if Pestalozzi had had time 
to write it, about the orphans whom he fed and 
washed and taught at Stanz! 

Miss Stevinson records the names of many of 
the men and women who have helped forward the 
attempt to deal with the fundamental needs of the 
educational life of poor districts in this country. 
The nation owes them more thanks and honour than 
they are likely to get. But chief among those to 
whom this gratitude and reverence are due stand 
Rachel and Margaret McMillan. Their work has 
been seminal. Both, though happily one of the two 
is still actively at work, have given their lives for 
the future of England. As years go on, the signifi- 
cance of their work will become clear. They have 
pointed the way and have been to others what 

vii 



viii INTRODUCTION 

Matthew Arnold tells us his father was to him. 
Compassion, courage, persistency, generous thrift, 
and the thoughtful adjustment of means to ends are 
the qualities called for by the finest kinds of social 
reform. These the two sisters have practised. 

A generation which has learnt to see the greatness 
of William Blake will not fail to value what they have 
done for us and for the children in their care. 

MICHAEL E. SADLER. 

OXFORD, November 1923. 



CONTENTS 

PART I 

CHAP. PAGE 

INTRODUCTION vu 

I. THE CRY OF THE MOTHERS . i 

II. MORE ABOUT OUR MOTHERS . 8 

III. THE CHILDREN OF OUR SLUM AREAS . . 14 

IV. GEORGIE 21 

V. THE OPEN-AIR NURSERY SCHOOL ... 24 

VI. A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A TODDLER 30 

VII. THE THREE- AND FOUR- YEAR-OLDS ... 39 

VIII. THE SEVEN-YEAR-OLDS 47 

PART II 

IX. THE BEGINNING OF THE RACHEL MCMILLAN 

NURSERY SCHOOL 53 

X. THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE RACHEL MCMILLAN 

NURSERY SCHOOL 58 

XI. OTHER OPEN-AIR NURSERY SCHOOLS ... 62 

PART HI 

XII. THE NEED FOR THE NURSERY SCHOOL . . 66 

XIII. THE STAFFING AND DOMESTIC ARRANGEMENTS OF 

THE NURSERY SCHOOL .... 69 

XIV. THE FRANCE OF THE NURSERY SCHOOL . . 73 

PART IV 

XV, THE PAST AND THE FUTURE 75 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

Our FOR A FROUC Frontispiece 

THE OPEN- AIR SCHOOL facing page 25 

"A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM." The Mechanicals 51 



THE 
OPEN-AIR NURSERY SCHOOL 

PART I 

CHAPTER I 

THE CRY OF THE MOTHERS 

It is not only in the rose, 

It is not only in the bird, 

Not only where the rainbow glows, 

Nor m the song of woman heard; 

But in the darkest, meanest things, 

There always, always something sings. 

EMERSON 

IT is half-past eight on a Monday morning in mid- 
October. The door of the Rachel McMillan Nursery 
School has been open for the last hour, and many 
little folk are trotting round the garden paths, 
shouting merry greetings to one another. Bathing 
operations are in full swing and the Nurse Teachers 
are already very busy, for payments are taken and 
new children admitted on the first day of the week. 

To-day there are five vacant places. Three of our 
five-year-old children have gone on to the elementary 
schools in the district, and the parents of the remain- 
ing two have left the neighbourhood. Sixty or more 
names are on the waiting list, and five parents have 
been asked to call and bring their children to see us. 

Here comes Mrs, Baker. She is an old friend, a 
stout, jolly woman with curly red hair. Her cap is 
set well on the back of her head and she advances 



2 OPEN-AIR NURSERY SCHOOL 

with a rolling gait, arms akimbo. "WilTum/' her 
small son, clutches at her voluminous skirts as he 
trots beside her. She is followed by a little thin wisp 
of a woman with anxious, frightened eyes. 

'"Ere we are, Nurse!" calls Mrs. Baker. "'Ere's 
Mrs. Tyler with *er Edith May. She lives agin me so 
I brought 'er along. Show Nurse Edith May, old pal." 

Mrs. Taylor is carrying her baby carefully wrapped 
in a large shawl. She folds back one corner of the 
wrap and discloses the small pale face of a little girl, 
apparently about three years old. Glancing nervously 
at the Superintendent: 

"She can walk, Miss/' she says, hurriedly. "On'y 
give 'er the back of a chair to 'old on to and she 
can get along beautiful. She's a real strong child 
is our Edith May tho' she mayn't look it. It's all 
along of 'er 'avin' been tied to the table that's 
made 'er weak on 'er pins." The little mite inside 
the shawl sits up and protests, feebly crying. Her 
mother hushes her tenderly. "She don't cry often, 
Nurse. She's a real good child, but she ain't used 
to folks/' 

"Do you go out to work?" asks the Superin- 
tendent, as she takes down particulars of the child's 
age and address. 

"Why, yes, Miss. There's on'y me to work. 'Er 
father's dead. Mrs. Mason, me neighbour, she's 
minded Edith May till now. But ever since the 
kiddie got burned Mrs. Mason's nervous like, and 
so whenever she's busy she takes and ties 'er up to 
the table leg. 'Arf a crown a week I pay 'er to 
keep Edith May. But it seems as if the babby 
oughter be walkin' now, and, Miss, it'd be a god- 
send if I could get 'er in 'ere, so it would/' And 
the mother's anxious eyes follow the sturdy little 
figures of our toddlers as they trot to and fro 
along the garden paths. 



THE CRY OF THE MOTHERS 3 

" I'd like our Edith May to get a bit er colour in 
'er cheeks and to run like them," she says wistfully. 
" She don't know what a garden is, pore mite/' 

Feebly protesting, little Edith May is carried to 
the Toddlers' Shelter. The mother kisses her and 
hurries away, waving her hand in farewell; and at 
that moment Edith May doubtless longs for the 
familiar table leg. But she is soon consoled, and 
her anxious little mother, peeping round the corner 
ten minutes later, sees her happily hugging a Teddy 
bear and watching the nurse ladle hot porridge into 
rows of waiting basins. 

" 'Ere, Miss, is this the Creeche? " 

"No, this is the Nursery School. We don't take 
babies under two years old." 

"Well, my Gertie's three. I've had 'er nime down 
and a nurse called and told me to bring 'er to-day." 
The speaker is a tall, slatternly girl, untidily dressed 
in a tawdry green velvet blouse and black skirt. A 
much-betrimmed hat is pinned to her unkempt hair. 
Her restless roving black eyes and loose lips tell a 
story that is not difficult to read. 

"Is this Gertie?" 

"Yes, this is my Gert. Come 'ere, you brat." 
Roughly, but not unkindly, she pulls the child 
forward. 

"Do you go out to work? " 

" 'Ow can I, with 'er to mind? But I want to." 

"Does your husband work? " 

"I ain't got no husband." 

At this juncture Gertie peeps out from behind 
her mother's skirts. She is a bonny child, with 
bright blue eyes and curly hair. But all down 
one side of her face runs an irregular disfiguring 
scar, and when one speaks to her she bUnks 
rapidly and shrinks away. 



4 OPEN-AIR NURSERY SCHOOL 

" How did she get that scar? " 

The mother speaks sullenly. "It was this way. 
I was out doin' a bit of shopping and Gertie she 
took and fell on the fender and cut 'er bloomin' 
little 'ed. Silly little fool she were! Me neighbour 
were called in and she took Gert orf to the 'orspital 
and when I come 'ome she were all stitched up. It 
were a shime. She did 'oiler, didn't you, Gert? So 
I out with their stitches meself, strite away. I 
wouldn't 'ave it. Can you take 'er, Nurse?" 

Yes, we will find room for Gertie. 

" Nurse ! ' Ave you a place for our Sonny ? " 

"Oh! Mrs. Thomas! Good morning! Of course 
we'd like to have Sonny. Didn't you put his 
name down?" 

"Why, yes, Nurse, I believe I did. But you see 
I mide a little mistike. It's 'is bufday to-day, and 
I said as 'ow 'e wouldn't be two till next December. 
Silly, now weren't I ? Got mixed up with me other 
children. Must 'ave been because we 'ad such a 
mild winter that I mide the mistike, I guess. But I 
says to me 'usband before I come out, when I 'ad 
er chance of er bit er work: 'Bill/ I says, *w'en 
were our Sonny born? ' Bill 'e says, ' W'y, the same 
day we bought our donkey for the barrer, and sure- 
lee that was the 15th of October? Must a' been! 
Disy/ he says 'e was allers one for a joke 'Disy, 
you'll be forgettin' your own nime next. Do 'e 
look like a babby of one year ten months, I ask yer ? ' " 

"Well, Mrs. Thomas, you bring his birth certifi- 
cate along, will you? " 

"Oh, that there thing, Miss! Don't know what- 
ever I done with it." 

"You know, Mrs. Thomas, it isn't his turn yet. 
I guess you'll find the certificate before that 
comes round." 



THE CRY OF THE MOTHERS 5 

Poor Mrs. Thomas! She is such a kindly soul, 
and ever ready to help her neighbours. But we 
strongly suspect that she will not produce the 
certificate yet awhile possibly not for two months. 

And now there comes in at the gate a woman in 
a very pitiful condition. Her long black skirt trails 
on the ground, her boots bulge and gape, and her 
eyes wander restlessly. She has the appearance of 
a hunted creature. 

"Are you the one we arsks about the bibies? 
We've come about Be' trice. We goes out with 
a barrel-organ and we've bin takin' 'er with 
us, but the coppers made a row about it and 
we daresent do it no more. Can you 'ave 'er, 
Nurse ? " The woman pauses anxiously, then turns 
to a man who has come in behind her leading 
a child of about three years old: " Look, Jim; 
look at the little blighters. Wouldn't you like 
our Be' trice 'ere? She's orf to play with 'em. 
Ain't she a corf-drop? Bless 'er 'art! Do you keep 
the kids at night, Miss? We ain't got no 'ome, and 
when we take the little 'un in with us to the boardin' 
'ouse they are that insultin'. They can't abide kids. 
We'll pay anything, Miss, if only you'll take 'er in. 
Couldn't you manage just to find room for 'er? " 
Be'trice came dancing up, shouting and laughing. 
Who could resist her? As we walk together down 
to the Babies' Shelter the mother continues : " She 
ain't as clean as I could wish. I daresent take orf 
her clothes at night in case they'd be pinched. So 
I'll be real glad for 'er to 'ave a barf. But do be 
careful of 'er, as she's terrible subject to the corf 
and she ain't used to the water." 

So the anxious woman goes off happily, and on 
the way out she passes Mrs. O'Hara, one of our 
jolliest mothers. Mrs. O'Hara bears down upon us 
breezily, her baby in her arms, Johnnie running 



6 OPEN-AIR NURSERY SCHOOL 

behind hand in hand with a tiny white-faced boy 
of four years old. 

"Oh! Nurse, on Saturday I 'ad sech a time as 
never was with this 'ere little baggage/' shaking the 
baby lovingly. The baggage gurgles and fixes us 
with big solemn blue eyes. 

"The blessed creature swallered a safety-pin. 
I turned 'er upside down, and I patted and I shook 
the life near out of 'er to make 'er corf up that 
pin, but she wouldn't. So I never stopped to get no 
coat nor 'at. Orf I sets with the baby to the 'orspital 
and tells the nurse that me baby 'as swallered a 
safety-pin. The doctor got the thing to look at 
her inside " 

"X rays?" (inquiringly). 

"Yes, them rays, and 'e turned 'em on 'er. I 
waited all of a tremble. Doctor, 'e comes to me and 
says, 'Mother,' 'e says, "Ere's your baby and the 
safety-pin tight in 'er 'and all the time.' " 

"Ah! Miss, I could 'ave shook the biby, bless 'er, 
all to bits. Look at 'er now. She's winkin' ! " Sure 
enough, the baby, in her efforts to get one pink fist 
crammed into her mouth, was solemnly closing one 
eye at us. 

"But, Nurse, I'm forgettin' what I come for. 
'Ere's 'Erbert Green. He's consumptive, and Mrs. 
Green's my neighbour. She's 'ad ten and buried 
eight, she 'as. The baby lies a-bed with 'er now and 
'ere's 'Erbert left. She sees my Johnnie a-bustin* 
out of 'is clothes and too proud to sit down to his 
meals without a tablecloth, and that 'appy and all, 
and she's set 'er 'art on 'er 'aving 'er 'Erbert 'ere. 
The doctor at the school says *e oughter be in 
the open air. Can you tike 'im, Miss? " 

Poor little pale-faced Herbert looks about him 
wistfully. Big Johnnie, protecting, shows him the 
beauties of the garden. We decide that Herbert 



THE CRY OF THE MOTHERS ? 

shall come to-morrow and see our own doctor, and 
if she agrees that it is right for him to be with the 
other children we will take him. So off Johnnie 
runs to his own shelter and Mrs. O'Hara takes 
Herbert's hand. "Can't eat anything, Nurse, not 
even a bit of fish and chips," says she mournfully. 
"All skin and bone 'e is"; and as they go outside 
the gate it is borne in upon us within that unless 
we find a place for little Herbert quickly, he will 
not be here to take it when it is found. 

More mothers stream through the gate. More 
names ace entered in the book. 

Is there no need for Nursery Schools in our slum 
areas? Would that the unconvinced could then 
suggest some way to solve our mothers' problems! 



CHAPTER II 

MORE ABOUT OUR MOTHERS 

These things I, seizing you by the shoulders, will shake you 
fall you understand them! For a certainty you are not greater 
nor less than me. I neither look upon you with envy nor with 
pity, with deference nor with contempt. Endowments and 
accomplishments are of no account whatever, but honesty 
and to stand in time under the great law of Equality after 
which you will be satisfied and joy will take possession of you. 

CARPENTER. 

Two questions are put to us, as teachers in the 
Nursery School, more often than I can say. The 
first is : "Are you not taking away the responsibility 
of the mothers when you build Nursery Schools and 
tend their children for them?" The second: "Is 
not the home the proper and orthodox place in which 
to bring up the young children?" 

Our answer to the second question is short and to 
the point : " Go and visit ten or twelve typical slum 
homes and then continue to say, if you dare, that 
they are fit and proper places in which to bring up 
God's children." In answer to the first question, 
we would definitely state that it is not our inten- 
tion to take away the responsibility of the mother. 
Our aim is rather to awaken her to a sense of her 
own great responsibility. We try to educate the 
mother with the child, and when we take the child 
we accept also a certain amount of responsibility 
for the mother. 

Almost all our mothers love their children. The 
trouble is that some love them so unwisely. They 
can deny them nothing, and this loving unwisdom 
is the root-cause of most of our difficulties. 

8 



MORE ABOUT OUR MOTHERS 9 

Take the case of Mrs. Brown. She is a gentle, 
brave little woman who spends almost half her 
time in hospital fighting tuberculosis. She is very 
proud of her two children. What wonder? She 
has lost eight little ones within the last twelve years. 

Alexander, the elder of the two children, is a 
great favourite in the Nursery School. He has a 
violent temper, but when he is in one of his charming 
moods he wins all hearts. "When he is good he is 
very good indeed, but when he is bad he is horrid." 
He is not beautiful. He has rather a stunted figure 
with a bullet head and a raucous voice. To an out- 
sider he might even, appear unattractive, but one 
and all his teachers fall victims to his charms. He 
disciplines them well. They know that when they 
stand up to Alexander they are in for a bad time, 
for rumour hath it that once, when seriously 
annoyed, he wailed on end for two hours. But 
when he is really interested Alexander is a delight- 
ful person to teach, for he becomes utterly absorbed 
in what he is doing. His whole expression changes 
and he learns with lightning rapidity. 

Alexander has his mother well in hand he 
cuddles her and she is his slave. Watch her on 
the way to the Nursery one hot July morning. Her 
cough is troublesome and she carries wee, auburn- 
haired Kitty in her arms while Alexander, aged 
three, trudges at her side. The children have had 
no breakfast save a sip of mother's tea for porridge 
and milk will be served to them at school. They 
have to pass the sweetstuff shop at the corner, 
where trays of unwholesome sweets are laid out 
pink, yellow, brown and black sweets jujubes, 
"hundreds and thousands," sugar-sticks and sher- 
bert The flies are very active this morning swarming 
over the sticky trays, while here and there a wasp 
bumps drowsily against the dirty window-pane. 



io OPEN-AIR NURSERY SCHOOL 

Alexander is fascinated! He tugs at his mother's 
skirts and points at the highly -coloured dainties. 
She feebly resists. "You'll have nice porridge 
directly, my duck," she tells him. Alexander opens 
his mouth and wails; then he roars, and finally he 
stamps and screams. Is it any wonder that his 
mother sometimes gives in? She is utterly weary; 
she loves him and hates to see him cry. And so it 
often turns out that Alexander comes forth from the 
shop triumphant, to enjoy all that the flies have 
left of a bright pink sugar-stick. His mother knows 
that the poisonous colouring matter and cheap 
sugar are bad for him especially as he has had no 
breakfast as yet. Sores constantly break out on 
his face and ears, and he has no appetite for whole- 
some food. But he smiles upon her and trots happily 
by her side, and all is sunshine in their little world. 

What are we going to do about it ? Well, we take 
away the sweets if the children bring them into the 
Nursery School, and we know that from eight o'clock 
in the morning till half-past five at night no un- 
wholesome food is consumed. Then we talk to the 
mothers in the mornings, in the evenings, and at 
the club, and the school doctor talks to them when 
she examines the children. We find that the horrid 
little wisps of newspaper do not appear so frequently 
within the gates as the children get accustomed to 
plain food and the discipline of the Nursery School. 
If the mother declines to listen to us and the child 
suffers from sores in consequence, we have to ex- 
clude him and tell the mother to take him daily 
to the Clinic until he is cured. 

It is very difficult to make our mothers realise 
the dangers of infection. Little Lily Jacobs came 
to school one day with red and inflamed eyes. 
Obviously she was suffering from conjunctivitis. 
The teacher went home with Lily and asked the 



MORE ABOUT OUR MOTHERS n 

mother to take her regularly to the Clinic and 
have her eyes bathed then she would soon be 
well and able to come back to school. 

" Bless you, Miss/' cried Mrs. Jacobs, arms akimbo, 
"that ain't conjunctivitis! That's the draughts in 
the 'ouse. Every door and winder in the place 
rattles like mad fit to drive yer crazy. That's 
what's the matter with my Lily! Conjunctivitis? 
Not it, Miss! Why, look at our Georgie, he's got 
sore eyes. Look at me, ain't I got 'em? Look at 
our Bill! We're all the same, Miss, every one of us, 
and don't that prove it's the winders? " 

Alas! Mrs. Jacobs must be registered as one of 
our failures. We could not prevail. If Lily might 
not attend school to-day she should never come 
again. "The draughts done it." We must not 
doubt her word, and so we lost Lily. There are still 
Mrs. Jacobses amongst the ranks of our mothers 
but not so many as there were last year. 

Mrs. Roberts is a thin, delicate girl of eighteen 
an over-anxious mother. Her little two year old 
Ronnie has had delicate lungs from birth. Mrs. 
Roberts is a widow. She goes out to work daily, 
and Ronnie is the joy of her life. " Nurse, if I can't 
keep 'im out of the 'orspital I'll go mad," she says. 
"I must 'ave 'im to come 'ome to at nights." 

One bitterly cold January morning little Mrs. 
Roberts trailed into the Nursery, wan -eyed and 
sorrowful. Ronnie lay in her arms white and 
exhausted, breathing heavily. The Nurse gently 
took him from her. 

"'E seemed so ill last night, Nurse," she said, 
"sneezing and coughing, that I shut up the winders 
and doors and stopped all the cracks. I lighted a 
fire and put 'im in bed with all 'is clothes a-top of 
'im. It was so 'ot I could 'ardly bear. I 'ad to sit 
outside meself . But I thought, poor lamb, if I made 



12 OPEN-AIR NURSERY SCHOOL 

'im real 'ot at night 'e perhaps would not take such 
cold when 'e come out in the morning. Now 'e 
catches 'is breath like, and I'm frightened for *im." 

Little Ronnie did not die. Perhaps his mother's 
need of him was too great. She gave up her work 
and nursed him through a severe attack of pneu- 
monia, helped and advised by Nursery School 
teacher and district nurse. 

Grandmother Ruffle brought her two little grand- 
children to the Nursery one hot morning in August 
Victoria, aged two, and Maudie aged four. It was 
the hour for bathing, and operations were in full 
swing in the Toddlers' Shelter. Grandmother stood 
by the shelter, scratching her ear thoughtfully. At 
length she spoke. "Miss," quoth she, "these 'ere 
children are orphans they ain't got no father nor 
mother neither. You wouldn't go for to bath them, 
Miss, now would yer? It wouldn't be right/' 

"Oh, but, Mrs. Ruffle, 71 said the nurse in charge, 
"we always bath our babies. They love it. Look 
at them!" 

"Ah, Miss," was grandmother's sage reply. "We 
often like what's bad for us and does us 'arm. Our 
Victoria '11 catch 'er death of cold if you try it on 
with 'er. I don't 'old with newfangled ways 
meself." But she left the children in our care. 
We bathed them and they are still alive indeed, 
they flourish. 

Many of our mothers put too many clothes on 
their children. It is hard to make them realise how 
unhealthy it is to wrap up the little bodies in such 
warm and heavy clothing. 

One little boy came to us who suffered from a 
weak chest. We found that he was wrapped round 
and round in layers of newspaper soaked in cam- 
phorated oil. How long this padding had enveloped 
his poor little body I should not like to say. 



MORE ABOUT OUR MOTHERS 13 

Some of the children are dressed much more 
warmly on Monday than on Thursday. The shadow 
of the pawnshop looms darkly and heavily over the 
Nursery School. Boots are often requisitioned on 
Wednesday, and the poor little owners see them no 
more until after pay-day (Friday). 

Most of our mothers are Peter Pans. What chance 
have they to grow up? Before their school-days 
are over they are put in charge of the babies 
of the family. When they leave school they go 
out to work, and at an early age they marry and 
have children of their own. After that life is one 
ceaseless round of work and worry. There is no time 
to clean the house, no time to sew, and, above all, 
no time to think. There is only time to earn money 
and buy food to satisfy the little clamouring mouths. 

They wander into the gardens our mothers 
in the grey of winter mornings, pulling their shawls 
around their shoulders, coughing and talking to 
the children in shrill voices. Tenderly they bid the 
little ones farewell, and then back they trudge to 
the wash-tub or the factory. In the evening, when 
the day's work is done, we see them once more. 
Their arms are hungry for their wee ones and their 
faces are alight with love. 

They are very wonderful and very lovable. They 
can endure lif e has taught them that lesson. Their 
patience is almost terrible. But they find it very 
difficult to make any effort, for they are always 
tired. And so it is uphill work for them and for us. 



CHAPTER III 

THE CHILDREN OF OUR SLUM AREAS 

Here is Thy footstool, and here rest Thy feet where live the 
poorest, the lowliest and the lost. 

When I bow to Thee my obeisance cannot reach down to the 
depth where Thy feet rest amongst the poorest, the lowliest 
and the lost. RABINDRANATH TAGORE, 

THE children of our slum areas suffer terribly to-day 
from overcrowding and bad conditions. The open 
spaces and parks are usually too difficult of access 
for the wee ones the gutters and mean streets 
must be their playgrounds. The gutter is a thrilling 
spot, full of surprises and fraught with much in- 
terest, but it does not make a very safe or hygienic 
playground for a baby girl or boy. 

When it so happens that the mother of the family 
must go out to work she is faced with this question: 
What shall she do with those of her little ones 
under school age? She must lock her house door, 
or her property may be stolen. Shall the children 
be left inside or outside that closed door? A friendly 
neighbour will probably promise to keep an eye on 
little Maggie or Tom, but still the problem has 
to be faced. 

Suppose the little ones are locked inside, there 
is always the danger of an accident, especially in 
winter time with the fire alight. Last December 
one of the teachers from the Rachel McMillan 
Nursery School called at a house near by, to tell 
the mother we had now room to take her baby. 
The little one's name had been on the waiting-list 
for weeks. The door of the house stood open and, 



CHILDREN OF OUR SLUM AREAS 15 

unable to attract anyone's attention, the teacher 
stepped inside. She found herself in a spotlessly 
clean room almost bereft of furniture. But there 
on a little table in the centre was a coffin, and 
inside lay a little waxen form, the smiling baby 
face pillowed in flowers. 

* The mother came forward from the back of 
the room. 

" I left 'er 'ere, Nurse, last Toosday with our Rose 
Mary, just 'arf a mo 1 while I ran round to borrer a 
cupful of flour from Mrs. Brown. Our Rose Mary's 
five year old, so she oughter know 'ow to mind a 
biby by now. But when I come back with me flour 
in me 'and me sweet lamb was all of a blaze, and 
our Rose Mary was screaming 'er 'art out. There 
weren't no savin' 'er. And, Miss, I'd often pictured 
'er as I passed by the Baby Camp, a-playin' with 
them red engines, a-draggin' them round the 
path. It do seem 'ard." 

" How beautiful she looks, and what lovely 
flowers!" 

" I 'adn't any money, Nurse, to buy flowers for 
'er. So I charges a penny for folks to come and see 
the corpse, and that's 'ow I got me flowers; I've 
made a tidy bit. Them lilies cost a lot." 

Is it worse to run these terrible risks inside, 
or to brave the dangers of the gutter and the 
traffic without? 

Suppose we visit another home. Would that we 
could take with us some of the people who deem 
Nursery Schools an unnecessary luxury! But they 
will certainly not come with us, so we will go and 
see Mrs. Harding alone. Johnnie did not come to 
school yesterday; we will find out what is the 
matter with him. 

The door of the house where Mrs. Harding lives 
stands wide open. The passage, with its oak 



16 OPEN-AIR NURSERY SCHOOL 

panelling, is very dark, for this is one of the fine old 
Elizabethan houses still standing in Deptford. Up 
the winding dirty staircase, with its carved banisters, 
we tread to the top of the house. Groping carefully, 
we knock at a certain door. 
"Come in!" 

How shall we get across that room to the bed 
where Johnnie lies, with mother standing beside 
him? It is an enormous four-poster, and Johnnie 
sleeps there nightly with father, mother and Davy. 
Johnnie sleeps across the foot. Baby rests in the 
"pram" beside the bed, and Mary in a stretcher 
between the big bed and the door. There is " a nice 
bit of fire 11 in the grate. The coal is kept in a 
bulging cardboard box "close 'andy." Tea, sugar, 
bread and margarine are on the mantel-piece, 
together with the remains of a fried-fish supper. 
The window-pane has been broken, and the hole 
stuffed with all sorts of garments. The draught 
caused by the opening of the door causes the sleeve 
of father's shirt to fly out and flap threateningly 
at us. A large can of water and a bowl stand by 
the window. 

Advancing cautiously across the floor, we are 
smitten on the head with something cold and 
clammy. 

"'Old *ard, Nurse. I done a bit *er washin' 
to-day," cries our hostess. We look up. Strings 
are fastened across and across the walls lines of 
strings. The damp garments hang nearest the fire 
the family wardrobe hangs over the bed. 

" I'm keepin' Johnnie warm, Nurse. I was afraid 
yesterday *e was going to sicken for the scarlet. 
But I tied this 'ere bloater round 'is neck just to 
ease J im, like. 'E's much better now. Will you 
look at 'im, Miss, as you are 'ere? " 
Yes, we will, Mrs. Harding, if we can get to the 



CHILDREN OF OUR SLUM AREAS 17 

bed. Stepping over the coal-box, winding our way 
round the head of Mary's stretcher, catching our 
ankles on the wheels of baby's pram and nearly 
overturning the water-can we arrive at last by 
the bedside and examine Johnnie. We suggest 
the removal of the bloater, and after some argu- 
ment this is done. We make and suggest plans 
for the comfort of Johnnie. Mrs. Harding listens 
indulgently. "You'd think twice about washin* 
'im, Nurse, if you'd to fetch every mite o j water 
from the scullery, and if you'd to 'eat it up in a 
kettle what leaks/* 

Yes, Mrs. Harding, I guess we should! 

"And that there Mrs. Smith, what lives in the 
room where the tap is, she's that contrary, and 
'olds on to the tap so you'd think she was the 
Deptford Water Works itself! But there, miss, 
I'll wash 'im for yer." 

Of course our children come from many types 
of home. Mrs. Roberts owns a small shop in the 
neighbourhood. Her children are beautifully tended 
and her house is spotlessly clean. She sends her 
children to our Nursery School, and helps us enor- 
mously by her loyalty and by the good example 
she sets the other mothers. 

Mrs. Wilmot has three rooms right at the top 
of Frobisher's Buildings, up six flights of stairs. 
She has only two children, Melia and Bella. One 
day she came to the Nursery School dressed in 
highly respectable black. The black "bugles" in 
her bonnet nodded respectability, and respectability 
waved triumphant from the coloured handker- 
chiefs pinned cornerwise with safety-pins upon the 
narrow chests of Melia and Bella. 

Mrs. Wilmot regarded the Superintendent severely. 

" Yes, I was thinking about 'em coming to school, 
Miss/* she said, "though I don't 'old with schools. 



i8 OPEN-AIR NURSERY SCHOOL 

I don't want to send 'em, but I'm forced, because 
I'm going into 'orspital meself to-morrow. I'm 
not a lady as mixes up with me neighbours, and 
Bella and Melia they've kept theirselves to their- 
selves ever since they was born. I don't 'old with 
children playing in the streets, and its always been 
my dooty to keep my children respectable. Penny 
for life and penny for death I've insured 'em. 

" Of a morning, after I've washed 'em, I set Melia 
in one chair and Bella in another, and I've learnt 
'em to sit quite still and not get theirselves messed 
up. They are good children, Miss, though I says it. 
Never say a word, and where you put 'em, there 
they'll set.'* 

Two little puffy white faces, two little snubby 
noses, two little soft mouths hanging open, and 
two pairs of great grey wistful eyes. With silky 
hair beautifully kept, in neatly mended cotton 
frocks, Melia and Bella stood confessed one on each 
side of mother. 

"Adenoids!" The thought flashed across the 
mind of the Superintendent, but never a word she 
said, lest Bella and Melia be snatched from her in 
horror. She took the little girls by the hands 
such cold flabby hands! and they bid farewell 
to mother. 

Melia and Bella were nearly five, although they 
looked but three years old. Miss Pitts, to whose 
shelter they were taken, took charge of them. 
She found them little chairs, gave them picture 
books and toys, and tried to make them talk, but 
though Bella and Melia would nod and shake their 
heads, they would not speak. At dinner-time if fed 
they would eat, but when left alone they gazed 
vacantly round at the other children. 

"Aren't they pretty, Nursie!'* cried sturd) 
Tommy, admiringly, "but can't they talk? ** 



CHILDREN OF OUR SLUM AREAS 19 

Tommy dived down into the depths of a grubby 
pocket and produced a great treasure a cigar- 
ette card. " Here! " He put it into Melia's hand. 
It fell on the floor the little fingers did not 
close round it. Disgusted, Tommy ran off, more 
interesting fish to fry. 

" Where you put 'em, there they'll set." 

We were able to get a "medical" on Melia and 
Bella. The doctor reported that they were suffer- 
ing from general debility and unfit for the ele- 
mentary school. They are improving wonderfully. 
They shout and race and dance now with the 
merriest of children. 

The dirt with which we have to contend with in 
the slums is deplorable. The overworked mother is 
often far too tired to heat water to bathe her child 
at the end of a long day. Still less is she likely to 
wash the bedclothes often enough to keep the bed 
in a sanitary condition and free from vermin. 

Cleansing stations have been established in 
different parts of our great cities, and verminous 
children as a last resort are sent thither to be 
cleansed ! To be cleansed ? When ? And how often ? 
This cleansing is deeply resented by the very people 
the authorities are trying to help. It is considered 
a punishment and a disgrace. If Nursery Schools 
were to spring up throughout the country many, 
if not all, these cleansing stations could be closed. 

These methods of desperation would become un- 
necessary if we could claim for the children of the 
poor even a small portion of the nurture and 
education deemed necessary for the children of 
the well-to-do. 

Impetigo is in its origin the direct result of dirt. 
Many evils are the result of dirt. Running ears 
trouble us. They are sometimes the result of 
debility after an attack of scarlet fever or measles; 



20 OPEN-AIR NURSERY SCHOOL 

but they, like many other evils, often in their origin 
are due to dirt. Sore eyes axe very painful, and 
if neglected they become dangerous. They must 
also be numbered amongst our common afflictions. 

The doctor tells us that eighty per cent, of the 
children we admit suffer from rickets. Tuberculosis 
is a scourge. And it should be remembered that all 
these diseases are preventable; the sun heals many 
of our rickety children in three months. 



CHAPTER IV 

GEORGIE 

HE came strolling in at the gate one morning in 
September, a quaint little figure, his nether parts 
attired in very ragged trousers, his curly head 
enveloped in an enormous cap. He trotted along 
the garden path, clambered down the wooden 
staircase, walked in at the Junior Shelter, and sat 
down at one of the breakfast tables. Here he was 
discovered by Miss Hum. 

"What is your name, little man? '* she asked. 

He smiled a bewitching smile. 

" Georgie 'Olland," he told her. 

" Where do you live, Georgie? " 

" In there! M Georgie pointed with a grubby fore- 
finger to the interior of the shelter. 

"Where's your mummie?" she asked. 

Georgie smiled still more sweetly and pointed the 
same grubby forefinger straight at her. Her heart 
was won. 

Bewildered and much intrigued by Georgie, the 
teachers held a consultation. Together they ques- 
tioned the young man, but nothing further could 
they learn of his home or his parents. Inquiries 
were made of the mothers and of the men standing 
outside the gates. Georgie's home and parentage 
still remained a mystery. 

At last the Superintendent sought the aid of the 
jolly policeman at the corner. He had often helped 
her before in distressful times. 

"Why, yes, I'll take the little chap to the police 

21 



22 OPEN-AIR NURSERY SCHOOL 

station/' quoth he. "That's where they'll come to 
find him." 

It seemed hard to tear Georgie away from his new- 
found friends, and we compromised with the officer. 
He agreed to report Georgie at the police station, 
and to leave the little chap with us until after he 
had his dinner. 

Meanwhile Georgie was enjoying himself; but he 
refused to be parted from his large cap or from 
his "mum" as he tested the resources of the 
Nursery School. 

Dinner-time came. The older children gathered 
round "the little lost boy" and clamoured to be 
allowed to sit beside him. But great was their 
horror when they found that he used his fingers 
instead of his spoon to convey fish and potatoes 
to his mouth! And sore was the indignation of 
little Miss Julia Peacock, his neighbour, when, 
having safely disposed of his own repast, Georgie 
incontinently grabbed hers and demolished that! 
Miss Julia doubtless felt that she paid dearly for 
the honour of sitting beside the hero of the occasion. 
One o'clock brought our friend the officer. So 
friendly, big and jolly he appeared that Georgie 
left us without a murmur, waving his hand and 
shouting cheerfully: 

" Comin' back to-morrow, Mum an' all! " 
During the course of the afternoon the policeman 
returned to tell us that on his way to the police 
station he met one of Georgie's cousins, and this 
lad was able to direct him to the child's home. 

"His dad's very grateful to you for keeping him," 
said the officer, " and he's coming down to Camp to 
see you to-night." 

About half-past five Georgie's father came in a 
tall man with a slightly bent figure and dark, kind 
eyes which reminded one of the child. 



GEORGIE 23 

" I want to thank you aU for being so kind to the 
little chap," he said. "He's got no mother she 
died when he were just over a year old. It's been a 
hard fight for me with four lads to bring up, and the 
eldest a cripple an' all. I looked after the little 'Tin 
meself till I got work, and since then the cripple 
lad 'as had him. 'E's a good lad, my Bob, but 
some days the pain's so bad that he can't get out, 
and then the little 'un 'as to stop inside too. He's 
a rare one for the streets, but I daresent let him 
out alone and him just turned three, so I says to 
him that I'll bring 'im round to the Nursery School. 
Ever 1 since then 'e's been at me. 'Take me to the 
Camp, Dad,' says 'e of a mornin'. I put him off 
two or three days, because I was late and I didn't 
just know how to get 'im in. Tisn't as if he had a 
mother. Well, Miss, you must know yourself how 
easy it is to put things orf. So you see, Miss, 
when I was out he took 'isself to school. That's 
'ow it was. And if you'll kindly keep 'im I'll 
bring 'im reg'lar." 

So Georgie began his school-days. 

Promptly at a quarter-past eight he trots in at 
the gate, the cripple brother limping painfully 
behind him. Gaily he greets his "mum" and his 
playmates, and cheerfully he smiles upon us all. 

His chestnut curls are brushed and shining now 
he has discarded the disfiguring cap, his garments 
are neat, and he looks very bonny clad in a brightly- 
coloured overall. He wields his spoon demurely, 
and is learning to respect his neighbour's pudding. 
Georgie the motherless sought the Nursery School. 
His need of it was great. There are many Georgies 
to-day. But where are the Nursery Schools which 
should prove their haven of refuge? 



CHAPTER V 

THE OPEN-AIR NURSERY SCHOOL 

The flowers are happy in the garden, 
For the bees are always there; 
The clouds are happy up in Heaven 
With angels m the air; 
But little boy and little mouse 
Are rather lonely in the house 

LAWRENCE ALMA-TADEMA. 

THE Open-Air Nursery School is a garden, round 
the walls of which are built long, low shelters. The 
garden belongs to the children, and in planning it 
we must sweep away all our own grown-up, pre- 
conceived ideas. Away with cabbages, onions and 
carrots! Let us have beautiful grassy lawns upon 
which we may run, and concrete for use in 
wet weather. When scores of pairs of stout little 
legs need exercise, we must make use of all our 
available space. 

The garden must be an interesting place. There 
must be little paths that wind in and out of the 
flower-beds, and steps for adventurers to climb. 
Ribstalls should be fastened to the garden walls, 
and balancing boards provided. 

We must have trees and a brave show of flowers 
Michaelmas daisies, chrysanthemums, daffodils 
and tulips, roses and geraniums. The children from 
our drab dark streets rejoice in the flowers just as 
they love their gaily-coloured overalls and ribbons. 

Then we must not forget the herb garden, so 
unparalleled for the sense training. Our little 
Toddlers trot round the paths hand in hand, smelling 

24 



OPEN-AIR NURSERY SCHOOL 25 

one flower and examining another, and we can 
almost hear one of them say as his little curly head 
bends over the swelling buds these sunny mornings 
in February: 

Little brown houses and what do you hold? 
Treasures of purple and crimson and gold > 
Kings, queens and princesses wear robes like these, 
Tell us who lives in you, brown houses, please! 

We must think of our pets too, and make pro- 
vision for them. Which is the sunniest place for 
our aviary? Where shall the pigeon-house stand? 
Where shall we put the rabbits and the hens? For 
it is of no use to provide pets for the children if 
they cannot be kept happy and in a healthy con- 
dition, and it is never too soon to awaken in the 
children a sense of their responsibility for the 
lower creation. 1 

Each Shelter should be very simply furnished, 
and should accommodate a group of thirty-five to 
fifty children. " Necessities, but no luxuries," must 
be our motto in the Nursery School to-day, while 
the economy axe still hangs threateningly over our 
heads, and misery and want are at our gates. 

We need no luxuries. We must have tables and 
chairs and beds, plenty of blackboard space, and 
plenty of cupboard room. Cupboards are necessary, 
for beds, blankets, chairs and tables must all be 
packed away at night in an Open- Air School. 

Every Shelter should have its own bathroom, and 
there must be an abundance of hot water. The 
Toddlers' bathroom should be provided with several 
pot-baths fitted with hot and cold water taps, and 
raised from the ground for the convenience of the 
Staff. There should be a separate sink for washing 
purposes. Pegs should be fixed to the walls, upon 

1 For a fuller description of a Nursery School Garden, see Th$ 
Nursery School, by Margaret McMillan,, 



26 OPEN-AIR NURSERY SCHOOL 

which the children's towels and flannels can be 
hung, and racks must be provided for the many 
toothbrushes. Needless to say, all the children's 
property must be carefully marked. 

The bathroom for the older children should have 
little wash-hand basins for the three-year-old has 
arrived at the dignity of "washing mine own self." 
There should be a large tiled bath here roomy 
enough to accommodate three or four children at 
one time, and provided with a hot and cold spray. 
It is a great joy to the children to play in the bath 
together, and the water is kept running all the time, 
so that there is no risk of infection. 

The door of the Rachel McMillan Nursery School 
is opened at half-past seven in the morning, and 
remains open until half-past five. Some of the 
mothers must be at work by eight o'clock, and they 
are glad to leave their babies with us on their way 
to the factory. The majority of children come in 
between eight and nine. We are often asked by 
visitors, " Is not this a very inconvenient arrange- 
ment ? Would it not be better to have a fixed time 
for the children to assemble? " As a matter of fact, 
the present arrangement suits us well for it makes 
it more possible for the Heads of the Departments to 
examine each child upon arrival. Visitors also ask 
us whether we tell the mothers not to trouble to 
bathe their children. On the contrary, we expect 
the mothers to help us in every way they can, and it 
is noticeable that after we have had the children 
for some time the mothers begin to take much 
more pride in their personal appearance. 

After a little one has been greeted and examined 
by the Head of the Department, he passes on to 
the bathroom. Perhaps he is to enjoy a good splash 
in the white-tiled bath; perhaps he only needs to 
wash his face and hands in one of the low basins 



OPEN-AIR NURSERY SCHOOL 27 

He is provided with flannel, towel and toothbrush. 
They hang on his own peg, and he knows where 
to find them and how to hang them up again when 
he has finished with them. Attention to hair, teeth 
and nails follows. 

Dinner is always a serious affair. All the children 
above three years of age learn to help themselves 
from the little serving dish passed round by the 
"monitor." We instituted this practice in order to 
try and teach them not to be greedy, but to take 
just as much food as they require. Of course the 
Nurse Teachers, who are superintending the meal, 
watch carefully to see that each little one takes 
enough, and it is astonishing to find how their 
appetites improve after a few weeks of plain, good 
food and open-air life. 

When dinner is over, the bigger children are proud 
to help clear away the dinner plates and dishes, roll 
up the tablecloths, sweep the floor and put out the 
beds. Then each little person is rolled up in a big 
warm blanket and popped down in his camp-bed. 

Every child in the Nursery School is expected to 
sleep, or at least to rest, after dinner. Occasionally 
the mothers ask us if their children may be excused 
the sleep, but we make no exception to this rule, 
and they soon find that the mid-day nap does not 
interfere with the children's rest at nights. 

The two-year-old will sometimes sleep soundly for 
two hours the three-year-old for an hour or an 
hour and a half. Some of the "fours" or just turned 
"fives" do not sleep, but they are trained to lie 
quietly for at least three-quarters of an hour. Only 
under very exceptional circumstances do we wake 
our children from the mid-day sleep, and it is not 
uncommon on a Monday to find one or two Toddlers 
still sleeping soundly at half-past three, despite the 
hubbub going on around them. 



28 OPEN-AIR NURSERY SCHOOL 

Monday morning! Careless and weary mothers 
new mothers sometimes come late to the Nursery 
School carrying fretful, wailing babies. The little 
ones have missed their regular food, and their 
digestions are upset; they have missed their mid- 
day sleep and their nerves are out of order. Sore 
eyes and ears have been neglected, and heads are 
not always clean. 

Black Monday indeed! But happily the babies 
usually sleep soundly when once they are tucked 
up, and by Tuesday morning the effects of the 
week-end have worn off. 

Of course this is not the case with "old" and 
careful mothers. They take a pride in presenting 
their babies clean and in good health on the first 
day of the week. 

The children themselves learn to take the mid-day 
sleep as a matter of course. I remember one little 
boy he was three years old stumbling into the 
Camp one Monday morning, lying flat down on 
the shelter floor, and falling immediately into a 
deep sleep. He was picked up, rolled in his blanket 
and put to bed, and there he slept until dinner- 
time. We who knew his home conditions were not 
surprised. Father, mother and six children slept in 
one little low-ceilinged room. 

One Saturday morning we were eating our twelve 
o'clock lunch in the open-air dining-room, which 
looks out on the garden. The Camp door stood 
open, and we suddenly espied a small Toddler trot- 
ting down the path in a purposeful fashion. Straight 
down the garden she trotted, merely pausing to pass 
the time of day with Bagheera, the Camp cat, who 
paused in her washing operations, scandalised at 
the intrusion on a Saturday morning. Our Toddler 
made for the little grass plot under the mulberry 
tree, and, having taken her bearings, curled herself 



OPEN-AIR NURSERY SCHOOL 29 

up in a little ball and fell fast asleep. She only lived 
next door as it happened, so having seen that she 
was warm and comfortable we left her to have her 
sleep out. 

Sometimes when students come to us to train 
they feel that they will dislike the " sleeping shift " 
that it will be dull work. Not at all! The experi- 
enced Nursery School Teacher gets to know her 
charges very well at "sleeping time." She learns a 
great deal about the treatment the children receive 
at home about their only half-realised fears. She 
is on very intimate terms with her babies when 
they are dropping off to sleep. 

All teachers are not successful with the sleeping 
shift. It is not easy until regular habits are formed 
to induce fifty children to go to sleep in the middle 
of the day even if they are tired. The noisy 
teacher who runs about distractedly crying " Hush ! " 
is of no use at all; the fussy teacher is of no use; 
the teacher who alternately threatens and cajoles 
is worse than useless. 

It is quite an art, this management of the sleeping 
shift, and some otherwise good teachers are not 
successful. I cannot explain it. I only know that 
the teachers who are successful have usually strong 
and restful personalities. They know that this 
need must be met. 

Oh, listen! Bells of dreamland are ringing soft and low I 
What a pleasant, pleasant country it is to which we go, 
And little nodding travellers are seen in every spot. 
All riding off to dreamland trot trot trot. 



CHAPTER VI 

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A TODDLER 

A dreary place would this earth be 
Were there no little people in it; 

The song of Me would lose its mirth 
Were there no children to begin it. 

WHITTIER. 

KITTY IVY is "two years old and a bit." She is a 
small stout personage, very determined, one might 
almost say pugilistic, by nature. 

One glorious morning in October a jolly young 
student coining on duty at a quarter-past eight 
"pick-a-backs" Kitty Ivy, and races round the 
garden with her for the sheer joy of being alive. 
Daisy, the kid, tethered beneath the mulberry tree, 
sniffs the air, tosses her horns, and leaps sideways 
three times to show her appreciation of the weather. 
Algernon, our one and only cock, struts round his 
domain. He tries to look dignified, as in the happy 
days before his tail feathers played him false, but 
alas! it takes fine feathers to make fine birds, and 
his wives will have none of it. They cluck derisively. 

"Good-bye, Kitty Ivy!" cries jolly Elna, and 
she pops the Toddler over the rails into the Open- 
Air Shelter. The Toddlers' Shelter is a long, low 
building. One of the gas-fires is alight, and in the 
red glow the room looks cheerful and inviting. 
Gaily-coloured overalls, fresh from the wash-tub, 
are hanging over the high guards ready for use, 
and from the adjoining bathroom comes a cheerful 
hum of voices. " Good-morning, Kitty Ivy/' says 

30 



THE LIFE OF A TODDLER 31 

the Head of the Department, lifting that small 
person up to sit on the table and looking at her very 
carefully. She examines head, eyes, ears and skin, 
while Kitty Ivy chats away to her. Cheerful voices 
in the bathroom chant: 

'Twas on a Sunday morning that I beheld my darling, 
She looked so sweet and charming in every kind of way, 
She looked so sweet and charming 

" 'Taimin' Want a barf, 1 ' says Kitty Ivy, 

wriggling off the table. 

"Away then, Kitty Ivy!' 1 and the mite dances 
into the bathroom. 

Kitty Ivy wears many clothes. The student who 
picks her up protesting and proceeds to divest her 
of her garments is sadly aware of the fact. First 
a thick red stuff petticoat, then a grey knitted one, 
then a flannelette one, then a queer stiff thing that 
wraps Kitty's little body round and round many 
times. "Me stays!" says Kitty proudly. "And I've 
got Vi'let May's shift on, and Vi'let May's got 
Mummie's." 

Kitty Ivy loves the water. She tries to turn on 
the tap when Nurse is not looking. She loves the 
thrill of pulling out the plug and putting her small 
pink toe into the cavity. She loves to play with the 
soap bubbles, and she loves it most of all when 
Jemina, the celluloid duck, swims proudly across 
the soapy torrent. 

The trend of the song is now, "Rub-a-dub-dub, 
three men in a tub!" Kitty Ivy is standing on a 
table, her little body all aglow as her "Nursie" rubs 
her down with a warm towel. The bathroom is now 
full. Small boys and girls are in various stages of 
undressing, dressing, bathing and brushing "teef." 

Kitty Ivy has washed her own teeth with much 
spluttering, and " Nursie " has cut her nails and 



32 OPEN-AIR NURSERY SCHOOL 

brushed her scanty locks. Her multitudinous petti- 
coats swathe her once more. 

The grey-eyed student surveys Kitty Ivy seriously 
as she holds up a blue overall embroidered with 
brown. "Will you have this one, Kitty Ivy?" 
she asks. 

" No ! " says that young person decidedlv. " Want 
red 'un." 

So the red overall is popped over Kitty Ivy's 
determined head. 

"Ribbing!" demands Kitty Ivy. 

The grave young student regards her scanty locks 
with dismay. 

"Kitty Ivy shall have her hair brushed like the 
boys," she says soothingly. 

"Ribbing! Ribbing! Ribbing!" wails Kitty Ivy 
crescendo. "Kitty Ivy does have ribbing tie." 

It is a difficult task, but Kitty's nurse is a per- 
severing young person. Kitty Ivy sits very still, 
lips tightly pressed, eyes rather threatening. Nursie, 
red with excitement, manages to collect a tuft of 
hair and secure it triumphantly with a large red 
ribbon bow. 

"Brekfus," says Kitty Ivy, and off she trots to 
the shelter. Numbers of little folk, with eager, 
expectant faces, are struggling with diminutive 
arm -chairs. Each Toddler insinuates his small 
person into the chair, and then with or without 
help of "Nursie" the chair is pushed under the table. 

A steaming bowl of porridge stands on a side table. 

" Hide fingers ! " Restless little fingers axe tucked 
away while Nursie says grace. One or two adven- 
turous spirits, such as Kitty Ivy, join in the singing, 
but most of the wee ones fix their gaze alternately 
on "Nursie" and the porridge. 

"Fold hands! 11 All eyes are closed while the 
Toddlers say slowly, "God bless our good brekfus/' 



THE LIFE OF A TODDLER 33 

"Monitors!" 

Alfie the Pickle, poor wee Alice, whose legs are 
crooked with rickets, Kitty Ivy the Irrepressible, 
and sturdy bonny Georgie trot out to "Nursie." 
Their duty is to carry the porridge plates one by 
one to the hungry Toddlers who await them. Little 
fat hands grip the plates firmly as, lips tightly shut, 
the "monitors" perform these tasks. Soon the 
Toddlers are busy with the meal. 

Only Jimmy is unhappy. Since he left his mother 
an hour ago he has not ceased to wail. Jimmy is 
pale and puffy. His eyes are red-rimmed and his 
whole expression blank and stupid; his mouth is 
open and his nose stuffed. He suffers all the time, 
for every breath is drawn with difficulty. He cannot 
taste or smell, and his poor discharging ears pain 
him. Many Jimmies come to our Nursery. 

"'E's a little devil/' says Kitty Ivy, pointing 
reprovingly at him with her spoon. Kitty Ivy's 
language is not always choice, and the constant 
wailing gets on her nerves. 

Breakfast is over, and off the Toddlers trot to 
the garden. Three or four, led by Kitty Ivy, run 
to the "little path." A dear little path it is, cut out 
in the midst of a flower-bed. You must climb four 
steps to reach it. 

"One, two, four, five," pants Kitty Ivy. Arith- 
metic is not her strong point, but she loves the 
adventure of the "little path." She trots along 
it and down the four steps at the end. Behind 
her runs Georgie. /'One, two, three, four. Catch 
me, Nursie," Georgie calls, and jumps the four 
steps- Georgie is Kitty Ivy's hero. She watches 
him, admiring. 

Against the high wall at the bottom of the garden 
ribstalls are fixed. Kitty Ivy, running off new 
fields to conquer, halts before them. Eyes shining, 



34 OPEN-AIR NURSERY SCHOOL 

lips tightly closed, she climbs the ribstalls, followed 
by Georgie. 

The bunnies must then be visited. Kitty Ivy 
offers Father Bunny mulberry leaves, but though 
he stands up on his hind legs and sniffs them he 
politely declines to taste. Happily at this moment 
out comes Cook with the chickens' breakfast. Eager 
Toddlers soon surround her, catching at her skirts 
and crowding round the hen-house door. Algernon 
and his wives come clucking up as the steaming 
"hot inash" is poured into their dish. Kitty Ivy is 
sorry for them. "Too'ot! Take it yound the sides/* 
she advises Algernon, as he splutters and fusses. 

It is now nearly ten o'clock, and our Toddlers 
trot back to their shelters. On the long wooden tables 
are set out inset boards, lacing and buttoning 
frames, and sorting boxes. A rug is spread on the 
floor, and one of Kitty's nurses is seated on it, 
holding up a coloured bag of inviting appearance. 
The Toddlers may go where they will. Kitty Ivy 
chooses the rug, and soon the Toddlers have settled 
down to work. But Jimmy stands in the doorway 
and wails. A kindly student picks him up and tries 
to comfort him. 

"Take him to the Clinic/ 1 says Miss Atkins. 
" Nurse will attend to his ears and he will see the 
doctor later about the adenoids. Wait until we 
have had handkerchief drill!" 

This performance is undertaken solemnly and 
thoroughly. Soft medicated paper is given out, and 
the Toddlers are shown how to use it scientifically. 
Handkerchief drill is carried out many times during 
the day. 

Kitty Ivy is now able to give her attention to the 
" Wonder Bag," Delightful things come from this 
hiding-place. 

" What is this? " asks the Nurse Teacher. 



THE LIFE OF A TODDLER 35 

" A ball! " cries Tommy, holding out eager hands. 

The teacher holds up the brightly-coloured ball 
whilst the children talk about it. They speak of the 
colours and the pictures on it. They roll it and 
bounce it and throw it. Then they try to catch it. 
More wonders come out of that bag, and Kitty Ivy 
learns many new words and handles many objects. 

After a while she goes off to the table. A board 
of insets attracts her. "Quares!" she says, and 
she takes the solid wooden squares out of their 
corresponding holes and places them on the table. 
Tommy is sitting beside her and is also working 
with insets But he is a new-comer, and he blindly 
seizes the insets and tries to force them into holes 
that are too small. Kitty Ivy's method is a different 
one. As she takes up each square she looks at it 
carefully and compares it with the holes. Some- 
times she runs her little forefinger round the edge. 
After careful comparison she fits her square into 
its hole. She makes no mistakes. 

Soon she turns away from the board and takes 
up a lacing frame. An eager young teacher, new to 
the work, offers help. 

"Want to do it mine self!'* says Kitty Ivy, 
pushing her aside. A few minutes later, "I done 
it!" she announces triumphantly. And the young 
student looks on in respectful admiration. 

Dinner-time. All the Toddlers must be washed, 
whilst the cloths are laid and tables made ready. 

"Fiss!" says Kitty Ivy, sniffing appreciatively 
and beating on the table with her spoon. Then she 
remembers her manners and lays down her spoon 
beside her plate. She is a "monitor." 

The first course consists of fish and potatoes 
beaten into a cream with butter and milk; the 
second course is suet pudding served with treacle. 

By the time dinner is over more than one Toddler 
D 



36 OPEN-AIR NURSERY SCHOOL 

is nodding. Little camp-beds await them, and 
cosy rugs. Each little person, divested of boots, 
is rolled up snugly and popped in bed. The 
Sandman claims the Toddlers one by one. 

Kitty Ivy is wakeful to-day. Her nurse sits 
down beside her and smoothes her hair. " Tommy 
is sleeping!" she says softly. "Poppy is sleeping! 
Georgie is sleeping ! Kitty Ivy is sleeping too ! " 

The Sandman has completed his round. 

About half -past two in the afternoon Kitty Ivy 
opens sleepy blue eyes once more. The Nursery 
presents a busy scene, for half the babies are now 
awake. Some are trotting about and some are in 
the bathroom. The Nurse Teachers move in and 
out amongst the children, folding blankets and 
moving beds. Georgie is curled up in a ball, fast 
asleep. Jimmy lies on his side breathing heavily 
with flushed face. He makes little distressed move- 
ments now and again. Tommy is sitting on the 
floor lacing his boots, and little Violet has rolled 
up her blanket and is nursing it like a doll. 

Kitty Ivy jumps up. She puts on her own shoes, 
and trots off happily to the bathroom to be " tidied " 
for the afternoon. Clara and Kennerly, the pet 
canaries, are singing a song of thankfulness for the 
Indian summer. Bagheera, the Camp cat, sits on 
the rail of the shelter washing her face with com- 
mendable thoroughness. 

Kitty Ivy is off. Red ribbon bow bobbing, she 
trots round the garden with Tommy, visiting all 
the pets in turn. 

Back again to the shelter. Kitty's favourite 
nurse welcomes her, holding up a large, brightly- 
coloured picture. 

"Jack and Jill went up the hill," cries Kitty Ivy, 
flapping her hands and dancing with delight as she 



THE LIFE OF A TODDLER 37 

recognises it. Soon she and six of the other little 
people are clustering round "Nursie," listening to 
the adventures of Jack and nodding their heads in 
solemn approval of the punishment that befell the 
spiteful Jill. They chatter about the green grass, 
the pail, Jill's blue overall and Jack's cap, to their 
hearts' content. 

The musical -box is now at work, inquiring 
anxiously whether we are acquainted with the 
Muffin Man. Tea-time draws near. Plates of 
bread-and-butter spread with jam are placed upon 
the tables, and the Toddlers get ready for the last 
meal of the day. 

Evening is drawing on and the fires are lighted. 
The shelter looks cosy and inviting. Bread, jam 
and milk soon disappear " down the red lane " and 
the Toddlers draw their chairs in semicircles round 
the red glow of the fire. 

One group of the delighted children is watching 
a humming-top spinning and whirling on its way; 
more Toddlers are gathered round the Head of the 
Department, who is singing nursery rhymes and 
telling stories. Kitty Ivy is with the second group. 

About the railings, little groups of mothers are 
gathering now, and one by one the children trot 
away, waving their hands in farewell. 

" Kitty Iveel " Our Kitty runs across the shelter 
and flings herself into the arms held out in greeting. 
Then back she runs : " Good-bye, Nursie ! Good-bye, 
Georgie!'* Kitty Ivy makes her little round of 
farewells while "Mummie" chats awhile by the fire. 

Kitty's mother is dreadfully tired. She has been 
out all day charing. She is thankful to have the 
work, for her husband is dying of consumption and 
she has many mouths to feed besides Kitty Ivy's 
little red one. This is the happiest moment of the 
day for her. She cuddles Kitty Ivy beneath her 



38 OPEN-AIR NURSERY SCHOOL 

thin shawl, and her face is very tender. With a 
cheery "Good-night, Nurse/' she sets off on her 
homeward way. 

And some are in the palace 
On white and downy beds, 
And some are in the hovel 
With a clout beneath their head 
And some are on the cold hard earth. 
Whose mothers have no bread. 

LAWRENCE ALMA-TADEMA. 



CHAPTER VII 

THE THREE- AND FOUR- YEAR-OLDS 

Give me no mansions ivory white, 
Nor palaces of pearl and gold; 
Give me a child for all delight 
Just four years old. 

KATHARINE TYNAN HINKSON. 

WHAT a remarkably active, energetic little person 
is the healthy, happy three-year-old' All through 
the hours of his waking day he must be doing, 
experimenting, investigating, dramatising. Occupy 
him fully all the time, and like the little girl with 
the curl, he will be "very good indeed"; expect 
him to sit still and do nothing, and he too can 
be "horrid." 

The three-year-old is a very different problem 
from the Toddler. The Toddler will occasionally 
sit still and gaze around him with interest not 
so his elder brother! The Nurse Teacher in the 
Toddlers' Shelters sometimes settles her little 
charges at the tables five minutes before dinner 
is served, and the babies will sit demurely waiting 
the arrival of the meal, beating their fists upon 
the table to the refrain of " Baa, Baa, Black Sheep/' 
Once upon a time, when we were short of helpers, 
we tried this plan with the threes and fours, but 
the results were so dire that the experiment has 
never been repeated! 

The Nurse Teachers in this department require 
infinite patience. " Hands off " must be their motto, 
and they must learn to watch and wait while 

39 



40 OPEN-AIR NURSERY SCHOOL 

Tommy does up his shoes, Rosie straggles with her 
overall, and Billy helps himself to pudding. These 
restless, eager little hands of the three-year-olds 
are hungry for new experiences. 

There is always plenty to do in an Open-Air 
Nursery School. First there is the morning bath. 
Every healthy three-year-old loves water. He loves 
to turn on the taps, to play boats, to blow bubbles, 
and to splash in all available puddles. 

"Lor, Nurse, our Flossie was always a oner for 
wa'er," says a mother, "but since she came to 
Camp she's a reglar sponge, she is. I can't do 
nothink with 'er." Each little three- and four-year- 
old attempts his own ablutions of course under 
careful supervision. He cleans his own teeth and 
washes his own face and hands. He also lays the 
table for meals, helps himself to pudding and 
potatoes, and puts out the blankets and beds. 

A great deal of apparatus must be devised to 
keep him occupied on wet days especially and 
this apparatus must be big, for it is the large 
muscles which need exercise. He does not want 
to handle small boxes and pick up tiny objects 
at this stage of his development. He must learn 
to recognise differences and resemblances, and to 
this end many exercises in sorting and matching 
must be devised. Amongst Miss McMillan's apparatus 
for children of this age we have had provided for us 
asbestos letter boards. The letters which fit into 
the boards are coloured red and blue, and our little 
ones love the exercise of taking them out and 
fitting them into their proper places. There are 
similar boards for teaching colours, and these, too, 
are a great joy. Then we encourage our children 
to sort shells, seeds, coloured sticks and letters, 
into groups. 

Out in the garden there is the herb bed to explore, 



the pigeons and chickens to watch, the goat to 
fondle, the hedgehog to gaze upon with awe. When 
one sees these active little creatures trotting up 
and down the garden paths in the sunshine, learn- 
ing in Nature's own way, one realises the cruelty 
of keeping them penned up in the classroom. 

One day last week Ronnie, who is not very steady 
on his legs as yet, fell down in the garden. Rosie, 
aged three and a half, was sorry for him and helped 
him up tenderly. "Don't cry, darling/ 7 she said, 
"Rosie'll kiss it better." Ronnie was comforted 
and toddled off. Rosie stood watching him thought- 
fully. Then she ran up behind him and deliberately 
knocked him over; immediately afterwards she 
fussed and fondled him, evidently thoroughly enjoy- 
ing the experience of acting the part of chief 
comforter and friend. 

Our little Deptford children, like all children 
from poor areas, are slow to speak. They make use 
of gestures whenever possible, and the language 
they sometimes use when they first come to the 
Nursery School is deplorable. A mother brought 
her little four-year-old to the Camp one morning 
last winter. She had a pathetic story to tell of 
an invalid husband of work long sought and 
now found. "But there's our Peter, Nurse/* she 
said, "Drat 'im! What am I to do with the little 
varmint?'' She hugged the varmint fondly. 

Peter was a quaint wee figure. Clad in a bright 
green jersey, with a scarlet muffler round his neck, 
he stood confessed with his hands tucked firmly into 
a black plush muff. " I 'ad that there muff orf of a 
barrer," said Peter's mother proudly. "'E 'ollered 
till I give it 'im, the little faggot.' 1 

The Nursery School was full quite full! But 
when Peter looked up, with his glorious blue eyes 
fringed with the thickest of black lashes, and when 



42 OPEN-AIR NURSERY SCHOOL 

we saw the anxious pucker on his mother's brow 
which told of her anxiety and pressing need, we 
said weakly, "Come. We'll see if we can find room 
for Peter." 

The Head of the Department welcomed Peter 
warmly and fell in love with him at first sight. We 
christened him "Angel Face" and introduced him 
at once to the new red engine. He played happily 
for some time, firmly refusing to be parted from 
the scarlet comforter or the velvet muff. Suddenly 
he noticed that his mother had left him. "Lemme 
go 'ome," he cried out, fist in one eye, muff in the 
other. "I live in the 'Igh Street, Deptford, you 
silly fool, and I wanner go 'ome." Alas* Not one 
of us could pacify "the little varmint." He wept 
aloud and refused to be comforted until the advent 
of dinner. Replete with fish and treacle pudding, 
he ceased wailing for a time. But when the beds 
were set out for the afternoon nap Peter wailed 
once more. 

Miss Hum, her charges safe in bed, took Peter 
on her knee. She tried him with pictures, puzzles 
and beads. J Twas vain ; Peter would not take his 
hands out of his muff, and he failed to show the 
slightest interest in her proceedings. 

At last she took the chalk and began to draw on 
the board, talking quietly the while. 

"What's that ? " demanded Peter. 

"That's a boat." 

"Who's that in it?" 

"That's you, Peter." 

"Me, is it? Oh, my Gawd," said puzzled Peter. 
"Where are me legs?" 

The teacher explained that his legs were not to 
be seen because they were inside the boat. She 
illustrated her point with a doll and a toy boat. 
Peter was interested. He ran up to a student, who 



THREE- AND FOUR-YEAR-OLDS 43 

was passing through the Department, and tugged at 
her apron. 

"That's a boat/' he told her. "That's me in it. 

You ^ can't see me legs. She says not. But 

they're inside. She says so. Gimme some more 
pudden." 

Terribly ugly words soil the lips of our children 
at times, and terribly sordid pictures of illness and 
death are painted for them by the folks at home. 

Nannie came to us last January. She was brought 
by her sister, a child of twelve "Please, Miss 
Davies, Daddy's wrote 'er name down, and please 
Muwer's dead she died last week, and please will 
you take Nannie in, because there ain't no one to 
see to 'er, Daddy says." A few questions drew the 
sad facts from the girl. Mother had just died, 
leaving ten children, of whom Alice Mary was 
the eldest and Nannie the youngest but one. 
Father was going to try to get Nannie and Baby 
into a Home. 

" Our Alice Mary, come you 'ome," came a strident 
voice from the gate. "All the washin'-up's awaitin' 
for yer, and yer won't 'arf ketch it! " 

Off trundled poor down-at-heels Alice Mary, and 
we took Nannie into the shelter. She did not look 
quite normal, certainly. Her thumb was finnly 
tucked into her mouth and her head was on one 
side. She was indescribably dirty. She said never 
a word while we washed her, but when at last she 
was seated by the fire hugging a doll : "My Mummie's 
in a big 'ole/' she chanted. "My Mummie's in 
'orspital. My Mummie's in a big dark 'ole, and she 
won't never come out any more. They've put my 
Mummie in a box in a big dark 'ole." 

Dorcas Elizabeth, the curly-headed pet of the 
Department, stood staring. Suddenly Nannie took 
her thumb out of her mouth. 



44 OPEN-AIR NURSERY SCHOOL 

"Your Mummie's in a dark 'ole," she said, 
pointing. Dorcas Elizabeth gasped. 
"She isn't/' she replied, curtly and decisively. 
"She is and she can't come out ! " 
Dorcas Elizabeth drew herself up and replied 
stoutly: 

"My Mummie'll come out of the dark 'ole to me, 
anyway. But she's scrubbing the kitchen floor, and 
she " (here Dorcas forgot her English) " ain't in one." 
With that she turned her back on the little heathen. 
But poor little Nannie could not forget that awful 
picture. She lost her ball one day. "Is it in a 
dark 'ole, Nursie?" she asked. "Won't it never 
come out?" 

One of the most important tasks of the Nursery 
School Teacher is to make the speech good, not only 
from an oral but from a hygienic point of view. 
The results are far-reaching. No handkerchief drill, 
no operations for adenoids are really effective unless 
they are followed up by good functioning. 

The lethargy of the speaking organs is very 
noticeable in the slum child. He is not called upon 
to use the natural organs of speech in anything like 
a vigorous way. When he first comes to the 
Nursery School he declines even to say "yes" and 
"no"; he prefers to answer by a nod or shake of 
the head. 

The slum child has veiy little use for his nose in 
speaking. It is commonly said that when he has a 
cold he speaks through his nose as a matter of 
fact, when he has a cold he cannot speak through 
his nose. The child who lives in a poor area often 
suffers from chronic cold. He cannot say "n" or 
"ng." His mouth is used merely as an orifice and 
the lips have very little function. The child does 
not utter his explosives (p, b, etc.) well. These 
sounds require energy. The tongue shares the 



THREE^ AND FOUR-YEAR-OLDS 45 

lethargy of the lips and the organs he cannot say 
"r" and "L" The aspirate is avoided or put in 
the wrong place, and to complete matters the 
gutturals are often left out altogether. 

The work of getting clear, good, hygienic speech 
from the children is of the utmost importance. 
Besides the requisite attention which must be given 
to the speech organs, it is important that the children 
should have something to say and should want to 
say it. For this reason we see that they have the 
opportunity of making first-hand acquaintance 
with all kinds of interesting objects. They love the 
wonder bag a pretty coloured bag filled with 
curious things. Perhaps it is the "P" bag, designed 
to make the little folk work hard at that trouble- 
some explosive. Inside we shall find, amongst 
other things, a pen, a pencil, a potato, a pan, a 
pocket knife. The children are required to say the 
words carefully and clearly whilst they handle 
the objects. 

They find the animals, too, so wonderfully in- 
teresting that they want to know all about them, 
and they chatter happily as they fondle the goat 
or watch the pigeons feeding out of Nurse's hand. 
The beautiful, brightly-coloured flowers; the gay 
ribbons and overalls all these things stimulate 
them and make them want to talk. 

We have also to face the problem of making 
children listen. The loud noises they hear in baby- 
hood have stunned them. They themselves speak 
in rasping, hoarse voices. They have to be taught 
to listen to soft sweet sounds and to speak in low 
voices. This is one of the most difficult tasks of the 
Nursery School Teacher, but it is of the utmost 
importance in the development of the child. 

When we have played and laughed, sung and 
talked with our little ones in the Nursery School 



46 OPEN-AIR NURSERY SCHOOL 

Garden, we can appreciate the music of Tagore's 
words: 

When I bring you coloured toys, my child, I understand 
why there is such a play of colour on clouds, on water, and 
why flowers are painted in tints when I give coloured 
toys to you, my child. 

When I sing to make you dance I truly know why there 
is music in leaves and why waves send their chorus of 
voices to the heart of the listening earth when I sing to 
make you dance. 

When I bring sweet things to your greedy hands I know 
why there is honey in the cup of the flowers and why fruits 
are filled secretly with sweet juice when I bring sweet 
things to your greedy hands. 



CHAPTER VIII 

THE SEVEN-YEAR-OLDS 

THE age of seven is always a landmark in the life 
of a human being. To ignore stopping-places in 
education is to write without punctuation, and so 
to miss the meaning of the developing life. It is 
therefore of the greatest importance that we should 
learn to understand the seven-year-old. 

Let us take, then, our seven-year-old to-day. He 
is, of course, a mixed product, and reflects not only 
the new advantages of the Nursery School life, but 
some of his home disadvantages as well. Nothing 
can as yet be taken for granted in this home life. 

If home conditions allow, he washes himself tho- 
roughly in the morning before he comes to school; 
if it is not possible for him to do this he runs straight 
to the bathroom on his arrival, throws off his coat, 
rolls up his sleeves and scrubs himself lustily. Teeth 
and hair brushed, nails and ears beyond reproach, 
he takes his share in the preparations for breakfast. 
Perhaps it is his turn to carry the steaming porridge 
from the kitchen; perhaps he is the "monitor" 
appointed to lay the table for breakfast. Our "big 
children " in the " top school " are a very pretty sight 
in the early morning, seated round their gay tables 
with their "shining morning faces" glowing with 
health and contentment. At each table a "father" 
or a "mother" presides, and it is the duty of these 
important individuals to serve the porridge and to 
preserve the decorum of the breakfast-table. 

47 



48 OPEN-AIR NURSERY SCHOOL 

The children want to talk, and they have a great 
deal to say to one another. 

"Seems to me Thor's about to-day," remarked 
one httle chap on a stormy morning recently and 
great was the annoyance of the whole class a while 
ago when Frigga freely besprinkled Derbyshire and 
the North with feathers, but entirely refrained from 
shaking her bed over Deptford. 

One good illustration of double life in school and 
home appears in language training. The children 
at this stage become keenly interested in their own 
speech, in the speech of others, and in derivations. 
They are anxious to remedy their own speech 
defects, and good-naturedly ready to criticise and 
help one another. 

"You'll never be able to take a good part in the 
play, you know," said one small maiden scornfully 
to another. "You still drop your aitches!" The 
snubbed one sniffed woefully. 

"Well, you you can't do sums, anyway," was 
all the retort she could think of at the moment. But 
she made valiant efforts forthwith to conquer the 
troublesome aspirate. 

"Lor, Miss," said one of the mothers the other 
day, "whatever has got our Katie? She was a- 
rarryin' on somethink orful in the yard the other 
day, and when 'er Daddy told 'er to 'old 'er noise 
she says as perky as you please that she is a- 
practisin' gutturals for Miss McMillan." 

Our seven-year-olds play with words as a cat 
plays with a mouse. 

"It's a lugubrious day," remarks George one 
rainy morning in November, as he hangs up his 
dripping coat. 

"These flowers are passing sweet/' quotes Elsie, 
sniffing them appreciatively as she arranges them 
in the best blue vase. 



THE SEVEN-YEAR-OLDS 49 

The children's mind-store is of a rather strange 
character. Much of it is sombre, if not gruesome. 

They are all well versed in the mysteries of 
life and death. Many of them have seen death, 
and all of them have suffered. The experiences 
through which they have passed have, in some 
cases, made them wonderfully sympathetic. 

"I couldn't do my sums last night/' says John. 
"Mummie was washing and Grannie was in the 
parlour. Mummie said she would let Grannie lie 
in the parlour till the funeral was over, because it 
was the best room and Grannie liked it when she 
was alive." 

"We don't like 'born' babies at our house," 
remarks Grace sadly. "They make Daddy angry 
and they make Mummie cry. Besides, there isn't 
any more room for them in the big bed." 

"My Mummie's gone to hospital and Daddy says 
if she dies he doesn't know who's to pay for the 
funeral," says Harry, coming to school one morning 
in tears. 

" You can get buried for eight-pound-ten," George, 
uncanny in his wisdom, informs him. "But why 
wasn't your mother insured, anyway?" 

No one is more keenly interested than the slum 
child in watching the opening of the flowers, the 
budding of the trees. He loves his own garden, in 
which he works with a will, and he watches with 
delight the manoeuvres of ants, spiders and bees. 

Bearing all this in mind, let us now turn to the 
larger question of education proper. Let us make 
a retrospect and see what has been done or what 
should have been done for him by the Nursery 
School. 

To begin with he is in good health and, what is 
almost more important, he has the desire to realise 
and to express th growing life within him. There 



50 OPEN-AIR NURSERY SCHOOL 

is a great literature on play. Into what does play 
evolve? Into primitive art, and we must not delay 
the child's entrance into this world of romance. 

His first and greatest impulse is of course towards 
the primitive arts. Every pulse and every heart- 
throb, every movement of the life stream in his 
veins urges him to find the extension of this rhythmic 
life. That is why his feet cannot keep still when he 
hears the barrel-organ that is why he loves gesture. 
The whole battle of life is largely the effort for the 
extension of consciousness. And these rhythmic 
movements which he so readily practises under 
the right influences deepen the organic consciousness 
and finally raise the half-submerged creature out of 
the lethargy of early childhood. Considered from 
this standpoint, Art is of course Hygiene in its 
higher development; Hygiene which wins, however, 
not merely health but new consciousness and new 
power. The awful cloak of superstition which 
drugged the intelligence of mankind in the Middle 
Ages and in past Reformation time has obscured 
the real meaning of Art, and has led us far away 
from the condition of the glorious Singers of Israel, 
who "made a joyful noise unto the Lord" in wor- 
shipping, who heard the hills clap their hands, and 
who danced before the Ark with all their might. 
Something of all this enhancement of life must be 
recaptured by our children. 

The first initiation must be in large movements 
that engage the whole body. Through these h 
must deepen his feeling not only for rhythm bu1 
for melody, and this brings into action all th* 
nerves as well as the muscles and gives him his firsl 
feeling of the meaning of music. 

Music is in all the greater things. "Go deej 
enough," says Carlyle, "and you will find musi 
everywhere." A child should be allowed, even a 




I 






3 w 
S H 

ss 



THE SEVEN-YEAR-OLDS 51 

this early stage, to take part in the deep and won- 
derful things by learning the primitive art of 
singing and dancing. 

These arts are much nearer to the child than even 
the plastic arts. He is prepared for them so early in 
life that we can hardly trace the moment when the 
music centres are developed and the capacity for 
appreciation of rhythm and melody is born. These 
facts are now widely appreciated, as our many 
forms of eurhythmies show. There is also the art 
of eurhythmy, which aspires to make the whole 
body interpret the meaning of language and of 
spiritual consciousness. Prepared by these arts 
the child reaches the climax of play in dramatic 
art, and we have ample evidence to show that, 
allowed to enter by this door, he finds, even at the 
age of seven or eight, the meaning of some of the 
highest poems and psalms as well as the lyrics. 

Dramatic art, like play, opens the door to all the 
arts. It is therefore the best medium of expression 
for the child, and it encourages him to put forth his 
whole power without strain. 

Here is a picture of the children acting the 
Midsummer Night's Dream. It is not claimed that 
they are exceptionally beautiful or exceptionally 
clever, but it is claimed that the great miracles of 
life are illustrated in these children. These lips 
express the fact that they have been opened 
these arms and hands, and especially these fingers, 
show that the life currents are well aflow. The little 
figure which holds all the rest like a magnet is not 
necessarily more developed than they. All have 
the power to attract and attend, and all have plainly 
awakened from the lethargy which is death. To con- 
tinue their education will be a glorious task, for the 
children will be keen allies of the teacher. They 
now want to learn. 



52 OPEN-AIR NURSERY SCHOOL 

"Our Top Class" at the Rachel McMillan Nursery 
School have a little room of their own. Here they 
store their books, models and other cherished 
possessions, and here they sit on a winter evening 
after tea. Their ages vary from seven to nine years. 

They are very quiet to-night. Bertie and Lily 
have taken books from the "library" shelves. They 
are lost to the world. Bertie is reading Oliver Twist, 
and Lily Gulliver's Travels. Gladys and Cissie are 
sketching. Rosie is very busy coaching Amy in her 
part in the Midsummer Night's Dream. Amy has 
only recently had the honour of joining "The 
Top Class," and her speech is a little halting still. 
Rosie is very much in earnest, for Amy must not 
be allowed to disgrace them. 

Ruby and Edna are busy with their needles. 
"We're making jumpers," Edna explains. "They 
are to wear on our holiday, when we go to the 
Avery Hill. Mine's green and Ruby's is blue." 

"I'm making the table for the anchorite's cell," 
volunteers George. "It's rather shaky about the 
legs but I don't think that matters very much. 
He wouldn't fuss about a thing like that, would 
he? He'd be too busy praying." 

"And I am writing a play," says Dorothy, open- 
ing wide her deep blue eyes. " It's all my very own. 
It's about the Page who wanted to be a Knight. 
Miss Campbell told us about him. Perhaps, if it 
is good enough, we shall act it some day." 



PART II 



CHAPTER IX 

THE BEGINNING OF THE RACHEL MCMILLAN 
NURSERY SCHOOL 

I desire to live worthily all my days, so that after death I 
may leave behind me a record of good work done. 

KING ALFRED. 

IF we wish to trace the development of the Rachel 
McMillan Nursery School we must go back to the 
year 1908, when the first London School Clinic 
was opened by the Misses McMillan in the upper 
room of a County Council Elementary School 
at Bow. 

If we acknowledged to the full our responsibility 
for the children of the slums if we really felt that 
they were our own flesh and blood what should we 
do for them first? Should we leave them to run in 
the streets, and then send them, with their sore 
eyes and running ears, to swell the mighty classes 
in the elementary schools? I think not. I am quite 
sure we should attend first to their bodily needs. 

The Misses McMillan are educationists first and 
foremost. But they did not propose to train the 
minds of these children until they had healed their 
bodies. Miss Margaret McMillan's experience on 
the School Board at Bradford had shown her the 
terrible amount of preventable suffering among 
school children, and she had worked hard to obtain 
medical inspection for them. 

The clauses making medical inspection com- 
pulsory appeared for the first time in the Bill of 

53 



54 OPEN-AIR NURSERY SCHOOL 

1907. They included the creation of a Medical 
Board at Whitehall, and there is now placed upon 
us the great responsibility of knowing the real 
condition of the children of this country. The 
extent of the evil can be gathered from Sir 
George Newman's report. The agencies which have 
been created to deal with it are as yet in their 
infancy, but the earliest and most developed is 
the School Clinic, 

The first London Clinic was removed from Bow 
to Deptford early in 1910. There are eight hundred 
of these centres throughout the country. Children 
receive treatment in these Clinics for the three 
great classes of disease teeth, eye, ear and throat 
troubles, and minor ailments generally. It should 
be noted here that though the Clinics were intended 
primarily for children of school age, from the very 
first the Misses McMillan received little ones under 
five years of age at the Deptford Health Centre. 

Miss Margaret McMillan writes at length on 
"School Clinics" in the Camp School. 1 She tells 
of the good work they have done how "thousands 
have been saved from early and chronic ill-health 
through their help." But she also shows us that, 
though the Clinic has cured thousands, a very 
great deal of time and money is wasted in alle- 
viating diseases which are preventable and should 
be stamped out. She tells how in the last three 
months of 1913 the Deptford Nurse treated nine 
hundred and fifty cases of -skin diseases, and how 
within the same period nine hundred and twenty- 
seven of these returned after being cured to have 
the same kind of disease treated by drug and lotion 
The diseases of the slums will never be stamped 
out until the housing conditions are improved, and 
until England grants education and nurture to all 

1 The Camp School. Published by George Allen and Unwin. 



THE BEGINNING 55 

her children. The children of the poor, as well as 
the children of the well-to-do, need sunlight and 
freedom for development. They must be educated 
in healthy surroundings. Those diseases which are 
preventable should never attack them. 

This was felt very strongly. So a small Nursery 
School and Baby Camp was opened in the garden 
of Evelyn House, Deptford. 

This house was given free of rent by Mr. and Mrs. 
John Evelyn in the year 1911. The garden was 
also used as a Night Camp for girls over eight years 
of age. 

In 1913 the London County Council was 
approached with regard to the vacant plot of 
land known as the Stowage Site. This site was 
designed at the time for a new elementary school, 
but permission was granted to the Misses McMillan 
to erect a shelter here and continue their experiment. 
On a very stormy day in March 1914 the little 
school was moved to its new quarters. It soon 
numbered thirty children, and all through the 
summer of 1914 the little ones lived and slept in 
the open air. It was a Night as well as a Day Camp. 

Miss McMillan gives us the record of the first 
eighty-seven children who entered the Camp the 
eldest of these children was five, and the youngest 
three months old. Nearly every one of the eighty- 
seven suffered from debility; twenty-two had two 
distinct ailments, nine had three. Nine out of the 
eighty-seven were normal. Yet all these children 
were supposed to be well. 

The progress made by the children was wonderful. 
This is shown by the following quotation from Dr. 
Eder's report on the summer of 1914 (Dr. Eder was 
Senior Medical Officer of the Deptford School Clinic) : 

Baby Camp. This was started m Church Street in the spring 
(loth March) with six children under school age; by the end 



56 OPEN-AIR NURSERY SCHOOL 

of the summer twenty-nine children were living and sleep- 
ing in the Camp. There was hardly any illness even during 
the hot months ; the children put on weight regularly Their 
sleep is reported to have been most quiet: in every way 
they enjoyed the open space, which was large for these tiny 
ones. There seems to have been marked mental improve- 
ment as well as physical during the past five months up 
to loth August. 

These children had all their meals in school; they now 
have dinner. This interesting experiment has been remark- 
ably successful and has exceeded any anticipation of our 
own. It is one that is capable of great development, and 
production of good to the rising generation It has' been 
generally recognised that the proper care of children under 
school age forms a serious gap in the measures that have 
been suggested or ought to be put in practice during recent 
years to ensure a healthier or more vigorous people. The 
open-air camp for these babies is an endeavour to bridge 
the gap, and it is a method of treatment and child nurture 
that might be well encouraged and developed. 

/Q--n~i\ /DUDLEY BURNEY. 
(Signed) | M D 



The Nursery was at this time entirely voluntary, 
and had not as yet many friends, while the site 
could have been claimed by the London County 
Council at any time for its original purpose. 

In August 1914 came the outbreak of the Great 
War. The Ministry of Munitions was anxious to 
secure the work of married women in the munition 
factories. The Misses McMillan appealed to the 
Ministry of Munitions through the Board of Educa- 
tion, with the result that a grant of sevenpence a day 
was promised for every child of a munition worker* 
In spite of this help the school was carried on under 
great difficulties. The staff consisted at first of 
teachers, later on, when young babies were admitted, 
it was found necessary to engage nurses. Most of 
the good nurses of England were engaged in war 
work at home or abroad, and the difficulty of pro- 
curing a good staff in such a neighbourhood, and 
with such poor equipment as was then possible, 



THE BEGINNING 57 

was very great. The situation was saved by the 
heroism of Miss Rachel McMillan. She bathed and 
tended the babies herself when skilled help could 
not be obtained, and it was her loving hands which 
lent refinement to the poor equipment. All the 
ailing babies, we are told, held out their little arms 
to "Miss Rachel" and she instinctively knew 
which of her little ones needed her most. 

Early in the year 1917 the strain proved too 
much for her, and on her birthday, 25th March, 
she passed over to the other side. Here she works 
for us and watches over us still. 

Thus star by star declines 

Till all are passed away, 

As morning high and higher shines 

To peace and perfect day 

Nor sink these stars m empty night, 

They hide themselves in Heaven's own light. 



CHAPTER X 

THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE RACHEL MCMILLAN 
NURSERY SCHOOL 

Educate every child as if he were your own RACHEL 
McMiLLAN. 

EARLY in the year 1917 the Misses McMillan had 
won the consent of the Board of Education to the 
extension of the Nursery School premises, half 
the cost of which was to be met by the Board. On 
3rd August, 1917, Mr. H. A. L. Fisher, Minister 
of Education, proclaimed the new premises open, 
and the school became the memorial of Miss 
Rachel McMillan. 

Two years later the London County Council 
entered into an agreement with Miss Margaret 
McMillan, in virtue of which she was allowed to 
continue the experiment for five years on condition 
that she relinquished all claim to the property, 
including" the buildings, in September 1924. The 
school received the first grant from the London 
County Council in September 1920. 

In the summer of 1921 the Nursery School was 
full to overflowing. There was an average attend- 
ance of one hundred and thirty-five children, and 
almost daily we were obliged to turn away mothers 
who were seeking admittance for their children. 
The school was now recognised by the Board of 
Education as a Training Centre for certificated 
teachers, and we were also training private students 
for the Nursery School work. 

Miss McMillan was very anxious to try the 
58 



THE DEVELOPMENT 59 

experiment of a large Nursery School. She there- 
fore approached the Council with a view to extend- 
ing the school, and building an additional shelter 
to accommodate one hundred more children. In 
the Memorandum which she presented to the 
Council Miss McMillan stated that the objects to 
be attained by the extension of this school were 
as follow: 

1. The testing at last by experiment what the 
size of these schools should be. 

2. The actual knowledge of what they should cost. 

3. The testing by experiment of how the staff 
should be trained. 

4. The effect of the Nursery School on the general 
health and intelligence as shown: 

(a) In the need for attendance at Clinics of 
Nursery School children. 

(i) In their general health as recorded on then- 
records, weight, attendance and aspect. 

(c) In their progress (mental), particularly in the 
later years of Nursery School life. 

The new building was opened on 5th September, 
1921, and the Managing Committee was extended 
under the chairmanship of Mr. Dence, L.C.C., the 
present Mayor of Greenwich. The original committee 
had consisted of Miss Rachel and Miss Margaret 
McMillan, Mr. and Mrs. John Evelyn, Mr. and 
Mrs. Walter Coates, and Mr. Joseph Pels. 

Miss Margaret McMillan and Mrs. John Evelyn 
still represent this original committee, the vacant 
seats of which are taken by Mr. Dent, the well- 
known publisher, the Rev. Arthur Meek, Superin- 
tendent of the Deptford Mission, and Mr. Baker, 
for many years a resident of the parish. Represent- 
ing the London County Council are Mr. Dence, the 



60 OPEN-AIR NURSERY SCHOOL 

chairman (Moderate), Mr. Watts (Labour), Miss 
Nicholson, Mrs. Monk, and Mrs. Wells. 

It was decided that the two departments (that 
is, the original or voluntary school and the new 
department) were to be run as one school. There 
was to be one superintendent and one central 
kitchen, where the cooking and preparation of 
meals was to take place. 

The new department was formally opened on 
22nd November, 1921, by Her Majesty the Queen. 
This was Queen Mary's second visit to the Rachel 
McMillan Nursery School. She has always shown 
a keen interest in the development of this work. 

The winter of 1921-22 was a difficult one. In 
December 1921 an epidemic of influenza raged in 
South-East London, and many young children fell 
victims to the disease during the Christmas holidays. 
The attendance on the last day of the Christmas 
term was one hundred and eighty-four. We came 
back to a school of one hundred and thirty-one 
children. It is a fact worthy of record that there 
were no deaths and no cases of serious illness 
amongst the children of the voluntary or older- 
established school. The children's power of resist- 
ance had been built up by the good plain food and 
fresh air they had enjoyed for months, in some 
cases for years. But two little ones from the new 
department died during the Christmas holidays. 
They had not sufficient strength to fight the disease. 1 
Outside the Nursery School the children died in 
great numbers. 

In February 1921 there was an epidemic of 
measles in South -East London. Measles is the 
one infectious disease we dread in the Nursery 
School. We have, of course, isolated cases of scar- 

1 In neither case was the death actually due to influenza. It 
was caused by a second disease contracted whilst the chUd was 
suffering from influenza. 



THE DEVELOPMENT 61 

let fever, diphtheria, and whooping-cough. These 
diseases we do not fear, for they do not spread in 
the open air. Measles is our bugbear. But we have 
never closed our school for any epidemic, and it 
was not our intention to do so now. Dr. Margaret 
Hogarth, under whose medical care we are, and 
who visits our school weekly, was also averse to 
closing the school. She advised as follows: 

"Feed the children well. Watch most carefully 
for the first symptoms of the disease. Then isolate 
at once. Visit the parents and see that, if possible, 
the child is put to bed at once and kept warm." 

The epidemic raged in the neighbourhood. The 
new department, as was to be expected, suffered 
first and most severely. The Staff of the Nursery 
School visited the homes and advised the mothers. 
The Medical Officers of Deptford and Greenwich 
were more than kind, and every case was kept under 
supervision. Dr. Hogarth examined each patient 
carefully for after effects, and the result was that 
out of forty-one cases we had only one instance of 
running ears attributable to the disease there 
were no other after effects. Surely this new experi- 
ence proves that the little ones who came under 
our care were better off than those who were left to 
play in the streets. 

The new department has steadily progressed in 
numbers since the Easter of 1922. During the last 
three months (March to June 1923) there has been 
an average attendance of two hundred and twelve 
children under five years of age in the Rachel 
McMillan Nursery School. The attitude of the 
parents is very friendly, and they are beginning 
to take pride in sending their children to school 
dean and tidy. There is already a long waiting- 
list. Soon we shall need to build again. 



CHAPTER XI 

OTHER OPEN-AIR NURSERY SCHOOLS 

THE Jellicoe Nursery School grew out of the needs 
of a war club for women. Mrs. Evelegh, the Hono- 
rary Treasurer of the Jellicoe Club, Rochford Street, 
Kentish Town, originated the idea, and it was she 
who persuaded the committee to annex two rooms in 
the club house for this purpose. These rooms were 
simply and artistically decorated, and the cost of 
furnishing was met largely by the family of the late 
Mrs. Whitehorne, who was much beloved by the 
dub members, and whose sister, Miss Black, is an 
active member of the committee of the Jellicoe 
Nursery School. 

This Nursery School was opened in 1916, and Miss 
Cromarty was appointed its first superintendent. 
In 1918 the increased number of children rendered 
a change necessary. The idea of an Open-Air 
Nursery School appealed to Mrs. Evelegh, who felt 
strongly the urgent need of the children for sunshine 
and fresh air, and who had been distressed by the 
frequent outbreaks of slight epidemics in the school. 

An appeal was made to the committee for sub- 
scriptions, and the four hundred pounds raised was 
spent in adapting a cowshed and yard at the back 
of the club. In 1921, when the need for more accom- 
modation was felt, another schoolroom, staffroom 
and a cloakroom were adapted from a second shed. 
The school is now recognised for forty children. It 
has been in the receipt of a grant since 1918. 

62 



OTHER SCHOOLS 63 

The children thoroughly enjoy their open-air life. 
They run in and out through the wide-open doors 
from the schoolroom to the quaint little garden 
with its cobble-stones and gay flower-beds. The 
utmost freedom compatible with social tolerance is 
the rule in this school, where the little ones serve 
their own dinners, brush up and tidy the garden, 
and make their school beautiful in many ways. 

There are three Open-Air Nursery Schools in 
Bradford: Princeville, Lilycroft, and St. Anne's 
Roman Catholic Nursery School. St. Anne's is the 
largest school, and owes its existence to the great 
zeal of Father Daley. 

In 1920 Miss Chignell, the superintendent of the 
Rachel McMillan Nursery School, went to Bradford 
at the request of the Education Committee to 
organise these schools. The two Council schools, 
Princeville and Lilycroft, are beautiful. The plan 
of both buildings is on the lines of the Rachel 
McMillan Nursery School, but money has been spent 
freely on every detail of the equipment. Opening on 
the fairly wide rooms there is a covered way, and 
beyond a large walled garden. The bathrooms 
are well equipped and arranged, and the whole is 
on one floor. All questions of diet are successfully 
solved by the help of the splendid Bradford School 
Kitchen, which sends the food out to these and 
other schools. The climate of Bradford does not 
lend itself to the easy evolution of a beautiful 
garden, but, in spite of the late spring and early 
autumn, the school playgrounds are gay and 
charming places. 

The three schools vary in average attendance 
from thirty to seventy children, and these children 
bear witness to the value of their surroundings and 
training. In Bradford, where a single firm employs 



64 OPEN-AIR NURSERY SCHOOL 

over a thousand married women, there can be no 
doubt as to the need for the Nursery School. 

No school has had a more tragic history than the 
Scottish School in St. Agnes Road, Dundee. And 
yet perhaps for that reason no other has a future 
that is more assured. In 1920 Miss Mabel Brydie 
and Miss Jessie Porter, students at the Rachel 
McMillan Training Centre, took up the task of 
developing the new Nursery School, started by a 
small group of people in Dundee. 

The building, for it is not an entirely open-air 
school, is part of an old poorhouse, but it is set 
on a beautiful hill with woodland and lawns all 
around it. Here Miss Brydie began her work for the 
children of the jute workers. The school is notable 
for its wonderful success in gaining the friendship 
and support of the parents. 

Miss Brydie died in December 1922, of a disease 
contracted in the course of her work with the poorest 
children. The school is now carried on under the 
direction of Miss Porter. 

Amongst the schools which are more or less open- 
air, in that they have a large garden attached to 
them, is the George Dent Nursery School at Dar- 
lington. All the arrangements of this school have 
a subtle distinction and beauty, which owes its 
existence probably to the fact that it is a memorial 
school, founded in memory of a pioneer teacher, 
Mr. George Dent, father of Mr. J. M. Dent of 
Everyman's Library. 

Mr. Dent was fortunate in having as his colla- 
borator Miss Freda Hawtrey, who was at that time 
Principal of Darlington Training College. 

In the entrance hall of the Nursery School is a 
lovely head by DonateUo, beautifully framed in 
marble and bearing the words: "Out of the mouths' 



OTHER SCHOOLS 65 

of babes and sucklings He has perfected praise." 
The beauty of this httle memorial hall is borne 
out in all the quiet rooms where the children work 
and dine, and in the fine conservatory, which is 
now the bathroom, and which opens out on a large 
and beautiful garden. 

The superintendent of this beautifully equipped 
and conducted school is Miss Drogan. 

No description can be attempted here of the 
many beautiful indoor Nursery Schools: the 
Netting Hill Nursery School, under Miss Reid, 
so deservedly famous for its social as well as its 
educational work, the Somers Town, the Mary 
Ward, Romney Road and Union Jack Nursery 
Schools. 

The Gipsy Hill Training College and Practising 
School has the great advantage of having at its 
head Miss de Lissa, the well-know pioneer of infant 
education in Australia. Then there is the Nursery 
School attached to Goldsmiths' College. 

The Mather Training College, Manchester, through 
its principal, Miss Grace Owen, has won fame not 
only in this country but in America. The students 
in the Training College practise in the College 
Nursery School, which is ably conducted by Miss 
Marriott, the Ardwick Nursery School, Manchester, 
of which Miss Steele is the superintendent, and the 
Salford Nursery School under Miss Bauerkeller. 



PART III 

CHAPTER XII 

THE NEED FOR THE NURSERY SCHOOL 

THE real need for the Nursery School has long been 
recognised by the people of intelligence who are 
really interested in the nurture and education of 
the children of the nation. 

Our welfare centres are concerned with the health 
of the baby up to the age of two. The school doctor 
examines the five-year-old when he enters the 
elementary school. What of those precious years 
between two and five? 

Dr. E. W. Hope, Medical Officer of Health for 
Liverpool, in an article published in Defective 
Children, writes as follows: 

The Medical Inspection of children . . . has revealed 
an amount of mental and physical suffering amongst 
children previously quite unsuspected suffering in most 
cases remediable, in many preventable 

Dr. McGregor, Medical Officer of Health for 
Glasgow, writing in the same book, states: 

The Notification of Birth Act has secured supervision of 
the infant up to the age of one year The child then passes 
put of observation, and when it has arrived at school age 
irremediable damage has too often already been done 
deformities preventable by ordinary care and intelligence 
have been allowed to become permanent. ... In Glasgow 
the prevalence of severe rickets is one of the object lessons 
of life in the poorer districts. We have seen that the most 
important preventive and curative measures are fresh air, 
exercise, adequate and suitable diet. In so far as these 

66 



NEED FOR NURSERY SCHOOL 67 

conditions are available for the growing child, this disease 
will be prevented or the severity of the attack mitigated. 
... In Glasgow, where rickets account for over one half 
of the physically defective children in the schools, the 
average cost of educating these children is from two to 
three times that of educating the ordinary school child. 

Let us now read the following extract from Sir 
John Gorst's Children of the Nation: 

From the point of view of public health these poor little 
children between babyhood and school age form a very 
important section of the population. They are the nursery 
in which deadly microbes and the germs of infectious 
diseases grow and multiply . . . The incipient smallpox 
or measles or diphtheria or scarletina which the doctors 
could have immediately diagnosed and stamped out runs 
its course, infection is earned into the streets and the 
schools. The disease of tuberculosis . is a terribly 
fatal disease in this country, causing one-eighth of all the 
deaths. The favourite breeding-ground of the tuberculosis 
microbe is the bodies of ill-nourished children. By these 
they are earned into the streets and into the schools with- 
out recognition and check, and this affects the bodies of 
other children and of the whole population. 

Finally let us examine the report of Major Elmslie, 
the London County Council Medical Officer of 
Physically Defective Schools. 

"Infantile Paralysis has now become the most 
important cause of crippling among children in 
London," he says, and he gives a table showing the 
year of onset for the disease in five hundred and 
fifty-nine cases. Three hundred and five cases 
begin between the ages of two and four, as against 
thirty-six between the ages of five and seven. 

Surely we have here the conclusive proof of the 
need of nurture for our little ones during these 
critical years! 

Are not clinics, sanatoria, special schools, work- 
houses, industrial schools, not to mention prisons 
and asylums, a heavy tax on the ratepayer? It is 
not an exaggeration to say that a quarter the cost 



68 OPEN-AIR NURSERY SCHOOL 

of the maintenance of a hopelessly diseased or de- 
fective child would maintain four normal children 
in good health. 

The torrent of diseased children that is pouring 
ceaselessly through our school clinics would surely 
in time begin to shrink if the causes of their ailments 
were dealt with in the earlier years. 

The gap in the national system which allowed for 
no education and no nurture for children between 
the ages of two and five years was bndged by Mr. 
Fisher in 1918. This Education Act, if it had been 
carried into full operation as far as the clauses on 
the Nursery School education are concerned, would 
have gone far to solve the whole question of nurture 
for young children. Mr. Fisher indicated that 
Nursery Schools (preferably open-air) should be 
established for children of two to five years. In 
his speech delivered in the House of Commons on 
loth August, he states: 

We do not desire to compel the provision of Nursery 
Schools, but we intend to enable such schools, attendance 
at which must be voluntary, to be aided from the rates, and 
we believe that in the development of these schools, which 
will, we trust, often be open-air schools, we may reasonably 
look for a real improvement in the health of young children. 

Unfortunately, when the Geddes Axe fell, this 
clause had only been put into operation on a small 
scale. But everything that has been tested since 
the year 1918 in regard to these schools shows that 
the clauses themselves were entirely necessary. 

The most urgent need for this new reform is 
surely to be found in the poorest areas, where the 
wastage of child-life goes on unchecked. Here 
indeed we must be as one, however divided in 
politics, creed or temperament. There is Surely no 
argument that can reasonably be advanced against 
the provision of Nursery Schools in the slum areas. 



CHAPTER X 

THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE RACHEL MCMILLAN 
NURSERY SCHOOL 

Educate every child as if he were your own RACHEL 

McMlLLAN. 

EARLY in the year 1917 the Misses McMillan had 
won the consent of the Board of Education to the 
extension of the Nursery School premises, half 
the cost of which was to be met by the Board. On 
3rd August, 1917, Mr. H. A. L. Fisher, Minister 
of Education, proclaimed the new premises open, 
and the school became the memorial of Miss 
Rachel McMillan. 

Two years later the London County Council 
entered into an agreement with Miss Margaret 
McMillan, in virtue of which she was allowed to 
continue the experiment for five years on condition 
that she relinquished all claim to the property, 
including" the buildings, in September 1924. The 
school received the first grant from the London 
County Council in September 1920. 

In the summer of 1921 the Nursery School was 
full to overflowing. There was an average attend- 
ance of one hundred and thirty-five children, and 
almost daily we were obliged to turn away mothers 
who were seeking admittance for their children. 
The school was now recognised by the Board of 
Education as a Training Centre for certificated 
teachers, and we were also training private students 
for the Nursery School work. 

Miss McMillan was very anxious to try the 
58 



70 OPEN-AIR NURSERY SCHOOL 

five children. We have come to the conclusion that 
it is more satisfactory, as well as more economical, 
to take the smaller group. Where there are fifty 
children we need a head and an assistant. In the 
smaller shelters the head can dispense with a full- 
time assistant if she has a capable student-teacher 
to help her. 

The question of the grouping of the children 
inside the shelter has now to be faced. We find 
that eight Toddlers make a satisfactory group, ten 
three-year-olds and twelve four-year-olds. Of course 
the question cannot really be disposed of as easily as 
this, for the number of children the teacher can 
manage at one time depends almost entirely on what 
she happens to be teaching at that particular time. 

The head of each department must, then, have 
three to five helpers. What type of helper shall 
they be? We, in this school, are fortunate, for side 
by side with the Nursery School the Training Centre 
for Nursery School teachers has sprung up, and so 
the problem is solved for us, as for all Nursery Schools 
attached to Training Colleges. But what of the other 
Nursery Schools? Surely it would be an excellent 
plan if all Nursery Schools could be centres of 
training for different types of social and educa- 
tional work. Would not training in the Nursery 
School work be of great use to the future helper in 
the welfare centre, the district visitor, the private 
nurse and the missionary? When the great possi- 
bilities afforded by this type of training are fully 
realised, there should be no difficulty in the staffing 
of our Nursery Schools. 

Domestic Arrangements 

There should be a small washhouse in connection 
with every large Nursery School. Towels, table- 



THE STAFFING ARRANGEMENTS 71 

cloths, overalls, are constantly in need of washing, 
and it is much more satisfactory to have this need 
met on the premises. 

The kitchen should occupy a central place amongst 
the buildings, and the cook should be carefully 
chosen, for her work is of the utmost importance. 
In the Rachel McMillan Nursery School the pre- 
paration and cooking of the meals for three hundred 
children is undertaken by one cook and one helper. 
When the meals are ready the food is placed in 
covered vessels and carried to the different depart- 
ments by the helpers. 

Diet 

The most important item of the children's diet is, 
of course, the milk. The directions issued by the 
Medical Department of the London County Council 
are to the effect that every child shall be supplied 
with one pint of milk daily for drinking the pudding 
milk to be allowed for extra. In practice we find 
that every child does not consume one pint of milk 
a day. The children who have been a long time 
with us drink the most milk. Sometimes when a 
little one first comes to the Nursery School he will 
hardly touch milk unless it is sweetened or flavoured 
with cocoa. But time soon remedies this. Acting 
under the directions of our Medical Officer, Dr. 
Hogarth, we pasteurise our milk and strain it it 
is never boiled. 

For breakfast we give the children porridge three 
or four times a week cocoa and bread and dripping 
the remaining days. 

The same dinner is never given twice in one week. 
We have meat dinners twice a week, and one fish 
dinner; on the remaining days we give eggs, soup, 
savoury pudding, or vegetable stew, according to 



72 OPEN-AIR NURSERY SCHOOL 

the time of year. For "afters" (to quote the 
children) we give various kinds of milk pudding, 
treacle suet, jam roly, currant dumpling, custard, 
chocolate pudding, stewed fruit, etc. Always with 
their dinner the children eat a hard rusk. 

Tea consists of milk or cocoa with bread and" 
butter or margarine, jam or cake. 

Menu showing dinners given during one week at 
the Rachel McMillan Nursery School: 

WINTER SUMMER 

Monday Meat and Potatoes Scrambled Eggs, Pota- 
Currant Pudding toes and Peas 

Toddlers, Milk Pudding Jam Pudding 

Tuesday Vegetable Stew Meat, Potatoes and 

Treacle Pudding (Suet) Vegetables 

Rice Pudding and Raw 
Fruit 

Wednesday Fish Pie Fish Pie 

Jam Roly Custard and Fruit 

Thursday Meat and Potatoes Vegetable Stew 
Rice Pudding Oranges Treacle Pudding 

Friday Soup and Dumplings Meat and Potatoes 
Batter Pudding Cornflour Shape 

We find that the appetites of the children improve 
very much when they have been in attendance for 
some weeks. The regularity of the life, the open air 
and the opportunity for exercise soon make good 
trenchermen of the inmates of the Nursery School. 



CHAPTER XIV 

THE FINANCE OF THE NURSERY SCHOOL 

"Men cease to regard money ?" cries Bobus of Houndsditch. 
"What else do all men strive for? The very Bishop informs me 
that Christianity cannot get on without a minimum of four 
thousand five hundred m its pocket Cease to regard money? 
That will be Doomsday m the afternoon'" 

"Oh, Bobus, my opinion is somewhat different. My opinion 
is that the Higher Powers have not yet determined on destroying 
this Lower World. A respectable, ever-increasing minority \^ho 
do strive for something higher than money,*! with confidence 
anticipate. . . . Thou wilt not join our small minority, thou? 
Not until Doomsday in the afternoon? Well then at least thou 
wilt join it, thou and the majority in mass ' " CAKLYLE 

WE are told by those in authority that we shall not 
see Nursery Schools established in the country as 
part of the educational system until we bring down 
the cost to a figure not much higher than that which 
represents the cost of keeping a child in the infant 
school This is the problem which faces the Nursery 
School teacher to-day. 

We must have more air space than the authorities 
have allowed the infant schools in the past, and we 
must have a garden. But the buildings we require 
are very inexpensive, and so is the furniture. 

We must have more teachers. But why should 
we not work out a system by means of which many 
of our young people may receive a training in return 
for the services they render the children? 

We must provide food for the children. But we 
have proved that we can provide a generous diet 
which will satisfy the requirements of the Medical 
Department of the London County Council for an 

73 



74 OPEN-AIR NURSERY SCHOOL 

average cost of half a crown a week for each child. 
In some districts the parents will be able to pay 
the whole cost of the food, but in slum areas of 
course it is often impossible for them to do so u 

We must have a big school (two to four hundred 
children), for only so are we able to staff economically. 

As a result of our experiment in the Rachel 
McMillan Nursery School this year we can definitely 
state that the total cost for each child works out at 
a little more than fourteen pounds a year. It must 
be remembered, when considering this cost, that we 
supply the children with three meals a day, and that 
the majority of parents are unable to pay the whole 
cost of the food; in districts where perhaps the 
need is not so great, the cost will therefore be less. 

We are hoping next year to be able to quote a 
lower figure, for the cost of food is coming down, 
and experience has taught us how to economise 
further in various ways which do not affect the 
welfare of the children. 



PART IV 

CHAPTER XV 

THE PAST AND THE FUTURE 

For I dipt into the future, far as human eye could see, 
Saw the Vision of the world, and all the wonders that could be* 

Locksley Hail. 

HARD by the Rachel McMillan Nursery School 
stands the handsome church of St. Nicholas. 
Written in Latin on a monument of white marble 
we may read an interesting inscription: 

Richard, son of John Evelyn, rests under this stone, 
and with him rests everything that a father's love can 
cherish and lament when deprived of. The fair face no 
longer as of old, bright with the smile of intelligence; 
the unusual grace of manner which few can attain, which 
all who knew him will miss, the simple talk in French or 
Latin languages which he took in with his Mother's milk 
all silent now: He had begun the study of the arts, and with 
the principles of arts had learned those of piety as well; 
and was so fond of his books that only death could tear 
him from them. His example showed how much natural 
quickness, discipline and labour, when united, could 
achieve. Marvellous as a child, what would he have been 
when old, had fate allowed him length of life? But God 
decreed otherwise. A slight fever carried him off after he 
had lived five years, eight months and a few days . . . 
What mortals love, let them beware never to love too well. 

Little Richard Evelyn died on 27th January, 1658. 
His father, John Evelyn, in his famous diary, 
writes of him at length. We are told that at the age 
of eighteen months he could read perfectly any of 
the English, Latin, French or Gothic letters, pro- 
nouncing the first three languages exactly. Before 

75 



76 OPEN-AIR NURSERY SCHOOL 

his fifth year he could "read most written hands, 
decline aU nouns, conjugate the verbs regular, and 
most of the irregular," and "could turn English 
into Latin and vice versa, construe and prove what 
he read. . . . The number of verses he could recite 
was prodigious. Seeing a Plautus in his father's 
hand, he asked what book it was, and being told 
it was a comedy and too difficult for him, he wept 
for sorrow/' 

We are told that he gave grave advice to his 
little brother John. He was "but a child/' and he 
must be excused when he was impatient or naughty. 
From the dizzy heights of his advanced years 
Richard looked down with love and compassion 
upon his little brother. 

Poor little Richard Evelyn! It is interesting to 
note what, in his father's judgment, was the cause 
of his untoward death. "In my opinion," writes 
John Evelyn, "he was suffocated by the women 
and the maids that tended him and covered him 
with too hot blankets as he lay in a cradle near an 
excessive fire in a closed room." The unhygienic 
conditions which prevailed at the time were the 
cause of many premature deaths. Two of the 
daughters of John Evelyn, beautiful and accom- 
plished girls, died of the dread disease smallpox, 
and of the eight children of whom his family 
was composed only two survived him. 

Thus we see that care and money could not save 
the children of the well-to-do three hundred years 
ago. What then must have been the condition of 
the poor, when even the educated classes had so 
little knowledge of hygiene? 

Almost more deplorable was the condition of 
the children of the working classes one hundred 
and fifty years ago. Children of all ages were em- 
ployed in our factories, apprenticed at the age of 



THE PAST AND THE FUTURE 77 

seven to a life of martyrdom. Robert Owen tells 
how, in the year 1815, he visited the mills where little 
ones of four and five were employed for twelve 
hours daily. In one instance he quotes the employ- 
ment of a baby of three. "The way in which these 
infants are. first employed," he says, "is to pick up 
the cotton waste from the floor to go under the 
machines where bigger people cannot creep. The 
smaller they are the more conveniently they can 
go under the machines." 

These little ones sometimes worked for fourteen 
and fifteen hours daily. They entered the mill gates 
at five and six o'clock at nights. They had no 
regular meal times, but ate their food when and 
where they could in the dust-laden atmosphere of 
the mill. They were not allowed to sit down, 
and so utterly weary were they in the mornings 
that the punishment for late-comers had to be 
made very severe. 

It is interesting to note that one of the doctors 
commissioned to report on the health of the children 
who served in the mills, commented adversely on 
the long hours, and spoke of "the natural appetency 
of all young creatures to locomotive exercise and 
open air." Surely this enlightened friend of children 
would further the cause of Open-Air Nursery 
Schools to-day! 

It is a far cry from the time when our little ones 
toiled in the mines and the mills, goaded by the 
stick of the overseer, to the day of welfare centres, 
children's clinics, free kindergartens and nursery 
schools. Yet we are only on the threshold of the 
new era. We have as yet hardly begun to touch 
the fringe of the work, which will surely find its 
culmination in the twentieth century 

What do we want? Well, to begin with, we want 
Open-Air Nurseries and Nursery Schools in all our 



78 OPEN-AIR NURSERY SCHOOL 

slum areas, and if the work is to be done thoroughly 
we must co-operate with the parents; we want 
Club Houses for the mothers, run in connection 
with the Nursery Schools. 

It is so easy to criticise our fellow-creatures! We 
point the finger of scorn at the white-faced woman 
who stands outside the public-house with her glass 
of beer, rocking her baby in her arms, as she enjoys 
a gossip with her friends. We laugh at the antics of 
half a dozen giddy factory girls who are practising 
the latest dances to tunes ground by the wheezy 
old barrel-organ at the corner. We prefer to chat 
over the harmless tea-cup to dance in the com- 
parative privacy of the ball-room, but surely the 
same instincts are at work in us and in them? 

If we lament the fact that women haunt the 
public-houses, we must provide some counter-attrac- 
tion. The conditions are difficult to-day, when a 
large majority of the fathers of the little ones who 
attend our schools are out of work. Morning after 
morning they seek employment, and heartsick 
return to their haunts under the archway facing 
the school. Many of the mothers can find work, and 
so they do double duty. They scrub and clean, or 
work in the factories aH day, and return home at 
night to " do a bit of washing." There is no comfort 
to be found in the miserable place they call home. 
They want light and companionship. They want 
to live and to forget. 

We must open dubs for our mothers in connection 
with our Nursery Schools* We shall want one or 
two good-sized rooms, a piano, a sewing-machine 
and books. The Club House must be open every 
evening, and sometimes there must be games and 
dancing for those young mothers who are little 
more than girls. 

We shall show the mothers how to cut out and 



THE PAST AND THE FUTURE 79 

make simple garments for their little ones. We shall 
buy good hard-wearing material, sell it to them at 
reasonable prices, and show them how to work the 
machine. We shall give simple lessons in hygiene 
and cookery, and talk to them about what we are 
trying to do for their children. We shall make it 
possible for them to get light refreshments at 
reasonable prices. In time such a club might 
become almost, if not quite, self-supporting. 

And then? When we have our Nursery Schools 
and clubs for mothers? Then we must have Open- 
Air Boarding Schools Camp Schools not too far 
from their poor homes, for the children of our 
densely-crowded slum areas. 

The children of the well-to-do have boarding 
schools. Many a beautiful house is left half-empty 
during the long school terms. There are boarding 
schools enough and to spare for the upper and 
middle classes but what of our little slum-dwellers ? 

We should like to send our children at the age of 
seven straight from the Nursery School to a Camp 
School, where their education could be continued 
under similar conditions, but without breaking any 
links with the home. So we should hope to create 
a new race which would wipe out the disgrace of 
the slum from our midst 



FINIS 



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