Our Approach

Our nurseries in Southwater, West Grinstead and Horsham are a bit different. Our Forest School Nursery in Southwater has its own 11 acre woodland and our Horsham and West Grinstead Nurseries feature large Farm School spaces consisting of chickens and rabbits. Horsham Nursery is home to Woody, our pig, whilst West Grinstead houses our two miniature donkeys – Vinnie and Barney! We think a bit differently too. Inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach we employ professional artists to work with children in dedicated creative studios which are called Ateliers. We believe children love beautiful and interesting things, just like adults, so we put lots of them in our nurseries. We believe in listening to children a lot. We know if we help children work out what they are interested in, what questions they have and what they like to explore, they will be more motivated to learn. Sometimes this exploring and learning turns into children’s research projects lasting many months.


Nurturing Confident, Caring and Curious children is what we do.

At Little Barn Owls we consider every child to be a beautiful, independent, fascinating, creative individual with a huge amount to offer the world. We understand that the importance of the early years in a child’s general development cannot be over-emphasised. Any experience which caters for the needs of the children, before they reach statutory school age, establishes the foundations of future learning in many areas of human experience. There are four main needs of a child in the pre-school years:

  • The need for love and security
  • The need for new experiences
  • The need for praise and recognition
  • The need for a framework of responsible behaviour


  • We believe young children are capable of reaching higher levels of creative learning learning earlier than some expect.
  • We are passionate about helping them to develop their moral compass and encouraging them to become self-respecting, confident and social individuals.
  • We believe that excellent nursery education helps very young learners to become stimulated and excited by the fun of learning through play, which supports a positive life-long attitude to learning and succeeding.
  • We believe we can serve our children best through a firm commitment to regular self-assessment, training and research.
  • We believe by investing in our staff and praising, rewarding and incentivising them we will continue to build a committed, happy and overall effective team.


To provide the highest standards of care and nursery education tailored to your child’s individual interests and needs.


Your child’s safety, happiness and nursery education is of our highest importance.


Little Barn Owls follows an enquiry based learning approach inspired by the Infant-Toddler Centres and Preschools of the Municipality of Reggio Emilia in Italy. This unique approach to early learning rests on the premise that education is a right of all children.

At the heart of the approach is the powerful image of the child. Our educators do not see children as empty vessels that require filling with facts. Rather they see children as full of potential, competent and capable of building their own theories and testing them out to build knowledge for themselves.


A network of communication exists between the children, parents and educators. These three protagonists work together in the spirit of co-operation, collaboration, and co-construction of knowledge. We work together interacting toward a common purpose; the building of a culture which respects childhood as a time to explore, create and be joyful. Each of these three protagonists has rights within our nursery.


  • Children ask questions and generate their own hypotheses. Educators enable children to test them.
  • Children explore and generate many possibilities both affirming and contradictory. Educators welcome contradictions as a venue for exploring, discussing and debating.
  • Educators provide opportunities to use symbolic languages to represent thoughts and hypothesis, such as work with clay, sculpture, painting, drawing and imaginative play.
  • Educators provide opportunities for children to communicate their ideas to others.
  • Educators offer children, through the process of revisiting, the opportunity to reorganize concepts, ideas, thoughts and theories to construct new meaning.
  • Educators are keen observers, documenters, and partners in the learning process


Our approach places great value on children’s ideas and desire to research their theories about the world around them. To do this they need lots of open ended un-prescribed resources, and high quality tools and materials to work with. We have purpose built Ateliers, commonly known as an art studios, and Atelieristas (artists in residence) who are employed permanently to work with children offering technical and creative skill to help their theories come to life in various creative forms.

In our nursery you will find spaces for light exploration with light boxes, over-head projectors and digital projectors; clay, wire and wood work in the Atelier and garden; painting, drawing and construction and lots of recycled materials. We believe children have hundreds of ways of expressing themselves, and providing an inspiring environment acts as their ‘third teacher’.


There are seven areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage set by the Department for Education in which our early years educators support children to learn and develop:

  • Expressive Arts and Design
  • Physical Development
  • Social, Personal and Emotional Development
  • Communication and Language
  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Understanding the World


Every nursery will tell you they are committed to delivering the highest quality care. Here are a few, non-generic, genuinely unique benefits to choosing LBO that really do make us different…


  • Inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach, we value children and their hundreds of ways of creative expression
  • We operate our own Farm School where children collect the eggs from the chickens and care for the other animals everyday in Horsham
  • We have a Forest School at both our nurseries (every day at Southwater) with our own large private forest
  • We have a permanently employed Atelierista (Professional Artists) who work with the children on creative projects
  • Our nurseries are free-flow with access to the outdoor learning environments all day from the nursery rooms
  • Our Edible Garden is tendered to by the children and provides much of the fruit, vegetables and herbs we eat in nursery
  • We employ a dedicated Head of Children’s and Adult’s Learning and a Head of Family Support, to ensure we can help children and families thrive
  • Our people are committed. They go the extra mile. Children’s education is their passion not just their pay packet!