Early Years Foundation Stage
We are not a setting who have planned themes, but instead foster a child centred approach, following each child’s interests and planning activities to support them and their individual needs. Many settings sit down and plan a theme for every week. It could be transport, it could be rockets, under the sea or it could be animals. They then take that theme and plan lots of learning activities and crafts around the theme. Whilst this can be fun, and can provide the children with gorgeous little arts and craft projects to bring home (and which parent doesn’t love these!) at I Learn we want to do things differently. Our focus isn’t on looking like an exciting nursery full of teaching topics, our learning is less obvious but a far deeper and more meaningful form of learning.
Children gain an understanding of the world from spending so much time communicating imaginatively with their friends and learn from each other. Secondly, we don’t think at this age that children need to learn about specific items like rockets, dragons, pirates etc unless they show a natural interest in the subject. If specific topics were important for early years children to learn, then the early years curriculum would list these subjects and ensure they are covered in the early years curriculum. Instead the EYFS stipulates that the 3 prime areas, the most important areas for children of this age to learn and develop are:
- Personal, social and emotional skills
- Physical development
- Communication and language.
This is the deeper level of learning that we ensure our children are engaged in. In addition to these areas we also ensure the children are learning literacy, maths, understanding the world and enhancing their creativity in the arts. Our duty at this age is not to make sure that children know the vocabulary of rocket, spaceship and how to make a replica of a rocket, assisted by a friendly teacher. Our duty is to absolutely maximise our children’s empathy, their confidence, their independence, their ability to play (and work) collaboratively, their ability to develop their bodies through varied and constant physical movement, their resilience and other character and life skills. If they decide they’d like to do this through playing in the mud kitchen or through making boats, let’s let them decide and let them lead.
If you direct the children’s interests around a theme on what they should be learning, how are you encouraging them to develop their independence, their creativity and their own thought process.?
There is a great saying that when an adult takes charge of doing things for a child, the only thing that child learns is that the adult can do things better than them. They are far, far more capable than most people give them credit for. If you direct a child to use certain materials and imitate an adults creativity in making a dragon, that child learns nothing. They end up with a pretty craft, but the learning is minimal. Give the child instead a pile of loose parts, some glue or double sided sticky tape and let their imagination run free. You may not end up with as pretty (or identifiable!) an object at the end of it but you will end up with a child who understands that their views, their creativity matters. The child will learn to be independent and to think for themselves.
0-2 years: Explorers
2-3 years: Discoverers
3-5 years: Investigators
5-11 years: Kids Club
Through the curriculum we ensure that each child has a solid foundation before entering school. We help the child develop in all areas not just academically. We teach them to socialise with other children and adults, express their emotions clearly, develop confidence and therefore independence and experience the environment around them.
We have been inspired by the Reggio Emilia philosophy, with its focus on child-initiated learning and the need for early years educators and families to work closely together and be actively involved in securing positive learning outcomes for young children.
We always ensure that children are given the time to and space to explore, and we intervene sensitively and appropriately. Sometimes, standing back from the investigation and observing may be appropriate to the needs and feelings of some children. In other instances, we intervene to provide physical, emotional or intellectual support.
Staff use open ended questions to challenge the children’s thinking and extend their learning, while taking care not to distract the children or change their play.
The learning process always takes priority over the final product.
Forest School Sessions
We offer Forest school sessions as part of your child’s day. The children use their imaginations and build dens and often tell elaborate stories as part of their experiences. They explore the woodland area together and they grow in confidence and self-esteem.
We find that Forest School gives children a deep connection with the natural environment. They also learn how to handle risks and how to use their own initiative to solve problems, co-operating with their friends. Often the children will bring ideas or projects back to the nursery to be carried on indoors.
Staff support babies through Heuristic Play and treasure baskets as they play and explore freely with a large number of real world and natural objects. Staff observe and let children make their own choices, with little adult intervention, (this play is similar to how they would be more interested in the wrapping rather than the present!) This type of play does wonders for building confidence and help their concentration span. Babies develop their senses through exploring the objects, hand eye coordination is used when children are posting objects into the containers. There are many opportunities to then extend their learning, for example to incorporate maths by grouping objects, exploring sizes and shapes.
At Kids Club we offer before and after school, as well as Holiday provision. In the holidays we offer activities from essential sports and fitness skills, to Forest School sessions.