“There is no limit to how much you’ll know, depending on how far beyond zebra you’ll go!”
The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is the statutory framework we follow to guide us in meeting our children’s needs by ensuring that they are well educated and cared for, resulting in better outcomes for children, which is our ultimate aim. The EYFS was introduced in 2008 and has been since updated. All schools and early years Ofsted registered providers must follow the EYFS as a statutory requirement. The Early Learning Goals set out the expectations for most children to reach by the end of the EYFS (at the end of the Reception year, at the age of 5).
Four guiding principles shape our effective practice within the nursery. These are:
There are 3 prime areas of learning and development that are particularly important in igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, building their capacity to learn and form positive relationships. These three areas are:
We focus on the 3 Prime Areas for all children under the age of three and then once children have entered into our pre-school room, an extension to all 7 areas of the EYFS is applied.
Children must also be supported to develop in four specific areas, through which the 3 prime areas are strengthened and applied. The specific areas are:
In planning children’s learning and activities, staff will reflect on the different ways in which children may learn and reflect these within their practice. These are known as the 3 characteristics of effective learning:
This involves helping children to develop a positive and secure sense of themselves, and others; to form positive relationships and develop respect for others; to develop social skills and learn how to manage their feelings; to understand appropriate behavior in groups; and to have confidence in their own abilities. We will nurture the children to become confident learners, develop social skills, and sound moral values through their interactions with those around them. Children will learn to share and turn take, develop independence and confidence through simple steps, such as learning to take off his or her own coat and hanging it on a peg, helping to tidy up the room, circle time where we can talk about our emotions and feelings and how we should treat each other, as well as learning to look after ourselves and our bodies, i.e. washing our hands after going to the toilet and before mealtimes.
Development involves giving young children opportunities to experience a rich language environment; to develop their confidence and skills in expressing themselves; and to speak and listen in a range of situations. Our staff have undertaken training in ‘adult communication behavior’, as part of the Government training ECAT: Every Child A Talker in 2010, Redbridge Top Talkers (RTT) programme in 2015 as well as having training in Makaton. This has supported the staff in ensuring that they communicate effectively with young children, enabling them to develop into confident speakers and listeners. We have found this to be a worthwhile initiative and continue to apply its principles to our everyday practice in communication with young children, using visual aids, timetables and Makaton to support all children, regardless of their linguistic background.
Children are growing and making physical developments at a rapid rate, particularly from 0-1 but also till the age of 5. This area involves providing opportunities for young children to be active and interactive; and to develop their co-ordination, control and movement. Children must also be helped to understand the appropriate behavior in groups; and to have confidence in their own abilities. Children are encouraged to develop physically through a variety of ways and activities, enhancing both fine and gross motor skills. Gross motor skills will be developed through the use of larger play equipment such as bikes, cars, scooters, wooden blocks, bricks and balancing equipment. Fine motor skills will be encouraged through activities such as threading beads on a lace, puzzles, manipulating malleable materials such as play dough and clay, as well as learning to do fastenings such as zips and buttons, holding and learning to control one-handed tools such as paintbrushes, pencils and pens. Physical development is also developed through music and movement and the use of equipment such as large and small balls, beanbags, skittles, skipping ropes and coils. Children will learn to throw and catch, roll, hop, jump and skip and move their bodies in a variety of ways – improving their overall coordination and control.
Development involves encouraging children to link sounds and letters and to begin to read and write. Children will be given access to a wide range of reading books and writing tools to ignite their interest and support development. As well as developing this key area through planned activities with the adult, children can build on their skills by ‘writing for meaning and purpose’ in the writing area, mark-making, selecting a wide range of fiction and non-fiction books in the reading area, speaking and listening with adults and their peers, developing their language and imagination through stories, small world play and role play, exploring letters in the sand and water tray, using the word processor and writing on the large ‘white board’ in the room. There will be times when they will hear the adult read to them and ‘model write’ on the white board, and they will develop their awareness of letter sounds through our ‘Jolly Phonic’ scheme, which associates ‘actions’ with the sounds. We also have developed a ‘Home Story Sack Scheme’, for parents to share at home with their children. Each week the children (3-5 yr olds) have the opportunity to take home a story sack, which contains a good quality storybook, supported by a cd of the story, games and puppets with suggested activities to do. This is an excellent way of encouraging your child to develop their skills in storytelling, as well as building an enthusiasm and love for reading. It is also a wonderful activity for the whole family to be involved in together.
Children have access to many resources that will develop their mathematical understanding. These include shape and colour puzzles, matching games, pattern-making equipment such as pegs and boards, multilink cubes, different sized counters and containers, sorting equipment, balancing scales etc. Their early numeracy development will be extended through adult focused activities and also independent learning within all six areas. They will have opportunities to solve problems, investigate, count and explore shapes and begin to use mathematics as part of real life. For example, handling ‘money’ in the ‘fruit shop’ that we have created in our role play area or counting how many spoons we will need to set the table at lunch time.
This area involves guiding children to make sense of the physical world around them and their community, through opportunities to explore, observe and find out about people, places, technology and the environment. Children will have use of the computer and other technological equipment such as battery operated toys, remote controlled cars, cameras, telescopes, microscopes, metal detectors and various construction kits and tools- (DT & ICT).
Awareness of our physical world and environment will be developed through real life experiences, activities and discussions such as developing an awareness of change in the physical world around them, i.e., going for a ‘seasonal walk’ to observe changes in the weather and environment, to developing an awareness of living things. For example, looking at how caterpillars transform into butterflies and making this experience real by having a butterfly house in the nursery for the children to observe. Planting cress and noting how it grows or the changes that take place when we melt chocolate to make a cake etc.
We will encourage the children to talk about places we have visited, whether we liked them or not and why, as well as developing an awareness of their immediate environment in the nursery and their home. We will encourage children to respect their environment by throwing litter in the bin and keeping their environment clean and tidy both within the nursery and outside of it. We will look at photographs and talking about our families and the changes we have gone through since we were babies, as well as building an early awareness of ‘time’ through simple attention to our daily life and ‘routines’.
Cultural awareness will be developed by talking about our various cultures and religions, and how different people may celebrate festivals and why. We would encourage all children and adults to appreciate and respect our differences and see value in the fact that we have similarities and differences.
Expressive arts and design involves enabling children to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials, as well as providing opportunities and encouragement for sharing their thoughts, ideas and feelings through a variety of activities in art, music, movement, dance and role play, and design and technology. Children will have all day access to the ‘creative area’ where they can take out their own art resources to make collages with various materials, paint, draw, use scissors and glue, explore with sand, water, play dough, corn flour, rice and more. We encourage our children to be independent thinkers and learners and allow them opportunities to become creative in what they do. They will be able to select their own materials and mix their own colours for painting, as well as deciding which paper they would like. They will have all day access to our ‘dressing up trolley’, which has a wide range of multi-cultural clothes and accessories to enable the children to develop their imagination, as well as their language by taking on different roles. We plan visits to local charity shops so that the children can select their own items for dressing up and encourage parents to be involved by donating items to us.
The outdoors is one of the best and most effective classrooms you can present to a child. There is a wealth of learning opportunities and skills to be developed outdoors. We support and encourage all children, including our under 2’s to spend some time in the garden each day, regardless of the weather. Not only is it beneficial to the children to have some fresh air, exercise and a change of scenery from their rooms, the garden is another wonderful area rich with many opportunities for learning and development.
We will always ensure that our nursery and curriculum is inclusive and accessible for everyone and have a dedicated coordinator for SEND (Special Educational Needs & Disability), who is available to support children, parents and staff to ensure that targeted interventions are effectively in place if children should need them and to help children to achieve the best possible start that they can. We believe that timely intervention is key when we feel that a child requires additional support or may have a particular learning need. Our stringent assessment procedures also allows us to effectively measure children’s learning to ensure that they are progressing as expected for their age. If at times, children need support or intervention, we will ensure that we work efficiently and in partnership with parents, as well as outside relevant professional agencies or bodies to achieve the best possible outcomes for children.
Each base room has a high quality ongoing continuous curriculum based on the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) areas of learning and development, that promotes high quality child initiated learning, combined with adult-led teaching and learning.
Since Autumn 2018, we have implemented a high quality and detailed online digital system for planning which has enabled our parents to have on the spot access to their child’s Online Learning Journal. Whilst the quality of how and what we teach has not changed and remains very strong, we feel that the online system has further enhanced parental engagement and understanding of the EYFS and the different ways in which their child is learning and progressing. Parents can see observations, photographs and sometimes short videos via a secure login that also allows them to share their child’s learning experiences at home and outside of nursery with us. Staff are also able to provide ‘home learning link’ suggestions for parents to extend their child’s interests and development at home where appropriate. Since using the online system, we have received much positive feedback from our parents on how it has made a difference to them.
Throughout the week, key workers will observe their children as they engage in child initiated learning, playing with their peers, independently or with an adult. Key workers will spend time with their key children on a one-to-one basis and in small groups, teaching them new skills, engaging in sustained shared thinking together, communicating and enjoying being together.
Key workers will use their observations to make informal and formal assessments about what a child is telling us or learning and use this to inform planning, enabling us to provide experiences that are challenging, interesting and conducive in taking the child’s development forward.
Plenty of opportunity will be available for children to repeat, extend and develop their learning further through focus activities that have been planned on a weekly basis for them by their key worker, following observation.
Our pre-school room works on a six weekly ‘topic’ based approach planning.
Children are assessed ‘on entry’, within the first week of them joining us and then 3 monthly thereafter. This allows us to gain a good understanding of a child’s learning and what we need to do to ensure that they progress as positively as possible.
Each term, staff will track your child’s individual progress to ensure that he/she is working at an appropriate level for their age and to support them with future development steps. We hold ‘Parent Consultation sessions’ twice a year, in January and July. This is a valuable opportunity for parents to come in and meet with their child’s key person, discuss progress, agree on ‘next steps’ and how best we can support your child to maximize their potential in partnership together. A written report to summarise your child’s progress is provided to you at the end of the academic year (July).
The Manager will regularly evaluate the children’s progress alongside staff and support them to ensure each child is making the expected progress that they should be. Interventions, target setting and systems for support are quickly put into place if children are not progressing at the expected rate for their age. This will enable each child to receive he best possible start that they can and allows us to tune into a child’s specific needs so that they can develop in a ‘well-rounded’ way. Assessment data is also shared with our local authority (London Borough of Redbridge) to ensure that all children are making the progress that they should be.
All children will receive a Two Year Development Check shortly after they have reached their second birthday. This is a statutory check which will be carried out by the child’s key person and in consultation and partnership with parents.
"Children are provided with extremely challenging learning opportunities that promote their interests and encourage their natural curiosity to explore. The nursery has high expectations of the children, including what they can achieve. Children are extremely well prepared for their move on to school." Ofsted 2017