Early Years Curriculum

Your child’s life between birth and the age of 5 is a very important stage as it helps your child get ready for school, as well as preparing them for their future learning and successes. From when your child is born up until the age of 5, their early years experience should be happy, active, exciting, fun and secure and support their development, care and learning needs.

The professionals teaching and supporting your child will make sure that the activities are suited to your child’s unique needs. Through this curriculum children learn by playing and exploring, being active, and through creative and critical thinking, which takes place both indoors and outside.

It is during this time that the foundations of future learning are being laid. At this age, knowledge is gained through play. Your child will have fun exploring and experimenting with carefully selected games and play materials, increasing his/her self-awareness and that of the surrounding world. The children are able to play with paint, crayons and modeling material, sand and water, imaginative playthings (dolls, farm, zoo, garage, train set, dress-up clothes, domestic playthings), jigsaws, table games, bricks and construction toys.

Our early years’ curriculum provides a framework to ensure that each child receives the best care and education for every aspect of their development. This will be achieved: Through a combination of planned activities, learning through play and first hand experiences.  •  By close observation and continual assessment, therefore identifying any specific problems a child has, so these can be addressed before they start school.  •  By careful planning with a topic each term. The topics cover the six learning goals. Personal, social, and emotional; Communication, language and literacy; Mathematical development, Knowledge and understanding of the world; Physical development and creative development. Topics which are child initiated are also developed to enhance their interests.

The curriculum is planned carefully to ensure continuity and progression yet, also accounts for the wide range of abilities and backgrounds of each child. There are times for stories, music and movement and outdoor play. Specific pre-reading, writing and number skills can be taught at the pace of the individual child.

In this happy and comfortable atmosphere, you can be sure that your child is well cared for and helped to develop his/her full potential.

Early Years Foundation Stage

Nightingale Preschool and Junior Kindergarten uses The Early Years Foundation Stage which is a UK based curriculum that encourages children to learn through play whilst encouraging critical thinking and active learning. The aim is to ensure that every child is given the opportunity to learn through high quality play and education to the best of their ability.

Play is vital for children. It helps them to understand the world around them and to develop socially and emotionally. It’s through play that our children learn, develop at their own pace and have fun. All children should be able to play and learn in a fun environment with adults who understand, support and care about them. We want the children we care for to feel secure, not pushed or pressured, and to have the confidence to deal with whatever life brings them. They will be more prepared for their first day at school and ready to reach their potential.

The Play-based Learning Curriculum

Children learn individually and with others through play. We offer our children a play-based/learning curriculum, which meets all the requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage and supports all aspects of their learning and development. It supports their inbuilt curiosity and desire to make sense of the world around them and helps them to discover that learning is interesting and fun. This is vitally important if children are going to remain keen learners for the rest of their lives.

Play in a secure environment with effective adult support allows the children to explore, investigate and enjoy the learning experience. We help them to practice and develop ideas, concepts and skills in a unique and non-threatening way, without fear of failure.

We deliver the early year’s curriculum in a number of ways, through:

Construction and small world play  •  Heuristic play – independent exploration and investigation of real, found and natural resources and materials  •  Large & fine motor skills and experiences  •  Literacy and numeracy skills  •  Role play and imaginative opportunities  •  Water sand and malleable experiences  •  Stories and mark making – the marks that children make through a range of media, such as paint, water, sand pencils and the meanings that they give to them  •  Creative workshops  •  Outdoor opportunities  •  Exploring and investigating science and nature  •  Dance, music and sensory experiences

The Learning Environment

Children must be offered and allowed to engage in exciting and challenging activities, which support and extend their learning and development. They must have a rich stimulating environment full of contexts for play, exploration and talk where they can choose, create, investigate, explore, initiate and persist with activities.

We believe that children are active learners from birth and that if we provide them with the right environment, support and experiences, it will help to encourage their curiosity, imagination and creativity. We also need to ensure that we stimulate each child emotionally and intellectually by providing the best circumstances to promote active learning.

To this end, we have invested heavily in resources, reequipping our preschool and Junior Kindergarten with brand new resources and furniture to support wide and varied opportunities for creativity. We have designed our the environment to be cosy and exciting and they are structured in such a way as to promote a child’s independence, decision-making and problem solving.

The environment is organised into clearly defined areas to accommodate different activities appropriate to the development and competence of the children. Areas are divided by the use of low-level shelving that reduces distraction and allows children to become engrossed in their activities.

Low-level shelving also allows resources to be displayed within reach so that children can make deliberate choices about which items they want to use in their activities. They can experience a range of materials like sand, water and paint which helps their creativity and develops independence. Equal emphasis is placed on calm areas of the preschool and Junior Kindergarten where the children can feel cosy and enjoy stories, rhymes and songs. Wooden toys, heuristic materials (those that encourage children to discover solutions for themselves) and mirrors enhance tactile and visual stimulation. Every environment is designed to encourage physical skills such as sitting, standing and walking which are all important for development.

We use specialist play equipment that has been designed to invite exploration and specially selected for quality and play value. This ensures that whatever your child chooses to play with, their learning and development will be supported and extended.

Children benefit from a well designed, well organised and integrated indoor-outdoor environment and we are constantly developing our outdoor provision to offer the same excellent facilities outdoors as well as indoors.

Observation, Planning and Recording

We believe that careful planning is required if play is to be of a high quality and staff carefully observe children engaging in activities and use that information to help plan experiences and opportunities that will build on their knowledge, skills and abilities and lead to new learning and development.

Staff create interactive displays to stimulate children’s interest and curiosity, they initiate and plan activities and support and extend activities initiated by children. Observations of each child are evaluated and linked to the Early Years Foundation Stage which allows for every child’s individual development to be monitored and their progress recorded in their individual Learning Journals.