In Pre-Nursery, Nursery and Reception, we follow the seven areas of learning of the official Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS).
However, we are allowed to develop that curriculum to suit the needs of our children, and reflect the Ardingly ethos. That means the best parts of the National Curriculum are combined with unique Ardingly experiences and learning. The result is the best possible progress for your child.
We frame our learning opportunities around a theme or topic. These can be a few weeks long or span most of the term. This will depend on the children interests and the route they chose to follow them.
The Pre-Nursery and Nursery staff plan an overview of the topic, often starting with a familiar book or author. This is on display on the notice board but also sent to parents attached to one of our weekly newsletters.
We plan around the seven areas of learning each week and create workshop areas in the classrooms and outside. These are designed to be the starting points by which the children can investigate and develop their own interests.
Our youngest children focus on the Prime Areas of Learning: Personal, Social and Emotional Development, Communication and Language and Physical Development. That is not to say the other areas are restricted.
Once the children are ready they have a greater focus on Mathematics, Literacy, Understanding the World and Expressive Arts and Design (Specific Areas).
There are many different types of play. This section tells you a little about what your child might be learning and experiencing when they're 'just playing'.
Children love having the chance to make up their own stories. We can help by supplying simple items to aid their imaginations. For example, set up a mini‑kitchen area with some pots, pans, plastic cups and plates. This offers children the chance to:
- act out aspects of their own lives which may be puzzling them
- develop mathematical ideas of one‑to‑one correspondence, as they offer imaginary treats to imaginary or real guests “one for you and one for me”
- try out how it might feel to be someone different
Children love to be busy and active. We can help by taking them into the playground, garden, or to the local park. For example, set up an obstacle course. This offers the children chance to develop physical skills such as:
- a better sense of overall control and balance
- judgement of direction, speed and distance
- strength and stamina
- spatial awareness as they move around, through, and beside things
- hand‑eye co‑ordination as they throw and catch
- confidence in their own skill, strength and judgement
Small world play
Children love to play with small world toys. We can help them by supplying them with a wide range of toys so that they can play out different scenarios. For example, organising small‑scale train or road layouts, dolls houses or farms or knights and princesses in their castle. This gives children the opportunity to:
- make choices and direct outcomes
- plan, organise and take charge
- become skilful with their fingers, as they manipulate small objects
- form mathematical concepts of sets, as they sort the pigs from the horses in the farm or the kitchen furniture from the bedroom furniture in the dolls house
- create worlds of their own, in which they can act out their present understanding of the real world
Sounds and Musical play
Children love rhythm, dance, singing and rhyming. For example, you can sing your favourite pop songs, nursery rhymes or make up your own tunes. Gently clapping your child’s hands, or moving your knees to the rhythm as they sit on your lap, all adds to their enjoyment and understanding of rhythm. This type of play helps your child to develop many skills, including:
- listening carefully
- understanding more about language and language patterns by hearing and responding
- repeating key phrases and anticipating the next line of a well loved song
- phonics - counting and clapping syllables
Children are fascinated by water. They often spend extended periods of time engaged in this kind of play. For example, setting up a large container of water outdoors, with various objects such as plastic jugs, cups and watering cans (of all different shapes and sizes, with handles and without) enables children to experiment with pouring and filling water, or you can simply play with water at bath‑time. This type of play helps your child to develop many skills, including:
- developing muscular strength and hand‑eye coordination
- beginning to understand the principle of conservation as they discover that the same quantity of water can fill containers of many different shapes
- learning to think in terms of full and half‑full, more and less
Children gain powerful emotional satisfaction from knocking down a tower and then building it up again. For example, playing outside with giant building blocks or with small cubes and other 3D shaped blocks. This type of play also develops their:
- mathematical skills – they learn how many blocks they need and how tall their tower is
- ability to make estimations in this way also strengthens their understanding of numbers
- measuring and balancing skills
- learning about making a plan by deciding what materials are needed for it and then carrying it out
- hand‑eye coordination as they select and manipulate objects
- teamwork and communication skills.
Forest School consolidates all types of play. It also allows the children the freedom to repeat activities familiar to them in a different environment which is also very important.