Children's learning and our teaching
You can read about what we hope children will learn with us, how we teach and why we teach this way on our Curriculum and pedagogy page.
Young children learn maths, science, art and PE through playing with real objects as well as toys, for example maths and PE happen when you count how many times you can hop, science and cooking are found in mud pies.
If children are given space and time to play, they experiment, guess, solve problems, describe, and tell stories. They practise, control and manipulate, gain technical expertise, and share their knowledge. They think and make links with earlier learning, create and imagine, overcome frustrations, experience amazement and enjoyment, co-operate with others, concentrate and persevere.
The habits of self-direction, curiosity, motivation, concentration, exploration, experimentation and excitement to learn are the foundations of life-long learning and resilience.
How we make space to learn
At the start of each term the teaching team meets to plan the curriculum plans for Church Hill and Low Hall for each week of term. These set out the topics, celebrations, books and songs that will form the framework of teaching for that term, as well as any particular projects that need advanced planning. We also display them in school: by the garden door at Church Hill and next to the staff room door at Low Hall.
Every week the team meet to discuss the specific needs the children have at that time, and plan the activities for the following week that will support and nurture those needs.
Every day the team sets up the nursery, both inside and outside in the garden, with different learning activities that follow the plans for the term and the week.
Two types of learning happen every day:
- Child-initiated learning, where the children have independent, 'free-flow' use of the equipment, activities and space, allowing them to explore their own interests, nourish their natural love of learning and help them build resilience by taking child-sized risks.
- Adult-led learning, in which the children are invited and encouraged to join the activities that staff have devised to extend their learning and support their needs. The teaching team introduce new skills and techniques, and encourage the children to think and talk about what they are doing by asking open questions and helping the children to find answers.
Snack time learning: our snack table is open for most of each session. It is a horse-shoe shaped table, with an adult sitting in the middle. Children go wash their hands, then sit down to have a snack. With the grown up's support they practise turn taking, sharing, maths (counting, adding, subtracting, dividing....), literacy (names of things and colours...), as well as having a healthy snack.
Outside: there are always at least two members of staff working with the children outdoors.
Each child has a Key Person
Each child in the nursery has one special member of staff, their Key Person, who has specific responsibilities for that child and their family while they are with us. If you have an established friendship with a member of staff, they will not be your child's Key Person. Helen and the Senior Teachers allocate Key People.
Your Key Person will:
- complete an entry profile with you to enable us to get to know your child
- help your child to settle in
- be the person you talk to if you have any concerns
- meet with you to discuss your child’s progress
- make observations, take photographs, gather samples of work and plan for you child’s progress
- gather information from other members of staff, and share information with them about your child to help them move on in their learning
- write a record of your child’s achievements whilst at the nursery
- oversee your child’s transition to infant or primary school.
Your child’s Key Person is very important, however all staff are responsible for all the children, and your child will get to know and feel secure with most if not all the teaching team. If you need to talk to someone and your child’s Key Person is not available, another member of staff will be able to help you.
Learning Journeys: how we assess what children have learned
Each area of the Early Years Foundation Stage has a number of Early Learning Goals which children are expected to achieve by the end of their Reception Year at Primary School.
Staff gather evidence on how children are progressing towards these Early Learning Goals and how they are using the Nursery by spending time watching as well as working with their key children and making notes on what they do.
These observations are kept in the children’s Learning Journeys, stored on open shelves in the school. We ask parents and carers to contribute to these books so that they become a record of a child’s development outside as well as inside school.
Getting extra help
If the team thinks a child might have particular additional needs, the Key Person will begin a conversation with the child’s family to work out ways to support the child both in school and at home. This is a collaboration between school and home, and we always consult parents before we seek support from outside agencies and support services.
You can find the details of organisations you might find useful here.
Finding out how your child is doing
Learning in school goes hand in hand with learning outside school, and we want to communicate with parents and carers as much as possible. We also want our staff to spend as much of their time as possible helping the children learn.
The simplest and most immediate way parents can track their child's educational progress is by looking in their child's Learning Journey. These are kept on open shelves, and we want parents to look at and contribute to them as often as possible. In this way we can collaborate.
At any point you can ask to speak to your child’s Key Person at the end of the session.
If this isn’t an option for you, you can email your child’s Key Person, or arrange a catch up by phone. Ask in the school office for their email address.
In addition, we organise meetings between all parents and carers and their child’s Key Person at the start of the second term, and just before your child leaves.
Resources we use: Tales Toolkit
At Low Hall and Church Hill we use a resource called Tales Toolkit to help all children develop their story-telling abilities, and with that, their language and communication skills. You could experiment with using the same words (Character, Setting, Problem, Solution), and see if this leads to longer or different conversations at home. It just might...
Build confidence by using these words