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From the Beginning...
Every child deserves the best possible start in life and the support that enables them to fulfill their potential. Children develop quickly in the early years and a child’s experiences between birth and age five have a major impact on their future life chances. A secure, safe and happy childhood is important in its own right. Good parenting and high quality early learning together provide the foundation children need to make the most of their abilities and talents as they grow up.
The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) sets the standards that all early years providers must meet to ensure that children learn and develop well and are kept healthy and safe. It promotes teaching and learning to ensure children’s ‘school readiness’ and gives children the broad range of knowledge and skills that provide the right foundation for good future progress through school and life. The EYFS specifies requirements for learning and development and for safeguarding children and promoting their welfare.
The four guiding principles which shape practice in the nursery are:
• every child is a unique child, who is constantly learning and can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured.
• children learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships.
• children learn and develop well in enabling environments, in which their experiences respond to their individual needs and there is a strong partnership between practitioners and parents and/or carers.
• children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates.
Learning and Development
There are seven areas of learning and development which we based our curriculum. All areas of learning and development are important and inter-connected. Three areas are particularly crucial for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm, for learning and for building their capacity to learn, form relationships and thrive.
These three areas, the prime areas, are:
• Communication and language development involves giving 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.
• Physical development 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 importance of physical activity and to make healthy choices in relation to food.
• Personal, social and emotional development involves helping children to develop a positive 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 also support children in four specific areas, through which the three prime areas are strengthened and applied.
The specific areas are:
• Literacy development involves encouraging children to link sounds and letters and to begin to read and write. Children must be given access to a wide range of reading materials (books, poems, and other written materials) to ignite their interest
• Mathematics involves providing children with opportunities to develop and improve their skills in counting, understanding and using numbers, calculating simple addition and subtraction problems; and to describe shapes, spaces, and measure
• Understanding the world involves guiding children to make sense of their physical world and their community through opportunities to explore, observe and find out about people, places, technology and the environment
• 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, role-play, and design and technology.
Each Child as Individual
Practitioners consider the individual needs, interests, and stage of development of each child in their care, and use this information to plan a challenging and enjoyable experience for each child in all of the areas of learning and development. Practitioners working with the youngest children focus strongly on the three prime areas, which are the basis for successful learning in the other four specific areas.
The three prime areas reflect the key skills and capacities all children need to develop and learn effectively, and become ready for school. It is expected that the balance will shift towards a more equal focus on all areas of learning as children grow in confidence and ability within the three prime areas. But throughout the early years, if a child’s progress in any prime area gives cause for concern, practitioners will discuss this with the child’s parents and/or carers and agree how to support the child. Practitioners will consider whether a child may have a special educational need or disability which requires specialist support. We will then link with, and help families to access, relevant services from other agencies as appropriate.
English as Additional Language
For children whose home language is not English, we take reasonable steps to provide opportunities for children to develop and use their home language in play and learning, supporting their language development at home. We also ensure that children have sufficient opportunities to learn and reach a good standard in English language during the EYFS: ensuring children are ready to benefit from the opportunities available to them when they begin Year 1. When assessing communication, language and literacy skills, practitioners assess children’s skills in English. If a child does not have a strong grasp of English language, practitioners will explore the child’s skills in the home language with parents and/or carers, to establish whether there is cause for concern about language delay.
Learning and Development
Each area of learning and development must be implemented through planned, purposeful play and through a mix of adult-led and child-initiated activity. Play is essential for children’s development, building their confidence as they learn to explore, to think about problems, and relate to others. Children learn by leading their own play, and by taking part in play which is guided by adults. There is an ongoing judgement to be made by practitioners about the balance between activities led by children, and activities led or guided by adults. Practitioners respond to each child’s emerging needs and interests, guiding their development through warm, and positive interaction. As children grow older, and as their development allows, it is expected that the balance will gradually shift towards more activities led by adults, to help children prepare for more formal learning, ready for Year 1.
In planning and guiding children’s activities, practitioners reflect on the different ways that children learn and reflect these in their practice. Three characteristics of effective teaching and learning are:
• playing and exploring - children investigate and experience things, and ‘have a go’
• active learning - children concentrate and keep on trying if they encounter difficulties, and enjoy achievements
• creating and thinking critically - children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas, and develop strategies for doing things
Each child must be assigned a key person. We inform parents and/or carers of the name of the key person, and explain their role, when a child starts attending a setting. The key person helps ensuring that every child’s learning and care is tailored to meet their individual needs. The key person will seek to engage and support parents and/or carers in guiding their child’s development at home. They also help families engage with more specialist support if appropriate.
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