Links with key workers
Though every member of staff works with each of the children your key person is the best first point of contact if you have any worries or concerns, would like to share some news or want to celebrate your child’s new achievements and interests. We usually have more time to chat at pick-up rather than drop-off, when our focus needs to be on settling the children in to their day. For longer conversations it is best to arrange a time after school when we can talk in more depth, arrange a time when we can phone you or send an email.
The Focus Child approach means that we will be closely observing the learning and development of 3children each week and planning activities that really zone in on their particular learning styles and interests. When your child is a focus child your key worker will ask about their learning and interests at home and will share their progress and targets with you the following week. This means that you will have a planned progress meeting with your child’s key worker every half term.Each child also has a learning journal which will be filled with photos and mark-making showing significant progress or a particularly meaningful experience for your child. We regularly share these with the children so that they can comment on and begin to evaluate their own achievements. It would be wonderful if you could spend some time every few weeks looking through the portfolio with your child at drop off or pick up.They would love to share these with you.
We are very lucky to have two trained Forest School Leaders in the nursery.The core of the Forest School programme is to develop children’s confidence, independence, self-esteem and ability to manage risk through regular experiences in nature. The range of activities is diverse and follows children’s interests,observations and seasonal change. However, examples might include den building, climbing trees,whittling wood, building fires to cook on, collecting and creating with natural materials, and making mini-beast habitats or bird feeders.
What do we learn about?
Each half term we choose a theme to base our planned learning activities around. We also observe the children’s interests closely so that we can plan activities around the things that they are interested in and want to find out about.
Personal, Social and Emotional Development
There is a focus on developing the children’s independence and confidence in the nursery environment.We ensure that children get to know our routine, can find the resources they need and know how to use them. We develop each child’s confidence to express their needs and preferences to adults and each other. We discuss what makes a good friend and learning how to join in with other children, sharing ideas and resources and working collaboratively with each other. By talking through our daily experiences and thinking about characters in stories we name emotions and talk about how we feel in different situations.
Communication, Language and Literacy
The children have at least two group times a day where they develop the ability to listen to others in groups and to take turns to speak through games and routines. These times also provide opportunities for the repeated singing and telling of stories, rhymes and songs to develop vocabulary and language structure as we all join in together. The children also tell their own stories and act these out as a group.Through practical activities such as woodwork and cooking the children learn to follow verbal instructions and when they are engaged in investigations, such as exploring the garden or mixing materials in messy play, we encourage children to ask and answer questions about how and why things happen. Throughout the day adults extend each child’s language as we play and learn together.
We provide a wide range of opportunities for the children to develop strength, control and coordination of large body movements on a daily basis including opportunities for climbing, balancing, using wheeled toys, large scale digging and mark-making, engaging in ball games, and movement, dance and yoga sessions. There are planned daily activities to develop children’s fine motor skills, for example teaching children to use tools such as scissors, hammers, tweezers and screwdrivers, and strengthening muscles and movements through sensory play e.g. clay, dough, cornflour gloop etc. There is a particular focus on developing children’s independent self-care skills for example hand washing, toileting and dressing.Through snack time, lunch and weekly gardening and cooking activities we encourage children to try a range of healthy foods.
Through daily shared reading the children develop an understanding of how we read, for example that the words always stay the same and that in English we read from left to right. We encourage the children to retell familiar stories using props across the nursery e.g. setting up the Three Bear’s House in the home corner and providing 3 different sized porridge bowls in the sand tray. We share lots of songs and rhymes and play games to develop the children’s ability to hear the rhythm, rhyme and alliteration in words and to be able to break words down into syllables. We introduce a sound/letter of the week and give the children lots of opportunities to explore this sound and the corresponding letter in a range of multi-sensory ways.Adults model writing for children as we scribe their words and stories and demonstrate writing for a purpose during play and the children are also encouraged to use writing for a purpose across the nursery environment e.g writing thank you letters to the kitchen, a shopping list for weekly cooking activities or writing name labels for their constructions or paintings etc.
We use songs, rhymes, games and practical activities such as cooking or setting up the lunch table to ensure that children have a solid grasp of the sequence of numbers and are able to count accurately for a purpose. We challenge children to start recording numbers in their own way e.g scoring a ball game with tallies or showing how many objects are hidden in a box using pictures. There are lots of opportunities to name and discuss the properties of shapes and the position of objects in space during model making and construction play.
Knowledge and Understanding of the World
We talk a lot about our families and things that we like to do with our families. We find out about how different families around the world celebrate some festivals of light including Divali, Hannukah and Christmas, as well as planning our own nursery community celebration with a lantern walk. We engage in many practical investigations during our work on colour and light, for example creating our own shadows,making simple electric circuits and finding out what happens when colours are mixed. We do lots of gardening –planting spring bulbs, sowing salad for a winter crop, sowing broad beans for spring, sweet peas for the summer and planting garlic at the request of the school kitchen. We also cook every week which will provide lots of opportunities to observe and describe change. Our ongoing explorations in the garden, as well as weekly Forest School sessions also provide many opportunities to talk about what we observe, develop our awareness of growth and change over time and support us to develop care and concern for living things and the environment as well as awe and wonder in the natural world. The children develop their understanding of the potential of technology by using cameras, torches, overhead projectors, lightboxes, circuits and scanners in their investigations as well as taking apart old technological equipment to find out what’s inside.
Expressive Arts and Design
We have set up the nursery so that children can develop their own creative ideas, with easy access to a wide range of construction, collage, mark-making and painting materials as well as open-ended resources to encourage imaginative play. In addition we teach the children additional skills to create specific pieces of work including sculpting lanterns with willow and tissue paper, creating repeated prints, using sunlight and natural dyes to decorate fabric and creating textures on clay tiles. The children also benefit from a weekly dedicated music session as well as daily opportunities to join in with singing and dancing activities.
As well as volunteers for Forest School and trips we welcome parents in to the nursery to share skills and spend time with the children. Perhaps you’d like to come and read or tell a story to a small group of children. Would you like to share a favourite recipe and cook with a small group? Do you have a skill or interest that you’d like to share or a job that the children could find out more about?
The school has a Parent Teacher Association which runs a number of fun events throughout the year which raise important funds for the school. They look for some nursery parents or carers to act as class representatives to help pass on messages and get other parents involved in events. It’s a really great way to make new friends and meet people in the wider school community so we’d urge you to get involved.