"Play is the work of the child."
‘Children learn and develop more from birth to five years old than at any other time in their lives. If children are at risk of falling behind the majority, the best time to help them to catch up and keep up is in the early years. Every child can make progress, if they are given the right support. When we give every child the best start in their early years, we give them what they need today. We also set them up with every chance of success tomorrow.’ Development Matters Sept ‘23 How we put this into practice at Cherry Grove Nursery:
Start with the child: We begin by getting to know each child before they start with us, through our stay and play sessions and building our relationships with families. EYFS Statutory Framework: Our work is then informed by the ideas and principles of the EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage) which supports seven areas of learning. We acknowledge that these seven areas of learning are all interconnected, illustrating the holistic way that young children learn. There are four guiding principles that shape our practice:
A Unique Child: who is constantly learning and can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured Positive Relationships: Children learn to be independent and strong through positive relationships with others which offer them the security they need to thrive.
Enabling Environments: Children learn and develop well within enabling environments, both physical and emotional, with teaching and support from adults, who respond to their individual interests and needs and help them build their learning over time.
Learning and Development: Children learn and develop at different rates and in different ways. All areas of learning and development are of equal value. However, the prime areas are key to accessing the rest of the curriculum, so we prioritise the children becoming secure in these areas. The Characteristics of Effective Teaching and Learning: We recognise that these are crucial in enabling our children to become confident, curious, articulate and creative learners. We have also used the Cheshire West and Chester’s school readiness document to inform our practice.
Our pedagogy has been informed by research and enables the children to follow their own interests for the majority of the time. We do have a long term plan, but we prefer to think of it as a working document whose themes can be changed to compliment the children’s interests at that time. This is because we believe that there is a greater level of engagement, and therefore attainment, when children are able to follow their own interests and are able to take ownership of their learning. We believe in a play based curriculum that takes a variety of forms:
Long uninterrupted periods of child led, independent play: Children need uninterrupted time to choose their own play and make friends with others. Adults will often get involved, without taking over the play, to help the children learn whilst they are playing. Adults will think about what important knowledge children need and how they can learn this whilst playing.
Adult Guided Play: We also have times when we plan and guide the children’s play (our focus group times). This will focus upon teaching the children a new skill or concept, for instance learning to count.
Direct Teaching: The adults also work directly with the children ‘in the moment’ to teach them new things. For example, learning how to use scissors or pedal the trikes, or write some letters of their name. We understand that a language rich environment is crucial to children in the early years. It forms the foundation of children’s learning. Children who are good communicators will go on to become successful learners throughout their time at school. We spend time chatting, playing and reading with the children every day to enable them to build up a rich and varied vocabulary, helping them to become confident and articulate learners. We feel that Ofsted’s definition of teaching and learning, sums up the way that we work at Cherry Grove Nursery:
TEACHING IN THE EARLY YEARS: OFSTED’S DEFINITION
‘Teaching in the early years should not be taken to imply a “top down” or formal way of working. It is a broad term that covers the many different ways in which adults help young children learn. It includes their interactions with children during planned and child-initiated play and activities: communicating and modelling language, showing, explaining, demonstrating, exploring ideas, encouraging, questioning, recalling, providing a narrative for what they are doing, facilitating and setting challenges. ‘It takes account of the equipment adults provide and the attention given to the physical environment, as well as the structure and routines of the day that establish expectations. Integral to teaching is how practitioners assess what children know, understand and can do, as well as taking account of their interests and dispositions to learn (characteristics of effective learning), and how practitioners use this information to plan children’s next steps in learning and monitor their progress.’
Ofsted Early Years Inspection Handbook,