Early Years

‘Children are nurtured from the outset and given exciting opportunities, which motivate them.’ Ofsted.

Early Years

At St. Mary’s C of E School we believe that children deserve the best possible start to their education. Our Early Years team strive to provide an environment where children feel safe, happy, supported and secure. We consider each child’s interests, wants and needs so that they are ready to learn and achieve well. We are committed to providing a quality Early Years education that is creative, active and broad in order to develop a thirst and excitement for learning.

AIMS

We believe that the Early Years are critical in children’s development and that the EYFS builds a firm basis for future learning, development and independence. Therefore we educate the whole child and promote independence, curiosity, respect and resilience.

WE AIM TO:

  • Identify and value children’s strengths, interests and learning styles so that they develop confidence, independence and high self-esteem.
  • Develop and build solid relationships with our children and their families.
  • Cultivate children’s attitudes to learning, self-motivation, inquisitiveness, self-confidence and responsibility.
  • Nurture and encourage children’s curiosity, creativity and resourcefulness.
  • Develop children’s thoughts and ideas, and value their work, conversations and feelings.
  • Provide the highest quality learning experiences for all children. Learning that is exciting, creative, real, challenging and fun.
  • Provide the highest quality teaching and learning that takes into account the interests of the children, their developmental needs and allows them to make progress.
  • Support children’s learning by providing them with first hand learning experiences that are rooted in purposeful play.
  • Support the children in making the transition from their first stage of education to the next with confidence.

‘The outstanding teaching and support from staff in the Early Years provision mean the majority of children make rapid progress to meet or exceed the early learning goals. As a result, the children are exceptionally well prepared to enter Year One.’ Ofsted.

Foundation Stage Curriculum

In the Foundation Stage we follow the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum (EYFS). We support our children to become independent and collaborative learners by providing a range of activities and experiences. Through these experiences we encourage children to take risks, discover and make links between their explorations. We also introduce and begin to embed our school Christian Values: hope, friendship, trust, courage, love, forgiveness

Within the EYFS there are seven areas of learning and development with all areas of learning and development important and inter-connected. The areas are split into prime and specific. The prime areas of learning are fundamental to children’s successful learning in the specific areas and are vital as they lay the foundations for children’s success in all other areas of learning and life:

Personal, Social and Emotional Development

o    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 behaviour in groups; and to have confidence in their own abilities.

‘Children socialise well together and behave respectfully towards each other and staff. They know that the staff expect them to be kind and thoughtful, and they are!’ Ofsted.

Physical Development

o    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.

Communication and Language

o    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.

The specific areas provide the range of experiences and opportunities for children to broaden their knowledge and skills:

  •          Literacy
  •          Mathematics
  •          Understanding the World
  •          Expressive Arts and Design

Specific Areas of Learning

Literacy development involves encouraging children to link sounds and letters and to begin to read and write. Within the classroom we encourage this with the use of Talk for Writing, daily stories and helicopter stories. This is where the children are able to tell their own stories, which are scribed by an adult, and then perform them to the class.

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 measures.

Understanding of 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.

Throughout the year we address the different areas through a range of themes that are initiated by the children. Staff carefully observe the interests, ages and stages of learning of the children and plan activities and topics to capture those interests and ensure they build on what children can do and take their learning forward. Some of the topics covered are:

  •          Ourselves
  •          Festivals and food
  •          Fairy Tales
  •          Growing
  •          Long, long ago
  •          Pirates and under the sea.

Learning Journeys

Children’s learning is recorded in an online learning journal. This journal shows examples of photographs, written observation, examples of mark making, the child and parent’s voice and next steps for learning.

Parents and children are able to log in and access learning journeys from home. We encourage parents to add their own comments and observations of their children at home too. We regularly share them with other professionals during moderation.

Special visits, family and friends

We enjoy welcoming guests and visitors from the local community into our classroom to make our learning more exciting and real. We love them to help us with creative projects, school trips, to watch our infant nativity, church services and assemblies, to listen to us read or to just play games with us.

We work closely with parents and this is encouraged from before our children start at St. Mary’s school. We have many transition events open to families which enable us to get to know our families really well. Teachers also visit children in their nursery settings prior to them starting at St. Mary’s.

We encourage parents to come into school through transition meetings, school lunches, teddy bears picnic and open afternoons. Parents are always welcome to make individual appointments with the class teacher after school. Also, we welcome parents to come into class and share their skills and time with us.

Activities

At St. Mary’s we strive to cater for the individual needs and interests of our children. Children may choose from a wide and varied selection of activities:

  • Creating imaginative games in the role play
  • Sharing stories and books together in the book nook
  • Using a variety of construction toys to create interesting models and structures both inside and outside
  • Choose their own mark making tools and media to develop early writing and drawing skills
  • Get messy with sensory play such as snow, gloop and shaving foam
  • Paint, print and explore colour, shape, pattern and texture
  • Get creative with dough, collage materials and junk modelling.
  • Interactive learning on the white board, i-pads and lap tops
  • Explore and investigate sand and water
  • Build dens and structures with loose parts outside
  • Make roads and ride the trikes and scooters around the garden
  • Climb the frame, swing on the monkey bars and slide down the fireman’s pole

Outdoor Learning

We have a large garden and children are encouraged to learn through investigating their environment, building confidence, resilience and independence. We provide children with waterproof clothing so that they can get active and dirty and encourage children to bring in their own wellies so that we can use the outside space all year round.

Additionally we teach our children about the importance of a healthy diet, keeping fit and being clean. We have cafe snack during the day and children are welcome to have a piece of fruit in the morning and in the afternoon. Children bring in their own water bottles and there is also a water fountain in the classroom.