Our Learning Environment
Activities and resources are offered in order to help each child meet the next stage of their learning and development through play, with a focus on the three prime areas.
Prime areas are fundamental, work together, and move through to support development in all other areas.
Personal, Social and Emotional Development
Communication and Language
Specific areas include essential skills and knowledge for children to participate successfully in society.
Understanding the World
Expressive Arts and Design
“The Unique Child reaches out to relate to people and things through the Characteristics of Effective Learning, which move through all areas of learning.” (Development matters EYFS 2012)
playing and exploring
creating and thinking critically
Our environment is designed to promote the characteristics of effective learning. Resources are accessible to the children; well organized using photos and age appropriate labelling; flexible and open-ended to encourage creative play. The environment is continuously developing to meet children’s needs, interests and support their exploration and play. Activities are planned to provoke questions, enquiry and sustained shared thinking.
The Key people in The Pod work hard to create a rich and stimulating learning environment for all children every day, looking for learning potentials as they arise to move children’s learning and understanding forward. Provision is planned to reflect topics which are introduced to children through high quality text, using spine books which the children will get to know well over the course of the term. Areas and activities are linked as much as possible so the children are able to immerse themselves in new experiences, enhancements are added or changes made day by day (or even minute by minute) based on how the children are using an area/resource. Child guided experiences are planned to build on the children’s interests.
“Staff create a vibrant and exciting learning environment that fully engages children's natural curiosity to learn. Children show outstanding levels of involvement and concentration, especially in their self-chosen play.” (Ofsted 2016)
Most teaching takes place during play. Staff take the children’s lead and tune in to the child’s play. They identify opportunities to join the play and offer comments or questions and other strategies to extend the child’s thinking and learning.
We promote the attitude that everybody can have a go and succeed – we celebrate effort just as much as achievement (“I like how hard you are working on your model!”) and recognise that there does not always need to be a product at the end of any learning process.
The children join daily carpet sessions for all age groups where stories or songs are shared, introducing new vocabulary and giving children a safe way to experiment with it. There is always a variety of books to look at and talk about.
We are an indoor/outdoor setting, the garden area is open for all children during the day. Children are encouraged to challenge themselves through exploration, experimentation and cooperating with each other. Learning happens through active involvement in a range of activities, leading to increased confidence, independance and perseverance when things don’t quite go as planned.
“Children need no encouragement to spend time outdoors; the garden is a very interesting and exciting place to explore.” (Ofsted 2016)
Regular observations of children’s play, and the learning that can be identified within it, are recorded into floorbooks. Key people will make observations for their own key children and other children across the unit.
“There is a real 'family feel' to the nursery. Children quickly develop the confidence to explore, play and learn, safe in the knowledge that there will always be a member of staff they know well to offer encouragement, smiles and cuddles when needed.”(Ofsted 2016)
While the emphasis is on staff resources being used flexibly in the environment to respond to the children in the immediate here and now, adult led activities also take place.
- The nursery employs the same golden rules as the primary school, providing consistency for the children who remain at St. Gregory the Great through their school career, enabling them to understand the expectations of behavior are consistent throughout. The rules are:
We are honest,
We look after property,
We are kind and helpful,
We are gentle,
We work hard.
Staff model and encourage vocabulary of feelings and emotions and support children in coming to understand their feelings and how to manage them. Consistent boundaries and expectations enable children to feel secure and safe to express these emotions. Attachment based practice is a key theme throughout the setting. There is a high expectation for children and adults to follow these rules and reminders of this are shared in a positive manner (e.g. “We look after property at nursery, what do we need to do with this book now?”).