FREE HOURS AND DAYS:
FOLLOWING THE STATUTORY REQUIREMENTS IN THE EARLY YEARS FOREST SCHOOL OF PUPIL TO STAFFING LEVELS, ATKINSON ROAD HAVE A TEAM OF HIGHLY EXPERIENCED EARLY YEARS PRACTITIONERS:
WHAT THE KIDS DO AND HOW MUCH THEY ENJOY IT:
WHAT EXTRA DIFFERENCE WE CAN PROVIDE THROUGH LAIDLAW FUNDING:
ATKINSON ROAD OUR OFFER:
EARLY YEARS LEARNING
THE EARLY YEARS FOUNDATION STAGE PRINCIPLES WHICH GUIDE THE WORK OF ALL PRACTITIONERS ARE GROUPED INTO FOUR DISTINCT BUT COMPLEMENTARY THEMES
Personal, Social and Emotional Development (Prime)
Nursery and Reception Promises form the backbone of our teaching and support children to develop their ability to work, play and co-operate with others in a group beyond the family. The promotion of British Values is clearly evident in our promises and our practice.
Children are allowed time to develop personal values and an understanding of who they are and where they fit into the world around them. (E.g. each child has their personal peg and drawer symbol with an associated peg song, to develop that sense of belonging).
Opportunities to take turns, to share and help each other, to foster a caring attitude and to become aware of the needs and feelings of others, are carefully planned and used to their full potential.
Communication and Language (Prime)
Communication and language are at the heart of the curriculum in the Early Years Unit and underpin everything we do. Many of our children are learning English as an additional language and they have varied starting points when they come to us. Therefore, a great deal of emphasis is on developing vocabulary and understanding. This is built upon throughout their time in the Early Years enabling children to communicate in a confident way.
An emphasis on listening skills and understanding is a focus within the 2-year-old unit through songs, rhymes and actions. A very visual teaching strategy of “See it, Sign It and Say it” is developed throughout the Early Years by the use of visual props, peer to peer support, Makaton signs, gestures and an adult modelling language using “My turn, your turn” technique.
Staff work closely alongside the Early Years Speech and Language Therapist who is based in the EY unit 2 days a week. This allows several Speech, Language and Communication interventions (Early Talk Boost, Talk Boost) to operate as well as our staff receiving highly specialized training and support.
Our aim is to develop physical control, mobility, awareness of space and manipulative skills, using both indoor and outdoor environments. Waterproof jackets and trousers are available for the children to enable them to access the outdoor area in all weathers. We feel it is important that children establish positive attitudes towards a healthy and active way of life.
Children are supported to develop the muscles to control their hands, fingers and thumbs with a variety of activities and resources from the 2-year-old such as threading, tweezers, posting boxes, playdough, finger painting etc. As the children engage in the various activities throughout the Early Years, their fine motor skills develop and they become able to use tools and equipment competently as well as gain good pencil control.
As part of their physical development, we also support children to become independent in self-care, from toileting and feeding themselves to dressing themselves independently. We encourage and support children to participate in activities that will raise their heartbeat and be aware of these changes in their bodies.
At Atkinson Road, we strive to develop a love of reading from the moment the youngest children arrive at our school. Children are given access to a wide range of reading materials, including nursery rhymes, poems, stories and non-fiction books, to ignite their interest. Children are encouraged to enjoy books for their personal language development and to extend their views of the world, excite their curiosity and fire their imagination. This also brings tremendous pleasure, expands other play activities and develops concentration and listening skills.
Literacy development involves supporting children in beginning to link sounds and letters and learning to read and write. The Early Years uses the Read Write Inc phonics programme, which is delivered daily. The children enjoy a Book of the Week daily slot, where the children enjoy becoming increasingly familiar with the story, culminating in re-enacting it by the end of the week. In Reception, this love of books and reading is further developed. Each class has their “Fabulous Five” stories each half term, displaying books with props for the children to enjoy in their reading corners. Chatterbox: Literacy family learning sessions run across the Early Years, beginning in the 2’s unit. This strengthens the home-school message of developing their child’s love of reading.
In the Early Years, we want our children to become confident mathematicians who can apply what they have learnt to real-life experiences. We believe that children learn about maths through play and their daily experiences and the more meaningful to them and hands-on it is, the better.
We maximise mathematical learning opportunities throughout the daily routines. From the 2-year-old unit and upwards children gain an awareness of time as staff support them to follow daily routines, using song cues, visual timetables and picture prompts. Number and counting rhymes are an integral part of the Early Years day. Children begin to gain an understanding of one to one correspondence as they match the number of milk bottles needed for the number of children in their group.
As the children’s mathematical understanding grows, staff use their knowledge and expertise to plan for a high-quality learning environment, which provides them with many opportunities to explore different aspects of number and shape, space and measures and learn new concepts. The environment both inside and outside is full of mathematical opportunities and has exciting things for children to explore, sort, compare, count, calculate and describe. There are endless opportunities to explore capacity through ‘filling and emptying.’
Through a combination of direct adult-led teaching and facilitating play or learning independently, staff model a new language and support the children to be creative, critical thinkers, problem solvers and to ‘have a go’.
Understanding the World (Specific)
We aim to develop children’s knowledge and understanding of their local and wider environment, other people and features of the natural and man-made world. Aspects cover historical, geographical, scientific and technological learning. Through a variety of experiences, the children are made aware of themselves, their families and the environment in which they live.
They are given opportunities to explore and recognise features of living things, objects and events in the natural and man-made world, and to look closely at similarities and differences, patterns and change. They are encouraged to ask questions, to find out why things happen and how things work.
We acknowledge that for some of our families access to open space can be quite limited, therefore our outside areas are often some of our most admired and enjoyed features, they are widely used to deliver learning across the curriculum.
Alongside this, some nursery and reception children take part in Forest School sessions at the local Nature Park, often culminating in a family campfire. Our Early Years Eco-warriors meet regularly to discuss environmental issues. (e.g composting and recycling milk bottles).
Children begin to learn about birthday celebrations within our 2-year-old unit where we talk about birthdays, and gradually introduce some cultural celebrations. These are then built on within main nursery and the reception classes as the children explore wider cultural knowledge and celebrations.
A wide range of ICT equipment is used to enhance learning. (e.g. Beetbots, Interactive smart boards, cameras and iPads).
Expressive Arts & Design - Learning through Play (Specific)
Young children learn by doing, touching and seeing for themselves – through first-hand experiences. Play that is well planned and exciting helps children to think, increase their understanding and improve their language. It allows children to be creative, to explore and investigate, to experiment and to test out their ideas. We provide a carefully considered mix of adult-led and child-initiated play throughout the day. This balance is revised as the children progress through the Early Years in readiness for the transition to Year 1 and is dependent on the needs of the child.
Children are allowed time to develop personal values and an understanding of who they are and where they fit into the world around them. (E.g. each child has their personal peg and drawer symbol with an associated peg song, to develop that sense of belonging)
Children are supported to develop the muscles to control their hands, fingers and thumbs with a variety of activities and resources from the 2-year-old unit such as threading, tweezers, posting boxes, playdough, finger painting etc. As the children engage in these various activities throughout the Early Years, their fine motor skills develop and they become able to use tools and equipment competently as well as gain good pencil control.
Chatterbox Literacy family learning sessions run across the Early Years, beginning in the 2’s unit. This strengthens the home-school message of developing their child’s love of reading.
Role-play opportunities are developed as the children get older. Role-play is a key part of supporting children’s access to varied experiences so that they develop a greater depth of understanding of the world around them and their place within that world. Children have the opportunity to role-play things they may observe in the home from cooking, cleaning, using the phone, shopping and acting out celebrations, such as birthdays or cultural events. Instruments are freely available inside and outside and children enjoy music-making and singing and dancing.
Singing is a huge part of Early Years life and from early access to education within our 2-year-old provision, children participate in daily singing songs and rhymes. They regularly sing their own and each other’s peg songs. We also have a song of the week which is shared with parents as well as ‘sing & sign’ sessions which families are invited to. We have special songs for our celebrations such as Christmas, Eid, Diwali and Easter. We enjoy weekly singing and percussion sessions with Gareth (Music service). The children come together weekly for singing with Pat and her guitar and to celebrate our “I am Proud” assemblies.
From entry to our 2-year-old unit, children are immediately immersed into a creative environment where access to messy play, small world toys and home-corner play opportunities are readily available within the daily continuous provision. We continue to build on their initial experiences in the main Nursery and Reception where children learn to draw, paint, cut and create models which demonstrate their growing imaginations. This is achieved through introducing a wider variety of tools & materials to develop their skills and creative thinking.