In the Nursery and in Reception at the Upper School we follow the curriculum for the foundation stage. In the early years children learn through play, actively and creatively exploring the world around them and developing new ideas and skills. Teachers observe children's play closely, getting to know the interests and needs of each child and of the group. They plan topics, resources and experiences related to these and deliver them through a balance of child-initiated and adult-led activities both indoors and out. In Reception children have many well-planned, purposeful play opportunities but the day is more structured with whole group, small group and individual activities in preparation for Year 1.
The Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum contains seven areas of Learning and Development with the three main areas for children being:
Personal, social and emotional development
Children build strong friendships, initially playing alongside one another and then progressing to develop ideas together, share interests and show respect, care and concern towards themselves, one another and the world around them. They gain self-confidence in their developing skills and abilities and self-awareness in knowing and expressing their feelings, ideas and in asking for help if they need it.
Communication and Language
In one-to-one and small group conversations, circle-times and storytelling, children listen carefully, ask questions, share their thinking and follow instructions. They tell and re-tell stories and describe to us how things work. We extend children’s speaking skills by introducing new vocabulary, reflecting correct pronunciation and grammar back to them and by showing real interest in what they have to tell us.
Full-day children learn Spanish each week through games and songs with our specialist teacher.
Children develop their fine motor skills in many different ways, for example through drawing, cutting, threading, painting, pouring, cooking, sewing, building, sand play, small world play, using simple tools, fastening their buttons and zips. They develop gross motor skills indoors and outdoors, through running, jumping, using climbing and sports equipment, kicking and catching balls. We have a specialist teacher for ball skills. Children also love helping themselves to the healthy snack at break time and to water whenever they feel thirsty.
The four remaining areas in children's Learning and Development are:
Reading: We read, tell and retell stories and recite and sing rhymes together every day. We have an extensive library of books including fiction, non-fiction, rhymes and poetry. At the Nursery we work with Phase 1 of ‘Letters and Sounds’ and Jolly Phonics, helping children to develop their auditory discriminatory skills for identifying sounds all around them and particular sounds in letters, words and rhymes. In Reception we work daily with Phases 2 and 3 of ‘Letters and Sounds’. Children learn the letter sounds of the alphabet and move on to phonic blends and tricky words. Reception children have a small list of two or three tricky keywords (eg and, the) to practise at home each week in terms 2 and 3. We use reading schemes including Storyworld and Sails to teach reading in Reception.
Writing: Very young children mark make and we ask them to tell us about the drawings and writing they have made. They learn to write their name with correct pen grip. In Reception children learn to form letters correctly and use their phonic knowledge to begin to write words and sentences. We give children real reasons to write, for example a shopping list in the home corner, a log book for the space station, a recipe for making gingerbread men.
Numbers: Through number games, stories, rhymes and maths equipment children count and solve problems, for themselves and together. We use number lines 1-10 and number grids 1-100. In Reception children learn to write numbers correctly and write simple number sentences for addition and subtraction.
Shape, space and measure: Children weigh in cookery, explore capacity in water play, measure how tall they or their sunflower has grown and make patterns using sequences of colours or shapes. They build with 2D and 3D shapes and learn the mathematical names for the shapes they use.
Understanding the World
People and Communities: In circle times, assemblies, festival days, Our Wonderful World Week, Harvest Festival Week and Book Week, children learn about their own and other children’s faiths and culture. Parents visit regularly to share their books, music, cooking and traditional costumes and customs with the children. We talk to children about the similarities and differences between us all and how we can be kind, happy and caring individuals.
The World: This is the foundation for Science, History and Geography. Children explore and investigate the world around them, finding out how things work, naming different animals and plants and discovering how plants grow then decay.
Technology: This is the foundation for Information & Communication Technology (ICT). Children have a weekly individual or paired group lesson with our specialist ICT teacher and access computers, iPads, interactive whiteboard and programmable toys with help and independently.
Expressive Arts and Design
Exploring and using media and materials: Children have a weekly Music lesson. There is a specialist Music teacher at the Upper School. Children have a weekly Dance lesson with a specialist Dance teacher. Children design and make constructions using different materials and tools, for example chopping fruit to make a fruit salad, sewing a hand puppet or using junk to create their own structures.
Being Imaginative: We have a wide range of media and materials for children to use in painting, making collages, building dens, playing percussion instruments, dancing, role play and for re-enacting or making up their own stories.