The Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum begins in the Kindergarten and transitions through to the end of the Prep (Reception) year. It is built upon the following principles:
In this complex and rapidly changing world we are unable to predict what challenges children will face in their futures. Therefore, the best preparation we can give them in their early years is to provide living experiences of making choices, innovating, taking responsibility, facing challenge, thinking flexibly and critically, and learning how to learn so that they will be able to respond to their unfolding futures.
At St Mary’s we want the children in our care to feel safe within warm, loving and caring relationships. Only when a child’s basic emotional needs are met will they relax and move into exploring, taking risks, making discoveries, and experiencing the deep involvement through which they learn. The Kindergarten Practitioners help the children to feel confident, and at ease by providing an environment that meets their need for tenderness and affection, relaxation, inner peace, enjoyment, openness, safety and belonging.
The Kindergarten Practitioners provide an enabling environment which allow the children to play and explore, respecting their ideas, autonomy and interests. The children enjoy following their own curiosity and finding their own challenges. They are given opportunities to explore the world and their imaginations, and to embrace new experiences through open-ended activities.
Within the Kindergarten we recognise that every child brings with them a rich heritage. Their homes, families, life experiences and beliefs provide the foundations to their identity. This allows us to share wonderful opportunities to learn, celebrate and embrace each other’s differences.
At St Mary’s we recognise the importance of working together to ensure the best outcomes for your child. Research tells us that the most important predictor of children’s future outcomes is the quality of the home learning environment, so involving you the parent, in your child’s learning is the most significant factor in enabling your child to do well.
Every child and family in our care are unique and special to us.
On entry to the Kindergarten setting it is important that we get to know about your child. This is the start of us working together, sharing information that we can use to help form your child’s learning journey. We love to celebrate a child’s achievement, be it completing a small jigsaw puzzle to being independent in hanging up their coat.
Once your child has settled in the Kindergarten a Key Person will be allocated to them. They will help your child to feel known, understood, cared about, and safe. The Kindergarten Practitioner will introduce themselves to you and they will be your reassuring point of contact whilst your child remains at our setting. The Kindergarten Practitioners are privileged to be able to share in the development of your children, having opportunities to celebrate moments of joy with you.
At St Mary’s the enabling environment is very important to us. We Want the children in our care to experience the real physical and natural world, as well as the social world. We want to provide routine and adult involvement which allows support for development and learning that may be planned or may arise informally. We particularly want the children to develop a love of the natural outdoor environment.
The Kindergarten Practitioners provide opportunities for negotiation and collaboration with other children to allow for your child’s communication, language and social skills to develop. They provide open-ended play opportunities which allows their imagination and creativity to flourish. They give the children time to be in the different environments so they can explore and develop a sense of self. The Kindergarten Practitioners will also provide opportunities for children to challenge their own emotional, social, physical and cognitive abilities and allow them to take risks.
At St Mary’s the children are privileged to have lots of open outdoor space to explore and learn in. They are able to experience the natural world as they feel weather, hear sounds in nature as well as experience the changes in natural light. Our children have the unique opportunity to spend quality time outside in the natural environment. They learn to challenge themselves, take risks and develop new skills. Time outdoors also benefits their health and wellbeing. By experiencing first-hand, the children begin to make sense of the world, and to learn to care for their environment.
The natural environment also supports their imaginative play and the development of relationships, encouraging collaboration with others. The children begin to develop flexible thinking. Challenging activities across the curriculum, also allows them to develop their thinking and problem-solving skills. The fantastic outdoor learning space allows the children to be inspired, to help them develop their interests and curiosities, encourage questioning, awe and wonder, and sustained shared thinking.
To learn well, children must approach opportunities with curiosity, energy and enthusiasm. Learning must be meaningful to a child, so that they can use what they have learnt and apply it in new situations. These abilities and attitudes of strong learners will support them to learn well and make good progress in all the Areas of Learning and Development.
There are three Prime Areas;
These areas are crucial in the first three years of child development. It is through these aspects that a child accesses the world around them and relationships with other people, which in turn opens the door to learning in all areas.
The specific areas through which the three Prime Areas are strengthened and applied are;
These specific areas of learning provide children with a broad curriculum and with opportunities to strengthen and apply the Prime Areas of learning. This is particularly important in developing language and extending vocabulary. At St Mary’s we understand that each everyday experience is an occasion for holistic development and learning. All spheres of development and learning are in action at the same time, which can be seen in the example opposite.
In planning and guiding the children’s activities, the Kindergarten Practitioners focus on the Characteristics of Effective Learning and reflect these in their practice and assessment processes:
Playing and exploring – children investigate and experience, and ‘have a go’
Active learning – children concentrate and keep trying if they encounter difficulties, and enjoy achievements
Creating and thinking critically – children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas, and develop strategies for carrying out tasks
At St Mary’s each child will have their own unique pathway of learning. Daily interactions involve observing, reflecting and deciding how best to support your child. At key points, whilst your child is with us, the Practitioner will reflect on their learning pathway, creating a summary of your child’s development, learning and progress. A holistic summary will give attention to knowledge and skills, your child’s emotional wellbeing and connections, and to the development of their attitudes for learning.