How Children Learn
Direct experience, through play, is the most important way of learning for children.
This means they need to use all their senses and all the parts of their bodies in exploring and discovering the world around them for themselves. They are encouraged to absorb and develop what they learn from such experience by talking with other children and adults.
There is always a wide variety of play materials available to cover all aspects of play and development, including pre-reading, writing, maths, ICT and science activities as an introduction to Key Stage One of the National Curriculum. Key Stage One is the Government guidelines used in schools with children aged 6 -7 years.
Care is taken to ensure that children’s personal experiences include experience of the wider world outside the nursery.
Early Years Foundation Stage
The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is a comprehensive framework which sets the standards for learning, development and care of children from birth to 5 years. The EYFS principles which guide the work of all practitioners are grouped into four distinct but complementary themes:
- A Unique Child recognises that every child is a competent learner from birth who can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured. The commitments are focused around development, inclusion, safety, health and well-being.
- Positive Relationships describes how children learn to be strong and independent from a base of loving and secure relationships with parents and/or a key person. The commitments are focused around respect, partnership with parents, supporting learning and the role of the key person.
- Enabling Environments explains that the environment plays a key role in supporting and extending children’s development and learning. The commitments are focused around observation, assessment and planning, support for every child, the learning environment and the wider context – transitions, continuity, and multiagency working.
- Learning and Development recognises that children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates, and that all areas of learning and development are equally important and inter-connected.
Our Six Areas of Learning
Acorns Day Nursery bases its curriculum on the following six areas of learning:
1. Personal, Social and Emotional Development
Children must be provided with experiences and support which will help them to develop a positive sense of themselves and of others: respect for others, social skills and a positive disposition to learn. Providers must ensure support for children’s emotional well-being to help them to know themselves and what they can do.
2. Communication, Language and Literacy
The following areas of children’s learning must be supported and extended: competence in communicating, speaking and listening, being read to and beginning to read and write. Children must be provided with opportunity and encouragement to use their skills in a range of situations and for a range of purposes, and be supported in developing the confidence and disposition to do so.
3. Problem Solving, Reasoning and Numeracy
Children must be supported in developing their understanding in this area of learning in a broad range of contexts in which they can explore, enjoy, learn, practise and talk about their developing understanding. They must be provided with opportunities to practise and extend their skills in these areas and to gain confidence and competence in their use.
4. Knowledge and Understanding of the World
Children must be supported in developing the knowledge, skills and understanding that help them to make sense of the world. They must be offerred opportunities to use a range of tools safely; encounter creatures, people, plants and objects in their natural environments and in real-life situations; undertake practical “experiments”; work with a range of materials.
5. Physical Development
The physical development of young children must be encouraged by providing opportunities for them to be active and interactive, improving their skills of coordination, manipulation and movement. They must be supported in using all their senses to learn about the world and make connections between new information and what they already know. They must be supported in developing an understanding of the importance of physical activity and making healthy food choices.
6. Expressive Arts and Design
Children’s creativity must be extended through support for their curiosity, exploration and play. They must be provided with opportunities to explore and share thoughts, ideas and feelings, for example, through a variety of art, music, movement, dance, imaginative and role-play activities, mathematics, design and technology.
Planning and Assessing the Activity Programmes
In order to help children progress towards the above learning goals, activity programmes are designed to provide for a series of age ranges within the nursery. Children are supported in achieving the “stepping stones” within the Government’s Early Years Foundation Stage Framework. Sensitivity is used when moving a child from one learning group to another to accommodate each child’s stage of development.
Activity programmes are based on the six areas of children’s learning which are set out above. They are planned every week by the team of nursery officers responsible for each age group and are overseen by the Senior Nursery Officer and the Nursery Leader. Ongoing assessment is an integral part of the learning and development process. At Acorns we make systematic observations and assessments of the achievements, interests and learning styles of each child. Observations are matched to the expectations of the early learning goals.