We know that each of our children is unique and has their own way of learning, and we want them to develop a true thrill for learning for its own sake, rather than seeing it as something imposed on them from outside. We plan in the moment, as the children are playing and using all of their senses, because we know this is when and how they learn best. We encourage them to explore, investigate and find out for themselves, with sensitive adults who can scaffold and extend their knowledge and understanding, their vocabulary, their mathematical thinking, and more.
So, how does this work?
Instead of using the same planning, based around the same topics, year on year, we get to know our children really well and support their learning through what is important to them, whether that be a deep-rooted interest in dinosaurs or a momentary fascination with a spider on the window. We identify the next developmental steps for each child and use those to inform what we do, so that every individual child is learning at his or her own rate and in their own way.
We try to make our environments interesting and stimulating, and we know that commercially made toys do not always offer the maximum learning potential. For example, plastic construction sets have their place, they fit together in certain ways and can be useful for children to develop manual handling and design. However, a pile of pebbles as a construction set offers so much more. Each one has a different size, feel, shape, smell, weight, and the process of building a tower with them requires a lot of trial and error, while children work out that size order can be useful and that different shapes balance in different ways. So, although a visitor to our nursery may be surprised to see sticks, stones, tyres and crates among our playthings, our view is that our children’s experiences should never be limited to what the commercial world thinks is good for them.
We know that social skills are a huge part of learning for our children and we put emphasis on helping them to learn and practice the skills that will allow them to be part of a group. This learning is different for each child, and our ethos is reflected in our behaviour policy.
Our nursery manager is a Makaton tutor, and ensures Makaton is a part of each day. Makaton is a unique language programme that uses symbols, signs and speech to enable people to communicate.
We use signing within our routines and with songs and stories, to promote and enhance the children’s understanding and use of language.