Our Early Years setting consists of two classes: Nuthatch Nursery class and Kingfisher Reception class. We are a free flow setting, meaning our Nursery and Reception children can independently choose to move between our different EYFS environments and spend large parts of the day learning and playing together. As children play, they develop language skills, their emotions and creativity, social and intellectual skills. By allowing the children to free flow between our indoor and outdoor environments they are able to explore, develop and learn at their own pace.
We find that our children significantly benefit from our open EYFS environment. The children are able to collaborate with others who are younger or older than themselves, learning the importance of respect, kindness, acceptance and patience from an early age. Our nursery children have a very smooth transition into reception, already familiar with our daily routines, rules and expectations.
At Nightingale we provide our children with a rich and engaging EYFS curriculum that encourages high levels of creativity, energy, concentration and persistence. We aim to provide opportunities for all of our children to develop as independent, confident, successful learners. Our EYFS teachers and practitioners use a mixture of child-led and adult-led approaches to learning which is considered best practice in EYFS.
‘Play, while central, is not the only way in which children develop and learn in the early years. Children also have opportunities to learn through first-hand experiences of all sorts, alongside being shown how to do things, having conversations, and taking part in activities which are planned by adults to introduce or practise particular skills. Such adult-led activities are not play but they are most effective when they use some of the features of play to engage and motivate children, by ensuring that they are playful – with elements of choice, hands-on experience, connections to children’s interests, and enjoyment.’
Birth to 5 Matters 2021.
Throughout the day, our EYFS children take part in large adult led group learning sessions (we call these base times) where we explore texts, ideas, events, and new concepts and knowledge in specific subject areas. We also engage our children in smaller adult guided activities where we can teach and refine specific skills. During free flow the children ‘Choose Our Own Learning’, this is called COOL time. This is a hugely important part of our day where the children engage with a range of carefully thought out enhancements and continuous provision that encourages them to be curious, challenge themselves, collaborate with peers, take risks, problem solve and expand their previous knowledge. The adults use this time to follow the children’s interests and move learning on in a way that is led by the child through careful questioning and suggestions.
We believe that children need rich opportunities to initiate ideas and activities so that they develop the learning characteristics that will support lifelong learning. These Characteristics are:
- playing and exploring
- active learning
- creating and thinking critically
We encourage and nurture these characteristics throughout EYFS, enabling positive attitudes towards learning, which supports children to make good progress across the 7 areas of the curriculum.
Across a two year rolling curriculum, we adapt our learning environments and continuous provision to provide a rich range of activities that cover all of the seven areas of learning and development and provide opportunities for child led learning. We use our observations to inform our weekly planning and plan for the children’s next steps in their personal learning journey. Are themes are centred around high quality texts, using the model of Power of Reading which is the base of the English curriculum in Key Stage One. Reading, books and texts are prominent in our EYFS environments, enhancing our key texts with a variety of others to promote a real love of reading. Phonics is taught daily through the whole school approach of Little Wandle. More information can be found on our Phonics page.
At Nightingale we recognise the importance of our parents’ commitment to their child’s learning. We use Tapestry, an online learning journal to celebrate children’s achievements in school which can then be shared at home. We encourage our parents to use this platform to communicate with us achievements that the children make at home as well as topics and events of interest that can be shared and continued in school. By working together with our parents, we ensure that we have a good understanding of a child’s needs and how we can best support them in school. We invite parents into school to both share in your child’s learning and successes, as well as provide sessions to support parents in understanding how aspects of the curriculum are taught and how you can support your child’s learning at home. Ultimately, we hope that all children will be inspired and motivated to actively participate in our curriculum: experiencing enjoyment and transitioning into Key Stage One with the confidence and character to meet the challenge of an ever changing world. We support our children right from the beginning to fulfil their true potential. Together, with the parents as partners, we celebrate the incredible journey that our children make in the Early Years.