The Nursery and Reception curriculum is based on the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework. A statutory document which has seven Areas of Development; Personal, Social and Emotional Development, Communication and Language, Physical Development all of which are Prime Areas, the remaining four Areas; Literacy, Mathematics, Understanding the World and Expressive Arts and Design make up the Specific Areas.
Follow the below links to explore the learning covered in each half-term within Nursery & Reception. (The tables on these pages are best viewed from a desktop machine):
The Characteristics of Effective Learning and the prime and specific Areas of Learning and Development are all interconnected. The ways in which the child engages with other people and their environment playing and exploring, active learning, and creating and thinking critically – underpin learning and development across all areas and support the child to remain an effective and motivated learner. The skills children learn and develop around motivation, engagement and thinking ensure that they are building skills that not only allow them to maximise their own learning in the moment but are key skills for a life filled with learning.
Starting school is an important life event and we have a carefully planned and personalised approach to supporting the social and emotional well-being of the very young. Children are encouraged to be independent, explore, investigate and be inquisitive. They learn to work alone, with others in small and large groups. Children engage in activities that bring them joy, create a sense of pride and build characteristics that will support their learning throughout their lives. When children move into Reception from our Nursery we plan a careful transition and children new to our school join a “Getting Ready for Reception” group in June and July. As children develop they begin to show a deeper understanding of other children’s feelings and emotions and their emotional vocabulary extends. We teach them about fairness, help them to solve misunderstandings for themselves knowing when to get an adult and when they fix it.
Children are exposed to a wide and rich language model through songs, rhymes, stories and most importantly by being actively engaged in conversations, expressing their thoughts, ideas and feelings and needs. For some children communication is not based on the use of words and can be supported with signs and/or symbols. The importance of communication, in all it forms is celebrated, a child’s voice is heard and valued. Children are taught to be active listeners, to take turns in conversations with adults and their peers. All of this starts with a secure understanding of a rich range of vocabulary that can be used to describe our immediate wants, needs, emotions. This exposure to language continues and grows into Reception, especially as being able to write requires a rich vocabulary to draw from whether words, signs or symbols are used. Children develop more complex sentences and are able to maintain a topic of discussion beyond and initially response to a single question. They develop intonation, questioning, commentary and “thinking aloud” as well as the complexities of listening, internalising and responding in the moment. Some children will need additional support to develop confident communication, whether this is due to a specific need or as English is not a language spoken at home. All children in Reception have a weekly Language Group that supports developing vocabulary alongside the current topic.
Children learn to have greater control and stamina in their large muscles (Gross Motor Skills), developing overall health, co-ordination and control and ensuring that strength and control builds in the smaller muscles (Fine Motor Skills). Alongside this, especially in Nursery, we look at developing “self help” and “independence”, areas like toileting, knowing when they are hungry and thirsty, hot or cold and what to do when they feel this way. Physical Development also addresses children’s understanding of “being healthy”, making choices about food and understanding the effect of exercise on our bodies. In Reception the development of Gross and Fine motor continues as it is key to healthy children with strong control of one handed tools. After the first half term in Reception children start a formal P.E lesson once a week, at other times, as in Nursery, children have “free-flow” access to the outdoors for planned and child initiated Gross Motor activities like the climbing frame, block, crate building, bikes, scooters and space to run, skip, practice balls skills.
Literacy links across many other areas of learning, Physical Development in terms of the stamina and accuracy of mark making, Language and Communication when thinking about what words to write and Personal, Social Emotional Development to develop the resilience and confidence to make marks. It’s also about reading lots and lots of books, singing songs and Nursery Rhymes. Children develop a love of reading and start to notice the sounds in words, learn about the meaning of stories through their language. We plan many activities from “Phase One” of Letters and Sounds (phonics) to ensure that children have a sound foundation on which to build their literacy skills. Once in Reception children start to take a reading book home daily, Letters and Sounds starts in the second half of the first term in Reception with Phase 2. Children learn to blend and segment sounds to read and write words, they also learn high frequency and tricky words and use their skills in Guided Reading and Writing lessons as well as through directed and free-flow times. Children continue to have access to high quality books which are read to them daily.
We teach number, shape, space and measure through a range of activities across the Foundation Stage. We use role play, art, cooking, outside games among other activities to ensure that children have practical experiences in mathematics. The language that is taught is always supported by practical resources, teachers modeling and allowing children to explore, ask questions and solve problems in a context. In Reception, as well as a daily maths lesson and two adult led maths consolidation sessions per day there are a range of opportunities to engage in activities that require mathematical skills be used in context. For example, a shop where counting and giving change is required, matching and sorting, 2D and 3D modeling, shape and pattern work. This learning takes place across the class and outside in both Nursery and Reception. Children are encouraged to describe what they are going to do to solve a problem which supports their learning as well as their peers. Addition, subtraction, sharing (divide) and grouping (times) are all taught but in a very practical way so that children have a firm practical foundation in which to build more abstract mathematical concepts in Year 1, Year 2 and beyond.
This areas of development covers many aspects including; people, communities, places, technology. It is based on children exploring and being inquisitive. In the Nursery we visit the London Eye during our “Transport” theme and the Horniman Museum to explore “Mini beasts”, we cook and prepare food, tasting and trying new flavours. Celebrations, whether birthdays, significant life events in a child’s family or community, Eid, Christmas, Chinese New Year to name but a few. Technology is becoming a larger part of our world every day, we have a balanced approach for our youngest children, teaching skills to engage in technology imaginatively and safely. Children start to learn to use simple programs like paint and play appropriate games to support their learning with a greater weight given to first hand and practical experiences. In Reception the visits continue, the farm, the seaside alongside out topics. We continue to look at celebrations and children become more able to explain their own cultures and faiths to others with pride whilst other listen and ask questions. Children learn about maps and how their world looks beyond the school and their home, they make links between what they know and what they are learning.
Dance, Role Play, Exploring materials such as paint, clay, 2D modeling with found materials, making patters, mixing colours. Developing a joy and a passion for expressing thoughts, emotions and representing our ideas through the “Arts”. Children in the Nursery are shown “how” to and taught skills to fix things together, find the materials they need, to keep trying, to be brave and confident when performing and equally to be a supportive and caring audience. Children in the Nursery are allowed a freedom of expression, their is a desired but not a “prescribed” outcome where children are encouraged to have a go, keep trying and to become more confident when communicating their vision in words, pictures or dance. In Reception children use their skills more creatively, building on their own interests, the work of other artists and combining to make their own unique piece. Their expressions, their creations become more confident and more courageous, children learn, with the help of their growing Personal, Social and Emotional, Communication and Language Skills, to support one another, work in groups and be self sufficient when working alone.
During the first few weeks of children joining in Nursery, adults conduct a ‘baseline’ assessment as part of the settling period. This provides us with an entry point for each child’s learning and development as they start school.
Young children need to have secure skills in the Prime Areas of learning; Communication and Language, Physical Development, and Personal, Social and Emotional Development. We therefore tailor the provision in the first few weeks to support a child’s development in these areas. The period of settling in can be unsettling for some children, and many may not be ready to access any more complex learning surrounding the Specific areas of learning; Literacy, Maths, Understanding the World, Expressive Arts and Design.
The focus of our baseline assessments is therefore on the Prime areas of learning. Later in the first term children will have opportunity to explore a wider range of learning activities that cover the Specific areas of learning. Children are much more ready to access this learning once their Prime areas are more securely developed.
The Specific areas of learning are assessed for a baseline starting point towards the end of the first term. We can more accurately judge how well children are learning within these areas once they have settled into the routines of Nursery.