“Children learn by leading their own play, and by taking part in play which is guided by adults.” (Department for Education).
Development Matters is a guidance document published by the UK government that outlines the key milestones that children are expected to reach by the end of the early years foundation stage (EYFS). The document covers the ages from birth to five years old and forms the basis for the progression of skills and knowledge we teach at our nursery.
The EYFS curriculum covers all the critically important areas of learning and development for babies (from birth) up to children aged 5. As such, it’s a perfect fit for children at Otford Nursery.
THE INTENT OF OUR CURRICULUM
At Otford Nursery, we believe that the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) provides a solid foundation for children to become lifelong learners. We are passionate that all children reach their full, unique potential alongside their peers. Our aim is to equip children with their own ‘essential toolkit’, so that whenever they leave us, they are ready for their next stage of education. We make our children feel safe and secure enabling a positive and confident attitude to learning. We see our nursery as an extension of your family and want to give children a welcoming, caring, nurturing environment in which to grow and learn. We see every child as in individual.
We understand that every child is an individual and we support children to make progress from their individual starting points. Our staff pride themselves on knowing their key children- their interests, their family and their community. They understand the ways in which they learn best and what your child needs to do to help them achieve their next stages of development. We build on their existing knowledge and interests and develop their experiences of the world around them. There is a strong emphasis on speech and language and want our children to learn in a vocabulary- rich environment. We understand the importance of developing early language in babyhood and acknowledge the benefits of this as children progress into adulthood. As a setting, we are committed to raising outcomes for every child.
We believe that every child is unique and has their own interests, abilities, and learning styles. Our curriculum is therefore individualized to meet the needs of each child. We use ongoing observation, assessment and evaluation to monitor each child’s progress and plan next steps in their learning journey.
We promote positive relationships with parents and families, recognizing their important role in their child’s development. We encourage parental involvement and work in partnership to support children’s learning and wellbeing.
Our curriculum is inclusive and celebrates diversity. We respect and value all cultures, religions, and backgrounds and promote equality and fairness.
We believe that learning should be fun, engaging, and meaningful. Our curriculum includes a wide range of activities, including outdoor play, creative arts, music, dance, and movement, and early literacy and numeracy. We provide a safe and supportive environment where children can learn and grow, make friends, and develop a lifelong love of learning
THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE CURRICULUM
The 3 Prime Areas of the Curriculum
There are 7 key areas within the early years curriculum. These include 3 ‘prime’ areas which, in turn, interconnect and enhance the remaining four — each helping to improve the other.
· Communication & Language is the first of the three prime areas of our EYFS-based curriculum. At Otford Nursery school we provide a language rich environment. Staff at the nursery therefore encourage meaningful communications between staff and children — and between children — from the very first day they join the nursery. Language and communication skills develop naturally in children; encouraged by engaging, fun activities like role-play, story-telling and question-and-answer games. High quality books and other rich reading materials are also employed by staff to read with children in an interactive way. Using these kind of approaches helps children to learn new vocabulary and grammar, to improve reading and comprehension and to almost effortlessly broaden their language and communication skills as they grow.
· Physical Development is the second of the prime areas of the nursery’s EYFS-based curriculum. At this formative age, the young children are growing and developing rapidly, so their physical development pace is significant. That’s why nursery staff at Otford will do everything they can to ensure optimal health, wellbeing, strength, coordination and fitness among the children at every stage. The planned and child initiated physical activities will help every child to reach their potential in fitness, balance, coordination, hand-eye coordination, agility and spatial awareness. In turn these physical improvements will help with their general wellbeing and happiness. And, at all times, the children will have been having immense fun, making friends and improving social skills, self-confidence and more along the way.
· Personal, Social & Emotional Development (‘PSED’) is the third of the three prime areas of our curriculum. The personal part of it aims to ensure that children can look after aspects of their lives themselves, independently managing personal needs like cleanliness, toilet training, healthy eating and so on. The social and emotional aspects of it aim to help children fit in with adults and peers around them, support one another, themselves feel supported by others and together learn to manage emotions and behave in acceptable, appropriate ways. As they learn to do all of this, they will become more confident, feel rightly valued, more easily resolve any conflicts and form closer friendships with peers and create stronger bonds with staff. All of this will act as a social and emotional foundation to build everything else upon.
The 4 Additional ‘Specific Areas’ of the Curriculum
Running in parallel with the 3 prime areas, there are 4 additional areas of focus which adhere to the excellent EYFS framework for their early years curriculum.
· Literacy is the first of the remaining four areas of focus. . Literacy is absolutely fundamental and will give each young child the very best start when they leave early years settings to start school. On the face of it, it’s all about reading and writing. However, getting these right will help with many other areas of learning. At Otford Nursery, we encourage nursery children to take enjoyment from reading. After all, once they can read they will understand so much more about the world from non-fiction material and so much more about the possibilities of the imagination and creativity from fiction books. So, they have access to a wide, rich variety of reading materials. In a similar way, writing will benefit too. Exposure to our rich variety of books will feed their imaginations and help them to be more creative themselves. We also encourage our children to verbalise, for example by reading out loud to themselves and others in an interactive way. By so doing, speech, pronunciation and articulation also benefit, as does their confidence to speak up.
· Mathematics is our fifth area of study within the core EYFS curriculum at Otford Nursery. It’s another fundamental skill that children need to learn but, as with everything at Otford, we make it fun. Through play and interactive sessions, children will learn the concepts behind mathematics, soon learning to distinguish things like odd and even numbers, number patterns and sequences, concepts like larger or smaller, wider or taller and more or less. They will learn to count, recognise and to record numbers.
· Understanding the World is our sixth key area of focus within the curriculum at Otford Nursery. It’s a very broad but important area of study for the young children at the nursery and one that’ll stand them in good stead going forwards. After all, there is so much around them and they need to understand it and to give everything they see context. With that in mind, we’ll help them to recognise, understand, describe and even sometimes draw what’s immediately around them. They will also learn about the technology they see and use around them. The children will also learn about the more distant world through things like local parks and visiting professionals from the emergency services and suchlike. They will also learn about other communities, both in the UK and abroad, including aspects like culture, beliefs and religions. Having an excellent grounding, at such an early age will enable children to make sense of the world in which they live.
· Expressive Arts & Design is the final area of focus within our EYFS led curriculum at Otford Nursery. It’s also one of the areas that children find most fun as it gives them the freedom to express themselves, be imaginative and creative, and even to get messy from time to time. A wide variety of media, equipment and tools are available to them at the nursery and activities encourage the children to get involved and to create. It’s not just art, though; the children can involve themselves in role-play activities, they can sing, dance, tell stories and perform. Their imaginations can run riot and be free as they can express themselves and their creativity in a rich variety of ways.
THE IMPACT OF THE CURRICULUM FOR CHILDREN AT OTFORD NURSERY
The EYFS led curriculum at Otford nursery is in large part about helping our children to be ‘school-ready’ by the time they reach the age of five. However, it also gives children the very best start in life generally. Every support is given to them to fulfil their own personal bests, reaching their full potential in every area of study, through personalised goal-setting, a ‘Key Person’ allocated to every child, continual test-free assessment and an important Progress Check between the ages of two and three. Getting it right in this way during their early, most formative years, is proven to vastly improve outcomes and life chances. So, it’s an incredibly powerful and important approach to their early years education. In a nutshell, it helps every child at Otford Nursery to thrive.
During your child's time at Otford nursery we use a system called Tapestry to observe and monitor your child's progress. When observations are uploaded to tapestry you will receive and email to access what has been posted into your child's learning journal. This enables you to post comments and add your own observations and also to see what your child has been doing with us.
when we post observation we will link the observation to the EYFS and the characteristics of effective learning. (The characteristics of effective learning are a key element in the early year's foundation stage. They detail the ways in which children should be learning from their environment, experiences and activities.)