Our Preschool classes (Pre-nursery, Nursery & Reception) use the internationally respected Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum for children aged birth – five years. We respect and value how the EYFS prioritises the bedrock of early childhood development – growth in communication skills, healthy physical development and personal, social and emotional development – and we strongly believe that if a child is progressing in these areas and feels safe and happy in school then they will make excellent overall progress.
Preschool teachers also lay the foundations for success in reading, writing and mathematics using a blend of intelligently designed educational play activities and focused individual and group sessions that nurture specific skills. The emphasis on literacy and numeracy increases somewhat in Nursery and quite distinctly in Reception as children near transition to the Primary School.
Learning in the Preschool for the most part involves educational play intelligently designed to meet the key curriculum objectives. Teachers facilitate learning by carefully observing, questioning and prompting children and generally minimise ‘teacher-talk time’ addressing whole class groups.
Preschool classrooms are exciting, ‘enabling environments’ with a range of activities for children to choose from. For example, every class has a role-play area which links to the topic/s that the class is learning about; this might be modelled on a farm, a zoo, a post office, a police station or a travel agency… the possibilities are endless. Role-play areas are a powerful catalyst to imaginative play, nurturing communication and collaboration skills, vocabulary and mathematical development. Budding ‘shoppers’ and ‘shopkeepers’ practise their counting, ‘police officers’ listen to people’s descriptions of lost or stolen possessions and ‘travel agents’ and ‘travellers’ discuss holiday destinations, book flights and choose hotels. This is great fun and, when facilitated skillfully by professional teachers, results in powerful learning!
More formal, teacher-led activities also occur during the course of the day, such as teaching letter sounds, phonics, counting or adding, but these are generally conducted in small groups for age-appropriate periods of time, rather than as whole-class ‘lessons’. According to educational research, children are capable of passively listening and concentrating for their chronological age + 2 minutes (i.e. a 4-year-old child can listen effectively for around six minutes); hence we limit ‘teacher talk time’ and maximise opportunities for learning in fun and practical contexts.
Outdoor learning is absolutely central to our approach to Preschool education. We are fortunate to have fully-equipped playgrounds and outdoor learning areas specifically tailored to our curriculum. Weather permitting, it’s our aim for Preschool children to spend around 50% of their learning time outside, enjoying being in the open air!