Nursery: Mrs Kapur & Mr Cox
Reception: Mrs Hallowes & Mrs Spetch
Renishaw Foundation Stage Unit – Our Approach to Play and Learning
The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) has been developed to encompass all areas of children’s learning from birth to the end of Reception year when children will be aged five. As the name implies, it provides children with secure foundations for further learning. Most importantly, it builds upon the learning that children have already gained from their families.
The EYFS provides a quality framework for care and education which is based upon a wealth of research looking into the ways young children learn and develop best.
Renishaw Foundation Stage Unit comprises two classes FS1 (Nursery class) and FS2 (Reception class)
The staff of Renishaw Foundation Stage unit are fully committed to giving children the very best learning experience.
A Unique Child
We recognise that every child is a competent learner and endeavour to support children in becoming resilient, capable, confident and self-assured. We value and respect the diversity of individuals and families and recognise that children develop in individual ways and at varying rates.
The learning environment plays a key role in supporting and extending children’s development. Learning areas both indoors and outdoors are organised to encourage children to explore and to learn by providing inspiring and motivational resources, and to locate equipment and resources independently.
We have an enclosed and exciting outdoor area, which offers children opportunities to explore, use their senses and be physically active. Some children learn with an enthusiasm and motivation outdoors that is not displayed indoors, and as educators we want to harness that enthusiasm and use it as a vehicle for learning.
Research shows that boys are generally slower than girls at developing the fine motor skills necessary for drawing and writing, and also around the age of 4, a change in hormone levels means boys become more interested in action, movement and vigorous play.
Therefore the challenge in the early years is to make learning attractive to boys, and outdoor play addresses this need by offering learning through movement and action and an outlet for release of energy. The more formal aspects of the curriculum such as mark making, number work and scientific discovery can be offered outdoors in an enjoyable way. The outdoor classroom is used to enrich the curriculum. We grow plants, look at mini-beasts in their own habitat, and experiment with the foundations to mathematical concepts such as capacity, shape, space and measurement.
We use open-ended resources such as wooden planks, crates, lengths of fabric etc. alongside commercial resources to stimulate creative thinking and problem solving.
By its very nature, outdoor learning may present more risks than indoor learning as we encourage children to move and be physically active. Children have the opportunity to discover what their bodies are capable of, and the environment is carefully structured to allow the children to be physically adventurous. All activities are monitored for a compromise between safety and challenge. However, there will almost certainly be the odd scraped knee and bruise, as children play and experiment.
We ask that you give us your full support for outdoor learning by providing your child with suitable weatherproof clothing, viewing uniform as play and work clothes and not minding too much when your child comes home a little messy with paint, mud or sand (or all three!).
We understand children learn to be strong and independent from secure, warm and friendly relationships and we work hard to ensure children feel safe, valued and cared for.
We also aim to develop caring, respectful, professional relationships with children’s families and carers. We recognise that parents have a continuing role in educating their children and we aim to work in partnership with parents to achieve the best outcome for the children in our care.
Learning and Development
Within their early years, children possess the capacity to undergo a rapid period of intellectual, social and physical growth. It is therefore a crucial period for development and one on which the foundations for later learning are laid.
In response, teachers very carefully observe children to understand what they can do, how children are learning well and use this information to plan the next steps in learning. Whenever possible, the children’s interests are used to inspire and fully engage them. We plan opportunities for children to think creatively alongside other children as well as independently, and actively encourage children to communicate with one another as they investigate and solve problems. Learning can take place indoors or outdoors, in all weathers and teaching can be direct in small or large groups, guided by the teacher or independently in response to a specific task or interest. These learning opportunities are planned to ensure children can apply their basic skills confidently in preparation for further learning in Year 1.
In addition to the above, teachers also observe for ‘Characteristics of Effective Learning’ displayed by children. These include:
Playing and Exploring – engagement
- Finding out and exploring
- Playing with what they know
- Being willing to ‘have a go’
Active Learning – motivation
- Being involved and concentrating
- Keeping trying
- Enjoying achieving what they set out to do
Creating and Thinking Critically – Thinking
- Having their own ideas
- Making links
- Choosing ways to do things
We also look for children’s repeated patterns of play or behaviour. The technical term for repeated patterns of play is ‘Schema’.
Chris Athey (Extended Thought in Young Children, 1989) defines a schema as:
‘A pattern of repeatable behaviour in which experiences are assimilated and gradually co-ordinated. Co-ordinations lead to a higher and more powerful schema.’
‘Using schema as a focus for observations ensures that children’s actions as well as their learning are recorded, and further curriculum opportunities and experiences can be planned to match children’s actions and their understanding.’
(Please ask for our additional booklet ‘What is a Schema?’ for more information)
Learning experiences and interests outside school are very important, especially those they share with parents and carers. These experiences promote learning and hold great value for children as they experience new learning with those they are closest to. To help your child to learn in the best way possible in Foundation Stage we really encourage partnership work. Please tell us how your child is learning at home, what they enjoy doing, and any new learning moments they have so we can build upon this in school. Likewise, we aim to share with you the developments your child makes as they progress through the Foundation Stage. Opportunities for this will be offered through our ‘Focus Child’ initiative, and a letter will be sent home explaining this when it is your child’s turn to be the focus of our in-depth observations.
We look forward to a long and happy partnership with you, making many happy memories along the way…