Early Years (Nursery and Reception)
Welcome to our Early Years
We are extremely proud of our Early Years Unit at Kippax Ash Tree where children embark on a journey of discovery, exploration and strive to thrive by five. We create a happy and caring environment where all children feel valued and safe and where they will have the opportunity to develop positive relationships with all the adults and children within our setting. The Early Years Foundation Stage is a unique curriculum where children often initiate their own learning through play as well as engaging in planned topic led learning. Each child belongs to a small Family Group led by each adult in Foundation Stage. The Family Groups are made up of both Nursery and Reception children with a huge emphasis on developing PSED skills and building a strong relationship with each other and their familiar adult. Our environment is a holistic approach where we work as one unit (Nursery and Reception together). This means that children can freely access all EYFS rooms, and the outdoor classroom. Within each area of learning children will be exposed to curriculum based skills through play. Each area will have a provocation, adult enhanced provision and materials to extend their learning and deepen their knowledge, all running alongside our continuous provision. We have a team of highly skilled practitioners who support children's learning and development and allow children to continually revisit, rehearse and deepen their knowledge and skills through a well planned curriculum which is tailored to our children's needs.
Mrs Dickinson, Deputy Head for EYFS and KS1.
Email contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please let our children take you on a tour of our Early Years Unit by watching the video below.
Our Intent (What we do)
'Strive to Thrive by Five'.
At Kippax Ash Tree we use our powerful voices to enable us to make meaningful choices for a life of opportunity and success.
Throughout a child’s time with us in our EYFS we aim to provide children with the opportunities to learn and develop skills for lifelong learning. We see each child as an individual and as practitioners we have the ambition to unlock their true potential. Our aim is to prepare our children for the future, equip them with the ability to use and transfer their skills across the whole curriculum enabling children to be ready and fit for the next stage of their education.
We strive to establish an Early Years environment which provides for all its pupils, a happy and secure environment in which to learn and be cared for. It is a place where every child is recognised as an individual and is helped to understand that they have great value for being themselves. In our EYFS unit we consider ‘Characteristics of Effective Learning’ which promote positive attitudes to learning, an enthusiasm for knowledge and the confidence to become successful learners.
Early Years at Kippax Ash Tree is the foundation and first steps to our children becoming independent, resilient and curious learners. As a school we want all children to strive to thrive, to develop powerful voices which enable children to make meaningful and well informed choices for a life of opportunity and success. In order to achieve this every child needs a strong support network based on positive, mutually respectful relationships.
“No significant learning can occur without a significant relationship” James Comer
Our EYFS Values
- Independence; we promote confidence and self-esteem as well as motivation and perseverance. We foster self-reliance and allow children to feel they have control to take risks, develop self-image, emotional development as well as social development.
- Resilience;we encourage children to have the ability to overcome negative circumstances and adversity in life, handling emotions and remaining healthy and competent, having coping mechanisms and begin to be able to bounce back and deal with whatever life throws at you.
- Curiosity; children are at the heart of the learning process, and we provide them with innumerable opportunities to explore, imagine, and create.
Our Early Years approach to learning is based upon some principles of the Reggio Emilia approach, however we tailor all teaching and learning to the needs of our children who attend Kippax Ash Tree. Learning is led by the individual child, but through a more structured and focused approach using sustained thinking strategies. We believe that children should be able to learn through experiences of touching, moving, listening, seeing, and hearing. We believe that children should have time to develop relationships with each other and with material items in the world.
Our Curriculum gives our children the essential core knowledge and skills they need to become life long learners and the tools to succeed in life. We start with our youngest learners in F1 moving through to our F2 learners ensuring they are fully prepared for Year One. We provide the best possible start to education and lay the foundations for future success. We provide enhanced learning opportunities, high quality interactions and awe and wonder through the seven areas of learning.
Our EYFS Curriculum is underpinned by first hand experience, developing communication and language, independence and self regulation. These are our key drivers for excellence in Early Years. Our curriculum is well planned and sequenced but has the flexibility to be led by the children's interests through project work. This ensures children's talents, own interests and fascinations and needs are always nurtured.
Implementation (How we do what we do)
In our Early Years Unit we have Nursery and Reception aged children (from 3-5 years).
We strive to establish a happy and secure Early Years environment, in which all pupils can learn and be cared for. It is a place where every child is recognised as an individual and is helped to understand that there is great value in being themselves. In our EYFS unit we have three indoor rooms and a large outdoor space; the garden.
Room 1 - La Casa. As you walk through Room 1 the home from home feel is extremely apparent. Every area has been carefully designed to reflect the home; where children naturally feel safe and secure. There is a large kitchen area, lounge area, bedroom area and large space where our children eat their lunch together in their Family Groups. Every item and resource has been purposefully selected. In our home space children can learn about conflict, resolution, family dynamics as well as physical skills through their play. They make connections to home and family. Imagination and creative thinking is nurtured as children enter their own fantasy worlds. Children can try out new ideas and ways of thinking.
Room 2 - Curiosity Cabin. Children can build, create and imagine in a safe and manageable world. Small world play offers opportunities for children to build upon their language skills, expanding their vocabulary and the understanding of new words and concepts. The stage offers the children daily opportunities to engage in social and emotional play. Children make sense of the world through music, performance, singing, dancing and acting. The area for projection, light, shadow and colour gives children the opportunity to develop curiosity, creativity and imagination.
Children explore theories of reflection, size, perspective, transparency, position, interplay and shape. Light leads to the discovery and knowledge of the world through means of different languages, words, drawings, constructions and visual compositions.
Room 3 - The Studio. The Studio is a place for artistic exploration, for trying new ideas and playing with materials. We learn to speak the language of art. It is a place where children can experiment freely, plan, design, play creatively and follow their interests and curiosities. We explore the physical qualities of a range of rich mediums, taking time to fully understand a medium, how it moves, how it feels and how it holds its shape. We engage with tools and techniques and become skilled over time with different mediums. The materials we offer inspire creativity, expression, imagination and a sense of identity. The textile area aims to develop an understanding of using different techniques. As well as the practical and design thinking skills gained we learn many transferable skills such as collaboration and physical strength. Clay and play dough provide a satisfying material to explore with. It supports the strengthening of all our bodies muscles. A woodwork bench with real tools and wide range of construction materials prompts children to put into practice what they are learning about the world.
The Outdoor Area - The Garden. The garden is where natural curiosities are there for the taking. It is a place of wonder, fascinations and a place to be free. It provides a diversity of natural resources and spaces that can not be replicated indoors. The resources on offer help develop the skills of enquiry, critical thinking and reflection. Time spent in the garden allows children to connect with the natural world through experiencing the elements: water, air, fire and earth, seasonal changes, growth and decay and changes over periods of time. Daily access to the garden supports a healthy attitude and supports active lifestyles as well as learning about our senses all through the seasons. We also have the opportunity for weekly planned Forest School sessions in our Forest School area within the school grounds.
Children will explore, discover and investigate in our learning landscape using a range of open-ended resources. They will follows their own interests but also access adult-led learning time. We believe that children learn best when they are engaged in real, hands-on, exciting experiences. Adults here facilitate, extend and challenge children’s learning. Our calm and purposeful environment acts as our 'third teacher'. We offer a beautiful natural calm and purposeful learning environment which promotes a 'home from home' feel with real life objects to support children to feel safe, have a sense of familiarity and secure. Our indoor and outdoor learning environment allows our children to be curious and creative alongside developing key child development skills. Provocations in the environment inspire and challenge children and the hands on experiences and curriculum opportunities deepen children's knowledge and understanding of the world.
Our Early Years Family Groups are made up of Nursery and Reception children. Each Family Group ranges from 10 to 16 children. Each adult in our Early Years Unit has the responsibility for their own small 'family' of children. This approach has been proven particularly successful for developing communication and language and personal, social and emotional skills. The role of the Family Group Leader is to build a strong relationship with their group of children, their parents and their families. Family Group leaders develop a deep understanding of each child's needs, interests and prime area abilities. The nurturing relationship develops and deepens and ensures children feel safe and secure in the environment.
Child Led Projects
Research based evidence shows that children who are engaged in project work show a better command of creative tools and instruments later in life. The impact of collaborative approaches on learning is consistently positive (Education Endowment Foundation). During project work, children easily proceed from exploration to representation, which has a positive impact on their development. Children’s vocabulary is expanded and contextualised whilst exposing children to new words which they might not come across in the curriculum. Project work is an innovative and well explored pedagogical method to learn about the world around them, widen their cultural capital and develop the way they express themselves. The entire system is designed to be connected, with nothing left to sit in isolation. Everything is alive and everything is connected.
We aim to give children endless ways and opportunities to express themselves. At Kippax Ash Tree, we believe children should be given opportunities to develop their potential through self-initiated exploration and themed project-led learning approaches. Throughout the day, children have the opportunity to explore, observe, hypothesize, question, discuss and clarify their understanding in the various areas across the whole unit.
All adults in our Early Years are seen as the facilitators. Adults challenge, extend and question children through sustained learning conversations in order for them to make decisions and lead their learning in their desired direction. The adults support all the children to take an active role in their learning; persevering with problems they encounter, have an enterprising attitude and show determination to achieve high standards in everything they do. Our approach also allows children to understand how to work as part of a team, think creatively and independently. Our Early Years staff team are highly skilled, dedicated to child development and uphold the highest of expectations. They have a strong commitment to excellence and to ensuring all children exceed expectations.
The parent and family relationship is fundamental to our Early Years unit. We communicate in a variety of ways, first and foremost in person. Our Early Years team are on the door every morning and at the end of every day. The team are committed to developing strong sustained relationships with all of our Ash Tree families. We use an online tool called Class Dojo for whole school communication.
In Early Years we also use class dojo as an online curriculum tool to share our learning with parents. Each day our adults will post the days learning to ensure that you are constantly informed of what your child will be learning that day. Photos and videos are also uploaded to each child's Class Dojo portfolio to showcase those wow moments so you can share and celebrate those moments at home.
The EYFS Curriculum (revised 2021)
The EYFS curriculum is split into Prime and Specific areas. The prime areas are important because they lay the foundations for children’s success in all other areas of learning and of life. The specific areas provide the range of experiences and opportunities for children to broaden their knowledge and skills:
The Prime Areas of learning are:
- Personal, Social and Emotional Development;
- Communication and Language;
- Physical Development.
The Specific Areas of learning are:
- Understanding the World;
- Expressive Arts and Design.
At the end of the Reception year, pupils are bench marked against the Early Learning Goals for each area. Attainment is described as either: emerging (working below the expected level) or expected (working at the expected level) and these are reported to parents in the end-of-year written report.
Reading and Phonics in Early Years
Through the Read Write Inc. phonics scheme, children learn how to read and understand simple sentences. Phonics are used to decode regular words and learn how to read them aloud accurately. Children are also taught how to read some common irregular words (red words). Through comprehension activities, children learn how to demonstrate understanding when talking with others about what they have read. Please visit our Read Write Inc. page for more information on this phonics scheme.
It is crucial for children to develop a life-long love of reading. Reading consists of two dimensions: language comprehension and word reading. Language comprehension (necessary for both reading and writing) starts from birth. It only develops when adults talk with children about the world around them and the books (stories and non-fiction) they read with them, and enjoy rhymes, poems and
songs together. Skilled word reading, taught later, involves both the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and the speedy recognition of familiar printed words. Writing involves transcription (spelling and handwriting) and composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech, before writing).
Children learn to use their phonic knowledge to write words in ways which match their spoken sounds. By the end of the year, children learn how to write simple sentences which can be read by themselves and others. Using phonic knowledge, we always encourage children to try their best to write phonetically plausible words.
Children are given opportunities to:
Talk and communicate in a widening range of situations, to respond to adults and each other, to listen carefully and to practise and extend their communication skills.
Explore words and texts in a vocabulary rich environment with a new story or traditional tale every day to enjoy and decode.
Enjoy rhyme. Did you know that if children know eight nursery rhymes by the time they're four years old, they're usually among the best readers by the time they're eight? Rhyming helps children to break words down and to hear the sounds that make up words in preparation for reading and writing. Therefore, we sing songs and have a rhyme time with children every day.
Begin the structured Read Write Inc phonics teaching programme through a daily phonics and writing lesson
Enjoy writing, discussion and storytelling linked to our curriculum units, using the Write Way (Jane Considine) approach to teaching writing techniques.
Developing a strong grounding in number is essential so that all children develop the necessary building blocks to excel mathematically. At Kippax Ash Tree we use the White Rose Hub and the NCETM EYFS Maths schemes of work to ensure that all children develop firm mathematical foundations in a way that is engaging, and appropriate for their age.
Children should be able to count confidently, develop a deep understanding of the numbers to 10, the relationships between them and the patterns within those numbers. By providing frequent and varied opportunities to build and apply this understanding - such as using manipulatives, including small pebbles and tens frames for organising counting - children will develop a secure base of knowledge and vocabulary from which mastery of mathematics is built. In addition, it is important that the curriculum includes rich opportunities for children to develop their spatial reasoning skills across all areas of mathematics including shape, space and measures. It is important that children develop positive attitudes and interests in mathematics, look for patterns and relationships, spot connections, ‘have a go’, talk to adults and peers about what they notice and not be afraid to make mistakes.
Impact (The result of what we do)
The impact of our well sequenced, knowledge rich and language focused curriculum combined with highly skilled adults, a stimulating and engaging environment and dedicated practitioners enables our children to be successful learners and ready for Year One.
We strive to ensure all our children make good or better progress in all areas of the Early Years with the ability to communicate effectively and self regulate. At Ash Tree we have the highest expectations of all learners and our curriculum is tailored to meet the needs of our children in our context. Our provision is constantly adapted to meet our children's developmental needs and next steps are personalised and unique to each child.
Please find our EYFS Curriculum Plans below.
If you would like any more information about this year group's curriculum please speak to our Foundation Stage staff.