Dani Mace, Early Years Leader
Here at Meadlands, The Early Years Foundation Stage provides an outstanding environment that allows opportunities for each unique child to learn, grow and develop, supported by a rich and exciting curriculum. The Nursery and Reception classes work closely together to motivate children to play together and build positive relationships whilst developing their own talents and interests. We encourage children to play and explore, engage in active learning, and to create and think critically. We teach a variety of planned topics, including cultural and calendar events, and maximise opportunities for child initiated learning, using the interests of individual children as a stimulus.
The staff team work closely together with our parents and carers, to provide a safe start to school life, where families feel welcomed and included in their child’s learning. We do this through transition events, parent teacher meetings and the early introduction of our online assessment tool - Orbit. The children are observed regularly and activities are planned to meet their needs, and extend their learning. These observations are uploaded and shared with parents, who can also add photos and observations of their children at home!
At Meadlands we love outdoor learning, and ensure that our children play and learn both indoors and outdoors every day. We make the most of our award winning grounds, chickens and treehouse!
We plan using the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum (EYFS). The EYFS is categorised into Prime Areas, which underpin all learning, and Specific Areas:
Personal, Social and Emotional Development – the children learn of the importance of emotional well-being, self-confidence and self-awareness. We want all children to be happy with who they are and to make positive and meaningful relationships with others. We teach our children to develop respect for others, and to be able to manage their feelings and behaviour successfully.
Physical Development – developing skills and co-ordination to control movement; both for small movements like drawing, writing and using scissors and large movements for dance, drama and games. We teach our children how to manage their hygiene independently and how to make healthy choices.
Communication and Language – we teach children the importance of good listening and attention skills. We encourage them to talk openly and confidently to adults and their peers, articulating their needs, wants and opinions.
Literacy – we aim to give children a love of reading and a passion for writing. We teach phonics using the programme ‘Read, Write Inc.’. In Nursery, children join in with early phonics games and are encouraged to make marks. Children in Reception are taught to use their phonics knowledge to decode letters for reading and to segment sounds for spelling. Our children are given every opportunity to write with indoor and outdoor mark making areas.
Mathematics - children will begin to count, recognise numbers from 1 to 20 (and beyond), calculate with numbers, sort, order and match, find patterns and make connections between objects. They will become familiar with simple shapes, space, money and measures.
Understanding the World - children begin to develop the skills and understanding needed to make sense of the world around them. They will have first-hand opportunities to engage with science, design technology, history, geography and information and communication technology (ICT). We encourage the children to make observations, predictions, test, research and question.
Expressive and Creative Arts – children will explore a variety of media and materials where they can design, build, construct, create and produce their creations. Children will also develop their imaginative skills through first-hand experiences in art, music, dance, role-play and imaginative play.
The Nursery consists of provision for children who attend for mornings, afternoons or for whole day sessions. Each session consists of whole class learning, snack time, early phonics and adult led small group activities. Much of the session is based upon the principles of ‘learning through play’ which allows the children freedom and choice. The environment inspires children to access all areas of the curriculum and particularly encourages mark making, communication and physical skills. Our Nursery also boasts an exciting sensory room and number garden!
The Reception year builds upon and extends the children’s experience in the Nursery, gradually moving towards a more structured programme, incorporating daily Literacy and Numeracy lessons. The children begin guided reading sessions, weekly home learning and more frequent adult led groups as well as continuing to learn through play during free flow sessions. The children at Meadlands make excellent progress throughout their time in the Foundation Stage, preparing them for a successful journey into Key Stage 1.
On Thursday 7 May, we held an Early Years workshop in our Ingenium to enjoy a story together and build their very own reading corner. We strongly believe in working in partnership with our parents and this will be the first of many workshops we will run in the Early Years.
The Nursery Curriculum covers the seven areas of learning as listed in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). These areas are Communication and Language, Physical Development, Personal, Social and Emotional Development, Literacy, Mathematics, Understanding the World and Expressive Arts and Design. The Nursery fosters children’s learning through a programme of structured play that supports and extends children’s early development.
We are fortunate at Meadlands to have extensive grounds, including an orchard, wildlife area, storytelling circle and allotment, which is used for activities such as gardening and exploring the natural world as well as providing opportunities for physical development.
The Reception year builds upon and extends the children’s experience in the Nursery, gradually moving towards a more structured programme and incorporating daily Literacy and Numeracy lessons.