Ark Alpha Nursery follows the curriculum set out by the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS).
The nursery gives all our children the opportunity to succeed and reach the highest level of personal achievement. The nursery has a wide range of high quality resources. Our staff reflect the immediate community, and we give the children opportunities to explore the wider world around them.
We view the outside as an extended classroom. Each room has a garden attached, enabling children to free flow inside and outside to take part in purposeful play and learning activities both inside and out.
What children learn
The areas of learning and development
At ARK Alpha, curriculum content is planned in seven areas of learning and development. There are seven areas of learning and development that must shape educational programmes in early years settings*. All areas of learning and development are important and inter-connected. Three areas are particularly crucial for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, and for building their capacity to learn, form relationships and thrive. These three areas, the prime areas, are:
- communication and language;
- physical development; and
- personal, social and emotional development.
Providers must also support children in four specific areas, through which the three prime areas are strengthened and applied. The specific areas are:
- understanding the world; and
- expressive arts and design.
*Prime and Specific Areas Statutory Framework P4 1.4 and 1.5
Three prime areas
- Communication and language – children develop skills and confidence in speaking and listening in a range of situations.
- Physical development – children develop their co-ordination, control, and movement through being active.
- Personal, social and emotional development – within clear boundaries children form positive relationships, develop social skills and respect for others and understand appropriate behaviour.
Four specific areas
- Literacy – through the daily phonics lesson (Read, Write Inc.) children link sounds and letters and begin to read and write. In addition there is a daily literacy lesson and planned opportunities for guided reading. Fine motor skills development and handwriting are also modeled and practised.
- Mathematics – through the daily maths activities including conversations about number, ‘everyday’ maths and oral rehearsal of number sequences, size, shape and patterns.
- Understanding the world – finding out about people, places, technology and the environment.
- Expressive arts and design – exploring a wide range of media and sharing their thoughts, ideas and feelings through a variety of activities in art, music, movement, dance, role-play, and design and technology.
How children learn
Children learn through*:
- Playing and exploring
- Learning actively
- Creating and thinking critically
*Characteristics of effective teaching and learning Statutory Framework P6 1.11.
Staff make professional judgements about the balance between activities led or guided by adults and those led by children.
Adult directed activities are those which are directed by the adult and can be useful in the teaching of specific skills such as demonstrating how to use tools or equipment.
Adult guided activities are those which the adult initiates. These activities are often playful or experiential. They are open ended and should motivate a keen interest in learning.
Child-initiated experiences take place within an environment the adult has set up and planned but will be wholly decided upon by the child, based on the child’s own motivation and remains under the child’s control.
In addition we make suggestions as to how parents may support their child’s learning at home, this is done a variety of ways, including in the welcome pack, displays, verbal communication, parent meetings and at stay and play sessions.
In planning and guiding children’s activities, practitioners must reflect on the different ways that children learn and reflect these in their practice. Three characteristics of effective teaching and learning are:
- Playing and exploring - children investigate and experience things, and ‘have a go’
- Active learning - children concentrate and keep on trying if they encounter difficulties, and enjoy achievements; and
- Creating and thinking critically - children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas, and develop strategies for doing things.
Opportunities for literacy and numeracy
Early exposure to books helps children develop the attitudes and skills that they will need to become readers and writers. We therefore prioritise the sharing/reading of books with all children in the nursery including babies. Research also shows that early exposure to rhymes helps to develop children’s auditory discrimination. This is required in order to master phonics. The nursery has a structured programme of teaching nursery rhymes, beginning in the baby room, with the aim that children will leave nursery with 40-50 rhymes. Children in the pre-school room will also be introduced to the letters and sounds programme and the older children when ready will be introducted to the ‘read, write, ink’ programme used by most schools.
Before children are taught to write individual letters of their name, we teach children a series of handwriting movements. This will prevent children from going into reception classes with incorrect letter formations which are hard to correct. In addition, there will also be opportunities to develop their fine motor skills which act as a pre-cursor to handwriting through activities as well as mark making and painting.
Throughout the nursery, daily opportunities to draw children’s attention to size, shape and also number will be taken. This will take place through a mixture of child led and structured activities with an increase of explicit opportunities taking place in the Giraffes pre-school room. To support children’s numeracy, children’s key person will also suggest games and activities that can be played at home.
Play is part of learning and our curriculum aims to make the children’s learning fun with realistic activities and plans.
ARK Alpha encourages children to play in many different ways including free play, structured play, group play, imaginative play, role-play and physical play both inside and out.
The importance of play is never undervalued and is always recognised individually to each child.
The children are encouraged to build positive relationships with their peers, with positive attitudes being promoted to develop their self-esteem, confidence and sense of belonging.
Our wide range of resources is used to support the children in their play both in and outside. The staff will support the children’s learning by role modelling and supporting play.
During play children will be encouraged to be creative and think critically through the use of using open-ended questions to extend their learning and develop interests. Throughout the day the children are given space and time to play on their own to develop their skills and are supported by adults in directed educational play.