Teaching and Learning at Thrive
We know that the early years of a child’s life are crucial to their development and as parents and carers you want to ensure that your child will get the best possible start in their education. This section outlines the teaching and learning methods we promote in our nursery to support children’s development toward their transition to school.
At Thrive, we are not only focussing on children’s readiness for school but preparing them for the rest of their lives as conscientious, talented and unique individuals who will be the future custodians of our planet. We believe that children’s all–round development and wellbeing requires strong foundations in the following three areas, below:
A strong and healthy body will support children’s confidence and ability giving them access to a wealth of opportunities as they grow.
A healthy brain is fundamental to children being able to learn and retain information as well as develop their confidence, self-esteem, resilience, talents and skills.
The environments that children experience will impact their view of the world as well as their early learning and their life chances. This includes children’s home life, culture, community and health as well as the wider world we live in, and the impact humans can have on the planet.
Practitioners as Teachers
Early Years Practitioners hold a range of qualifications from apprenticeships to postgraduate degrees, with many practitioners having specialist skills and interests through attending various courses. All are considered as teachers in the context of early years. This diversity is important in order that the children we care for have access to many different skill sets and experiences and the nurseries can continue developing and adapting to best support the children in their care. Children’s interests and skills are nurtured from an early age in nursery through the routines, activities and environments provided.
Here are some of the different ways, as nursery practitioners, we teach our children:
- Communicating and modelling language
- Exploring ideas with children
- Providing a narrative for what they are doing
- Setting challenges
- Listening and extending
Learning through play
Play is the main focus of our nursery day, as play is the natural way in which children learn. This is the process through which children can explore, investigate, recreate, and come to understand, their world. Play is a means for children to establish, practice and test everything they know, as well as make sense of what is new. Research shows that play is vital to children’s early brain development and establishing the type of learner they will be as they grow. Our practitioners consider how children’s learning can be extended at every opportunity, including into the outdoor areas.
Preparing for School
“The best way to prepare children for school is to allow them to be two when they’re two, three when they’re three and four when they’re four”
(Professor Cathy Nutbrown, Professor of Education, Sheffield University).
Our job is to help children be socially and emotionally ready for school. We will put the necessary foundations in place during each stage at nursery, ensuring that their emotional and physical wellbeing is the priority. This will ensure children develop the resilience, confidence and self-regulation skills that will support them as they make this huge transition.
Planning for Children’s Education
When planning for children’s education we consider four important areas.
A Unique Child
Babies and young children are individuals first, with unique personalities and profiles of abilities. Whenever possible, schedules and routines should flow with the child’s needs not the adults. Our planning starts with spending time with and observing children in order to understand and consider their current interests, stage of development and level of learning.
The foundations for learning begin when children feel safe, secure and happy. Building a strong and trusting relationship with a child helps us, as practitioners, to know how best to plan for them, taking into account their preferences, learning style, culture, and development stage. Considering just one of these areas when planning will not be effective as we must cater for the holistic (whole person) needs of the child in order to ensure effective foundations for learning.
Everything in the environment is not planned for on paper, but cleverly organised environments encourage learning constantly. A learning rich environment is like the ‘third teacher’ (Malaguzzi) in which children’s experiences should respond to their individual needs and learning styles. The new, whiteboard planning, provides not only a space for planned adult initiated activities for groups and individuals, but allows us the flexibility to create teaching and learning moments from children’s spontaneity and unexpected occurrences. For example, the discovery of a spider, a rainbow or snowfall provide wonderful learning opportunities for practitioners to utilise whilst the child is captivated. We may have the privilege of observing a child’s reaction to seeing something for the first time and so we embrace and extend this rather than take the child away from what they are enjoying, to do something else. Pivotal learning takes place when children are stimulated and interested.
Children learn and develop in different ways and at different rates
Where the above three themes are well catered for, learning and development happens. We know that children have different ways of learning, and some will reach certain milestones quicker than others; this is fine! Where we identify significant gaps in learning, we will work with parents and carers to identify any issues and put appropriate support in place to narrow these gaps.
Government frameworks and guidance ensure we are always up to date with expectations and duties concerning children’s safety, wellbeing, learning and development. In England we use the Early Years Foundation Stage statutory framework and the Birth to Five Matters Guidance. In Scotland we use the Realising the Ambition and Curriculum for Excellence documents. If you would like to look at these documents, the links are below: