...achieving the highest standards of which children are capable in all areas of academic and personal 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.
We 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.
Our curriculum plans involve activities and experiences for children, as follows:
• Communication and language development involves giving children opportunities to experience a rich language environment; to develop their confidence and skills in expressing themselves; and to speak and listen in a range of situations.
• Physical development involves providing opportunities for young children to be active and interactive; and to develop their co-ordination, control, and movement. Children are helped to understand the importance of physical activity, and to make healthy choices in relation to food.
• Personal, social and emotional development involves helping children to develop a positive sense of themselves, and others; to form positive relationships and develop respect for others; to develop social skills and learn how to manage their feelings; to understand appropriate behaviour in groups; and to have confidence in their own abilities.
• Literacy development involves encouraging children to link sounds and letters and to begin to read and write. Children are given access to a wide range of reading materials (books, poems, and other written materials) to ignite their interest.
• Mathematics involves providing children with opportunities to develop and improve their skills in counting, understanding and using numbers, calculating simple addition and subtraction problems; and to describe shapes, spaces, and measures.
• Understanding the world involves guiding children to make sense of their physical world and their community through opportunities to explore, observe and find out about people, places, technology and the environment.
• Expressive arts and design involves enabling children to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials, as well as providing opportunities and encouragement for sharing their thoughts, ideas and feelings through a variety of activities in art, music, movement, dance, role-play, and design and technology.
We consider the individual needs, interests, and stage of development of each child in our care, and use this information to plan a challenging and enjoyable experience for each child in all of the areas of learning and development. We focus strongly on the three prime areas, which are the basis for successful learning in the other four specific areas. The three prime areas reflect the key skills and capacities all children need to develop and learn effectively, and become ready for school. It is expected that the balance will shift towards a more equal focus on all areas of learning as children grow in confidence and ability within the three prime areas.
Throughout the early years, if a child’s progress in any prime area gives cause for concern, we will discuss this with parents/carers and agree how to best to support the child. We also consider whether a child may have a special educational need or disability which requires specialist support and link with, and help families to access, relevant services from other agencies as appropriate.
To prepare children for a smooth transition into Key Stage 1 and the National Curriculum, at St Mary’s we stress the importance of:
We have recently introduced the online programme called 'Tapestry' which records children's achievements through narrative and photos. We encourage parents to log on and contribute comments and anecdotes from learning the children demonstarte at home so we have an all round picture.