Ages and organisation of classes
When children turn two, they move to the next class, ‘Little Owls’, in Ripe. Here they are in a dedicated two year old room, designed to appeal to this age group. There is plenty of scope for singing, dancing, running around and getting messy! After this, children move into the final room at Nursery School, ‘Wise Owls’ for our three and four year olds. In this class, staff gently support and guide children to becoming more independent before moving on to ‘big school’ as well as providing stimuli to fascinate and excite children’s interests to become a basis for learning.
At times, both classes come together for special activities such as cooking, singing or games. We have break every day in the field when both classes are outside which allows children to mix and continue to form new friendships.
Although particular staff are based in each room, a great strength of the Nursery School is that all of the staff get to know all of the children. This means that when children move between classes the staff are already familiar and the transition is seamless. Our excellent ratio of staff to children, which always exceeds the standard recommended, means that children are able to have individual and small group attention with staff who know them well
Although particular staff are based in each room, a great strength of the Nursery School is that all of the staff get to know all of the children. This means that when children move up to the ‘Big Class’ the staff are already familiar and the transition is seamless. Our excellent ratio of staff to children, which always exceeds the standard recommended, means that children are able to have individual and small group attention with staff who know them well.
We use the ‘Early Years Foundation Stage’ framework to guide our practice in the Nursery. This provides a national standard of care and education and outlines 7 areas of learning and development that shape educational programmes. 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 are the prime areas. Children are also supported in four specific areas, through which the three prime areas are strengthened and applied.
The Prime areas
• 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.
The Specific areas
• 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 describing 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.
Miss Kate ensures that the provision at Ripe Nursery School is at the forefront of new initiatives and research. Since being invited to become part of the Uckfield ‘Early Excelence Hub’ for Early Years, staff have benefitted from specific training opportunities, such as speech and langauge training. Kate has been asked to deliver staff training for the hub in July 2016, focussing on the characteristics of effective learning in the Early Years.
We know that children learn best when they are excited, engaged and involved in what they are doing. To this end, we plan activities that are play based and focussed on children’s current interests and fascinations.
The Learning Journey
We document your child’s learning and development through their ‘Learning Journey’ book and through the use of the online journal system, ‘Tapestry’. We see this as a book that belongs to both your child, to you and to the staff at Nursery School. Staff make observations of your child’s learning which are then included in their Learning Journey book. This is then used to support future learning. You are welcome to see your child’s Learning Journey book at any time and we welcome your contributions to it! In addition to this, your child’s key worker will share it with you at 6 weekly intervals. Your child’s journal also exists online at all times so it is possible to access this at any time through a computer or through the app on a smart phone. We like to keep a paper copy for the children to browse and talk about as they wish and also as a keepsake of their time at Ripe Nursery School.
What we use
We are fortunate that we have a highly experienced staff at Ripe Nursery School. We draw on this experience to select resources and activities which specifically promote different aspects of learning for maximum benefit to the children. For example, we have introduced the ‘Jolly Phonics’ scheme as a fun way of supporting early reading and writing skills, following experience of using this in other settings. We use ‘Numicon’ to support mathematical development as we have found it helps children to visualise what a number actually represents. Our staff are also skilled in using Montessori equipment. More information can be found about these schemes and resources in ‘Partnership with Parents – Useful Links’ section.