Toddlers & Preschool (2-6 years)
Our welcoming “over two” area has a large outdoor play space with trees, a sandpit, mud kitchen, climbing equipment and gardens for the children to explore and play in. The teachers intentionally provide equipment and resources both indoors and outdoors to provoke the children’s curiosity and interest, and challenge and extend their play and learning.
The teachers highly respect our parents and see them as the child’s first teacher, and we value interactions with them to gain their aspirations for their child’s learning, and knowledge about their child’s well-being, home interests and learning.
We recognise the importance of free play as being essential for all children in their early years as it plays a crucial role in their development. Throughout each day the children are able to choose what they want to do, how they wish to do it, and for how long. The teachers manage the required boundaries and support the child’s play, and sometimes join in, however the child takes the lead. The teachers also observe the children when they are involved in free play to discover what interests them, so they can provide inspiring opportunities to better engage them and extend on their learning.
When children are involved in free play it promotes their personal, social and emotional skills, and they learn how to interact with others, as well as knowledge about their wider world and how society works. Children also develop their cognitive and problem solving abilities, as well as their physical skills through free play. Language and understanding of other cultures is also developed as they learn from their peers and communicate and practice language skills together during their play.
The philosophy of Reggio Emilia also inspires and informs our practice where the image of the child is that they are rich, powerful, competent and capable. We involve the children in inquiry based learning projects which can be short or long term and evolve from the children’s questions and learning. A key principle of the Reggio-inspired approach is ‘The 100 Languages of Children’ which is symbolic of the many ways children learn and express themselves and seek out methods and mediums in order to express their ideas, theories, thoughts, feelings, frustrations, discoveries, understanding and knowledge. The teachers recognise the environment as the third teacher and intentionally prepare it by providing visually appealing spaces, open-ended resources, art materials, and experiences which extend children’s play, provoke interest and curiosity, thought processes, provide challenges and encourage the children to communicate through their 100 languages. The children do this in many ways including through play, drawing, drama, writing, sculpting, constructing, dancing, moving and music. The teachers encourage collaboration as when the children continually revisit and revise their work their own and the groups learning is deepened and extended.
Our group learning documentation and inquiry based project work is displayed on our walls. We also have large floor books containing previous group learning and project work, as well as the children’s individual assessment portfolios available to the children, which provides them with the opportunity to revisit their learning.
Transition to School Programme
We provide a robust Transition to School Programme for our 4 and 5 year old children who work in small groups with our Transition to School Teacher for between ½ and 1 hour, 4 days each week during school term time. We use an ‘Inquiry Cycle for Learning which means the learning, direction and timeframe for topics are driven by the children’s interest and desire to ask, question, investigate, discover and share their learning. During any learning topic our key competencies of managing self, relating to others, participation and contribution, and using language, symbol and text are developed and extended.
During this facilitated learning, the 4 and 5 year olds are encouraged and supported to:
• Listen to and respect others
• Follow instructions and work towards task completion
• Develop literacy, mathematical and scientific concepts
• Take responsibility for their belongings – packing up and putting away
• Share ideas, ask questions and problem solve
• Work independently and co-operatively within the small group setting
• Develop social and emotional confidence and competence
• GAIN A LOVE OF LEARNING AND HAVE FUN!
When your child leaves Minnies to continue their journey at primary school we have a celebration ritual and the family are invited to this special farewell group mat time.
Our Transition to School Teacher also writes a Leavers Report when children are about to begin primary school which gives the new entrant teacher a record of the current key competencies the child has, designed to help the teacher to support the child into the primary school setting.
Community Explorers Group
We plan regular ‘Community Explorer’ excursions for approximately 6 of our eldest children to places of interest in our local community such as primary schools, rest homes, war memorials, shops and garden centres. Visits out into the community support the children to make connecting links with people, places and things in the wider world, as well as gain knowledge of features and places in our local area.
Moving with Minnies (Physical Movement sessions)
We offer our 3, 4 and 5 year old children the opportunity to participate in a planned physical movement session once a week which is designed to develop the children’s physical abilities, as well as their listening skills, ability to follow instructions, and social competence skills such as turn taking. Our teacher who is passionate and knowledgeable about physical development, health and well being facilitates these sessions which include movement to music, games, ball skills and yoga.