How we learn
We are committed to providing children with the best possible start and acknowledge the seriousness of our part in their development during these vitally important years. Consequently, we have a diary of on-going training to enable us to continually meet the needs of all our children whilst improving our early years practice.
We use a wide combination of the best approach for learning and development through a varied range of differentiated play activities, adopted to suit individual learning styles. We plan and provide rich learning experiences following each child’s interests, needs and developmental stage, fully supporting the governments Early Years Foundation Stage Framework, (EYFS) whilst going beyond expectations to create a highly stimulating learning programme using a wide range of pedagogy.
At The Lighthouse we follow aspects of a High Scope child – led approach based on learning through play following a framework for the day’s events that supports children’s security and independence. By providing a flexible daily routine our children gain the sense of security they need to make choices and are provided ample opportunities for deep level learning. High Scope is an approach to early years education that enables children to gain confidence, initiative and a lifelong love of learning when involved in well-supported activities of their own choosing and this corresponds well with the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) as play is an integral part of early childhood learning. The High Scope program implemented at the Lighthouse has a developed daily routine that works best for our setting and the children. The following components are included in the routine:
Large-group time or circle time which creates a nice start and finish to the day and builds a sense of community for movement and music activities, interactive storytelling, and other shared experiences. Children have many opportunities to make choices and play the role of leader.
Plan-do-review sequence includes a 5-10 minute period during which children plan what they want to do during free play provision time (the area to visit, resources to use, and friends to play with), followed by the 30–40 minute work time for children to carry out their plans or shift to new activities that interest them ) and another 5-10 minute period for reviewing and recalling what they explored with our Early Years Educators and other children.
Small-group time is a focus activity with an Early Years Educator to experiment with materials, try out new skills, and solve problems. The activity is based on children’s interests and particular skills, materials, or content areas that suit children’s developmental learning needs. The Early Years Educator plans the activity around the children’s interests and age and stage of development and children are also free to make choices about how to use the materials and freely communicate their ideas.
When possible, we have free-flow indoor and outdoor play, and this enables our children to engage in deeper level learning and sustained shared thinking between them and our Early Years Educators. Our Outdoor classroom extends our curriculum beyond the walls of the nursery, with spaces to explore every aspect of our learning areas in natural bright open spaces, as well as fun role play areas and a playground where children enjoy vigorous play and explorations in the fresh air.
Transition times are the minutes between other blocks of the day, as well as arrival and departure times. Our teachers plan fun and meaningful learning experiences for these times, which keeps children engaged and minimizes disruption.
Eating and resting times happen throughout the day with healthy home made meals and snacks that allow children to enjoy eating in a supportive family setting. Rest is for napping or quiet, solitary activities.
By implementing varied aspects from the Montessori approach, we create a nurturing environment that encourages self-directed, hands-on learning with an assortment of natural, open-ended resources that match the five Montessori curriculum areas; practical life, sensorial, mathematics, language, and culture. There are opportunities for independence in daily tasks, including shopping, choosing what the children want to cook and cooking and preparing food and tidying away and developing life skills for everyday tasks. Our Deputy Manager has a Masters degree in Pedagogy and a diploma in Montessori and leads and plays a crucial role in providing the right materials for children to explore at the right point in their development.
At the Lighthouse Nursery we also adopt aspects of the Reggio Emilia approach where we acknowledge every child as strong, capable and resilient, and ready to explore. There is an emphasis on child-led project-based play for problem-solving where children have opportunities to build their own learning based around their own interests with gentle support from our Early Years Educators who act as a guide without interrupting or supressing children’s interests. There is a focus on the children’s hands-on approach to learning, comprising musical, drama, dance and singing interpretation, transient art, the mini workshop whilst providing opportunities for children to express themselves.
At the Lighthouse Nursery we recognise the importance of understanding a child’s schema. By observing, recognising and supporting these patterns of repeated behaviour in children’s play we are in a position to support and extend their interests, learning and development by providing more opportunities for them to learn in a way that engages them by providing rich opportunities for the child to explore their schema further. Some of the schemas include scattering, transporting, rotating, trajectory and connecting.
Understanding schemas can help us to understand what might look like ‘behaviour that challenges’, for example, is the child throwing objects, or are they experimenting with trajectories? Are they reorganising the room, or are they fascinated by transporting?
At the Lighthouse Nursery within our forest school activity, we explore everyday experiences with nature, to develop the children’s love for independence, freedom and choice, here we can see children flourishing as they develop increased resilience, competence, confidence and self-esteem to explore and discover. Throughout the activity children explore physical development and are provided with a real context for language development and recognising appropriate risk and overcoming challenges, there are opportunities for problem-solving, engagement with their own learning and experiencing mastery and success and failure and making mistakes. There is much cooperation and teamwork and an understanding of the natural world and their place in it.