“Play is the highest expression of human development in childhood for it alone is the free expression of what is in a child's soul.”
- Friedrich Frobel
The Ivy’s are children aged 3 upwards. Our environment is filled with resources of various textures, ethnicity and sizes, which will spark the child’s imagination, curiosity and enquiry. Natural and loose parts play a major role within the setting as they are open ended objects that can be adapted to what ever the child is playing.
Our role as professional ELC practitioners is to help extend the child’s play and learning by planning the environment to the children’s interests. We also use conversation and questioning as ways to challenge a child’s thinking and to deepen their understanding. This has to be done in a sensitive and non intrusive manner so not to disrupt or stop their thoughts and play.
Our ethos in the Ivy room is that children are here to play, have fun, and to learn naturally. We do not force sit down activities for the children to learn as we are not preparing the children for school. That does not mean that we do not offer adult initiated activities, as these can be hugely rewarding for both adult and child.
The Ivy’s follow Building the Ambition and the Curriculum for Excellence at the early level. They can be found following the link below:
The Curriculum for Excellence
The curriculum for excellence (CfE) is for children aged 3 - 18 . Its aim is to help children develop and obtain skills and knowledge needed for life and to enable children to become:
- successful learners
- confident individuals
- responsible citizens
- effective contributors
These are referred to as the four capacities. There are eight curriculum areas which are:
- Expressive arts
- Health and wellbeing
- Religious and moral education
- Social studies
Within each area there is a number of experiences and outcomes (Es and Os) which are statements about children’s learning. They are used to help plan learning and to help with assessing the children’s progress.
When we are building our curriculum, planning the environment and experiences for the children we, as practitioners take into consideration the principles set out by the CfE:
- Challenge and enjoyment
- Personalisation and choice
Building the Gracie Drew Curriculum
Every early years setting has a curriculum that is personal to them. It is based on the nursery’s ethos, their ELC practitioners and their children and families.
To build the Gracie Drew curriculum we looked at what we did daily as a nursery such as snack, tooth brushing, and outdoor play. Then thought about what we liked to do each year with the children such as gardening, trips to the museum, and celebrating various festivals and holidays.
From this we then looked at what experiences and outcomes the children will gain from each activity or experience and bundled the Es and Os together. Bundling is a process that allows a number of Es and Os to be grouped together. For example the sand and water area will allow the children to gain knowledge in literacy such as mark making or learning new words. They will also develop their numeracy skills by measuring the sand/water and using mathematical language such as add and take away. The children may also be learning about science through the various forms of water.
At Gracie Drew’s we feel that children will experience all areas within the curriculum with their natural desire to explore, enquire and investigate. Therefore at Gracie Drew’s we place a huge emphasis on the environment to ensure it is enabling and inviting.
As parents/carers you are the main educators of your children therefore we feel it is paramount that we work in partnership together to create a plan of care and learning for your child.
We offer an all year round open door policy which allows you to make appointments with your key carer or nursery manager to talk about your child’s development. We feel that only having meetings twice a year restrictive. So please get in contact to arrange a meeting at any time.
Planning, Recording and Assessing
At Gracie Drew’s we feel that the Observation, Assessment, Planning and Recording procedure should be a continuous smooth process.
Observations occur naturally at Gracie Drew Nursery and happen through meaningful interactions such as during play, meal times, or through a wide range of activities that are offered in and around the nursery. Observations are paramount to every child’s ELC. They are the foundations of getting to know each child and finding out about their personal interests and family.
Observations are also the basis of creating and maintaining each child’s online learning journal. The observations must always provide an accurate picture of what they actually see, including the child’s actual behaviour or responses. The observer must never cast judgement or have any preconceived ideas of the child. The person observing should have a clear objective whilst observing. For example to find out about the child or to plan next steps to promote a certain area of development. This should then be recorded and shared appropriately with all of the team, parents, and if required other service providers.
Once you have an observation you can then plan for the child's development and learning. The purpose of planning is to create rich, challenging and meaningful learning experiences for children, taking account of the seven principles of design within Curriculum of Excellence.
‘It is important that we recognise that planning and assessment is a process not an end result, that it is neither limited nor driven by paperwork, but is part of an ethos of ensuring quality experiences and environments for children in order that they develop into successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens’ - Curriculum for Excellence.
To ensure that the planning is a valuable process we ensure the following:
Children must always be the most important influence on plans. Building upon individual talents, interests and needs, your own knowledge of the children and families, establishing strong relationships and connections with them and their wider community.
Observations – reflecting what you have seen and heard from the children then using this, with your knowledge of the child to respond promptly and effectively.
Clear learning intentions – addressing gaps in learning and individual needs. Learning to be shared with the children, considering experiences and outcomes and 4 capacities of Curriculum for Excellence. Children are the drivers of their own learning.
Cycle of observation, assessment and planning with child at the centre, no one part stands alone. Everything you do should be driven by the children.
When assessing at Gracie Drew’s, children play a major part in their own assessment. They are always encouraged to voice their thoughts and ideas, this is done through a number of different forms such as our focus groups and also they can complete their own self and peer assessment form. This can then be shared with families, other members of the Gracie Drew Team, other service providers and then transferred onto their online learning journal.
‘Assessment should be an integral part of day-to-day learning and teaching, carefully planned at the same time as programmes and experiences, so that it reflects the learning, provides an emerging picture of progress and achievement in skills for all learners, and enables both staff and learners to play a full part in gathering and evaluating evidence and planning next steps in learning.’ - Building the Curriculum 4.
Transition from Gracie Drew Nursery to School
The transition to school is a major life event for children and we aim to help ease this transition for both child and family. We endeavour to work closely with the child’s school, and where possible, with consent given from families, we will share our experiences with the school, this may could include a written report or the child’s ELCC journey - Tapestry.
We will incorporate school themed play and objects into the nursery such as school uniforms for role play, books about school and primary one, and objects they may come across such as pack lunch boxes, jotters and stationary sets.
Prior to the summer holidays will also liaise with your child's school to arrange a transitional visit with their primary one teacher. This will include a brief summary of your child and their experience at nursery.
At the end of their journey at Gracie Drew’s we will celebrate the child’s time with us. This may in a form of a party with all of their Gracie Drew friends.