“We all have ABILITY. The difference is how we use it.”
“IMAGINATION is more important than knowledge.”
“The Blossom Mantra is “Believe/Achieve/Become” and we approach learning in this context. By believing in ourselves we work to achieve our goals and become all that we can be – visually children relate to this as a seed blossoming. Our mantra is built upon a foundation of resources and curricullum that is explained here. We use the British Foundation Curricullum and elements of the Reggio Emelia approach where we aspire to provide many ways of learning that encompass and adapt to different abilities. We are an inclusive nursery that has children from all over the world, who speak many languages, are differently “abled” and have been exposed to a myriad of different experiences. Therefore, our approach is designed to use Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences theory so that not only do we learn what is interesting to us – an “emerging interest” but our staff and systems must be able to engage different learners by ensuring that kinesthic, visual, auditory and other learning styles are catered for.
By approaching learning in our environment our first job is to get to know you and your child as individuals. The Baby room uses on-demand scheduling to assure that each child’s specific needs are met. The staff’s gentle, reassuring voices help establish a “home-away-from-home” for your little one, filled with love and trust. We do not force babies to reach milestones like rolling over and sitting up. Instead, we allow them to determine when their bodies are strong enough. We encourage each child to be an initiator, explorer and a self learner. Consistancy, active participation, freedom to explore and interact with others is provided along with sensitive observation of the child in order to meet his or her needs. Older babies in our Daisies and Daffodils classes are given the opportunity to explore various areas of their development through gross and fine motor activities, art, sensory experiences, circle time, outside time and much more. Developing self help skills such as using utensils at meals, drinking from a regular cup and communicating needs start children on the path to becoming an independent learner and moving to our Toddler sections. Our two year olds work on patience, doing things by themselves, sharing, potty training and building vocabulary. They scrub, paint, tear, cut, pound clay and initiate activity. These “Poppies” and “Bluebells” have minds that are racing! The preschool classrooms allow for self guided play, responsible learning and respect for self and others, character development and expansion of attention span and motor skills. Introduction to “big school” skills begins while encouraging confidence and curiousity. Blossom endeavors to have a literacy rich environment with reading and writing exercises done daily.
The Blossom approach is constructivist and follows the ideas developed by Jean Piaget that maintain that there is no one single approach or methodology for education but considers:
- parents, teachers, and children equal shareholders in the learning initiative and we attempts to actively engage Parents through use of the smartbooks – (each childs portfolio binder), emails, open days and trainings;
- children are active participants in learning so that the curriculum or learning activities emerge from their interests and specificities; and
- space is secure and stimulating allowing staff and students to engage and act in comfort.
Our approach is centered around the British Foundation Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) where the focus is on stages of development rather than chronological, age based teaching and learning. The overarching aim of the EYFS is to help children achieve the Every Child Matters five outcomes which are staying safe, being healthy, enjoying and achieving, making a positive contribution and achieving economic wellbeing.
In all our planning we use the above along with the principles of Gardner’s 7 Intelligences and a Reggio inspired space and theory towards enaging childrens learning. Howard Gardner from Harvard University developed a theory of multiple intelligence which allows educator to plan for holistic learning by approaching subjects from a variety of ways. We have included a review of the Foundation stage and Gardner’s principles here so you can use it to observe your childs strengths and characteristics to further enable home learning and understand how we plan and implement your childs learning at Blossom Childrens Nursery.
The EYFS principles are grouped into four themes:
- A Unique Child. Principle – Every child is a competent learner from birth who can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured.
- Positive Relationships Principle – Children learn to be strong and independent from a base of loving and secure relationships with parents and nursery staff.
- Enabling Environments Principle – The environment plays a key role in supporting and extending children’s development and learning.
- Learning and Development Principle – Children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates and all areas of learning and development are equally important and inter-connected.
AREAS OF LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT
The EYFS is made up of six areas of learning and development whilst Gardner groups them into 7 intelligences (linguistic, logical, visual/spatial, bodily, musical, interpersonal (collaborative) and intrapersonal (personal) outlined below alongside the EYFS groups.
1. Personal, Social and Emotional development (PSED) / Interpersonal / Intrapersonal
Blossom works to enable children to develop a positive sense of themselves and of others. We support children’s emotional well-being, helping them to know themselves, what they can do and to develop respect for others, social skills and a positive disposition towards learning. Successful personal, social and emotional development is critical for very young children in all aspects of their lives and gives them the best opportunity for success in all other areas of learning and development. For young children, being special to someone and cared for is vital for their physical, social and emotional health and well-being. The respect, care, love and emotional support experienced by young children helps them to develop emotional safety, trust and a positive self-image. Being acknowledged and affirmed by important people in their lives leads to secure attachments and to children gaining confidence and inner strength. Exploration within close relationships leads to the growth of self-assurance, promoting a sense of belonging, which allows the young child to explore the world from a secure base. Young children need adults to be positive role models and to give them lots of opportunities for interaction with others so that they can develop positive ideas about themselves and others. They can express feelings such as joy, sadness, frustration and fear, leading to the development of strategies to cope with new, challenging or stressful situations.
We find opportunities to give positive encouragement to children, with practitioners acting as positive role models and planning opportunities for children to work alone and in small and large groups. We plan activities that promote emotional, moral, spiritual and social development alongside intellectual development incorporating experiences that help children to develop autonomy and the disposition to learn. We plan for the development of independence skills, particularly for children who are highly dependent upon adult support for personal care and provide support and a structured approach to achieve the successful personal, social and emotional development of vulnerable children and those with particular behavioural or communication difficulties.
Characteristics of Children strong in this Area: makes friends easily, teamwork, communicates well, self-motivated, knows strengths and weaknesses, organizes others easily and perceptive of own and others feelings. To strengthen this area we use: personal goal setting, circle time, self evaluation, conflict resolution activities, team games and peer tutoring.
2. Communication, Language and Literacy (CLL) / Linguistic / Musical
The development and use of communication and language are at the heart of young children’s learning. Learning to listen and speak emerges out of non-verbal communication, which includes body language such as facial expression, eye contact, bending the head to listen, hand gesture and taking turns. These skills develop as babies and young children express their needs and feelings, interact with others and establish their own identities and personalities. The ability to communicate gives children the capacity to participate more fully in their society. To become skilful communicators, babies and young children need to be together with people who have meaning for them, members of their family, carers and, in a group setting, a key person in warm and loving relationships. Being together with others leads to the wider development of social relations, which include friendship, empathy and sharing emotions. Parents most easily understand their very young children’s communications and can often interpret for others. Babies respond differently to some sounds than others and from an early age are able to distinguish sound patterns. They use their voices to make contact and to let people know what they need and how they feel. Music and dance also play a key role in language development for young children. Rhymes and songs are particularly important and enjoyable for babies. At first, all learning arises from physical action and the gathering of experience through the senses. Therefore, children learn best when activities engage many senses. Initially their attempts to communicate will be non-verbal. As language develops and young children learn about conversation, thought becomes less dependent on action, although non-verbal messages remain an important form of communication throughout life. As children develop speaking and listening skills, they build the foundations for reading and writing. They need lots of opportunities to interact with others as they develop these skills, and to use a wide range of resources for making early progress in reading, mark making and writing.
To give all children the best opportunities for effective development and learning in communication, language and literacy, practitioners should give particular attention to providing opportunities for children to communicate thoughts, ideas and feelings, and build up relationships with adults and each other. At Blossom we share and enjoy a wide range of rhymes, music, songs, poetry, stories and non-fiction books and give opportunities for linking language with physical movement in action songs and rhymes, role-play and practical experiences such as cookery and gardening. We provide opportunities for children to see adults writing and for children to experiment with writing for themselves through making marks, personal writing symbols and conventional script.
Characteristics of Children strong in this Area: articulate, reads, writes and spells easily, sensitive to pitch, tone, rhythm with good sound discrimination. To strengthen this area we use: debates, discussion, word games and puzzles, raps and chants to aid memory and rhythm activities.
3. Problem Solving, Reasoning and Numeracy (PSRN) / Logical
Blossom supports children in developing their understanding of problem solving, reasoning and numeracy in a broad range of contexts in which they can explore, enjoy, learn, practise and talk about their developing understanding. This area of learning includes seeking patterns, making connections, recognising relationships, working with numbers, shapes, space and measures, and counting, sorting and matching. Children use their knowledge and skills in these areas to solve problems, generate new questions and make connections. At Blossom, mathematical understanding is developed through stories, songs, games and imaginative play with many different activities, some of which will focus on mathematical development and some of which will draw out the mathematical learning in other activities, including observing numbers and patterns in the environment and in daily routines. Here we use real-life problems, for example: ‘How many spoons do we need for everyone in this group to have one? ‘ and modelling mathematical vocabulary during the daily routines and throughout practitioner-led activities. We encourage children to explore problems, to make patterns and to count and match together. We strike a balance between learning and teaching indoors and outdoors (e.g. having read a story about washing clothes, there might be laundrette play indoors and washing line play outdoors; streets of clothes shops built out of recyclables; bikes and other wheeled vehicles being used as delivery vans; numbered (and lettered) parking spaces. The staff would spend time in both environments and the level of child-initiated and practitioner-led activity would be monitored and divided more or less equally across both environments.
Characteristics of Children strong in this Area: sees patterns and rhythms, likes sequences, puzzles and investigates. We strengthen this by activities using number awareness, classifying, sorting, predicting and experimenting, reasoning and problem solving.
4. Knowledge and Understanding of the World (KUW)
This Area of Learning and Development forms the foundation for later work in science, design and technology, history, geography, and information and communication technology (ICT). Competent learners from birth, babies only a few hours old gaze at patterns that resemble the human face in preference to others. They are able to distinguish between things and to show that they like some things better than others. As they get older, children make increasing sense of the world through touch, sight, sound, taste, smell and movement, and their sensory and physical explorations affect the patterns that are laid down in the brain.
Young children are finding out more and more about the world they live in and the people they encounter. Children acquire a range of skills, knowledge and attitudes related to knowledge and understanding of the world in many ways. They learn skills necessary to this area by learning to use a range of tools safely, for example computers, magnifiers, gardening tools, scissors, hole punches and screwdrivers. They learn by encountering creatures, people, plants and objects in their natural environments and in real-life situations, for example in the shop or in the garden. They learn effectively by doing things, for example by using pulleys to raise heavy objects or observing the effect of increasing the incline of a slope on how fast a vehicle travels. They need to work with a range of materials in their activities, for example wet and dry sand, coloured and clear liquids, compost, gravel and clay. They will begin to understand the past by examining appropriate artefacts, such as toys played with by their parents when they were children. Understanding design work will come from using a variety of joining methods and materials.
At Blossom, we give particular attention to: activities based on first-hand experiences which encourage exploration, observation, problem solving, prediction, critical thinking, decision making and discussion. We have designed an environment with a wide range of activities, both indoors and outdoors, that stimulate children’s interest and curiosity encouraging the children to tell each other what they have found out, to speculate on future findings or to describe their experiences. When in cooking class melting choclate – we use the terms “solid, liquid, hot, cold and change which enables children to rehearse and reflect upon their knowledge, and to practise new vocabulary. We model correct language – for example children will enjoy naming a chrysalis correctly if the practitioner does and use carefully framed open-ended questions, such as: ‘How can we… What would happen if…’ Another aspect of this area is teaching children to use a range of ICT – not just computers but, for instance, cameras, copiers, tape recorders and programmable toys.
5. Physical development (PD) / Bodily
Children learn by being active in all areas, hence our philosophy of ensuring children have large exterior spaces to play in (water feature, gardens, log cabin) and specific space to retreat to (library, sensory room). Physical development has two other very important aspects. It helps children gain confidence in what they can do and enables them to feel the positive benefits of being healthy and active. Effective physical development helps children to develop a positive sense of well-being. We give particular attention to planning activities which offer appropriate physical challenges and introducing the language of movement to children, alongside their actions. We treat mealtimes as an opportunity to promote children’s social development, while enjoying food and highlighting the importance of making healthy choices and provide time to support understanding of the roles that exercise, eating, sleeping and hygiene have in promoting good health.
Characteristics of Children strong in this Area: Enjoys PE and games, drama and movement, sense of touch and manipulation of obects. We strengthen this by activities using mime, role play, drama, pe, action rhymes and dance.
6. Creative development (CD) / Visual / Spatial
Creativity is fundamental to successful learning. Being creative enables babies and young children to make connections between one Area of Learning and Development and another. To give all children the best opportunity for effective creative development, we give particular attention to ensuring a stimulating environment in which creativity, originality and expressiveness are valued and arrange a wide range of experiences and activities that children can respond to by using many senses. At Blossom we extend children’s creativity by supporting their curiosity, exploration and play. Practitioners must provide children with opportunities to explore and share their thoughts, ideas and feelings, for example through a variety of art, music, movement, dance, imaginative and role-play activities, mathematics, and design and technology. Creativity means giving sufficient time for children to explore, develop ideas and finish working at their ideas, ensuring that children feel secure enough to take risks, make mistakes and be adventurous whilst valuing their own ideas and not expecting them to reproduce someone else’s picture, dance or model, for example. Our staff attempt to use resources from a variety of cultures to stimulate different ways of thinking and you will note we celebrate different holidays from around the world along with ensuring opportunities for children to access and have physical contact with artefacts, sources of sound, materials, spaces and movements.
Characteristics of Children strong in this Area: Drawing, following directions, musical, good with maps and charts, thinks in pictures, constructs and designs. We strengthen this by activities using number awareness, classifying, sorting, predicting and experimenting, reasoning and problem solving.
We hope you found the above helpful in understanding the way the foundation curriculum is modeled and how we use it. By integrating learning styles, a Reggio inspired site and using the Foundation curricullum to ensure children have a space where their interests are catered for Blossom ensures a smart new appraoch to early childhood education in the region. While areas listed above are equally important, connected and underpinned by the Principles of the EYFS our hope in a varied approach is the development of new and engaging ways of thinking and learning for our children.