At Askern Littlemoor Infant Academy, we aim support children to make a planned, confident transition from home to school, providing a happy, caring, safe and secure environment for learning. Learning experiences are planned that meet the individual needs and interests of the children through a balanced provision of adult led and child initiated opportunities. Children are supported children to become competent and confident learners so they are able to reach their full potential. We provide a broad and balanced high quality curriculum in line with the Early Years Foundation Stage guidance, fostering positive home school links with parents and other care providers.
We follow The Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum (2017) as detailed below. This framework is a means of ensuring high standards of early education and care that will reassure parents that their child’s development is being fully supported. It underpins all future learning by supporting and fostering the children’s personal, social and emotional wellbeing. It encourages positive attitudes and dispositions towards learning in the children and promotes learning through play.
The framework includes seven areas of learning and development.
The three prime areas are as follows:
Communication and language
Listening and attention: children listen attentively in a range of situations. They listen to stories, accurately anticipating key events and respond to what they hear with relevant comments, questions or actions. They give their attention to what others say and respond appropriately, while engaged in another activity.
Understanding: children follow instructions involving several ideas or actions. They answer ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions about their experiences and in response to stories or events.
Speaking: children express themselves effectively, showing awareness of listeners’ needs. They use past, present and future forms accurately when talking about events that have happened or are to happen in the future. They develop their own narratives and explanations by connecting ideas or events.
Moving and handling: children show good control and co-ordination in large and small movements. They move confidently in a range of ways, safely negotiating space. They handle equipment and tools effectively, including pencils for writing.
Health and self-care: children know the importance for good health of physical exercise, and a healthy diet, and talk about ways to keep healthy and safe. They manage their own basic hygiene and personal needs successfully, including dressing and going to the toilet independently.
Personal, social and emotional development
Self-confidence and self-awareness: children are confident to try new activities, and say why they like some activities more than others. They are confident to speak in a familiar group, will talk about their ideas, and will choose the resources they need for their chosen activities. They say when they do or don’t need help.
Managing feelings and behaviour: children talk about how they and others show feelings, talk about their own and others’ behaviour, and its consequences, and know that some behaviour is unacceptable. They work as part of a group or class, and understand and follow the rules. They adjust their behaviour to different situations, and take changes of routine in their stride.
Making relationships: children play co-operatively, taking turns with others. They take account of one another’s ideas about how to organise their activity. They show sensitivity to others’ needs and feelings, and form positive relationships with adults and other children.
The four specific areas of learning are outlined below:
Reading: children read and understand simple sentences. They use phonic knowledge to decode regular words and read them aloud accurately. They also read some common irregular words. They demonstrate understanding when talking with others about what they have read (at the bottom of this page is a link to a site which can help you practise phonics).
Writing: children use their phonic knowledge to write words in ways which match their spoken sounds. They also write some irregular common words. They write simple sentences which can be read by themselves and others. Some words are spelt correctly and others are phonetically plausible.
Numbers: children count reliably with numbers from 1 to 20, place them in order and say which number is one more or one less than a given number. Using quantities and objects, they add and subtract two single-digit numbers and count on or back to find the answer. They solve problems, including doubling, halving and sharing.
Shape, space and measures: children use everyday language to talk about size, weight, capacity, position, distance, time and money to compare quantities and objects and to solve problems. They recognise, create and describe patterns. They explore characteristics of everyday objects and shapes and use mathematical language to describe them
Understanding the world
People and communities: children talk about past and present events in their own lives and in the lives of family members. They know that other children don’t always enjoy the same things, and are sensitive to this. They know about similarities and differences between themselves and others, and among families, communities and traditions.
The world: children know about similarities and differences in relation to places, objects, materials and living things. They talk about the features of their own immediate environment and how environments might vary from one another. They make observations of animals and plants and explain why some things occur, and talk about changes.
Technology: children recognise that a range of technology is used in places such as homes and schools. They select and use technology for particular purposes
Expressive arts and design
Exploring and using media and materials: children sing songs, make music and dance, and experiment with ways of changing them. They safely use and explore a variety of materials, tools and techniques, experimenting with colour, design, texture, form and function.
Being imaginative: children use what they have learnt about media and materials in original ways, thinking about uses and purposes. They represent their own ideas, thoughts and feelings through design and technology, art, music, dance, role-play and stories.
We use the characteristics of effective learning (playing and exploring, learning actively and creating and thinking critically) to reflect on different ways that children learn and then allow this to influence practice when planning for child-initiated play and adult-led and adult enhancing activities.
Three Characteristics of Effective Learning ( EYFS Framework-2017)
Playing and Exploring – do they investigate and experience things, and ‘have a go’?
Learning Actively – do they concentrate and keep on trying if they encounter difficulties, and enjoy achievements?
Creating and Thinking Critically – do they have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas, and develop strategies for doing things.
We promote learning through play and plan around the needs and interests of the chidren, giving them the opportunity to learn about the world around them. Children have rich and stimulating learning experiences through our well planned and well 0rgansied learning environment.
The children choose where to go and what to do; initiating their own learning, with adults joining them and supporting them.
In order to support genuine choice we have a workshop style environment set up within our learning environment. The resources are available and accessible to the children at all times. The areas are clear, stocked and tidy at the start of each session.
The tables and carpet areas are free of equipment but the resources are available next to these areas. This allows the children to be in control of their learning. They are able to: select the area in which to play, choose the resources to use in that area and decide what to do with them. Obviously, their choices are limited by the areas and resources available and it is therefore crucial to have appropriate areas with varied, high quality, open-ended resources.
We introduce a quality key text for a two week period and enhance areas based on the theme of the story, together with the interests and needs of the children. We combine the creative area and the ‘writing’ area. Young children combine their different types of mark-making, eg they make a card and write a message; they draw a picture and write a story they create a robot and label the controls.
An enabling indoor environment:
The environment supports children to be fully engaged in purposeful play of their own choice and interest. the indoor area allows for learning in all areas of development, but the two areas do not mirror each other. This is the ideal place for children to be calm and quiet (and we reinforce this requirement firmly and consistently), pursuing activities which require small equipment and using resources that will not survive the outdoor elements.
In the EYFS classes, the children choose where to go and what to do – they initiate their own learning and adults join them and support them in their pursuits. In order to support genuine choice we have a workshop style environment setup in classes. In all areas, the resources are available and accessible to the children at all times. The areas are clear, stocked and tidy at the start of the day.
The tables and carpet areas are free of equipment but the resources are available next to these areas. This allows the children to be in control of their learning. They are able to select the area in which to play, the resources to use in that area and what to do with them. Obviously their choices are limited by the areas and resources available and it is therefore crucial to have appropriate areas with varied, high quality, open-ended resources. It is also vital that the areas are well stocked, tidy, shadowed and arranged to allow optimum access. We constantly review and reflect on the environment to see which areas are proving productive and which need altering. Shadowing resources helps children to be independent when tidying up.
The resources (as well as the areas) are assessed and reviewed constantly with ‘enhancements’ made as necessary. We have a two week story turnover where we loosely enhance areas based on the theme of the story and the interests and needs of the children. We combine the creative area and the ‘writing’ area. Young children combine their different types of mark-making – they make a card and write a message; they draw a picture and write a story; they create a robot and add labelled controls. In many cases, they need creative equipment and writing implements – we therefore store them all in one area, as well as providing mark-making equipment in all areas.
Children experience maths in almost all areas of the indoor classroom and we ensure that there is equipment (including numicon) in all areas to facilitate this. Because the children select and access resources themselves, they know where they are from and they know where to put them back when they have finished using them or at the end of the session.
We review our provision in terms of levels of involvement. If an area or a resource is not engaging children in purposeful play, then we remove it or change it. Areas that deliver the highest levels of involvement are the role play areas, creative area (including sewing), small blocks, sand, water, playdough and small world equipment (including cars and dinosaurs). With regard to role play, we ensure that there is always a “home corner” (either indoors or outside) as this is what is familiar to the children – this is where they can practise being the adults that they know (and in doing so, develop the vital life skill of empathy). Other role play is set up as and when an interest emerges.
We have ipads, digital cameras, CD players and interactive white boards readily available to support and record learning. We ensure that our book areas are as inviting as possible. We have cushions, puppets and props to make the experience engaging. We also have books in numerous areas of the indoor classroom reflecting the children’s interests and the areas they are learning in.
Our outdoor areas are designed to support all areas of the children’s development. The resources available are traditional sand toys, as well as natural shells, sticks, stones, etc. and cooking utensils, plates, cups, cutlery etc. to support a variety of play ideas. A water supply is essential, this allows for cooking, chemistry, cement mixing etc. There are lots of opportunities for risk – climbing frame, slide, trim trail and PE equipment for the children to set up, trikes and scooters. Again the crucial induction period ensures that the children know how to use equipment and are encouraged to think about the risks themselves.
‘In the moment’ planning
“Practitioners must consider the individual needs, interests, and stage of development of each child in their care, and must use this information to plan a challenging and enjoyable experience for each child in all the areas of learning and development.” (Revised EYFS)
Our practitioners continually plan “in the moment”. Each time they interact with a child, they are observing, assessing, planning for, and responding to, that individual child. The traditional cycle of observation, assessment and planning is recommended in numerous documents including Development Matters and The National Strategies document “Learning, Playing and Interacting”.
In this document we wish to highlight the section that states: - “Babies and young children are experiencing and learning in the here and now, not storing up their questions until tomorrow or next week. It is in that moment of curiosity, puzzlement, effort or interest – the ‘teachable moment’ – that the skilful adult makes a difference.
By using this cycle on a moment-by-moment basis, the adult will be always alert to individual children (observation), always thinking about what it tells us about the child’s thinking (assessment), and always ready to respond by using appropriate strategies at the right moment to support children’s well-being and learning (planning for the next moment).”
“Babies and young children are experiencing and learning in the here and now, not storing up their questions until tomorrow or next week. It is in that moment of curiosity, puzzlement, effort or interest – the ‘teachable moment’ – that the skilful adult makes a difference. By using this cycle on a moment-by moment basis, the adult will be always alert to individual children (observation), always thinking about what it tells us about the child’s thinking (assessment), and always ready to respond by using appropriate strategies at the right moment to support children’s well-being and learning (planning for the next moment).”
From National Standards document Learning, Playing and Interacting P.22 – 23
The aim is to organise the setting - including the time, the resources and the adults - to ensure that the majority of the children display deep levels of engagement for the majority of the time. If that happens, then we can be confident that they are making good progress.
When deeply engaged, their brains will be “lit up”, adults will notice when support is needed, and interactions will ensure that obstacles are overcome or that new directions and possibilities are available and learning will be meaningful and fun! As mentioned, an enabling environment is critical. The doors to the outside are open immediately.
From day one, the children are supported to explore the environment to see what is available, to select the resources they would like, to use them appropriately and to tidy the area when they have finished. Tidy up time is very short – most areas have been tidied during the session. Because the children have got the resources out themselves, they know where to return them to. The induction period is always critical – even more so when the children have so much autonomy and choice.