Early Years…the start of the Journey
Over recent weeks we have been in a position to invite prospective families into School once more to see for themselves the environment in which their children will learn, view our outdoor spaces and find out about a day in the life of a Pre-Prep pupil. It is exciting to be in this position again, to meet face to face and share with them the pride that we have in our School, to share our passion for teaching and learning, and for them to see our greatest asset, the children, busy at work and play.
Early Years marks the start of the ECS Journey and it is known as the Foundation Stage for very good reason as this is where we lay the foundation stones for future learning, the bedrock on which we build. It is where children develop their communication and language skills, where they learn to understand and manage their feelings, their interactions with one another and those who care for them, where they begin to develop a strong sense of self and learn how to take care of their own health and wellbeing through our PHSE curriculum. It is where they develop their physical skills both through being physically active but also where their fine motor skills are honed too; manipulating tools such as scissors and cutlery and eventually where they develop the physical skills needed for writing. In the EYFS framework these are known as the Prime areas – they are the most important of all and everything else follows after.
At the heart of all we do is of course the children. We strive to know them well, to understand their interests, to know their families, their likes and dislikes and even their pets! It is so important that children are ‘hooked’ into their learning and the best way for this to happen and for learning to be deep and meaningful is when they follow their own interests and fascinations. Letting children lead their learning takes us, as practitioners, on the journey with them – whether it be a fascination with trains, sea creatures, puppies and kittens or Superheroes – we are poised ready to interact rather than interfere (sometimes a fine line!) to listen, to ask the right questions and to develop thinking by considering the ‘what ifs…’
We instil that learning is not a race to be run but a journey to be savoured and enjoyed. We give children time to develop their play, to extend their ideas and to lose themselves in the moment. There is nothing worse than being immersed in an activity or play to be told it’s ‘tidy-up time’ and so, if you enter a Reception classroom you will see models, crafts and small world scenes with a little notice that reads ‘Please Leave’ or ‘Work in progress’, an indicator that they are not done yet. There is more to discover, more storylines to be developed and they will return to it and continue at a later time.
There is always something going on in the classroom that makes us take a step back and say ‘Wow’, something that makes us smile as these little learners make remarkable progress and take their learning in different directions. One of the highlights in Frogs class this week has been ‘playing schools.’ No sooner have we finished our daily Letters and Sounds lesson, than the children decide to play schools, with one of them pretending to be me (do I really sound like that?!) and they do it all over again – now that is a perfect way to embed learning! I am reassured to know that should I ever be incapacitated, there will be plenty of children to fill my shoes and take over from me!
The ECS Early Years’ experience recognises that each child is unique; we meet them at their own stages of learning and development and we challenge them to reach above and beyond as we prepare and equip them for their next steps. We strive to set the children on a pathway and give them the very best start to a life-long love of learning.
Mrs Liz Bowles
Head of Pre-Prep