From the moment we open our doors in the morning, the children are learning, exploring and investigating. Some of this happens through play when they access our well-resourced and carefully planned learning environment, learning to work together making choices and decisions. Adults are on hand to play alongside the children, challenging them to extend their thinking, introducing new vocabulary and taking their learning forward. Some teaching and learning takes place in adult-led groups, when specific skills may be taught directly or when new skills, especially in conversation, are practised. Because we know that every child is unique, we also make time to work on a one-to one basis with the children, ensuring that our teaching is tailored to their current needs and interests.
Our Pre-School timetable is carefully organised so that children have time to practise their learning and develop their thinking without frequent interruptions. Specialist staff from the main school are timetabled to join us at specific times; at other times, we are flexible and respond to the immediate learning needs of the children. This approach gives children an important structure to their day but allows staff to make the most of every ‘teachable’ moment and ensure that the children make the best possible progress.
In all but the most extreme weather, children have access to outside learning opportunities as well as inside. This page provides a taste of learning at St Teresa’s.
“The best classroom and the richest cupboard is roofed only by the sky.” Margaret McMillan, 1925
Almost a century later the words of Margaret McMillan are still true: children engage with the natural world, enjoy the larger scale of outdoor play and are free from some of the restrictions that being indoors can bring. Our outside area provides opportunities to investigate, explore and move, but also to enjoy calm quiet moments and experience the awe and wonder that the natural world can bring.
As part of St Teresa’s School, we are fortunate to have use of the main playground for large scale physical activities, adding a further dimension to the children’s outdoor play and learning.
Our Pre-School room is organised so that all children can access resources independently. We know what we want the children to learn and we make sure that the available resources provide the right levels of challenge and interest for each child. Many of our resources are available at all times and we enhance children’s experiences by adding new and interesting items to stimulate their curiosity and develop their interests further.
Food and drink
As parents, you know how important food is for your child’s health and well-being. At St Teresa’s we encourage children to develop a positive attitude to healthy eating and to learn to make healthy choices about the food that they eat. We offer alternative options for children with particular dietary needs or allergies.
You’ll find our menus on the main school website.
Fresh drinking water is always available in Pre-School. We frequently remind the children of the importance of drinking, especially when they are active or when the weather is warm. Brains work better when they are hydrated!
In Pre-School, children pour their own water and drink from open cups – there are some spillages at first but this is all part of their learning. Children love to be independent at the water table.
Snack and meal times
At St Teresa’s Pre-School, snack and meal times are very important, just as they are at home. An adult (sometimes but not always the child’s key person) sits with the children in a small group, encouraging independence whilst modelling conversation skills and table manners.
Eating away from the family can be tricky for very young children. Our staff know the importance of this aspect of learning and the children quickly adjust and look forward to enjoying food with their friends.
Morning and afternoon snacks take place in the Pre-School room and usually consist of a carbohydrate (bread, crackers, pitta, etc.) and a selection of fresh fruit and vegetables. Occasionally, the kitchen provides a snack time treat (e.g. home-made pizza slices or fruity muffins) and we might also enjoy food that the children have prepared themselves (e.g. sandwiches, garlic butter made with garlic and parsley grown in our garden or potatoes that we have grown and harvested at school.)
As ever, children are encouraged to be independent at snack time, pouring their own drinks, buttering bread, filling sandwiches and much more. The children drink water, with the option of milk in the morning.
Snack time is an important time for social learning too and we all enjoy taking time to sit together and chat.
We eat our lunch in the school dining room – just the Pre-School children and staff, and the delicious food, freshly prepared on-site for us by our wonderful cooks who ensure that allergies and special diets are catered for effectively. Adults sit with the children and often eat with them, modelling the behaviours that we want the children to develop.
Partnership with parents
Working in partnership with you to support your child’s learning and development is very important to us. You know your own child better than anyone. By working together, sharing your expert knowledge of your child and our experience, we can provide the very best start to your child’s education.
- At St Teresa’s, we warmly invite you to chat to staff when you drop your child off in the morning or pick up at the end of a session, sharing news or maybe worries about your child.
- At times, you may prefer a longer discussion in which case we can arrange a mutually convenient appointment with the Pre-School teacher.
- We offer termly parent consultation meetings that provide opportunities to look at your child’s learning and development and work together to support their progress, at home and at Pre-School.
- At the end of your child’s time in the EYFS at St Teresa’s, we provide a written report that gives an overview of the progress they have made with us.
At St Teresa’s Pre-School, we assess the children’s knowledge, skills and understanding as they learn and play. We do this by watching what they are doing, by engaging them in conversation and by following their interests. The information that we gather in this way is then used to make sure that we are planning experiences and activities that enable the children to practise their skills and make good progress.
We monitor teaching and learning carefully to make sure that as well as individual children making progress, specific groups of children are also doing well. For example, we ensure that everyone can access writing materials, even if they prefer to be outside, or that opportunities for physical activity are available indoors for children who prefer to stay warm and dry. This is an ongoing process – as the children mature, we adapt to meet their needs.
Parents are children’s first and most enduring educators and we know the value of sharing assessment information between home and school. We use Tapestry: the Early Years online learning journal, a secure way for sharing observations from home and school so that we all have a better picture of the child’s learning, development and current interests. Tapestry posts can also be used as a conversation starter and are a fantastic way to support communication and language skills as well as self-confidence. Parents and practitioners learn so much from these conversations!
Technology in the learning environment
Technology is an important tool for teaching and learning and, just as we teach children how to use scissors safely and effectively, so we teach them how to use information technology safely and effectively. The internet is a rich source of information that supports children’s learning across all areas of the EYFS and when children want to know something, staff will often use the internet to find answers to their questions or perhaps to find out more about different ways of life that they are curious about.
We use stories and discussions to help them to understand the potential dangers of the internet and we invite parents to attend internet safety workshops to ensure that even our youngest children know what to do to keep themselves safe (see also Safeguarding).
We use technology to support children’s mark making (early writing), variously using programs at a PC or in groups on an interactive whiteboard. Communication and language skills are well-supported through our mobile phone-style walkie talkies, providing an extra dimension to their role play and conversation skills. We have tablets that are used by the children and we carefully monitor the time that these are available to the children so that we continue to provide a broad and balanced curriculum for every child.
Programmable robots introduce the concept of coding to the children as well as supporting mathematical understanding of distance, direction, estimating and counting.
In its most simple form, technology teaches children that simply operating a switch gives them control over their environment. We provide many opportunities for them to explore this concept, for example, using torches, remote-controlled toys and CD players.