Children arrive each session/day and collect their little wooden name-tag hanging near the entrance gate on a colour coded ribbon linked to their family groups; red, yellow, blue, green, orange and purple. This is handed to their key person, as is how we register the attendance each day. Staff are available at the beginning and end of each session/day, to talk with families and share information.
family group time
This is a special time for children to sit with their key person and others in their group every day. Sometimes, staff plan little activities that enable them to check what children know, or maybe introduce something new, but the main focus of group time is about engaging children in conversation, promoting early language within a small, familiar group context. Children are also encouraged to plan their play – remembering what they did yesterday, thinking about what they want/need to do today and who they might like to work/play with. As time goes by, staff will expect children to think more deeply about their plans eg the resources they might need and whether or not they need to start by drawing a plan or writing a list. There will also be an expectation that children stick to that plan – within reason.
main play session
Children have over an hour to play – indoors and outdoors, which we believe is plenty of time for them to become deeply engrossed and engaged in meaningful play. The adults are deployed throughout and will be noticing children in their learning spaces – what they are ‘doing very successfully’, what they can ‘nearly do’ and what they are ‘struggling to do’, but with help/input, might manage it. This informs our planning.
family group review time
Family groups reconvene to talk about what children have been doing and this is where we introduce reflection and evaluation. Children are asked about their play and work and encouraged to share it with the group. Over time, we see children analysing their own learning and deciding what they need to do next and why. This is powerful learning.
tidy up time
Tidying up is an adult concept and quite tricky for our youngest learners. However, we believe it teaches children respect and responsibility for the things they use and play with. It is time consuming, especially in the beginning, but it is another life skill we want our children to learn, no matter how brief the session lasts. We talk to the children about the Nursery being ‘our house’ and how important it is to take care of everything – the pets, plants, resources, equipment and each other.
story and home time
Once we know our children well enough, we organise them into differentiated story groups. Staff lead a group for half a term and carefully plan the stories, so that children know a handful of stories very well and others quite well. We call it our ‘again and again’ books. We conclude our time together with a home time song.