St. Catherine’s places high value on excellent Early Years Practice in our Nurseries for two and three-year-olds, our Reception classes, and across the school.
We believe that Early Years Education is the foundation in which children build the rest of their lives upon. Children learn in a complex way and are influenced by everything in their environment. Children use their senses to explore and make sense of the world around them. They learn through play, meaningful real world experiences and hands-on learning, through conversation with adults and other children and through a variety of planned experiences.
Our EYFS Curriculum has been designed to reflect the needs of our intake. It is therefore unique to St Catherine’s Catholic Primary school. We want to ensure that all children leaving our EYFS are ready to start the St Catherine’s KS1 curriculum. Each term is based around a series of core texts. Each book focus does not last a specific amount of time but is based on the children’s learning at the time, and builds on their interests and fascinations. All the books have resources and activities ready to use in the enhanced provision. Each term the children are introduced to a wide range of high-quality storybooks and age appropriate non-fiction texts. Using books in this way teaches children that books and reading form the basis of all learning.
This ambitious curriculum is co-constructed with the children, follows their interests, and develops their passions. Staff will provide shared learning opportunities which excite, inspire and engage each child in their learning, and allow them to develop their unique and individual talents. We use In The Moment Planning to ensure that all children are supported and challenged in their learning through play. At St Catherine’s our curriculum is delivered through a mix of child and adult led activities, where adults model, support and scaffold the children’s learning so that they develop the core skills they need. Our pupils will leave Reception having developed these core skills, and ready to move onto the next stage of their education, and having secured the foundation needed for a lifelong love of learning.
The Areas of Learning
There are seven areas of learning and development, all of which are important and inter-connected. Three areas are particularly crucial for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, and for building their capacity to learn, form relationships and thrive. These three prime areas, are:
Communication and language;
Communication and language development underpins all seven areas of learning and development. It involves giving children meaningful opportunities to experience a rich language environment, through the introduction of new vocabulary, frequent opportunities for reading and experiencing a wide range of texts; to develop their confidence and skills in expressing themselves; and to speak and listen in a range of situations.
Personal, social and emotional development;
Personal, social and emotional development involves helping children to develop a positive sense of themselves, and others. This development is crucial for children to lead happy and healthy lives, and it is fundamental to their cognitive development. Children will learn to; form positive relationships and develop respect for others; develop social skills and learn how to manage their feelings; understand and regulate their behaviour in different situations; and to have confidence in their own abilities. Children will also learn to how to look after their bodies, including developing an awareness and understanding of healthy eating and managing their personal needs.
Physical development involves providing opportunities for young children to be active and interactive; and to develop their co-ordination, gross and fine motor control and movement. Children are provided with repeated and varied opportunities to explore and play in a range of situations to allow them to develop their physical literacy and skills with proficiency, control and confidence.
We also support children in the four specific areas, through which the three prime areas are strengthened and applied. The specific areas are:
Literacy development involves encouraging children to develop language comprehension. This occurs when practitioners talk and read with children. Children must be given access to a wide range of reading materials (books, poems, and other written materials) to ignite their interest and to develop a life long love of reading. Skilled word reading involves the speedy working out of the pronunciation of familiar printed words, as children link sounds and letters (decoding). Writing involves transcription (spelling and handwriting) and composition, through articulating their ideas and structuring them in speech before writing.
Mathematics involves children developing a strong grounding in number. Providing children with frequent and varied opportunities to develop and improve their skills in counting, understanding and using numbers, calculating simple addition and subtraction problems will give them a secure base of knowledge and vocabulary from which they can develop. Children are also provided with rich opportunities to develop their spatial reasoning, including shape, space, and measures.
Understanding the world
Understanding the world involves guiding children to make sense of their physical world and their community through opportunities to discuss their personal experiences, explore, observe and find out about people, places, technology and the environment. This will help children to increase their knowledge and sense of the world around them, and to develop their understanding of the culturally, socially, technologically and ecologically diverse world.
Expressive arts and design
Expressive arts and design involves developing children’s artistic and cultural awareness to support their imagination and creativity. Children are encouraged to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials. We provide opportunities for children to share their thoughts, ideas and feelings through art, music, movement, dance, role-play, and design and technology.
The Value of Play
Well-planned play, both indoors and outdoors, is an important way in which young children learn. It is the process through which children explore, investigate, recreate and understand the world in which they live. It is a vital component of children’s lives and is the medium through which skills can be developed and practiced.
The role of the practitioner is crucial in developing high quality play in the learning environment. This includes planning and resourcing a challenging environment, supporting children’s learning through planned and spontaneous play, and extending and developing children’s language and communication in their play.
Play is essential for children’s development, building their confidence as they learn to explore, to think about problems, and relate to others. Children learn by leading their own play, and by taking part in play which is guided by adults.
In planning and guiding children’s activities, practitioners reflect on the different ways that children learn and reflect these in our practice. Three characteristics of effective teaching and learning are:
Playing and exploring: Children investigate and experience things and ‘have a go’;
Active learning: Children concentrate and persevere if they encounter difficulties. They enjoy their achievements; and
Creating and thinking critically: Children have and develop their own ideas, make links and connections between their play and experiences, and develop strategies for doing things.
At St Catherine’s we are passionate about learning through play! If you would like more information on how you can support your child’s learning through play at home, please have a look at these ideas.