A Bold Beginning at Kelvedon St Mary’s - Early Years Foundation Stage
A successful start to our academy either in nursery or reception is fundamental to every child’s success at Kelvedon St Mary’s. Our vision to inspire wisdom and possibilities begins from day one, so all our pupils are supported and challenged to grow the knowledge, experience and good judgement required to thrive in the early years and beyond.
The learning journey at Kelvedon St Mary’s begins with a focus on building positive relationships. We strive to get to know every child and their family well so that we can understand how best to support each pupil to be the best they can be. We know that a child, who is comfortable with the adults and peers they work closely with on a daily basis, is more likely to be ready and confident to learn. This is why we place great emphasis on building positive relationships as soon as a child joins our school and this remains a priority throughout Kelvedon St Mary’s.
Habits of learning
We pride ourselves on our ability to support every child to develop habits of learning that enable them to discover, think, create, solve problems and self-regulate their learning. In the early years, our curriculum and environments are created in a way to promote strong habits through the Characteristics of Effective Learning:
Playing and exploring
Finding out and exploring: showing curiosity about objects, events and people; using senses to explore the world around them; engaging in open-ended activity and showing particular interests.
Playing with what they know: pretending objects are things from their experience; representing their experiences in place; taking on a role in their play and acting out experiences with other people.
Being willing to ‘have a go’: initiating activities; seeking challenge; showing a ‘can do’ attitude and taking a risk, engaging in new experiences and learning by trial and error.
Being involved and concentrating: showing a deep drive to know more about people and their world; maintaining focus on their activity for a period of time; showing high levels of involvement, energy, fascination; not easily distracted and paying attention to details.
Keeping on trying: persisting with an activity or toward their goal when challenges occur; showing a belief that more effort or a different approach will pay off, and that their skills can grow and develop.
Enjoying achieving what they set out to do: showing satisfaction in meeting their own goals; being proud of how they accomplished something – not just the end result and enjoying meeting challenges for their own sake rather than external rewards or praise (intrinsic motivation).
Thinking creatively and critically
Having their own ideas: thinking of ideas that are new and meaningful to the child; playing with possibilities; visualising and imagining options and finding new ways to do things.
Making links: making links and noticing patterns in their experience; making predictions; testing their ideas and developing ideas of grouping, sequences, cause and effect.
Working with ideas: planning, making decisions about how to approach a task, solve a problem and reach a goal; checking how well their activities are going; flexibly changing strategy as needed and reviewing how well the approach worked.
We have made careful choices about what our early years environments should be or do in order to provide a bold start to every child’s educational journey.
Aligned with the rest of the academy, our core business in the early years is learning. The choices we make for our youngest pupils are always underpinned by what we know about the learning process and how individual children are best supported and challenged to learn. We do not favour one particular approach but recognise the value that a balance of direct whole-class teaching, small- group teaching, partner work and play can contribute to a child’s learning experience.
Our enabling environments in the early years aim to promote the following:
Teaching and learning of the seven areas of learning
The statutory framework for the early years foundation stage is our starting point, aligned to this our indoor and outdoor learning environments are organised in a way that together they promote opportunities for the teaching and learning of the seven areas of learning. This includes the prime and specific areas:
Prime areas are particularly important for building a foundation for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, forming relationships and thriving. The prime areas are:
The prime areas are strengthened and applied through a further four specific areas:
Strong language and literacy
At Kelvedon St Mary’s language and literacy are viewed as the cornerstones of learning. As such our early years environments are organised in a way to promote a curriculum where significant time is designated to developing children’s spoken language and teaching them to read and write.
We are fanatical about promoting a love of reading and show this by providing a meticulously curated selection of books aimed to spark children’s interest and imagination. We encourage every child to read out loud frequently from carefully selected books that closely match their phonic knowledge. Our story time sessions are considered to be one of the most precious and valued parts of our daily routine.
All our staff are relentless in developing children’s language, vocabulary and comprehension.
Proficiency in maths
We understand the teaching and learning of mathematics in the early years to be crucial to providing a strong basis for more complex learning later. As such, our early years environments promote teaching and learning of mathematics that is not only aligned to the Early Learning Goals (ELGs) but also prepares children well for year one and beyond.
We recognise that assessing and responding to children’s understanding is an important part of moving children forward in their learning. The adults working with our youngest pupils add the greatest value when they are interacting directly with our children, talking to them and modelling learning. For this reason, our assessment process is streamlined to identify children who are on track or off track to meet the Early Learning Goals. From this information, we are able to prioritise our response in addressing misconceptions and meeting the needs of every child.
Our high expectations and challenge for each learner are cultivated from our understanding that simply meeting the Early Learning Goals is insufficient preparation for year one. The foundations for our Inspire Curriculum begin in the early years as we are committed to providing children in reception with a different experience to their preschool years and want to ensure they are given the necessary foundation for the rest of their schooling.