In Reception, we follow the curriculum set out in the Early Years Foundation Stage, which covers all areas of children’s learning and development from birth to five years old. The EYFS divides the curriculum into seven areas of learning and development – the ‘prime areas’, Communication and language, Physical development, and Personal, social and emotional development, and the ‘specific areas’, Literacy, Mathematics, Understanding the world and Expressive arts and design. These lead to 17 Early Learning Goals, which summarise the knowledge, skills and understanding that children should gain by the end of the Reception year. For more information on the EYFS, have a look at the website here. As well as what children learn, the EYFS sets out how children learn, the ‘Characteristics of Effective Learning’. So we encourage good attitudes to learning, like curiosity, willingness to ‘have a go’, determination, persistence, and concentration, in everything we do. This links with the ‘Building Learning Power’ themes, including resilience and resourcefulness, which run through the whole school.
We provide a balance between adult-led and child initiated experiences. Children are supported in their development through play and exploration opportunities, short carpet sessions, and adult guided work. Although the curriculum remains very play based, the balance shifts gradually through the Reception year towards more activities led by adults, to help children prepare for more formal learning in Year 1.
Literacy (reading and writing) is taught through the phonics programme ‘Read Write Inc’. This is a structured, systematic and comprehensive approach to teaching reading, writing and spelling, which continues into Key Stage 1. To find out more about our use of RWI click here.
Over the summer of 2015, our Reception outdoor area underwent a major redevelopment, to facilitate really effective learning outside as well as inside.
We now have a large, well-equipped area, with many exciting learning opportunities, including a construction zone, a sand house and a mud kitchen. As part of this, we have developed a ‘forest area’, with stimulating and challenging activities such as den building, which help to develop problem solving, collaboration and persistence, along with supporting many other areas of learning and development. The environment and activities inside and outside are carefully planned to promote learning, so while it may look as though the children are ‘just playing’, actually they are learning all the time.
The classrooms and outdoor space are organised so that children can access most resources by themselves, and they can extend their own learning independently. These are called ‘enabling environments’. We follow children’s interests and provide ‘hands on’ experiences to engage the children. Our resources are ‘open ended’, and can be used flexibly so that the children are not restricted and can follow their interests and ideas creatively. Our timetable allows for long periods of ‘free flow’ independent play, inside and outside, which enables children to become deeply involved in their learning.
An important part of teaching in Reception is through ‘interactions’. Adults observe the children closely as they play, and join in sensitively to support them and move their learning on, extending their language and thinking, and helping to develop their skills. We support the ‘Characteristics of Effective Learning’, for example, encouraging children to keep going though difficulties, and to be creative and follow their own ideas. Our aim is that the children leave Reception as confident, independent learners, ready for the challenges of Year 1.