“Education is not filling a bucket but lighting a fire” – WB Yeats

The School recognises that young children:-

  • learn actively by doing, e.g. constructing, exploring, experimenting, problem-solving;
  • have a range of learning styles and therefore access knowledge, concepts and skills in a variety of ways;
  • require a wide range of experiences, since their rates of development and learning are most active and varied at this stage;
  • require opportunities, space and time to repeat, practise and consolidate what has been learnt as well as challenging new experiences;
  • build on what they can do and explore further what is familiar to them: hence they work most effectively on matters of current interest to them, learning from first-hand experience in meaningful situations;
  • need opportunities to take risks, make mistakes and try things out without fear of failure;
  • learn from play which can be spontaneous, purposeful, fun or serious – which encourages children to develop their ideas, understanding and language as well as promoting control, mastery, confidence and wellbeing;
  • are naturally curious and have an innate desire to find out more;
  • learn most effectively in a social context, but that the role of adults in mediating, supporting and extending learning is crucial;
  • learn from each other and benefit from working in an environment that reflects the needs of the whole age range from birth to five;
  • can be damaged by introducing formal instruction too intensely and too abstractly, since children may learn the knowledge and skills offered but may do so at the expense of the disposition to use them;
  • are not likely to gain desirable dispositions from instructions; rather, these are gained from being around people who exhibit, exemplify and model them;
  • need opportunities to represent their first-hand experiences through a wide range of media as they move from behavioural to symbolic knowledge;
  • require opportunities to experience something in depth, so that their disposition to seek in-depth understanding can be developed and strengthened;
  • gain the dispositions to be interested, engaged, absorbed and involved in intellectual effort when they have extended opportunities to work on their own interests over a period of time;
  • gain a positive self-esteem when adults show respect for their ideas, thoughts, interests and concerns;
  • use talk as an important tool to express their ideas and feelings; and in doing so they question and develop their powers of reasoning, interpret thoughts, modify ideas and extend their thinking;
  • learn best when they are confident that their own abilities, gender, home culture and background are valued;
  • benefit from the security of knowing that positive attitudes have been fostered between school and home, through close partnerships and shared understanding;
  • children need “…… freedom to investigate and try, to make mistakes, to choose where and with whom to invest their curiosity, intelligence and emotions. Children need the freedom to appreciate the infinite resources of their hands, their eyes, their ears, the resources of forms, materials, sounds and colour.  They need the freedom to realise how reason, thought and imagination can create continuous interweaving of things, and can move and shake the world”. – Malaguzzi, 1996

In the Nursery School our teaching strategies are based on the knowledge that children learn at varying rates; that learning is not necessarily linear; and that individuals learn in different ways. The staff also acknowledge the need to consider every aspect of a child’s development, appreciating that a delay in one area can influence another.

The following links illustrate examples of teaching strategies used by staff.  Each is adapted to the individual children involved and the intended learning outcomes.

Children’s Progress and Achievement in the Nursery School

A careful record of each child’s development is kept by his/her Key worker.  Parents are encouraged to take an active role in the process.   The record keeping procedures are central to effective teaching and learning throughout the school.  Staff observe, assess, record and monitor each child’s achievement and progress in all areas of learning as outlined in the Curriculum Planning Policy.  They record children’s particular interests and use this knowledge to foster children’s confidence and inspire children to want to find out more about the world around them.  The record keeping process enables Staff to:

  • ensure continuity of learning from home to Nursery School and from Nursery School to Infant/Primary School;
  • ensure that each child, irrespective of gender, race, culture, class, language or special needs has equal access to a broad, balanced, relevant and differentiated curriculum which enables him/her to reach his/her potential;
  • build up a clear picture of each child as an individual;
  • plan effectively for children’s learning difficulties that a child may experience;
  • diagnose any problems or learning difficulties that a child may experience;
  • provide a focus for communication with Parents, Speech Therapists, Educational Psychologists, Social Workers and other specialists;
  • inform incoming staff (whether permanent or temporary) about children’s needs;
  • monitor the effectiveness of the school’s provision and staff interaction

…… and finally

 “we recognise the right of children to realise and expand their potential, placing great value on their ability to socialise, receiving their affection and trust and satisfying their needs and desires to learn. And this is so much truer when children are reassured by an effective alliance between the adults in their lives, adults who are always ready to help, who place higher value on the search for constructive strategies of thought and action than on the direct transmission of knowledge and skills. These constructive strategies contribute to the formation of creative intelligence, free thought and individuality that is sensitive and aware, through an ongoing process of differentiation and integration with other people and other experiences.” Malaguzzi (1996: The Hundred Languages of Children p124)