☰ Guest Blog from Mrs Enisuoh: New beginnings in the Nursery

Guest Blog from Mrs Enisuoh: New beginnings in the Nursery

Posted on: October 4th 2019

It has been with great excitement that we welcomed our Nursery children into our re-designed first floor for September 2019. The staff team have put considerable thought into the new environment with a blend of theory and practice informing our design.

Much research in Early Years highlights the importance of the Nursery environment as key to children’s learning. The environment is often described as ‘the third teacher’ (in The Reggio Emilia Approach) and plays a central role in the process of making learning meaningful. With this in mind, our focus has been to create a space where the environment offers rich learning experiences that encourage creativity and collaboration whilst also being hugely fun and enjoyable!

Over the summer, the staff team were busy buying new learning materials that would complement our curriculum with each new toy and piece of equipment chosen very carefully to ensure it encourages open ended learning and creativity. Such experiences create opportunities for partnerships with peers, which is fundamental to children’s learning of language. The development of children’s language is central to all the experiences we offer in our Nursery as a strong grasp of language is the key to developing relationships with peers, as well as being the main indicator of academic success in later school years according to current research. 

Over the last few weeks, it has been wonderful to see how the new materials have engaged the children, providing opportunities for lots of fun and learning! 

Our role play corner stimulates children’s imagination and enhances children’s social development by encouraging friendship through cooperation, listening and turn taking. Providing familiar experiences such as a kitchen and bedroom enable children to re-enact life from home where children are their most confident and help children new to nursery life feel secure. We also have a new dream oracle (low bed) which provides a cosy corner to snuggle with a book, a dolly or a new friend!

The sand table and the water table can be two of the most popular areas of our classroom, but it is important to remember that these areas are essential to the classroom for higher-level learning. 

Mathematical Learning: The sand and water centres are introductions to higher-level thinking concepts like volume.  When children empty two pails of sand into one larger pail, they begin to learn about which pail has more and which pail has less.  They have the opportunity to see how many cups it takes to fill the largest bucket.  They can also see how one tall pail of sand also equals a short, large bucket.  Children can use the sand to create shapes and structures.

Scientific Concepts: The water table introduces children to early physics concepts like motion and flowing water.  Children have the opportunity to make predictions about what objects will sink in the water and which items will float.  Sand and water areas introduce discussions about living and non-living items, as well as animal habitats. 

Language Development: The sand and water areas of the classroom are wonderful environments to create conversations.  Young children typically play together in these areas, develop intricate pretend play ideas, and ask one another questions.  These areas also give the teachers plenty of opportunities to talk to students about their creations and pretend play.  Teachers can get children to respond with the most creative responses by starting their conversations with statements like “I wonder what would happen if . . .” and “Tell me about . . .”

Social Skills: Since so many children want to play in these areas of the classroom, children must learn how to take turns and share the classroom materials.  Children must work together to create a castle in the sand, and young children play together to make their sea animals talk to each other in the water table.

Creativity: These centres are classic examples of open-ended materials that do not have one specific purpose.  Children focus on the process of playing with the sand and water instead of trying to create an end product. 

Lastly, we have introduced some rugs and soft spaces. Properly planned soft places are not only an important part of the environment, but facilitate learning, and thus greatly enhance children's development. Children may need quieter spaces at times when settling in of a morning as well as having a quiet space to go during the day in order to self soothe and maintain their own sense of wellbeing. Our new tactile rugs also provide a sensory experience and can assist some children with calming down their bodies. 

If you’re a current Nursery parent, you will know how lovely our environment is as you see it every morning when you take your child into their classrooms! We would love to share our developments with the wider school community and would like to welcome parents of other year levels to visit the Nursery any morning next week (7th to 11th of October) between 8.20 a.m.-8.40 a.m.

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