We believe that children learn most effectively through an exciting and developmentally appropriate play-based curriculum, which allows them to develop through their interests, supports their individual learning style and is sensitive to their needs and experiences. At Lanterns, our curriculum encompasses the characteristics of effective teaching and learning in order that children are excellent learners throughout their life. Our curriculum ensures that children learn through the routines that they encounter every day, through a developmentally appropriate environment and through the engagement and interaction provided by skilled early year’s educators.
Building positive relationships and attachments with children and their families is central to everything that we do and ensures that children feel safe and secure in order to access the curriculum and experiences we provide.
What does this mean for children who attend Lanterns?
At Lanterns, our curriculum is designed to:
Provide opportunities to be ambitious
Young children are naturally ambitious from birth. We endeavour to support and build on this ambition by ensuring that our curriculum engages, excites, inspires and fascinates. We observe, plan, assess and use children’s interests so that they can actively engage and explore the world through their senses.
Support well-being, is trauma informed and meets sensory needs
We empower children to take their own responsibilities and have their own agenda to facilitate a sense of control, self-belief and self-motivation.
We place great importance on the need to know children and families well in order to support children in the best way. Our school uses a trauma informed approach and this is reflected in our curriculum through an emotionally sensitive environment, emotion state talk and emotionally available adults.
In order to fully access the curriculum children need to be in a regulatory state. Our curriculum and environment reflects this by offering a layered approach of support from a sensory rich curriculum for all, calm spaces and sensory boxes, to sensory circuits and targeted resources, interventions and approaches.
Children are born ready, able and eager to learn, they actively reach out to interact with other people. Our curriculum supports the knowledge that learning takes place when children connect new knowledge to existing knowledge and that they make connections most readily when they are motivated. We learn by being motivated by what makes sense to us and what we have control over – even as adults!
Offer meaningful experiences
Children need experiences to make sense before what we teach them can make sense and the brain has the ability to resist the imposition of the meaningless. We see the role of the adult as supporting the construction of a cognitive jigsaw, fitting new understanding onto what we already know. Sometimes the piece fits easily, sometimes it takes more time and is harder and sometimes it needs adult engagement, modelling, questioning and facilitating to help it fit. When children are busily engaged we can assume for most typically developing children that learning and connections are happening. We use observations to inform next steps, planning and provision.
We know that when children attempt to make meaning they are demonstrating curiosity. Curiosity is internally motivated and causes children to pose their own questions. Consequently, the information they receive as a result is significantly better remembered and this in turn makes children invest in their actions. When children’s questions are answered through their experience, or by an adult, they are more likely to remember it.
Develop, consolidate and deepen learning and development
We ensure there is exposure to rich and varied experiences to support development. We provide a rich environment in and out to support children’s development physically, emotionally and cognitively. There are many daily opportunities to consolidate by returning to practice and rehearse skills and knowledge. Children need experiences that are comforting, where they can shine and they are at their best and where they can return to what is constant and familiar – ‘I know this’, ‘I am good at this’. The learning becomes deeper, the child becomes bolder and braver and feels more secure. With lots of repetition they feel expert.
At Lanterns, we ensure that there is time to deepen knowledge and transfer experiences into the long-term memory. We motivate children to ask their own questions rather than expecting them to answer the questions of an adult. Children are encouraged to try things out, test, make mistakes and we act as play partners, comment on and model our own thoughts, ideas, mistakes.
How do we do this at Lanterns?
At Lanterns, we have staff who know and understand the EYFS guidance and curriculum, have a good knowledge of child development, understand possible barriers to learning – social, emotional, cognitive - and the differences children and families bring – in terms of cultures and communities – and celebrate these. Our staff respond and interact sensitively and appropriately with children and families; they understand the role of the adult in early education.
All teachers and practitioners are responsible for ensuring that everyday Lanterns Nursery School key accountabilities are in place. These include:
Friendly and helpful staff: positive interactions with parents; warm relationships between adults and children - happy and sensitive voice – musicality, pitch and tone, positive facial expressions and body language, interacting at the child’s level/height, connection and attachment;
Use of visuals: Makaton symbols, task strips, choose boards, Makaton used by adults, adults wearing bumbags or aprons that contain objects of reference and photos, whiteboards;
Adults as: play partners, facilitators, role models, emotion coachers and regulators;
Children who are: engaged, self-regulating, purposeful, independent, having fun, getting messy; opportunities when adults, ask open ended questions, provide challenge, speculate, give children time to think, use sustained shared thinking, observe, follow children’s interests, use and model developmentally appropriate language; children and adults engaged in play experiences outside and inside.
Teachers and practitioners are given many opportunities to develop their professional knowledge and expertise through induction, performance management and IPP’s, training, conversations, professional research and reading and sharing ideas with colleagues.
WAIT, WATCH and WONDER
Within our curriculum we use wait, watch and wonder.
We WAIT to respect what has happened before and for children’s independent learning. We WATCH to tune in, work out what they are doing and trying to achieve and we WONDER - If I interact now, will it help? Is now the right moment to step in? Will I interrupt the learning? What can I do to deepen and extend this learning experience?
What do we see that shows we are having an impact?
At Lanterns, we want to ensure that all of our interactions are having a positive impact on the children who attend the nursery. When we are looking for impact, we are seeking to see:
Children who are observed showing high levels of involvement
Children who are concentrating and focused, interested, motivated, and fascinated, mentally active, fully experiencing sensations and meanings, enjoying the satisfaction of exploration, operating at the very limits of their capabilities. This means that deep learning is taking place.
Children who have positive attitudes and behaviour
Behaviours and attitudes are observed and show that children are engaged in learning - self-confidence, self-awareness, independence, using imagination, deep engagement, concentration, highly motivated, eager to join in, trying hard despite difficulties and the characteristics of effective learning are evident and used independently