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Early Years

“Consistently high standards are achieved through educational programmes which demonstrate outstanding planning and ensure that children reach or exceed age appropriate levels of development…the motivation levels of the children are high in response to similarly high expectations from staff; children are eager to join in all activities and are proud of their achievements.” ISI report March 2014.

Nursery

Nursery is where the wonderful learning journey at St Michael’s starts.  Children in Nursery join our loving and nurturing team, where they are provided with endless opportunities to develop and explore their independence, language, social skills and ideas. They have full access to our indoor and outdoor areas at all times; these are equipped with high quality resources and furnishing, designed to stimulate   From the comfort of a close team, and personal key worker, your child has access to a range of carefully planned, play-based activities aimed at captivating them and developing their skills in all of learning areas. 

“A strong focus on personal, social and emotional development as well as physical and language and communication growth, provides a robust foundation for the children under 3 years.” ISI report March 2014.

Kindergarten

The Kindergarten classrooms and free-flow outside areas promote a calm, relaxed and harmonious atmosphere.  Children have frequent opportunities to venture into the school’s woodland and grounds where they are encouraged to solve practical problems, work together and learn through discovery and exploration.

We promote our children’s natural curiosity, through fun, play-based tasks, which they can actively explore both independently and as part of a group.  Children are encouraged to be independent, physically active and to think for themselves.

We have a topic based approach to learning, and this is expanded through the children’s own curiosity, interests, investigation and exploration.

Reception

Reception is a vibrant, happy and stimulating environment where children develop a love of learning to carry them forward through the Pre-Prep. Developing independence is entrenched in everything we do, and the ‘Can do’ attitude which this fosters has a big impact on the children’s academic learning too. The EYFS curriculum is delivered through a topic-based approach; which has each child’s individual needs and interests at the heart of it. Children are encouraged from an early age to take risks with their learning, to challenge themselves, and to become critical thinkers – all from the safety net of the warm and nurturing environment.

“The outstanding quality of teaching in Reception allows children to progress effectively in the seven areas of development, particularly in phonics and mathematical development…staff know the children well and have excellent relationships with them.” ISI report March 2014.

Nursery

Developing communication and language is central to everything we do. Through a variety of carefully planned activities, children are actively encouraged to use their voices – with every effort being warmly celebrated then extended. Song, rhyme and circle times are integrated into our daily routine.  The sharing of books and story time helps to develop the children’s understanding of language and encourages them to ask and answer simple questions. Role Play corners encourage the children to draw on language they have heard in the world around them and begin early interactions with their friends.

Kindergarten

Encouraging communication and language in our very young children is paramount to their happiness and development.  As children learn to express their thoughts and feelings they can then learn to share, negotiate and build relationships with others. They can also ease frustrations and share worries.  In Kindergarten we use every opportunity to help children learn new vocabulary, develop their existing language skills and give them the space to express their own thoughts and ideas.

“All the children have exceptionally good listening skills and are confident in asking questions.” ISI report March 2014.

Reception

Communication and language is developed in every area of our curriculum. Class discussions are sensitively handled in order to maximise the benefits for the children. Through praise, encouragement and positive role modelling, the children become competent listeners and confident talkers, able to converse with an intimate group of friends and also perform to a larger audience in ‘show and tell’ and our performances.

Nursery

In Nursery we focus on developing both the fine and gross motor skills required for sport, handwriting and general life skills as our children move through the school. In the garden they have access throughout the day to balance bikes, slides, climbing frames, sand and water trays and lots of space to move and run.  Our children also have regular PE lessons with a specialist sports teacher, which lay the foundations for what is to come.  Fine motor skills, such as those needed for pencil control, cutting and threading are developed through a wide range of engaging activities set up on a daily basis.  We support and encourage children in becoming independent and confident in their own health and self-care, encouraging independent hand washing, drinking from a cup, using a spoon and, when they are ready, using the toilet. The phrase “I did it by myself” is a favourite to hear.

Kindergarten

Kindergarten children continue to have PE sessions with specialist teachers each week, which will develop gross motor skills, balance and hand eye co-ordination.  In class we provide activities which will develop the finer muscles and motor skills which help children to develop mark making skills as they grow.  Fun activities in which the children love to take part will help with hand eye co-ordination, control and confidence.

Reception

We continue the development of both large and small scale movements through structured PE and games sessions with our specialist sports teacher. The children have the opportunity to practise the skills they learn here during our child-initiated activity sessions. They begin swimming lessons in our own pool in the Lent term and these water skills sessions continue for the rest of the school year. Play times are well supervised, with older children and adults on hand to suggest games to develop team work and physical skills. The children have access to the outside in all weathers – our waterproof trousers and wellies being much used and little red cheeks a joy to see.

Nursery

Personal, Social and Emotional Development is at the very core of what we offer in Nursery.  Children are sensitively supported through the settling and separation process, no matter how long this takes. They are encouraged to express their own feelings, likes and dislikes, with all opinions and differences being celebrated.  Children are warmly praised for positive behaviour choices, and the nurturing team support those who are finding this difficult. Paired and small group activities enable children begin to develop relationships with other children – these often lead to friendships they will keep throughout their time at St Michael’s. 

“Caring and committed staff help all children to form appropriate bonds and secure emotional attachments with their key person.” ISI report March 2014.

Kindergarten

Carefully planned experiences and activities, with just the right level of challenge, develop confidence and self-esteem.  Activities are often open ended to encourage the children to work together as a group and to listen to each other or co-operate to achieve an outcome.  Children independently use sand timers to learn sharing and turn-taking skills in games and with equipment.  Stories and songs are used to explore relationships and feelings in ways that relate to each child.

“…even the youngest children respect and care for one another and play happily together.” ISI report March 2014.

Reception

The children’s personal, social and emotional development is at the heart of everything we do. Children are actively encouraged to help and consider each other, whether it is in putting on painting aprons or taking turns in a game. Independence is fostered by giving the children time to learn to do things themselves and celebrating successes – no matter how small. This builds a self-belief, which allows the children to make the most of the opportunities on offer in all areas of the school. Assemblies and circle times are used to encourage positive relationships and to develop strategies to support those who are finding things tricky, with caring adults on hand to help.

“An innovative, well-planned environment with extensive facilities supports the children’s overall development and emotional well-being and develops their confidence and cooperation.” ISI report March 2014.

 

Nursery

Children are immersed in a world of books, stories and imaginative play from the moment they step into nursery. Song, rhyme and dance are used to develop rhythm, alliteration, imagination and new language.  Children are encouraged to talk about everything they do, helping them to give meaning to things they create and make connections to other experiences and knowledge they have. Mark-making is celebrated in every area of play whether it be in flour in our weekly cooking sessions, or ‘painting’ the walls with water.

Kindergarten

In Kindergarten we begin to learn key sounds of the alphabet through small group phonics sessions and looking at the letters and words in the world around us.  Children have constant access to exciting fiction and non-fiction books in the book corner, during activities or as part of our story time.  Fun activities to develop pencil grip are set out daily and include manipulating Play-doh, pegging and picking up tiny objects to strengthen the pincer grip. Opportunities to ‘write’ are abundant in the stimulating environment and tailored to each child’s interests – from seed labels to astronaut packing lists – there is something for even the most reluctant of pencil holders.

Reception

Daily phonics teaching continues into Reception, where the children are taught to recognise and write the key sounds of the English language, including the more complex sounds made up of 2 and 3 letters. Our children learn to read and write; working in groups to ensure the pace is appropriate. Creative writing opportunities, which build on the children’s interests, ensure that each child enjoys using and developing their skills in exciting ways. A love of books and reading is fostered through our daily ‘story time’ whilst the children have access to a variety of books including carefully chosen reading books and books from our own library which the children visit weekly.

Nursery

Learning about basic mathematical concepts is fun and practical in Nursery. Children develop an understanding of number and shape through imaginative activities which take place both indoors and outdoorsEverything which can be counted, is counted, with teachers modelling and extending these skills.  Shape and spatial skills are developed through building, puzzles, water play and simply exploring the world around us.

Kindergarten

Mathematics becomes part of everyday life in Kindergarten as we build on the skills learned in Nursery. Numbers are all around us and have a part in everything we do. Learning to count the children at register, as we line up, or when going up or down the stairs, we develop an understanding of quantity. Every activity on offer has an element of mathematics from finding the volume of containers by filling and emptying them to playing with 2 and 3D shapes and threading beads. Shopping, small world play and role play activities enable us to understand the key concepts of adding and taking away, whilst enjoying the company of our friends.

Reception

The children consolidate the addition and subtraction skills which they were introduced to in Kindergarten. They are given many practical opportunities to build their confidence and they are introduced to formally recording their work as they develop these skills. Shapes are explored in two and three dimensions as are the key concepts of measuring and time. Children are taught and learn at a pace appropriate for each child, drawing upon their interests and fascinations in order to gain the maximum benefit from each learning situation. Our outdoor area is widely used to develop and use these skills.

Nursery

It would be hard to find a better setting and environment to develop children’s understanding of the world. This, coupled with the fantastic resources the children have access to, makes exploring and learning about our world effortless and natural.  Children are encouraged to notice detailed features of their environment, operate mechanical toys and begin to use the basic functions of some ICT equipment.  All of this done with their friends at their side, noticing differences between each other’s likes and dislikes.

Kindergarten

The children develop a knowledge of the world through hands-on experiences.  We use the extensive grounds around the school as a learning experience to find out about growing, the seasons or wildlife.  The outside world is brought inside as we watch caterpillars grow and change, observe a tadpole’s life cycle or plant seeds – carefully looking at each new stage in their growth. Our numerous ICT resources are enjoyed by all the children and are used to support and extend this learning.

Visitors to the school instill an understanding of the people around us and help us to celebrate the similarities and the differences between us.

Reception

The children gain first-hand experience of nature unfolding throughout the year as we explore our beautiful grounds. An inquisitive approach is positively encouraged, as the children observe then discuss what they see. We often return to the classroom armed with a list of questions to research and learn about together. The use of technology is a natural part of this process, as the children learn about, and then record, their experiences.

Our first school trips take place in Reception and are designed to offer real experiences to support our learning. They are great fun too!

Nursery

Music and movement are interwoven into every area of the curriculum in Nursery. From nursery rhymes to number songs, we recognise the importance of singing and making up associated actions in engaging children and supporting their learning. Specialist music lessons help children to join into dancing and ring games, along with singing songs and beginning to move rhythmically.  Through carefully planned activities your child will be encouraged and challenged to use different forms of expression through role play, themed areas, toys, stories and of course music.

Kindergarten

Children explore sound, music, dance and drama throughout their time in Kindergarten. This can take the form of an impromptu orchestra, created from whatever the children can coax a sound from, to specialist music lessons each week, which culminate in two class performances a year.  Kindergarten classrooms give the children opportunities for role play, dressing-up or engaging in imaginative play based on their own first-hand experiences.  They use props to help develop ideas and support their play.  The resources are seemingly limitless and encourage children to create elaborate works of art or individual forms of expression.

Reception

We immerse the children in music, art, drama and dance. They explore and play with a wide range of media and materials. Role play plays a crucial part in learning to express themselves as individuals and to understand others. The children are encouraged to share and implement their own ideas. They are given a wide range of opportunities to extend their thinking to improve on original ideas and to develop resilience whilst they learn. Our vast array or resources ensures every child is catered for and relishes the opportunity to develop their skills. Music lessons with our specialist music teacher continue and an additional slot for ‘Music and Movement’ has been introduced into the weekly timetable.