Care and Learning

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The Early Years curriculum is a progressive and developmental programme that outlines the key milestones in a child’s development from birth to five. At Berkhamsted Day Nursery our partnership with our colleagues in the Pre-Prep enables us to plan for and support each child through these first years and in readiness for school nursery and Reception.

Positive relationships are key and as such our focus from their first day in nursery is to ensure that a secure attachment with each child is established, not only with their key worker but with every member of staff. We want our children to feel part of an extended family with all the love and care that comes with that. Hugs and cuddles are very much part of the day and the children very quickly thrive on the attention and nurture given by our very competent team of practitioners. We hope to become part of your extended family too as we get to know you in addition to getting to know your child, enabling us to work in partnership to develop and grow your child together.

Our children are recognised as individuals and we spend time getting to know their personality and what engages them as early learners. That moment when a child makes a connection and pieces together their life experiences is very special and a joy to behold.

Creating an environment that is stimulating and inviting ensures that each day our children come into their setting excited and curious. We plan our provision to encourage active participation and active learning, supporting the children to develop using the four principles of the EYFS:

  • A Unique Child – This is based on the principle that every child is a competent learner and can be resilient, capable and confident.
  • Positive Relationships – This highlights the importance of children having loving and secure relationships with parents and carers, in order to become strong and independent.
  • Enabling Environments – This recognises the key role a child’s environment plays in supporting and extending children’s development and learning.
  • Learning and Development – This is based on the knowledge that children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates and that all areas of learning are interconnected and equally important.

Early Years Foundation Stage

The Early Year Foundation Stage (EYFS) is a government document which sets the standards for learning, development and care for children from birth to five.

It details all the legal requirements, the principles that practitioners need to put into their practice and information on supporting children’s progression through the seven areas of learning and development.

The Four Principles

These are what the staff and setting integrate into their daily practice.

A Unique Child:

This is based on the principle that every child is a competent learner and can be resilient, capable and confident.

Positive Relationships:

This highlights the importance of children having loving and secure relationships with parents and carers, in order to become strong and independent.

Enabling Environments:

This recognises the key role a child’s environment plays in supporting and extending their development and learning.

Learning and Development:

This is based on the knowledge that children develop and learn in different ways and that all areas of learning are interconnected and equally important.

The Seven Areas of Learning

These areas combine together to make up the skills, knowledge and experiences that babies and children acquire as they grow, learn and develop. The prime areas are Personal, Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development and Communication and Language. These are fundamental because they work together to support development in the other areas. The developmental statements in these areas help practitioners to identify and plan for the children’s individual interests and abilities.

Personal, Social and Emotional Development:

This area looks at supporting children to develop a sense of themselves, social skills and respect for others and a positive disposition to learn. Children’s emotional well-being also needs to be supported in order to help them understand and manage their feelings and behaviour.

Physical Development:

This area looks at supporting children in using their senses and bodies to explore the world around them and make connections between new and existing knowledge. They should have the chance to be active and interact with things to improve their skills of coordination, control, manipulation and movement. Children also need to develop an understanding of healthy living practices.

Communication and Language:

This area looks at supporting children’s developing competence in listening and understanding as well as speaking and communicating. Children should be given opportunities to build these skills and gain confidence to use them in a range of situations.

Literacy:

This area focuses on learning the skills needed for reading and writing.

Mathematics:

This area looks at supporting children to develop their understanding of numbers, calculating, shapes, space and measures.

Understanding the World:

This area looks at supporting children in developing the knowledge, skills and understanding to help them make sense of their world. They should be able to explore creatures, people, plants and objects and undertake practical ‘experiments’.

Expressive Arts and Design:

This area looks at supporting children in developing their creativity by providing a range of opportunities, materials and media in which to express themselves and use their imaginations. The children should be encouraged to explore and share their thoughts, feelings and ideas.

A Partnership with Parents 

Our partnership with you as parents is essential, as we aim to create a wider family structure for your child. As early years professionals we not only strive to ensure your child has access to care, nurture and learning during their days with us, but we also work closely with you, so you too feel part of their development.

Your child will have a named key person from the point of a place being offered. We are keen to learn about your child from you even before they start, and the settling sessions will provide both you and us with time to find out about your child and for you to ask us questions. We will also facilitate a more detailed induction meeting with your child’s key person, so we are able to build a picture of your child, their personality and interests (often favourite toys and activities).

Once your child starts, you will have a daily opportunity at the end of the day during pick up, to hear about key aspects of your child’s day from either your child’s key person or a practitioner who works with your child each day. Our team will ensure they are observing your child closely during their daily interactions, noting key developmental changes whilst also ensuring access to a wide range of experiences. The changes in development at this age can be exponential and as such, close monitoring and observations ensure each child has access to learning and development opportunities that consolidate newly learned skills and challenge them gently to try new ones.

Over time your child’s key person will build up your child’s profile, monitoring progress in relation to the EYFS outcomes and highlighting key areas for ‘next steps’. You will have an opportunity to meet with your child’s key person during a Child Development and Learning Review where you can discuss your child’s development and the agreed key targets for the weeks ahead.

In addition to your personal relationship with us, we also aim to provide regular guidance on early child development and to support you with key developmental milestones such as weaning and potty training. We encourage our parents to use our expertise and knowledge as we work together to ensure the very best outcomes for all our children.

Facilities 

Berkhamsted Day Nursery is situated on our eight acre Haresfoot campus, alongside Berkhamsted Pre-Prep School benefiting from an array of facilities available on the site. 

A key aspect to our Babies and children can enjoy direct access to our wonderful outdoor surroundings, going on regular walks around the extensive grounds, waving to the cows in the fields or hunting for ‘minibeasts’ in the woods. We provide pushchairs so that even our youngest babies can benefit from our beautiful countryside location. 

The Day Nursery also has its own large, enclosed garden with a grassed area, safety surface and tricycle track. Children love to engage in sand and water play and enjoy digging in the planting beds. A variety of climbing, push-along and wheeled toys are available everyday, with children in the older rooms enjoying free access from inside to out. 

We aim to take the children out in all weathers. In the summer the children will enjoy walks and picnics in the grounds and in the winter the wellies, hats and coats go on for puddle-jumping and snowman building. 

Our extensive facilities also include our sports hall, which enables the children to have a good run-round, especially on rainy weather days when being inside all day is limiting. 

We have access to a range of bouncy mats, hoops, balance beams and target games and each week your child will take part in additional sessions led by visiting specialists, with the cost included in our fee package. 

We pride ourselves on the provision of a carefully selected menu at Berkhamsted Day Nursery. Our trained chef prepares nutritious and delicious meals, taking into account any specific dietary requirements. All younger babies’ food is pureed and new flavours are gradually introduced. 

We encourage children to handle their food and also to take part in some of the preparation. Children regularly cook and bake with plenty of adult support!