Key persons continue to plan activities that both reflect and challenge the children’s developing skills. Children at this stage develop rapidly in their physical, language and social skills. We make full use of our outdoor facilities that are especially adapted to challenge, in a safe, supervised environment, toddler’s developing physical skills and their love of outdoors. As is recognised by the Government, active children are more likely to maintain a normal weight and life-long health. Encouragement to be active out of doors at an early age also influences motivation to be active in later life. Toddlers at Nature Trails explore the local countryside with the support of practitioners. Daily, they enjoy opportunities to play in the nursery gardens and to run in open space.
On a regular basis our toddlers take a short walk through the farm house grounds to feed chickens that were incubated and hatched in the nursery, or to see the cows and sheep grazing in nearby fields. Visiting specialist teachers attend weekly to support children and staff in learning through play, skills and techniques that enhance motor skills co-ordination and language including Sign Language, Yoga and Music and Movement.
We consider that it is very important to maintain a dialogue with parents so that we can reinforce developing skills such as toilet training and positive behaviour in all aspects of life at this stage. Key persons greet their key children in the play area here where they also talk to parents on a daily basis about their progress. We share information with parents about their child's exciting and varied day that includes a range of messy, creative and challenging activities both indoors and outside.
Key persons are acutely aware of the importance of helping to support emerging language skills during this phase through pretend play, books and a language rich environment. They are supported by two trained "champion" Early Years Educators who have specialist training in the development of children's talking. We recently gained an Enhanced Status “Every Child a Talker” project award for the work we have done in this area.
The Early Years Foundation Stage framework (Department of Education 2013/14) emphasises the importance of play, exploration and enjoyment of learning that should take place in high quality environments and with high quality, well trained practitioners being the most important factors underpinning learning. We are constantly reviewing, enhancing and developing all indoor and outdoor learning environments and as such, never see an end to the task. Further, we encourage further education and development, offering numerous in-house and external training opportunities for staff which enhances their daily practice.
As a nursery, we choose never to stand still when it comes to evolving and refining practice ideas (based on research findings) that enhance children’s development in nursery. This year we are concentrating on developing resources and learning environments that promote positive behaviour and children’s general feelings of well-being. We are exploring new perspectives on practice to ensure that emotional, social and language development is nurtured to help children to maximise their learning potential. Our especially developed “Nurture Room” provides an indoor space that children can withdraw to, with their key persons, and where they can express themselves more freely away from the bustle of the nursery environment. Both children and educators enjoy the opportunities that this brings to the development of relationships and mutual understanding.