How we build champion Early Learners in the EYFS
At Blackhorse, we aim to build champion early learners, who are equipped with the knowledge and skills to be effective communicators, confident readers, curious mathematicians and ambitious writers. The children have a broad range of experiences and opportunities to practise and refine their skills within an environment that is deliberately designed to reflect their evolving needs.
Our 'learning ingredients' in the EYFS:
Extensive Opportunities: In the EYFS, children are provided with a range of varied and challenging continuous provision activities (we call this “Discovery Time”), which are selected to reflect the current skillset of the cohort and stretch them further in their learning. The EYFS classrooms and outside environment are set up to maximise the opportunities that the children access during Discovery Time. We actively plan learning activities that promote collaboration between children to foster teamwork and build co-operation between pupils. The children have free-flow access between the inside and outside during this time and are actively encouraged to engage in different things.
As part of the outdoor curriculum, the children visit "Blackhorse Farm" each week and to learn from Mr Evans, our gardening teacher. The children love being able to plant seeds and harvest vegetables that have been grown at school.
The enquiry curriculum supports the children to investigate and explore the world around them and, when coupled with visits from local experts and community members, this enables children to make connections between their own experiences and the experiences of others. This also helps the children to celebrate what makes them similar and different to others.
Throughout the year, local visits and trips are organised to extend the classroom learning into the wider world. Each summer, for example, the children enjoy a trip to The Community Farm which capitalises on their school learning about food and how it grows. On the trip, the children have the opportunity to see how food is grown on scale at a real working farm, harvest vegetables and create a healthy snack out of the produce collected in the kitchen.
Expert Tuition: The EYFS Team are committed to building strong relationships with the pupils in their care, which creates a nurturing environment whilst also actively teaching interpersonal skills. The staff therefore know the children incredibly well and the children feel safe and supported at school. This enables our highly skilled staff to tailor learning to the needs of individual pupils. All interactions with children are seen an as opportunity to model and promote high quality communication with a view to improving the vocabulary skills of all pupils and fostering a language-rich environment. Pupils benefit from co-playing with adults as they are able to learn alongside them.
Our curriculum is designed to balance teaching children the necessary skills and knowledge with dedicated time to practise and develop their skills during their play. We believe that expert tuition is necessary to upskill pupils in all aspects of the curriculum and we do this both formally and informally.
The EYFS staff are experts in delivering high quality phonics lessons that support children to make good progress in learning to read. Additionally, a rigorous intervention plan ensures that children do not fall behind in phonics and they make good progress and often catch up with their peers.
In Maths, the children come together as a class to sit around the "Maths Mat". This mat is used to teach children the building blocks to become curious mathematicians. The children are taught to count and recognise numbers, add and take away and learn some number facts by wrote.
Across the wider curriculum, teachers deliberately model new skill or process, e.g. colour mixing or creating a map, to the whole class so that the children are taught these new skills explicitly.
During Discovery Time, staff support children in their play and actively model different skills and processes that match the children’s current learning. For example, this could be teaching children how to cut with scissors, count the coins in the till accurately or take turns in a game. By playing alongside the children, the children benefit from quality and individualised teaching.
Purposeful Practice: After deliberate expert tuition, activities are planned to support children to practise and refine these skills both independently during Discovery Time and with the support of an adult in small groups. The environment design enables children to be inspired to practise their skills, through learning provocations, without fear of failure. The children are constantly “bumping into” previously taught knowledge and skills in order to deepen learning, which will help them to improve their skills and remember more. Children are therefore well prepared for the next stage of learning when they reach the end of their Reception year.
Staff have high expectations that repeated practise will enable children to improve their skills quickly and, as a result, the formal and independent opportunities to practise evolve and change throughout the year. Each week, children are set an "Independent Challenge" which gives the children the chance to practise their learning in maths and Literacy. The children are encouraged to manage their time throughout the week and consider when they want to complete their challenge. This helps the children to develop their independence and become responsible learners.
Personal Effort: As a result of the positive relationships we build with children, they trust us to offer help when they ask for it and this gives us the opportunity to model problem solving and build up their confidence to try new things. The EYFS staff therefore actively teach children how to be resilient when challenges occur, which helps to foster a positive “can do” attitude towards learning. The children are praised for their effort and staff support the pupils to reflect on their efforts when they have been successful at a task.
Find out more about the EYFS at Blackhorse by clicking the links below: