Our fully qualified level 2 and level 3 Forest School teachers work with all the children throughout the year. Children learn to develop their listening and attention skills, their communication skills and their personal and social skills as they follow the Forest School Programme. This curriculum centres around safety, taking calculated risks and trying new things out in a controlled environment. Through this ethos and teaching, children learn to be resilient and confident learners who take risks, problem solve and are excited to engage with new experiences. Children are also taught about how we look after the world around us and how it is important to have respect for, and show thought to, nature through sustainability, conservation and education. Children plant trees and create homes for mini-beasts to help them to understand the importance of their natural world.
Children learn about how to use real tools such as bow saws, loppers and peelers in a safe, supervised and strategic way. The children also learn to light a fire, cook on it and then eat the resulting food! Through activities similar to ‘bush craft’, children make land art, build shelters, bug hunt, create jewellery and much, much more!
Children experience this enhanced provision in our specially designed forest school garden. We provide high quality Swedish water and windproof suits for the children to wear so that we can enjoy working outdoors the whole year through. We ask parents to provide a pair of wellington boots which can be kept at school and used for outdoor play in wet weather.
Forest school sessions are planned according to the children’s individual learning needs and children’s progress is assessed against the Early Years Outcomes. Key Persons work with the children during Forest School sessions and use their assessments to inform planning and next steps for learning. Observations inform assessments and contribute to the children’s learning record which is shared with parents through the children’s online Learning Journals ‘Tapestry’, displays and at consultation meetings.
At Batford Nursery School we have a qualified yoga instructor who is also an experienced and well qualified early years practitioner. This means that we can use yoga as a vehicle to maximise the children’s physical development. Learning to control the body is important for the development of muscles which will later be used for writing and other fine motor activities.
Communication has an important role. Children develop Listening and Attention skills and hear language modelled well, including the introduction of new vocabulary. This will help children to access the whole curriculum.
Awareness of space and those around them is a vital element of successful social interaction. Engaging children in yoga helps children focus mind and body on the tasks they engage in every day and so they are able to concentrate and become highly involved in their learning across the curriculum, optimising the opportunities for progress.
The children often use elements of their own interest to develop story ideas through stretching and exercise, thus using yoga to develop learning in the Expressive Arts and Design curriculum.
We have a large hall in which the children can follow a planned programme of exercises designed to build on previous learning and development. Our highly experienced teaching staff use assessments to feed into the overall outcomes for each child.
As part of our curriculum at Batford Nursery, we place a high importance on teaching children to be resilient by giving them tools to help them self-regulate and navigate the changing world around them. One of the ways in which we help support children with this is through mindfulness.
We have purchased a new resource called ‘My Happy Mind’ which is an age-appropriate and extensive scheme that includes breathing and guided meditation exercises to help underpin children’s well-being and contentment. The children access this resource weekly with an adult to help guide them through the processes and techniques such as guided meditations, breathing exercises and visualisations, all of which are used with stories, cuddly characters and music to help keep children engaged.
The senior leadership team monitors the children’s involvement and well-being through the ‘Leuven scale’ which uses a numbered reference point to assess and monitor children’s journeys whilst they are at Nursery. The staff have seen a marked impact from the increased use of this resource on children’s ability to manage and regulate their emotions.
Communication in the early years is key to children being able to express themselves and make their needs known appropriately. We utilise many years of experience and training to help children communicate effectively, including many visual techniques such as pictorial cues and signing (Makaton).
At Batford Nursery School we have a ‘sign of the week’ which children learn with their group and key person. Children then build up a bank of words which mainly link to the routine of the day and include words the children will use often e.g. ‘yes’, ‘no’ and ‘please’. Adults model these signs with the children across the setting to help imbed them and use them in context. This technique helps children to communicate with non-verbal techniques and gesture, creating a more inclusive and accessible environment. This not only helps children with additional needs, but aids other children communicate with their peers effectively and build their vocabulary.