“Play is the highest form of research” Albert Einstein

At Thornton Heath Nursery School our focus on play-based learning lays the foundation for a child to become a curious and excited learner throughout their educational journey.

Play-based learning helps children develop social skills, motivation to learn, and even language and numeracy skills. Taking initiative, focused attention, and curiosity about the world are all a part of play.

Play-based learning helps a child develop holistically through social-emotional learning, developing confidence and motivation, and practicing cognitive skills.

We believe that adopting a play-based learning approach in conjunction with focused learning sessions provides a child with the very best start in life.

We recognise the uniqueness of each child and understand that they are individuals who come to us with their own interests, strengths and personalities. Our experienced staff observe each child closely, carefully crafting opportunities to move their learning forward.

In the Early Years Foundation Stage (‘EYFS’ – Birth to 5), practitioners follow the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage, a document which sets the standard for learning, development and care for children from birth to five years. There are seven areas of learning which are followed, all of which have equal weighting in terms of their importance. These are sub-divided in to different aspects (in brackets below):

The Prime Areas:

  • Communication and Language Development (Listening, Attention & Understanding; Speaking)
  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development (Self-regulation; Managing Self; Building Relationships)
  • Physical Development (Gross Motor Skills; Fine Motor Skills)

Specific Areas:

  • Literacy (Comprehension; Word Reading; Writing)
  • Mathematics (Number; Numerical Patterns)
  • Understanding the World (Past and Present; People, culture & Communities; The Natural World)
  • Expressive Arts and Design (Creating with Materials; Being Imaginative & Expressive)

Characteristics of Effective Teaching and Learning

Effective learning behaviours are critical to building self-assured, confident and intelligent young minds.  A child’s individual learning characteristic will determine the way they respond to both the teaching and learning taking place in the environment.  Three characteristics of effective teaching and learning identified by the EYFS are:

  • Playing and exploring (Engagement)– children investigate and experience things, and ‘have a go’;
  • Active learning (Motivation) – children concentrate and keep on trying if they encounter difficulties, and enjoy achievements; and
  • Creating and thinking critically (Thinking) – children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas, and develop strategies for doing things.

These learning characteristics are the “golden thread” running through and underpinning all seven areas of learning and development. They focus on how children learn rather than what they learn and build positive learning power for life.

The staff at Thornton Heath Nursery School carefully plan learning opportunities, ensuring that all seven areas of learning are covered in both the inside and outside learning spaces. Planned learning follows the childrens’ interests and if necessary this is altered or changed as their interests change.

Although the majority of learning time is child-led, children are also taught in small focus groups at least twice in one session, often with their named keyworker.

This keyworker is the first port of call for parental queries regarding their child and we hope that a mutually beneficial relationship and dialogue will evolve between parents/carers and the keyworker.

Click here to see a copy of the latest framework document.

Click here for more information about the Characteristics of Effective Teaching and Learning


Last modified on 22nd June, 2022

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