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Hanover Primary School

Early Years

Our aim? Confident, independent and creative learners

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is the curriculum stage for children aged 0-5. Our Nursery and Reception classes are in the EYFS. 

Planning in the Moment

At Hanover, we believe that how children learn is as important as what they learn. We know that children learn best when they are engaged and involved in an activity and that the highest levels of involvement are seen in children during child-initiated play. What will captivate a child cannot be planned for in advance. Finding those moments of high involvement requires giving children time and space to explore their own ideas and interests through play. Therefore, in our EYFS, much of the day is spent in child-initiated play, where each child chooses what they want to do. 

The Role of the Adult

Teaching happens through thoughtful adult interactions during play where a ‘teachable moment’ has been identified in a period of high involvement. Teachers therefore plan ‘in the moment’ and scaffold the next steps for that child there and then. This could be suggesting an idea, asking a question, introducing new words, providing equipment or modelling a skill, for example. Through sharing their play, the adults in the setting really get to know and develop strong relationships with each child. They have a detailed understanding of each child’s needs, interests and how to support each child as an individual. Every term each child in Nursery and Reception has a focus week where their interactions are recorded to create a personal learning journey which is shared with parents or carers.  

 Workshop Environment

We have a workshop-style environment inside and outside, with zoned areas for different types of activity. The children select what they wantplay to do in each area. Resources are varied and open-ended to support high quality learning. They are accessible to the children at all times and stored with visual labels to promote independence and autonomy. Children have opportunities to try new things, take risks and to challenge themselves. They are also able to return to activities time and time again to develop and extend their understanding. Children have access to the outside areas throughout the day, every day, whatever the weather.

 The Daily Routine

There are certain times of the day when all the children within a class come together for short periods to be taught directly, for example, for phonics or maths. In addition, 'carpet sessions' are used to talk about current learning, children's interests, or to share a story or song together. Children also have a music session with a specialist teacher once a week. The length and content of these sessions are always developmentally appropriate for each year group. 

 The Curriculum

The EYFS curriculum is statutory, which means it must be followed in all early years settings (children aged 0 – 5) in England. We use an additional non-statutory document called 'Birth to 5 matters' to further guide our practice. Learning in the EYFS framework is across seven areas, three prime areas and four specific areas. Each area has several aspects. These are listed below. 

Prime areas
Personal, Social and Emotional Development: self-regulation, managing self and building relationships
Communication and Language: listening, attention and understanding, and speaking
Physical Development: gross motor skills and fine motor skills 

Specific areas
Literacy: comprehension, word reading and writing
Mathematics: number and numerical patterns
Understanding the World: past and present, people, culture and communities, and the natural world
Expressive Arts and Design: creating with materials and being imaginative and expressive

The Prime Areas

At Hanover, we begin by focusing on the prime areas as we know that these are the foundation of all future learning. We support our children in developing the skills they need to self-regulate their emotions and to self-govern their behaviour. We have a trauma-informed approach to behaviour management. We solve problems through talking about what has happened and what we can do to make it better. We encourage children to express their own ideas, needs and intentions and to listen to those of their friends. Each child’s voice is valued. We work with a speech and language therapist to deliver targeted support for children who need support with their communication.

We want all children to be independent in their self-care. We understand that children develop these skills by being given opportunities to make choices and to evaluate different situations for themselves. We help children to identify and understand potential risks and benefits in order to make good choices. In our woodwork area children use real tools to demonstrate how responsible and focused young children can be when given the chance to do so. Children have many opportunities for physical activity in their play; developing gross motor skills through activities such as running, climbing, balancing and building, and developing fine motor skills through activities such as mark-making, cutting, sticking and using tools.


Characteristics of Effective Learning

We know that this way of learning creates confident, independent and creative learners. Through following their own interests and learning through play, children develop the characteristics of effective learning. Children at Hanover are playing and exploring all the time, investigating their own ideas and having a go at new things. They learn actively and are highly motivated. They seek out challenges, take risks and aren’t afraid to make mistakes. They think critically and choose their own way of doing things. They are creative and imaginative and they are not afraid to have different ideas. These characteristics provide the foundation for all of their learning in the future.