The children are busy and active from the beginning of each session until they go home. Each class has a timetable that combines free-play with slightly more structured activities, depending on the age and stage of the individual child. The children have weekly music, drama, french, outdoor learning and sports sessions, in addition to the Early Years curriculum that is on offer every day at the nursery.
The foundation of all successful teaching and learning, and child development, is the well-being of children, in terms of their social, emotional and physical development. At Stepping Stones, we take our collective responsibility for children’s social, emotional and physical needs very seriously. Every day, all of the staff will be involved in ensuring that each child’s full range of needs are catered for, whether that is linked to their individual stages of cognitive development, or whether they can use the toilet independently.
Children are assessed from the point of entry in to the nursery until they leave. We use this process of ongoing assessment of the children’s strengths and areas for development to inform future planning for activities.
The main strategy for assessing the children is to observe them whilst they are carrying out activities. We then record our assessments in an individual profile for each child. This is passed on to subsequent teachers, and ultimately the child’s primary school.
When the children are two years old, we are required to carry out a progress check of their devlopment. This is completed in conjunction with the parents and a copy is sent home.
Asssessments and progress are discussed with parents regularly, either at Consultation appointments, or more informally at the end of a session if appropriate.
Every year we hold a Christmas Nativity Play. All of the children in the nursery take part with the older children having speaking parts. Last year, the children performed ‘Humph The Camel’ by Niki Davies and was attended by nearly 300 proud parents, grandparents and friends.
The Caterpillar Class takes children from after their second birthday, though the exact point of entry will depend on how ready the child is to start at nursery. In order to ascertain this, we liaise with parents on an individual basis as we recognise that all children are different.
When the children join the nursery, they will be allocated a ‘key person’ from the staff team to support them during their time in the Caterpillar Class. This is of particular importance during the settling period.
The children move into the Butterfly Class in the term that they have their third birthday. Occasionally, it may be the term after their third birthday if, following discussions with the staff and parents, it is decided that it would benefit a child to spend a further term in the Caterpillar Class. Our aim in the Butterfly Class is to gradually extend the children’s concentration skills and to introduce them to slightly more challenging adult led table top activities. They will also be introduced to educational software on the computer, focusing on a range of curriculum activities.
This is one of the pre-school classes. The children are aged between three and four years. It is typically comprised of the children who have their birthdays between the beginning of March until the end of August, therefore the younger children in the academic year. The children continue to develop their early years skills across the curriculum, whilst acquiring the skills that they will need when they transfer to primary school.
The children in the Ladybird Class are the pre-school children with birthdays from September until the end of February. The children follow the same curriculum as the Dragonfly Class in order to prepare them for transfer to primary school.
We base all of our planning on the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum (EYFS) which feeds into the KS1 National Curriculum.
There are 7 main areas of learning included within the EYFS:
1. Personal, social and emotional development
2. Communication and language
5. Understanding of the world
6. Expressive arts
7. Physical development
All of the children will experience activities that cover each of the above areas. Teachers plan according to the developmental stage and age of the children in their class.Often, a class will focus on a particular theme for a week or maybe longer. Parents are informed weekly via an email as to the specific aspects of the curriculum that are being covered in order to support home:school links.
The children have weekly music, sports, drama, outdoor learning and for the older children, french lessons.
Children have the option of staying at the nursery until 3pm from Monday to Thursday. This is in addition to the morning session and does require the child to have stopped needing a sleep in the afternoon.
The children all bring their own packed lunches and we provide parents with guidelines about ‘healthy packed lunches’ as we promote healthy eating across the nursery.
After having eaten lunch, the children will take part in a range of activities which will include cooking, art, dance and trips to the park for exercise classes.
We do try and encourage particularly the older children to stay in the afternoon prior to transferring to primary school.
When the children move in to one of the pre-school classes, they have french lessons each week and are taught by an early years french teacher. The activities include role play, the use of puppets as well as learning a range of simple french songs. The french teacher holds ‘open lessons’ for parents so that the children can demonstrate the progress they are making.
Weekly emails are sent home so that parents can see what has been covered each week, with the aim that parents might like to reinforce key vocabulary or themes covered.
One of our aims at Stepping Stones is to develop children’s confidence and ability to express themselves. We have links with several actors who work on a regular basis in the nursery. Each class has drama and movement which inncorporates yoga with a peripatetic teacher each week. We also place an emphasis on interactive story telling, involving the use of props.
We occasionally have designated ‘dressing up’ days at the nursery where the children come to nursery in a costume of their choice. Not surprisingly, this leads to a significant amount of role-play on those days!
Each class will spend sometime each week in outdoor learning at our local park. This provides all of our childdren with a regular opportunity to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in our natural environment.
Each of the classes across the nursery have lessons from a specialist music teacher each week, assuming that they attend the nursery on the day that she teaches.
The children are taught by a classically trained musician from The Royal College of Music. Helen Smith has taught music for over 20 years with children under 5 years of age. Her approach to teaching is dynamic and involves a colourful aray of musical instruments and props.
The children take part in a variety of activities each week which focus on the development of their gross motor skills. They also have more focused PE sessions on Friday mornings, taught by our experienced PE co-ordinator. These take place in Wendell Park or in the hall next door to the nursery, depending on the time of the year.
We hold a whole nursery Sports Day in the summer in Wendell Park. All parents and families are invited to attend, and maybe even take part….!
We are inspected by The Office For Standards in Education. Ofsted focus on:
‘How well the early years provision meets the needs of the range of children who attend’
‘The overall quality and standards of the early years provision’
‘The effectiveness of leadership and management of the early years provision’
‘The contribution of the early years provision to the children’s well-being’
Please follow this link to the Ofsted website to read the full report, or read report. Quotes include:
We are happy to accept children at whatever stage of toilet training when they are at Stepping Stones. We understand that we can play a key role in helping children to move from nappies to using the toilet independently and will work with parents or carers to support this process. We have nappy-changing facilities, potties, and policies to guide staff and parents through the step-by-step approach. We ask that children come with a bag of nappies and/or spare clothes as appropriate.
We take the older children on trips to local places of interest such as Kew Gardens, The Wetlands Centre in Barnes, The Chiswick Lifeboat Sation and Acton Fire Staion. The trips are linked to the Topic that the classes are doing at the time and are always highly motivating for the children.
Parental permission ia always required and we often ask for parents to accompany the children on such outings.
We also go on regular more local trips out, such as to the library, the bakery, Wendell and Ravenscourt Parks.