At Laleham Church Playgroup, we deliver a wide range of activities and experiences through our rich and varied curriculum, carried out over a 2- year cycle. The curriculum is designed to give the children extensive opportunities to extend their language, to build their confidence, to thrive, develop and learn through play, and gain a greater understanding of the world around them.
Every child is unique, responding to different learning methods. Therefore, our curriculum and levels of support can be adapted to suit every child’s needs, as appropriate. Through our curriculum, children are given opportunities to explore, investigate and experience things first-hand, both inside and outdoors in our garden and playground, whilst feeling safe and secure in our caring and nurturing environment.
Children are provided with both adult led, and child led activities. This broadens their interests and ensures that those children who chose not to take part in certain activities at present, have the skills they need to try them out in the future i.e., activities involving scissors.
Children are encouraged to participate and co-operate with adults and their peers, following our playgroup rules of behaviour. The ‘Aunties’ lead by example, providing a happy, well-mannered and calm environment in which to play.
We encourage children to develop positive attitudes about themselves as well as of those that may be different to themselves. It encourages children to empathise with others and begin to develop the skill of critical thinking. We offer all our children, irrespective of background, a high-quality education, so that they all have an equal chance of success.
We initially focus on the Prime areas of learning for 2–3 year olds – Personal, Social and Emotional Development, Physical and Communication and Language, as lack of development in these areas can affect their development in the Specific Areas of Learning – Literacy, Maths, Understanding of the World & Expressive Arts & Design. We then focus on all areas of learning for 3–4 year olds.
If any barriers are identified that would affect a child’s progression, i.e., Speech and Language development, we work closely together with parents/carers and relative agencies to enable the child to progress.
Our aim is for all our children to achieve their full potential, and for them to have the skills they need to move forward in their education.
In preparation for school, it is our aim for our children to: -
PSED: Make good relationships, happily sharing and interacting with others, to have an understanding of peoples’ emotions, to persist when tasks are difficult, not to give up, and that it is OK to make mistakes. To manage their own basic hygiene.
C+L: To talk freely with both adults and peers, 1:1, in small and large groups, in discussion and play. To be able to follow instructions, ask questions, concentrate at the appropriate times, extend ideas, and play imaginatively with others.
PD: To be confident, to take appropriate risks and to move energetically when climbing, running, cycling etc. To use a wide range of gross and fine motor equipment- climbing frame, balancing equipment, hole punches, crimpers, scissors, digging, lacing etc. To be able to use various construction materials – junk modelling, big blocks, magnetic shapes etc. To enjoy mark making and have a good pencil grip.
Lit: To enjoy a wide variety of books non-fiction, fiction, and poems etc. Be aware of rhyme and to understand how stories are structured. To attempt to write their own name and give meaning to marks they make.
Maths: To use mathematical language in everyday play. Estimate, count and represent marks, match quantity to numerals, to 5-10+, dependent on a child’s development, and be able to measure and compare length, weight, size etc. To name several basic shapes. Use positional language and following & giving directions.
EAD: To build with a variety of construction purposefully, developing ideas using embedded skills, techniques, and knowledge of experiences, to represent and complete their work. To play a few instruments using different techniques such as loud, soft, fast slow and develop an ear for rhythm. To express their ideas and imagination in both small world play and role play with their peers.
UW: To investigate things with an inquiring mind and use a breadth of vocabulary and investigative tools to observe, remember, explain, and predict things. To understand how they are different/similar to others, to begin to learn about the differing environments where people live and other people’s cultures.
Having identified what we want the children to learn, we then ensure that relevant activities are in place in our planning. To ensure it’s diversity, our planning is delivered on a 2-year cycle, with a broad topic each term – e.g., ‘Around About Where We Live’. That is then broken down into a weekly topics to focus on – i.e., the river, homes, the airport, transport etc.
We deliver our curriculum, both indoors and outdoors, through a variety of activities including: -
- Creative activities using a variety of manufactured and natural resources, play with various construction sets, role play (including our mud kitchen), malleable materials, singing, music and use of instruments.
– Outdoor play in the garden and playground, visits to local recreation ground & shop. Spotting sheets for minibeasts. Growing plants, having our own creatures to care for and observe – frogspawn, stick insects.
– Enthusiastic and expressive storytelling, looking at story structure, authors, and illustrators, and making up our own stories. We extend a child’s range of books- stories, factual books, and poetry. Where children aren’t interested in books, we follow up on a child’s own preferences to encourage an interest in literacy.
– Puzzles, games, and sensory activities. Talking about and listening to the children's news and ideas.
– Gross motor activities including dance, playing on bikes, bouncing on the trampoline, climbing on the wooden play frame, and working together on the see-saw.
– Using large scales, skittles and scoring, hopscotch, number, and shape activities. Our programme also includes listening games, science sessions, sand, and water play.
In our secure environment, with effective adult support, children will be able to:
– explore, develop, and represent learning experiences that help them make sense of the world,
– practise and build up concepts, ideas, and skills,
– learn how to control impulses and understand the need for rules,
– be alone, be alongside others or co-operate as they talk to rehearse their feelings,
– accept each other no matter what our gender, background, race, religion, or disability,
– respect each other’s views and opinions,
– take risks and make mistakes,
– think creatively and imaginatively,
– communicate with others as they investigate and solve problems,
– express fears to relieve anxious experiences in a controlled and safe situation.
At the beginning of our session, we have 'Mat Time' with the Cats where we talk about the weeks topic we are looking at. We encourage the children to actively take part - explain their understanding of the topic and talk about their experiences, ask questions etc., valuing their input in discussions. It maximises their use of activities provided, understanding their link to the week’s topic and practises expected behaviour, sitting quietly, waiting to speak etc, preparing them for school. They can bring in any relevant items from home to 'Show and Tell'. Mat time is age appropriate and adapted for the ‘Kittens.’
Occasional visitors to the group talk to the children about a particular subject (e.g., a country, road safety, fire safety, a musical instrument & people who help us).
The "Cats" have 'project time' for a short period during the mornings, which involves developing pencil control; scissor control, writing; recognising shapes and patterns; counting; recognising and writing numerals; linking sounds and letters; and learning about themselves. We also have group discussions – tasting & smell sessions, Maths games, making graphs of our favourite fruit/drink, visual science discussions – air & ‘celery in dyed water etc. Care is taken to ensure the activities suit each child’s level of ability and encourage a ‘Can do’ attitude. The purpose of ‘project time' is to prepare the children for the type of adult-led experience they will encounter at school.
At the beginning of each session, prior to children coming in, staff attend a brief meeting to share objectives for the day and discuss any particular issues regarding the children. At the end of the morning, we have another, de-briefing, meeting to discuss how the morning went and if there were any improvements on our provision to be made. Concerns or suggestions regarding children – ideas for extending their play etc. are also discussed. The weekly planning is a working document and adapted, as required, throughout the week.
When children first join Playgroup, we carry out a ‘2 Year Check’ within the first 5 sessions that they attend. This provides us with a starting point as to where they are with their development, and we then use this to establish next steps for their progression.
Staff make short observations of all the children during their play, providing both written and photographic evidence. In addition, we have an ‘Observer’ every day at playgroup who is there to observe /carry out planned activities that are focussed on the individual child and what they need to learn.
When planned ‘Next Steps’ have been achieved, or it’s been decided they are not achievable at present, new progressive steps are put in place. Observations made are also recorded in the Cats and Kittens Group observation records folders. Keyworkers make additional observations of their own children. Throughout the term the keyworkers look at all their children’s observations, and knowing their child, assess their progress and update their next steps as appropriate. These next steps are incorporated into our weekly planning. This information is also used to assess whether a child has any special educational needs.
A tracker is also filled out every term which provides a quick overall view of that child, and is used to check what ‘Areas of Learning’ a child may be falling behind in. This can be discussed with the team as to what provision can be put in place for this individual child and enable them to move on in their development.
Each child on arriving at playgroup will have an Early Language Audit tool filled out for them and this is updated at the end of every term, to see if a child’s speech and language is progressing at the right levels. Although our experienced staff, in knowing their key children, will already have an idea if there are any communication and language issues, we find it a useful tool, giving us a quick and easy way of seeing if this is an area of concern for a child and allows early intervention, vital for young children.