‘Focused Weeks’ at Alphablocks Nursery School

Our hybrid educational approach at Alphablocks Nursery School has been recognised for its beneficial mix of pedagogical methods, which are naturally incorporated in our everyday practice and guide our children’s learning journeys. During this Spring Term we are focusing on a different approach every two-week ‘cycle’ (we call these ‘focused weeks’). Regular updates will be published in our blog.

focused learning EY Alphablocks nursery

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Supporting Children’s Independent Skills

Children at the age of two start developing a strong drive for independence and determination. They begin to want to do things for themselves. Most of the time this drive does not coincide with their actual abilities to do things in a timely or effective way. For example, children might not have the specific coordination skills required to put on their clothes by themselves. So, quite often, parents or teachers decide to step in to help them. However, this is not the most effective approach. Children need to be offered opportunities to master new skills in order to feel capable of taking on new responsibilities. They need to learn through trial and error.

Alphablocks_Nursery_independence_skills_image

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Observing Children: the crucial role of purposeful observation in our nursery

About purposeful observation

Observation of children’s activities, interests, and interactions by our early years teachers is an integral part of our daily routine. It is a crucial responsibility of every practitioner to ensure that accurate, purposeful observations are recorded on all children, not just their key children. Observations are as important as every other part of the practitioners’ role. Time is made to discuss and evaluate observations as a team so as to inform children’s individual profiles accordingly and to set targets for learning, which in turn inform all future planning.

Why is it important?

Observation for us is the key to effective planning and assessment. Here are some of the reasons why we observe children, and why it’s important to do so consistently and with due care:

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Children’s language development and overall well-being

Language and Wellbeing

An important piece of research into language development and how it can be used as an indicator of a child’s well-being, was published recently, and we have been looking at its implications for early years practice.

The report highlights the centrality of language development for the overall development of a child (in the wider social, emotional, and cognitive contexts). In the words of its authors:

Early language acquisition impacts on all aspects of young children’s non-physical development. It contributes to their ability to manage emotions and communicate feelings, to establish and maintain relationships, to think symbolically, and to learn to read and write.

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“Natural Maths” for 3-5 Year Old Children

Can mathematics be taught at an early age? Is it beneficial to do so? What sort of mathematics can be taught in the 3-5 year old age group?

In this blog post we will answer these questions (and, as a sneak peak, here are the short answers: Yes, Yes, and Pretty Advanced Stuff, as it turns out!)

Mathematics can indeed be taught at an early age and it is beneficial to do so for at least two reasons: first, it helps put in place the fundamental mathematical concepts, which will carry a child’s understanding of the subject through primary school and beyond; and second, it introduces the topic without cumbersome tasks that tend to tire children and possibly dissuade them from taking up mathematics later on.

The prevailing wisdom among parents and early years professionals is that early math should begin with numbers and counting, starting with small numbers up to 5 and slowly introducing bigger numbers, before moving on to addition and eventually subtraction (in primary school). Multiplication and division are more advanced operations that are taught only in primary school. All through this linear progression from one task to the next, there is a strong focus on calculation. As a result, central concepts of mathematics, such as functions and variables, limits and symmetry, are typically introduced in high school. However, these very concepts are the ones that mathematicians identify as their true “tools of the trade”. The ability to memorize a multiplication table, by comparison, is only marginally useful.

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