What is Autumn? (A child’s perspective)

Today we look back at Autumn and ask: What does Autumn mean for children?

Seasonal changes is a recurring theme which runs through many of our outdoor activities at Alphablocks Nursery School. The children began noticing changes in the weather from the middle of September and talked about it being rainy, or they noticed how the colours of the leaves transformed from deep greens to light yellows, gold, and brown. Warm colours of oranges and reds were to be found later on, during explorations in our sensory garden, our tall trees at the front, or indeed during our Forest School days out.

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Outdoor play opportunities and early learning

Being outside is often the ideal environment for children to learn. An environment where they can explore different textures, natural sounds, their own physical movements, and experience fundamental things like going down a slope or balancing on a wall. The wide-ranging Every Child a Talker (ECaT) study had reported that children were also a lot more communicative and vocal in an outdoor environment. Outdoor play has a positive impact on children’s well-being, as it gives them the freedom to explore and express themselves through a wider range of movements and sounds. Here at Alphablocks Nursery School we are fully aware of the importance of outdoor play and, in this post, we explain how we make the most out of the opportunities it provides.

The Early Years Foundation Stage Framework underlines the importance of outdoor play in providing opportunities for young children to be active and interactive, as well as to develop their movement, control and co-ordination. Outdoor learning helps children develop space awareness and it supports overall physical development, including posture, balance, and muscle development. Even though there is no doubt whatsoever as to these benefits (and many more!) that outdoor play provides, young children don’t spend enough time in outdoor environments, and this sets the scene for their future attitudes in the first classes of primary school.

But what is it that makes the outdoors such an ideal learning environment? For young children, this is because a natural environment is inherently interesting for them, and attractive in a fundamental way, due to its multisensory aspects, where children can use all of their senses and many different skills at once.  It allows them to take risks and observe new things every day like a new sound or the changes in the seasons. At the most basic level, it helps children learn without them even realizing it.

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A Hybrid Educational Approach in Early Years

There are a number of established educational approaches in the early years sector and, even though there are many differences between them, they all share the same simple goal: to help every child fulfil his or her potential.

The main differences between these approaches lie in the fact that they use different methodologies, all of which are recognised by Ofsted and form part of the Early Years Foundation Stage framework. The Montessori approach, for instance, puts at its centre a child’s independence in learning and development, while the Reggio Emilia approach focuses on how the environment can act as a ‘third teacher’.

In this post we will navigate through the core approaches and explain, in simple terms, how we combine their best elements into a unique hybrid approach which is followed here at Alphablocks Nursery School & Pre-Prep, a boutique nursery in the heart of Hadley Wood village, serving the local communities of Barnet, Enfield and parts of Hertfordshire.

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Our School’s Ethos

Does a nursery school’s philosophy and approach to teaching matter? After all, doesn’t actual learning really begin at primary school?

Early years education is crucial in driving future learning outcomes for children – Alphablocks Nursery School & Pre-Prep, Hadley Wood, London

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