Mrs Nicoll, Head of Lower School at Swanbourne House near Milton Keynes, reflects on how our approach to teaching in the 3s (Nursery) and 4s (Foundation) helps children flourish academically.
Children are born with the natural instinct to explore, investigate and make sense of the world around them. The exciting challenge we face in schools is to maintain that level of enthusiasm as the children face a more formal, academic curriculum in order to equip our children with all of the skills that they will need.
Children in the 3s and 4s are learning in a play based environment through experiential discovery, guided by adults. Early years teachers scaffold the children’s learning and extend it through
skilful questioning and timely interventions. The children often follow their own enquiries and investigations so that the learning is meaningful and relevant to them. Children in the early years are encouraged to take risks and try things out and to build resilience when things don’t work out as planned. They learn to form relationships with their peers, negotiating in conversations and taking turns. They learn rules of fair play and conflict resolution. These skills need to continue to be nurtured and developed as the children move to the next stages of their education.
For example, in maths teaching I believe that children learn best when they have had a chance to explore using practical apparatus. Often there is a tendency to move to problem solving in the abstract when there hasn’t been sufficient exploration of problems using props to demonstrate. We want children to embed the skills that they are learning at a proficient and fluent level, to master each concept. These practical experiences build a solid foundation of key concepts which will enable them to think in the abstract later on in their education. Children need lots of opportunities to discuss and make decisions about how best to approach a problem so that they develop confidence in their own abilities and are willing to ‘have a go’ independently.
Central to my belief is that as educators we want to create a love of lifelong learning for the children we teach.
READ All about the Swanbots in our All Things Business Milton Keynes Article on What Makes A Good Learner?
READ The latest Independent School Inspection Report in which Swanbourne House was awarded ‘Excellent’
Swanbourne House is an independent day and boarding school in Buckinghamshire near Milton Keynes, with spaces available for 2021 Nursery and Foundation years. To find out more, or to arrange a private tour, please click here.