Once all the children are happy and confident, having settled into the Pre-school during the first few weeks, we introduce our morning “Circle Time” to begin the day. All the children have their own little mat to sit on in the circle so we can all say hello to each and find out ‘what’s on offer’ during our Pre-school morning. Some activities are adult initiated to achieve a specific learning outcome, e.g. growing plants, constructing 3D models, cooking etc. Some activities are child initiated where we’ve followed the children’s most recent interests in our provision e.g. making a den after children have talked about dens they’ve seen in the forest, making an interest table with the children to display items they have found at the beach etc. Alongside this is free choice play and learning through play where we offer a very wide range of resources which the children can access themselves to enhance their learning experiences, e.g. sand tray, water play, small world, construction, dressing up etc. The children can make their own choices about where they want to play, what they would like to do and what they would like to take part in or join in with.
The children have the use of three areas; the Pre-school room, the patio and our very own garden area (recently refurbished to include climbing frame and slide, a mud kitchen and digging area, a water play area and a plant growing area). In addition, the school very kindly allows us some access to the school playground and music room.
We have a ‘rolling’ snack time between 9.30-10.30 a.m. enabling the children to have a snack and a drink when they choose at any time during this hour. Snack time is an important part of our learning day and is supported by an adult because it presents such wonderful and varied learning opportunities for all the children. Children are actively encouraged to help prepare the food, learn the importance of washing their hands, which foods are good for them and why, increase their fine motor skills by using utensils to cut, spread, pour, measure, grate etc. It also provides staff with a focused opportunity to support children’s speech and language development such as introducing new vocabulary and talking about healthy living choices, something which is so important nowadays. Children can also increase their level of independence by helping to clean the tables or washing their own dishes after snack time is finished.
Tidy Up Time
Tidying up takes place about approximately 11 a.m. We are flexible about the time because we don’t want to interrupt the ‘flow of play’ or interrupt the children’s learning, which they may have become very involved in. However, the children are encouraged to join in with ‘tidy up time’ before coming together for activities such as story time, circles for singing and music, looking at and exploring topical items that children or staff have brought into Pre-school that morning, such as nature resources, photos etc.
The last part of the morning before lunch is either in the playground or the music room. We are very fortunate that the Infant school kindly lets us access the playground on a daily basis and the ‘music room’ or wildlife area by arrangement.
The playground gives the children the opportunity to use the large apparatus to build up their climbing and balancing skills, gives them a big wide open space to run around in, affords opportunities to ride bikes and scooters and to use small apparatus such as hoops, balls, bats, and bean bags, to help build up their co-ordination skills.
Music and Movement
The children have the opportunity to take part in planned music and movement sessions twice a week. These take place in either the music room or outdoors. The sessions provide a wealth of learning opportunities which encompass the development of motor skills, core balance, co-ordination of movement, imagination, creativity and speech & language development etc. (all linked to that particular week’s topic as well as supporting the key areas of learning within the EYFS).
The children and staff all have their lunch together, in small groups, at 12 o’clock. This gives us all a calm and quiet time together to eat, chat and relax after a busy morning. While the children are eating their lunch, the room is prepared for the first part of the afternoon with a complete range of different resources from the morning activities. How we prepare for the afternoon session is guided by our overall planning for the children’s development and also factors in what we have observed the children playing with in the morning and what their current interests are.
The afternoon is a little slower paced, less structured and more focused on spontaneous free-play. The children are encouraged to participate in role-play games, dressing up, arts and crafts, gardening and a wide variety of other games and activities. At around 2 o’clock the children come together for a drink and a piece of fruit before the afternoon session concludes with group story time and an outdoor play session, bringing to an end a typically busy, enjoyable and fun day for all the children.