by Reception teacher Mrs Lucy Smith
At Millfield Pre-Prep, we greatly value Early Years education and pride ourselves on supporting the vital developments that occur in the first five years of a child’s life. We have a holistic approach, where we embrace every element of the children’s abilities to learn and build a solid foundation for pupils to flourish.
Laying the Foundations for Learning
Early Years learning is crucial for laying the foundations that will support children throughout their education. There is evidence that 85% of brain development occurs before the age of five, and it is therefore imperative that the brain is stimulated and interconnections are made for all future learning within this period of time. This must be formed through a supportive, loving, caring, inspiring and happy environment encompassing both children’s home and school lives.
Focusing on the Individual
The Early Years Curriculum gives us the freedom to nurture children’s individual needs, because there are no set schemes of work. It allows us to support children and their individual pathways and ambitions.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, involve me and I learn”. Here at Millfield Pre-Prep, we involve the children in every aspect of their learning, by taking their individual interests, nurturing and stretching them and allowing them to develop these ideas. After their summer holidays, the children are asked to bring in a ‘Wow Moment’, something that they loved during the break: these have ranged from shopping at the supermarket to doing treasure hunts. We take on board what inspires them and ensure that there are all the opportunities available around them to take their interests forward at their own pace, and build these interests and ideas into the lessons.
By teaching children through their individual interests, it means that we can look closely at personal development, nurturing individual needs and focusing on which areas the children are progressing in and which areas they may need some additional support in. If a child is really interested in animals but may struggle with the ability to share, we may use toy animals in role-play situations when we can encourage children to learn to share.
We encourage children to be as independent as possible, but to seek assistance where needed. The quote “I can’t do it yet” is one of the most important things that we share and reinforce with our children. When pupils come to us saying, “I can’t do it”, we will always reply, “You can’t do it yet, but let’s work together to find out how you can”.
Developing Fine and Gross Motor Skills
An important element of Early Years education is to support children in the preparation for Prep School life. One component of this involves fine and gross motor skills. At Millfield Pre-Prep, we take both fine and gross motor development very seriously and it is embedded into our daily routine, from crawling to assembly, to balancing small ping pong balls onto golf tees and lots more.
It has been recognised that over the last five to ten years, children’s emotional wellbeing has depreciated. Whether this is because we as a nation are spending less time sat around a table with face-to-face communication, or because of the increased amount of screen time children are subjected to. For whatever reason, children seem to find it more difficult to recognise and respond appropriately to other’s physical or verbal responses. We have therefore embedded Emotion Coaching into our daily routine. We have an Emotion Coach within our team and all Millfield Pre-Prep staff have had Emotion Coaching training. We continually help the children in lots of different ways, giving them foundations of knowledge to apply to everyday situations. Often, we will stand back and observe children in situations and then guide them with snippets of advice. We have a weekly Emotion Coaching assembly, where we look at our emotions in greater detail, and role play and share ideas, which the children really embrace.
If you are interested in finding out more about Early Years education at Millfield Pre-Prep, you can book to visit us at our next Open Day here. If you would like to visit the school sooner, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org who would be delighted to arrange a visit for you.
In the meantime, you can take virtual visit to Millfield Pre-Prep here.