At Hill West, all children are nurtured, loved and happy. This is evident in Reception where the well-being of the children in our care is at the heart of our teaching, enabling all children to gain a deep level of learning and secure development. Our EYFS curriculum is rooted in the key elements of learning that are essential for our children to be; confident speakers, to read, to write and to understand mathematical concepts thus ensuring all children are ready for the next stage of their learning when transitioning to the National Curriculum in Year One. Developing secure speaking and listening skills are a priority within our Early Years Curriculum, which includes the early identification of any concerns.
We understand that rhymes are fantastic vocabulary boosters. They often feature a pleasing rhythmic pattern and simple repetitive phrases that young children find easy to remember and repeat. In order to develop phonological awareness, children need to be repeatedly exposed to spoken language, and nursery rhymes provide the perfect way to do this. Each week we explicitly teach a new nursery rhyme, which we practise daily. We understand that as children grow their innate pleasure in the rhythm, rhyme and repetition of poetry is an essential influence in developing imagery and imagination, but equally, these factors also form the foundations to understanding patterns in language, mathematics and music.
Experts in literacy and child development have discovered that if children know eight nursery rhymes by heart by the time they’re four years old, they’re usually among the best readers by the time they’re eight.
Mem Fox, Reading Magic
Through an explorative, creative and investigative approach to play and learning, our children are able to develop their language skills, self-confidence and self-esteem through high levels of involvement. The Characteristics of Effective Learning (Playing and Exploring, Active Learning and Creating and Thinking Critically) support us in laying the foundations for each unique child to become a lifelong learner; independent, responsible and reflective.
At Hill West we provide a curriculum that follows our children’s interests through a combination of child led, child initiated and adult led activities. Children enjoy working with adults during this time and their learning is expertly scaffolded in order for children to be challenged appropriately to meet their full potential. Our curriculum instils a love for learning as well as a hunger to explore and investigate, take risks and problem solve within a safe, stimulating and happy learning environment both indoors and outdoors.
A carefully planned curriculum for the year ensures that children can do more and remember more, as prior learning is revisited in order to ensure that learning is fully embedded.
The Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum is made up of seven areas of learning and development. These are divided into three Prime Areas and four Specific Areas. At Hill West, we ensure that the Prime Areas are incorporated into the children’s learning throughout the year. These are;
- Personal, Social and Emotional Development
- Communication and Language
- Physical Development
Development in the Prime Areas enables our children to go on to master the skills within the Specific Areas, providing them with the essential skills and knowledge to participate successfully in society. Personal, Social and Emotional Development underpins all that we do in Reception at Hill West. We support our children by helping them to interact effectively and develop positive attitudes of themselves and others. Children at Hill West are given many opportunities to speak and listen in a range of situations, to develop their confidence and the skills of expressing themselves. Our wonderful school grounds provide our Reception children with the opportunity to access daily learning in all curriculum areas outdoors, but particularly encourage gross motor physical development. These Prime Areas are fundamental to a child’s development.
The Specific Areas are;
- Understanding the World
- Expressive Arts and Design
Through our commitment to the teaching of phonics and early reading skills, we aim for all of our children to become fluent readers by the end of Year 1, with all Reception children blending to read by the end of the Autumn Term. To develop early reading, we teach phonics through the Systematic Synthetic Phonics (SSP) programme, Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised, daily and discreetly to the whole class building from 20 minute sessions. Teaching of Phonics begins in Week 2 of the Autumn Term. Little Wandle consists of 5 phases with Phases 2, 3 and 4 taught in Reception. Half termly assessments take place through Reception to help inform future teaching and help identify children who have gaps in their phonic knowledge and need additional practice. Daily assessment of learning also takes place within the classroom so staff can quickly identify any children who are in danger of falling behind and provide the appropriate daily ‘Keep Up’ intervention. Where required, children take part in same day catch up interventions (group or individual) to accelerate progress in Reading so that no child is left behind. In addition to this, when gaps in phonic and early reading skills are identified, interventions are delivered daily to support all children in becoming confident, fluent readers.
Alongside the daily teaching of phonics, all children are assigned a stage appropriate and fully decodable reading book: Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised Big Cat books. Ongoing assessment ensures that children will be able to read 90% of assigned texts (9 out of 10 words) correctly, using their prior phonic knowledge enabling each child to see themselves as a reader developing confidence in their reading ability. Using assigned reading books the children in Reception participate in reading practice sessions, at least three times each week where decoding, prosody and comprehension skills are developed.
To further develop a love of reading the children in Reception are read to twice each day using books that have been chosen carefully as we want our children to experience a wide range of books, including books that reflect the children at Hill West and our local community, as well as books that open windows into other worlds and cultures.
In Reception children have access to a reading corner every day and the books are continually refreshed. Our Reception classes visit the school library weekly, with access to thousands of up to date books. Alongside this our children have regular opportunities to engage with a wide range of Reading for Pleasure events (book fairs, author visits and workshops, national events etc).
In Mathematics we follow a Maths Mastery Approach and use the Abacus scheme. Children are taught how the quantity of a number can be represented using a range of equipment and how the amount can be made in different ways. Children are taught how to explain their mathematical understanding and quickly grasp this skill, for example when answering, ‘How do you know that?’ Our children have lots of practical opportunities for counting objects, subitising, ordering numbers, adding and subtracting, doubling, sharing, investigating shape and patterns and using mathematical language. Skills are often further developed through wider curriculum activities; cooking, technology, craft activities which additionally support mathematical understanding.
Children have plenty of opportunities to become independent learners in all areas of the curriculum, through exciting, effective continuous provision. The purpose of continuous provision is to continue the provision for learning, even in the absence of an adult. Children are motivated and challenged by the often open ended resources and enhancements that we provide for them. We want our children in Reception to be thinkers, negotiators and problem solvers – to apply the knowledge that they already have to enable them to explore new possibilities. Our well planned continuous provision raises attainment through active learning and high level engagement. Our experienced staff observe and scaffold learning alongside the children, introducing new concepts and ideas, taking next steps into the children’s play.
Creative imaginations come to life both inside and outside our classrooms. Our children have access to a wide range of resources and are encouraged to use their imaginations to create constructions, potions, models, collages and paintings where they will try out new skills or practise and refine skills already learned. Our children are encouraged to express themselves freely when experimenting with musical instruments, role play, music and dance.
Our curriculum has also been designed to provide many exciting opportunities for developing our children’s understanding of the world around them. Our children are encouraged to be curious and to investigate their environment by asking questions and observing changes. Children are taught to understand different cultural and religious perspectives.
Key Questions to drive learning and progress
- Who am I?
- Would you be friends with a Gruffalo?
- 999 What’s your emergency?
- Is the Moon a planet?
- What grows out of a bean?
- Why do elephants have trunks?
Exciting events in Reception
- Taking part in class performances
- Attending our first Christingle service at our local church
- Experiencing visiting theatre productions
- A trip to Twycross Zoo
In Reception, children are read to daily. Texts are chosen to link closely with exciting and stimulating topics, which follow the children’s interests closely. Alongside this, children also listen to a wide variety of stories which are shared during daily story time sessions. Here are the some of the authors who help to instil a lifelong love of reading in Reception;
- Julia Donaldson
- Jill Murphy
- Nick Sharratt