Depending on what age your child starts nursery care, a variety of well planned and educationally related activities should be offered. Overall, you should expect your child to be in a caring, kind, safe and fun environment where they can play, eat, learn and rest. Nurseries must adhere to strict regulations and guidelines. In the UK official authorities inspect nurseries regularly. Nurseries also follow foundation and early years stages curriculum framework.
In the UK we are extremely fortunate that families and those working in childhood care are supported to provide every child with the best possible start in life. The guidelines and high standards of care are not easy to maintain. Government and charitable organisations work hard to ensure all children have equal opportunities without discrimination. There is a big responsibility for every parent to actively make use of the support offered and to nurture their child’s development, including the availability of Government funding for early years education.
There are four core themes of the Early Years and Foundation Stage that are basis of the guidance for childhood care practitioners. These are:
- Recognising that every child is unique,
- Building positive relationships,
- and providing enabling environments,
- to foster learning and development.
The British Association for Early Childhood Education have produced a useful document on the non-statutory guidance material for practitioners in implementing the statutory requirements of the Early Years and Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework. Basically, a valuable guide for nurseries and childhood care practitioners on how to deliver the legal framework outlined by EYFS.
This document provides diagrams and tables to outline key areas of consideration for childhood care practitioners and for parents who wish to understand what their child will do at nursery. The guidelines are well written and easy to follow. From page 8 onwards, the tables provide a breakdown for age groups from:
- Birth – 11 months;
- 8 – 20 months;
- 16 – 26 months;
- 22 – 36 months;
- 30 – 50 months;
- 40 – 60+ months.
For each age group, information is summarised on: A Unique Child (observing what a child is learning), Positive Relationships (what adults could do), and Enabling Environments (what adults could provide), and looks at all areas of development including personal, social and emotional development, communication and language, physical development, literacy, mathematics, understanding the world and expressive arts and design.
Nurseries normally document every child’s ‘Learning Journey’ , which is normally updated throughout their time at a nursery and corresponds to the Early Years and Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum. A monthly record is normally kept which should detail the following:
- Observations by the key worker
- Learning interests
- Lots of photographs of your child doing various activities and physical play
- Observational notes and linking activities to the following areas of learning outlined in the EYFS curriculum:
- Personal, Social, Emotional Development
- Communication and Language
- Physical Development
- Understanding the World
- Expressive Arts and Design
- At regular intervals the key worker should carry out a reflective update on the child’s progress. The folder should always be available to the parent unless the nursery key worker is updating it.
Nurseries that follow a different teaching methodology follow a similar framework or one that aims to match the EYFS curriculum. A documentation of progress should be similar to that described above and shared with a parent through similar means.
Nurseries should not use a television or other media for long periods of time, media devices are becoming common in a nursery setting but should be educational and age appropriate.
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Further Reading: Development-Matters