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Learning at Maidenhead Nursery School

  • Most learning is play-based and takes place indoors and outside.
  • There is a balance between adult-initiated experiences (guided learning) and child-initiated experiences.
  • Adults take children’s interests and strengths as a starting point, seeing each child as a competent learner. We respond to children’s interests through ‘in the moment planning.’
  • Parent involvement is crucial. We learn a great deal about each child from their parents. Parental support and a high-quality home learning environment make a huge difference to children.

We designed our curriculum with the particular strengths and needs of the children at Maidenhead Nursery School in mind. For example, many children are bilingual: we celebrate the different languages children speak and our range of cultures. Staff are able to use a range of languages when interacting with children. We also put a strong focus on supporting children to learn English as an additional language.

Many children live in flats. We offer lots of learning outdoors to build children’s confidence and physical strength and co-ordination, for example through forest school activities, mud kitchen, physical play equipment and woodwork.

The goals are ambitious. They provide an overview of many of the different things we would like children to know and be able to do and are adaptable to the particular children on roll. We offer scaffolding and extra support to help every child to access the curriculum and to ensure they make progress through it. However, we recognise that every child will not make the same progress through the curricular goals. Many children will learn to hammer a nail into a piece of wood. For some children with complex needs, managing to tolerate the sound of the hammer on the wood or the feel of the goggles on their face will represent strong progress. All of those children are participating in the same curriculum. Where children move on quickly, our emphasis is on deepening their learning rather than introducing new skills or concepts. For example, a child may follow different recipe cards to make different types of bread, and may help other children. Our environment progresses throughout the year, for example we begin with simply joined construction materials and progress towards more complex sets alongside our loose parts. Large plastic easy grip nuts and bolts will be gradually supplemented with smaller metal versions to challenge the development of fine motor skills.

We are an Attachment Aware School and pride ourselves in our knowledge of the developing brain and how to support young children’s well-being through understanding and managing their feelings and behaviour. The well-being and involvement levels of the children are important to us and we monitor and support this area of their development individually.

At Maidenhead Nursery School we value experiential play. We plan rich and challenging activities and experiences for the children designed to spark their curiosity, engage them and encourage sustained shared thinking, such as when building bridges over puddles together and designing homes for chicks. Awe and wonder is planned for, for example through planting, nurturing, picking and eating our own fruit and vegetables and through observing first-hand the life cycles of chicks and caterpillars.