By Juliette Heal, Deputy Head Pastoral
Staff and pupils at St Margaret’s Prep are eagerly awaiting the completion of our new Early Years' classrooms and courtyard in September. The newly redefined space will add even more to the already well-established Early Years’ Department, ensuring that we can quickly settle our new Bluebird starters from the age of 2, creating a positive start to their journey at St Margaret’s.
The first five years of a child’s life are no doubt the most important with regards to neural development. They are the formative years where we see children learn at an incredible pace. At this age, they are able to pick up language incredibly quickly and absorb the world around them. They are exceptional learners whose brain development, combined with the right experiences, environment and positive relationships, allows them to thrive.
Maria Montessori explains that “the goal of early childhood education should be to activate the child’s own natural desire to learn”. Whether it is exploring early mark making through crazy foam, developing mathematical concepts using construction resources, or encouraging communication and early phonics opportunities through small world activities, children at this age learn through play.
Carefully planned adult-led activities and child-initiated opportunities, delivered in a safe and stimulating environment, ensure our youngest pupils engage with sustained levels of involvement in play. These planned experiences not only give children time to explore new activities, but also consolidate previously learned knowledge, and are designed to develop their confidence and curiosity. By enabling them to make their own choices, children are motivated, challenged and stimulated.
At St Margaret’s, Forest School and specialist teaching in Sport, Performing Arts, Computing and Modern Foreign Languages are introduced gradually through a child’s time in Nursery and enhance our pupils’ experiences, providing unparalleled enrichment opportunities to create a depth to our children’s learning. The dedicated Early Years' Department provides a secure and nurturing environment, both inside and out. From September, the Early Years experience will continue in our outstanding classrooms, but the addition of the new outdoor classroom creates even more opportunities for children to learn. From exploring mathematical concepts using the sand scales and water wall, to developing communication through building their own role play scenarios on the stage, to exploring rhyme and alteration whilst listening to stories around the storytelling area, and to using their imagination to create trails, this new space is undoubtedly going to add incredible value to the daily lives of our littlest learners!
It is this whole experience of the Early Years that ensures our pupils successfully transition through Nursery, into Reception and beyond. It is these opportunities which truly pave the way for positive learning experiences and attitudes, contribute to creating confident lifelong learners and lay the foundations for success in the future.