Children learn from everything they see, hear and do. Recent advances in neuroscience tell us that the time before a child’s fifth birthday is a period of rapid brain development when pathways in the brain are being formed more quickly than at any other time in their life. The more these pathways are used, the stronger they become. In other words, experiences in the early years of life shape your child’s brain. Many of these key experiences are provided by you at home. In the EYFS at Griffin House, we create an environment that builds on your good work, knowing that a child who is interested and engaged is learning the skills that they will use throughout their life.
The emotional environment
Underpinning all learning is the child’s need to feel safe and secure. Children are less able to learn if they are anxious or uncertain. Our staff are trained to build strong relationships with the children, encouraging them to share their ideas and opinions and helping them to feel confident and valued. We support children to work collaboratively, to build friendships, to solve problems and to test their ideas, without worrying about making mistakes.
The language rich environment
Language unlocks children’s thinking – they use words to explain, to question, to make connections and to communicate their feelings. As the children explore and investigate in Early Years, our staff make time to talk to them about what they are doing, modelling use of vocabulary, grammar and conversation skills in contexts that are relevant and meaningful. This approach also enables us to extend their language learning further, adding new vocabulary and explaining concepts in more detail, impacting on all aspects of their learning. For example, children who are using balance scales quickly learn mathematical and scientific language that enables them to explain why the scales have or have not balanced. A wide vocabulary leads to later success in reading too – it is far easier to decode a familiar word.
The physical environment
Young children need to move – it supports the development of their physical skills and enables them to take an active part in their own learning. Our spaces, outside and inside, give children space to move, to work together, to explore and investigate and we make sure that our beautiful school is calm and safe haven as well as a dynamic learning space. Concrete experiences are essential if children are to develop the skills they need for later abstract thought and our children have every opportunity to experience the natural world first hand, make links with their academic learning and so develop skills in abstract thought and make informed and intelligent predictions. Resources are accessible, interesting and real and, once taught how to use and take care of them, children explore and investigate using their brains and their bodies!