How We Learn

The Nursery Curriculum

so, what have they really been doing and how will they learn if they are "just playing"?

Young children learn from everything around them - the people, the environment, the atmosphere, the routine, and the experiences.  All of these elements of the Nursery make up "the nursery curriculum".  All aspects of children's growth and development are woven together, but it is interesting to look at the different areas of learning separately to understand how young children learn.  The Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum describes the following areas of learning, with 'Early Learning Goals' to be aimed for by the end of children's Reception year in school.

The curriculum is loosely organised around themes (see attached sheet) however much of the curriculum is based on following children’s interests, observing them in their play and designing “next steps”.

Children learn through a variety of experiences, both inside and out. The curriculum is delivered through a variety of child initiated around our “continuous provision” and through


Specific Features of the Curriculum at Kay Rowe

Forest School and Forest Trek

The Nursery garden lends itself to many Forest School activities e.g. investigating the pond, the camp fire and working with natural materials.

Each term a group of 9 children go on a weekly “Trek” to the forest where they undertake activities and get to know an area in the forest really well. On the final visit the children go to the beach to engage with the natural environment there.

Dance and Movement

The Nursery engages a dance and movement specialist  to work with children who need support with one or more areas of the curriculum.

French- children who are settled are offered half hour of French

Pottery/ceramics children are offered 1 hour pottery (ceramics) in which they explore different media and techniques.

Philosophy for children: the nursery are starting to offer philosophy for children as a means to engage children in critical and deep thinking.

Prime Areas

Personal, Social and Emotional Development

  • forming meaningful relationships with other children and adults
  • having respect for other people
  • being an individual and also belonging to a community
  • being able to express and cope with your feelings and emotions
  • becoming independent and helping others
  • being able to make choices and taking responsibility
  • developing a sense of fairness, what is right and wrong
  • understanding appropriate behaviour
  • respecting and being able to empathise with others
  • having feelings of wonder and joy
  • sharing and celebrating festivals, traditions and special occasions

Physical Development

  • developing confidence and independence through achievement
  • learning to use tools competently
  • learning co-ordination and control
  • building confidence, stamina, energy and strength
  • learning to move in a variety of ways

Communication And Language

Listening and attention



- being able to express your opinions and make your own choices

- talking, listening, discussing and recalling experiences

Specific Areas

Expressive Arts and Design

  • representing and communicating your ideas and feelings in, a variety of ways e.g. music, dance, language, role play and imagination
  • expressing yourself through a wide range of media e.g. paint, clay, drawing, 3D materials
  • experiencing and enjoying beauty
  • imagining, expressing and creating
  • having original ideas and thoughts

Understanding of the World

  • exploring the local environment
  • finding out about the past
  • developing an understanding of travelling to other places, distance and maps
  • using technology - making models in a variety of ways
  • planning, making and designing things
  • exploring and solving problems
  • using I.C.T. for a range of purpose
  • exploring, experimenting and having ideas
  • being curious - wondering why, how, what if .........?
  • understanding why and how things happen
  • observing carefully and closely
  • experiencing and changing materials
  • sharing the joy of finding things out with your friends


  • appreciating pattern, and relationships
  • logical thinking
  • exploring and comparing shapes, quantities, height, etc.
  • finding ways to solve mathematical problems e.g. estimating, measuring
  • learning to use and understand mathematical language
  • understanding and using number


  • enjoying stories - sharing books with others, telling stories and making them up
  • learning to recognise sounds, names, logo's and symbols all around them
  • believing in yourself as a reader and writer and developing the skills to become one

Effective Learning

The Curriculum Is Also About:

Playing and exploring – engagement

Finding out and exploring, playing with what they know Being willing to ‘have a go’

Active learning – motivation
Being involved and concentrating, Keeping trying, Enjoying achieving what they set out to do

Creating and thinking critically – thinking
Having their own ideas, Making links

Area of Learning and Development

Aspect The Nursery has a commitment to and is developing a Forest School Approach

As an extension to all the other learning opportunities that we offer the children at Nursery; we are introducing “Forest School “ Through experiencing learning in a safe and supportive natural environment, children gain a sense of value for the wider, natural world, a sense of responsibility for their environment, in addition to self-esteem, confidence and physical and emotional strength. 

We want our children to

  • feel safe, secure and happy in the outdoor environment
  • develop a sense of care and thoughtfulness for the natural environment
  • become confident, independent and strong
  • have time to develop their exploratory and creative drive . . . to be inquisitive
  • to ask questions and find their own answers . . . create their own meaning

We do this by:

Supporting children to make choices (even if they are unable to express these choices verbally)

Encouraging children to give explanations for their choices (we introduce vocabulary such as why? How? I wonder…)

Asking open questions: can you tell me why? What if I wonder if etc

Supporting children to think deeply about making choices and to express their reasons e.g. “what would happen if rain was chocolate” “what would you like best, a castle or a pirate ship?” etc plus many other games and activities.

Dance/ music and movement

Children are given weekly opportunities to engage in music and movement