“My mummy’s 45. You’re really old!” or “You smell just like my grandma!” These are some of the comments I elicited when visiting Early Years, this morning, as part of my duties as a Governor. Children are generally very honest and I’m left wondering what a grandma smells like to a 5 year old. I’m assuming it’s something pleasant!
I came away convinced of what a happy environment it is and how wonderfully inducing it is to learning. Mrs Wersby was at the door greeting parents when I arrived, giving each the opportunity to raise issues and share simple problems on the spot. The children chatted happily as they put bags and coats in allotted places, fetched a book and sat on the mat next to friends as they waited for the day to begin.
Miss Coughtrey took the register while Mrs Wersby removed a small group of children to do some writing with them. I was most impressed by what they had achieved when I later saw that written work.
Those who remained, were encouraged to focus their attention on Miss Coughtrey as she took the register. Each child was greeted by name and each responded with a clear, “Good morning,” in return. There were two children absent and the opportunity was used to deduct 2 from 31. A number of children worked it out mentally. The whole class then checked the result on a number line. Lunches were checked using the white board, and once again an opportunity for counting was taken as all the ‘red’ lunch choices were counted. Miss Coughtrey then showed them how to count consistently in rows suggesting that they should count from left to right as this is the way we read.
We then shared a ‘wriggle’, before children once again sat on the carpet for the sharing of a book on Space on the white board. This activity provided more teaching opportunity as ideas, information, facts and phonics were elicited from the children. For example, “sp” and “st” were illustrated by the words “space” and “star.” The Contents page was used to look at other sounds while talking about the purpose of a contents page. The children were all very engaged in the ‘non-fiction’ facts that were shared.
The Free Play that followed allowed the children to develop their interest in space, through play dough and crafts, and the creating of aliens, planets, constellations, galaxies and rockets. A book table held a variety of fiction and non-fiction books on space. There was a ‘moon surface’ with various space craft and buggies for active play. Some children went back to the white board to look at the Space book there again, while others had access to tablets.
There was a wonderful atmosphere of participatory and active learning taking place through the various activities and opportunities presented in that classroom. Our Early Years children are indeed fortunate in the stimulating environment presented by their teachers.