Children can start the Kindergarten from 2½ years old and although many will have attended the Toddler Group, this is not compulsory.
At Hatherop Castle we recognise that each child is an individual with unique qualities which need to be recognised and nurtured. In order for the children to be stimulated and to be able to reach their full potential, all children are allocated a member of staff who will be their key worker for their time in Kindergarten. This enables staff to develop positive relationships with parents and to really get to know the children in their care, in order to provide activities that will interest them and promote their knowledge and learning within the Early Years Foundation Stage.
In the Kindergarten there are two members of staff; Mrs Riley and Miss Evans. An assistant is also available when necessary.
The Learning Environment
The Kindergarten classroom is a purpose-built, airy, spacious and light building with free flow access to the garden and to the cloakroom area. Parents need to feel that their children are safe and welcome, and are enjoying their time in Nursery. In order to do this we regularly review the environment, addressing any issues that we feel are necessary and listening to parents’ comments and wishes. The parents’ notice board provides information on such things as topics and themes as well as social events and menu for the week.
The classroom is planned to allow children to have access to as much as they can, thus developing their independence and self confidence within a structured and organized environment. Areas within the room include
- A messy area
- A home corner
- An activity corner
- A dressing up box
- A music area
- A book corner and quiet area
- A train and construction area
- A drawing and writing area
- A cutting and glueing area
- A water or sand tray
There are distinct areas with a table for each key group which children use at group times and for snack time. The garden is enclosed within a high wall and has a grassy area with trees, shrubs and a vegetable plot where the children are encouraged to grow a variety of plants, as well as an area of tarmac for riding tricycles. There is a Wendy house, a climbing frame and swings. Under the covered area we have guinea pigs and children are encouraged to look after them by bringing vegetables from home and helping in the cleaning routine. In addition to the garden we often take the children out for walks around the school grounds giving them the freedom to run about in the wide open space and explore the woods.
Activities and Routines
Although most of what the children do at this stage is child initiated, we base activities around a theme for each half term or for a few weeks at a time. Themes might include colour, Christmas, weather, shape, stories such as Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and environments, such as under the sea. We also participate in theme week, during which time the whole school studies the same theme. In addition to daily music and rhymes on an individual basis, Miss Gore Browne visits once a week to deliver a music session to the group as a whole, which involves music and movement, songs and percussion instruments. Mr Bailey also takes the children for a gym session.
Pre-school breakfast club from 8am and after-school crèche, including tea,until 5.45pm, are available to all children free of charge.
All Nursery children are encouraged to take part in the EYFS Nativity play at the end of the Michaelmas term and the Nursery sports day at the end of the Trinity term.
Snacks and meals
Fresh water is always available to all children. Snacks are healthy and balanced and consist of a cracker and vegetable sticks or fruit and milk. Lunch is cooked on the premises and is usually a hot dish with vegetables and a pudding. The children eat this in the main school dining room with Pre-Prep. Nursery staff eat their lunch with the children encouraging good manners and healthy eating habits. Food allergies can be catered for with advanced notice.
Your child’s development
Relationships with parents and communication between everyone working within the EYFS are very important aspects of all that we do at Hatherop Castle and these form part of every child’s development and record of progress. Children are all encouraged to talk about their experiences and emotions and parents are encouraged to talk to the staff about any concerns or issues that may affect their children. This may be on an informal basis at the start or end of the session or by appointment for any lengthy discussion.
Staff regularly make observations of the children at play or engaged in an activity and these are recorded in the children’s Learning Journey along with any quotes or comments that they might make. The Learning Journey forms part of each child’s record of development and follows the child from entry to the EYFS through to Reception and into Prep 1. In addition a summary of the child’s progress is completed each term and these two documents are available for you to see at any time.
Parent evenings are held each term and these are valuable times for parents and staff to talk about the children’s development and progress and to record any comments in the child’s Record of Development.
Attendance and Sessions
Children may attend the Kindergarten from one session a week to full time.
Morning sessions are from 8.30am-12.30pm excluding lunch, and afternoon sessions are from 12noon-3.30pm and includes lunch.