As a Christian pre-school, we believe we have a responsibility to advocate for the rights of young children so they are able to to enjoy life in all its fullness. We recognise the unique opportunity we have to transform education at such a formative time in life. We do this through concern for the whole of a child's life.
Developing children's spirituality is at the core of what we do. How can we nurture a child's awareness of who they are and how they are connected to the world, to other people and to God? Spiritual development has been pushed out of the early years framework in recent years, but we believe it is essential for us to nurture it.
How do we do it?
We have a child-centred approach and we value the early years as a vital stage in and of itself - not just to prepare children for more formal learning.
We trust children, especially their inbuilt capacity for development at their own pace and in their own way. There is a lot of pressure for children to reach 'a good level of development' when formally assessed. Our curriculum is mindful of being 'school ready' but we also recognise that emphasising the 'product' at the expense of the 'process' can inhibit spiritual development and be counter-productive to the holistic development of children.
For all our children, our priority is 'what does this child need now?' We work hard to identify this and then to provide it.
We teach 'in the moment', rather than using a formal 'top-down' method of teaching. We focus on providing a rich learning environment and adults who are engaged and attuned with the children so we can facilitate learning in a way that maintains high levels of well-being and involvement on the part of the children. We seize all teachable moments when they arise.
It is not half so important to know as to feel. If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and impressions of the senses are the fertile soil in which the seeds must grow. The years of early childhood are the time to prepare the soil... It is more important to pave the way for the child to want to know than to put him on a diet of facts he is not ready to assimilate.
Rachel Carson (1956)
At pre-school we promote the following:
We work hard to make the environment clean, tidy, well-presented and inviting to the children to communicate a sense of value for what happens in pre-school. We constantly reflect on how we use the space we have and how best to adapt it for the specific children we have in our care.
Our curriculum values 'being' over 'doing'. Our process prioritises real, exciting and meaningful learning.
We ask open-ended questions and encourage children to tune into their own intuition and imagination, and to 'wonder' rather than feel a need to conform and give the 'right answer'. We ask lots of 'what if' and 'why' questions not just about stories, but during children's open-ended play inside and outside too.
It is fundamental that all children, parents and staff are free to be themselves so that we can develop authentic relationships which value each person's perspective. This relies on the relationships we invest in with children's parents, valuing their expertise and insight.
We help children feel that it is safe to take risks, to make mistakes and to get things wrong. We want children to feel comfortable exploring and getting stuck into things.
We trust how children feel and take their feelings seriously. We are careful not to undermine a child's feelings and we seek to support children to recognise and process them.