We believe that focusing first on Communication & Language skills of listening, understanding and speaking as well as a child's physical development and ability to control their fine motor skills is an essential precursor to learning to read and write.
We read lots of stories together and use story maps and related provocations to embed story language and develop a love of books.
From the very beginning of the year children are encouraged to mark-make with chalks, paint, pencils, pens and crayons. When they are ready we encourage them to use the sounds and letter formations they know to write for a purpose or record their ideas. We provide so many writing opportunities including clipboards, whiteboards, chalk boards, writing tool box, role-play writing resources and back packs. We value all mark-making produced by children by displaying them immediately in the classroom for the week and then keeping them in the child's learning folder.
We follow the RWInc programme of phonics and children begin to record in books from the Spring Term. In Acorns Class our session comprises of an initial 15 minute whole-class introduction (or reinforcement) of a pure sound followed by a 15 minute adult-led activity and an opportunity for independent 'Lovely Learning' with a funky fingers activity (focusing on physical development), snack & chat (focusing on communication & language development) and sound/write activity (focusing on reading and writing development). During this session children also have free access to books in the classroom.
Our 'Best Writing' books record progress from the beginning of the year by documenting 'writing' from a simple name at the beginning of the year to more developed sentences in the summer term. The frequency of recording in these books increases as we go through the year ... half-termly in autumn, monthly in spring, weekly in summer. We always monitor correct posture and hand grip (appropriate to the child's development) as well as correct letter formations once they have been taught. We teach the children to be proud of their work and value the effort they have put into a piece of written work.
Children are encouraged to explore mathematics throughout the day in our learning environment and through our regular routines. We have a daily taught session where children learn mathematical skills and concepts such as accurate 1:1 counting, recognising numerals or learning the names of shapes.
We enjoy using a wide range of resources both indoors and outside and children work together with their 'talk partner' to problem solve during short adult-led sessions.
Mathematical equipment such as numicon, dice, number lines, sand timers and money are always available for children to use in their own self-directed Lovely Learning.
Children apply their mathematical skills to everyday experiences such as paying for their fruit and milk using real money and a till and timing their turn on the I-pad using the sand-timer.
The class teacher ensures children have opportunities throughout the year to explore all the mathematical concepts in the Early Years curriculum so they have the best possible chance of achieving the Early Learning Goal. Each week we focus on a different concept such as 'number and counting' and devise fun and engaging provocations linked to children's interests that allow them to apply their knowledge and skills. We enjoy number songs and love to check how many children are in school today. We also love to practise our 'Chacewater Counting' where each finger touches our nose as we count it so we don't get in a muddle!
This year we have introduced a new strand of teaching called 'Number of the week'. Each week we introduce a new number (0-20) and explore it in lots of different ways. The special number tray is always available for children to explore through numicon, number lines, pebbles, blocks and printed numbers. Children learn the symbol that represents that number and hear a rhyme to help them draw it. We explore where there number fits amongst other numbers, what it might look like in unifix or numbers of children, how to count upto that number and then back again. We learn that a teen number is actually a ten and some ones and we look for patterns in numbers.