At Little Acorns, children are given freedom. Freedom to follow their own lines of enquiry and their own interests. What looks like ‘just playing’ to some, is in fact serious business to us. By allowing the children to follow their own interests and giving them time, they begin to make progress you could only dream of from a ‘planned’ activity. Does it work? Absolutely!
But how do we prepare them for school? Can they write their name? Can they count? When will they learn to read? The truth is – we don’t get children ‘ready’ for school. We certainly don’t pull them away from their play to learn how to trace over letters or play matching games to teach them numbers. We don’t plan activities around topics or themes weeks ahead. We don’t make children sit on the carpet listening to us for a long period of time and tell them off when they start fidgeting. We provide an environment that is age appropriate, 2 year olds are not built to sit still (neither are 3 or 4 year olds for that matter!). Children are innately curious and eager to learn. Given the right environment and the right adults, children will learn and make progress. Do our staff just sit and watch the children play?! Absolutely not! Our staff are highly trained and will spot 100 teachable moments a day. Supporting and encouraging the children every step of the way. Sometimes it might be a gentle “you CAN do it”, or a “you’re ok!’ Sometimes it’s a cuddle and a story. Other times it might be discussing the detailed anatomy of a frog or working out how to find out which cable reel rolls down the hill the fastest!
With staff gently encouraging, prompting, suggesting, modelling, praising and supporting – children begin to show an interest in all of the things ‘school’ requires of them. Take writing as just one example. If you pull a child away from their play to come and do ‘writing’ with you, it is highly likely they will not be interested. Go and join their play, follow THEIR interests and you might just find that the perfect opportunity arises to introduce a clipboard and pencil! And if they aren’t interested? Then they just aren’t ready yet and that is absolutely fine by us!