The importance of people in early years development
Sponsored feature | Sancton Wood School
Finding the right setting for the first steps in a child’s education away from home can often be a daunting prospect for parents. As an expert in early years education, Sancton Wood’s Head of Nursery and Pre-Prep, Nicola Henson, is often asked for the most important thing parents should look for when embarking on the search for a nursery. The answer is always ‘the people’.
Being little is such a critical part of a person’s future and a quality education is all about relationships. This is the time to lay foundations for a happy childhood, a fulfilling future and an enduring love of learning. In her own nursery, Miss Henson has worked hard to build a team that are not only highly qualified but have years of experience, enabling them to truly understand the world through the eyes of young children. This balance, alongside small class sizes gives teachers the ability to offer so much more than just ‘childcare’.
A dynamic and flexible teaching style is the key to success in shaping the start of a child’s learning journey, helping to guide them to become independent and resilient young learners. Academia is important but a holistic approach ensures the development of the whole child. It’s the ability to pick up on the little things that make a child tick, ensuring that their behavioural and emotional well-being is well supported too.
Experienced teachers understand child development and can carefully cultivate nurturing, happy and stimulating environments that instil curiosity and promote mastery. They have the confidence and knowledge to use rich language and open-ended conversation to tap into enquiring minds. Excellent child to teacher ratios enable bespoke learning experiences; being attuned to each child to know when to stretch and challenge and when to allow them to take risks and make mistakes in a safe environment.
Miss Henson has a wider overview and perspective of childcare provision working as a county moderator within the EYFS for Cambridgeshire as well as being a selected member of the Steering Group for Dukes Education’s early years arm, Little Dukes. Her teaching experience, alongside a culture of observation and reflection, shows that children learn best through play and first-hand experiences. Miss Henson says: “An outstanding nursery will create lots of opportunities for exciting, explorative experiences that ignite children’s enthusiasm for learning while building their capacity to learn, form relationships and thrive.”
At Sancton Wood, children take part in a varied and engaging provision that is uniquely and purposely planned, taking a child-led approach. Wider skill sets are utilised to offer exciting activities beyond the curriculum, such as Makaton, Spanish, yoga and pottery.
Embracing and exploring the outdoors is also particularly important in the early years. Sancton Wood offers a Forest School which engages and inspires children through positive outdoor experiences. It also has a huge garden with stage, space to grow vegetables, a fossil sandpit, bug hotel and mud kitchen, perfect for imagination to take flight, with the space to discover a more natural, cooperative way of playing. Play, after all, is a skill and one that should be nurtured.
If children are taught skills with praise and encouragement from experienced, enthusiastic, qualified and caring members of staff, they can discover their passions, challenge themselves and reach their full potential in all areas of their learning.