Early Years Education

At Nursery, we believe that every child has the right to a well-planned, joyful and holistic education. Early years education has a lifelong impact on how young children view and value learning. Key to our educational ethos is full commitment to the Nursery, with staff, children and parents all playing their parts in creating and maintaining a truly unique and vibrant atmosphere. Our Nursery staff are committed in encouraging their students to embrace a wide range of experiences, and to foster in them Huili Values and the Huili Identity.

Early Years Education

Nestled in the Wellington Family, Huili Nursery takes great pride in sharing, and building upon a rich vein of identities, values, and traditions. Courage, Respect, Integrity, Kindness, and Responsibility form the basis of the values we hope to impart in each child, helping them to become Intellectual, Independent, Inclusive, and Inspired Individuals.

At Huili Nursery, we are passionate about providing a meaningful research-based education that challenges and inspires both children and teachers. We believe in co-constructing with children, guiding them to realise the many ways in which their contributions of thoughts, theories, and views can make sense of, and shape their world. The early years are critical to the formation of learning dispositions and views in children, and we understand the full weight of this responsibility. This focus on the “here and now” permeates each learning experience, ensuring that teachers are fully present for each child.

Relationships underpin our entire programme. As emphasised by research, we understand the importance of the social mediation of learning, and cherish the role of families as the first teachers of their child. We aim to create and nurture strong relationships between the Nursery and its families, forging open and robust connections to create a vibrant and inclusive community. I am fortunate enough to share such a relationship with Miss Sharon Wan, Deputy Head of Early Years.

This emphasis on shared leadership extends to Nursery classrooms, which are led by a team of Chinese and native English speaking teachers. Encouraged by the blurring of cultural mores, our co-teaching model allows children to acquire both languages in an authentic way. Supported by other members of the class team, each teaching partnership seeks to motivate children into active learners capable of meaningful thought and communication in both English and Chinese.

 

We have high expectations for our children and teachers, and these expectations begin with the guiding image of a strong, capable, and resilient child. This image unites programme with practice, and underpins each aspect of the Nursery — from the way mealtimes unfold, to the creation of classroom environments and the allotment of times devoted to project and play — including the Handbook. This is the Huili Nursery vision, and we invite you to join, share, and develop this image with us as your child embarks on their journey.

Click here to download the Parent Handbook.

At Huili School Hangzhou, we are guided by the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), where the characteristics of effective learning are fostered. The includes the ways in which a child engages with others and their environment – playing and exploring, active learning, and creating and thinking critically – underpin learning and development across all areas.

THE EYFS IDENTIFIES SEVEN AREAS OF LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT:

Prime Areas:
The prime areas run through and support learning in all other areas. The prime areas continue to be fundamental throughout the EYFS:
– Communication and Language
– Personal, Social and Emotional Development
– Physical Development

Specific Areas:
The specific areas include essential skills and knowledge. They grow out of the prime areas and provide important contexts for learning:
– Literacy
– Mathematics
– Understanding the World
– Expressive Arts and Design

EARLY YEARS CURRICULUM

Research on successful outcomes of provision in Early Years, both in the short term and for later success in school and as adults has pointed to some general guidance and guidelines for consideration in practice. The best outcomes for children’s learning occur where most of the activity within a child’s day is a mixture of:
– Child-initiated play, actively supported by adults.
– Focused (adult led) learning, with adults guiding the learning through playful, rich experiential activities.

Each Nursery class has its own co-teaching partnership, which forms an integral part of the class team. Strengthened by a shared understanding of the Wellington ethos, teachers in such partnerships share concurrent responsibility over the class learning programme, and jointly reflect on children’s learning.

Characteristics of effective learning in children include the ways in which a child engages with others and the environment. These characteristics underpin learning and development across all areas, and support the emergence of an effective and motivated learner. Children are best placed to flourish in their development through playing and exploring, participating in active learning, and becoming creators in their own right.

Play serves an ideal platform to allow children to work on relationships, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills. All our Nursery classes start the day with a period of time dedicated to investigative play. We believe that placing this time at the beginning of the day allows teachers to observe, follow, and extend the interests of their class to ignite in-depth project learning.

By collaborating with each other and offering different perspectives on the day’s events, our teachers engage daily in a continuous cycle of enquiry and improvement. Such reflective practice happens throughout the day, with the sharing component occurring after the children have departed in the afternoon.

All Nursery classes are equipped with iPads. Photographs allow teachers to reflect critically on pedagogy, and to capture and make children’s learning visible. As the process of taking a posed shot may interrupt children’s learning, photographs taken by teachers aim to encapsulate key dispositions such as curiosity, determination and collaboration.

The use of light plays an important role in our Nursery classrooms. As one of the more intriguing elements of exploration and discovery, light is a way to evoke emotion, imagination, and concrete learning in young children, and can further assist to initiate dialogue.

As a source of ever-changing wonder, investigations through light can lead to explorations in science, mathematics, the arts, and language. From an early age, most children are able to realise that light can shape, change, make shadow, and emanate from sources such as the sun. As we carefully select beautiful, thought-provoking materials for our children to explore, it is equally as important that we prepare and offer attractive and inspirational explorations of light.

The intentional introduction of light into the learning environment helps to attract and hold attention, spark interest and learning, and influence behaviour and feelings. Light sources in our programme range from clear doors that invite in the light, to the soft lamps that create warmth and a sense of home in our classrooms. In addition, each Nursery room is equipped with light tables and mirrors to allow children to immerse themselves into moments of light-aided discovery.

A holistic approach to education underpins all facets of Nursery classroom provision. Illustrations of such commitment are found in the montage of possibilities created by the layouts of our classrooms and shared spaces. Calming colours and wooden resources create an atmosphere of comfort and respect, with our table configurations allowing children seamless transitions between individual, small and large group interactions. Equally, in selecting authentic resources that emulate real life, we provide our children with a variety of opportunities to process their world through play.

We believe that children have the right to make their ideas visible. The ideas of each child emerge in different shapes and forms, and we champion every single one. To enable this, we refrain from using media-based characters and predetermined materials in Nursery environments. Such resources encourage “fixed play”, and deny our children valuable chances to exercise high order thinking skills.

Our outdoor environments share equal weight and focus with their indoor counterparts. In line with current research, our programme understands the importance of outdoor play, and provides regular opportunities for children to engage with the natural world.

We have designed learning environments at the Nursery to facilitate a smooth passage between classrooms and outdoor spaces. These spaces include natural dens, outdoor play kitchens, apparatuses, balance equipment, and large block play. There are also designated areas for outdoor music, bikes, vegetable gardens, and open spaces with an abundance of heuristic type materials. The potential is endless — for symbolic play, physical challenges, or to foster marvellous episodes of child initiated play — and reflects our commitment to creating inspired, individual, and independent learners.

At the Nursery, the use of technology in the early years is not a goal into itself, but a powerful tool supporting our integrated approach to teaching and learning. We believe that isolating the use of technology into a single curriculum component — such as teaching children how to use computers — restricts learning potential in its shortsightedness. In building strong learning foundations, our children must learn with, and alongside technology in order to become successful citizens of the future.

Processes of learning take pride-of-place on classroom walls, and act as the most up-to-date bookmarks for children to chart, reflect, visit, and build upon their journeys. For our families, the walls act as a visible invitation to visit and engage with the class community. For teachers, walls are a way to collaborate and review class projects and experiences, and serve to document the progression of individual learning. This is what teachers refer to as ‘documentation’.

Routines add a sense of rhythm to the day. Rather than a rigid structure, we plan flexibility into our daily rhythms, allowing our children to anticipate future events while remaining responsive and accommodating of their needs. Routines also provide assurance to our children that their teachers are able to support them in their burgeoning independence, health, and safety. Our flexible daily format allows numerous opportunities for children to make decisions under their own agency and involvement. As a result, each day at the Nursery is a delightful mixture of child-led play, guided play, meaningful transitions, adult-led learning, and serendipitous happenings.

Transition times are learning times! At the Nursery, we give children advance notice for changes in their routine to allow them to plan and finish current activities. Knowing that a certain type of play will soon end provides children with the opportunity to put their work in a place to come back later time. Teachers may use songs to support such transitions. Toileting, hand-washing, dressing, and hydrating after exercise are but examples of the other important life skills that we prioritise.