We believe that children should have plentiful opportunities to actively construct their own knowledge and understanding of the world through the many different experiences they have. Finding out and exploring is all about the open-ended, hands-on experiences which arise from children’s innate curiosity.
The classroom spaces have been specifically designed to meet the needs of the pupils at each stage of development. The rooms in Early Years 1 are more open in their setting allowing those youngest pupils to move around with more freedom and space. Early Years 2 and 3 classes have small elements of ‘school’ about them but again, allow for movement and free flow between activities. Early Years 4 classrooms are more formal and present pupils with an opportunity to experience short periods of ‘school’ interspersed with longer periods of early years education. The classroom setting in Early Years 4 affords the children a seamless transition in to the schooling system. All classrooms have adjoining bathrooms and cloakrooms, so that children can be independent yet supported in their daily needs.
In and around the setting, pupils have an opportunity to read. We believe it is a child’s right to be able to have quiet time, think and contemplate, or look at books. To this end, we provide adequate space for pupils to have both quiet, individual reading opportunities as well as read-aloud storytelling sessions with their class teacher and the library team. Children learn to love the sound of language long before they even notice the existence of printed words on a page. Reading books aloud to children stimulates their imagination and expands their understanding of the world. It helps them to develop language and listening skills and prepares them to understand the written word. When the rhythm or melody of language become a part of a child’s life, learning to read is as natural as learning to walk and talk. At Huili Nursery Shanghai, we have two well-resourced libraries, alongside smaller spaces for dipping in and out as and when required throughout the day.
ROLE PLAY SPACES
Role play provides opportunities for children to identify with the world around them; to develop social skills, practise negotiation skills, taking turns and sharing. It provides opportunities for working out problems and experimenting with solutions. Children can understand and express feelings through the re-enactment of certain experiences and take on roles that encourage discipline and empathy. Role play encourages imagination; children can be anyone and do anything in the pretend world. Through role play, children develop language skills, practising listening, observing and talking. Being spoken to and talking with other people, they also develop an understanding of what is being communicated through body language such as smiles and nodding.
Each classroom has a dedicated area for role play which is designed for the children with added enhancements and provocations from the adults in the room. Pupils at Huili Nursery Shanghai will lead their own journey through role play, having the freedom to use their imaginations to create meaningful worlds to explore, share and enjoy.
MUSIC AND SOUND SPACES
Music is one of the most powerful means of relaxing the body by promoting a sense of calm and peace. Musical play helps children to make sense of sounds, sensations, sights, smells and tactile feelings. It can help children process more positive feelings about themselves and helps them to communicate without the need to use language. Music allows children to enjoy success because there is no right or wrong in music. Through music, children can have fun, problem solve and anticipate. Through simple songs, children can sing the sequence of actions that are to be done to achieve a goal, for example, handwashing, teeth brushing and tidying up. Musical play promotes joyful interaction, relationships, social skills and turn-taking. Music has been documented as helping memory; it fosters creativity whilst music and movement develop special awareness, timing, physical skills and self-esteem. Music is known to:
- Boost brain power
- Improve memory
- Helps socially
- Builds confidence
- Teach patience
- Be a great form of expression
- Foster creativity
The nursery houses a dedicated music room for children to explore the wonderful world of sound. Pupils are encouraged to use music and sound every day to support their learning through songs, actions, noise and rhythm.
Young children learn with all their senses. As children grow, they still need these sensory experiences but use a more scientific process as they explore, allowing them to continually learn about the world and how it works. From birth, children learn about the world by touching, tasting, smelling, seeing and hearing. Sensory play also contributes in crucial ways to brain development. Stimulating the senses sends signals to children’s brains that help to strengthen neural pathways important for all types of learning. Sensory play promotes the development of:
- Cognitive development – before children can speak, they develop an understanding of their environment by actively exploring with all their senses. As children become verbal, they can describe differences and similarities in what they see, hear, taste, touch and smell
- Social skills – working closely together during sensory activities presents opportunities to observe how peers handle materials, try out the ideas of others, share their own ideas and discoveries, and build relationships
- Sense of self – as children experience things themselves, they explore and communicate preferences, making sense of the world around them. By accepting a child’s preferences, children learn that their feelings and decisions are valid
- Physical skills – children develop and strengthen new motor skills through shaping, moulding, scooping, dumping and splashing. These actions all support the development of small and large muscles
- Emotional development – sensory experiences can be very calming for many children and can help them work through troubling emotions such as anxiety and frustration. Likewise, sensory materials lend to children’s expression of positive feelings, such as joy and excitement
- Communication skills – through their choices of materials and actions during sensory play, children have opportunities to communicate both verbally and non-verbally. Emotions will be evident by the look on a child’s face, noises they make and words they may use
PHYSICAL PLAY SPACES
Research has shown that physical activity in young children can enhance:
Children enjoy physical play, indoors and outdoors. They revel in the freedom of movement and in play that is inventive, adventurous and stimulating. Children also learn social skills as they co-operate and show consideration for one another. Physical play activities are used to develop gross motor / locomotor skills and fine motor skills. Gross motor / locomotor activities develop body management, balance, body co-ordination, strength, agility and confidence. Fine motor activities promote hand-eye co-ordination, spatial awareness, fine motor control, accuracy, two-handed co-ordination and manipulative strength. Hand-eye and foot-eye co-ordination activities promote spatial awareness, , strength co-ordination.
Physical activity is important to many aspects of child health and development, and the early years is a critical time for establishing healthy behaviours and patterns that will carry over in to later childhood, adolescence and adulthood. Physical play activities happen through structured physical activities (for example, gym time) or through unstructured physical activities (for example, playing in the garden or dancing).
The indoor gym area at Huili Nursery Shanghai has been designed with young children in mind. Moveable equipment affords the pupils the freedom to make the space their own, whilst promoting teamwork, problem solving and thinking skills alongside physical development.
EXPLORATION AND INVESTIGATION SPACES
Exploring the inside and outside world is important for children’s emotional, social and physical development. They learn about the world and how it works. Imagine: it is one thing to see an orange, but it’s another to hold it in your hand, feel its cool smooth surface, smell its fragrance and maybe even taste it. Exploring also gives children a chance to work on important motor skills, boosting their self-confidence and competence. They begin to think, “I can do it”.
We believe that children should have plentiful opportunities to actively construct their own knowledge and understanding of the world through the many different experiences they have. Finding out and exploring is all about the open-ended, hands-on experiences which arise from children’s innate curiosity. These provide the multisensory experiences from which children build concepts, test their ideas and find things out. Using what they know in their play highlights the importance of play as the context where children bring together their current understanding and combine, refine and explore their ideas in imaginative ways. Being willing to have a go reinforces the role of play in enabling children to follow their interests and initiate activities.
Huili Nursery Shanghai has planned a fully operational dining facility for our pupils. Having full catering facilities within the setting ensures that daily snacks and lunches are freshly prepared to match the nutritional requirements of young learners.
Early Years 1 and 2 will have their snacks and lunches delivered to them, to maximise the time needed to use this social time together. Early Years 3 and 4 pupils will use the dining facilities in preparation for greater independence and will enjoy the opportunity to eat with their peers. For more information on the dining facilities, please see catering.