A child’s first two years are critical for the development of the brain and for language development. During this period, the child’s life experience plays a fundamental role in the “hard-wiring” of the brain, laying the foundation for all intellectual and emotional development to follow.
From birth, babies are busy, active learners, immediately investigating the sights, sounds, and feel of the world. Babies and toddlers are sensori-motor beings. They explore the world with their senses when developing motor skills. Long before they understand a concept like "under" or "far" with their minds, their bodies are learning to navigate the up and down, over and under of the physical world: their perceptions are sorting out sizes, colours, and shapes.
We provide babies and toddlers with what they need: a safe world, rich with opportunities to actively explore, with books, songs, and a lot of listening and responding to their vocalisations and words.
A child’s third year is a time of huge change: the experience is similar to adolescence in that it is transitional. In the same way that adolescence stands between childhood and adulthood, two year-olds are moving from the total dependence of babyhood to the more independent, mobile world of preschoolers. At this age children are exploring their powers to communicate, to move purposely, to assert their independence and individuality, and to control their important bodily functions.
We provide the manageable challenges and relaxed environment that two to three year olds need. Staff understand the frequent changes in moods, interests, and capabilities and provide calm, consistent care and supportive teaching.
As children move out of toddlerhood and into the independence of the preschool years the programme for learning develops into a more structured pace of meaningful and purposeful learning, where children are encouraged to approach the world with curiosity and with a positive disposition to learn. At this stage children need confidence and the skills and desire to think for themselves, to solve problems, to work with others, to communicate, and to gain an increasing understanding of the world and how it works.
The Bright Horizons programme for learning is designed to lay the pedagogical foundations that prepare every child to:
- Be ready to read: confidently equipped with the desire, vocabulary, and language-deciphering skills they have developed through experiences that are meaningful to them.
- Approach the world with curiosity and the knowledge and skills that lead to success in maths and science: a growing interest in the properties of things and the relationships and forces that exist in the natural world.
- Use their social skills to perform in a school classroom: listening skills, self-discipline, patience, and discipline for the task, ability to work with others, and ability to solve problems.
Our Preschool programme for learning builds on the children’s knowledge and skill base, learning style, and interests. Through a rich variety of projects children investigate the fascinating world in which they live, which enhances the development of emerging knowledge and skills. A balance of child-initiated and adult-planned guided learning across key areas of learning are provided for throughout the day.
Early Years Curriculum
Our nurseries in England are required to follow the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), which sets standards for the learning, development and care of children from birth to 5 years old. Your child is unique – you know that! – and we use the EYFS framework to take every child’s unique qualities into account when planning their day. Within the learning and development section of the EYFS there are seven areas of learning and development which we use to shape the educational programmes in our nurseries. Whilst all areas of learning and development are important and inter-connected, the framework splits the areas of learning into ‘Prime’ and ‘Specific’ areas.
The three prime areas reflect the key skills and capacities that all children need to develop and learn effectively, and become ready for school. These three areas are particularly crucial for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, and for building their capacity to learn, form relationships and thrive. These three areas, are:
- Communication and Language;
- Physical development; and
- Personal, Social and Emotional Development.
For our youngest children we focus strongly on the three prime areas, which are the basis for successful learning in the other four specific areas. As children grow in confidence and ability within the three prime areas the balance will shift towards a more equal focus on all prime and specific areas of learning.
We are also required to support children in four specific areas, through which the three prime areas are strengthened and applied. The specific areas are:
- Understanding the World; and
- Expressive Arts and Design.
Each area of learning and development must be implemented through planned, purposeful play and through a mix of adult-led and child-initiated activity. Play is essential for children’s development, building their confidence as they learn to explore, to think about problems, and relate to others. Children learn by leading their own play, and by taking part in play which is guided by adults.
We recognise each child’s emerging needs and interests, guiding their development through warm, positive interaction. As children grow older, and as their development allows, it is expected that the balance will gradually shift towards more activities led by adults, to help children prepare for more formal learning, ready for Year 1.
If you would like to know more information about the EYFS, visit the Foundation Years website.
Curriculum in Scotland
Pre-Birth to Three
In our Scottish nurseries the national guidance document ‘Pre-Birth to Three: Positive Outcomes for Scotland’s Children and Families’ is used by staff to ensure they are providing the best experiences for children under the age of three.
Curriculum for Excellence
All our nurseries in Scotland use the Curriculum for Excellence to ensure children over three experience a broad education that develops skills for learning, for life and work, with a real focus on literacy and numeracy, and promotes an active and healthy lifestyle.
Getting it right for every child
For further information on Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC), visit the government website
Curriculum in Wales
Birth to Three Matters
Our nursery in Wales follows the Birth to Three Matters framework for all children under three years of age.
Our nursery in Wales follows the ‘Foundation Phase’ which is the statutory curriculum for all 3 to 7 year olds in Wales.