Bright Horizons pioneers new Early Years curriculum with wellbeing at its core

Nursery and back-up care provider Bright Horizons has designed an innovative new Early Years curriculum which will be in all its nursery settings in England by September following a successful pilot programme. The pioneering curriculum, Bright Beginnings, focuses on children’s emotional wellbeing as the key to learning.

The curriculum is designed to acknowledge the individual voice and needs of each child to promote confidence, wellbeing and a genuine love for learning. It features “loose parts”, encouraging children to play freely with everyday items, whilst being supervised at all times, to enable them to develop creativity, solve problems and make connections in their learning.

Children are also provided with opportunities to engage in sensory experiences through art by using big paint brushes, paint rollers and floor brooms or mops on a large canvas. This type of activity is essential to develop the muscles in a child’s shoulders, elbows, wrists and hands, in preparation for writing.

Based on extensive pedagogical theory and research, it focuses on the significance of the adult role as educators. The new curriculum acknowledges the development of concepts such as critical thinking and problem solving, in addition to developing skills such as mindfulness and caring for self and others.

The new curriculum has been well received by children, parents and nursery staff in the nurseries where pilots have been run.

Melissa, a nursery nurse at the Bright Horizons nursery in Sale – one of the settings where the new curriculum was tested – said: “I love using the Bright Beginnings curriculum. It has made staff more confident when doing observations and assigning next steps relevant to the child’s development. It also allows families to have a better understanding of what their children can do.”

A parent from the Bright Horizons nursery in Highgate, where Bright Beginnings was also piloted, said: “My daughter has been coming home telling me about all the great activities she has been taking part in during the day. I love that fact that the children are leading their own play which clearly is making a big difference.”

Caroline Wright, Director of Early Childhood for Bright Horizons, said: “We believe that every child deserves the best start in life. As well as nurturing a lifelong love of learning, Bright Beginnings helps set the foundations for emotional resilience. At the heart of our approach to developing our new curriculum has been the development of our Early Childhood Philosophy, which puts children at the centre of our practice.”

The Bright Beginnings curriculum comprises five areas of learning which focus on:

  1. Feelings and friendships
  2. Sharing thoughts and ideas
  3. Technical and life skills
  4. Thinking creatively
  5. Exploring and learning about my world

These skills and competencies help prepare children to become confident, secure, and proficient individuals, prepared for the next stage in their learning, whether they are moving rooms within the nursery, or making the big transition to primary school.

Practitioners are trained thoroughly to use the new curriculum in advance of rollout at their particular setting, with the training delivered by Bright Horizons’ Early Childhood team. The new curriculum is aligned to the EYFS prime and specific areas of learning and development, as well as adhering to all statutory ‘Safeguarding and Welfare Requirements’.

Bright Horizons has similar plans for a Birth to Three curriculum for Scotland, which complements the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence for children from 3 years old.