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bitternepreschool

Learning and Development

There are seven areas of learning and development that must shape educational programmes in early years settings. All areas of learning and development are important and inter-connected.

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;
  • Personal, social and emotional development.

Providers must also support children in four further specific areas, through which the three prime areas are strengthened and applied. The specific areas are:

  • Literacy;
  • Mathematics;
  • Understanding the world;
  • Expressive arts and design.

Practitioners working with the youngest children are expected to focus strongly on the three prime areas, which are the basis for successful learning in the other four specific areas. The three prime areas reflect the key skills and capacities all children need to develop and learn effectively, and become ready for school. It is expected that the balance will shift towards a more equal focus on all areas of learning as children grow in confidence and ability within the three prime areas.

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.

Prime areas of learning at Bitterne preschool

In both small and large groups, children are encouraged to extend their vocabulary and fluency by talking and listening and by hearing and responding to stories, songs, dance, rhymes and conversation.

A wide range of equipment and opportunities, both indoors and outside, allows the children to gain confidence and enjoyment in the use and development of their own bodily skills. Adult interaction and encouragement enables children to create and meet physical challenges, developing increasing skills and control in moving, climbing and balancing. Children are also supported in the development of fine motor skills required to use tools, including pens and pencils, and to handle small objects with control and precision. Topics including health and personal awareness support children’s understanding of how exercise, eating, sleeping and hygiene promote good health.

Within a nurturing environment, children are individually supported in developing confidence, autonomy and self-esteem. They are encouraged to play and concentrate both independently and as part of the group, sharing and co-operating with each other and adults. Through activities, conversation and practical example, they learn acceptable ways to express their own feelings and to have respect for the feelings of others. All children are given the opportunity, as appropriate, to take responsibility for themselves, their peers and pre-school resources, fostering a sense of belonging and community.

Specific areas of learning at Bitterne preschool

Children are helped to understand that written symbols carry meaning, to be aware of the purpose of writing and, to use drawn and written symbols for themselves. A well-stocked book corner gives every child the opportunity and encouragement to become familiar with books, sharing and handling them and becoming aware of their uses as a source of information, stories and pleasure.

By means of adult-supported practical experience, children become familiar with the sorting, matching, ordering, sequencing and counting activities, which form the basis for mathematics. As they use their developing mathematical understanding to solve practical problems, children are assisted to learn and use the vocabulary of mathematics, identifying objects by shape, position, size, volume and number. Songs, games and picture books help children become aware of number sequences and, when they are ready, to use simple mathematical operations such as adding.

A safe and stimulating environment allows children to explore and experience with a range of natural and manufactured materials. They learn to observe the features of objects and living things, recognising differences, patterns and similarities. Children are assisted in exploring and understanding their environment both within the group and also in the wider community. A range of safe and well-maintained equipment enables children to extend their technological understanding, using simple tools, techniques and ICT, as appropriate, to achieve their intentions and to solve problems. Multi-cultural resources and topics enable the children to gain an awareness of their own and others cultures and beliefs.

Children are encouraged to use a wide range of resources in order to express their own ideas and feelings. Craft equipment, including paint, glue, crayons and pencils as well as natural and recycled resources provide for open-ended exploration of colour, shape and texture and the development of skills in painting, drawing and collage. Children join in with and respond to music, dance and stories, and there are many opportunities for imaginative role-play, both individually and as part of the group.

Learning at Bitterne preschool

Within Bitterne preschool, all children are supported in developing their potential at their own pace with a flexible curriculum tailored to the needs and interests of each individual child.


By means of developmentally appropriate play activities and a high level of adult input, we offer learning opportunities which meet the government’s requirements for the Early Years Foundation Stage [EYFS] for children from birth to the end of their school reception year.

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