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The curriculum offered at Childhaven aims to give all children the experiences and support they need to develop the Characteristics of Effective Learning:


To play and explore, make connections between what they already know and what they are learning about, and being prepared to “have a go” at new experiences.


To be motivated to keep on trying to learn new skills, to have the chance to concentrate for long periods and enjoy achieving what they set out to do.

 Creativity and Critical Thinking

To develop their own ideas, make considered choices and reflect on their learning.

Our curriculum is carefully designed to enable children to learn across all areas of learning through play and first hand experiences, supported by adults who are knowledgeable about child development and enthusiastic about helping children to learn and develop.

In both year groups the curriculum is delivered through “core provision”, which is consistently available to children, and specific enhancements planned in the light of children’s enthusiasms, interests and identified needs.

2 Year-olds

The focus for 2-year-olds is on the prime areas of learning –

Personal Social Emotional Development, Language and Communication, and Physical development.

The core provision, indoors and outdoors, offers children the opportunity to express “schemas”, patterns of behaviours that show their current interests.  These might include “positioning”, lining up objects, “enclosure”, wrapping up objects, or themselves or hiding things under materials, trajectory (throwing or kicking), or transporting, among others.  There are regular “heuristic play sessions” where children are observed using collections of everyday objects in an open unstructured context to explore their properties.

The core provision includes:

Sensory materials: sand, water and other resources used for sensory exploration as well as actions such as filling, emptying, pouring.

Role play: small and large-scale resources such as domestic furniture, dolls, dressing up materials, and small scale resources such as trains, animal figures.

Sets of resources for sorting by size, colour, other properties, and for counting.

Opportunities for mark –making with a range of media.

Books, stories, rhymes with supporting props such as puppets, jigsaws, story-sacks 

Physical challenge – the opportunity to develop co-ordination, strength and skills, and to enjoy being physically active.


The core provision is enhanced by additional resources introduced in the light of children’s individual interests or past experiences, or to introduce specific themes. E.g. in the autumn, the sensory area will have leaves, conkers, seeds and the group may go out in the local area to gather fallen leaves.


These are carefully planned to structure children’s experiences, and also to enable them to develop independent self-help skills.  Key workers will work closely with parents and carers to encourage awareness of their bodily functions and independent use of the toilet.

Small group activities are planned to supported children’s social awareness and language skills, skills with a focus on action songs, rhymes and simple stories.  

3 and 4-year-olds

The core provision builds upon the experiences children have had as 2-year-olds, recognising that some children join the nursery for their 15 or 30 hour free entitlement.  There is a continued focus on the “prime areas” and an additional emphasis on the “specific” areas of learning:

Literacy: Reading and Writing

Mathematics: Number, Space, Shape and Measures

Understanding the World: People and Communities, The World, Technologu

Expressive Arts and Design: Exploring media and materials, Being Imaginative

Core provision in the “Front Room” includes an “office area” for mark-making, block play, ICT, mathematical resources as well as role play to promote socio-dramatic play.

Children have access to a book area with supporting props, where they can work with an adult or independently to extend reading skills.

In the other ground floor space resources for creative expression are offered – paint, printing resources, malleable materials, recycled materials. Children have access to the snack table, with a choice of fruit and milk or water during the “free-flow” session.

Enhancements are introduced to extend children’s learning, to draw children into areas where they might not otherwise choose to spend time, and to challenge them to extend ideas and acquire new skills.

Opportunities to develop writing skills and solve mathematical problems are embedded within the provision.

Outdoor provision

The garden is shared by both groups. Here the core provision includes vegetable and flower beds where children explore the natural environment, including scent, texture, colour, and encounter minibeasts and seasonal changes. The mud kitchen and digging area provide the opportunity for sustained investigation and deep levels of involvement.

Physical challenge is provided by the fixed equipment and enhanced by additional climbing activities and wheeled equipment as well as the development of physical co-ordination.

Open-ended resources offer opportunities for sustained narrative play .

Adult role

The adults work with individuals and groups of children within the core provision, particularly to extend language, introduce vocabulary and to engage in “sustained shared-thinking”. They take photographs and may document some episodes of play as “stories” to re-present to the children in groups, or as individual children’s “learning stories”.

Medium term-plans identify key aspects of learning to be developed over a number of weeks, based on continuous assessment of individuals and groups, and short –term weekly planning identifies specific activities, concepts, skills and knowledge which reflect the support and challenge needed by individual children.  

Group times

Teachers and teaching assistants lead daily group sessions to focus on stories, songs, number skills and other key concepts. As children develop an awareness of rhyme, rhythm and initial sounds they are gradually introduced to specific phonic skills, in the context of enjoying books and stories.


Children are introduced to a wide range of songs and rhymes . As well as daily singing times from October to June there are fortnightly sessions led by musician Kathy Seabrook, which all children access.  These highly interactive sessions introduce children to music from different traditions, and involve playing percussion instruments, moving to music, awareness of rhythm and pulse and attentive listening.


Developmental Movement Play sessions are also led regularly to promote language, communication, emotional well-being and physical confidence.

Visits, walks, trips

Groups of children regularly go out in the local community to visit places of interest, such as the local supermarket, the railway station, the library, parks and the beach. Two members of staff have Beach School accreditation and walks are planned to extend children’s experience of the local environment and culture.

Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning


This is fundamental to the learning at Childhaven. Each term there is a focus shared on the “SEAL” board which shows examples of how children demonstrate the emergence of social skills – sharing, showing care and concern for other, developing self-confidence and purposeful determination in their learning.   



How we identify and support your child's individual needs.





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