Our Ethos is what defines the Acorn and makes it so very special. We start with the most important people here; the children. We know that if they feel happy, safe and confident then they will develop, grow and learn positively. We know that as parents, you are the first educators of your children and the people who know them the best. Therefore, we want to encourage you to be as involved in their Acorn life as you like. All our staff are warm, empathetic people available to listen and talk to you and your children about anything at anytime. The learning opportunities children experience in their earliest school years impact on all their future learning and so we strive to ensure that every experience they have here is positive, relevant and memorable; building the foundation for future success.
The Acorn is made up of two year groups. The younger children are aged from 2 and a half years old and they attend the Downstairs Class for a year. After this they progress to the Upstairs Classroom for their second year. We run 2 sessions; a morning session and an afternoon session. The morning session begins at 9am. For the Downstairs class it finishes at 11.45am and for the Upstairs class it finishes at 12pm. The afternoon session begins at 1pm. For the Downstairs class it finishes at 3.45pm and for the Upstairs class it finishes at 4pm. There are a maximum of 24 children in the Downstairs class and 32 children in the Upstairs class. Each child is assigned a Key Person. A Key Person is responsible for the tracking and pastoral care of no more than 8 key children in their group.
There are at least five qualified members of staff in each class. Both classes have access to a smaller side room that can be used for messy or quiet activities. The Downstairs class has access to the small outdoor play area with accompanying adults at almost all times, while the children Upstairs class can ask a staff member to take them out during their free-flow sessions. Each member of staff may accompany 8 children to the outdoor area at a time. Children in the Upstairs class have a structured 'Group Time' activity with their key person each day as well, whilst the Downstairs children progress to having a shorter Group Time session once or twice a week once the whole class has settled.
At the Acorn we place great emphasis on securing positve relationships between the children and their peers and teachers alike. By developing trust and warmth in these relationships, we offer the children a stable, emotional base from which to explore, discover, take risks and make mistakes.
The children take part in Circle Time sessions which teach them specific strategies for dealing with new social situations (what to say if someone tries to grab your toy, for example), and how to discuss how they feel at different times. We give children lots of opportunities to talk about their homes and families, and the similarities and differences they can find between their friends and themselves. All this helps the children to be resilient, independent and curious learners both at Acorn and in the future.
We know that children's commincation skills underpin so much of their future learning including all the foundations for reading and writing. Therefore, we direct much of our attention in this direction. We aim for children to use their communication skills as independently as possible at the Acorn. Emphasis is placed on listening when others are speaking and on children 'using their words' to express thoughts and ideas.
During their Acorn day the children take part in a broad variety of activities that may range from making 'potions' or constructing a spaceship out of foam 'breeze blocks' to threading tiny beads onto pipe cleaners or making bread. Some activities will be led and supported by adults and others will be led by the children. This provides a plethora of opportunities for the children to land practise new vocabulary and forms of speech, to hear others modelling it in context and to attach in depth meaning to familiar words in new contexts.
Gross motor skills require the development of large muscles, tendons and ligments. Walking, running, skipping, jumping, climbing, rolling, pushing and pulling are all key activities for helping children to develop these skills.
Fine Motor skills require the development of smaller muscles. These are often supported by the larger muscles, many of which need to be developed first. Activities which support the development of these skills include bead threading, building with small bricks, painting or mark-making, pouring activities with jugs and cups and using tools such as hammers (appropriate to hand size!).
We explicitly teach toileting and self-care skills throughout children's time at the Acorn. We ask that children begin toileting practise before they come to the Acorn as we do not have the facilities for nappy changing. Once they are out of nappies and pull-ups, children really start to feel independent!
When the children progress to their second year, the emphasis grows to allow the children to develop further skills in Literacy, Maths, Understanding the World and Expressive Art and Design.
Children learn their letters using a system called Read, Write, Inc. It has been extremely successful; the children hugely enjoy it, learning how to read and spell phonically and they feeingl confident in doing so, all staff are trained in teaching the specific methods the Read, Write, Inc system uses, and all the children have specific Literacy twice a week. It is also integrated into all the learning activities the children can partake in throughout their learning sessions at The Acorn.
Maths is built into many other activities children learn to count dinosaurs, cars, butterflies, superheros, shoes: whatever sparks their interest! They are equally encouraged to use these same interests to engage in play with shapes and measures. All of this develops the foundations for solid and secure mathematical awareness and understanding.
Children develop their understanding of the world around them through a variety of exciting activities. This incorporates a visit from a miniature farm, a fire engine and some fire fighters, the Rainbow Fairy (who teaches the children all about why we eat lots of fruit and vegetables!), a shadow puppet theatre, a trip to go pond dipping in Holland Park, building a volcano out of paper mache and 'exploding it' with bicarbonate of soda and vinegar and huge number of other things dreamed up by the large team of well qualified and deeply committed staff members.
The most important feature of the Acorn Nursery is that we work WITH you as parents to provide the perfect nursery experience for you and your child.