EARLY YEARS DEPARTMENT
The Early Years department at Barnardiston is unique, being for all children between the ages of 6 months and five. We have seen how this benefits children across the age range with the younger ones learning from the older children and the older children developing their social skills, including caring for their younger peers.
It is a gentle and warm environment where each child is nurtured in a beautiful setting giving the children access to a wealth of opportunities for learning inside and out in our wonderful grounds.
Parents are able to access their 15 hours of Early Education funding without any conditions.
At the age of 6 months, children may join the Nursery for a minimum of 3 sessions per week through to full time. Meals and snacks are provided throughout the day, supplied by our on-site chef and her team.
The day starts at 8.30am and finishes at 3.30pm, although we do have a facility for an earlier start or later pick-up for parents who are either working or who may have older children in the Prep School.
A typical day in The Nursery will include a look at the day’s weather, colours and shapes, art-work, one-to-one activities, shape-matching, early numeracy and literacy, music and movement, outdoor playtime, story-time and singing.
Children in the Oaks are introduced to French by a specialist French teacher. This has been a great success with children from 2 years old confidently reciting numbers 1-10 in French and singing simple rhymes and songs. This early introduction to another language enables them to confidently approach French lessons in the Pre-Prep Department without any worries and several of the children have even been able to teach their parents some basic French! Older children go swimming, too.
Children join Class 1 in the September when they are 3 years old and attend a minimum of three mornings each week, building up their sessions gradually as and when they are ready.
There are two parallel classes in Class 1 and children are divided to ensure an even mix of girls and boys and of younger and older children in the age-range. Each class is taught by experienced, Level 5 qualified teachers who are very aware of the need to be ‘mummy’ as well as ‘teacher’ and they have a wealth of experience with children of this age.
A follow-on from Nursery, the children are now considered ‘big’ boys and girls and wear School uniform. The Seven Areas of Learning are followed - Communication and Language, Physical Development, Personal, Social and Emotional Development, Literacy, Mathematical Development, Understanding the World and Expressive Arts and Design. However, we are very aware that children of this age need lots of fun and we, therefore, ensure that the timetable includes plenty of time for sand and water play, going on exciting nature walks in wellingtons and visiting Pets’ Corner. Ballet lessons are available in Class 1 and these are generally held during the lunch period. Specialist teachers visit the children in class to teach French and music.
Class 2 is for children aged 4/5 years and children attend a minimum of 5 mornings each week. However, many children have already built-up their sessions during Class 1 and will also be attending some, or all, afternoons. Whatever the case, the term following your child’s fifth birthday is the time when they must legally attend full-time education, so now is the time to start adding some extra sessions.
As in Class 1, all children continue to follow the Seven Areas of Learning. After this, the timetable is divided to ensure that the children receive an hour’s numeracy and an hour’s literacy every morning. Handwriting is carefully monitored and the Jolly Phonics Sound Scheme is followed. Children start the Abacus Maths Scheme and are able to work through this at their own pace.
With small class sizes and the help of a Nursery Assistant when appropriate, Class Teachers are able to give their children the one-to-one attention that they need. Pupils are given reading books when ready and their reading is listened to each day.
As in Class 1, a full timetable following the Seven Areas of Learning is followed including PE and sport (rugby, hockey, athletics and ‘fun’ games), art and craft and computers with specialist teachers for PE, French and music. In addition to the many activities taking place during school time, children in Class 2 are also able to start having short-tennis lessons and gymnastics coaching.