The Stepping Stones Approach
The Stepping Stones Approach to Learning
At Stepping Stones we follow an ‘in the moment’ approach to learning. We do this by creating an enabling environment (both physical and emotional) and through the relationships and interactions that the children experience. We do not plan ahead, rather we remain ‘in the moment’ with the children as they explore and learn. We observe carefully, and enhance the learning whenever we spot a ‘teachable moment’. Our observations, interactions and the outcomes are recorded afterwards and contribute towards your child’s online learning journey. This can be viewed by you, at any time, by logging into your Parent Zone account.
In line with this, we have periods of each day called ‘Child’s Choice Time’. During these times the children can choose where they would like to play, for how long and with what resources. During these times our team of Early Years Practitioners are led by the children and allow the children to take control of their own learning and lead their own play. As a result, our team are able to clearly see and follow each and every child’s current interests and preferences.
In addition to the periods of ‘Child Choice Time’, all of the children have allocated times throughout the day to come together as a group for ‘Group Time’. This allows the children to be with their peer group and key persons and provides opportunity to reflect upon and further develop learning that has been observed throughout the day. Practitioners will be extending this learning by challenging the children’s initial ideas in a way that supports the group to meet their individual targets.
Both ‘Child Choice Time’ and ‘Group Time’ are of equal importance to the learning and development of your child. It is the combination of both that ensure a balance of child and practitioner initiated learning is an integral part of a nursery day.
There are several reasons why we believe so strongly that this is the correct and appropriate approach to take when working in Early Years:
1) By allowing the children to choose for themselves, levels of interest and engagement are usually much higher. It is when children are truly engaged and demonstrating high levels of wellbeing and involvement that deep level learning really occurs. Anything that is done during this time is meaningful as it has been chosen by the child.
2) Ofsted expects teaching in the Early Years to look this way. Their definition of teaching states that:
‘Teaching should not be taken to imply a ‘top down’ or formal way of working. It is a broad term which covers the many different ways in which adults help young children learn. It includes their interactions with children during planned and child-initiated play and activities: communicating and modelling language, showing, explaining, demonstrating, exploring ideas, encouraging, questioning, recalling, providing a narrative for what they are doing, facilitating and setting challenges. It takes account of the equipment they provide and the attention to the physical environment as well as the structure and routines of the day that establish expectations.’
3) Working in this way allows us to focus less on the paperwork and more on your child! As a result our team have more time to spend playing, interacting and teaching and are able to really follow each child’s interests and provide challenges in order to move learning forward.