Foundation Stage Curriculum
At Meath School our modified Early Years Curriculum focuses on enabling children to grow holistically in all Areas of Learning and Development, through the vital foundations of Communication and Language. We foster the children’s learning skills through the Characteristics of Effective Learning and adapt the curriculum to ensure no child is left behind due to their speech, language and communication needs.
Each child is empowered to grow in confidence, curiosity and independence to play and explore. Opportunities for self directed, peer supported and adult mediated play based learning, turns language into meaningful experiences. This ensures each child feels safe and motivated to take risks, talk, interact and share with others. Children are supported to be confident communication partners and develop a motivated ‘have a go’ attitude to actively explore and learn about the world around them.
The school environment, delivery of teaching and learning materials are specially adapted by Teachers and Speech and Language Therapists working collaboratively to maximise each child’s active learning opportunities. Their attention and listening skills are developed through highly practical and visual activities and differentiated language levels in each Area of Learning and Development. Children learn through concrete experiences supported by highly visual tools including signing, symbols and objects, to enable them to overcome difficulties they encounter and grow into resilient learners. Children and adults take time to talk about their learning and understand ways to celebrate theirs and others’ individual achievements throughout the school day.
The skills needed to talk and understand within a total communication environment are fundamental in supporting each child to create and think critically. Children are equipped with a communication toolkit to enable them to make their needs, wants and opinions understood, support their decision making and develop their ideas. They learn to make links between new vocabulary and real life experiences through targeted small group teaching, scaffolded learning experiences and supported play. Mediated play sessions promote the development of sequences in play and learning. Skills are modelled for children to grow into problem solvers in their play and interactions. Adults utilise spontaneous opportunities to make language and learning explicit and functional.
In the Early Years, we are guided by four principles:
- A Unique Child - Every child is recognised as a unique individual and we aim to adopt a responsive approach to suit the children’s language and learning needs, supporting them to progress from their individual starting points.
- Positive Relationships - By developing positive and trusting relationships through a total communication approach, we can support their personal, social, and emotional needs so they feel safe and ready to learn.
- Enabling Environments - We provide a structured, total language supportive learning environment with communication and language as the foundation of our curriculum.
- Learning and Development - We recognise that children develop and learn in different ways and we use a range of specialist tools and strategies to support their learning, allowing them to be successful in the context of their specific difficulties.
Outside Learning in the Foundation Stage
Our curriculum is designed with a strong emphasis on the Prime Areas with an understanding that these are essential to be able to access the wider curriculum.
A high level of structure and routine helps the children to be confident with class expectations, helps to reduce anxieties and supports self-regulation. At Meath, taking learning activities outside often creates further barriers to learning as it adversely affects the children’s listening and attention and creates more difficulties with self -regulation.
We work towards outdoor learning and by bringing the outside in. We want to develop children’s natural curiosity and encourage them to use their senses to explore; alongside their language and observational skills to name and describe.