Our Early Years Educational Approach

General Principles

Pedagogical activity in the Early Years is based on the broad learning guidelines in Development Matters i.e. it meets individual needs (from observations) and grows naturally out of their experience and response to adult led experiences.  In effect, this is an organic process embedded in play and on-going positive relationships with key workers rather than explicit teaching with work sheets!

EYFS requires us to structure pedagogy in 3 PRIME AREAS which continue from birth to 5 years.  

  1. Communication and Language
  2. Physical Development
  3. Personal, Social and Emotional Development

As a bilingual school, Mandarin is spoken to all children as it arises naturally during the course of the day’s routines, and especially during set pieces e.g. singing, shadow puppetry etc.  EYFS requires the child to hear his home language as well as English though English remains the core language for school readiness.

Further Additional Areas

4 FURTHER SPECIFIC AREAS of learning are added to these prime areas as children grow from 3-5 years when the pedagogy gradually becomes more explicit

  1. Literacy (the mapping of spoken words onto letters and words, for reading and writing)
  2. Numeracy – numbers as sequence and labels with meaning: measuring, shapes etc;
  3. Understanding the world around them:  e.g. natural environment, simple science, window sill gardening, transport , many cultures (festivals and food)
  4. Expressive arts: painting, craft etc

Hatching Dragons Pedagogy:  TALK & SING!

Young children need to be engaged in real conversations with their key workers from the earliest stage – together with nursery rhymes and singing.  Research shows that an early experience of music and song is fundamental to language development in any language, but especially for Mandarin as it develops awareness of sound, pitch, tone as well as rhythm and rhyme.

Song and Music Making is a core part of delivery.  The songs so learned can then be used in many daily situations – at mealtimes, counting, putting shoes on etc.  The songs are repeated frequently so that children become familiar with them. A song list will be provided for parents if they wish.  LJ has translated many into a Mandarin version. These can be shared with parents to use at home if they wish.

A Structured Approach to Language and Literacy

Activity in these areas will be based on a child’s experience e.g. a bus ride, a visit, or an outing relevant to the current theme being explored. Key workers will be trained to be aware of the learning opportunities available in all areas of learning within that experience and follow a structured approach to language development (vocabulary, thinking and story telling).  

‘TALKING TIME’  – a language enrichment programme for nursery age.

This approach emphasises the importance of the way we talk to children using age appropriate songs, games and familiar books to encourage them to speak.

Growing out of their maturing oral language competence around the age of 3 plus, they will be introduced to the sounds in their environment, in words and rhyme, with songs and poetry using ‘Letters & Sounds’.  They will gradually be introduced to writing those sounds in a more structured programme at reception age.   

JOLLY PHONICS   The 42 letter sounds will be introduced gradually during the 4+ Reception year (or sooner if the child is ready) using playful puppets, songs and actions.  The first letter-sounds are:

s,a,t,i,p,n,  (note not alphabetical and in lower case)

The alphabet itself will be taught using letter names (cf sounds) as a song.  The alphabet sequence is mainly useful for later use with dictionaries but is not the basis of our reading approach. Parents may like to reinforce this song by singing it at home.

Mandarin will continue orally in parallel as appropriate.  Chinese writing does not begin until a child is 6 years old but early mark making will be the foundation for calligraphy later.  

Numeracy

Songs will again be the starting point for learning number sequencing, and as labels for meaning.  This will be reinforced by lots of games with matching pairs, sorting, sharing, measuring, capacity etc.  simple addition & taking away as they reach 4+ and begin to understand one-to-one correspondence, the foundation of number concept.  

Art and Craft will increasingly be the means of recording learning in these areas as well as making marks and early writing.

Philippa John MA (Harvard) Ed; CPE; PGCE; MBE

Pedagogical Director

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