Our baby programme focuses on developing 3 foundations, from which all future academic and skills based progression can grow. They are Communication & Language, Physical Development and Personal Social & Emotional Development. Think of them as the foundation stones - they are the pillars that provide your child with the ability to confidently and eloquently express themselves and their desires; navigate their physical and emotional spaces; and understand their sense of self in the context of a social group and why certain values should underpin who we are and what we are to each other...
We take an annual approach to our educational planning, to provide children and staff with thematic structures that act as a kind of kernal from which all of the educational programming can spring. Driven in large part by how the children want to pursue these ideas, we adopt a child-centred learning model in delivery, to see how they adopt and adapt these central themes to their educational day. You can download our annual wheel of learning for the baby room by clicking on the adjacent image and you can book in a visit at any of our schools via the button below
Communication & Language
Our staff focus on a simple pedagogical principle in this age group: “Talk & Sing” using our own bilingual song book and bilingual story compendium to further regular music, rhyme and narrative in the lives of our children. We try to immerse children in a musically and linguistically rich environment as there is evidence that not only bilingual immersion but music can confer cognitive advantages in early stage development (Schellenberg 2005). If you would like to learn more about the linguistic genius of babies, check our Prof Kuhl’s talk on TED here
We focus on the McArthur Bates Communicative Developmental Inventories (CDIS) for Words & Gestures, at this age (8-18 months), moving into “Words & Sentences” towards the end of their time in the baby room to achieve, broadly, what we hope will be acquisitive rates in line with monolingual children outlined below, with the caveats of “conceptual vocabularies” outlined above.
Milestones & Markers
- At 6 months: your baby should be responding to familiar voices, turning around at the sound of their own name and make regular babbling noises
- At 12 months: your baby will start using single words, pointing at things and making gestures to you and your key person at school to express interest in a basic attempt at communicating. He / she will start using basic words like “mama” and be able to choose between objects when offered a choice.
- At 15 months: your baby should be able to say 5-10 words (not clearly) but they might be emerging
- At 18 months: your toddler will listen and respond to simple instructions like “please put on your shoes” and will start trying to speak with c 10-20 words in his / her vocabulary that are spoken, with comprehension of a larger volume of single and two-word phrases.
- By 2 years: your child should master up to 25-50 words and start structuring simple sentences and should be able to understand up to 350, including describing words, prepositional phrases, time phrases, pronoun use and simple questions.
Makaton is a system of using signs and symbols to support communication, which is a helpful tool in encouraging communication for babies in our bilingual nursery setting. We start with basic signs - simple and relevant to the baby's daily routine. These "scaffolding" signifiers are useful benchmarking tools to help us ground the consistency in communication with baby before expanding our vocabulary sets. We engage our parents to learn, with the use of video materials (designed in house) and visual aids such as flash cards to embed the visual memory that one sign can be prounounced in two languages and produce the same meaning...
Music is intrinsic to what we do and is one of the most powerful tools in helping develop language and second language fluency in young children. It helps develop a sense of rhythm, syncopation, can excite the imaginations and nurture that latent creative impulses that our self-expressionists want to let rip. All the while helping children embed knowledge of vocabulary through a medium that is most memorable and long-lasting. We have two of our own bilingual song books, painstakingly developed over the years to ensure that parents and children can both benefit from our programme whether at home, via our dedicated youtube channels, or at school
Physical activity is vital in children’s all-round development, enabling them to pursue happy, healthy and active lives. Gross and fine motor experiences develop incrementally throughout early childhood, starting with sensory explorations and the development of a child’s strength, coordination and positional awareness through tummy time, crawling and play movement with both objects and adults.
By creating games and providing opportunities for play both indoors and outdoors, adults can support children to develop their core strength, stability, balance, spatial awareness, coordination and agility. Gross motor skills provide the foundation for developing healthy bodies and social and emotional well-being. Fine motor control and precision helps with hand-eye coordination which is later linked to early literacy. Repeated and varied opportunities to explore and play with small world activities, puzzles, arts and crafts and the practice of using small tools, with feedback and support from adults, allow children to develop proficiency, control and confidence
Milestones & Markers
At around 12 months, we’re looking for baby to stand up and sit down, pick up something with his / her finger and thumb
By 2 we’re looking for fully mobile toddlers who can run, kick a ball, jump with both feet off the ground and start climbing, catching and possibly pedalling small trikes
Ensuring that babies have sufficient physical equipment to help stimulate gross and fine motor controls is hugely important if we are to encourage them not only to develop their own physical abilities - sitting, crawling, walking, holding, hopping and jumping - but also to manipulate media, draw, write and develop the capacity to be aware of their limits, risks and to be able to navigate those risks confidently, with the support and attentiveness of dedicated baby teachers who are trained to help them mature. Our schools have dedicated internal and external gymnasia for such physical development, ensuring that children will get PE whether they are indoors or out!
Heuristic play is a type of play that involves exploring and discovering objects and materials through touch, sight, and sound. This type of play is particularly suitable for babies and young children, as it promotes their curiosity and encourages them to learn about their environment. We use enabling environments - physical play spaces that are replete with resources to nurture and encourage this natural curiosity across all forms of media, materials, musical instruments and natural resources to stimulate that sensorial development
Personal Social & Emotional Development
Helping children develop their self-confidence and social awareness in the context of their relationships with other adults and children is a fundamental part of what we do. Learning to make friends, establish boundaries and manage our own feelings and behaviour is a critical part of socialising the child and one of the primary advantages of a nursery school over, say a childminder or nanny.
Here we replicate the attachment that Ainsworth and Bowlby advise are fundamental to the long term psycho-social development of the child. It is the time where we instill in them a sense of self-belief: that they can do and with a little gentle encouragement, overcome and achieve. We regularly have joint activities and circle times in which we share, pass toys and learn to accommodate the needs and wishes of others. Maintaining small ratios of 1 key person to every 3 children allows for greater intimacy and attachment.
Milestones & Markers
- At 7 months: we’re looking for social awareness: baby is responding to his / her own name when called and is sensitive to the emotions communicated in speech
- At 12 months: This awareness extends to being cognisant of those who are familiar and those who are not, the attachment to key person and parent is manifest and the Strange Situation Experiment becomes apparent: this is perfectly normal, natural and healthy
- At 18 months, the toddler should be both mobile and curious about his / her environment, exploring the areas of the setting and the resources within it in full.
- At 2, your child should start seeing themselves as a separate person with their own desires and wishes that need to be fulfilled. You may start seeing tantrums appearing, which is the child realising what he / she wants and desires to enforce it (often without the words to communicate, which can be very frustrating!)
Sensory Play is a fun, playful and effective way of enhancing learning, promoting key developmental skills for young children. Similar to Heuristic play, it is about stimulating all of the 5 senses by providing children with immersive experiences that maximise their sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. We do this by bringing the best early years educational equipment and best natural resources in textures to ensure that children have a hugely rewarding explorative experience, learning to familiarise themselves with the wonderfully rich experiences we can provide them within our baby space.
The Baby Room Routine
Everyone thrives in a routine. Don't believe it when people say "I hate routine"...what they mean is that they hate monotony. For us all to become effective adults, we need to develop the sense of rhythm that a good routine can afford us - it provides regularity, consistency and, through that, a sense of control, which inspires confidence, security and so much more.