Activity Planning and the Curriculum

Children start to learn about the world around them from the moment they are born. The care and education offered by Middleton Cheney Pre-School helps children to continue to do this by providing them with interesting activities that are appropriate for their age and stages of development. 

The framework for our planning and practice is guided by the Early Years Foundation Stage document. This practice guidance advises early year’s settings on effective practice and how to implement learning, welfare and educational requirements of children from birth to 5 years. Play underpins all development and learning for young children. Through a planned combination of adult led activity and spontaneous child led experiences (sensitively supported and extended by well qualified and caring staff) we aim to support children’s learning with enjoyment and challenge.

The staff use observations of each individual child to gain information about their interests and stages of development, in order to build upon their achievements. We are committed as a Pre-School to continuous self reflection and quality improvement. Our intention is to offer a high quality early years experience as firm foundation, upon which to build future academic, social and emotional success.

The key principles which guide our work are grouped into four themes;

  • A unique child- every child is a competent learner from birth who can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured.
  • Positive relationships- children learn to be strong and independent from a base of loving and secure relationships with parents and a key person/s.
  • Enabling Environments- the environment plays a key role in supporting and extending children’s development and learning.
  • Learning and Development- children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates and all areas of learning and development are equally important and inter-connected.
The Early Years Foundation Stage (2012) sets out 7 areas of learning and development through which children will be learning skills, acquiring new knowledge and demonstrating their understanding.

Children should mostly develop the 3 prime areas first which are:

  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development
  • Physical Development
  • Communication and Language

These areas are essential for a child’s healthy development and future learning.

As children progress and grow the prime areas help children develop skills in 4 specific areas

  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Understanding the World
  • Expressive Arts and Design

These 7 areas are used to plan a child’s learning and development and will be adjusted to meet every child’s unique needs and interests .

We also try and reflect in out activities the fact that children learn by playing and exploring, being active and through creative and critical thinking which takes place both indoors and outside.

For each area, the practice guidance sets out the Early Learning Goals. These goals state what it is expected that children will know and be able to do by the end of the reception year of their education.

The practice guidance also sets out development statements which give staff guidance as to the possible stages of progress a child may make along their learning journey towards the early learning goals. We bear these in mind when planning activities, however, we recognise, that children develop at their own rates and in their own ways and will not necessarily  progress in the order set down in the document.

 Prime Areas

Personal, Social and Emotional Development

Our programme supports children to develop:

  • positive approaches to learning and finding out about the world around them;
  • confidence in themselves and their ability to do things, and valuing their own achievements;
  • their ability to get on, work and make friendships with other people, both children and adults;
  • their awareness of, and being able to keep to, the rules which we all need to help us to look after ourselves, other people and our environment;
  • their ability to expect to have their ways of doing things respected and to respect other people's ways of doing things.

Communication and Language

Our programme supports children to develop:

  • conversational skills with one other person, in small groups and in large groups to talk with and listen to others;
  • their vocabulary by learning the meaning of - and being able to use - new words;
  • their ability to use words to describe their experiences;
  • their knowledge of the sounds and letters that make up the words we use;
  • their ability to listen to, and talk about, stories;

 Physical development

Our programme supports children to develop:

  • increasing control over the large movements that they can make with their arms, legs and bodies, so that they can run, jump, hop, skip, roll, climb, balance and lift;
  • increasing control over the small movements they can make with their arms, wrists and hands, so that they can pick up and use objects, tools and materials; in particular writing equipment
  • increasing control of small hand and arm movements to begin to form recognisable letters
  • their understanding about the importance of, and how to look after, their bodies with particular attention to basic hygiene and personal needs.

 Specific Areas


    Our programme supports children to develop:

  • knowledge of the purposes for which we use writing; and
  • making their own attempts at writing words such as their name,  and labels knowledge of how to handle books and that they can be a source of stories and information;
  • reading and understanding simple words 



Our programme supports children to develop:

  • understanding and ideas about how many, how much, how far and how big;
  • understanding and ideas about patterns, the shape of objects and parts of objects, and the amount of space taken up by objects;
  • understanding that numbers help us to answer questions about how many, how much, how far and how big;
  • understanding and ideas about how to use counting to find out how many; and
  • early ideas about the result of adding more or taking away from the amount we already have.

      Understanding of the World

Our programme supports children to develop:

  • knowledge about the natural world and how it works;
  • knowledge about the made world and how it works;
  • their learning about computers and other ICT equipment, how to use them and what they can help us to do;
  • their skills on how to put together ideas about past and present and the links between them;
  • their learning about their locality and its special features; and
  • their learning about their own and other cultures.

     Expressive Arts and Design

    Our programme supports children to develop:

  • the use of paint, materials, music, dance, words, stories and role-play to express their ideas and feelings; and their interest in the way that paint, materials, music, dance, words, stories and role-play can be used to express ideas and feelings.

Learning Through Play

Play helps young children to learn and develop through doing and talking, which research has shown to be the means by which young children think. Pre-School uses the early learning goals and their stepping stones to plan and provide a range of play activities which help children to make progress in each of the areas of learning and development. In some of these activities children decide how they will use the activity and in others, an adult takes the lead in helping the children to participate. In all activities information from the early learning goals and stepping stones has been used to decide what equipment to provide and how to provide it.


We frequently assess how young children are learning and developing by observing them. We use information that we gain from observations, as well as from photographs of the children, to document their progress and where this may be leading them. We believe that parents know their children best and we ask them to contribute to assessment by sharing information about what their children like to do at home and how they as parents are supporting development.

We make periodic assessment summaries of children’s achievement based on our ongoing development records. These form part of children’s records of achievement. We undertake these assessment summaries at regular intervals as well as times of transition, such as when a child moves into a different group or when they go on to school .

Information gained from observations made in the setting and at home, is then fed back into the planning and used to plan experiences and opportunities, the learning environment, resources, routines and the role of the practitioner in order to support each individual child.

Two Tear Old Progress Check

At some point before a child’s 3rd birthday we give parents a written summary of how they are progressing against the 3 prime areas of learning

-         Personal, Social and Emotional Development

-         Physical Development

-         Communication and Language

The check highlights where a child is progressing well and any areas in which they may need extra help and support. It also gives parents ideas for supporting their child at home and how they can work with the key person to  achieve positive outcomes for the child to aid their progress.

Learning Records

The setting keeps a record of achievement for each child. Staff and parents working together on their children's records of achievement is one of the ways in which the key person and parents work in partnership. The child's Learning Journey helps us to celebrate with parents her/his achievements and to work together to provide what the child needs for her/his well-being and to make progress.

The child's key person will work with parents to keep this record. To do this she/he will collect information about the child's needs, activities, interests and achievements. This information will enable the key person to identify your child's stage of progress. The key person with help from parents will then decide on how to help the child to move on to the next stage.