Morning Sessions begin at 9.00 a.m. We often start with a circle, so that we can get a sense of ‘being together’ and familiarising everyone – doing the register and introducing ourselves and the children to each other. On other occasions the children will go straight to their own individual activities. This is one of the reasons why it is important for the children to arrive punctually, so that they share any new input when we meet in a circle.
Circle time lasts about 15 minutes during which time we do register, chat and feel our way to what seems needed at this time. Often, we will present a piece of learning material, or introduce a new topic inviting the children to contribute and participate. It is also a good opportunity for a chat!
Once children go to work/play, the staff team become facilitators and guides, carefully and sensitively putting each child in touch with the environment and helping them to socialise. Each child is carefully monitored by our staff in order to ensure a holistic overview of next steps, and to make sure that no child is overlooked.
In the early weeks there will be maximum staff intervention, but with the long term intention of allowing each child to become freely independent within the environment in their own time. We gently introduce children to a variety of activities, either individually, in pairs or in larger groups. These activities are based on Montessori principles and the philosophy of natural development, but parallel very easily the Early Years Foundation Stage Guidelines laid down by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF). The freedom of the children is supported by simple ground rules.
Throughout the morning, children can independently choose their refreshments under the guidance of the environment. Sunflower has a healthy eating policy.
The above programme can be freely changed as required, as sometimes there is a need to spend more time working in groups when a special project is involved.
Music and Movement takes place as a separate group activity, at least once each week.
We will apply the Montessori approach throughout the whole programme, which essentially is to allow the nursery to be ‘child-centred’; with the children beginning to feel that it really is their nursery and, as a result, developing positive behaviour and a good sense of self-esteem and confidence. Their learning, wherever possible, will be indirect and not prescriptive. We only need to be prescriptive when a child needs a more direct intervention in their learning, which can be for a variety of reasons and is perfectly natural.
The morning only children finish at 12.05 p.m. when they will wait for parents and carers in a circle, so that we can say goodbye to them properly. We ask that parents pick their children up on time so that we can restore the classrooms ready for the afternoon session as soon after 12.05 p.m. as possible. Parents are expected to give full written details of any additional carers who may be picking their children up at any time. This should be name, address and at least two phone numbers and if necessary a password.
Afternoon sessions begin at 12.10 p.m. with a story or garden time. The children are encouraged to bring a healthy, nutritional packed lunch, including a drink.
Before lunch, the children help to prepare the tables for lunch. Each child has their own place mat, napkin, cup and name card. This develops and consolidates the children’s social skills and graces. At the end of lunch the children help to clear the tables. A sleep time is offered if the need arises. Our afternoon sessions are group based and are run on similar lines to the morning programme, with additional enriching activities including art and craft, music and movement, cooking and gym. Weather permitting the day ends outside in the play area.
The afternoon session finishes at 3.15pm.
A local childminder runs an after school club onsite which runs from 3.15-6pm.