The Balance of Formal and Informal Education

The Nannery believes that the most important thing is for a child to learn about themselves, to accept themselves as individuals and to be happy with who and what they are. We do not ignore formal education; instead, we strike a comfortable balance and learn through play. We work with enthusiastic toddlers who enjoy freedom instead of rigidly sitting down and being taught.

Our approaches conform to the views of numerous child psychologists who are of the opinion that formal education can start too early and that the focus should be on life skills.

The formal education is taught through play but we do look at all these areas to encourage development.

Communication, Language

Children have access to books, role play, computers, and materials to write with during the day. Children are read to as individuals and as a group. Each day the children engage in singing and rhyme time. When children show interest we encourage them to develop early literacy skills.

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Literacy permeates all areas of the nursery. The nursery as a whole is organised in order to promote and enhance development literacy and to promote positive images and role models for the children.

Learning will be achieved via a mixture of adult directed and structured free play activities, delivered through cross-curricular activities and topic based themes.

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Problem Solving Reasoning and Numeracy

Children have access to such activities as construction, sand and water play which help them learn important mathematical concepts about shape and space, problem-solving, pattern and number in a very relaxed, informal, fun way. We also have a number time which involves counting, singing number songs, number recognition and talking about numbers. With the older children, we also plan activities to teach how numbers are formed, sequenced and look at other basic numeric skills.

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Knowledge and Understanding

We undertake a variety of topics with this as a focus for learning. These include going for walks to observe the environment, talking about ourselves and our families, gardening, building and carrying out practical investigations. We also look at other cultures and nationalities and how they live.

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Creative Development

Each day the children have access to an art activity. The activity will range from individual free painting to group work. On a regular basis, the children take part in music and movement, drama and dance.

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Physical Development

The Nannery promotes physical development, both indoor and outdoor. Indoor activities can be anything from tumble tots to threading. Outdoor activities are catered for through an extensive selection of both small and large play equipment.

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Personal, Social and Emotional Development

We encourage children to develop their self-esteem and confidence by creating an environment where children feel safe, secure and valued. Children are taught to be independent and to persevere through encouragement and praise. The Nannery also celebrates various festivals which encourage children to show respect and understanding of people from other cultures and with different beliefs. Children’s personal and social development underpins everything we do at the Nannery.

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We set out to assist all children attending the nursery to attain their maximum potential within their perceived capabilities. An individual record of each child’s development is maintained, showing their abilities, progress, and areas needing further staff or parental assistance. We acknowledge that children learn in different ways and at different rates and plan for this accordingly.

The staff members are very aware of the importance of the positive play environment for the child, so they may develop good social skills and an appreciation of all aspects of this country’s multi-cultural society. Planning of the learning experience by the staff is further designed to ensure, as far as practical, equality of opportunity between all children and celebrates diversity.

We promote the relevant frameworks and curriculum set by the Dept of Education to support and enhance children’s learning and development holistically through play-based activities. We view all aspects of learning and development with equal importance and ensure a flexible approach is maintained. This approach responds quickly to children’s learning and developmental needs. We develop tailor made activities according to each child’s individual needs, which is based on observations and informs future planning and draws on children’s needs and interests. This is promoted through a balance of adult led and child initiated opportunities both indoors and outdoors.

We acknowledge parents as primary educators and encourage parental involvement as outlined in our parents as partners policy. We build home links in order to enhance and extend children’s learning both within the nursery environment and in the child’s home.


“The setting makes exceptional use of technology, inspiring children to develop skills for the future. For example, children collect creatures and plants in the garden and use the computer and microscope in the garden house to look closely at their features. They explore different languages using talking pens, and the computers indoors offer children opportunities to develop their IT skills and work independently of adults. For example, a small group of children will work exceptionally well together to complete educational software programs. They demonstrate a growing awareness that print carries meaning as they launch their agreed chosen program from the desktop screen. They express their thoughts and ideas to each other and offer suggestions as they navigate through the problems and challenges presented by the software. Some children demonstrate very well -developed numeracy skills as they play a game that requires them to identify the number of dots on the dice to move the correct number of places along. Showing a high drive to win the game, children are able to predict what numbers they require on the dice to make the most progress.”