We believe it is important that all children learn to be independent, curious and confident.

Young children learn from their own experiences. To do this they need to be able to explore by themselves and to watch, listen and talk about things they see or hear. We believe that children learn from everything around them and that children learn through play. This is the basis of ’The Early Years Foundation Stage’ which covers the welfare, learning and development of children from birth to the end of their first school year.

Toys and resources are stored at “child height” so that they are within easy reach and that each child can make individual choices about what they want to use in their activities. They will have access to a range of materials which develops their creativity and independence. Their learning environment at Gateway is both indoors and outdoors.

We aim to develop the skills within our children so that they can become effective learners for life. The EYFS identifies 3 characteristics of effective learning:- Playing and exploring, active learning and critical / creative thinking.


Playing and exploring

Play is the most effective way for children to learn and allows them to explore the world and make sense of it, in a multi-sensory way. We encourage children to ask questions, to try out experiments and to speculate, rather than to accept information without thinking for themselves.

A child who is playing and exploring will:

  • show curiosity
  • explore the environment
  • engage in activities
  • use their imagination
  • use their experiences in play
  • take on roles in play
  • role play with others
  • take risks,
  • have an ‘I can do’ view
  • initiate activities
  • seek challenges

Active learning

This is all about children being involved and concentrating. They need to keep on trying, so as adults we need to know when we should help and when we can provide realistic challenge to further their learning. They also need to be enjoying achieving what they set out to do, so this reinforces what we know, but often forget – play is about the process, not the product, so it is better to have a rather abstract piece of painting from a child, which they have done themselves, using their imagination and skill, than a prescriptive adult-led painting which might look more like something we recognise, but which they have not really been involved in.

A child who is engaged in real active learning will:

  • have a focus fascination
  • persevere
  • be intrinsically motivated (doing something to please themselves, not others)
  • appreciate others valuing both the process (how they are doing something) as well as the product (what they have done/created)
  • set their own goals
  • concentrate and pay attention
  • try different approaches, showing resilience

Creating and thinking critically

A child who is creating and thinking critically will:

  • have their own ideas
  • make links between what they are doing and what they have done/seen before
  • choose ways to do things for themselves

Effective learners are aware of themselves as thinkers and they learn how to talk about things in the most constructive ways. As adults, we need to use provocations, or themes, to encourage critical thinking.


The EYFS provides us with a framework designed to help staff facilitate learning through play by planning an imaginative environment and activities that ensure each child’s learning and development is as natural and as fun as possible. Activities may be child led or adult led, but wherever possible we follow the child’s interests and ideas.

The revised EYFS ( 2017 )covers 3 Prime areas of development and 4 Specific areas of development


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


  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Understanding of The world
  • Expressive Arts and Design


In the under 2’s we focus on the Prime areas of learning, ensuring that the foundations in the key areas of learning are strongly embedded while ensuring that our youngest learners are exposed to a diverse and rich learning environment indoors and out.

At about the age of 2, your child will be offered a development check by your health visitor . Nursery also carry out a 2 year progress check on your child and with your permission, these reports are shared and combined to form an “integrated review. “ Parents are given the opportunity to talk about their child’s development and next steps to ensure your child’s best progress agreed.

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In the over 2’s, we plan for all 7 areas of learning whilst still following the child’s interest and lead. We start to encourage more independence and active learners – children who are not afraid to have a go and think things through for themselves.

We strive to help all the children in our care to approach a major change in their lives – ‘starting school’ – with the confidence, skills and enthusiasm for learning that will give them a valuable and lasting head start.

Please be mindful that all children develop at their own pace and should be treated as individuals learning in a variety of ways. Should a child’s development give any cause for concern, we will discuss this with parents in conjunction with our Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (Emma Hughes)

Further Information can be obtained from:-

What to expect, when? – A guide for parents