Sutton Outdoor Preschool supports children's learning and development through planned, purposeful play in the outdoor environment. We use a combination of adult-led and child-initiated activities to ensure the needs, interests and developmental stage of each child are recognised.
Sutton Outdoor Preschool provides a safe, secure and happy environment where children can become confident individuals, effective contributors, successful learners and responsible citizens.
Before the children arrive, our team carry out a Risk Assessment and safety sweep of the area and prepare the toilet and hand wash area. On arrival the children carry out their own safety walk, identifying risks and ways to keep themselves and their friends safe throughout the day. The children decide how they would like the site set up for the day and help to put up shelters, rope swings, low ropes and hammocks accordingly.
The children are supervised as they play and are empowered to direct their own learning, follow their own interests and achieve their own goals. Our team support and guide the children, using their observations to shape the learning experience for each child. Adult-led activities are linked to the Early Years Foundation Stage Educational Programmes through our curriculum.
We gather together mid-morning for snack and to reflect on the morning so far. Activities then continue until lunch which children bring from home. Staff eat with the children and we use this as a social opportunity to chat with the children about their interests.
Children often enjoy a bit of quiet time after lunch, perhaps listening to a story or two. For children who want to rest we have sleeping bags and cosy blankets.
During the day, we make observations of each child's learning and development, which is later used to plan future learning opportunities. These observations are recorded electronically using an encrypted and secure online system. Observations enable parents/carers to see the activities their child has enjoyed each day, and the progress they are making over time. Parents/carers are also invited to add their own observations. This ongoing assessment is used to create an individual Learning Journal for each child, which parents/carers can access at any time.
We usually go for an adventure in the afternoon, the children decide where they would like to go based on their interests - "Over Under Wood" is good for balancing and dens, "Secret Path" has the best puddles, we take the binoculars if we go to "Squirrel Wood" and we often visit the ducks - stopping off at "Big Hill" to admire the view and roll down the other side!
At the end of the day, the children help to clear the site so that we leave no trace. We reflect on the day and discuss what we have enjoyed and what we might do next time.
Children can attend our preschool everyday or on a part-time basis, some children combine our Outdoor Preschool with sessions at a different setting. We have a two day minimum requirement.
The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum is used by all Early Years Settings including schools, nurseries and childminders for children aged 0-5. It specifies seven areas of learning and development which must shape the activities and experiences the setting provides .
At Sutton Outdoor Preschool we focus on the three prime areas for the child's first term which are crucial for igniting children's curiosity and enthusiasm for learning -
communication and language - we develop this by providing a language rich environment and plenty of opportunities for speaking and listening;
personal, social and emotional development - we encourage the children to work together, take turns, understand their feelings and become confident in their abilities;
physical development - our outdoor environment provides endless possibilities for active play, co-ordination and the use of small and large motor movement.
As the children become more confident, we look at ways to introduce and develop the remaining four specific areas into their learning, whilst continuing to support the prime areas. The specific areas develop essential skills and knowledge -
literacy - we develop this through sharing and retelling stories, rhymes and games, we use non-fiction books to gather information about things that interest us and we have lots of opportunity to record our ideas and findings by mark making;
mathematics - outdoors is the perfect place to develop early maths skills: counting conkers, sorting leaves, measuring sticks, looking for shapes in nature, working out how many more we need, problem solving together and explaining our reasoning;
understanding the world - learning first hand about plants and animals, life cycles, the weather, the seasons, habitats, exploring, investigating, using simple maps, developing care and concern for living things and respecting the environment. This area also covers the use of technology, children have the opportunity to use walkie-talkies, torches, pulleys and cameras to explore their environment in a different way;
expressive arts and design - we use the natural elements around us, such as leaves and twigs, snow or mud, to create pictures and sculptures; we dance and sing; we play imaginatively; we make our own musical instruments and act out stories and experiences.
A typical day
Our classroom or "base camp" is an area of woodland within Sutton Park. It is fenced on three sides and has a "natural boundary line" on the fourth side. We provide portable toilets and access to fresh drinking water. We also have shelters, blankets, sleeping bags and hammocks if the children want to rest. Our preschool is OFSTED registered and follows the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum through outdoor learning.
At preschool we can climb, run, jump, balance, explore, try new things, build dens, lay trails and use tools with supervision. We share stories and songs. We observe the changing of the seasons and experience the effects of the weather. We go for daily adventures to explore other areas within the park such as the heathland or the field - which is perfect for parachute and ball games.