EYFS Activities - An A to Z of learning: P is for…people, police, politics and plans

the Rachel Keeling Nursery School team
Tuesday, June 29, 2021

From family members to the police and shopkeepers, the local community is part of nursery life, as are political issues and making plans. By the Rachel Keeling Nursery School team

Children arrive at school already armed with a wealth of cultural capital and knowledge about the world around them. We want children to be invested in their family, school, community and the world they inhabit.

We talk with children about the wider world, and this often starts with people in their family.

PEOPLE

Families are very much part of the life of our school – we invite them to share information and photos so that they are visible and their voices are heard in nursery.

Each child has a Special Book which documents their learning. Families feed into this book (with the permission of the child) and photographs of people who are special to the child are included.

We also collate information books around families and special people. Maybe a book about celebrations, and families email a photograph which children can then mark-make around and share. These books form part of our Information Book Library.

We also often look at our local community. Developing relationships with Mark on the local fruit stall or the shopkeepers in our local shops, whom we are regular customers of, is very important. We want our young people to realise the community is theirs and they can invest emotionally (and financially) in it.

POLICE

Our local police force are also an important part of our community. Luckily for Rachel Keeling, the mounted police stables are not very far away so we are able to invite some officers and their horses to visit us in the garden. The children and staff are always in awe of the beautiful horses. We encourage the children to speak to the police officers, making comments and asking questions.

It is good to have a clear risk assessment when the huge horses are around such little people. We also make a plan so that one adult leads the session and can support the officers so that the children get the most out of the experience.

POLITICS

Winston Churchill said, ‘Politics is not a game, but a serious business’, and at Rachel Keeling we talk to our children about big issues. For example, they know not to waste water. We talk to them about saying ‘no’ to plastic bags when out shopping.

We also mobilised them when we needed to raise awareness of our funding crisis and the future of maintained nursery schools. Children talked about ways to raise money and we invited our MP to visit. We made banners and some children and their families were involved in a silent protest where we held hands and formed a ring around our school. Children were very eloquent and able to talk to local reporters and members of the public who passed by.

PLANNING

As I was writing this piece, there came a very loud knock on my office door. It was one of our children who is moving on to Reception class in September. He is already a writer and had been encouraged to use his skills to write a plan about his summer. A full list with a title, complete with boxes to tick once completed, name and baseroom, was proudly held up – and he had already ticked off the first point (see photograph). Such incredible work!

Although most of our children are not yet able to write words with such confidence, we do encourage children to plan their days. ‘Make a plan’ can often be heard around the nursery. We expect children to develop agency and autonomy. Their plans might be in their heads or shared verbally, some may draw pictorial plans or begin to write labels or words. What we encourage young children to do is organise and motivate themselves. So whether it is baking bread, cycling or sculpting with clay, we expect children to be able to make choices, gather what they need and begin to organise themselves without an adult.

Now I’m off to write my own summer plan!

Rachel Keeling Nursery School is an Outstanding setting in Bethnal Green, east London

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