A brief introduction
Our preschool is term time only, three days a week (Tues, Weds and Thurs). We open at 8.00 but our school day starts at 8.50 and finishes at 15.20. We run a breakfast session from 8.00-8.50. Though children will be dropped off at and collected from our indoor setting, children spend approximately 90% of their day outside, depending on the time of year. We have the use of numerous and fantastic outdoor spaces to add variety to our day. These include local woodland sites, parks and an allotment.
We are a small setting, with only 18 places in total. There are always 3 key adults (a ratio of 1:6) and for the majority of the time there are 4 or even more adults on site working alongside the children. At least one of these adults is a qualified teacher, and the others are early years educators/forest school leaders with lots of previous experience of working with children in early years settings.
We offer a varied timetable which includes seasonal cooking sessions, forest school, allotment visits, local trips and adult led workshops. Most importantly, wherever we are, the children will have the freedom to walk, run, sing, climb, eat, read, splash, dig, swing, jump, write, think and play their way through the day as we offer lots of opportunities for nature-based play. We also have a weekly stay and play Forest School session.
What makes Out There preschool so special?
We are born out of a passion for outdoor learning. As early years educators, primary school teachers, Forest School leaders and play workers, we have witnessed first-hand the benefits of children spending an increased amount of time outdoors in their natural environment; improved physical development, increased motivation and self esteem, a greater awareness of the natural world and our place within in.
We want to take the very best bits of all of our educating experiences and weave them in to something that is unique and special.
We want to strip back children’s preschool play experiences, and move away from plastic toys, a kitchen or shop role play area and a designer outdoor space in order to see what children’s imaginations are capable of. Giant logs become rocket ships or sailing boats, sticks become wishing wands, rope becomes a giant beanstalk.
We believe all children have the right to an outstanding, equal education. We are inclusive and want to ensure every child can access our provision and learning outdoors.
Parents whose children attend our setting have commented on how happy their children seem, how calm they are when get back fromm their day and how excited they are to come back again. The smallness of the setting allows for very special and positive relationships to form. There are just enough children for children to have a wide group of friends but we are small enough to offer that extra nurturing to each child.
Early Years Foundation Stage / Development and Learning
As experienced practitioners, we are really excited about planning for your child’s learning and development and think very carefully about delivering the early years curriculum in an outdoor setting. Our curriculum, planning and resources are very child led, as we follow each child on their individual learning journey.
We plan and assess for the 7 areas of learning and development, as set out in Development Matters in the EYFS.
Communication and Language
Emmotional and Social Wellbing
Literacy - reading and writing
Expressive Art and Design
Understanding the World
Our holistic approach means that these 7 areas of learning are embedded in to our daily structure and routine, our indoor and outdoor environments, our carefully chosen resources, the adult guided activities and the child initiated play.
A 'typical' DAY AT OUT THERE PRESCHOOL
You might say there is no such thing as a typical day, as every day is unique and special. However, we do have certain routines and structure that will really benefit your child and prepare them for what comes after preschool.
How we spend our day also depends on the time of year and the weather. In the Spring and Summer we aim to get out the door by 10 am and stay out until 14.30, taking our packed lunch with us. In the winter months, we go out in the mornings and come back to the scout hut for lunch at 12.45. After this we stay indoors or go out in the garden. At any point throughout the year, if it's too windy or too wet we stay indoors and play but we do get out nearly every day of the year.
Children can arrive between 8.00 and 9.10. This allows for working parents to drop off at a time that it more convenient to them. Children may also have breakfast with us if arriving before 8.30. On arrival, children usually get stuck in to playing as we wait for everyone to arrive. Children have access to variety of resources; sensory play, small world, mark making, arts and craft, loose parts, role play etc. Children are encouraged to help prepare the morning snack. When everyone has arrived, we start our day with circle time to welcome everyone, share news, sing a song or read a story.
GETTING READY TO GO OUT
We then get ready to go out side. This is a big part of our day.
WALKING TO AND FROM THE SITE
The walk to and from the site is all part of the fun. Children can spend their day at up to two different sites, especially in the Spring and Summer. For example, the allotment and the forest school site in the woods.
Sessions are spent engaged in meaningful and practical play and learning, whether that's digging a pond on the allotment, cutting up and grating vegetables or helping to build a fire. We encourage children to independently select resources and tools, whether that's on the allotment, at the scout hut or in the woods.
At lunchtime, children enjoy a packed lunch (provided by you) either around the fire circle, on the allotment or back act the scout hut (spending on the day/time of year). Lunchtimes are lovely and calm and a chance to reflect on the morning experiences.
We finish our day off with some quiet time back at the scout hut, where children can relax and unwind with stories, music, yoga and mindfulness.
OUR EDUCATIONAL ETHOS
We know how many parents recognise the value that alternative approaches to learning can bring, as do we. Our preschool applies Forest School principals and practices, as well as Reggio, Rudolf Steiner and Maria Montessori approaches to learning and development. You can find out more about our vision and ethos here.
The philosophy of Forest Schools is to encourage and inspire individuals of any age through positive outdoor experiences. Forest School activities offer children the opportunity to learn about the natural environment, how to handle risks and most importantly to use their own initiative to solve problems and work with others.
The future development of each individual child depends on health-giving experiences in the first seven years of life. An atmosphere of loving warmth and guidance that promotes joy, wonder, and reverence supports such healthy development. The most essential aspect is the inner attitude of the educator, who provides the example for the child to imitate. Therefore Waldorf educators must engage in an ongoing process of research and self-education including anthroposophical study, meditative practice, artistic and practical activity.
Dr. Montessori saw that children learn best by ‘doing’ and that happy, self-motivated learners form positive images of themselves as confident, successful people. The Montessori approach is holistic and aims to develop the whole child. Fundamental to the approach is the belief that a child's early years from birth to six are the period when they have the greatest capacity to learn.
our DIFFERENT OUTDOOR SITES
East Winds Activity Centre
East Winds on St Anne's Terrace is our base camp. It's where we intend to play if the British weather forbids us to go out (e.g. if it's very wet or very windy or just too cold). Here, there is a kitchen and toilets and an indoor hall, as well as a fantastic outdoor space with fire circle and mud kitchen. It's a hidden gem of a place and we love it.
Nightingale Valley Woods (NWV)
East Winds activity centre is at the entrance to Nightingale Valley Woods. A path leads from here in to the woods, walking alongside Brislington Brook. The walk to the Forest school site takes approximately 15 minutes. The site is in a natural clearing, with a fire circle and plenty of space to play.
St Anne's Woods
St Anne's Woods can be accessed by heading up the lane on to Newbridge road. The entrance to the woods are about a 10 minute walk, crossing over the railway bridge towards St Anne's Park. St Anne's woods offer a great alternative to NVW and using both of these sites will ensure we don't over use one particular site.
Woodcroft Road Allotments
Our allotment plot is just behind the Nightingale Valley Woods. It is huge and has so much potential. We plan to build a pond and have even discussed the possibility of getting some chickens.
The slideshow below shows you some photos the amazing green spaces that we have access to.