UNDERSTANDING OF THE WORLD
The policy documents how we teach our children ‘understanding of the world’, at McMillan Early Childhood Centre.
The statutory framework for the EYFS (2021) states that educational programmes must involve activities and experiences for children, as set out under each learning area.
‘Understanding the world involves guiding children to make sense of their physical world and their community. The frequency and range of children’s personal experiences increase their knowledge and sense of the world around them – from visiting parks, libraries and museums to meeting important members of society such as police officers, nurses and firefighters. In addition, listening to a broad selection of stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems will foster their understanding of our culturally, socially, technologically and ecologically diverse world. As well as building important knowledge, this extends their familiarity with words that support understanding across domains. Enriching and widening children’s vocabulary will support later reading comprehension.
At McMillan, our aim is to teach the curriculum in the following areas:
- People and communities
- The world
Our intent is to provide children with experiences to develop their cultural capital and widen their experiences. It is also to engage in sustained shared thinking with children so we are able to teach children specific vocabulary to support their understanding of concepts such as past and present, same and different. Our planning indicates how children will develop concepts over time through teaching at the setting by providing specific experiences and also vocabulary.
People and Communities
As children learn about the world around them they find out about the past through talking to parents, grandparents and friends and they develop an interest in their own story as well as the stories in their family – this is the beginning of developing an understanding of the past and helps them to learn about how other people are different from them, yet share some of the same characteristics and ideas. Understanding of a diverse world also includes understanding technological and ecological diversity.
There’s diversity in all communities. The more experience children have of being out and about in their community the more they are able to understand their community and make a contribution.Having an idea of who they are as a child, within a family, leads naturally to being curious about everyone else. Starting in a setting or belonging to a childminder’s family, children begin to sense other relationships outside their own family. From an early age children have formed attitudes towards children different from themselves.
Understanding of the world develops as children take notice of everything around them including places and all the things within them such as trees in the natural environment and roads and traffic in the built environment. Finding out about places begins initially when a child learns about their own home and the things nearby, then later as children notice things on journeys to and from home – such as the sequence of the traffic lights or names on street signs. This awareness is extended by visiting places and finding out about different elements of environments in books, on TV and through using other technology. This aspect also focuses on learning about cause and effect and is developed through having conversations with adults and other children about the things they observe.
Over time children become aware of the impact people have on the environment. Examples include understanding that it is important to care for small creatures, not to drop litter, the value of growing your own food, to reuse, recycle, reduce and repurpose.
Young children learn that they can make informed choices and selections. This helps them to engage in the world in a positive way.
Technology has become commonplace for many families and children often see and use it quite naturally when they activate a toy such as an ambulance or police car to make a siren sound. Recognising the role of technology at home or in the nursery is important because this helps children to identify the different types of technology and what they are useful for.
Diversity in technology can be defined in different ways, think about who has access to technological devices at home and in the setting. It’s important to make sure all children are supported to become more technologically aware in the world around them. Talk about what is used in the home, in shops, including the use of mobile phones, tablets and computers.
The focus in the early years is on active learning, however, if children have no or little access to technological devices at home, it’s important to include provisions in the setting for them. Children love to be involved in audio and video recording and taking photographs. As a school, we recognise that children joining reception and accessing the Key Stage 1 and 2 curriculum need to learn how to use a desktop PC or laptop, to access a safe browser or specific apps or software. Therefore to enable our children to be successful lifelong learners, we will focus on teaching them practical skills for computing
What does teaching of understanding of world look like at McMillan?
At McMillan, we plan specific experiences to give our children cultural capital and opportunities to experience the wider world around them. These are documented in the long-term and medium-term plan. Children are given the chance to revisit and consolidate learning through Continuous and Enhanced provision of resources. Our teaching is focused on the three aspects but also through the role of the adults as well as the physical environment.
The role of a practitioner:
- Our team, support the development of positive attitudes in this area of learning by being knowledgeable, confident and enthusiastic, responding to the children’s sense of awe and wonder in equal measure! Staff model research and enquiry skills and use correct language and terminology.
- We develop and encourage children’s interest by planning practical, appealing activities appropriate to the level of development and understanding, and which also take account of preferred learning styles.
- We carefully plan activities to include direct teaching of skills and knowledge when appropriate, but which also allow children the space and time to experience, experiment and revisit, leading to deeper learning and better understanding.
- We observe and listen to children to better understand their interests and provide opportunities/resources for child-initiated learning.
- We engage in play focused on sustained shared thinking by using use open-ended questions which will encourage children to speculate, hypothesise, question, test and interpret findings independently or as a group.
- We consider the equality of opportunity of the activities provided. All children, regardless of gender or ability, are encouraged to undertake investigations, design and build, use ICT etc. Children with additional needs are supported by the use of adapted equipment or resources where needed.
- We make effective use of the outdoor space and the local neighbourhood. Walks and outings in the local area as well as within the setting and beyond are organised and well-supported by parents/carers. These enable the children to have first-hand experience of the natural and man-made environment.
- We consider the provision of stimulating and challenging resources which encourage children to investigate and make discoveries. They ensure that a variety of reference materials are available and model research skills so children begin to learn how to find information.
- We recognise the diversity of experience, knowledge and skill which parents and other significant adults can provide, and take steps to involve them in enriching learning experiences for the children.
Provision of environment
An enabling environment we will provide children with:
- A wide range of experiences, both inside and outside of school by providing trips, walks, etc.
- Planning for learning that links in with cultural diversity such as festivals, current celebrations of key events
- Access to a variety of tools, equipment, and resources that they are shown how to use safely and appropriately.
- A diverse range of multi-sensory, motivational resources that appeal to young children, taking into account of those for whom English is a second language or who may need to use alternative communication systems, and which promote independent learning, thereby enhancing their understanding, experience, and enjoyment of finding out about the world they live in.
- Being given opportunities to satisfy their curiosity in ways that best suit them, eg by asking questions, having thinking time, looking at books, using computers, handling artefacts, making visits etc.
- Having key books, pictures, and boards in the classroom to stimulate discussion
Effective planning includes:
Medium term planning
Our plans document the termly learning objectives and what themes and key texts will be used.
We use termly data for groups which informs the termly planning where possible to meet the needs of the children.
We plan the delivery of the learning objectives using themes. These plans are evaluated weekly with staff.
Daily adult led group times ensures that every child has explicit teaching of the prime and specific areas of learning.
Observation, Assessment, Monitoring and Record-Keeping
Children’s skills and stages of development are observed and monitored by key workers and the whole teaching team. Observations may be long or short and supported by evidence by uploading this to the Famly app or pieces of work when possible. These observations also include Levels of Well-being and Involvement (Laevers).
Records of individual children’s progress and achievement are kept electronically on an assessment platform called Tinytrackers. These observations and records inform planning, identify specific targets for each child, may identify a learning difficulty or talent, and provide the school with the means to monitor cohort progress and collect data on the effectiveness of the provision.
Data collected each term will identify children requiring additional support or challenges in this specific area of learning (see Medium Term Planning).
Children’s progress in Expressive Arts and Design is shared with parents/carers during the child’s Curriculum Consultation, which is held every term. This enables two-way sharing of information and the planning of “next steps”.
Supporting All our Children’s Needs
- Provision will be made to meet the individual requirements of children with any additional needs, to enable them to make progress in the understanding of the world, and achieve their full potential, eg through specific targets as part of an Individual Support Plan.
- Staff will liaise and work closely with other professionals involved with the child and respond to the advice they offer.
- Where necessary, resources and equipment to support children with additional needs will be procured from other agencies.
At McMillan Early Childhood Centre we aim to offer children and their families a safe environment, free from harassment and discrimination, in which children’s contributions are valued and where racial and religious beliefs are respected. We aim to challenge discrimination on the grounds of race, gender, ability, or culture.
All children will be treated as individuals and they will have full access to all elements of Expressive Arts and Design provision and opportunities, regardless of race, gender, ability, or culture. Our enabling environment will take into account children’s different interests, understandings, home backgrounds and cultures.
Health & Safety – Managing Risk
The health and safety of the children will be paramount, and as with all areas of learning, we aim to ensure that the work and activities carried out by the school do not adversely affect the health and safety of other people.
By the end of their time at McMillan children should be able to:
2 year olds should:
People and communities
- In pretend play imitates everyday actions and events from own family and cultural background, e.g. making and drinking their own tea
- Remembers and talks about significant events in their own experience
- Talks about past and present events in their own life and in the lives of family members
- Is curious and interested to explore new familiar experiences and uses the developing vocabulary to describe and name such as pod, grass
- Comments and asks questions about their familiar world such as the place where they live of the natural word
- Looks closely at similarities, differences, patterns and changes in nature
- Anticipates repeated sounds, sights, and actions, e.g. when an adult demonstrates an action toy several times.
- Knows how to operate simple equipment, e.g. turns on CD player, uses a remote control, can navigate touch-capable technology with support.
- Uses ICT hardware to interact with age-appropriate computer software.
3 year olds should:
People and communities
- Has a sense of own immediate family and relations and pets
- Knows that some of the things that make them unique, and can talk about some of the similarities and differences in relation to friends or family
- Knows about similarities and differences between themselves and others, and among families, communities, cultures and traditions
- Notices detailed features of objects in their environment
- Developing an understanding of growth, decay and changes over time
- Knows about similarities and differences in relation to places, objects, materials and living things
- Shows an interest in toys with buttons, flaps, and simple mechanisms and begins to learn to operate them.
- Showing skill in making toys work by pressing parts or lifting flaps to achieve effects such as sound movements or new images.
- Can create content such as video recordings, stories, and/or draw a picture on a screen.
4 year olds should:
People and communities
- Learns that they have similarities and differences that connect them to and distinguish them from others
- Recognises and describes special times or events for family or friends
- Knows that other children do not always enjoy the same things and are sensitive to this.
- Can talk about some of the things they have observed such as plants, animals, natural and found objects
- Talks about how things happen and how things work
- Makes observations of animals and plants and explains why some things occur and talk about changes
- Seeks to acquire basic skills in turning on and operating some digital equipment.
- Knows that information can be retrieved from digital devices and the internet.
- Completes a simple program an electronic devices.
The Role of the Subject- Co-ordinator
The Subject Co-ordinator is responsible for
- The writing and reviewing of the Policy for Understanding of the world
- The development and auditing of this area of learning
- Ensuring that all children receive their entitlement to all the elements of this area of learning
- Identifying and meeting the needs of those children who show a particular talent in this are
- Identifying and meeting the needs of children with special educational needs or disability
- Monitoring and evaluating the quality of teaching and learning in this area and the children’s progress towards ELG’s
- Monitoring, maintaining and ordering resources
- Supporting colleagues in their understanding and delivery of this area of learning
- Identifying and attending relevant courses to promote continued professional development (CPD) and to feed-back to the Head-teacher and staff.
- Liaising with artists working in the school
- Ensuring equality of opportunity and access to all aspects of Expressive Arts and Design
- Liaising with the Governor with curriculum responsibility for Expressive Arts and Design in order to support their monitoring.