Characteristics of Effective Learning

Children need to engage with others in and around their environment. At Fernbank the children explore their surroundings through play. Active children are motivated to try, achieve by doing and by being involved which in turn helps towards concentration. Children have their own ideas and from these they can make links and choose ways to do things.

Personal, Social and Emotional Development

Children at Fernbank nursery are provided with a wide range of experiences and support which help them develop a positive sense of themselves and of others at our nursery and into their home life.  This promotes the concept of “the unique child.”  Children are encouraged to respect themselves, learn to share with others (one of the hardest things for a child to learn in our opinion) to listen to each other and to take turns.

All children are encouraged to care for each other, the toys in the nursery and in our outdoor play area.   Siblings are not separated as we operate from one large room, thus helping all children to feel safe and secure and ready to learn.

We offer a healthy snack during our sessions at a specific table in the nursery.   This is treated as a social occasion and children are free to access the snack table at a time of their choosing.  This enables children to persevere at their chosen activity until they are happy with their final result instead of being interrupted at their “eureka” moment.

For children who stay for lunch, have the option of providing a packed lunch or a cooked lunch, which is provided by Lammack Community Primary School.   Children eat their lunch in a separate room within the nursery building but can see older children from school, dining at the same time.

A child will not begin to learn until they feel safe and secure within the nursery.  As a consequence of the staff work extremely hard to develop a child’s confidence that “I can do it” rather than will you do it for me.  All staff constantly offer praise to a child for “Having a go” as they attempt to learn a new skill such as taking part in our “Christmas concerts” or other new activities that they may not have tried before such as pedalling a bike, putting on a coat to go out to play.   This in turn builds “positive relationships” for your child whilst in our care.

Once a child is confident in their abilities they will then learn to take and manage risks, such as the climbing wall or sliding down our fireman’s pole.

 Physical Development

We are now in the position to offer more challenging outdoor play as a result of our recent extension.   Children need to learn to take risks, to enable them to understand about danger.  However our outdoor area is a soft surface area, thus minimising the risks associated from falling.

Bikes are available on our road track area for our children who are into “rotation play.”    For our children whose interests lie in “enveloping play” we have a large sand pit for them to bury their legs, treasure, each other ect, in.   For our “trajectory learners” we have the climbing tower, footballs and large area for them to just run around in.  Under the climbing tower is a small den area for our children who learn by “enclosure/containing.  We also have tents, tarps and other materials for the children to make dens out of.

To further develop a child’s fine motor skills we offer playdoh, digging in the sand and mud, threading activities, lace boards.  All these are important activities to develop a good pincer grip which will enable your child to begin to mark make and form letters, ready for the next stage of their school life.    Physical development also includes the child being aware of the effects of exercise on their bodies.  All the children and staff take part in “Wake and Shake” on a daily basis and talk about the effect of excise on their bodies.   We then rest and monitor our heartbeats, feeling them return to normal, thus promoting the concept of exercise being good for you.  If the children see the adults having a go, they will too. We also have the use of the school hall twice a week to further develop their gross motor skills.

We promote good hygiene by staff being good role models for the children.  Children are encouraged to wash their hands after using the toilet, before eating their snack and after sneezing.  Tissues are available for runny noses.  For children who stay for lunch, nursery provides toothbrushes so that we can clean our teeth after eating.

For children whom require a sleep we have soft mats and bedding available and beds can be made up in a quiet area of the nursery for a child to sleep.  Children are NEVER left alone whilst they sleep, a staff member or student will sit with the child throughout their sleep time.

Communication and language

A child’s learning and competence in communicating, speaking and listening is promoted throughout our nursery.   We have bi-lingual staff for children who have English as an additional language.

Children are encouraged to follow instructions involving several ideas and actions through play.  Children are confident to ask and answer the ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions through their experiences and in response to stories and events.

Children feel confident to talk about their past and present experiences accurately when talking about events that have happened or are about to happen.

At Fernbank children develop their own narratives and explanations by connecting ideas and events through careful questioning and prompting by the staff i.e encouraging the children to become independent learners thinking through a problem or a challenge.

All children are encouraged to develop their skills through both verbal and non-verbal communication.   We work with the Early Years Speech and Language team, incorporating the most up- to-date practice to promote listening and spoken words.

Staff have undergone training in makaton and BSL and this can be seen during our singing sessions as children learn to sign as well as sing songs.    Thus our “learning and developing” uses all variations of communication.

Specific Areas


We operate a library system to promote a love of books, and have various books on offer within the nursery for children to read or have a story read to them by staff and students.  We usually finish off our sessions with a story prior to the children going home.

We use “Jolly Phonics” everyday to develop the correct pronunciation of letters which gives our children a good start once in school with their emergent reading.   Our fully qualified music teacher delivers music sessions on her weekly visits. During the Spring and Summer terms she carefully plans musical lessons which links to the letters and sounds programme.

Mark making equipment is available at all times indoor and outdoors for children to draw, write and colour and is available as an independent activity for the children to undertake at all times.


Children are encouraged to develop their understanding of mathematics through the various activities we have on offer throughout the day.   Number lines can be seen both inside and in our outdoor play areas.  Block play is available on a daily basis to promote the exploration of shape, space and patterns and encourage the use of mathematical language to describe them.   We have larger duplo in which the children can design towers, walls etc in our outdoor play area thus taking math concepts into the outdoor environment.

Numbers are incorporated into our team times through our “Beanie song” sung at the beginning and end of keyworker time.  We sing number songs throughout the week as children have free access to our CD player and musical cd’s and singing nursery rhymes at the end of our session.

We take part in baking activities as this is an excellent way to promote an understanding of quantities and once completed, the children take home the finished product.  Children with allergies are catered for, such as nut, dairy with specific recipes followed for these children, thus ensuring that at Fernbank Nursery “Every child Matters”

Through continuous provision, children have the opportunity to practice and extend their skills with regard to mathematical concepts at a pace suitable for each child.  Staff are on hand to extend your child’s development through “sustained shared thinking” by asking appropriate questions or offering appropriate comments to enhance your child’s learning.

When in keyworker groups, numbers are promoted such as counting how many children are in the group today, how many toys do we need so that everyone has one, how many spaces are their at the snack table and so on and so forth.

Understanding the World

Understanding the world can be summed up in a few words.  Who, what, where, when, why and how?    This enables your child to make sense of the world around them.   We make full use of our recently developed and extended secure outdoor play area in all weather conditions.   Children use waterproof nursery coats/leggings to play out in so that they are not going home in wet coats.  We do play out in the rain as we supply the appropriate clothing to do so.  We have a couple of planters for the children to plant vegetables, flowers etc, or for some children to dig for worms and slugs!!  This is all part of learning about the natural environment.  We also have a large fish aquarium inside the nursery for the children to look at and take care of these animals.

We celebrate various cultural events throughout the year to enable children to develop an understanding of cultures different to their own.  We also have multi-cultural resources to support this learning.  This promotes an “enabling environment” for all children to learn in.

Children have free access to our computer, not however the internet and can be seen instructing each other on how to access various age appropriate resources.  We also have other electronic media for the children to play and learn.   We do not have a television set in the nursery and have no plans to introduce one.   We prefer children to have first hand experiences rather than sitting and watching someone else do what they may like to do.

The concept of time can be difficult for young children to understand, nevertheless we use sound prompts to stimulate the various sections of our sessions.  Children will hear bells to indicate that our ‘Wake and Shake’ session is about to begin. We sing our beanie song to indicate that it is time to take part in a keyworker session or hear tambourines as a sign to tidy up the nursery and get ready for our end of session story time.

We have taken part in fund raising activities for charities such as Children in Need and Red Nose Day with the children and staff dressing up, baking biscuits and selling them to parents. We also collect food items for our  ‘Harvest Festival’ where we donate the food to elderly local people.

 Expressive Arts and Design

Children’s creativity is not just a piece of paper with their work on it; it is so much more than that.   Children can be creative with the way they play our musical instruments as they are free to use them every day.    We also have a music teacher who visits every week to develop our children’s appreciation of music from various cultures as part of the creating movement and dance section of creative development.    We make full use of Lammack Community Primary School hall as we take part in music and movement as a whole group on a weekly basis and have very good links with the school.

They can be doctors, nurses, train drivers, bride and groom in our role play area which is changed on a topic basis or more often if the activity on offer is no longer accessed by the children.  We are never afraid to go back to the drawing board if an activity has not worked out the way we have planned.

Our designers of the future may spend hours with duplo, block play, creating the buildings of the future but as its not something to take home parents may feel they are not being creative.  They are, but not with a piece of paper to prove it!!  Staff do take photographs of the children’s work, and where possible display it when the child is collected at the end of their session.

To explore a child’s senses we have planted various items including herbs in our garden area. We also have access to the schools ‘wild life area’ which gives the children the opportunity to experience nature in all it’s glory under canvas. In the past we have looked closely at large fish (herring, mackerel, and dog fish) as part of a project on Inuit’s and the snow.   We have painted with our hands and feet (See pictures on this site).  We have painted representative pictures of Van Gogh’s “sunflowers of daffodils in honour of St David’s day as we celebrate all the patron saints of the United Kingdom.