Our committed focus on outdoor education supports a multitude of learning opportunities such as the management of risk taking, independence and physical development, as well as being lots of fun!
Research now acknowledges that children are stimulated by the outdoors and over time experience an increase in their self-belief, confidence, learning capacity, enthusiasm, communication, problem-solving skills and emotional well-being. This new found confidence is then taken on into school and into other areas of their lives.
Activities such as walks through the woods, storytelling around the fire, crossing streams and tree climbing are all carefully monitored and risk-assessed allowing the children to feel safe and at home in nature.
Every Child Matters
We strongly believe that every child matters and strive to meet the varying needs of all children. Our qualified and dedicated team do this by offering carefully planned play and exploration opportunities that are fun, meaningful, interactive and engaging to all. We ensure the children are at the centre of their learning, directing their own experiences at their own pace.
We have daily circle times for song, sharing and storytelling that promote and support speech, language and role play. This daily rhythm helps to provide a safe and secure setting in which the children feel confident to take risks within their learning.
A Smooth Transition:
One of the benefits of working alongside Michaelchurch Escley Primary School (see above) is to allow a smooth transition into the early years of formal education.
By sharing occasional planning meetings with staff, working alongside the older children and sharing resources, the children will have an awareness of the setting, enjoy already established relationships with the older children and have an early understanding of the school day.
Transition days will be in place for the older children at the latter end of the school year and be beneficial for all children, regardless of which Primary School they are moving on to.
Our dedicated team bring skills and knowledge from areas of Primary Education, Outdoor Learning Management and Early Years childcare. All staff have been professionals in their respective fields for a number of years.
Michaelchurch Preschool brings extensive knowledge of how to develop positive, nurturing relationships, how to create successful learning environments, and effective assessment of the children in our care to ensure all needs are met. We plan our weekly sessions alongside the statutory Early Years Foundation Stage Framework (EYFS) and are forging links to outside organisations (such as The Save Childhood Movement) to ensure we are continually delivering a high standard of service.
Most importantly...we love what we do!
The Wider Community
We feel it is important to nurture links with parents and the wider community and encourage parents and carers to share their ideas and integrate themselves into the setting to help create a home from home atmosphere.
Michaelchurch Escley Primary Schoool playground - also used by preschool children
Our Forest School Day
The Forest School sessions aim to promote the holistic development of all those involved (adults included): nurturing emotional, physical and intellectual growth and fostering resilient, confident, independent and creative learners.
In our modern world, even here in our beautiful county, and rural countryside, children are often allowed surprisingly little time to become aware of the fact that a relationship with nature is intrinsic to all human beings. We may forget that its development provides numerous opportunities for learning and growth, for fun and self-expression.
A whole day in our outdoor environment helps to support the relationship between children and the natural world. For me it is also a time to be truly present with the children and meet their innate wonder in the world around them with respect and inner quiet.
The opportunities offered build on innate motivation, positive attitudes and personal interests. The sessions also encourage co-operation and relationship building appropriate to the age of the children. This leads to the development of clear communication and emotional intelligence (how one uses emotions in solving problems).
An emphasis on the unique beauty of each season is a focus at Michaelchurch Escley pre-school: in Spring we watch the buds unfurling and learn about our own growth, in Summer we watch the flowers thrive and press flowers and leaves and notice patterns and colours, in Autumn we play in the golden leaves and make homes for hibernating creatures, in Winter we gather and saw wood and clear pathways, we listen to stories around the fire and make food for ourselves and the hungry birds.
Each week we run our forest school day in a familiar rhythm so the children can relax in the knowledge they know what comes next. We usually begin with greetings and free play and sometimes a song or two. Then we go on our ‘adventure’ down to the river and the woodland taking a picnic rug for our snack and a basket to gather firewood or blackberries or other treasures.
We get back to the hall in time for lunch. Then a quiet story time follows, usually inside in winter, then we go to the Spinney often to light a fire and watch the flames or cook popcorn or marshmallows and maybe hear and tell stories. We make mud soups in the mud kitchen and often make a simple craft or learn about the many plants and creatures we share the Spinney with.
In short all children benefit from outdoor play that allows them to be active and self-directed. Outdoor play means the children can learn by touching, feeling, seeing, smelling, hearing and responding emotionally. It is a multisensory experience that helps support healthy development and wellbeing and lays important foundations for future learning.
Forest Schools Leader
Kirsty Stewart – Preschool Manager
My career started in PA work for various industries, including Legal, Sales, Marketing, Engineering, Fashion and Education.
My first introduction to the Education industry was at an Infant school in North London where I was involved in finance management and reporting for the school, working closely with the Head Teacher, dealing with parents, children and teachers on a daily basis. This is where my desire to work with children became a reality. My favourite teacher at Primary school told me I shouldn’t be a teacher when I was 9 and I spent the next 25 years trying to work out what I wanted to do.
From there I secured a position in a nursery, working in the office and covering in the baby room. This developed into doing the NVQ level2 in Childcare and working with Preschool children and later helping to run the breakfast and afterschool clubs. I then decided to become a childminder so I could be at home with my children, who are now 15 and 6.
I completed the Level 3 diploma in childcare along with many training courses, as a childminder you have to cover every role.
I joined the team at Michaelchurch Preschool in December 2014 after closing my childminding business of nearly 5 years and we opened the Preschool in January 2015.
Hattie Duke – Forest School Leader