What We Offer

What We Offer

Cowgate under 5’s Centre is designed to be a little world for children that mirrors the real world around them. The environment itself is highly structured and rarely changed (unless for a very good reason) and this promotes security and continuity for the children. Children are able to come into the centre, decide what they will do, know that it will be there and where it will be situated.
Cowgate under 5’s Centre is a workshop where children can explore, experiment and create both inside and out.

Experiences are carefully balanced throughout the day.  Painting, drawing, modelling, handcrafts, baking, sand and water play, woodwork and other challenging and stimulating experiences awaken our youngest children to the wonders of their own creativity and learning.  The rich imagery of fairy tales and poetry, plays and songs nourish the child’s language and feelings.
Circle games and time in the garden increase physical strength, agility and grace.  Seasonal festivals foster a meaningful connection with nature. For our very young, heuristic play offers the opportunity to touch, transport and discover. For our older children, mind mapping enables them to confidently share their thoughts and ideas, and consolidate their knowledge on a huge variety of subjects.

These experiences are offered to the children at all times as learning is developmental and if we are to promote deep level learning children need to be able to revisit these whenever the need arises. Because the experiences are always available children are able to plan in advance what they might do and to continue to develop existing work. Some children may develop a piece of work over a number of days and this is important for the development of both concentration and perseverance, important prerequisites for later learning. These experiences provide a framework for children to explore, experience and create and develop their own interests.

Children‘s progress is measured in the increasingly sophisticated use that they make of the range of experiences offered. Children quickly learn and understand the few and basic rules which are attached to each area and often help to teach these to others, usually younger children in their class.

The experiences we offer provide a rich and stimulating curriculum for very young children. Each experience has at least one aspect of each of the five areas of learning outlined in our curriculum guidance.
For example cookery has:
Several Languages elements: reading recipe books, following instructions, talking, discussing and describing different states e.g. sticky, hard, soft, language of colour etc.
Several Mathematics elements: weighing and measuring, counting, estimating, concepts and language of more and less, concepts and ideas of time.
Technologies or Science aspects: changes of state before and after cooking, consistency, using recipes/modifying recipes e.g. how do we make currant cake? — add currants to basic cake recipes, selecting appropriate tools for the task.
Expressive arts aspects: making a cake, icing it, choosing colours, designs for biscuits, pizza topping etc.
Health and Wellbeing aspects : cutting, chopping, manipulating, stirring, rolling etc.

Social aspects: developing increasing independence in doing an adult task, sharing, working as part of a small group, considering others, developing skills and also confidence and self esteem.

All experiences at Cowgate Under 5’s Centre are open-ended and allow for continuous progression and development. They meet our criteria from our curriculum {s} i.e. for identifying rich and satisfying educational experiences for our children. They should not have a pre or adult determined outcome and they should offer the children the opportunity to continually develop a range of skills whilst carrying out a given task.

Choosing an activity at Cowgate Under 5’s centre is an important part of our curriculum, but choice and decision are only effective in the education of very young children if the choices they make are between experiences that are equal in their richness and in the opportunities they offer to develop skills.

Choice is therefore important at Cowgate Under 5’s Centre as early education is education for life and life is about making a range of difficult choices. The earlier that young children can start to make discriminations which become increasingly refined, the easier they will find it to make choices as adults.

With choice comes a set of very limited and simple rules which make sense to the children as they are embedded in a meaningful context — if you choose to cook you choose to wash up. If you choose to do woodwork you choose to follow our safety rules, respect the tools and replace them safely. Everyone is able to access our curriculum materials but equally everyone must take responsibility for tidying them away. If you choose to do finger painting at any time of the day that‘s fine but you choose to clean away. Obviously the children get to know the areas very well and are able to follow any rules and access equipment very well — this allows the adult to observe the children and extend their experiences wherever possible through sustained conversation and thinking.

The key experiences act as a framework or jumping off point for the children who can then go on to create their own experiences with the help of adults e.g. making a handbag at the sewing, creating a bird table or organizing a shop. Adult reference books are used to help children move beyond the basic framework, architectural books are provided at the blocks, gardening reference books for outdoor and displays.

Children of all abilities and stages of development can access these activities. Progression is made against each individual child‘s previous level of skills and not in competition with other children. Every child is praised for effort and progression is viewed by the adults as a continuum which continues forever, as all our experiences can be pursued at adult as well as child level.

The nature of our experiences make them very accessible to all children in the centre. They can pursue these activities successfully at whatever level of development they may be e.g. a child who picks up a hammer or book is viewed by staff as ‘doing work‘ or ‘reading‘ at some level. This process model of curriculum enhances children‘s confidence and self esteem. As they gain mastery over their environment children become increasingly independent which in turn enhances their confidence and self esteem. Our curriculum is delivered through play as play is the medium through which children of nursery age learn best.

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