Learning and Curriculum

At Knowle West Nursery School (KWNS) we believe that young children learn best when they are actively engaged with the world around them and supported by an emotionally available adult who knows them and their family well.

At KWNS we follow the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and the four principles of the EYFS guide our everyday interactions.

The Characteristics of Effective Learning are also embedded in all we do. These help children to become independent learners where they develop curiosity, focus, problem-solving skills, thinking skills and positive attitudes to learning.

The EYFS curriculum is divided in to seven key areas of learning and development and we place a strong emphasis is on the Prime Areas.

Prime Areas

Personal, Social and Emotional Development

We provide children with learning experiences which will help them to develop a positive sense of themselves and of others. We support them to learn social skills so that they can collaborate, make friendships and feel a sense of belonging. We support children’s emotional development so that they can   understand their own feelings and those of others.

  • Making relationships is the importance of children forming good relationships with others and working alongside them companionably. Relationships are central to children’s learning. Children need to feel safe, loved and nurtured if they are to become happy, healthy, motivated learners.
  • Sense of Self is children having a sense of their own value and understanding the need for sensitivity to significant events in their own and other people’s lives.
  • Understanding Emotions is how children build their self-regulation skills, express their emotions and read emotions in others.

Physical Development

We support children’s physical development by providing opportunities for young children to be active, inside and outside. We help to build their gross motor skills: core strength, stability, balance, spatial awareness, coordination and agility. And we focus on their fine motor skills so that they can are able to use and manipulate small tools and mark making implements such as pencils and paintbrushes.

We enable them to use all their senses to learn about the world around them and make connections between new information and what they know already.

  • Moving and Handling are the ways in which children use a range of small and large equipment.
  • They learn to move with confidence, imagination and safety, with an awareness of space, themselves and others.
  • Health and Self-Care are how children learn the importance of keeping healthy by what they eat and being active. They gain a sense of self-respect and concern for their own personal hygiene and care and they develop independence.

Communication and Language

It is fundamental that children develop their communication skills in order to be confident in their lives and community. We support children by; encouraging them to communicate in their way, developing their language through conversations, play, stories and everyday situations.

We introduce new words to extend their language that they can use in a range of situations.

  • Language for Communication (including speaking) is how children become communicators in a variety of ways; non-verbal to start with, facial expressions, eye contact, gestures, signs and spoken word.
  • Language for Thinking is how children use language to talk through what they are thinking, imagining or planning to do next.Listening, Attention and Understanding is being able to follow instructions, as well as joining in with group activities, and to show increased focus, attention and concentration.

Specific Areas


  • Linking sounds and letters is how children make the connection that spoken words can be written down. This will help them learn to read and write in time.
  • We provide opportunities for children to explore different sounds through music, rhyme, rhythm and alliteration.
  • Reading is how children understand and enjoy stories, rhymes and books, recognising that print carries meaning.
  • Writing is how children build on the understanding that spoken words can be written down. We provide opportunities for children to make marks in lots of different ways. We encourage children to give a meaning to their marks and we value all the marks that they make so they see themselves as competent writers.


We support children’s mathematical understandings by developing their skills and knowledge in a range of real situations. We provide the opportunities for them to investigate, play with, practise and talk about their developing understandings.

We also introduce new mathematical language to support children in talking through what they find out and how to use their mathematical ideas to solve mathematical problems.

Children learn maths through playing with water, sand, sorting objects, playing with shapes, making patterns, going to the shops and how old they are.

  • Numbers and Calculating is how children learn to count and the purpose for numbers and counting in real-life situations. It includes how children develop an awareness of the relationship between numbers and amounts and know that amounts can be combined, separated and taken away.
  • Spatial Awareness, Shape, Pattern and Measure is how through play and talk children learn about different measures and shapes in real life situations. They learn the purpose of measuring, for example, through cooking and learn the vocabulary to describe size, weight, capacity and shape.

Understanding of the World

We support children in developing their knowledge, skills and understanding that helps them make sense of the world in which they live.

We help them to answer their own questions about their world and where they fit within it. We offer lots of opportunities to explore the natural world and how we need to take care of it.

  • People and Communities is about how children begin to know about their own and other people’s cultures and beliefs in order to understand the diverse society within which they live. We support children to find out about past and present events relevant to them, their lives and those of their family.
  • The World (Exploration and Investigation) is about how children become more aware of their natural world and their local area. They investigate objects and materials and make their own experiments. They are encouraged and supported in asking questions and discovering their own answers.
  • Technology is how children learn about constructing and making things, learning to use a range of tools effectively and safely, including ICT.

Expressive Arts and Design

We support children’s creativity by providing opportunities for them to express themselves, and communicate their ideas thoughts and feelings through a variety of materials and media.

  • Creating with Materials is how children respond to what they see, hear, smell, touch. We provide opportunities for them to explore and find out about colour, textures, shapes and forms in two and three dimensions. We provide a range of resources for the children to investigate and work out what they can do with them.
  • Being Imaginative and Expressive is how children can develop their imaginations and respond to experiences through story, role play, imaginative play, dance, music, maths, design and art.
  • Dance and Music enables children to explore movement and sound including singing. It focuses on how to make different sounds using a range of resources including musical instruments. Children can explore representing their ideas through moving their own bodies.

Please refer to our KWNS Teaching and Learning policy for more information.

Please see bristolearlyyears.org.uk for more information about education in the early years in Bristol.

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