Learning at school, learning at home

At Castle Vale Nursery School we want children to achieve their full potential and become the best little person they can be

Castle Vale Nursery School


Learning in School

Children learn through play and build their confidence as they learn to explore, relate to others, set their own goals and solve problems. They learn by leading their own play, and by taking part in play which is guided by adults. We carefully plan all the learning, development and experiences that we want our children to have to prepare them for each stage of their education with us and beyond. Working with our parents as partners is an essential part of this as children can achieve more when we work together.

We use Tapestry as a way of sharing photos and videos of your child’s learning and development with you and suggest ideas of things you can continue to support them with at home. You can also use Tapestry as a way of sharing your child’s learning and development from home with us. Your child may have learnt to do something really important at home like riding a bike or chopping vegetables for dinner. We value these home learning experiences.

Parent Workshops

Throughout your child’s time at Nursery, we will run lots of parent workshops. This is a great opportunity for you to come in to Nursery and see how amazing your children are throughout the year. You will be able to find about the different things we do to support your child’s learning, in a fun and creative way.

We have extremely high expectations of our children and even then they exceed our expectations time and time again. We know that giving children the skills to be independent means they can access their learning in the best way possible. To support this, we provide an environment in which children can try, sometimes fail, and try again in safety. We encourage the children to do as much as they can for themselves. We will support the children but we will never do things for them. We promote independence throughout all we do.

With this we teach persistence encouraging children to keep trying, even if a task is hard. Persistence is the extent to which a child continues his/her planned course of action in spite of difficulty or obstacles. In an international study it was shown when comparing the differences between children with high levels of persistence and those rated as having low levels of persistence, it was found that the children with high levels of persistence had greater development across all measures and were 12 months ahead in physical development, 11 months ahead in literacy and 8 months ahead in numeracy.

Children can access both outdoors and indoors throughout their sessions. Outdoor play is available every day in every weather except electrical storms. Please send them in clothing that means they will be comfortable to do this. We will also ensure children are dressed in clothing appropriate to the weather before they access outdoors and will monitor their wellbeing throughout the session, intervening when appropriate.

During their time at our Nursery School, your child will have regular opportunities to access wonderful learning experiences. We have different areas of learning that change throughout the year depending on the needs and interests of the children.


In our café, your child will have daily access to cereals and a drink of water or milk in the mornings and fruit in the afternoons. Your child will learn important self-help skills like washing up and drying up after themselves and cleaning up any spillages. Your child will also help to prepare Nursery dinners. They may make fork biscuits, chop vegetables for a salad, chop vegetables for a pizza and help to prepare it, make a fruit salad for pudding. They will also learn about healthy lifestyles through our Startwell activities.

Making Bread

Our children often make bread. This is something we do quite regularly because it provides so many opportunities for learning. It can start as a sensory activity, feeling all the different textures of the ingredients. Smelling and tasting additional extras (garlic, herbs, tomatoes) and the final warm product. It provides opportunity to understand that bread is made from a number of ingredients and changing states of the ingredients. It provides discussion around safety and keeping safe around ovens and heat. It promotes mathematical language and understanding of capacity. It strengthens big muscles through kneading and small through using tools, both are essential for writing. It encourages communication and speech. It can also lead to writing of ingredients lists and recipes. It leads to home school links with families making bread at home. It is also very tasty!


Outside play is just as important as inside play. Your child will have lots of opportunities to develop their core muscles and gross motor skills as they climb, balance and jump off things. These large movements are important and support children’s future writing skills. We also have a woodwork area in our outdoor space were your child can experience (with support of an adult) how to use tools like hammers and saws safely.

A big part of giving children the skills to be independent is being responsible for their learning environment. This includes looking after the garden and outdoor spaces around Nursery. Your child will have lots of experiences of weeding, planting and watering plants. They will also grow herbs and vegetables and use these as part of their cooking experiences.

Experiences of Animals

Animal Man – the Animal Man visits us three times a year. He brings a selection of exotic animals like giant millipedes and tarantulas and other animals he rescues like rabbits and guinea pigs. Your child will have the opportunity to hold or stroke these animals each time.

We have chickens, rabbits, fish and guinea pigs that the children help to look after. By looking after something else, it helps your child to become the best little person they can be. With support, your child will be responsible for giving our animals food, water and a safe and clean home to sleep in.

In the Spring and Summer Term the children have the opportunity to explore life cycles by watching chicks hatch and caterpillars turning into butterflies

Celebrations and Assemblies

We are a Rights Respecting School. We value all our children, families and staff. We celebrate all the different cultures and religions in our school. We are an inclusive setting and our ethos and curriculum encourages our children to be independent, make good relationships and make good choices.

We meet as a large group on Fridays to talk about our rights, British Values and any celebrations. Children will also receive certificates celebrating many different achievements including being kind, helpful, persevering as well as successes.


Throughout the year, your children will have the opportunity to go on trips. These can be as exciting as going on the coach to the farm or as small as walking to the park or the shops.

Learning at Home

Early Words Together Programme

Early Words Together is a programme that we are trained in from the National Literacy Trust to work with parents and children aged three to five. It builds parents’ confidence over the course of 5 weekly sessions so that they can support their children’s communication, language and literacy skills at home.

The sessions are fun, practical and interactive whilst you learn skills to:

  • Extend your child’s language
  • Support your child to tune into sounds
  • Talk about books with your children and ask questions when reading
  • Support your child’s early mark making
  • Use everyday experiences to develop your child’s language

These sessions are targeted at children who need extra support with their communication, language and literacy skills. We run these workshops each half term and aim to include as many parents and children as possible. If you are not able to attend any of the sessions or you want help with your child’s communication and language and literacy skills at home without attending the sessions, we will provide ideas for support on Tapestry.

Using Tapestry

We use Tapestry to share the learning taking for your child. We will also give ideas of how you can extend this learning further at home. We would love to see pictures or videos of you and your child learning at home.

We also post videos of your child’s story of the week you can share at home too.

Reading at home

When your child starts Nursery, we will provide a wide range of reading experiences to help your children develop a love of reading, curiosity and wonder about the world around them. The focus at this age is on sharing stories, songs, and rhymes together and building talking and listening skills. Language comprehension (necessary for both reading and writing) starts from birth. It only develops when adults talk with children about the world around them and the books (stories and non-fiction) they read with them, and enjoy rhymes, poems and songs together.

Stories are an important part of life. Loving printed books and developing an enjoyment of looking at or hearing stories is a key part of early years. Reading aloud to children is one of the best ways to share the pleasure of books and reading. It helps to bring books alive for children and is enjoyable. It’s also important because listening to stories helps children develop as readers. They learn how stories go and how books work and begin to become familiar with the language of books. They will develop their understanding of the ideas in stories, learn to recognise jokes and begin to predict what might happen next. As children are read to and enjoy picture books and rhymes with their parents they begin to ‘read’ books for themselves, using their memory of the story. As children continue to have more experience of books and stories, they start to focus on the page more and may recognise some letters, particularly familiar ones like those from their name. When children do begin to read for themselves, all these early experiences of books, stories and talk they have had with adults is crucial.

Shared experiences of language and life can help children to make sense of stories. They will be able to realise whether a sentence ‘sounds right’ and begin to be able to make a ‘best-guess’ for reading the words. Children use the patterns and rhythms of a book to help them read fluently. In the earlier stages, this will be retelling a story. Children will turn the pages and use their memory of the story or pictures or both, to keep the story going. Research shows that the amount of input young children receive from the adults around them makes a big difference to how children learn to read and write.

We will use Tapestry as a way of sharing stories, songs and rhymes that children are accessing at Nursery. We will share videos of key workers reading stories or singing songs that you can share with your children at home. We may also send YouTube links of these stories or songs.

Taking books home

Your children will have plenty of opportunities to take books home during their time at Nursery. They will have access to a range of stories and rhymes. Each book will come with some ideas of things you can do or talk about further as children become more familiar with the story. It is fine for children to take home the same book more than once. There may be several times throughout the year or years, that your child has a book they’ve already read. Reading books over and over again helps children to develop favourites. It helps them to become confident retelling it and talking about it because they are so familiar with the story. It helps them to make connections with their own experiences and ask questions.

Please read to your children every day. Bedtime is the perfect time to have some quiet time together and snuggle with a story.

Before reading

Find somewhere quiet to read. If you can, turn off the TV, radio or IPad etc. Without distractions, you will both enjoy the story. Your child could hold the book and turn the pages.

Think about:

  • What the children already know. Have they read this story before? What can they remember about it?
  • When the book is familiar, talk about what you like about the book.

Questions you can ask:

  • Can you point to the title?
  • Or What is this? (pointing to the title)
  • What do you think this story will be about? What might happen in the story?
  • What do we call the writing on the back of the book? (Blurb)
  • What does the blurb tell us?

During reading

  • Talk about the pictures – what can you see?
  • Stop and talk about the characters
  • What has happened so far?
  • What might happen next?
  • How do you think the story might end?
  • What sort of character is….? Is he/she friendly/ mean/nice…?

At the end of the book:

  • Did you like this book? Why? (Encourage children to develop their opinion about books by encouraging them to explain their reasons)
  • What was your favourite part? Why?
  • What was the most interesting/ exciting part of the book? Can you find it?
  • What sort of character was….?
  • Why did that character do …(give a situation/ event from the story)?
  • What happened in the story?
  • How does the story make you feel?
  • What do you think about the ending of the story?