At Rachel Keeling we are always reflecting on the dispositions we want children to develop.
We ensure our environment, provision and interactions support the effective development of independence, confidence, communication, resilience, empathy and joy for learning. Over the past two weeks one practitioner has led a small group of children on a journey to develop these dispositions on their own research projects. I have shared two examples above but others were also involved in their own projects and indeed other children were inspired to set about designing and making without any adult support!
Children were supported in the workshop area to think about what they would like to make: they were given stimuli and time. Once they had a few ideas, they used books and the internet to research further. They gathered images and vocabulary and then planned their creations: drawing and mark making their ideas. Children resourced themselves for the process and
Children returned to this on a daily basis as they chose to and really took the lead in their learning. A practitioner was on hand to be co-collaborator and support the children's thinking. What was incredible was the process-led learning that took place. The children had a vision but they remained open-minded as they worked alone and alongside others. They really included other children in the process, asking them to help paint and fix parts.
On days when some adults can lack agency, our children really demonstrated they had bags of it!
Our annual visit from Step Out Arts has arrived and the children really were thrilled with yet another series of sensational shows!
We kicked off with Lion and Ribbon Dances for groups of our morning children, then some children enjoyed a music workshop, exploring instruments we had never seen before.
After lunch there was more Lion and Ribbon Dance Workshops. The grand finale was a huge Lion Procession through the garden with our children joining the procession and leading at some points.
This day of celebration sits alongside children researching and finding out about Chinese New Year: the traditions and the festivities. Children will be cooking and sharing some Chinese food, reading the story of the Chinese Zodiac, exploring a number of Chinese artefacts and exploring Chinese calligraphy.
Here's to a year filled with love, health, prosperity and good luck for all.
We recognise the importance of our children engaging in sensory play and developing independence. We support all children to take part in cooking and messy play experiences during their time with us at Rachel Keeling. This week Nazma led a very well attended family learning workshop in the garden. Children worked alongside their mums, dads, aunties and grandmas following a non-cook playdough recipe, exploring measurements and language, discussing changes and finally ending up with a lovely, large batch of dough to each take home.
These workshops serve as a wonderful showcase of how we work with children, supporting turn taking, demonstrating how young children respond to our high expectations and being given responsibility.
We have found over time that some family workshops work best with adults only: Boundaries, Relaxation, Healthy Lifestyles, Toilet Training, Communication & Singing and Special Books. Whereas others are more powerful held in the environment and with children: Early Mark Making and Reading, Cooking, Messy Play, Developing Physical Skills and Cycling.
We have also found involving a range of staff in delivering the workshops is effective with some staff developing skills in doing so and others keen performers. Key workers also support families through regular meetings to discuss children's progress and share achievements as well as discussing next steps in learning.
The purpose of our workshops is to engage with all our wonderful families and share our Rachel Keeling ethos so children's learning continues beyond our garden gate and into the later lives of our children and their families.
Cooking is an incredibly accessible way for children to find out about and share different cultures and traditions. We support our children to develop positive attitudes to a variety of new foods and focus on the social aspect of sharing and enjoying healthy food and drink. Children take part in preparing and clearing up after meals and this supports the school community. We all help to make the school day run smoothly.
Our cooking area is structured to promote independence and children can access ingredients with ease. Visual, clear recipes are used to enable children to follow them with little adult help (and some with no adult help at all!) Children often demonstrate skills they have developed from home cooking: peeling, chopping, mashing, whisking, stirring, folding and kneading.
As with all our experiences at Rachel Keeling, we approach cooking as a process: from consulting about what to cook through to washing up at the end and sharing or taking the food home.