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What is our approach to Early Learning opportunities?

We believe that involving parents in their children’s play activities is crucial for their children’s early learning and development.

Whilst, having children can be one of the most rewarding periods in parents’ lives; it can also be a stressful time when there are additional worries such as money or housing problems (Beckley, 2012).

The Children’s Centre is a place for parents to share any concerns so that appropriate support can be given, or sought from other agencies.

We encourage regular attendance of chosen groups so that children can build on their previous play experiences with other children and adults, to extend their learning and development, and parents can take to do with their children at home.

Careful planning of the sessions ensures that they are outcome-driven, we have a rigorous evaluation and reporting process that supports our practitioners to ensure that we are continuously developing and challenging children who attend the centre. The EYFS framework is embedded in our practice and is used as a guide to planning appropriate activities according to children’s needs and stages of development.  This is further complemented with the Five to Thrive approach in parenting.  Further information on this can be found here:

What do we do to promote Early Learning?

In order to improve educational attainment, we need to understand how young children learn and provide opportunities to support their individual needs. We set out a range of activities in readiness to welcome children and parents/carers on arrival. This offers the opportunity for children to choose an area of interest for play. We do this because we may have different children attending; we often have them for the sessions and clear focus activities and outcomes that we wish to achieve in the session.  Practitioners will be readily available to feedback and share with you how what your child is gaining from activities and how you can replicate this at home.

We provide a range of activities which are advertised in our quarterly timetable which include the following and much more:

  • Stay & Play
  • Stay & Play Babies
  • SEND Stay & Play
  • Singalong & Stories
  • Music & Movement
  • Trips
  • Book Start pack gifting
  • Baby massage

Early Learning Activities

The Children’s Centre provides a range of activities for you to have fun with your children, whilst supporting their learning and development through play activities, in readiness for further learning at school.  Please have a look at our home learning tip sheets for some great ideas.  Click on the Home Learning tab.

How important is Family Learning?

  • Children spend 85% of their waking hours outside of school.At 6 years old we have learned 50% of our vocabulary.
  • Seven-year-olds who had been given books at nine months achieved results 20% higher than other children in national English, Mathematics, and Science tests.
  • We learn at the fastest rate in the first ten years of life.
  • One-third of parents are worried about helping their child with homework in case they get it wrong.
  • 41% of parents want to know how to help their children with mathematics.
  • A report written by Charles Desforges (for DfES, 2003) showed that learning at home was the biggest influence on the achievement of children aged 3 to 7.

Speech & Language

What is speech, language, and communication?

  • Speech is the sounds that build up and are expressed in words.
  • Language involves talking to describe or hold conversations and understanding   what other people say
  • Communication is the way in which language is used to interact with others (The Communication Trust, p.3)

Why is Speech and Language important?

Speech, language, and communication are all needed to express feelings, describe events, share news; and without any one of these, what children say and understand can become confused (The Communication Trust, p.3).

How does the Children’s Centre support children’s Speech and Language?

Everyone who works with young children has a responsibility to support their language development, and we do this in the Children’s Centre in partnership with parents because: ‘Early language development is critical for future learning and school readiness’ Foundation Years 2013, p1).

Communication and Language is one of the prime areas in the revised Early Years Foundation Stage, for which we plan activities to support children’s learning and development. Hence, in our activities; staff members provide opportunities for young children to make choices; sing songs and rhymes; listen to stories; play and interact with other children and adults; as individuals and in groups. All of these experiences support children’s language development.

Babies cry or smile to communicate, and toddlers may have a tantrum which again is an expression of their feelings, as they have not yet developed words to express themselves verbally. This is all part of their learning and development, however, language development can be encouraged by talking to them in simple sentences about everyday experiences such as going to the shops, repeating rhymes, and sharing a storybook together.

Parents and staff may use baby signs and symbols to support the communication of children. We have staff within the centre trained in Baby Signing to support babies’ communication.

Speech and language therapists will offer intervention to those who have been assessed to have a communication delay / needing further support.  They work closely with the Children’s Centre in the community, to support individual children’s needs.  “Early identification of speech and language difficulties is absolutely essential. The sooner a child’s needs can be identified the greater chance there is to make sure they have the correct support so they don’t get left behind” (I CAN p,1).

Please refer to our What’s on page for details on sessions to support early language and communication in children.

  • Foundation Years (2013) Early Language: Foundation Years. [s.l]: Foundation Years
  • I CAN (2010) Supporting Families. [s.l]: I CAN
  • The Communication Trust (no date) Speech, Language and Communication: Information for Managers and School Staff. London: The Communication Trust

Play Learning Groups

Reading, library visits, playing with letters, numbers, and shapes, painting and drawing, learning through play, letters of the alphabet, nursery rhymes, and singing, all help children to learn.  Whilst children learn to read at school, it is often the family that encourages this interest.

By attending the sessions that we offer at the centre, you will gain many ideas that you can take away and enjoy learning at home with your child.  Children in the foundation stage learn best through play.

“Great ideas to use a story and turn it into different ways to be active – I’ll definitely do this at home” (Parent quote, 2016)

Bookstart Packs – Children are entitled to the Bookstart Baby Pack (0-2 years) from the Health Visitor, and the Bookstart Treasure Pack (3-4 years) through your child’s nursery, these are valuable resources for you to start promoting early reading with your child at home.  If you have not received a pack please come to the centre with your red health book to collect your child’s pack.

Stay & Play Groups

Stay & Playgroups are stimulating environments where children can have fun whilst engaging in developmentally appropriate activities…we have a range of different sessions based around different areas and age groups that will ensure that you will always have something for your child to attend.  We believe in the importance of Early Learning and you will always be able to take away new ideas from our range of sessions that are on offer in order for you to continue with the learning in your home environment, be sure to pick up a tip sheet if there is one available!

Activities are aimed at improving children’s communication, language, literacy, problem-solving, reasoning, numeracy, physical and creative skills.  All sessions are planned in accordance with the EYFS and Five to Thrive frameworks, this means that children are working towards achieving clear outcomes, therefore, preparing them to be school-ready.

Children learn songs and rhymes, listen to stories and learn to share through the various activities. Parents and carers have an opportunity to make new friends and engage with their children in play outside the home environment. Parents and carers will be able to take ideas away to try at home.

Check out the What’s On page to see full details of the sessions that you can access at the Children’s Centre and outreach venues.


Free books to support you to enjoy books with your child from an early age.  Bookstart Baby Pack (0-2 Years) and Bookstart Treasure Pack (3-4 Years) are available from the centre.

For more information check out the Bookstart Website:


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