Our teddy bear room, suitable for babies and toddlers, is separated from the main room by a purpose-built folding wall. The room has age-appropriate toys, equipment and resources. Our room and staffing levels mean we can accept 6 babies at one time. However, we do consider the ages of the babies we accept. for instance, we wouldn’t accept 6 newborn babies without increasing our staffing levels to ensure all babies receive the appropriate amount of 1:1 time with their key person.
Birth to walking
Until babies can walk confidently they will spend a larger proportion of their time in the teddy bear room. This is so they can have a safe space to learn grow and develop in their own time. We will make opportunities, weather permitting, to go outside in the garden or on trips around the area for some fresh air. During quieter sessions, we may take babies on a one to one basis into our larger room or into our toddler groups for a change of scenery.
Walking to 2 years old
Our older babies will have all the opportunities the pre-walking ones have. As well as this they will be encouraged, under supervision, to explore the larger room when the older children are playing outside and will have their own opportunity to play in the garden with age-appropriate equipment. We also have the sole use of the large toddler room several times a week which will give extra opportunities for a change of environment and a larger space to develop gross motor skills. As they get closer to 2 years old they will begin to have the choice between playing in the teddy bear room or joining the older ones and will often be able to move between the two rooms as they please. We believe this gives them the best opportunity to move confidently into the larger room at their own pace.
Bear cub and Bear room
The bear room makes up two-thirds of our space. Our constant provision includes; water trays, sand tray, play dough, mark making, painting, craft, construction, role play, a book corner, a computer, small word, games, jigsaws and gross motor equipment. With the bathroom, nappy changing area and cloakroom easily accessible. We also have a large secure garden. We purposefully keep 2,3 and 4-year-olds together for much of the time. We believe there are several benefits to this. In a well-supervised environment, the youngest children learn more as they watch and copy the older ones, for instance, children are much more willing to sit on a toilet, sit still at carpet time or try a new food if they see their older friends doing the same. Older children can also benefit from this arrangement. Being the oldest gives them a sense of pride and responsibility as they help younger ones. It also helps to teach patience and empathy as they begin to understand that not everyone is capable of the same achievements at the same time. However, we are careful to supervise the groups to ensure little ones don’t get ‘bossed about’ by older ones and that the older ones more involved activities and games aren’t spoiled by little ones. We are also careful to ensure that all staff are aware of the ages and capabilities of every individual child and only expect what that child is capable of.
Bear cubs = 2 years to 3 years
Our bear cubs use all the resources in the bear room with whatever appropriate support they require. During this year they make the transition from babies/toddlers into confident independent children. There is so much to learn, to separate from a parent confidently, to use a toilet/potty instead of nappies, to try out new food using cups, plates, cutlery sitting at a table within a group, to begin to make friends and play cooperatively in groups, to play appropriately with nursery room toys and resources and building relationships with all staff members are just a few of the things children will learn during this period. We believe the way our rooms are set out helps our cubs develop easily. They are not required to follow the routines and activities our Bears do but often choose to because they perceive that’s what big children do. However, there is always the option to have a little retreat in the Teddy bear room for some quiet time and a cuddle if life in the bear room becomes too much.
Bears = 3 years old to starting school age.
In their last year with us before starting reception class, our ‘bears’ are encouraged to become ‘ready for school’. Children still learn through play but we do encourage children to think of certain times of the day as school work, for instance, they will be asked to sit at a table with friends and a member of staff to play a game or take part in any number of other activities for 5 to 10 minutes at a time. We ask them to sit for a short carpet time where they have a story, sing songs talk about our topics and take part in basic phonics and maths activities. Using the requirements of the EYFS, we encourage the beginnings of the reading, writing and maths skills that will be developed throughout receptions class. We encourage children to access and afterwards tidy up all of our resources and toys, using their critical and independent thinking skills to devise their own games and activities both alone and in groups. During meal and snack times they are encouraged to be as independent as possible helping to set tables, serving themselves and others and helping to clear away afterwards. We encourage self-care in the bathroom and when getting ready to play out etc. In short, we aim to give each individual child the best opportunities to walk into a reception class as ready as possible for their school life.