Teaching With Compassion
Oakwood Infant and Nursery School Curriculum Intention
Context and rationale:
Oakwood Infant and Nursery School is blessed with a community that is supportive, caring and determined to do the best for all children. The events of the past two years has further highlighted the very positive relationships the school has with the community and strengthened those partnerships. We recognise that the experiences of lockdown within our community have been very diverse and we acknowledge that our first priority is to take this opportunity to look at what we are asking of our learners, giving them time to talk about their experiences, reaffirm key relationships and rebuild confidence and trust.
Within our community context we are sensitive to the changing needs of children and families and the impacts there have been on mental health and wellbeing.
To address this, our curriculum will be focused on continuing to build the positive relationships, ensuring they are built on mutual trust and compassion. We know that any of our behaviours- facial expressions, things we say, use of tone and volume of voice, stance, etc. can trigger a memory deep within the child that takes them back to an event that is associated with trauma. We know that when in this state, learning does not happen. In order to ensure all our children have the best chance at life as possible, we work to build the necessary conditions for learning, provide the challenge to enable all children to give their best and ensure they have opportunities to create memories that enhance their experiences.
The structure of the curriculum will be as follows:
How we will achieve this:
The single element that ensures relationships are successful is the level of commitment, time and care we give every relationship. The following bullet points are not necessarily exhaustive, but are key to demonstrating this;
· Meet and greet EVERY child, positively and with a smile
· Persistently catch children doing the right thing
· Teach them the behaviours we want to see
· Teach the children how we would like to be spoken to
· Reinforce child’s conduct in context
· Maintain a passion for teaching and learning
· Relentlessly work to build mutual trust, never give up
· Behave, always, with humility, imagine having a caring parent on your shoulder watching how you deal with their child, how would you behave?
· Bothered-ness; that is, ceaselessly taking the time and remembering commitments
Finally we will need to use consistent language, so, for simplicity we use “warm fuzzies” to talk about and highlight positive and welcome behaviours and “cold pricklies” for talk about and highlighting things that hurt us. This language focuses on building empathy for individuals as actions relate directly to impacts on human feelings.
We will look for any opportunities where we can talk with children and families safely about their experiences. We will strive to be “in the moment” with the child, picking up on the things they say and responding in a way that is absolutely non-judgemental. We will use positive reinforcement and paraphrasing and feedback to the child to show empathy and listening.
“ I was in the garden lots, we found loads of bits of wood and rocks and stuff, so me and my sister got them altogether and we made a pile of them for all the insects to live in, like a hotel”
“So, have I got this right, you spent time in the garden making a bug hotel with your sister, wow, that must have been fun?”
By paraphrasing and feeding back to the child, we are showing that we are listening to them and that is one of the best ways we show how we value a person.
3. Transparent Curriculum:
Our aim is to engage our children as learners, once they feel secure and confident. We need to talk to our children to find out what they enjoy learning about and what help they want from us. We will strive to keep this dialogue going and support and guide them in ways that will support, encourage and feed their curiosity and desire to learn. We will use the Jigsaw format for this, especially the section on relationships. Stories will be used to set a context for learning, with each class having access to clearly defined and high quality learning resources which are organised in a way that encourages curiosity, creativity and independence. The outdoors will be used at every appropriate opportunity. Each year group will have a dedicated outdoor learning area which will be developed in line with the learning needs and relevant entitlements for their key stage. In addition, every class will have access to Forest School learning.
We will enrich the cultural capital for all children through the thoughtful provision of events, trips, visits and visitors.
Our intention is that every child feels valued and has a sense of belonging. Through quality first teaching, targeted support and staff passionate about teaching and learning, each child will have the opportunity to develop their own interests, be literate, numerate, knowledgeable and have the vocabulary needed to safely express themselves.
This is where the skills will be explicit.
In order for the children to build their confidence as learners, we will make the skills of learning explicit. The Early Years Characteristics of Effective Teaching and Learning support the development of self-regulation and positive learning habits. When we see the children displaying these skills and attributes, we can praise them appropriately.
1) Playing and Exploring (Engagement) Playing with what I know, Willing to ‘have a go’, Finding out and exploring
2) Active Learning (Motivation) Keep on trying, Achieving what I set out to do, Being involved and concentrating
3) Creating and Thinking Critically (Thinking) Choosing ways to do things, Having my own ideas, Making links
To support well-being we will have an area in the class where children can retreat to.
We will make sure children have access to things, in a safe way, that they can use for comfort. Classrooms are busy places with lots of sensory stimulation. We will think about creating spaces that offer:
· Quiet/ withdrawal for solitary pursuits (reading, colouring etc )
· Appealing tactile experiences including comfortable places to sit/ lie down with access to some calming sensory experiences such as weighted toys/blankets/ squishy toys. · Reduced visual distractions but increased calming visual activities e.g. looking at sensory bottles and calm down jars filled with liquid and other objects (water, oil, water beads, glitter). Many children also respond positively to photograph story-books created about their experiences at school.
· Access to food and drink which can provide comfort through physical nourishment.
We will look at a calm zone in the school for children who find going outside too traumatic, or simply wish to have some time out. To support how we direct children or for children who may need specific support, we will use the Boxall Profile to help guide is in the right direction.