Principles and pedagogy

Our principles and approach to learning and teaching are inspired by the work of Friedrich Froebel, who believed the first seven years in a child’s life are the most important. Froebel was a man who understood the true value of childhood and that, through play, the greatest learning can take place.

Froebel had ultimate respect for each child and their family, and argued that we must consider each child within the context of their family and wider community. He wanted to ‘educate people to be free, to think, to take action for themselves’.

You can read more information about our principles and pedagogy in our brochure: Guildford-Nursery-School-brochure-Feb-2023.pdf (

Definition of teaching

We follow the definition of teaching within the EYFS statutory framework 2023:
‘This framework does not prescribe a particular teaching approach. Play is essential for children’s development, building their confidence as they learn to explore, relate to others, set their own goals and solve problems. Children learn by leading their own play, and by taking part in play which is guided by adults. Practitioners need to decide what they want children in their setting to learn, and the most effective ways to teach it. Practitioners must stimulate children’s interests, responding to each child’s emerging needs and guiding their development through warm, positive interactions coupled with secure routines for play and learning.’ (Page 16)

‘Birth to 5 Matters’ guidance

We use ‘Birth To 5 Matters – Guidance by the sector, for the sector’ to inform our practice and support our knowledge of child development.

It considers ‘The child at the centre of practice, the child’s connections within family, communities, cultures and the natural world, and the need to consider the whole child: physical, social and emotional wellbeing, health, and learning.’


Click here to see our Curriculum document.

Math plays a part in so many activities, from counting out the cutlery, glasses and plates for lunchtime to pairing up wellies when we tidy up. When we notice a child needs extra help, we plan activities to support them. If they are already confident in maths, we look to challenge them further.



Where we start

What’s the most important number to a child? Their age! So that’s where we start. We sing number rhymes and action songs to help children learn, and encourage them to share number songs they sing at home.




Counting and quantities

We encourage children to understand that everything can be counted – from jumps and hops in the garden and pieces of fruit at snack time, to the number of stairs to the nappy changing unit. We point out numbers all around us, such as on the clock or on road signs. Once children are aware of numbers, we help them to understand that they represent a quantity.



Exploring shape and measures

Children can explore 2D and 3D shapes using a range of construction toys and blocks to learn what different shapes look and feel like. Cooking and following recipes offer opportunities to measure quantities and use a timer, and children enjoy comparing different lengths and heights in their own play with tape measures.

You can read more about how we teach maths in our curriculum document. If you have any questions, please get in touch.

Above all, we want to make reading and stories fun for children so they’re motivated to find out more about words and books. As well as reading factual and fiction books, we tell our own stories and encourage the children to share and act out their own – often using small characters, puppets or anything they have to hand! Singing is a big part of the day too, and we often make up songs on the spot with the children.


Where we start

As always, we start with what the children are interested in and that’s often their own name! Later we start to connect letters with the sounds they make, before putting them together to form words. Listening to, and joining in with, songs and rhymes is all part of the process too – playing with words in different contexts helps children understand how they sound and flow.


Finding words wherever they appear

Writing doesn’t just appear in books, of course. As part of the children’s play, we introduce them to signs and labels, instructions, road names, text messages, café menus… the list is endless. While reading, we look at how words are read from left to right and top to bottom, and may track the words with our fingers to see how particular words are written: large words often mean you say them loudly!


How about books?

The pictures in a book are just as important as the writing, and often give us a clue as to what the words say. We spend time talking to the children about what the characters may be saying and wondering what might happen next. We have core books that we read frequently and tell in different ways, often with props and actions, so the children come to know them very well. 

You can read more about how we teach reading in our curriculum document. If you have any questions, please get in touch.

We value everything a child produces, from the very first marks they proudly show us. Children are exposed to writing throughout the day at nursery in a way that’s meaningful for them, for example seeing our name cards. Clipboards, notebooks, white boards, felt pens, chalks and pencils are everywhere for children to experiment with. When they come to writing with a pencil, we encourage them to hold it in a way that’s comfortable and effective. We don’t suggest tracing over letters as children don’t always learn to form letters correctly that way.



Where we start

Children need to first develop various physical skills and muscles before we expect them to ‘write’, so we give them lots of opportunities to climb, push, pull, swing and use a range of different tools. Writing is a sensory as well as a physical experience, and to encourage them to develop the muscles in their hands and wrists, they spend time manipulating playdough and clay, threading, sewing, singing finger songs, and using tools such as scissors or a knife to prepare a snack.



It’s not just pens and paper…

Children start to experiment with making marks before giving them a meaning. They may use paint and water on a garden fence, chalk on the ground to make circles to jump in, or a stick in the mud. These marks gradually take on a meaning and children realise that writing is all around us – in books, on signs, on the register, on electronic devices.




How we make it meaningful

As adults, we need a reason to want to do something, and children are the same. They enjoy trying to write their own name, particularly that magical initial letter, so that’s often where we start. They may write an order in a role play café, write down a story they have made up, name something they have made so they can take it home, or give a message to someone. They also see adults writing in the nursery, and we talk to them about what we’re doing and why.

You can read more about how we teach writing in our curriculum document.

If you have any questions, please get in touch.

“A child should experience nature ‘in all its aspects – form, energy, substance, sound and colour’.” 

Our experienced staff openly demonstrate a joyful and curious approach to nature, supporting children to:

  • Observe nature closely, marvelling in its beauty
  • Care for and learn about the lifecycles of ducks, chicks, caterpillars and more
  • Participate in gardening and learn about the food cycle from seed to harvest, to cooking and eating
  • Climb trees, build dens, explore water, sand, mud and clay
  • Spend time outdoors and visit local woodland areas.

Children have long uninterrupted periods when they can explore safely in spacious indoor and outdoor learning areas, with supervised risk and challenge. We have a well-established tradition of outdoor learning and always encourage children to go outside, whatever the weather. This often helps them to work on a larger scale, supporting their physical activity and development.

Our garden is a wonderful outdoor facility which introduces children to the wonder and beauty of nature. You can read more about our nature kindergarten here. We also have regular trips off site to involve children in their local community.

We provide:

  • Plentiful space so children can move freely. Moving fast and turning corners develops children’s posture and balance.
  • Different surfaces and levels to help children’s muscles and posture.
  • Opportunities for children to go up and down to learn about gravity.
  • Large vertical and horizontal surfaces allowing children to work in an energetic, whole-bodied way, such as painting on a wall or floor.
  • Lots of things to lift, carry and transport, and places for digging and filling, providing a physical workout for lungs, circulation, bones and muscles.
  • Wheeled vehicles to encourage pushing and pulling with legs, arms, back and shoulders. When children use both sides of their body alternately, they’re developing both sides of their brains, necessary for hand-eye co-ordination, reading and writing.
  • Dance, music, rhymes and games to support physical development, social and emotional development, and communication skills.
  • Calm places so children can rest and recover. Children often go from high levels of energy to sudden exhaustion, and calm and rest are essential for their wellbeing.



Cooking is an integral part of our curriculum. All children get opportunities to engage in cooking experiences at Guildford Nursery School.
Cooking relates to real life, it involves the child in practical work. It encourages motivation, develops independence and promotes cross-curricular learning.
Click here to find out more and see photos of many of your children