en English


A positive start to education is one of the most important gifts we can give children in our care.

We believe that learning which is well-planned and delivered with enthusiasm and awareness helps children at all levels to acquire a love of discovery, investigation and new experiences.

At our nursery school, our approach to teaching and learning includes:

The beginnings…

We begin with what the children know already, often how old they are: a very important number! We encourage children to notice what is different and later, what is the same, as these are sound foundations for mathematical learning. We sing number rhymes and action songs with numbers to help children learn number names and encourage them to share number songs that they sing at home.



Counting and quantities

Once children are aware of numbers, we help them to understand that numbers represent a quantity. We teach them to count using one number for each object and that the last number represents the total quantity. We encourage children that everything can be counted from jumps and hops in the garden to pieces of fruit at snack time or the stairs to the nappy changing unit. We point out numbers all around us e.g. on road signs and on the


Exploring shape and measures


Children use a range of construction toys and blocks to explore 2D and 3D shapes, learning practically what different shapes look and feel like. Cooking and following recipes offer opportunities to measure quantities. Children have access to timers and tape measures to use in their own play which might lead to them comparing different lengths and heights.


Our approach to teaching


We use every opportunity to include Maths in activities, such as counting out the cutlery, glasses and plates for lunchtime or putting wellies into pairs when we tidy up. We also make sure that we take Maths to the children: when an observation shows that they need help with a concept, we will plan activities to support this. We also use our observations to extend and challenge children who are already very confident with Maths.

The beginnings…

Listening to, and joining in with, songs and rhymes is all part of the process of learning to read. Children need to hear the way that words flow, how some may sound the same and to play with words.

The first thing a child is likely to ‘read’ is their name as that is a very important part of themselves. Later on there will be a connection about how letters represent a sound and that putting letters together creates words.


So much more than books…

Writing doesn’t just appear in books of course. As adults we are reading throughout the day without even thinking about it. Signs and labels, instructions, road names, text messages, menus… the list is endless.

We introduce these to the children in nursery as part of their play (having a menu in a cafe for example). We look at how words are read left to right and from top to bottom. Whilst reading we may track the words with our fingers or look at particular words and the way they’re written: large words often mean you say them loudly!


But what about books…?

It is just as important to talk about the pictures in a book as it is to look at the writing. Being able to talk about what might be happening, what the characters may be saying to each other or wondering about what might happen next. The pictures often give us a clue as to what the writing may say.

We have Core Books that we read frequently throughout the year in order that the children come to know them very well.  We also tell these stories in different ways, such as using props or actions.


Our approach to teaching


As always we start with what the children are interested in. As well as reading factual and fiction books, we also tell our own stories and the children are encouraged to make up and act out their own. We look for, and comment on, print in our environment and beyond. The children are encouraged and supported to use small characters or puppets to act out a story, often they will improvise using anything to hand.  Singing is a big part of the day and we often make up songs on the spot with the children. Above all we make it fun for the children so that they are motivated to find out more about words and books and grow up with a love of reading.

The beginnings…

Children need to develop various physical skills and specific muscles before we expect them to ‘write.’ Writing is a sensory as well as a physical experience. Before they can control a pencil they need to be able to control their body. Children are given opportunities to climb, push, pull, swing and use a range of different tools.

Children develop the muscles in their hands, wrists and fingers in a variety of ways: manipulating playdough, threading, singing finger songs and rhymes, using tools such as scissors or a knife to prepare snack.



Not just pens and paper…

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




Why write?

As with anything we do, we need to have a reason to want to do it. The first thing children are likely to be interested in is writing their own name, particularly that magical initial letter! They may write an order in a role play café, write down a story they have made up, name something they have made so that they can take it home or give a message to someone. They will see adults writing in the nursery and talking about what they are doing and why.



Our approach to teaching

We value everything that a child produces, from the very first marks which they proudly show us. Writing is demonstrated throughout the day, so that is seen as having a purpose. Name cards are used throughout the setting and are easily accessible for children to refer to when needed. We don’t offer tracing over letters as children won’t necessarily learn to form letters correctly that way. Children are encouraged to hold a pencil in a way that is comfortable and effective. Clipboards, notebooks, white boards, felt pens, chalks and pencils are everywhere at nursery

Our trained teachers and professional support staff manage learning by:

"Our aim is to provide the best possible learning environment for every child who spends time with us."

Where do we learn?

We have wonderful, spacious indoor and outdoor learning areas where children can explore in a safe, supervised manner whilst providing risk and challenge.

Our Forest School, in particular, is a wonderful outdoor facility that introduces children to the wonder and beauty of nature (click here to find out more). We also have regular trips off site to involve children in their local community.

We encourage children to work and play together, but respect the need for peace and privacy when appropriate. Our children are helped to manage conflict or challenging situations in a positive and pro-active way, listening to others and finding ways to work together.

Covid-19 Pandemic

There is wide agreement that the infection rate for Coronavirus is much lower outdoors than inside and this has really helped us to keep our children safe. At Guildford Nursery School we have a well-established tradition of outdoor learning and always encourage children to go outside, whatever the weather.


Open Air Nursery Schools

Open Air Nursery Schools are not a new idea and were set up around a hundred years ago to improve the lives of city children who did not have enough access to fresh air, sunlight and exercise. Their aim was to prevent illness in a time when children were often dying young from preventable diseases.

Children did all of their learning outside. Pioneers such as Susan Isaacs and the McMillan sisters set up Nurseries where children had safe but challenging places to play with lots of opportunity for free play. Children ate all their meals outside and even had a daily nap in the open air! This ethos still influences our approach at Guildford Nursery School today, a 100 years later.


Why is outdoor learning so important?

At Guildford Nursery School children have long uninterrupted periods of time when they can play both inside and out. The Department for Health recommends that young children are active for a minimum of three hours each day. Children are generally more active when outside.


Being physically active:

  • Promotes positive well-being
  • Develops the muscles needed for writing
  • Stimulates the eye muscles needed to follow text during reading
  • Helps children to learn how to play with others; to form friendships by cooperating, negotiating and trying out their own and other’s ideas
  • Improves the function of heart, lungs and blood circulation which in turn promotes good health
  • Stimulates children to communicate both non-verbally and verbally; children are far more likely to talk outside than inside
  • Gives children the opportunity to understand concepts with their whole bodies in a more abstract way, such as many of the ideas we use in Maths, like weight and size
  • Brings the brain to just the right state for taking in and processing new experiences
  • Creates learning and memory

Being still and sitting still are very complex and advanced skills which young children are not ready for until they are 6 or 7 years old. Being able to keep your body still requires well developed balance and finely controlled muscles. Both of these are gained from moving rather than practising stillness. Children who find it difficult to sit still for developmentally appropriate amounts of time need to move more.


Engaging with nature:

  • Better use of all the senses to notice and comment on details in the natural world.
  • Use of the imagination and creativity to make up games which are open ended by using what is naturally available to them, not being dependent on toys or screens. Children are more likely to demonstrate higher level learning when engaging with nature in this way.
  • Research shows that there is a greater use of language and spontaneous learning opportunities and experiences.
  • Children engaging with nature are often still, reflective, observant and co-operative.
  • Children learn to make use of what is already there with the ideas being all their own. This is both empowering and leads to better mental health. They learn to be respectful of their environment.
  • Engaging with nature involves children making their own choices, allowing them freedom with guidance.


What do we provide outdoors?

  • Plentiful space so that children can move freely without obstruction.
  • A variety of different surfaces for children to move on. Different surfaces and levels make different demands on a child’s muscles and posture.
  • Opportunities for children to go up and down so children can learn about gravity.
  • Large vertical and horizontal surfaces for children to work on in an energetic, whole-bodied way, such as painting on a large expanse of wall or floor.
  • Places and materials for digging and filling, providing physical workouts for lungs, circulation, bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons.
  • Lots of things to lift, carry and transport. Outdoors children are able to work on a larger scale which makes greater demands on their physical activity and development.
  • Wheeled vehicles: playing with them involves pushing and pulling with legs, arms, back and shoulders. Children have to use both sides of their body alternately which helps develop both sides of their brains, necessary for hand-eye co-ordination, reading and writing. Moving fast and turning corners develops children’s posture and balance.
  • Dance, music, rhymes and games: these support physical development, social and emotional development as well as communication.
  • Calm places so that children can rest and recover. Children go from high levels of energy to sudden exhaustion, calm and rest are essential for their well-being and health.


What do the adults do outside?

  • Join in, model active play and dress appropriately for physical activity. Noticing and commenting when we are cold and discovering how we can warm up, or how we have become hot from moving around.
  • Encourage, support and engage children in physical activity through action and verbal and non-verbal communication. Communicating about physical activity, using movement vocabulary, asking questions, and responding to children’s answers and ideas.
  • Allow children to play with mud and sticks, and to get dirty.
  • At Forest School specifically qualified practitioners teach children how to use tools and to light fires.
  • Allow children to climb trees and to build dens.
  • Grow fruit and vegetables with the children and either use them in recipes or sell them on, using the proceeds to purchase further seeds and bulbs, beginning the process again.
  • Encourage children to look closely at mini-beasts, flowers, and plants, treating them with respect; understanding and witnessing first-hand the life cycle of plants and animals.

It’s important that we know how your child is progressing, and that we share that progress with you.

We begin by talking to, listening to and interacting with your child. This gives us a point from which all future assessments can be made.

Our assessments are carried out without interrupting the way your child works and plays. Mostly observational, we look for ways in which your child has progressed, as well as areas in which we think they may need more help.

When looking at a child’s progress, we always remember that every child is different and that learning progression in the early stages of development varies hugely from one child to the next. So all our assessments are based purely on what we think is best for your child.

We keep you up-to-date on your child’s progress at regular intervals, and we can answer any questions you have at any time. When it’s time for your child to leave us and start primary school, we share our assessment with the new school to help them with their own learning preparation.

Below are some examples of Letters to the Children:

Erin Letter Ivy Blue Letter Ritanya Letter

Curriculum Vision.

Click here to see our Curriculum Vision

Keeping our standards high

Our staff are trained, experienced teachers and support staff who are experts in early years learning. We regularly send staff for additional training, or manage training at the nursery school in order to make sure your child benefits from the latest understanding and teaching techniques.

Our staff have regular personal assessments, and are observed while working with the children so that we can be confident that they are effective in both their teaching and their attitude. Everyone on the staff team is encouraged to bring new ideas and improvements to the school, so that we are constantly improving the way we work with your child.

To find out more about our approach to teaching and learning, please do contact us.

How can you help?

Your child has the best start when we all work together to help and support them. We welcome all the support and involvement you can give, both when you first bring your child to our nursery school and during their time here.

Talking to your child about their day, sharing books with them, attending any parent/nursery school meetings and getting involved in the life of the nursery school are just some of the ways you can have a positive influence at this important learning and development stage.

Click here for the levels of support offered in nursery.