Dairy Meadow Primary and Nursery School

The Nursery Curriculum

Nursery is part of the Early Years Foundation Stage and consequently has its own specific curriculum which continues in Reception. 

A new Foundation Stage Curriculum was introduced in September 2021 based on the recognition that children learn best through play and active learning.

Click here to take a look

 The curriculum is divided into 3 prime areas and 4 specific areas of learning:

The 3 prime areas are:

  • Communication and Language
  • Physical Development
  • Personal Social Development

The 4 specific areas are:

  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Understanding of the World
  • Expressive Arts and Designs


Each of the 7 areas of learning has its own set of Early Learning Goals which determine what most children are expected to achieve by the end of Reception class.

Communication and Language 

This area of learning involves:

Giving children the opportunities to speak and listen in a range of situations and to develop their confidence and skills in expressing themselves.


 Children learn how to:

  • Follow directions.
  • Listen to stories and recall what has happened.
  • Listen to and respond to ideas expressed by others.
  • Introduce a storyline into their play



How can you help at home?

  • Talk with your child. Ask them questions and encourage them to speak about their interests.
  • Act out stories together for others in your family to watch.
  • Chat, talk, speak to, whisper, sing with your child.
  • Play ‘I spy’ when you are out.
  • Talk with your child when you are out and about.

Physical Development  

This area of learning involves:

Providing opportunities for children to be active and interactive and to develop their co-ordination, control and movement, including using pencils for writing.

Children must also be helped to understand how their bodies move, health and levels of self-care.

 Children learn how to:

  • Jump off an object and land appropriately.
  • Travel with confidence around, over, under and through balancing and climbing equipment.
  • Throw, kick and catch a ball.
  • Use scissors to cut.
  • Hold a pencil between thumb and two fingers, and form letters.
  • Understand that good practices with regard to exercise, eating, sleeping and hygiene can contribute to good health.
  • Transport equipment safely, e.g. walking safely with scissors. 











How can you help at home?

  • Take a pot of water and a paintbrush outside so your child can ‘paint’ the pavement, fence or shed.
  • Develop your child’s fine motor by encouraging them to do zips, buttons and poppers.
  • Feeling messy? Make some playdough! (Follow this link for a recipe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oAIAm6BF0fs)
  • Play ball games.
  • Take a trip to the park.
  • Cutting up magazines/pictures.
  • Play with lots of construction toys to strengthen their fingers.
  • Talk about the importance of fruit and vegetables.
  • Encourage them to use a knife and fork by themselves.

Personal, Social and Emotional Development

This area of learning involves:

Helping children to develop a positive sense of themselves and others, and form good relationships with other people. They also learn how to manage their emotions and behave appropriately in different situations.

Children learn how to:

  • Ask appropriate questions of others and explain their own knowledge and understanding.
  • Begin to resolve conflicts with other children.
  • Have the confidence to speak about their needs, wants and interests.
  • Talk about what they are good at.
  • Understand that their actions affect others.
  • Take turns and share resources.
  • Tolerate delay when their needs are not immediately met, and understand that wishes may not always be met.  







How can you help at home?

  • Play games to encourage sharing and turn taking.
  • Talk about how things make both you and your child feel.
  • Ensure your child is able to use the toilet independently.
  • Encourage your child to wash their hands after going to the toilet.
  • Allow them to put their coat on and do it up by themselves.
  • Encourage them to have a go at dressing themselves.
  • Take them to new places to encourage self-confidence.


This area of learning involves:

Encouraging children to listen to sounds in the environment and in words, listening to stories, and mark making including writing letters and their name.

Children learn how to:

  • Continue a rhyming string.
  • Hear and say the initial sounds in words. Recognise and write their name.
  • Listen to stories, predicting what might happen next and recalling what has already happened.
  • Handle books carefully, turning pages one at a time and telling their own story using the pictures.
  • Give meaning to marks as they draw, write and paint. 







How can you help at home?

  • Allow children opportunities for ‘real life’ writing experiences e.g. shopping lists, birthday cards, post-it notes.
  • Celebrate all attempts at writing, even if it doesn’t look like ‘real’ writing.
  • Spot writing in your environment – shops, sign posts etc.
  • Practise mark making in different things – trace it in sand and paint, use chalk outside.
  • Share and talk about a range of reading materials, including stories, fact books and poems.


This area of learning involves:

Providing children with opportunities to practise their skills in counting numbers, calculating simple addition and subtraction problems, and describing shapes, spaces and measures.


Children learn how to:

  • Match amount to numeral using numbers up to 10.

  • Count out up to 10 objects from a larger group.

  • Realise that anything can be counted, including steps, claps or jumps.

  • Name and describe 2D and 3D shapes.

  • Order 2 or 3 items by length, height, weight or capacity.

  • Create repeating patterns.

  • Use positional language.  










How can you help at home?

  • Play board games like snakes and ladders to practise counting.
  • Make a game out of sorting the socks after doing the washing.
  • Talk about the patterns they can see.
  • Ask your child when you have a problem e.g. I only have 2 apples but there are 4 of us. What shall we do?
  • Sing number rhymes e.g. 1,2,3,4,5 once I caught a fish alive.
  • Spot numbers when you are out and about.

Understanding the World   

This area of learning involves:

Guiding children to make sense of their physical world and their community through opportunities to explore, observe and find out about people, places, technology and the environment.


 Children learn how to:

  • Talk about special events in their own experience, for example birthdays, festivals and holidays.
  • Show an interest in different occupations, for example police, firefighters, builders.
  • Know some of the things that make them unique, and talk about some similarities and differences between themselves and others.
  • Show concern for, talk about and ask questions about living things and the environment, including plants, minibeasts and animals.
  • Develop an understanding of growth, decay and changes over time.
  • Use ICT hardware to interact with age-appropriate computer software










How can you help at home?

  • Talk to your child about your family, culture, religion, where you live.
  • Encourage your child to ask questions and answer them as best you can.
  • Ask your child what buttons they think you should press and why when using electrical equipment at home e.g. electronic toys, phones, television remotes.
  • Notice changes in the natural environment, such as autumn leaves falling or the first signs of spring, and talk about these changes.


Expressive Arts and Design  

This area of learning involves:

Exploring children’s world of pretence, for example though role play, music, pretend play or small world play. Children create using a variety of media and materials, learning how to manipulate them and join them together.


Children learn how to:

  • Sing familiar songs and move in response to music.
  • Explore the different sounds of instruments.
  • Explore what happens when they mix colours.
  • Create simple representations of events, people and objects.
  • Think about what they are going to create before they begin.
  • Use tools and techniques needed to assemble and join materials, including glue, scissors and sellotape.
  • Play cooperatively with others to act out a narrative, for example pretending to be ‘mummy’ or ‘teacher’. 













How can you help at home?

  • Value your child’s creations– talk about what they have done and listen to their ideas. Encourage them to talk about what they are going to make and what they need to make it before they begin. When they have finished, help them think of ways to improve their creations.
  • Do lots of painting and drawing with your child, they love to see you doing this as well.
  • Explore a range of different materials and tools, such as paint, glue, crayons, pencils, scissors and hole punches.
  • Encourage your child to role play; be prepared to be Mr, Miss or Mrs in a game of teachers. Or maybe you’ll become a passenger on your child’s train.
  • Make shakers using pots and dried pasta or lentils.
  • Keep your old clothes, shoes, hats, gloves to make an exciting box of dressing up clothes.

Characteristics of Effective Learning  

The characteristics of effective learning are the ways in which children engage with other people and their environment.

They underpin the learning and development across all areas and support children to become motivated learners.

There are 3 characteristics:

Playing and Exploring – Engagement

  • Finding out and exploring.
  • Acting out their own experiences (e.g. pretending to be mummy or daddy).
  • Being willing to ‘have a go’.

Active Learning – Motivation

  • Being involved and concentrating.
  • Keeping trying if they encounter difficulties.
  • Enjoying their achievements.

Creating and Thinking Critically – Thinking

  • Having their own ideas.
  • Making links between ideas.
  • Choosing their own way to do things.



The Curriculum summary

The aim of Nursery is to support and develop children’s learning by building on their interests, abilities, ideas and experiences. The Nursery year will be carefully planned to give the children the opportunity to experience a wide variety of stimulating activities through structured play situations so that learning will be fun.



Go to the Nursery setting (click here)