In September 2019, we unveiled our latest planning resource: our Learning Tree. We used this to identify key interests for each cohort, which were then used to plan ambitious Next Steps for each child, based on their interests. We also invited parents to share their ‘learning leaves’ with us, so they could have a voice in their child’s Early Years journey.
After exploring the Learning Tree for a year we found that we were using it in new ways. Our experience operating as an outdoor nursery over the Summer revealed that our little ones all continued to make progress over the entire curriculum, despite having access to fewer resources than usual. Thanks to thought-provoking conversations with adults and peers; imaginative creative play; and open-ended exploration, our children developed socially and cognitively.
Following much reflection, we recognised that while our learning tree gave voice to our little ones’ interests, it was predominantly a tool for the team, rather than for the children. At Westgate we have a holistic approach to development: we realise that a child’s life consist of more than their nursery experience. Some children may be awaiting the birth of siblings, or moving house. Some may be struggling to sleep through the night, or experiencing a change in routine at home. To have a holistic approach to planning for our little ones’ development, we needed a tool that enabled us to recognise these moments in each child’s life, and find a way to support them through it.
And so the Intention Tree was born! In keeping with our love of nature we have chosen to continue representing the children’s learning as a tree, with a leaf symbolising our intention for each child. Our key carers have considered how to enrich their key children’s nursery experience, and have set a positive intention to reflect this.
Some of the intentions include:
‘Will have the confidence to make a special friend.’
‘Will be brave when I see the vaccum cleaner!’
‘Will listen to other people’s ideas when playing.’
‘Will be able to speak more clearly because she has so much to say!’
‘Will embrace being a big brother, and all the changes that go along with it!’
Our Intention Tree can encompass any aspect of a child’s life, which – when paired with our education-focused Next Step leaves – will enable each team member to help our little one’s grow holistically.