Why we do what we do
As parents we know that a child’s first four years are a mad rollercoaster ride of overnight developments and sudden “Light bulb” moments. As beautiful as it is to watch, it can be very hard to keep up!
From around the age of two years, toddlers naturally move away from total loving dependance of their parents and start to forge their own path into the wider world. This is when they start to become more independent and begin to explore the world around them in greater depth.
Life is very different these days than it was 30 years ago. Screens and devices are everywhere and are used in almost our every waking moment. Toddlers pick up on this very quickly, and as they mature, they begin to mimic their parents and carer’s habits. However used too much screen time can easily take the place of quality human interaction and because of the lack of physical movement and mental challenges, can stymy creative imagination and ultimately stunt core skill development.
We are all becoming increasingly aware of the scientific research in early childhood development. Its well known that children and especially toddlers require connection with nature in order to support their brain function and holistic development. The more they have play time that involves all five senses (touch, taste, smell, hearing, sight) and most importantly interact with other children, the faster they begin building their essential core life skills. Natural outdoors playtime has proved to increase development in intellectual, cognitive, creative, emotional, social and physical skills as well as encourage language and communication skills which in turn helps them to express their individuality.
Here at Little Rays our main ethos is to connect children to Nature and to fuel their imaginations using their natural surroundings.
Toddlers between the ages of two and four have brains that are like sponges. They absorb absolutely everything they experience and observe in life through watching their core family and friends interact with each other. We have a firm belief that these early years are absolutely critical for healthy development and we strive to provide our toddlers with what they need to lay strong foundations in order to grow, learn and practice with confidence.
We strongly believe in the “Back to Nature” approach. No Screens, No plastic toys, No computers, No sitting at boring desks for us!
We believe that redressing the essential balance of natural learning is incredibly important not just for the children’s future wellbeing, for their family’s as well. Therefore we aim to provide a safe, relaxed and above all natural environment that the children need to build their confidence, face challenges, develop fine motor skills, encourage social interaction and develop team work.
Therefore in keeping with our ethos, we spend the majority of school time outside (weather permitting), and we are extremely lucky to have both our lovely outdoor Pre-School garden, and our beautiful plot of land in Compton for our Forest School Sessions.
We encourage our children to approach the world with curiosity and an eagerness to learn through free play in the natural world.
Examples of our outdoor games and lessons:
- bug hunts, leaf hunts, animal hunts
- learning colours, numbers and alphabets using leaves, sticks, rocks, animals, etc
- Arts & Crafts using natural materials
- Learning to build and create using natural materials and with help of friends.
A detailed and printable timetable of our daily activities can be found on our Day to Day page.
Our children have helped us to build our own outdoor play area and garden making it as much theirs as it is ours. So far we have created a bug hotel, a first class mud kitchen, hang a hammock, swings in trees, a willow wigwam, dig a sand pit, plant herbs and flowers, and much more!
Our staff are fully trained and with years of experience of quality childcare between them, provide calm and consistent care and teaching throughout the day. They are a fantastic team!
Little Rays follows the famous Playwork Principles.
Playwork has been a popular approach since the end of WW II. It was discovered that children were playing in sites that had been bombed! Despite the danger they were playing very happily and creatively with the “junk” they would find. As the councils didn’t have the funds to build proper playgrounds or clear the sites, instead of stopping them, they introduced play supervision and eventually some of these sites became Adventure Playgrounds where children could play and invent with the materials they found. Since then many new Adventure Playgrounds have been built since the post-war era and these now import the “junk”. Supervision is focused on protecting the children’s freedom and developing skills and inclination to do what they want to do with what they find. As much as possible, the children are left to work things out for themselves or if necessary, social problems are solved creatively in consultation with the children.
These principles establish the professional and ethical framework for playwork, and describe what is unique, and provide the playwork perspective for working with children and young people. They are based on the recognition that children and young people’s capacity for positive development will be enhanced if given access to the broadest range of environments and play opportunities:
1. All children and young people need to play. The impulse to play is innate. Play is a biological, psychological and social necessity, and is fundamental to the healthy development and well being of individuals and communities.
2. Play is a process that is freely chosen, personally directed and intrinsically motivated. That is, children and young people determine and control the content and intent of their play, by following their own instincts, ideas and interests, in their own way for their own reasons.
3. The prime focus and essence of playwork is to support and facilitate the play process and this should inform the development of play policy, strategy, training and education.
4. For playworkers, the play process takes precedence and playworkers act as advocates for play when engaging with adult led agendas.
5. The role of the playworker is to support all children and young people in the creation of a space in which they can play.
6. The playworker’s response to children and young people playing is based on a sound up to date knowledge of the play process, and reflective practice.
7. Playworkers recognise their own impact on the play space and also the impact of children and young people’s play on the playworker.
8. Playworkers choose an intervention style that enables children and young people to extend their play. All playworker intervention must balance risk with the developmental benefit and well being of children.
Some Basic Info
We accept children between the ages of two years old to five years old. The minimum attendance for a child is 2 sessions a week.
For Session Prices, please take a look at our Fees & Registration page.
If you would like more information or to enquire about the application process please send us a message on the Contact page.