Early Years FAQs

It’s normal to have lots of questions when starting a new school for the first time.  Some of the most frequently asked question are below, but please do not hesitate to contact us directly if you need any further information. We are always on hand to support parents as their child progresses through each stage of his/her education with us.

Early Years FAQs

What is a typical day like in an Early Years class?

The children arrive to a selection of activities often linked to the topic that encourage fine motor development and social skills. During the course of the morning, the children may participate in specialist lessons, such as PE or Music. Number and literacy activities also take place. Topic and creative activities usually take place in the afternoons. All EYFS children experience weekly wild woods sessions in our own dedicated woodland area. A fresh fruit mid-morning snack and a child friendly lunch are provided.

How early do you start teaching phonics and writing?

Officially in Upper Kindergarten, but early skills begin in Lower Kindergarten with listening activities, rhyming games and fine motor skills activities – for example, dough disco, squirty bottles, threading and pegs.

In Upper Kindergarten, fine motor assessments are carried out to establish a child’s individual needs. Pre-writing patterns, pencil grip, letters and sounds programmes and RWInc are introduced.

Can Early Year pupils attend holiday clubs?

An Early Year’s club runs in the main holidays and is organised by our EY staff and sometimes EY staff from other Oak-Tree Schools. It is held in Upper Kindergarten. Children in Upper Kindergarten also have the option to attend Multi Sports Club which runs every holiday.

What are lunches like?

The children receive a snack at morning breaktime with a drink of milk or water.

We have a wide range of food on offer at lunchtime freshly prepared by our Chef and his team. There is a daily choice of a hot main meal with a hot vegetarian alternative, together with a cold buffet that includes filled baguettes and a wide variety of salads. A daily pudding choice is available or plenty of fresh fruit and yoghurts.

There are many members of staff on duty to help children with their choice of food and to ensure that they eat a balanced meal. We always encourage children to try new food. Our team is used to catering for all dietary needs.

What links are there between school and parents?

Parents have the opportunity each day to talk to the class teacher either in the morning or in the afternoon. We are very happy for parents to contact us to make a longer appointment if they need a more detailed conversation with the form teacher or a member of the senior team. The Headmistress is readily available to see parents about a variety of matters.

We have at least one formal communication with home each term, which takes the form of a short report, full report or parents’ meeting. There are regular newsletters and the website is always updated with information and news. We have a text messaging service and we email letters and news home.  We also tweet our news!

There are termly drop-in mornings for Early Years, Infant and Junior parents to visit the classrooms and annual coffee mornings for all parents to chat with the Group Managing Principal and Headmistress about school.

Do you accept the Government Nursery Grant or Employment Tax Schemes?

Yes. We administer the Essex County Council Nursery Grant scheme on your behalf and apply the large discount to your termly fees. All children between the ages of 3 and 5 benefit.

Some companies provide their staff with Nursery Vouchers, which are a tax saving benefit for employees to use for nursery care.  Although we cannot administer this scheme for you, we are registered with multiple schemes and apply these discounts to your termly fees.

When should my child start reading?

Children start preparing to read from Upper Kindergarten using both the Letters and Sounds and RWInc schemes. Please do not worry if your child is not at the same level as their friends as at this early age all children develop at very different rates.

In Reception, children start to take home picture books to describe to their parents and make up their own stories. Once the children have learned their sounds and are confident at recognising them, reading books with words are sent home with word recognition sheets.

Where do I go for help and information?

Our staff will always be happy to discuss your child’s learning programme with you.  Timetables and information letters are sent home regularly to keep you informed about the topics and your child’s work. Evidence is kept in each child’s personal portfolio and they also have books and folders that you will be able to look at regularly.

Staff may also direct you to the Department for Education website for further information about Early Years education and how you can support this at home.

Will my child have a ‘key person’?

There is regular contact with your child’s key person. Before your child joins Lower Kindergarten, Upper Kindergarten, Reception you will be invited into school to meet staff including the Head of Early Years and your child’s key person/teacher. In addition, staff will spend some time with you finding out more about your child and giving you time to share information with us.

Once your son or daughter begins school, there are daily opportunities to meet and talk to the key person and other members of the team. There are special parents’ meetings for specific discussion on how your child is progressing, and many opportunities for parents to be invited into school for informal meetings with staff and other parents.