Teachwire Logo

8 Ways to Boost Early Years Learning by Exploring your Community

Take the time to discover your neighbourhood and you’ll find countless opportunities to broaden children’s understanding of the world, says Emma Davis…

  • 8 Ways to Boost Early Years Learning by Exploring your Community

Venturing out

Although children attending Busy Bees Ledbury encounter a wealth of experiences and opportunities within the setting, I really value the input the community can have on their learning and development.

We regularly visit local areas such as the park and take walks around the neighbourhood. These outings lead us to think of different types of houses, making links to size, shape and number, and considering issues such as littering and traffic congestion.

As we plan through interests, we look for openings to enhance learning through outdoor experiences. Interest in bears was extended through bear hunts in the woods, number and shape hunts took place on a nearby housing estate, and a windy day led us to fly carrier bag kites on a local green.

These practical experiences can spark a sense of curiosity in a child, prompting them to verbalise what they are seeing and hearing around them. Sensitive interactions from practitioners support children’s ideas through engagement in sustained shared thinking. We wonder together.

Off to the coffee shop

Interest recently developed in the area where we live and the people around us. This seemed like a perfect opportunity to call on the help of local services to enhance our understanding of their role in the community.

In discussions with the children, we thought about the shops – where could we go if we wanted to buy an apple? Who could help us in an emergency? Some of the children talked excitedly about a new coffee shop that had opened, so we decided to go for a visit.

The children looked at the menu, deciding what to order, recognised numerals, used money to pay and sat beautifully with their baby hot chocolates and mini milkshakes.

Emergency services

In further discussions led by the children, we learned of their interest in the fire station. We wondered how many engines there were there and what they looked like inside, and what the firefighters wore to protect themselves.

Fortunately, our local fire station is very supportive and were happy for us to take the children along to answer their questions. They let us have a go with the hose, showed us what their equipment looks like and demonstrated a thermal imaging camera.

The highlight for us was seeing a curtain hose in action, which was a wonderful sight.

To extend the interest in local services, two local Police Community Support Officers visited us and answered lots of questions. They invited us to the police station to look at the vehicles, and we gladly accepted.

Children sat in the cars, tried the sirens and lights, and listened to information about the role of the police. They particularly enjoyed sitting in the cages in the back of the police van!

Learning to belong

And that wasn’t all – we visited the church and train station, chose books from the library and shopped in Tesco. We visited a country market, where we spotted lots of different fruits and vegetables, and enjoyed a snack of toast and home-made biscuits.

These opportunities provide rich learning experiences and helps us integrate further into the community, as a setting and individuals.

The term ‘enabling environments’ needn’t refer solely to the indoor and outdoor provision within a setting – there is scope to include the community too. We can build a sense of belonging, forging valuable links with businesses and services who can inspire learning.

We’ve been warmly welcomed wherever we’ve been, praised for the children’s behaviour and concluded that Ledbury is a fantastic place to live.

Take it further

Pop to the shops
Write a shopping list for snack or a cookery activity, and visit a supermarket to buy the items.

Outdoor art
Go on a texture hunt in the local area, taking along paper and crayons to make rubbings.

Letter writers
Write a letter and walk to the post office to post it. They might even give you some leaflets and forms to use in your role-play area!

Counting cars
Conduct a traffic survey – a great opportunity for thinking about colour and number!

Emma Davis is manager at Busy Bees Ledbury. Follow her on Twitter at @BusyBeesLedbury.

Sign up here for your free Brilliant Teacher Box Set

Make sure your menus are healthy, tasty and offer great value for money with expert guidance from nutritionist Nigel Denby.

Find out more here >