Photo: children playing at Kiddlywinks Nursery, Penrith

Learning Through Play in Early Years Education and Development

Play allows children to use their imagination while developing their thoughts, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. Play is important to healthy brain development. It is through play that children at a very early age engage and interact in the world around them. Dr. Maria Montessori, a leading pioneer, called play "the work of the child". She recognized the vast importance and productivity of play activities in the development of children. In a fast-paced world, our goal at Kiddlywinks is to ensure that children’s learning opportunities are enriched through provocations that inspire children to come and play.

In the under 4s, learning happens everywhere and all the time. By the time a child is past 4, 80% of their brain’s potential is already developed.

The key ingredients to securing the best outcomes for children within the Early Years Foundation Stage are:

The Unique Child
Positive Relationships
Enabling Environments
Learning and Development

These key elements emphasise that the child is of first importance and that all relationships, experiences and the environment together influence how the child will develop, play and learn

Our approach

Our approach is based on the following principles:

  • Offering children power over the path of their learning
  • The environment acts as a third teacher
  • The interests of the children help to instigate future projects
  • The children are seen as proficient unique individuals with knowledge, understanding and interests.

At Kiddlywinks the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum is carefully woven like a creative tapestry throughout all we do. We focus on the distinct needs of the individuality of children from birth to 5 years of age through a holistic play-based approach to curriculum delivery that includes all the key elements required for securing the best outcomes for our extraordinary children.

Download a copy of the EYFS

There is some lovely information available regarding children’s development and learning within their first five years in relation to the Early Years Foundation Stage. The booklet, “What to expect, when” is written to help parents know what to expect during these vitally important years through the seven areas of learning. You can download the booklet from this page of the Foundation Years website.

It is important as practitioners we know how children are developing and learning so that we can identify and support their learning strengths and needs. We place high importance on listening to and observing children. The teachers observe, take photos, scribe and document their day and the learning processes the children go through. Through ongoing observations, we will learn not only what the children are learning but also how they learn as individuals. The interests of the child are then used and developed by the teacher, to plan and fuel a genuine desire to learn on the part of the child.


Your child's progress is carefully tracked, monitored and recorded via our online parent partnership learning portal: Primary Essence. This system enables a child's parent/carer to see photos, developmental and learning achievements and other special moments of a child's time at Kiddlywinks. The secure password protected online system is accessible remotely 24 hours a day but is only accessible for each child by their parent/carer.

Practitioners are masterful in setting up invitations to extend broad and balanced learning that reflects individual children’s interests or learning styles and sensitively draw children in with subconscious messages and provocations to explore, to be inquisitive and curious so that they can engage in deep levels of learning and critical thinking and achieve to their highest level .

Photo: children at Kiddlywinks Nursery

Whether they are counting shells, making potions, wading through mud, holding a wiggly worm in their hand or climbing trees, your child will be developing the knowledge and skills required to be proactive learners across all areas of learning both through their own curious enquiry and through sensitive “in the moment” teaching.

In addition we work closely with a wealth of exceptionally talented wider professionals within Kiddlywinks to ensure that all children have opportunities and experiences such as extended language, outings, the arts, poetry, drama, exhibitions, that will enrich their cultural capital and open children’s senses to a new world.

Dr. Howard Gardner, a professor of education at Harvard University, sums up cultural capital and cultural entitlement with the beautiful phrase that: “Every child has a spark inside him and it’s our responsibility to ignite that spark”.

We Champion Communication

The early years has been proved to be the most important time for children’s development, especially in relation to speech, language and communication.

Being able to speak clearly, be understood and to understand and interact with others plays a significant role in securing the best outcomes in all other areas of learning

Our role is to promote the development of good speech, language and communication for all children.

Our mission is not only to support the developmental needs the child but also to ensure there is a united approach in nursery and at home in order to strengthen and enrich children’s, language and communication developmental opportunities from birth.

We take our role very seriously and have our eyes wide open and our minds free to acknowledge the many ways that children are able to communicate competently.

Our nursery manager is part of the ELDP = Early language Development Programme and a licensed trainer. She works closely with the team to ensure we offer a language and communication friendly environment. Strategies are embedded within daily practice to promote this intrinsic area such as:

  • Reduced dummy use
  • Chatter friendly environments
  • Limited screen time
  • Listening friendly areas
Photo: small group of children at Kiddlywinks Nursery

Through the help of our parents/carers a child’s speech, language and communication development is monitored closely. Through discussion with parents/carers interventions and strategies may be carefully put in place to proactively support children who require a little bit of magic Kiddlywinks intervention, such as:

  • Focused activity time within our Chatter group
  • Say it and sign it
  • Sing and sign
  • Small group time
  • And through everyday language rich role models

We can also refer to audiology and speech and language for advice and guidance if interventions have limited impact.

We work extremely closely with speech and language therapists and wider educational and health specialists.

We also have highly skilled practitioners who are able to use:

Curriculum Enhancements

Although we occasionally change the professionals who visit the nursery to deliver specific programmes, the following are regular activities that children dependant on age and stage of development will have access to during their session within Kiddlywinks. These activities are free of charge so that all children attending on a specific day are able to capitalise on the rich learning developmental opportunities on offer.

  • Kiddlywinks is an affiliated Sing and Sign Nursery
  • Forest schools and Grass Hoppers Group
  • Yoga and Mindfulness
  • Sports and Wellbeing Programmes
  • Rhythm Time music classes
  • Chatter Group Speech and Language Programme
  • Smiles for Life Programme
  • Outings and Walks
  • Library visits
  • Visits from professionals within the Community

OUR Enabling Environments: Hygge and The Curiosity Approach

Our approach is a modern-day approach to Early Childhood yet echoes the best memories of childhoods of years gone by. Our approach takes parts from some of the most renowned pioneers of early years such as Reggio, Steiner, Te Whāriki with a sprinkle of Montessori.

The environments that children engage within are intrinsic in shaping little minds and at Kiddlywinks we are on a mission to develop ongoing high-quality environments that provide wonder, awe, curiosity and thoughtfulness. Beauty is innate within us all, what we offer children should reflect beauty and at Kiddlywinks we seek to create environments that are appealing, magical and offer a treasure trove of alluring resources that provide opportunity for curiosity to grow. Our ongoing mission is to create joyful learning environments. Since opening our doors it’s evident all our families want the same for their children; an inspiring and engaging place to learn and play and we are confident that Kiddlywinks and Kiddlywinks The Meadows has created this through child centred Mindful Environments.


We are advocates for calm and tranquil spaces

Hygge is a Danish word used when acknowledging a sensation or moment, ordinary or extraordinary as delightful, warm of special. Hygge is pronounced hue-gah or hoo-gah. Happiness researchers continually find Denmark to have some of the happiest people on Earth, which Danes attribute to hygge.

The Curiosity Approach

At Kiddlywinks we have embarked on an incredible environment development accredited approach called The Curiosity Approach. This approach inspires children through curiosity, awe and wonder. Through this advance, children’s learning opportunities are strengthened through the development of mindful enchanting environments and the enrichment of authentic resources, recycled materials and loose parts.

Logos: NDNA, Early Years Alliance, I Can, Sing & Sign, Smile 4 Life