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Parent's guide to nursery curriculum - importance of early life experiences

Updated: Jul 19, 2022

Are you about to register your little one for a nursery space but aren’t sure what to expect?

Or maybe you’re already registered but are unsure about what we do in the nursery or how your little one is learning?

Over 5 weeks, we are doing a deep dive into everything you need to know about the EYFS, development matters and more to help you better understand our nursery’s curriculum!

In this part, we will cover the importance of early life experiences and learning as well as some ideas of what you can do to help your little one’s development.

Missed part 1? Click here to read it!

Let's dive straight in!

The importance of early life experiences

Did you know…the first three years of life are the most sensitive time for brain development?! Your baby’s early experiences are vital for building a healthy brain.

As soon as your baby is born, they’re ready to learn. When you interact (by playing and talking) with your baby, their brain forms more than a million new brain connections every second!

These early moments are known as serve and return and they shape your little one’s brain in ways that help their learning, health, and behaviour both now and in the future.

Loving and responsive care is key

Researchers say that the most important thing you can give your child is love as well as responsive care.

By responsive care, we mean noticing what your baby needs and the signals they show. This will help you build feelings of trust and safety.

The comfort and care you offer your baby will help them feel safe and encourage them to explore the world around them.

When your little one cries and you respond in a sensitive way, they learn that they matter and can rely on you!


Physical development

It’s super important for your child to be physically active and eat well. Children learn through their bodies! This is because every time they move, their brains build new connections.

Children need physical activity to develop their coordination, posture, and balance.

These are building blocks that will help your little one be ready to sit still and concentrate for a prolonged period when at school.

Physical activity also encourages the development of hand-eye coordination, which is used for reading and writing.

As well as all of this, physical activity will help them learn more about social rules and managing feelings.

More on experiences

Research tells us that what happens at home makes the biggest difference to your little one’s early development and learning.

Playing together, enjoying books, singing, drawing, and finding out about letters, numbers and shapes through play are great activities to do at home.

These activities are referred to in nurseries as learning opportunities.

These learning opportunities will make a big difference to your child’s learning right up to secondary school.

Chat, Play, Read

Children love to talk… about all sorts of things! Make time every day to have back and forth conversations with your little one.

And remember! Don’t feel embarrassed about talking to your baby, it’s never too early to start communicating with them.

When chatting or thinking of playtime activities, go with what your child seems interested in. This will help them learn a lot of new words as the more interested they are, the more engaged they will be!


If you know more than one language, this section is particularly relevant. You can also click here for our full bilingual guide for more information.

The benefits of your little one learning more than one language are massive!

Play and chat with them in the language that you feel most comfortable and are most confident in using.

We also recommend singing, reading, and telling stories in your home (or additional) language ⎯ rhyme and repetition will help your child to remember different words.

Home languages give your child a connection to their culture. Encourage your child to use all of their languages, this will help them feel closer to the people and community.



Playtime helps your little one learn about themselves and the world.

Children need time and space to play freely. Sometimes it is helpful if you join in with your child’s play, too (but in these cases be sure to follow your child’s lead to not disturb their thinking process).

Children also need outdoor play – you can find out more about the importance of outdoor play in our forest school guide by clicking here.

Did you know play is essential for your child’s well-being and development? It’s even part of the children’s rights convention created by the UN in 1989.

There are plenty of everyday moments like bath time and dinner that you can help make playful, this will allow your little one to learn about daily routines in a fun and relaxed way.


Sharing books and telling stories is a great way to bond with your child, it builds closeness and encourages conversations.

Sharing books with your little one early on will help them to develop a love for reading.

Be sure to read and share stories with your baby, also talk to them about what is happening in the pictures.

Repeating the same book is totally fine! Children love to hear their favourite stories over and over again.

Building a brighter and fairer future for all

Your child’s early years are so important in shaping their views and attitudes. You will make a difference in how they see the world.

It’s vital to think openly about your own views and to be open to exploring your (and different) ways of thinking.

Girls and boys can do anything! But unfortunately, they are often treated differently early on. These sorts of limitations (and others) can start early and hold children back.

Parents of all races, ethnicities and cultures need to work together to understand how harmful racism is to everyone.

Talking about race is the first step to challenging racism.

Helping your little one to develop anti-racist attitudes is important - every child and family should have a sense of belonging regardless of their race, ethnicity, or culture.

From about three months old, babies become aware of other races. Children are inquisitive so they will notice differences in skin colour and may ask questions that make you feel uncomfortable.

It’s important that your response is calm, positive, and well-informed.

How you can help your child to talk about race

From birth to three, your little one will naturally be curious about the world around them. Giving your child books and toys that show people from a range of ethnicities positively is super important!

From about three years old, children start to notice if things aren’t shared fairly, they will also start to show that they don’t like it.

From about five years old, children can talk about unfairness. You can start to have conversations about how unfair things can happen because of the colour of somebody’s skin.

Children of this age love to engage in role-playing as well as pretend play. This will help your child to learn about other people's ideas, feelings, and actions.

Click here for a BBC resource for further information on explaining racism to children.

Thanks for reading part 2!

We will continue the guide next week (out Thursday) with the importance of nursery/parent partnerships and the characteristics of effective teaching & learning.


Thanks for reading! Don't forget to check out our nurseries by clicking here.

OR... why not visit us in person, click here to book a show-around now!



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