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10

D R A G O N S T O D AY S U MM E R 2 0 1 6

L I T T L E D R A G O N S

reating a healthy, happy

and productive learning

environment is integral

to Dragon School culture.

At the heart of this is creative

development, which enables

effective, independent and

life-long learning in all areas, be

they social skills, mathematics,

engineering or art. Fostering this

development is fundamental

to all activities in the Pre-Prep

from the moment the youngest

Dragons enter Reception.

The most effective way to stimulate creative

development is through play. This can be

child-initiated or planned by the teacher,

can be indoors or outdoors, individual or as

part of a group. Through making choices

while playing, children have endless

opportunities to explore their environment,

including the people, creatures and objects

within it. A worm or caterpillar found in

the middle of the playground can provide

endless fascination, discussion about

habitats as well as empathy and care.

The Dragon provides a safe environment

where children can play and take risks:

they learn to gauge their limitations, extend

them and experience joy and achievement

from their strengths. They experiment and

learn that it is perfectly fine to make

mistakes, to look at activities or situations

differently, and to review our thoughts - this

is how we learn. By taking ownership of

their learning, children develop and embed

skills and ideas more effectively. They also

develop responsibility for their choices and

actions. This, in turn, lays the foundation

for independent and resilient learners.

...a safe environment where children

can play and take risks; they learn to

gauge their limitations, extend them

and experience joy and achievement

from their strengths.

Clearly, children in the Pre-Prep are

not free to make their own choices all

of the time, but there are countless

opportunities throughout the school day

where we give the children a choice and

demonstrate to them that their voice

is valued and effective. More formal

examples of choice have occurred when

the children have voted for a range of

charities by putting a button in the box of

their chosen organisation. It demonstrates

that every child’s view matters and that all

contributions are valued. In addition, the

quality of the relationships between adults

and children, founded on mutual respect

rather than on command-and-control style

authority, can’t be stressed enough.

We constantly review our approach to

teaching and learning. Three years ago,

we introduced the Creative Curriculum

model to guide our planning. A half termly

thematic approach enables teachers to

choose learning opportunities from an

infinite variety of subjects, and always

something captivating and inspiring.

For example, the children have enjoyed

visits from an alien and a pantomime

dame, experienced a Pirate Pattern Day,

written letters in a bottle and much more.

Learning is lively, engaging, constantly

reviewed and, indeed, happens without

the children realising they are learning

because they are having so much fun.

The Philosophy for Schools programme,

introduced recently, involves children

being encouraged to think and make

decisions in an open-ended way, to express

freely the reasons for their decisions and

to be open to persuasion from others.

They are also free to change their opinions

without judgment if need be. This

programme directly supports creative

development through fostering curiosity,

decision-making and empathy. The level

of creative thought witnessed during these

sessions is at times breath-taking as the

children are fearless and direct in their

opinions and become confident enough to

express them. They do, though, also listen

respectfully and reflect with care - valuable

skills for life. These activities support our

values-based approach which encourages

all members of the school community to

conduct themselves with kindness, courage

and respect.

Creative Development

C

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