Preschool and the Community
A community is more than just a place, or a collection of individuals who happen to live in the same place.
When we talk about a ‘sense of community’ we usually mean the quality of the relationships and connections
that bind people together; rather than just the fact that they see each other regularly.
As early years professionals, creating a ‘sense of community’ is an important part of what we do.
It is integral to the core themes of belonging and identity that run through the Early Years Foundation stage (EYFS).
While the saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ seems quite cliché, the idea behind it, that children grow up as a part of a community, remains an important one. Children do grow up in the context of a community. How we acknowledge this and engage with our own local communities will have a significant impact on children and families, as well as on our own ways of working. For children, a sense of community plays an important role in the development of their feelings of belonging and security. Children thrive in an environment of mutually supportive and caring relationships.
For this reason, developing a sense of community within Horsted Keynes Preschool is crucial. It is also valuable for children to feel part of a wider community that extends beyond the learning environment. As children grow and develop, connections to the outside environment help them to find their place in the world, to develop understandings of how society works, and to recognise and understand the shared values that underpin our society.
Strong links with the local community also provide us with invaluable information and resources. By drawing on community knowledge and expertise, we are better able to understand the children and families who attend Horsted Keynes Preschool, and we can provide children with better learning experiences that are meaningful and relevant to their lives.
If we want children to learn about the value of community and connections with others, then we need to consider the example we set and the opportunities that we provide for such learning to occur. Highlighting the connections we have to the community, and making them visible for children, is an important way to do this. Involving children wherever possible in such connections makes the experience meaningful in the
Ways in which we achieve this are Local excursions to the park, Primary school, shop, woods and allotments. We also participate and contribute to community events such as St Giles May Fayre and Christmas Fayre and by having a stall at the Village Market. Inviting community members and organisations into our setting such as the Fire station, The Guide Dogs and the ladies from the village Horticultural show (to help us plant sun flowers to enter) and visiting other groups such as First Steps and the elderly at Westall house all help to connect children with the community.