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  • Writer's pictureRachel

Why go to a Wilbur and Flops preschool class?

Why not try one?

Since lockdown, lots of lovely classes have started up and many are held on Friday mornings so families have lots of choice. If you would like to know what makes a Wilbur and Flops an excellent choice for your child, read on!

We meet on Friday mornings in the studio, with the option to bring along your slippers for a cosy story time feel. Each class is bespoke, planned after the previous class, to meet the learning needs of the children attending. Wilbur and Flops is not a franchise, and there are no gimmicks!

The main aims of each session are to foster a love of books and stories, and to help each child to begin their reading journey, through exploring the many elements of language that form the foundations for learning to read. The profile of language and communication has recently been boosted through the new Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum, and giving children a broad range of opportunities to experience and practise language is crucial.

During each class, some children like to potter whilst listening and that is totally fine! We can only expect little ones to give their attention to a directed activity for a minute for each year of their age. When we sit for a story, this pushes the typical attention span, but within just a few weeks, parents and carers notice their children concentrating on each element of a Wilbur and Flops class for much longer. If they're busy doing something else, they are often listening, developing two-channelled attention, and will come out with words or phrases they've heard, later in the day.

What happens in a typical class?

We always start with a self-registration activity, helping children to begin to recognise that print carries meaning and to find their own name in writing. The fun continues with our welcome song, greeting Wilbur, Flops and the children by name, (apologies that it's an ear worm for the rest of the day!), clapping syllables, or beats in names, and then a few more songs and rhymes, promoting an understanding and enjoyment of rhythm, rhyme, alliteration, pitch and tone. Repetition is key, so that children really get to know the language structures in the songs and rhymes.

After this introduction, we usually share a story, which initiates the underlying theme of the class. From dinosaurs to elephants, people to pandas, there's something for everyone across a block of sessions. Recently the dinosaurs returned for another week because they were so popular!

In each class, we are developing key skills which include:

  • the use of action, gesture and a little signing when communicating;

  • listening to, and making, sounds (including the correct pronunciation and articulation of isolated sounds, ready for talking and then for phonics);

  • rhythm and rhyme;

  • alliteration (using the same sound to start each word e.g. baby bunny or pink pig);

  • oral blending and segmenting, or sound talk (blending individual sounds into words or breaking words into syllables and sounds - this is the magic skill that makes for easy reading when letters are introduced), and

  • developing vocabulary through naming and describing.

Children who start school with a broad range of experience in these skills usually find learning to read much easier than their peers. Research also suggests that if children know eight nursery rhymes by the time they are four years old, they are usually among the best readers and spellers by the time they are eight years old. (Credit: Mem Fox).

After the story, we share a range of activities that might include showing objects brought from home with the same initial sound, objects with three sounds or syllables, or other things to develop a particular skill. We sometimes get out the parachute, using it in clever ways to sneak language play into active play, then use a range of other resources linked to the story or sound of the day. In the last half term, we've used dinosaurs, scarves, musical instruments, boxes, tubes, bears and blankets, coloured balls, bowls and buckets, and many more things, all to help active learners to develop language and pre-phonics skills. Everything we do can be replicated easily at home, to continue the learning journey, creating essential links in the brain for your little learners to grow in their understanding and language development.

We often have another short story before it's time to go, then sing our goodbye song (just to make sure the ear worm sticks!), and that's it! Armed with new skills, off everyone goes to continue the learning until the next class.

A new six week block of sessions runs every half term at Butterflies in Thirsk. Please email for more information.

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