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The University of Southampton
Early Years CentrePart of Student Services

A typical day

Children at the Centre are organised into four groups; babies, tweenies, toddlers and pre-school. A typical day for each group will include a range of fun activities that meet the requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage. Find out what a typical day might involve below.

For babies the routine remains flexible to allow for different feeding and sleep times. Staff work alongside parents and carers to accommodate the developmental needs as the babies grow. Parents are welcome to visit when they want, and mothers can breastfeed throughout the day as and when they want to. We have a family room available for privacy.


Each day the room is set out with various toys. We have building blocks, shape and colour sorters, balls, musical instruments, activity arches and rattles to stimulate the children's sensory explorations. Babies also have the opportunity to join in various activities including wet sand, pasta, water play, painting and play dough, all under close supervision. Due to this creative play we suggest the babies are dressed for mess! Babies are taken outside of the Centre for a walk once every day.

Sleeping and nappy changing

There is a separate sleep room with cots/mattresses. We do have moses basket for the smaller babies and a cosy area for sleeping should parents wish for these to be used instead of a cot. Each child has fresh bedding and a baby monitor is used in the room. Staff make regular ten minute checks on any sleeping babies. Please provide your own nappies, wipes and cream. Nappies are changed in a separate changing area outside of the baby room.


For younger babies please provide bottles and milk (formula or breast milk) which are clearly labelled with the baby's name. The older babies have snack time milk and fruit provided by the Centre. Lunch varies for each baby depending on whether they are weaning or have progressed onto solids. The food is provided at the correct consistency depending on the stage of weaning. Everything is sterilised for our younger babies. Usually, by the time the babies are one years old a main meal is provided.

A walk
A walk around campus

Tweenies are one to two years of age, and work on the ratio of one practitioner to three children.

As children reach their first birthday they move through into our tweenies’ group. The routine is flexible which allows us to work with the children’s ever changing individual needs.

A combination of adult and child led activities are offered and it is through these experiences the children learn many new and exciting skills. These learning experiences can be offered in a selection of ways, for example, an adult led activity could be a small group story time. Sharing something as simple as a story can offer children the chance to engage in social play with their peers or key person; this could be babbling or describing objects using single words.

Between the ages of one and two years, children’s understanding about the world around them starts to increase. Children in tweenies’ can often be found having fun with paint, jelly play, baked bean play, sticking, or creating their own music with the musical instruments. Children have unlimited access to the Sensory room where they can explore the treasure baskets and engage in heuristic play.

We encourage the children to explore their environment at their own leisure. Resources are within easy reach of the children, on their level, to encourage their independent choices. Free access to our outdoor space is given to the children as often as possible.

Tweenies’ enjoy their Major Minors music class on Thursday mornings.

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Find out more

There is a daily routine and curriculum plan which you can view on the tweenies room notice board.

Toddlers are two to three years of age, and work on the ratio of one practitioner to four children.

By the age of two, toddlers brains are as active as those of adults. Their metabolic rate keeps rising, and by the age of three, a child’s brain is two and a half times more active than an adults.

Your child’s keyworker will focus on many areas of your child’s development where good communication between them and you as a parent plays a vital role in gaining success. For example, updating us about your child’s weekend or if there is a change to their normal routine, if they have had a disturbed night. Potty training tends to start in toddlers and we need to ensure that the same approach is being used both here at the Centre and at home. Information like this can impact on your child’s day, and by the key person being aware of these little changes, we can plan the day so it runs as smoothly as possible for your child.

This room is full of toys appropriate to their age including a home corner with kitchen area, dressing up equipment, trains, cars and garages. All toys stimulate the children's sensory explorations. The children, whilst under close supervision, also join in various activities, such as wet sand, painting, and play dough. The toddlers are taken out to play in the specially designed garden area.

At sleep time, each child has their own sheet and blanket and staff remain in the room, within ratio, at all times.

Toddlers enjoy Major Minors music class on Thursday mornings and Fitkids at the University Sports Centre on Tuesday mornings.

Find out more

There is a daily routine and curriculum plan which you can view on the Toddler room notice board.


In pre-school, children are encouraged to become more independent and there is a strong focus on learning through play. Activities we do cover many aspects of the Early Years Foundation Stage, and may include:

  • introducing new painting techniques such as splatter painting, food printing, marble painting, string painting, icing sugar painting or bubble painting.
  • a guided walk to observe things in the natural environment and focus on shape, texture, smell, size, colour or changes that are occurring and gathering things to create a picture.
  • using digital cameras; for example, when exploring emotions.
  • bead threading
  • gardening – growing various vegetable and plants, and looking after them.
  • creating dens using blocks, cardboard boxes, blankets and sheets.
  • developing spatial awareness by creating obstacle courses.

Pre-school children have lots of opportunities to practice their emergent reading and writing skills by ensuring each play area offers experiences embedded in their play. For example, in our construction area they can draw their building and staff will support them in labelling or writing about their building; they might make flags and signs to use with their block buildings; and in the creative area there will be paper and pens for them to write prescriptions, draw up shopping lists, create menus, and much more.

Starting school

As your child matures we will support them in preparing for school. Your child will be encouraged to be more independent in setting up and tidying away their play and to undertake specific tasks following simple instructions. We will talk to your child about their new school and share stories and experiences (for example, from visits to school) to make the transition as exciting as possible, while recognising that for some children it may also be a time of anxiety.

During your child’s final year with us, their routine will be more structured, although still based around play. The length of time children spend developing a topic or theme will increase; for example, they might develop the props for the let’s pretend area. We will also encourage the children to work in larger groups and be confident about sharing their ideas and thoughts with others while also listening and developing other people’s ideas.

Find out more

Outdoor play

Pre-school children have regular access to the outside area, which contains a wide range of play equipment for them to use. There is also a fenced garden area where the children grow their own vegetables and flowers and learn to care for things in their natural environment. There are set times during the day when children in Pre-school will be taken outside as a group; however, they can also choose to play outdoors at other times of the day.

What we are doing now

You can see what specific activities are planned for your child by looking at the environment plan on the base room notice board. The fruits of the children's labours are also displayed on the walls for everyone to enjoy.

Tips for preparing for school

As soon as you know which school your child is going to and their start date, please let your child’s key worker know. If you know the name of your child’s teacher this would be helpful too. We have formed links with some schools and their teachers may visit us or we may visit them. We will share information with your child’s new school and teacher. On occasion we may also take groups of children starting the same school on a visit to the school (with your consent, of course). This will help the school to develop a holistic view of your child and a better understanding of their specific needs.

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