02/07/2009 09:48 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

What Your Child Did In Nursery Today: Ages 1 To 4

Ever wonder exactly what goes on at nursery? You know your child comes home with the odd card, cake or painting. Mostly, it's a bit of mystery.

Nurseries and child-minders follow the Early Years Foundation Stage, a structure of learning education specialists and the government created for all children in England. It emphasises each child being an individual, and learning through play.

Here's how one Manchester nursery uses it to plan for toddlers age 18 months to 3 years:

8 – 9.30am Children hang coats up, choose place to play, choose seat at table and select breakfast foods, help tidy up, group time with stories or singing, dress for outdoor play and play out.

9.30 Inside children return own coats to peg, choose place to play exploring environment and resources (free play). Adult led activity also available.

11.10 – 12.30 Children help tidy up, are praised for doing so then wash their own hands. During lunch they learn how to handle cutlery, join in conversation and take turns listening and talking.

12.30 Sleep time.1.00-3.15 Children choose a snack and/or drink, free play, dress for outdoor play. After playing out they wash their own hands and sit down for tea.

3.15 Tea (as lunch)

4.00 Quiet time or stories and free play. At home time children say goodbye to friends and staff

Nursery staff and childminders are trained to watch and listen to what your child is enjoying most when left to choose for themselves (free play). They then plan adult led activity based on that, to help each child learn the skills and understanding they need in daily life.

My little boy likes to play cooking so staff might organise a pretend tea party where he can help make the food, or bake real biscuits with the group and ask him to help with mixing and stirring. Now I know that, he can help us cook at home and we keep him entertained with 'cooking' at bath time.

Talking to staff about what goes on in the day can help you discover wonderful new things about your child, making your own lives a little easier and happier.