The Early Years Foundation Stage refers to provision in school for the preschool and Reception classes. We follow the EYFS Framework which explains how and what children will be learning from birth to 5 years old. This curriculum provides the foundations that children need in order to develop and make the most of their abilities as they grow. Children’s early years experience should be happy, active, exciting, fun and secure; and support their development, care and learning needs. Every child deserves the best possible start in life and the support that enables them to fulfil their potential. Children develop quickly in the early years and a child’s experiences before the age of five will have a major impact on their future life chances.
Children will learn skills, acquire new knowledge and demonstrate their understanding through 7 areas of learning and development.
Children should mostly develop the 3 prime areas first. These are:
- Communication and language (Listening and Attention, Understanding, Speaking)
- Physical development (Moving and Handling, Health and Self-Care)
- Personal, social and emotional development (Managing Feelings and Behaviour, Self Confidence and Self Awareness, Making Relationships)
These prime areas are those most essential for a child’s healthy development and future learning.
As children grow, the prime areas will help them to develop skills in 4 specific areas. These are:
- Literacy (Reading and Writing)
- Mathematics (Numbers and Shape, Space and Measures)
- Understanding the world (The World, Technology, People and Communities)
- Expressive arts and design (Exploring and Using Media and Materials, Being Imaginative)
All 7 areas of learning are used to plan children’s learning and activities. The professionals teaching and supporting your child will make sure that the activities are suited to your child’s unique needs. This is a little bit like the curriculum in the rest of the school but it's suitable for very young children, and it's designed to be really flexible so that staff can follow your child's unique needs and interests.
Children in the EYFS learn by playing and exploring, being active, and through creative and critical thinking which takes place both indoors and outside. It is very important that they develop social skills, such as turn-taking, sharing and independence, which help them greatly in the next stages of their learning. The guiding principles that shape our practice in the Early Years are that children are born ready, able and eager to learn. They actively reach out to interact with other people, and in the world around them. Development is not an automatic process, however. It depends on each unique child having opportunities to interact in positive relationships and enabling environments.
A typical day in the Early Years will consist mostly of child-initiated and child-led activities. Children will access a variety of activities in the provision independently and learn through their play. Adults are there to support and challenge to ensure children are purposefully learning. In the environment, there are also opportunities to practise and consolidate skills and knowledge taught during adult-led time. Maths, Phonics and sharing a quality text are a key part of the Foundation Stage day and help to develop early basic skills.
If you visited our preschool or Reception class, you would see a range of activities taking place such as role-play, practical games, painting, cutting and sticking, building, wordbuilding, counting, reading in the book corner. You would also see the outdoor classroom in operation, with equipment such as bikes, large construction, sand and water.
Assessment plays an important part in helping parents, carers and practitioners to recognise children’s progress, understand their needs, and to plan activities and support. Ongoing assessment is an integral part of the learning and development process. It involves practitioners observing children to understand their level of achievement, interests and learning styles, and to then shape learning experiences for each child reflecting those observations. In their interactions with children, practitioners should respond to their own day-to-day observations about children’s progress, and observations that parents and carers share. To this end we make systematic observations and assessments of each child's achievements, interests and learning styles. We then use these observations and assessments to identify learning priorities and plan relevant and motivating learning experiences for each child. These observations are all recorded on our online Learning Journey Tapestry which parents can access and make contributions to.
Each child’s level of development is assessed against the early learning goals. At the end of the Reception year, practitioners will indicate whether children are meeting expected levels of development:
- Emerging, not yet reaching expected levels of development for age
- Exceeding, , beyond expected levels of development for age