The Early Years Foundation Stage
What is the Early Years Foundation Stage?
This is the Curriculum for Early Years children aged between 0 and 5 years. The EYFS is organised into 7 areas of learning with a strong emphasis on active learning, play and exploration and creating and thinking critically. For each area of learning there is a set of ‘developmental stages’ and ‘early learning outcomes’ which most children are expected to achieve by the end of the EYFS (Reception). The staff plan the curriculum to ensure the children make good progress towards the goals.
Pupils experience a range of activities indoors and outdoors, whatever the weather to develop skills, knowledge and independence; they learn actively within a strong routine. Children will bring home regular information about what they are learning through weekly newsletters.
You can find out more about the curriculum your child is following and what you can do with your child at home at: What to Expect in the Early Years Foundation Stage
The 3 Prime Areas of Learning
Communication and Language
The development of children’s spoken language underpins all seven areas of learning and development. Children’s back-and-forth interactions from an early age form the foundations for language and cognitive development. The number and quality of the conversations they have with adults and peers throughout the day in a language-rich environment is crucial. By commenting on what children are interested in or doing, and echoing back what they say with new vocabulary added, practitioners will build children’s language effectively. Reading frequently to children, and engaging them actively in stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems, and then providing them with extensive opportunities to use and embed new words in a range of contexts, will give children the opportunity to thrive. Through conversation, storytelling and role play, where children share their ideas with support and modelling from their teacher, and sensitive questioning that invites them to elaborate, children become comfortable using a rich range of vocabulary and language structures.
Physical activity is vital in children’s all-round development, enabling them to pursue happy, healthy and active lives. Gross and fine motor experiences develop incrementally throughout early childhood, starting with sensory explorations and the development of a child’s strength, co-ordination and positional awareness through tummy time, crawling and play movement with both objects and adults. By creating games and providing opportunities for play both indoors and outdoors, adults can support children to develop their core strength, stability, balance, spatial awareness, co-ordination and agility. Gross motor skills provide the foundation for developing healthy bodies and social and emotional well-being. Fine motor control and precision helps with hand-eye co-ordination which is later linked to early literacy. Repeated and varied opportunities to explore and play with small world activities, puzzles, arts and crafts and the practise of using small tools, with feedback and support from adults, allow children to develop proficiency, control and confidence.
Personal, Social and Emotional Development
Children’s personal, social and emotional development (PSED) is crucial for children to lead healthy and happy lives, and is fundamental to their cognitive development. Underpinning their personal development are the important attachments that shape their social world. Strong, warm and supportive relationships with adults enable children to learn how to understand their own feelings and those of others. Children should be supported to manage emotions, develop a positive sense of self, set themselves simple goals, have confidence in their own abilities, to persist and wait for what they want and direct attention as necessary. Through adult modelling and guidance, they will learn how to look after their bodies, including healthy eating, and manage personal needs independently. Through supported interaction with other children, they learn how to make good friendships, co-operate and resolve conflicts peaceably. These attributes will provide a secure platform from which children can achieve at school and in later life.
The 4 Specific Areas of Learning
Developing a strong grounding in number is essential so that all children develop the necessary building blocks to excel mathematically. Children should be able to count confidently, develop a deep understanding of the numbers to 10, the relationships between them and the patterns within those numbers. By providing frequent and varied opportunities to build and apply this understanding - such as using manipulatives, including small pebbles and ten-frames for organising counting - children will develop a secure base of knowledge and vocabulary from which mastery of mathematics is built. In addition, it is important that the curriculum includes rich opportunities for children to develop their spatial reasoning skills across all areas of mathematics including shape, space and measures. It is important that children develop positive attitudes and interests in mathematics, look for patterns and relationships, spot connections, ‘have a go’, talk to adults and peers about what they notice and not be afraid to make mistakes. In the EYFS children’s mathematical understanding develops through active learning, play and exploration. They use the indoor and outdoor environments, stories, songs, cooking and games to develop this understanding.
It is crucial for children to develop a life-long love of reading. Reading consists of two dimensions: language comprehension and word reading. Language comprehension (necessary for both reading and writing) starts from birth. It only develops when adults talk with children about the world around them and the books (stories and non-fiction) they read with them, and enjoy rhymes, poems and songs together. Skilled word reading, taught later, involves both the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and the speedy recognition of familiar printed words. Writing involves transcription (spelling and handwriting) and composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech, before writing).
For both reading and writing, children will develop phonic knowledge that will enable them to decode, read and write words through the Read, Write Inc. Programme. Phonics takes place through a range of learning experiences e.g. listening activities, songs, rhymes, mnemonics and playing with language throughout the EYFS.
Understanding the World
Understanding the world involves guiding children to make sense of their physical world and their community. The frequency and range of children’s personal experiences increases their knowledge and sense of the world around them – from visiting parks, libraries and museums to meeting important members of society, such as police officers, nurses and firefighters. In addition, listening to a broad selection of stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems will foster their understanding of our culturally, socially, technologically and ecologically diverse world. As well as building important knowledge, this extends their familiarity with words that support understanding across domains. Enriching and widening children’s vocabulary will support later reading comprehension.
Expressive Arts and Design
The development of children’s artistic and cultural awareness supports their imagination and creativity. It is important that children have regular opportunities to engage with the arts, enabling them to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials. The quality and variety of what children see, hear and participate in is crucial for developing their understanding, self-expression, vocabulary and ability to communicate through the arts. The frequency, repetition and depth of their experiences are fundamental to their progress in interpreting and appreciating what they hear, respond to and observe.
Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)
Laurance Haines welcomes all children, and parents are encouraged to inform the school of any SENDs as soon as possible. Parents are welcome to visit the school to see the facilities and share their concerns with the Headteacher or Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO).
Learning in the classroom environment takes many forms. As well as direct teaching through small group and whole class activities, the children develop deeper learning through opportunities to play. The classroom (inside and out) is set up with continuous provision. This includes activities that cover all areas of the curriculum and the children access these independently