The Early Years Foundation stage
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 between birth and age five have a major impact on their future life chances. A secure, safe and happy childhood is important in its own right. Good parenting and high quality early learning together provide the foundation children need to make the most of their abilities and talents as they grow up. The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) sets the standards that all early years providers must meet to ensure that children learn and develop well and are kept healthy and safe. It promotes teaching and learning to ensure children’s ‘school readiness’ and gives children the broad range of knowledge and skills that provide the right foundation for good future progress through school and life. (P 5, Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage, 2021)
Areas of Learning and Development
There are seven areas of learning and development that must shape educational programmes in early years settings. All areas of learning and development are important and inter-connected. Three areas are particularly important for building a foundation for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, and for building their capacity to learn, form relationships and thrive.
These are the prime areas, are:
Communication and Language,
Personal, Social and Emotional development.
Providers must also support children in four specific areas, through which the three prime areas are strengthened and applied.
The specific areas are:
Understanding the world;
Expressive arts and design.
Educational programmes must involve activities and experiences for children, as follows:
Communication and language development: The development of childrens language underpins all seven areas of learning and development. Children's back and forth interactions from an early age form the foundations for lanuage and cognitive development. 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.
Physical development: enabling them to pursue happy, healthy and active lives. Gross and fine motor experiences develop incrementally throughout early childhood. starting with sensory play explorations and development of a child's strength, co-ordination and positional awarenes through tummy time, crawling and play movements with both objects and adults.
Gross motor skills provide the foundation for developing healthy bodies and socail and emotional well-being. Fine motor control and precision helps with hand to eye co-ordination, which is later linked to early literacy.
Small world play, arts and crafts, puzzles, using small tools.
Personal, social and emotional development: is crucial for children to lead healthy and happy lives, and is fundamental to their cognitive development. Children will be supported to manage emotions, develop a postive sense of self, set themselves simple goals, have confidence in their own ability. they will learn how to look after their bodies, including healthy eating, and manage personal needs independently, such as tolieting and self regulation.
through supporting interaction with other children, they learn how to make good friendships, co-operate and resolve conflicts peaceably.
Literacy development: language comprehension (necessary for both reading and writing) starts from birth. It only develops when adults talk withchildren about the world around them and books (stories and non-fiction) they read with them, enjoy rhymes, poems and songs together.
Mathematical development: Children should be able to count confidently, develop a deep understanding of the numbers to 10, the relationship between them and the patterns within those numbers. this can be done by usinf manipulatives, including small pebbles and tens frames for organising counting. 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 measure.
Understanding the world: Understanding the world involves guiding children to make sense of their physical world and their community. Children's personal experiences increase their knowledge and sense of the world around them from park visits, libraries and museums to meeting important members of society such as police officers, nurses and firefighters.
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 opportunitites to engage with the arts, enabling them to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials such as paints, gloop, clay, play dough, sand and water.
(P 7-10, Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage, 2021)
Characteristics of effective teaching and learning
In planning and guiding children’s activities, practitioners must reflect on the different ways that children learn and reflect these in their practice. Three characteristics of effective teaching and learning are:
Playing and Exploring - children investigate and experience things, and ‘have a go’;
Active learning - children concentrate and keep on trying if they encounter difficulties, and enjoy achievements; and
Creating and Thinking critically - children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas, and develop strategies for doing things.
(P 16, Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage, 2021)
We use learning dinosaurs to support childrens learning, please click below to find out about our learning dinosaurs.