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Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum

The Early Years Foundation Stage Framework underpins all future learning. It gives children the broad range of knowledge and skills that provide the right foundation for successful future progress through school and life.  It sets the standards for the development, learning and care of children from birth to aged 5,  to ensure that they learn and develop well, and are kept healthy and safe. 

Both in the indoor and outdoor learning environment, structured play is an essential part of the teaching and learning process in EYFS.  Children engage in a variety of child initiated and adult led activities. 

Characteristics of Effective Learning

In EYFS, the characteristics of effective learning describe factors that play a central role in a child’s learning and in becoming an effective learner. The characteristics of effective learning run through and underpin all 7 areas of learning and development. They represent processes rather than outcomes. 

The 3 characteristics of effective learning are:

• playing and exploring • active learning • creating and thinking critically

Playing and exploring-engagement

Children are presented with lots of open-ended hands-on experiences, to develop their innate curiosity through playing and exploring. These experiences enable children to builds concepts, tests ideas and finds things out.

Within this element, it is important that children are "willing to have a go." This includes:

• finding an interest

• initiating activities

• seeking challenge

• having a ‘can do’ attitude

• being willing to take a risk in new experiences

• developing the view that failures are opportunities to learn

Active learning - motivation

Within this strand children are encouraged to concentrate and develop a good attention span when engaged in activities of their own or an adult's choosing. They learn the importance of persistence and resilience in the face of challenge, and the sense of pride that can be achieved by meeting their own goals and achieving what they set out to do. 

Creating and thinking critically

Within this element, children are encouraged to generate their own ideas, and develop and link concepts. They are given opportunities to make choices and decisions about how to approach tasks in new ways. They learn to plan what they do in an organised way and change strategies where necessary. 

The Seven Areas of Learning 

There are seven areas of learning in the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum which comprise three Prime areas and four Specific areas. These are as follows:

Prime areas –

  • Communication and Language;
  • Physical Development;
  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development

Communication and Language

Children are given the opportunities to develop their speaking and listening skills by being immersed in a language rich environment.  They participate in small group, class and 1:1 discussions  and are encouraged to offer their own ideas. They are given opportunities to offer explanations and use new vocabulary acquired from their learning. They are encouraged to express their ideas and feelings about their experiences and hold back-and-forth exchanges through conversation with their teachers and peers.

The children are given the opportunity to listen attentively in a range of situations. They listen to stories, responding to what they hear with relevant comments and questions. They learn to give their attention to what others say and respond appropriately, even when engaged in another activity.

Staff intervene to model the use of appropriate vocabulary, to listen to children’s talk and to encourage further discussions and enrich conversations.

Physical Development

In both the indoor and outdoor learning environment the children are given the opportunity to develop their gross and fine motor skills. To enhance their gross motor skills, children are supported to negotiate space and obstacles safely, with consideration for themselves and others. They are given the opportunity, through play, to develop their strength, balance and coordination. Through PE and outdoor learning, they are given opportunities to move energetically and with control, including running, jumping, hopping, skipping, climbing and dancing. Children are helped to understand the importance of physical activity and what they need to do to be healthy and safe. 

Children's fine motor skills are promoted through the use of a range of small tools such as scissors, paintbrushes and cutlery. They are taught how to hold a pencil effectively in preparation for fluent writing and are supported to show accuracy and care when drawing. 

Personal, Social and Emotional Development

This strand includes three elements: self regulation, managing self and building relationships. Within the self-regulation strand, children are taught how to set and work towards simple goals, being able to wait for what they want and control their immediate impulses. They learn to understand their own feelings and those of others and regulate their behaviour accordingly. They learn to give focussed attention to what the teacher says, and follow instructions involving several ideas or actions.

In the managing self strand, children are encouraged to have the confidence to try new activities and show independence, resilience and perseverance in the face of challenges. They are introduced to simple class and school rules and learn to make good choices, knowing right from wrong. High expectations of acceptable behaviour are continually addressed with the children and reinforced through the school values. Within this strand, children learn to manage their own basic hygiene and personal needs including dressing, managing their own belongings and going to the toilet.  Daily access to fruit, milk and water, and regular cooking opportunities enable children to make simple healthy choices in relation to food.

Within the building relationships strand, children are taught to play and work cooperatively with others and to take turns. They learn to form positive attachments to adults and friendships with peers. They are encouraged to show sensitivity to the needs of others.  

It is important that each child feels valued so that a strong self-image and self-esteem are promoted. The support given to children helps them to form positive relationships and to develop respect for each other.  Positive praise is used to emphasise children’s abilities to develop their confidence and self-worth.

Specific areas –

  • Literacy;
  • Mathematics;
  • Understanding the World;
  • Expressive Arts and Design

Literacy

The literacy area of learning is broken down into three strands: comprehension, word reading and writing.

Word Reading

Children receive daily phonics teaching following the Letters and Sounds Programme where they are taught to link sounds to individual letters and groups of letters from the alphabet. They are taught to use their phonic knowledge to blend sounds in order to read simple phonetically plausible words. They also learn to read common exception words that cannot be sounded out phonetically. [eg. they said, we, have]. These elements enables them to read aloud simple sentences from books and stories, matched to their phonic knowledge.  

Comprehension 

The comprehension strand promotes children's understanding of what has been read to them by retelling stories in their own words. They are given opportunities to predict and anticipate events in stories and use new vocabulary during discussions about stories, non-fiction, rhymes, poems and through role play.  

Word reading and comprehension are  also promoted through guided reading sessions in small groups, individual reading with the teacher, class stories, story sacks and library sessions.

The children are given access to a wide range of quality reading materials within the classroom.

Writing

Children are taught how to write recognisable letters which are correctly formed, using the school cursive handwriting style. They learn to write simple phrases and sentences which can be read by others and spell words, representing the sounds with groups of phonetically plausible letters. 

Mathematics

The children are presented with many opportunities in the indoor and outdoor learning environments  to explore number and challenge their mathematical understanding.  The environments aim to be ‘number rich’ so that children appreciate that numbers are all around them and can make mathematical links throughout the curriculum e.g. reading prices during shopping role play. Mathematical development encompasses 2 strands: Number and Numerical Patterns.

Number

Children are taught to have a deep understanding of number to 10, including the composition of each number. They learn to subitise [recognise quantities without counting] to 5. They solve simple addition and subtraction problems and given opportunities to develop automatic recall of number bonds to 5 and 10.

Numerical Patterns

Children learn to count beyond 20 and recognise the pattern of the number system. They compare quantities to 10, recognising when one quantity is more than, less than or the same as the other quantity. They explore patterns within numbers to 10, including odds and evens and double facts. 

 

Understanding the World

Understanding the World gives children the opportunity to explore, observe and find out about people, cultures and communities, the past and present and the natural world. 

Past and Present

Within this strand children talk about the lives of those around them and their roles in society. They  explain simple differences between familiar things in the past and now, and begin to understand the past through books read in class and storytelling.

People, Cultures and Communities

Within this area, children describe their immediate environment and use simple maps. They encounter different religious and cultural communities, noting simple similarities and differences. They learn about life in this country and other countries. 

The Natural World

Within this strand, the children explore the natural world around them, making simple observations and drawings of animals and plants. They compare contrasting environments and understand some important processes and changes in the natural world, including the seasons and changing states of matter. 

Expressive Arts and Design

Creating with materials.

Children are given the opportunity to safely use and explore a variety of tools, materials and techniques, experimenting with colour, design, texture, form and function. They enjoy designing, making and sharing their creations with others, explaining how they made them.

Performing

Children enjoy inventing, adapting and recounting stories with their peers and the teacher. They are given opportunities to sing and perform rhymes, songs, poems and stories with others and engage in role play. Dancing and moving in time to music are also promoted. The learning environment is very well resourced to provide opportunities and encouragement for collaborative and imaginative play to develop children’s creativity.