The Early Years Foundation Stage
Every child deserves the best possible start in life and the support that enables them to fullfil 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.
Purpose and Aims
The EYFS seeks to provide:
Quality and consistency in all early years settings, so that every child makes good progress and no child gets left behind;
A secure foundation through planning for the learning and development of each individual child, and assessing and reviewing what they have learned regularly;
Partnership working between practitioners and with parents and/or carers;
Equality of opportunity and anti-discriminatory practice, ensuring that every child is included and supported.
The EYFS specifies requirements for learning and development and for safeguarding children and promoting their welfare.
The learning and development requirements cover:
The Seven Areas Of Learning And Development which must shape activities and experiences (educational programmes) for children in all early years settings which are described below:
The Early Learning Goals that providers must help children work towards. The goals summarise the knowledge, skills and understanding that all young children should have gained by the end of the Reception year, ie. the year that they turn five years old; Learning Goals.
Assessment Arrangements For Measuring Progress when and how practitioners must assess children’s achievements, and when and how they should discuss children’s progress with parents and/or carers.
The Safeguarding and Welfare Requirements cover the steps that providers must take to keep children safe and promote their welfare. These can be found by clicking this link.
Overarching Principles of the EYFS
Four guiding principles should shape practice in early years settings.
- Every child is a unique child, who is constantly learning and can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured.
- Children learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships.
- Children learn and develop well in enabling environments with teaching and support from adults, who respond to their individual interests and needs and help them to build their learning over time. Children benefit from a strong partnership between practitioners and parents and/or carers and,
- Children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates. The framework covers the education and care of all children in early years provision, including children with special educational needs and disabilities
The Seven 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 crucial for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, and for building their capacity to learn, form relationships and thrive.
These three areas, the prime areas, are:
- Communication and Language development involves giving children opportunities to experience a rich language environment; to develop their confidence and skills in expressing themselves; and to speak and listen in a range of situations.
- Physical Development involves providing opportunities for young children to be active and interactive; and to develop their co-ordination, control, and movement. Children must also be helped to understand the importance of physical activity, and to make healthy choices in relation to food.
- Personal, Social and Emotional Development involves helping children to develop a positive sense of themselves, and others; to form positive relationships and develop respect for others; to develop social skills and learn how to manage their feelings; to understand appropriate behaviour in groups; and to have confidence in their own abilities.
Providers must also support children in four specific areas, through which the three prime areas are strengthened and applied.
The specific areas are:
- Literacy involves encouraging children to link sounds and letters and to begin to read and write. Children must be given access to a wide range of reading materials including books, poems, and other written materials to ignite their interest.
- Mathematics involves providing children with opportunities to develop and improve their skills in counting, understanding and using numbers, calculating simple addition and subtraction problems; and to describe shapes, spaces, and measures.
- Understanding The World involves guiding children to make sense of their physical world and their community through opportunities to explore, observe and find out about people, places, technology and the environment.
- Expressive Arts and Design involves enabling children to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials, as well as providing opportunities and encouragement for sharing their thoughts, ideas and feelings through a variety of activities in art, music, movement, dance, role-play, and design and technology.
Assessment During EYFS
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 assessmen 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.
To help practitioners with their assessments, we use the Blossom Educational Parent App which allows practitioners to share observations with parents/carers and for parents/carers to share observations from home. Working in partnership with parents/carers, enables practitioners to form a more in depth Learning Journey for the child.
Progress check at age two
When a child is aged between two and three, practitioners must review their progress, and provide parents and/or carers with a short written summary of their child’s development in the prime areas. This progress check must identify the child’s strengths, and any areas where the child’s progress is less than expected. If there are significant emerging concerns, or an identified special educational need or disability, practitioners should develop a targeted plan to support the child’s future learning and development involving other professionals (for example, the provider’s Special Educational Needs Coordinator) as appropriate.