The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is a statutory framework, setting standards for Learning, Development and Care for children from birth to five.
The purpose and aims of the EYFS are based on the principles that “every child deserves the best possible start in life and support to fulfil their potential.” It recognises that a child’s experience in the early years has a major impact on their future life chances. The main aim of the EYFS is to help children achieve the five Every Child Matters outcomes of Staying Safe, Being Healthy, Enjoying & Achieving, Making a positive Contribution and Achieving Economic Well-being.
The EYFS principles are grouped into 4 complementary themes:-
A UNIQUE CHILD recognises that every child is a competent learner from birth who can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured. The commitments are focussed around development; inclusion; safety and health and well-being.
POSITIVE RELATIONSHIPS describes how children learn to be strong and independent from a base of loving and secure relationships with parents and a keyperson. The commitments are focussed around respect; partnership with parents; supporting learning and the role of the keyperson.
ENABLING ENVIRONMENTS explains that the environment plays a key role in supporting and extending children’s development and learning. The commitments are focussed around observation, assessment and planning; support for every child; the learning environment; and the wider context – transitions, continuity and multi-agency working.
LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT recognises that children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates, and that all areas of learning and development are equally important and inter-connected.
There are 7 areas covered by the Areas of Learning and Development and Characteristics of Effective Learning, delivered through planned purposeful play with a balance of adult-led and child-initiated activities:
· Personal, Social & Emotional Development – helping children to develop a positive sense of themselves and of others; respect for others; social skills and a positive disposition to learn. Support is also given for children’s emotional well-being to help them to know themselves and what they can do.
Physical Development – opportunities for development to improve skills of coordination, control, manipulation and movement. Children are supported in using all of their senses to learn about the world around them and to make connections between new information and what they already know. Children are supported in developing understanding the importance of physical activity and making healthy choices. Children are also supported to develop self care skills and understanding how be safe during activities and when using tools and equipment.
Communication & Language – supporting competence in listening and attention, understanding and speaking extended by knowledgeable practitioners. Children are provided with opportunities and encouragement to use their skills in a range of situations and for a range of purposes, and are supported in developing the confidence and disposition to do so.
Literacy- Children are supported to develop early reading and writing skills. This is developed through fostering a love of books, awareness of print in the environment and the enjoyment of sharing songs and rhymes which leads to the recognition of individual sounds in words. Writing skills are developed by encouraging exploritory mark making in all areas of the setting using a wide range of materials and through play strengthening finger, hand and arm muscles alongside hand eye co ordination.
Mathematics – children are supported in developing their understanding of this area in a broad range of contexts in which they can explore, enjoy, learn, practise and talk about their developing understanding. Children are given opportunities to practise and extend their skills in these areas and gain confidence and competence in their use.
Understanding the World – children are supported in developing their knowledge, skills and understanding that help them to make sense of the world. Learning is supported through offering opportunities for them to use a range of tools safely; encounter creatures,
people, plants and objects in their natural environments and in real-life situations; undertake practical ‘experiments’ and work with a range of materials.
Expressive Art and Design – creativity must be extended by the provision of support for their curiosity, exploration and play. Opportunities must be provided to explore and share thoughts, ideas and feelings, for example, through a variety of art, music, movement, dance imaginative and role-play activities, mathematics and design and technology.
As part of our assessment tools to monitor speech and language development we also use the National Strategies Early Communication and Language ECAT (Every Child a Talker) sheet. This helps us use our observations in Listening and attention, understanding , talking, social communication and how children pronounce sounds in words to assess and plan next steps in these areas.
How children think and learn is very important. Staff are able to use the Characteristics of Effective Learning to help children develop to best of their ability. Through playing and exploring, encouraging them to find out more, sharing interest in activities and asking open ended questions. Staff also support the children’s development after observing whether children are happy to have a go, persevere if something is tricky and how involved they are in their activities. Children are encouraged to have their own ideas, make links in their learning and choose ways to do things. All these things support the child to become an independent learner and have confidence in their abilities