The Early Years Foundation Stage
The Early Years Foundation Stage Framework, sets the standards for learning, development, and care of children from birth to 5 years old.
It ends when a child enters Key Stage 1
The framework not only sets out expected developmental milestones and developmental links but also supports those working with EYFS age children in providing the correct support, provisions, and learning environment to best enable children to thrive and develop as well as be happy and healthy!
All schools and Ofsted-registered early years providers must follow the EYFS, including childminders, preschools, nurseries and reception classes.
The Early Years Foundation Stage guidelines aim to provide:
- Quality and consistency in all early years classes
- A secure foundation through learning opportunities tailored to the needs of students of this age group
- Partnership working between parents and practitioners
- Equality of opportunity to support children of all backgrounds
The four main EYFS principles that schools and practitioners work to are:
- A Unique Child: Every child is unique and each one responds to different learning methods in different ways. Importantly, every child is capable of being strong, resilient and capable learner with the right guidance.
- Enabling Environments: The environment in which a child learns should prompt and encourage good learning techniques. An enabling environment is one which caters to each individual child's needs and gives them the freedom to expand their knowledge and development.
- Positive Relationships: Children should be encouraged to be strong and independent when required, forming the basis for positive relationships that they will go on to have. They should also be given the safety and security to bolster the relationships they have with those closest to them.
- Learning and Development: By following the Prime and Specific Areas of Learning as part of the statutory EYFS framework, each child will be taught a wide range of skills to aid their physical and mental development.
What are the EYFS Areas of Learning?
The EYFS is divided up into seven areas of learning.
- Personal, Social and Emotional Development (PSED)
- Communication and language (C&L)
- Physical development (PD)
- Literacy (L)
- Mathematics (M)
- Understanding the World (UTW)
- Expressive Arts and Design (EAD)
At Graven Hill Primary School, our Early Years practitioners use their skills and knowledge to plan activities to promote progress in these Areas of Learning. Throughout the day or session, children will have the opportunity to access activities that cover many, if not all the Areas of Learning.
Characteristics of Effective Learning:
A common misconception that often occurs within EYFS, is that children ‘just play’. However, through our planned play and child led play, children learn many skills and concepts, enabling them to begin to make sense of the world around them. Through our carefully engineered play environment, children are able to use language to express thoughts and feelings in real life and play situations, make choices and decisions and use all their senses to explore, investigate and problem solve. Children are supported to practice their skills, test their theories and build on what they already know.
Learning in the EYFS is underpinned by the 'Characteristics of Effective Learning'. These particular characteristics form the skills, which will set children's approach to learning throughout their learning life.
- Playing and exploring which shows how the child is engaging as they investigate and experience things first hand.
- Active learning which shows how a child is motivated to keep on trying when they encounter difficulties or how they enjoy achievements.
- Creating and thinking critically shows the process of thought behind learning, developing their own ideas and creating strategies for carrying these out.
Adult-led learning forms key elements of the EYFS, particularly when helping children to develop specific skills. Practitioners differentiate their approach and know when to apply adult-led learning and when children will benefit from a child-led approach. Children, particularly in reception will also engage with some more ‘formal’ learning techniques.
Assessments take place on a daily basis in EYFS through the form of observations. These observations help practitioners understand each child’s current level of understanding in order to plan for their next steps and inform each child's record of their learning journey.
Early Learning Goals:
At the end of the reception year, children are assessed against an Early Learning Goal in each area. They are assessed as ‘emerging’, ‘expected’ or ‘exceeding’ within each area. Schools report this data to their Local Authority, who are looking for the number of children that achieve a ‘good level of development’, also known as GLD. These assessments help the child's new teacher to plan initial activities to support their learning. Having a Good Level of Development is crucial in enabling children's transition to learning within the National Curriculum.
How we deliver 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.
At Graven Hill Primary School, in line with current Early Years thinking, we believe, through play, children learn many skills and concepts. We do this by providing a safe and secure learning environment that respects and values the thoughts, ideas and input of every child, enabling children feel confident to take risks in their learning and try new things.
Children are able to practice their skills, test their theories and build on what they already know, by being positively encouraged to follow their own thoughts and ideas. Children who are given the time, space and support to create and be creative, will develop the skills and characteristics needed to become lifelong successful learners.