Early Years Foundation Stage
The EYFS department at St Thomas’ Church of England Primary School is a learning environment which aims at all times to be happy because we know that happy children are responsive, receptive and enthusiastic to learning and challenging because we know children are capable and keen to learn, and enjoy the challenge and the achievements that come with it.
Through planned, purposeful play, children are able to discover, practise and refine their skills in literacy and mathematics as well as find out about themselves and their environment. In a broad and balanced way, our provision ensures coverage of the seven areas of learning and responds to the needs and interests of all our children. At all times, we consider characteristics of effective learning which promote positive attitudes to learning, an enthusiasm for knowledge and the confidence to become successful learners.
We follow the principles set out in:
- Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage: setting the standards for learning, development and care for children from birth to five (Department for Education, March 2021)
- Early Years Foundation Stage Profile Handbook (Standards and Testing Agency, updated annually)
- Development Matters in the Early Years Foundation Stage (Early Education 2022)
Other Useful information linked to child development and EYFS
- What to expect, when?- Guidance to your child's learning and development in the Early Years Foundation Stage.
- What to expect in EYFS
- Start well – Information linked to children starting school
- School Nurse
- Information linked to the Reception Baseline
Within EYFS we follow the curriculum as outlined in the EYFS 2021 DFE Statutory framework for the Foundation Stage. The EYFS curriculum is based on seven key features of effective practice as set out in Development Matters 2022
- The best for every child
- High-quality care
- The curriculum: what we want children to learn
- Pedagogy: helping children to learn
- Assessment: checking what children have learnt
- Self-regulation and executive function
- Partnership with parents
As part of our best practice we:
Provide a balanced curriculum, based on the EYFS, across the seven areas of learning
- Promote equality of opportunity and anti-discriminatory practice
- Provide early intervention for those who need additional support
- Work in partnership with parents and where needed outside agencies
- Plan challenging learning experiences for all our children, based on the individual needs of the child
- Provide opportunities for our children to engage in adult led learning and self-initiated learning Provide a secure and safe learning environment indoors and outdoors
- Plan an exciting and challenging curriculum based on our observations of children’s needs, interests and stages of development across the seven areas of learning
Supporting Your Child: Expectations for Learning
There are seven areas which form the basis of the EYFS curriculum. These areas are made up of Prime Areas and Specific Areas. Each area of learning has a set of related expectations for typical development through the Early Years. National expectations are that within Nursery most children will work within the 3 – 4 year band of development and some within the earlier band and that children will start Reception being secure in the knowledge, understanding and abilities within the 3-4 year band and begin to demonstrate the knowledge, understanding and abilities within Reception Band. By the end of Reception, most children will have reached the Early Learning Goals (ELGs) at the Expected level. Some might still have knowledge skills and understanding which is Emerging and are still working towards their Early Learning Goals.
The prime areas are:
- Personal, Social and Emotional development (self-regulation, managing self, building relationships)
- Communication and language (listening attention and understanding; speaking)
- Physical development ( gross motor skills, fine motor skills)
The specific areas are:
- Literacy (comprehension, word reading; writing)
- Mathematics (number & numerical patterns)
- Understanding the world (past and present, people cultures and communities, natural world)
- Expressive arts and design (creating with materials, being imaginative and expressive)
Supporting Your Child: Characteristics of Effective Learning
We place a good deal of importance on the characteristics of effective learning:
- playing and exploring – children investigate and experience things, and ‘have a go’ (you can support your child by, for example, making sure they encouraging them to try out new experiences and asking open-ended questions that might stimulate their curiosity);
- active learning – children concentrate and keep on trying if they encounter difficulties, and enjoy achievements (allow your child to play independently – avoid leading your child’s play, and don’t let them engage for too long in passive activities like watching TV); and
- creating and thinking critically – children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas, and develop strategies for doing things (when your child is playing, provide some challenges and allow them to be inventive – try leaving fewer toys for them but add a few unknown objects for them to use… don’t forget how much fun a cardboard box can be!).
Our assessment data for older children shows that those children who demonstrate strong characteristics of effective learning are more likely to enjoy and achieve at a higher level as they get older. Support your child to develop these characteristics just as much as you support the academic side of things. This document gives you more information about the characteristics – it might help you get an idea of how you can support your child to develop good ‘learning behaviour’
At St Thomas we believe effective learning in the Early Years is the result of a balance between:
- adult-led learning: this is led and managed by the adult and is typically planned to meet the specific learning needs of a child – For example daily phonics teaching
- adult-guided learning: this is where adults might support a child by guiding them (for example, by questioning and prompting, or by providing specific resources in an area of the classroom) and a child can independently practise or explore
- child-initiated learning: this is when the child chooses where to go and what to do in the learning environment – it might look like play, but a lot of incidental learning can happen
Research shows that the best outcomes for children’s learning occur where most of the activity within a child’s day is a mixture of child-initiated play (actively supported by adults) and focused learning (with adults guiding the learning through playful, rich experiential activities).
A key aspect of the Early Years Foundation Stage is to move the learning from their starting point. Staff within EYFS find out what children want to know – what interests them, sparks their natural curiosity, and engages them to be effective learners – by making lots of observations of the children and having discussions with children and parents to inform the direction of learning.