Early Years Foundation Stage at Witnesham
We are passionate about making Early Years a stimulating, nurturing and positive time for our children in which they will be introduced to new concepts, have time to consolidate their learning and have the building blocks for the future firmly in place. It is vital to get this time right and switch children on to the joy of learning, as well as develop characteristics that will help them to learn and be successful, such as motivation, resilience and the ability to solve problems for yourself.
The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is the phase of development for children from birth until the end of the academic year in which they are five. The Early Learning Goals provide expectations for children to meet at the end of this time. These are statutory. We share children’s achievements with parents in the Early Learning Goals at the end of their year in Reception and data is also collected nationally.
There are 7 areas of learning in the Foundation Stage – you will find it differs from the National Curriculum used from Year 1 to 6.
Children are taught through play based activities, some daily whole class or year group inputs and small group tasks according to their ability and next steps in development.
If you would like more information on the curriculum, you can download this leaflet or google “Development Matters.”
There are also 4 themes to the EYFS.
We teach children by ensuring challenging, playful opportunities across the 7 areas of learning.
The Prime Areas
These are the fundamental areas which affect and are embedded in all others.
Personal, Social and Emotional Development
Children are given experiences and support that will help to develop a positive sense of themselves and of others. They learn social skills that help them to develop relationships with their peers and adults. They are given opportunities to work collaboratively. They are taught to respect others, that we all have differences and to have a positive attitude towards learning. We teach them to express their emotions effectively and strive for all children to have a positive self-esteem.
This is about developing both gross motor control (large movements) and fine motor control (small, refined movements). Children are given many opportunities to strengthen their muscles and improve their coordination, control and fine manipulation of different movements. They learn to use a range of tools with safety and control. They are taught to understand the importance of physical activity and other factors that contribute to a healthy lifestyle such as healthy food choices. We encourage risk taking though use of tools such as use of electrical appliances and tools. They are also taught to have good hygiene and independent self-care.
We do “Funky Fingers” which is like PE for the fingers to help prepare for the dexterity of writing.
Children participate in some weekly discrete PE sessions plus physical opportunities are provided in the outdoor garden such as climbing on the treehouse and use of the balance bikes and much, much more!
Communication and Language
Children are supported to communicate with each other and adults effectively, and to express their thoughts, ideas and opinions. They are encouraged to speak and listen in a range of situations and for a range of purposes. They are supported to develop their confidence to do so. We work on tasks such as aural storytelling, giving explanations, posing questions and suggesting and justifying ideas. We have regular talking times. Vocabulary is extended at every opportunity and there are high expectations of language used.
The Specific Areas
This is the teaching of reading and writing skills through a range of situations and real purposes. We provide systematic, carefully planned teaching and facilitated play. There is more information on early reading and writing under the English and “support for parents” areas of our website.
Children are supported in their understanding of problem solving, reasoning and numeracy in a broad range of contexts. They are given opportunities to explore, enjoy, learn, practice and talk about their understanding in purposeful activities. They are given activities to gain confidence in their skills and competence in their use. Grasping concepts and understanding mathematical language now, helps later understanding. Skills learnt include: accurate counting, estimating, adding, subtracting, doubling, halving, measuring length, mass and capacity, creating patterns, understanding shape, using money, using knowledge and experiences to solve problems.
Understanding the World
Children develop their knowledge, skills and understanding to help them make sense of the world. They are given opportunities to use a range of tools safely. They are introduced to animals, plants and objects in their natural environments. They undertake practical experiment and encouraged to explore and investigate. They are given open ended resources to take their learning in a direction they are excited about. They learn to use different technology and the purposes of each, such as iPads, computers, Beebots, remote controls, CD players, walkie talkies, cameras, toasters, blenders, etc.
They are given opportunities to learn about other cultures, celebrate festivals, celebrate difference and understand a sense of belonging.
Expressive Art and Design
Children’s creativity and imagination is extended by the provision of open-ended resources, some created scenarios and the encouragement of their curiosity and exploration. Their ideas are valued and they are encouraged to value those of others. They can share their ideas and feelings though a variety of Art, Music, movement, Dance and role play activities. They are introduced to new methods and tools and ways of doing things which they can they make choices about in their own designs.
Parents are the first and enduring teachers of their children. When school and home work together in early years settings, the results have a positive impact on children’s development. We promote sharing achievements out of school using “Learning Moment” slips we send home. Children receive “Proud” certificates to celebrate their learning at school. We share learning games for parents to support children with their skills at home.
Several Wednesday each term we visit the woods. We are lucky to have a small woodland area on our school site. We do a wide variety of forest activities here such as den building, using tools, comparing seasons, nature art and lots more. Knowledge and skills grow through the sessions as well as self-esteem and how to deal with risk in a controlled environment. Children who spend time experiencing nature grow up to care about the environment.
Observation and Assessment
We look for children’s interests and use these to inspire them to try new skills and increase their knowledge. Observation is an integral part of the learning process in EYFS. We observe children in everyday activities to make reliable judgements on their understanding, skills and behaviour that they can demonstrate consistently and independently. Effective assessment takes account of all aspects of a child’s development and learning and parents and carers are encouraged to get involved through sharing Learning Moment slips with us and comments in diaries or Class Dojo.
As children come across new challenges and build on things they have previously experienced, their learning grows. We record their individual journeys through photographs and quotes.
1. The Unique Child – all children are individuals with their own interests and needs, who are constantly learning at their own stages and can all be resilient, capable and self-assured.
2. Positive Relationships – through these, children learn to be strong, confident and independent, able to work effectively with others.
3. Enabling Environments – children learn and develop well in environments set up to provide for them to learn independently, practise and increase their skills and that provides for their interests. They learn most when they are engaged to the maximum.
4. Learning and Development – children learn and develop in different ways. The EYFS covers the education and care of all children.