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GUIDE TO EARLY YEARS FOUNDATION STAGE: EYFS - UK'S BENCHMARK

If your child is under the age of 5 they will be looked after and educated by early years professionals who understand how children develop and learn.

What is the Early Years Foundation Stage?

The EYFS was introduced in the United Kingdom in 2008 and is how the British Government and professionals working with young children describe the important stage in a child’s life between birth and age 5. The EYFS has been updated several times over the years, to take account of current research into how young children learn and develop. The most recent version of the EYFS came into force on 1 September 2021.

Why do we have the EYFS?

Children learn and develop rapidly from the moment they are born. The home is the first environment where play and learning take place, supported by parents and other family members. Babies learn to crawl, walk, and talk, they begin to interact with people and the environment around them. Their brains develop rapidly in the early years and create vital foundations for learning throughout life.

Research confirms that the experiences that a child has in the early years has a significant impact on their future life and that high quality early years care and education makes the biggest difference to every child.

 

The EYFS provides a framework that ‘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 progress through school and life’. (EYFS 2021)

 

What is in the EYFS?

The EYFS has three sections:

Section 1 Learning and development describes what Little Ashford must do to promote the learning and development of all children in our care in seven areas:

  • Communication and language

    • Often learned through roleplay, children might practise listening to others, listening to stories, using descriptive language to express themselves or tell a story, or expanding their vocabulary.

  • Physical development

    • Practised through games and often using equipment such as climbing frames, children gain confidence in balance, coordination and awareness of their space and strength. Older children might also discuss healthy living and how they feel after exercise.

  • Personal social and emotional development

    • ​Children learn how to share, take turns, respect each other’s differences and follow rules. They will also practise independence, recognising their own needs and interests and expressing how they feel and why.

  • Literacy

    • Exercises might include learning about rhymes and syllables through singing nursery rhymes, learning the alphabet verbally, matching sounds with the letters of the alphabet and learning to write their names and other simple words.

  • Mathematics

    • This involves counting, activities with shapes, basic adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing, and learning about weights and measures. Children will build problem-solving and reasoning skills.

  • Understanding the world

    • Children can explore their senses of sight, smell, taste, hearing and touch. They may learn about nature, seasons and culture, as well as basic science. Often nurseries will teach these things through experiments such as seeing which objects float in a tub of water, and with outings to local parks. They may also use computers or other technology to begin children’s technical skills.

  • Expressive arts and design

    • Through arts and crafts children learn about colours, drawing things as they are and designing using their own ideas. They may also learn about music, dance and building things.

The first three areas listed are described as the prime areas of learning and development because they are closely linked to a child’s brain development in the first three years of life. The following four areas are described as specific areas of learning that develop when parents and Little Ashford know what they want children to learn and create the right opportunities for learning to take place.

The activities and experiences (educational programmes), that Little Ashford provides, are based on a child’s individual needs and interests.

The emphasis is on learning through play because ‘play is essential for children’s development, building their confidence as they learn to explore, relate to others, set their own goals and solve problems’ (EYFS 2021).

Section 2 Assessment describes how children’s progress is recognised.

There is additional guidance that supports the EYFS to help Little Ashford's educators to recognise and interpret where your child is in their learning journey. The additional guidance is not intended to be a checklist that educators use to track a child’s development by ticking off one stage after another.

Learning does not progress in a set sequence of events which is why our educators observe children constantly and use their professional knowledge to identify the areas of learning that a child is secure in, what they need to know next, and any areas where they may need additional support.

Assessment is not all about paperwork and written reports, but the EYFS expects that ‘parents and/or carers should be kept up-to-date with their child’s progress and development and discuss any additional needs with you and any relevant professionals, for example, if your child appears to be struggling with their speech and language, your child’s key person may suggest that they would benefit from being referred to a Speech and Language Therapist.

There are three formal assessment points in the EYFS:

  • the progress check at age 2 when you will receive a short, written summary of your child’s development in the prime areas

  • the Reception Baseline Assessment completed within the first six weeks of them starting reception; and…

  • assessment at the end of the EYFS is completed in the final term of the year your child turns five. The profile is assessed against a set of early learning goals for the seven areas of learning and development that their educators have been supporting them towards.

 

Section 3 the safeguarding and welfare requirements explain what Little Ashford must do to safeguard children; ensure the suitability of adults who have contact with children; promote good health; manage behaviour; and maintain records, policies and procedures (EYFS 2021).

 

How are parents involved?

Early years educators are professionals who understand how children learn and develop, they are appropriately qualified for the role they undertake and continue to update their skills and knowledge. They understand that you make a vital difference to children’s outcomes which is why the EYFS places a strong emphasis on the importance of working in partnership with parents.

A two-way flow of information between you and your child’s educators helps to ensure that your child gets the best possible care and learning.

 

What you do at home with your child makes a big difference.

A Better Way to Learn

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