Early Years

Children in Foundation Stage are taught through planned, purposeful play and through a mix of adult-led and child initiated activities. Staff respond to children’s needs and interests by planning activities which reflect the different ways that children learn.

Four principles shape practice in early years settings –

  • every child is a unique child

  • children learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships

  • children learn and develop well in enabling environments

  • children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates

There are 7 areas of learning that form the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum. All areas of learning and development are important and inter-connected.

The 3 prime areas are –

  • communication and language – speaking and listening in a range of situations
  • physical development – being active and interactive, developing coordination, control and movement, the importance of physical activity and making healthy food choices
  • personal, social and emotional development – forming positive relationships, developing respect for others, developing social skills, managing their feelings, understanding appropriate behaviour and to have confidence in their own abilities

The 4 specific areas are –

  • literacy – linking sounds and letters to begin to read and write
  • mathematics – developing skills in counting, understanding and using numbers, simple addition and subtraction, describing shapes, space and measures
  • understanding the world – making sense of their physical world and their community, finding out about people, places, technology and the environment
  • expressive arts and design – exploring and playing with a wide range of media and materials, through art, music, movement, dance, role-play and design and technology

Practitioners reflect on and plan for the different ways that children learn –

  • playing and exploring – engagement
  • active learning – motivation
  • creating and thinking critically – thinking

The classroom is organised into well-resourced learning zones, both inside and outside, from which children can choose or add to the resources they need. The children have free-flow access to the outside area which reflects the learning inside where there is a large carpet space and areas for sand, water, role play, reading corner, mark making, malleable materials, construction, ICT (interactive whiteboard, computers, ‘Beebots’, CD player, ipad), snack, and creative activity. Outdoors will be found sand, water, gravel, digging area, role play, writing areas, muddy kitchen, mark making, bikes, scooters, tyre swing, rope walkway, logs, tyres, planks, large construction, space hoppers and more!

Children arrive in the setting from 8.40a.m; they self-register and begin their independent play. The doors to outside are opened once the register is completed. Parents/Carers are invited to ‘stay and play’ sessions and are encouraged to help in the class on a regular basis.

Phonics – the children start daily phonics lessons once they attend full time (approximately within the first two weeks of the start of term). We use 'Storytime Phonics' to introduce sounds daily in a fun, multi-sensory way that involves and interests all children. The children are taught to blend and segment words to read and spell and to learn tricky words. The children revise the taught sounds each day and have opportunities to practise their phonic skills through activities set up in the class and outside area.

Reading – the children are encouraged to develop a life long love of books and reading; they have weekly guided reading with the teacher when they practise their sounds, make and read words, read tricky words, read simple captions and eventually take home reading books. The children read within a book band suitable to their development, choosing their own book each week. Parents/Carers have a home/school book to write comments in each week and a book track to complete if they wish when they share books at home with their child.

Maths – children have short, daily maths lessons as a class and have opportunities to apply new skills through classroom activities. The children use Numicon counting materials to support their learning. Other Maths resources are available for the children to use in their play and adults support the children’s individual learning as they play together, modelling vocabulary and extending their learning.

Forest School – the children in Foundation have regular Forest School sessions, where they are involved in self chosen activities such as den building, fire lighting, bug hunting, climbing trees, muddy kitchen, making swings, collecting leaves etc. Our Foundation Stage lead teacher is a Level 3 Forest School Leader and ‘Champion’ with the Local Authority.

Transition – Pre-School children join the Foundation Stage class in small groups from the Spring term and throughout the Summer term each year. Parents are invited to workshops to inform them about starting school and how to support their child’s learning. At the end of Foundation Stage the children visit the Year 1 class to meet the teacher and get to know the classroom.

Assessment – Children are assessed regularly about what they know and how they learn. Assessments are made through observing the children as they play. This information enables staff to plan for each child’s next steps in learning and also informs the Year 1 staff about their readiness for the next year of school, including interests and how each individual learns best. These assessments can be seen in the children’s learning journey books. Parents/Carers are invited to discuss their child’s progress at consultation meetings in the autumn and spring term and receive an end of year written report.