Children develop more rapidly during the first five years of their lives than at any other time. The Department of Education has published a booklet to help you as a parent/carer find out more about how your child is learning and developing during their first five years, in relation to the EYFS and what to expect during these vitally important years by focusing on the seven areas of learning and development which are covered in the EYFS.
The booklet “What to Expect, When?” is available to download here:
The Nursery and Reception classes follow the Department for Education framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage. This is a curriculum designed for our youngest learners and is based on setting solid foundations for the National Curriculum by learning through play and first hand experiences.
There are 7 areas of learning in the EYFS. The 3 Prime areas cover the most essential skills that are needed to help the children’s development and the 4 Specific areas are dependent upon the successful application of the Prime areas.
Prime Areas of Learning
Communication and Language
The children’s ability to listen attentively, understand and process information and speak to make them understood is developed through a variety of exciting activities that make the children eager to communicate their thoughts.
The children use the Foundation Stage outdoor area as well as the school hall and grounds to develop their gross motor skills. Fine manipulative skills are developed through using tools for a variety of purposes and fun activities that develop finger strength and the control necessary to support successful writing.
Personal, Social and Emotional Development
Our Foundation Stage classrooms are safe, warm and secure environments where children are valued, listened to and encouraged to make their own decisions. It is an important time for making friends and learning to get along with other people. They gain the confidence to set their own challenges and develop positive behaviours for learning.
Specific Areas of Learning
Singing, rhyming, and storytelling are essential ingredients to our literacy curriculum and the Foundation Stage environment is rich in opportunities for children to see and relate to print. Children listen to, share and act out stories as well as learning the skills to enable them to read and write independently.
The children are encouraged to use everything around them to support their learning in maths and to make maths a relevant part of their everyday world. Counting, sorting, making patterns and learning about shapes happens throughout the day inside and outside. Counting songs, rhymes and games ensure the children enjoy using and experimenting with numbers.
Understanding the World
The children are encouraged to explore, observe, ask questions and predict using our natural world. Skilled adults working alongside are able to extend the children’s vocabulary and thinking skills. We use out school grounds to observe changes and invite in many visitors to find out about our world.
Expressive Arts and Design
This area of learning includes art, music, dance and imaginative play. The children have many opportunities to explore and experiment with colour, sounds and materials in order to produce their own individual creative work.
How I can help my child?
Learning through Play
Children learn through their play. They will be provided with a wide range of activities and experiences which will develop their social, creative, physical, intellectual and mathematical skills and further develop their language and understanding. All children need time and space to explore and play freely and they will be greatly encouraged to make choices and plan their time in order to develop initiative and independence.
Writing and Counting
You can help your child to recognise his/her own name by using small script letters that the children will use when they learn to write in school.
Children develop writing skills at different stages. They need to be physically ready to be able to manage the precise movements needed for number and letter formation.
Activites that aid this eye and hand co-ordination consist of jigsaws, construction toys (eg Duplo, Lego), building bricks, bead threading and using malleable materials such as dough or clay.
Crayons, thick pencils and large brushes used on large paper – in the form of scribbling, drawing and pattern-making – are excellent for encouraging flow and movement.
Please encourage children to mark make and value their pretend writing.
Counting in every day life is important too. Touch the objects as you count (if possible) so that your child doesn’t learn only by rote. Make it fun and relevant e.g. counting actions such as jumps or claps
You can also look at books with your child as often as possible (preferably every day). Show him/her how to hold a book correctly and point to the text, showing that the direction goes from left to right. Talk about the stories encouraging retelling in your child’s own words. Look at the cover and discuss the illustrations.
Speaking and Listening
Encourage your child to listen carefully to stories, poems and instructions. Help him or her to talk freely using clear diction. Get your child to question and respond. Stress the importance of turn taking and working co-operatively with peers.
At Westfield, we begin teaching synthetic phonics in our Nursery. We teach the Letters and Sounds programme and this extends across the EYFS and KS1.
The Letters and Sounds programme covers the 44 phonemes that make up the English language and we learn by daily, systematic teaching where we revisit, teach, apply and practise all of these sounds and learn to blend them for reading and segment them for spelling.
To support the younger children, we use the Jolly Phonics actions and songs to accompany each sound they learn.
At the very start of the journey the children will be taught the pure sounds for letters. These might be different to how we as adults may read the letters however, if you have a young child learning to read and write through phonics, we strongly advise that you familiarise yourself with these pure sounds and use them when supporting your child. You can watch the following clip for more information.
For more information on the letters and sounds programme and the rationale for why we teach phonics in school you can read the following document:
For an introduction to the Jolly Phonics actions and songs that we teach alongside the Letters and Sounds programme, you can watch the video below (please note this only covers the single phonemes i.e. our alphabet, there are multiple sounds that we teach that have more than one letter in them eg “th”).
A useful Early Years Foundation Stage Framework guide for parents is available to download here:
- Early Years Policy (159KB)