At Meadhurst School we recognise that the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) of education for children has a distinct identity and is fundamental in providing an essential base both academically and socially in a child’s education.
Children develop quickly in the early years, and early years practitioners aim to do all they can to help children have the best possible start in life. Children have a right, spelled out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, to provision which enables them to develop their personalities, talents and abilities irrespective of ethnicity, culture or religion, home language, family background, learning difficulties, disabilities or gender.
Development Matters in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) 2012
We aim to:
- provide a well-planned, carefully structured and resourced curriculum, in partnership with parents and carers, to take children’s learning forwards and to provide opportunities for all children to succeed in an atmosphere of care where they feel valued.
- provide a welcoming environment for children and their families
- ensure that all children feel included, secure and valued
- establish positive relationships with parents
- keep parents well informed about the curriculum and their child's progress
- build on what children already know and can do and to celebrate achievement
- help children make links in their learning
- stimulate positive attitudes and dispositions to learning
- encourage independence
- value children's interests, providing a balance of direct teaching and child initiated activities
- help children build friendships and learn to co-operate with each other
- provide a solid foundation in the six areas of learning through well planned, rich and stimulating experiences
- make careful observations in order to support and extend children's learning appropriately
- to ensure that children with special educational needs are identified and receive appropriate support.
There are seven areas of learning and development that shape educational programs in Spelthorne’s Foundation Stage. All areas of learning and development are important and inter-connected. Three areas are particularly crucial for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, and for building their capacity to learn, form relationships and thrive.
These areas are:
- communication and language (CL);
- physical development (PD); and
- personal, social and emotional development (PSED).
Children are also support in the following specific areas, through which the three prime areas are strengthened and applied.
The specific areas are:
• literacy (L);
• mathematics (M);
• understanding the world (UW); and
• expressive arts and design (EAD).
At Meadhurst School we recognise that children learn best though play and direct experiences.
We encourage independence of thought and choice of activity throughout the EYFS, we believe this allows children to develop the skills that they need to become successful learners and to reach their full potential.
The learning environments across the EYFS are designed to reflect the seven areas of learning. Each has a writing/mark making area, role play area, maths area, a creative area, a role play area, a small world area, a construction area and space permitting a sand and water area. Each classroom has a carpet area for group work and an interactive white board. Free flow between the two environments is encouraged. The children enjoy a wide range of activities, learning through whole class inputs, group work and one to one focuses. There are opportunities for adult initiated and child initiated activities every day linked to themes taken from the children’s interests and ideas.
Our shared outdoor area is accessible from the classrooms. In all types of weather children enjoy a large range of physical activities such as role play, construction, small world, mark making, wheeled vehicles, sand and water, as well as a digging area and a garden, a static climbing frame, a music area and a wildlife garden. The children enjoy observing the environment outside change, watching the leaves fall, animals, birds and insects emerge. We take care to protect and respect our natural environment, finding ways to nurture and encourage the animals and plant life.
Personal, Social and Emotional Development
This area involves helping children to develop a positive sense of themselves, and others; to form positive relationships and develop respect for others;
to develop social skills and learn how to manage their feelings; to understand appropriate behaviour in groups; and to have confidence in their own abilities. PSED development feeds into all subjects of the national curriculum. We ensure that the fundamental British values of democracy, rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance for those with different faiths and beliefs are already implicitly embedded in our practice. An example of this is when the children share views on what the theme of their role play area could be with a show of hands, this is democracy in action.
This area involves providing opportunities for young children to be active and interactive; and to develop their co-ordination, control, and movement.
We have an extensive outside area for the children to develop physically through large movements. Children are also helped to understand the importance of physical activity, and to make healthy choices in relation to food.
Communication and language
This area involves giving children opportunities to experience a rich language environment; to develop their confidence and skills in expressing themselves;
and to speak and listen in a range of situations. We give the children opportunities to talk and listen to each other in a variety of situations inside and outside.
We use stories from books to focus children’s attention on predictions and explanations, e.g. “Why did the boat tip over?” We encourage the children to: draw conclusions; ‘The sky has gone dark. It must be going to rain’; explain effect: ‘It sank because it was too heavy’; predict: ‘It might not grow in there if it is too dark’ and to speculate: ‘What if the bridge falls down?’ We encourage language play, e.g. through stories such as ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears’ and action songs that require intonation. Above all we value children’s contributions and use them to inform and shape the direction of discussions.
Literacy development involves encouraging children to link sounds and letters and to begin to read and write.
We provide writing resources for both indoor and outdoor play enabling a range of opportunities to write for different purposes about things that interest children. We plan fun activities and games that help children create rhyming strings of real and imaginary words, e.g. Maddie, daddy, baddie, laddie and play games such as silly soup.
Children are given access to a wide range of reading materials (books, poems, and other written materials) to ignite their interest. We have a language rich environment to enable print to be seen inside and outside. We provide daily systematic synthetic phonics sessions. These are multisensory in order to capture their interests, sustain motivation and reinforce learning. We use the ‘Jolly Phonics’ songs and stories alongside ‘Letters and Sounds’ to enhance phonics.
Math’s is everywhere! It involves providing children with opportunities to develop and improve their skills in counting, understanding and using numbers, calculating simple addition and subtraction problems;
and to describe shapes, spaces, and measures. The children have opportunities to explore number, shape, space and measure inside and outside.
We talk about the methods children use to answer a problem they have posed, e.g. ‘Get one more, and then we will both have two.’ We encourage children to make up their own story problems for other children to solve. We encourage children to extend problems, e.g. “Suppose there were four people to share the blocks between instead of two”
We play games such as peek-a-boo, revealing shapes a little at a time and at different angles, asking children to say what they think the shape is, what else it could be or what it could not be
Understanding the World
Understanding the world involves guiding children to make sense of their physical world and their community through opportunities to explore, observe and find out about people, places, technology and the environment.
Expressive arts and design
Expressive arts and design involves enabling children to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials, as well as providing opportunities and encouragement for sharing their thoughts, ideas and feelings through a variety of activities in art, music, movement, dance, role-play, and design and technology.
Assessment plays an important part in helping parents, carers and practitioners to recognise children’s progress, understand their needs, and to plan activities and support. Ongoing assessment (also known as formative assessment) is an integral part of the learning and development process.
It involves practitioners observing children to understand their level of achievement, interests and learning styles, and to then shape learning experiences for each child reflecting those observations. In their interactions with children, practitioners should respond to their own day-to-day observations about children’s progress and observations that parents and carers share.
Statutory Framework Page 10 (2017)
On entry to Nursery and Reception the children are assessed against the ‘Development Matters’ document for the foundation stage.
Their progress is then tracked across the year termly and targets are set and monitored. Observational notes are used to inform teachers’ judgements about a child’s development as well as discussions with parents and carers’.
The Foundation Stage Profile is completed for each child towards the end of the Foundation year and the results reported to parents. Progress is monitored through half termly tracking and moderation. Observational notes are used to inform teachers’ judgements about a child’s development as well as discussions with parents and carers’.
Each child’s level of development is assessed against the early learning goals. Practitioners indicate whether children are meeting expected levels of development, or if they are exceeding expected levels, or not yet reaching expected levels (‘emerging’).
Each child is also assessed on the ‘Characteristics of Effective Learning’. These include;
- playing and exploring - children investigate and experience things, and ‘have a go’;
- active learning - children concentrate and keep on trying if they encounter difficulties, and enjoy achievements; and
- creating and thinking critically - children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas, and develop strategies for doing things.