The Early Years Foundation Stage is a modern, flexible curriculum framework for children aged from birth to 5 years of age. It is from the UK, but widely used by international schools and nurseries around the world. It sets the teaching and learning expectations for children from birth to 5 years.
Background to the EYFS
The Early Years foundation Stage (EYFS) Framework is published by the UK Government, who require it to be used by schools and nurseries throughout England for children up to 5 years of age. It covers areas such as child welfare, learning and development, assessment, and guidance on expected levels of attainment by the time children reach 5.
It was developed by early years experts, academics and parents. It aims to create an early childhood experience that is happy, secure, exciting and fun; while supporting their development, care and learning needs.
The EYFS has become well regarded outside the UK as a good example of a modern, effective, play-based approach to early years education that aligns with the latest research around child-development and effective learning in young children. For this reason, many English-speaking international schools and nurseries around the world choose to follow the EYFS as a key part of their curriculum.
What is a Curriculum and Why do we Need It?
A curriculum defines the overall learning objectives. It documents matters such as:
- the experiences your child will have
- the learning goals to be achieved
- what should your child know and be able to do, at various points in their development
- how the curriculum will be delivered and assessed
In an early years setting, the children are so young that the curriculum focuses very much on child development and core skills such as communication, social interaction, and physical development.
A well planned and implemented curriculum ensures that children experience the full breadth of learning opportunities, with no area forgotten or neglected. Days are well planned and productive, with each activity introduced for a specific purpose or outcome.
Teachers will, through their observation and assessment practices, have a clear view of the developmental progress of each individual child. This is used to inform future planning, so activities are tailored to the next steps required on the developmental journey of each individual child.
EYFS Curriculum Explained
It is fundamental to the EYFS that each child is unique. They each have different needs, interests and concerns, and they each develop in their own way. The curriculum is therefore designed to be flexible, so it can be adapted to suit each group of young children.
The curriculum is divided in to Seven Areas of Learning; three prime areas and four specific areas of learning.
Prime Areas of Learning
The prime areas of learning are fundamental to children's healthy development and future learning, so are the primary focus for the youngest students in nursery.
The three prime areas are:
- Communication and Language: 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.
- Physical Development: involves providing opportunities for young children to be active and interactive; and to develop their co-ordination, control, and movement. Children must also be helped to understand the importance of physical activity, and to make healthy choices in relation to food.
- Personal, Social and Emotional Development: 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.
Specific Areas of Learning
As children develop, they can use the fundamental skills acquired in the prime areas to develop the higher order skills defined in the specific areas of learning.
The four specific areas are:
- Literacy: literacy development involves encouraging children to link sounds and letters and to begin to read and write. Children must be given access to a wide range of reading materials (books, poems and other written materials) to ignite their interest.
- Mathematics: 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.
- 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: 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.
Acorn Nursery and the EYFS
At Acorn Nursery we closely follow the EYFS, ensuring your child receives an early years experience equivalent to a quality nursery in the UK.
Detailed weekly planning is made available to parents. This ensures children are kept active and engaged, while parents are kept informed. All planning is cross-referenced to the EYFS 7 Areas of Learning
to ensure the full breadth of the curriculum is covered.
Parents also receive a one-page report each week with information on what has happened in the class during the week and some photographs of their child. This is supplemented twice per year by a formal school report discussing their child's progress in relation to the EYFS.
We recommend the following resources if you wish to learn about the EYFS Curriculum in more detail:
- UK Government website where the EYFS can be downloaded
- What to expect, when?: a downloadable booklet (pdf) by 4Children to help parents understand how their child is developing during their first five years, in relation to the EYFS
- Development Matters: a resource developed by Early Education in 2012. It illustrates the characteristics of effective learning, and how this can be supported and extended by adults