Early Years Foundation Stage

This is the stage in your child’s life that gets them ready and prepares them for school, as well as for their future learning and successes. The EYFS was created to ensure your child’s first 5 years are happy, active, exciting, fun and secure, as well as to support their development, care and learning needs. All nurseries, pre-schools and reception classes who are registered to deliver the EYFS must follow a legal document called the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework.

What is the EYFS framework?
The EYFS Framework is there to support all professionals working in the Early Years age group. It has a large emphasis on the adult’s role in helping the children develop.
It sets out:

  • The legal welfare requirements that everyone registered to look after children must follow to keep your child safe and promote their welfare.
  • The 7 areas of learning and development which guide professionals’ engagement with your child’s play and activities as they learn new skills and knowledge.
  • Assessments that will tell you about your child’s progress through the EYFS.
  • The expected levels (Early Learning Goals) that your child should reach at the age of 5, which is usually at the end of their reception year.

What does this mean for parents?
Within the EYFS there are a set of welfare standards that everyone must follow which will ensure your child is as safe as possible. These include the maximum numbers a nursery can have in their care at any given time and the need to carry out risk assessments.

You can find out about the quality of your child’s nursery in relation to the EYFS Framework by checking what the Government’s official inspection body for early years, Ofsted, has to say about it. You can find this information at  www.ofsted.gov.uk/inspection-reports/find-inspection-report

How your child will be learning:
Your child will be learning skills, acquiring knowledge and demonstrating their understanding through 7 areas of learning and development.
Children should mostly develop the 3 prime areas first:

  • Communication and language
  • Physical development
  • Personal, social and emotional development

These prime areas are those most essential for your child’s healthy development and future learning.

As children grow, the prime areas will help them to develop skills in  4 specific areas:

  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Understanding the world
  • Expressive arts and design

The nursery will use these to plan your child’s learning and activities. Activities will be suited to your child’s unique ways. They will learn by playing and exploring, being active and through creative and critical thinking, which will take place indoors and outside.

Montessori perspective: within each child lies a hidden potential. For this potential to be unlocked we need to give children the opportunities to develop trust and autonomy, which will nurture confidence, self esteem and courage. The ability to embrace new challenges, take risks and act with initiative is a natural outcome of these conditions and underpins the principles of the ‘unique child’. Montessori saw freedom as the single most important factor in allowing children to develop as spontaneous, creative individuals.

“This fashioning of the human personality is a secret work.All that we know is that he has the highest potentialities, but we do not know what he will be. He must ‘become incarnate’ with the help of his own will.” (Montessori, 1966)

Montessori perspective: the parents are the child’s first educators and need to be respected. A partnership with parents gives children opportunities to develop their full potential and become unique, strong and autonomous and individuals with consideration for themselves and others.

“Little children between three and six years of age have a special psychology. They are full of love. They are only without love if they are ill-treated. If they are badly treated their real nature is altered. They are full of love themselves and need to be loved in order to grow.”
(Montessori, 1989)

Montessori perspective: a favourable environment, which supports the child’s self construction, is carefully prepared by knowledgeable practitioners, ensuring that children’s developmental needs are met. This is linked with Montessori’s view of human tendencies, stages of development and sensitive periods. While the Montessori legacy of specific learning materials is strong and will be key preparing enabling environments, it is also creative and forward thinking to include other materials in the environment to meet the individual needs and interests of children, provided these are used in such a way as to support the essential principles and philosophy of the Montessori approach.

“In an open environment, that is, one that is suitable to his age, a child’s psychic life should develop naturally and reveal its inner secret.” (Montessori, 1966)

Montessori perspective: not just being a particular way of learning and development, more importantly Montessori principles are concerned with the development of the whole personality, seeing it as the foundation on which everything which follows will be built. Children are active learners and will learn from the environment if it offers appropriate stimuli to their development. Learning is guided by the children’s developmental needs, and flourishes when the children are given time and space to observe, explore and investigate the environment and engage with it. Empathetic practitioners play an active part in engaging children with the favourable environment. They facilitate the child’s need to learn, not only from them, but also from peers and by themselves.