The Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum is very different to the National Curriculum for older children. Children are encouraged to learn mainly through activities that they initiate and the teacher’s role is to observe, intervene and extend learning as appropriate for each unique child.
There are a variety of areas in each classroom and outside area to promote rich play experiences, including:
- mark making
- sand and water
- role play
- problem solving and maths
- book corner
- small world (toys such as a farmyard or dolls house)
- physical development
At the start of the year, the main focus is on wellbeing and involvement because happy children learn more successfully. Teachers observe for signs that children are secure and happy and make an assessment using a tool called the Leuven scales.
Once the children are settled then the focus moves on to the prime areas of learning:
- Communication and Language
- Personal, Social and Emotional Development
- Physical Development
These are critical building blocks and only once they are developed will children thrive.
As the year moves on, the children will show signs of being ready for teaching in the specific areas of learning. These are:
- Literacy (reading and writing)
- Maths (number, space, shape and measure)
- Understanding the world (people and communities, the world, technology)
- Expressive arts and design (exploring using media and materials, being imaginative)
A core story book is used as the basis for planning for each 3-4 week cycle. Teachers draw on the themes from the book in all areas of the classroom. For example, the book ‘The Jolly Postman’ by Janet and Allan Ahlberg led to activities based around weighing parcels in Maths, creating a wanted poster in creative corner, and a role play post office.