“Play is the highest for of research”
- Albert Einstein
The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) marks a critical time in a child’s early development.
All early years’ providers must comply with the Government’s Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage, which sets out the standards for learning, development and care for children aged 0-5. The Framework identifies seven areas of learning and development, divided into prime and specific areas of learning.
The prime areas are:
Communication and language (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 (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 (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).
The specific areas are:
Literacy (reading and writing – encouraging children to link sounds and letters and to begin to read and write).
Mathematics (counting, understanding and using numbers, calculating simple addition and subtraction problems, describing shapes, spaces and measure).
Understanding the world (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 (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).
At St Michaels we recognise that children in the Early Years learn best when they are given the opportunity to explore, investigate and learn about things that interest them. Children are therefore given the opportunity to learn, through play-based activities, both indoors and outdoors, including the school grounds, field and meadow.
Why is play so important?
Social and Emotional Development: Play involves learning about collaborating, compromising, communicating, competing well, resolving disputes and caring for friends. It is a key way in which children develop self-regulation and social skills.
Well-being: Great play is enormously absorbing and fun.
Learning: Play is a laboratory of life, in which children practice and explore the wider world. They embed learning, develop understanding and discover personal interests, talents and identities.
Creativity: Play is an intrinsically creative activity, which stretches learners’ imaginations.
Rights: Play is a right under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
St Michaels nursery provides children with a rich variety of learning and teaching experiences that are appropriate to their needs and interests and underpin all of their future learning. Through planned, purposeful play, children are able to discover, practise and refine their skills in literacy and mathematics, as well as find out about themselves and their environment. They practise and build up their ideas, learn how to control themselves and begin to understand the need for the rules that help them make sense of the world. They are encouraged to think creatively, independently and on their own.
The Early Years’ team work closely to deliver a curriculum which provides a balance across the areas of learning from nursery to the end of the reception year.
In the Reception classes, carefully planned opportunities which are informed by the children’s interests and developmental needs ensure that children are appropriately challenged and actively engaged in their learning. Topics are used as a driver/inspiration to teach skills across all areas of the curriculum with many interweaving across multiple areas of learning at the same time.
Learning is planned to spark curiosity, develop skills and ensure children develop a love for lifelong learning.
During each day children are immersed in a balance of child initiated and adult directed opportunities within a responsive learning environment. Daily skills in Phonics, Mathematics and Writing, are taught and the children are given the opportunity to practise these skills during adult direct activities as well as having the time to embed these skills through continuous provision within a supportive environment. In addition to reading, writing and mathematics children are immersed in a broad and creative curriculum. They have opportunities to learn and understanding about their own feelings and interactions as well as being able to explore, enquire and ask questions about the world around them.
By the time our children reach the end of the EYFS stage, they should have achieved the 17 Early Learning Goals, which encapsulate the knowledge, skills and understanding they should have at the end of the academic year in which they turn five.
This is measured throughout the Early Years through a range of observations, assessments and monitoring. This enables practitioners to personalise learning for all children, along their journey.
Within the nursery setting observations make up the largest part of assessment which is both formative and summative.
This enables practitioners to know their children and what their next steps in learning will be.
It highlights how adult interventions are impacting on children’s learning and development and therefore measuring how learning is moving forward.
Informs adults in how effective they are responding to specific needs within the setting.
Enables adults to accurately feedback information to parents about their child’s progress in relation to the EYFS. Helping parents to support and extend their child’s learning at home.
As the children move through into the Reception year, observations continue to play a large role in measuring children’s progress and development. In addition to observations class teachers are rigorous in monitoring the progression of each child within phonics, writing and mathematics. This takes place throughout the term in the form of observation and carefully planned assessment activities. This informs and highlights very clear next steps in learning for all children.
Through skilfully planned observations and assessment this enables all adults to have a clear understanding of:
Children’s experiences over time, ensuring they are consistently and coherently arranged to build cumulatively sufficient knowledge and skills for their future learning.
“What we want is to see the child in pursuit of knowledge, and not knowledge in pursuit of the child.”
– George Bernard Shaw