Why does Early Years Matter?
The Importance of Early Years
Early child development sets the foundation for lifelong learning. The experiences that children face during this period of time, shape the brain and child’s capacity to learn, play alongside their peers and respond to challenges that are posed to them.
The Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum sets standards for the learning, development and care of pupils from birth to five, their first stages of Education. This framework aims to learn through play in the aim to achieve the Early Learning Goals by the end of Reception.
This is a crucial stage as it helps prepare children for school as well as preparing them for future learning and successes. The Early Years Foundation Stage experience is happy, caring, stimulating and engaging.
Positive experiences in their early years can benefit children in developing social skills and their ability to learn, and good quality childcare has been shown to benefit children right through primary school. The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is how government and professionals describe the time in a child’s life between birth and age five. At the heart of the EYFS is the principle that young children need to play in order to have fun, make friends and to begin to learn and understand about the world around them. This is where foundations are laid, good or bad, for a child’s future education. A child’s early years’ experience should be happy, active, exciting, fun and secure.
Four guiding principles within the EYFS Framework 2021 help to shape practice in our early years settings. These are:
• A Unique Child: every child is a unique child, who is constantly learning and can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured.
• Positive Relationships: children learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships.
• Enabling Environments: children learn and develop well in enabling environments with teaching and learning support form adults, who respond to their individual interests and needs and help them build their learning over time. Children benefit from a strong partnership between practitioners and parents, guardians and carers.
• Learning and Development: children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates. The framework covers the education and care of all children in our early year’s provision, including children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).
Purpose and Aims
EYFS seeks to provide:
- Quality and consistency, so that every child makes good progress and no child gets left behind.
- A secure foundation through learning and development opportunities which are planned around the needs and interests of each individual child and are assessed and reviewed regularly.
- Partnership working between practitioners and with parents and/or carers.
- Equality of opportunity and anti-discriminatory practice, ensuring that every child is included and supported.
Overarching Principles of the EYFS
Four guiding principles shape our practice in Early Years. These are:
- Every child is a unique child, who is constantly learning and can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured.
- Positive realtionships enable children learn to be strong and independent.
- Enabling environments support children to learn and develop well. Providing experiences that respond to their individual needs and developing a strong partnership between practitioners and parents and/or carers.
- Children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates.
The EYFS Framework covers the education and care of all children in early years’ provision, including children with special educational needs and disabilities.
The Seven Areas of Learning and Development
There are seven areas of learning and development that shapes our educational programmes in EYFS. All areas of learning and development are important and inter-connected. Three areas are particularly important for building a foundations, for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, forming relationships and thriving These three areas, the prime areas, are:
- Communication and Language Development, which is supported by giving children opportunities to speak and listen in a range of situations while developing their confidence and self expression skills. This all takes place in an interesting language rich environment.
- Physical Development, which is encouraged by providing opportunities for young children to be active in a range of settings; and to develop their co-ordination, control, and movement. Children are also encouraged to investigate and understand the importance of this physical activity, and making healthy life choices.
- Personal, Social and Emotional Development, which is about helping children to develop a positive sense of themselves, and others; to form positive relationships and develop respect for others; to develop their social skills and learn how to manage their feelings; to understand appropriate behaviour in a range of situations; and to develop confidence in their abilities.
There are also four specific areas in which children must be supported in order to strengthen and apply the prime areas of learning. These specific areas are:
- Literacy, which allows children to build on communication and language skills, encouraging links between sounds and letters to develop basic reading and writing skills. A wide range of reading and written materials are provided in order to Children are given access to a wide range of reading materials including books, poems, and other written materials to ignite their interest.
- Mathematics, which focusses on development of a strong grounding in number is essential so that all children develop the necessary building blocks to excel mathematically. Children should be able to count confidently, develop a deep understanding of the numbers to 10, the relationships between them and the patterns within those numbers. A wide range of frequent and varied opportunities are provided to build and apply this understanding, such as using manipulatives, including small pebbles and tens frames for organising counting. Through these activities, children will develop a secure base of knowledge and vocabulary from which mastery of mathematics is built.
- Understanding the World, which involves supporting children and providing experiences for them to make sense of their physical world and their community through opportunities to explore, observe and find out about people, places, and the environment
- Expressive Arts and Design, which enables 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.