The Early Years Foundation Stage (2008) (“EYFS”) is the statutory document which sets out the government’s curriculum for children from birth until the term after a child’s fifth birthday, therefore it is something to keep in mind when making decisions about childcare.
The current EYFS was slimmed down and refocused ready for publication in September 2012. The revised curriculum reduces the number of early learning goals from 69 to 17, gives more focus to the main areas of learning that are most essential for children’s healthy development and simplifies assessment at age 5. It also provides earlier intervention for children who need extra help with a progress check at age 2. This links with the Healthy Child review carried out by health visitors, so that children get any additional support they need before they start school.
The EYFS contains the Welfare Requirements, which is a statutory document describing what practitioners have to do under the law, and the Practice Guidance which is a document giving support and advice to both parents and practitioners on the ways in which children learn and develop.
The guiding principle for the EYFS is that children learn best through play when they have the support and guidance of both parents and highly qualified practitioners. There are 6 areas of learning, of which there are 3 prime areas (*):
- Personal, social and emotional development (PSE) (*)
- Communication, language and literacy (CLL) (*)
- Problem solving, reasoning and numeracy (PSRN)
- Knowledge and understanding of the world (KUW
- Physical development (PD) (*)
- Creative development (CD)
At the end of each section are the Early Learning Goals (ELGs) which are what children are expected to have achieved by their fifth birthday and which teachers report on at the end of a child’s reception year in the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile (EYFSP), which is a statutory requirement.
Under the EYFS it is important that parents and practitioners do not force children to learn by rote but rather to learn the thinking and physical skills which will enable them to better understand how to read, write and communicate in their later years. For example getting children to write at too an early age can be detrimental to their progress in this area. It is important that children have first developed the larger muscles in their upper arm before being expected to write. This is particularly true for boys who come to this physical stage of development later than girls.
A summary of the EYFS for parents, co-produced by the sector, is also available on the Foundation Years website. This has been developed to help ensure parents know what the EYFS is and what they can expect from the professionals working with their child.
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