Early Years Foundation Stage
The EYFS sets the standards for the learning, development and care of children from birth to 5 years. At Lakenham this comprises our Nursery and Reception Classes.
Early Years Lead - listen to what she says about EYFS
Introduction for our headteacher - Mrs Williams
We believe that children learn best when they are taught in a relevant, meaningful and purposeful way and have opportunities to actively engage in rich and varied learning experiences. Our practice is child-centered, with child-initiated learning through play at the heart of what we do. We focus on the needs and interests of individuals and through our observations and high quality interactions we are able to build on what they, as unique children, know within our planning. We know that children learn best through actively engaging with the world around them, through exploring and participating in challenging experiences and when their levels of well-being and involvement are high. We have therefore committed ourselves to providing stimulating and enabling environments, both indoors and outdoors, to support children’s learning and development. Our aim is to ignite children’s innate curiosity and enable them to become independent individuals who enjoy learning, are willing to take risks and make progress and achieve.
Our curriculum is planned around the needs and interests of our children rather than pre-set topics. It intends to give children memorable and inspiring experiences, opportunities and direct instruction that will motivate their learning and increase their engagement. We identify, through observation and interaction, what children are able to do and what they will need support with and use this information to plan. The seven areas are delivered through well planned continuous provision, personalised next steps which inform our daily enhancements, daily routines and also adult led opportunities. Our aim is that by the end of Reception our children are motivated and excited about their learning, are independent and take responsibility for themselves and their environments.
The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) states that children should learn to develop a ‘positive sense of themselves’. Reflecting their cultures and those of others in the setting can support this personal development and respond to a child’s uniqueness whilst ensuring they have experience of the similarities between themselves and others too. At Lakenham Primary School, this is paramount in our minds, as there are approximately 40 different languages spoken by the children.
Let us start by thinking about what we don’t mean. Some early years settings, particularly those in areas that lack diverse cultures, but with good intentions, have a tokenistic idea of cultural diversity. This often manifests as only planning for cultural input through specific activities related to a particular religious or cultural festival. Take the example of Chinese New Year celebrations; while activities to highlight awareness of cultural diversity are important, staff should be mindful that they are not ‘shallow’ activities such as colouring-in a picture of a Chinese New Year dragon. This activity does not represent the traditions and customs of Chinese New Year in an experiential way and can therefore be seen as tokenistic. What we do is ask advice from the Chinese community, and seeking genuine resources used in such a festival, will contribute to better authentic experiences for the children.
We believe it is essential to consider how cultural diversity becomes embedded, for example, in daily routines, the learning environment, provocations, resources, and dialogue with families. Embedding cultural diversity involves a commitment from all staff to reflect on their practice, attitudes and experiences. They should encourage children to explore identity, community, religion and language.
WHAT CHILDREN LEARN:
The Seven Areas of Learning and Development and how we implement them
HOW: adults and children interact throughout the day as children engage in play and there are daily opportunities for quality conversations in a variety of contexts. A range of books and experiences provide the context for children to develop their vocabulary in a meaningful and relevant way. Additional support is given where needs have been identified using the WellCom assessment toolkit. Two members of school staff are trained as Communication Champions (2021).
...providing opportunities for young children to be active and interactive; and to develop their fine and gross motor co-ordination, control, and movement. Children must also be helped to understand the importance of physical activity in order to pursue a happy, healthy and active life
HOW: Children spend a substantial amount of time outside every day. They build, balance and climb, ride on bikes, play games and run. They develop their fine motor skills using playdough, scissors and pencils, hammers, construction resources etc. At our snack bar children have further opportunities to use kitchen utensils to develop their control.
...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. Children will learn to manage their own basic hygiene and personal needs.
HOW: Small groups enable children to build positive relationships. Children have free access to a wide range of carefully selected resources which builds their independence and confidence. They are expected to take responsibility for putting things back where they belong and keeping the provision well maintained. Children’s levels of well-being are monitored throughout the year and adjustments made in order to raise these (using the Ten Action Points, Leuven). Our daily routines enable children to develop their self-care and understand the importance of it. We work closely with parents to support toileting, healthy eating and good oral hygiene.
...encouraging children to link sounds and letters (phonics) and to begin to read and write. Children have access to a wide range of reading materials (books, poems, and other written materials) to ignite their interest and develop a life-long love of reading. Children will be able to write their names, simple sentences and use writing as a way of communicating for a purpose.
- Small group activities support children to develop their ability to rhyme, to hear sounds etc.
- Discrete Phonics lessons are introduced more formally in Reception using the Letters and Sounds sequence and approach supplemented by resources from Jolly Phonics. Over the year this builds up to around 20 minutes in differentiated groups.
- Books are placed in all areas of the classroom
- Initially children take story books home to share and then reading books based on their phonics.
- Children are encouraged to use many different mark making materials such as pencils, crayons, felt tips, paints, chalks.
- They are taught letter formation as part of their phonics
- In Reception all children work in a small group to develop their writing regularly
- Group reading is introduced during the Reception year
...providing children with opportunities to develop and improve their skills in counting, understanding and using numbers particularly to 10, one-to-one correspondence, calculating simple addition and subtraction problems practically; and to describe shapes, spaces, and measures
- Cooking is a real life purposeful mathematical activity
- Maths resources are available on a daily basis for children to access independently
- Continuous provision offers numerous opportunities to develop mathematical understanding – water play, sand, wooden block play, mud kitchen
- Numbers are used as labels in different areas of provision to indicate how many items there should be in a pot.
- Maths rhymes and songs, games and taught sessions both as whole class and in small groups
- Use of consistent mathematical vocabulary by all adults
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. We will enrich and widen children’s vocabulary and extend their understanding of our diverse world. From these early stages children are taught the importance of taking care of their immediate and wider environment.
HOW: Through a well-planned environment inside and outside that provides a wide range of experiences and opportunities. Access to the natural world is critical and so they spend time in our woodland area as well as having opportunities in the dedicated outdoor area. Across the year children are involved in gardening, cooking and woodworking. They go on visits in the local area and visitors are invited into the classroom. They have access to a range of technology including the interactive screens. There are books in areas of provision as talking points and a range of texts have been specifically chosen to support their understanding of the world. Children bring ‘chatterboxes’ to school which enable them to talk about their own lives and their families. As a culturally diverse school we value and discuss similarities and differences.
HOW: Through well planned continuous provision which includes painting, pattern making, modelling, music making and role play. Children are also taught the skills needed such as close observational drawing, colour mixing, making music and dance. They join a singing assembly during their time in Reception and also have regular music sessions with our specialist music teacher. Reference is also made to Musical Development Matters by Nicola Burke.
HOW CHILDREN LEARN:
The characteristics of effective learning:
- Playing and Exploring - Children investigate and discover things. They are willing to "have a go". Play is the way children make sense of the world and it helps them to bring together everything they are learning. (Tina Bruce)
- Active learning - Children concentrate, show high levels of involvement and keep on trying when things don't go according to plan. They enjoy achieving what they set out to do.
- Creative and Critical Thinking - Children have and develop their own ideas, make links between those ideas and develop their own strategies. They demonstrate independence and are prepared to take risks.
- High Levels of Wellbeing - Children feel comfortable and relaxed. Their basic needs are being met (food, drink, rest, toileting...) and they are interested and happy. They are confident and able to regulate their behaviour.
ASSESSMENT - EExAT
We use the Early Excellence Assessment Tracker (EExAT) to record the children's knowledge, skills and learning behaviours. The statements within EExAT consist of six-monthly milestones that reflect an 'age-related expectation' (what is typical for a child of that age). The assessments recognise the importance of measuring a child against what is typical for their chronological age, values how children learn and reflects the importance of a child's wellbeing and involvement.
Click here to link to the EExAT website https://eexat.com/
A rich picture of each child is built up over time across the seven areas of learning and development and we use the information to plan their next steps and inform our practice and provision. Each child is assessed as they approach their six monthly milestone and just prior to the end of an assessment window (Dec 31st, April 31st, end of July)
In addition Reception children are assessed against the national standard for a Good Level of Development (reaching the expected standard in Personal, Social & Emotional development, Communication & Language, Physical Development, Maths, Literacy). This information is shared with the Year 1 teachers so that they can prepare relevant and appropriate strategies and experiences when the children move out of Reception.
We use the online Learning Stories provided by EExAT to record our observations of individual children and also to support our ongoing assessments. We share our observations with families via a password protected learning story for each child within early years. Families are then able to see their child’s learning and development and talk about it with their child. You can also add comments to anything we upload and also upload any home learning or out of school experiences or achievements that your child may like to share with us. We will support you with setting up an account and accessing learning stories.
Key Person System
We operate a key person system in which each member of early years staff has responsibility for a key group of children during their time in Nursery or Reception. Your child will be assigned a key person who will work closely with them to ensure they feel safe and cared for, support their learning and development and build a close relationship with yourself and your child. We will send home letters once key groups are assigned to provide you with more information about your child’s key worker and their key group.
Being outdoors is essential for children’s sense of well-being as well as supporting all areas of learning and providing the context for developing the characteristics of effective learning. The opportunities offered to children outside are not the same as what is offered inside. Outdoors will often be noisier, more physically active, larger scale and messier. The Nursery and Reception share a dedicated outdoor area which is used all year round in all weathers and so outdoor clothing is needed. Connection to the natural world is important and children are involved in developing an ‘allotment’ as well as retaining some muddy and grassed spaces.
We are passionate that our children explore nature so in addition to our outdoor area the children also access the school nature area on a regular basis. Our Nature School sessions are linked to our early years curriculum and cover a range of areas of learning. These sessions offer all learners regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence through hands-on learning experiences and enables them to develop their exploratory play whilst investigating and exploring the natural environment, using all of their senses.