The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Framework sets out the standards for development, learning and care of children from birth to five. It is important that all children are given the opportunity to experience the best possible start to their education. Well-planned play is a key way in which children learn with enjoyment and challenge, both within the indoor and outdoor learning environments. The Foundation Stage prepares children for future learning. In the Reception Year, the curriculum is planned and resourced to take children’s learning forward and to provide opportunities for all children to succeed in an atmosphere of care and of feeling valued. The curriculum for the Foundation Stage is designed to inspire children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, and to build their capacity to learn, form relationships and thrive. The curriculum is planned in seven areas of learning and development; all areas are important and inter-connected. There are three prime areas:
• Communication and Language Development involves 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 involves 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 involves 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.
There are also four specific areas through which the three prime areas are strengthened and applied. These are:
• Literacy Development involves encouraging children to link sounds and letters and to begin to read and write. Children must be given access to a wide range of reading materials (books, poems, and other written materials) to ignite their interest.
• Mathematics involves providing children with opportunities to develop and improve their skills in counting, understanding and using numbers, calculating simple addition and subtraction problems; and to describe shapes, spaces, and measures.
• Understanding the World involves 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 involves 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.