The Early Years Curriculum
The Early Years Curriculum
‘Learning and Living Together’
The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework gives all Early Years professionals a set of common principles and commitments to deliver quality early education and childcare experiences to all children.
We have created a learning environment and the strong relationships necessary to support, enhance and invite the children’s curiosity, confidence and individual competency to flourish.
We value each child’s uniqueness, using what they know along with open-ended opportunities within continuous provision (Nursery) and challenges (Reception) to engage and inspire them. We use children’s interests to build on prior knowledge and offer wider opportunities such as local walks to the park, the shops, to post a letter, to the library, to Jodrell Bank Observatory and to the theatre to give the children a sense of themselves within their community.
We foster the ‘Characteristics of Effective Learning,’ prioritising play with quality interactions. At the heart of our Early Years practice is formative assessment, based on the cycle of observation, assessment and planning.
There are a range of strategies we use to successfully implement our Early Years Offer. These include:
- Home visits and visits to other settings prior to joining Cale Green
- A structured programme of induction meeting for parents in the summer term prior to joining the setting in September
- Transition and support materials built around toy mouse for Nursery children
- ‘Tapestry’ accounts activated prior to starting. This is an on-line journal which helps staff and families celebrate their children’s learning and development and builds a very record of a child’s experiences, development and learning journey
- A settling in period which is flexible and appropriate to each child
- Ensuring that children’s interests are reflected in provision enhancements
- A learning environment matched to the needs of individuals and the cohort
- Transition activities (Nursery to Reception)
- ‘Stay and Play’ parent and child sessions
- Early identification of SEN
- Parent Consultation meetings
- Our open door policy
Based on our relationships with individual children and their relationships with their peers, we use our observations and knowledge of each child to plan for opportunities to build on existing skills.
We prioritise the Prime Areas of the EYFS in Nursery, and extend to the Specific Areas as the children mature. We ensure that the activities the children take part in are sufficiently challenging and demanding.
We focus on the Characteristics of Effective Learning by playing alongside the child in an area of their choice, talking about their ideas, following their line of interest or stimulating investigation of something new to develop new skills.
In Reception we use the ‘Learning Challenge’ concept, which is built around the principle of children’s greater involvement in their work. It requires deep thinking and encourages children to work using a question as the starting point. We start by using a prime learning challenge, expressed as a question. A series of subsidiary challenges are then planned. Each subsidiary learning challenge is also expressed as a question.
In creating this curriculum the learning challenges make sense to the children and are based on something that is within their immediate understanding, leading to engagement and enjoyment of learning.
Parents are recognised as partners in their child’s learning journey, and we strive to ensure parents are fully informed and involved.
Our principles are to:
- Ensure that the development of early reading skills and phonics is given the highest priority
- Provide developmentally appropriate provision / resources / curriculum
- Prioritise the Prime Areas of Learning – especially Communication, Language and Literacy
- Fostering a sense of awe and wonder through our provision and learning challenges
- Provide regular opportunities for parents to be involved and learn about their child’s learning journey – especially in Phonics and reading
- Provide at least weekly updates for parents on Tapestry to share the learning
- Provide wider opportunities such as trips and visits to bring the learning to life and broaden children’ experiences
- Use formative assessment to inform ongoing daily planning and provision
- Develop a challenge curriculum which motivates and captivates children through questions to explore
- Create displays and floor books which celebrate children’s learning journeys and inform parents
Our environment is set up with continuous provision which is carefully planned and resourced, and which is enhanced to reflect children’s interests and meet their needs.
Adult-focused activities become more prominent as the child progresses through the EYFS, so that by the time they reach National Curriculum they are able to follow instructions to carry out tasks independently.
Children in the EYFS learn by playing and exploring both indoors and outdoors. We have two rooms: a Nursery room and a Reception room, joined by the cloakrooms. We also have a large outdoor area.
Our environment is set up to appeal to the children’s interests and stages of development, and the resources available to your child are selected to support and promote children’s learning and development. No matter where a child chooses to play there will be opportunities to develop skills across the areas of learning.
Indoors there is provision for looking at and sharing books, making marks, exploring making sounds, creating collages, painting and role play, using tools such as scissors, pencils and paintbrushes and time and space to share their ideas with others.
Outside, the learning can take place on a larger scale. The children can experience nature first-hand in the garden and explore water and sand. They can create structures on a large scale, working with others to create using large crates, poles and planks and develop core strength by moving freely, balancing and climbing.
Our whole learning environment supports the children’s development in seven key areas of learning:
Personal, Social and Emotional Development
This focuses on the child learning to work, develop confidence, play, co-operate and respond positively to others in a group beyond the family.
Communication and Language
This focuses on important aspects of language development and provides a foundation for literacy. We foster the children's developing competence in talking and listening. We are a ‘lead school’ for ‘Tales Toolkit’ which means all our Early years staff are competent in developing children’s language, literacy, social skills, creativity, confidence, empathy, writing, problem solving and maths skills through the power of creating stories!
This focuses on the child developing physical control on both a small and large scale, their awareness of space and manipulative skills both indoors and outdoors. A positive attitude towards a healthy and active way of life is emphasised.
This focuses on helping children to link sounds and letters and begin to read and write. Systematic teaching of synthetic phonics is used when children are ready and show an eagerness and readiness to progress, having experienced a strong foundation of hearing and saying rhymes, stories and poems. The children are surrounded by books and print, and adult’s model and encourage the use of appropriate vocabulary constantly!
This covers important aspects of mathematical understanding as well as providing the foundation for numeracy. The emphasis is on achievement through practical activities and in using and understanding mathematical language.
Understanding the World
This area focuses on the children's developing understanding of their environment, other people and features of the natural and man- made world. It provides a foundation for historical, geographical, scientific and technological learning. We want the children to develop positive attitudes to discovery and experimentation and to develop the ability to predict, observe and communicate their observations, solve problems and explore the world around them.
Expressive Arts and Design
This focuses on the development of the child's imagination and their ability to express ideas and communicate feelings in creative ways. This expression is encouraged through art, music, dance, stories and imaginative play.
As a result of our approach, the children at Cale Green are motivated, active, creative and critically thinking learners. They have opportunities to revisit and extend their learning individually, in groups and with adult support rooted in responsive pedagogy. Regular monitoring, evaluation and feedback from senior leaders ensures all children, regardless of gender, race, and religion, SEN, EAL and socio-economic status make progress in a developmentally appropriate way which prepares them for the next stage in their learning and for life as active citizens.
We know this because:
- Children make good / rapid progress from starting points.
- Bi-lingual support which focuses on basic skills – communication, social, maths in partnership with parents is successful in enabling the children to make good progress relative to their starting points
- Parental engagement is high due to the effective strategies in place. Children enjoy sharing their learning with parents.
- Children consistently do well in their Personal, Social and Emotional Development and are safe and happy.
- Opportunities for reading, writing and maths are exploited indoors and outdoors, in meaningful ways wherever possible.
We constantly assess what the children know and can do in these key areas, which coupled with our curriculum approach, ensures that children build on new knowledge, learning and skills in readiness for the next stage in their learning.