A DAY IN THE LIFE OF THE EYFS
'Living, loving and learning together'.
It is our intention that the EYFS curriculum provides a balance of child-initiated learning and carefully considered opportunities for adult-directed learning. We believe that learning for children is most rewarding where they can explore, question, create, and develop curiosity. We believe that children thrive when they build warm and trusting relationships, which support them with learning to co-regulate and self-regulate. At St Paul’s we understand the importance of language development, enhanced through interactions with other children and adults, alongside the explicit teaching of new vocabulary. We support our children in developing the skills needed to learn to listen, speak and meet expectations for behaviour by working together and being kind. Throughout the Foundation Stage, many aspects of learning are brought together effectively through play and high-quality interactions, growing children’s understanding of concepts, and enriching and broadening their experiences. We use children’s interests and experiences to build on concepts and develop their knowledge, skills, and understanding.
Our aim is that every child accesses the best possible start in life – both emotionally and intellectually – using language skilfully and effectively to express themselves and interact with others. This is delivered through a curriculum which promotes the unique child by offering extended periods of play and Sustained Shared Thinking (SST). Following personal interests and individual needs, allows us to plan and provide opportunities throughout our EYFS curriculum to support learning and development and achieve their next steps.
At St Paul’s, we recognise the uniqueness of the Foundation Stage and promote the use of play as the primary vehicle for learning. Our learning environment is crucial in providing rich and stimulating experiences, which enhance and develop the children’s interests and curiosities. We acknowledge that children learn at different rates, in different ways, and plan according to the children’s needs. We follow the ‘Early Years Statutory Framework’ (2021) and use ‘Development Matters’ (2021) alongside ‘Birth to 5 Matters’ (2021) to form the basis for our curriculum development. The timetable is structured so that children have direct teaching in phonics, maths, and reading with regular circle time sessions to focus on PSED. These sessions are followed by focused learning where children work with a member of staff to develop their individual targets and next steps. These focused activities mean practitioners can check for understanding, identify, and respond to misconceptions quickly.
Interactions with young children are profoundly important for supporting and extending their learning. We believe that the growth of language is vital to every child’s social, emotional, and intellectual development. Quality interactions matter for all children, especially those who may fall behind the majority. Having a good vocabulary, understanding sentence structure and being familiar with the language of books are all directly related to competency in reading and writing. All children need activities which help them to learn language and new vocabulary; this should be learnt through play, books, and direct teaching time. Knowing our children enables our practitioners to initiate or respond to interactions at the right time and in the right way, finding the right hooks, on which to attach a conversation. As practitioners, we listen attentively to children’s remarks, model language, and explicitly teach new vocabulary to broaden the depth of our children’s knowledge and understanding.
Children are provided with opportunities to engage in exploration throughout the variety of experiences carefully planned to engage and challenge them in the provision. The curriculum is planned for the inside and outside classrooms and equal importance is given to learning in both areas. The curriculum is planned in a cross-curricular way to enable all aspects of the children’s development including Understanding the World (UW) and Expressive Art and Design. The Early Years curriculum is also carefully devised to ensure that children are exposed to key concepts, knowledge, and skills that they will learn Key Stage One and beyond.
Promoting a love of reading and developing language is at the heart of our curriculum. Children follow the rigorous and successful ‘Essential Letters and Sounds’ programme with fidelity and consistency. The daily phonics session follows the review, teach, practice, and apply method of teaching, providing opportunities for children to recap and over learn phonics to embed long term learning. Children engage with daily group reading sessions, alongside guided reading, to develop their love of reading and early reading behaviours. Sessions are planned with key questions, vocabulary, and opportunities for discussion about the text that has been read. Children are encouraged to name the parts of the book, their features, and are warmly invited to talk about their favourite part. In Reception, daily comprehension is planned, where children are taught to sequence, recall, and develop their emotional literacy by discussing the Zones of Emotional Regulation in relation to the characters and the main events of the text.
Our curriculum recognises the importance of outdoor learning and the impact this has on children’s well-being. Through outdoor play children learn to explore and develop the learning experiences that help them make sense of the world. Outdoor learning offers children the freedom to explore and use their senses whilst being physically active and exuberant. It gives children first-hand contact with weather, the natural world, and seasons. The children at St Paul’s are encouraged to and use the Early Years playground and/or the woodland area wherever possible, and the curriculum is carefully planned to facilitate this. Opportunities for regular movement breaks are also planned to enable learners to be calm and regulated throughout the school day.
Our inclusive approach means that all children learn together but we have a range of additional intervention and support to enhance and scaffold children who may not be reaching their potential. This includes phonics interventions; our nurture group with some of our vulnerable children or additional targeted provision during free play. The staff team also works alongside the Senior Leadership Team, SENDco, and external agencies (e.g., Speech and Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists, and specialist outreach services) to ensure that all children have the best possible start in the Early Years. The characteristics of effective learning are viewed as an integral part of all areas of learning and are reflected in our observations of children.
The curriculum of the EYFS encompasses seven areas of learning and development. All areas of learning and development are important and inter-connected. The EYFS framework places emphasis on the prime areas, followed by emphasis on the specific areas. Within these areas, there are sub-categories, which are used to assess the children at the end of the Reception year.
The Prime Areas:
|COMMUNICATION AND LANGUAGE
|PERSONAL, SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
|UNDERSTANDING THE WORLD
|EXPRESSIVE ARTS AND DESIGN
None of these areas can be delivered in isolation from the others. They are all equally important and interrelated. All areas of the curriculum must be delivered through a delicate balance of adult-led and child-initiated activities.
The impact of the EYFS curriculum is reflected in children being calm, confident, and regulated for learning. Children in the Early Years will be actively engaged in their learning, will have a love of reading, and will be taught the necessary knowledge, skills, and concepts to deepen the breadth of their learning in Key Stage One and beyond. Through carefully implemented learning activities, pupils will develop reading expertise to decode confidently and to derive meaning through written word. They will communicate effectively with their peers and adults, using taught vocabulary and will understand the importance of being a resilient and regulated learner. The impact of our curriculum is also measured by how effectively it helps our children develop into well rounded individuals who embody our school values and carry with them the knowledge, skills and attitudes which will make them lifelong learners.
Our curriculum needs to meet the needs of our children, including our disadvantaged pupils and those with SEND, so we spend time looking at and evaluating how children are learning. This is achieved through talking to children, looking at their work, observing their learning experiences and sharing relevant information with parents and carers using the ‘Famly’ app.
At the end of the EYFS our children will:
By the end of the EYFS, children at St Paul’s will be happy, inquisitive, and curious learners and would have developed the essential knowledge and skills required for everyday life and lifelong learning. They will be successful learners and fully prepared for the next stage of their education as they transition from Early Years Foundation Stage into Key Stage One.
Our Curriculum Goals are based upon the Education Endowment Fund’s research into improving communication, language and literacy in the early years. It is our intent that our curriculum develops these skills and imparts knowledge to ensure children are ready for learning in Key Stage One and beyond.
Our 7 Curriculum Goals:
1. To prioritise the development of communication and language
(high-quality texts, explicit teaching of new vocabulary - Mrs Wordsmith, #VOCAB, story sessions).
2. To develop children’s early reading using a balanced approach
(developing a love of reading, guided reading, oral blending and segmenting, phonological awareness, ELS phonics)
3. To develop children’s capability and motivation to write
(gross and fine motor development, mark making, following children's interests in writing).
4. To embed opportunities to develop self-regulation
(attachment awareness, trauma informed practice, Zones of Emotional Regulation).
5. To support parents to understand how to help their child to learn
(termly 'One Page Profiles' shared with parents, communication through the use of the 'Famly' application).
6. To use high quality assessment to ensure all children make good, or better, progress
(formative observations to inform planning and provision, 3 data drops - Autumn, Spring, Summer, RBA)
7. To use high quality targeted support to help children who are working below the expected standard
(targeted intervention, further support provided through the through SALT, OT, EP, INSPIRE)