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3 to 5 year olds: early years foundation stage curriculum

Where the foundation stage is available

The early years foundation stage (EYFS) is taught in school nurseries, day nurseries, preschools and reception class and is for children aged three to five years. It covers the years from the beginning of nursery or preschool to the end of the reception class in primary school. 

Within each of these settings staff will work with your child using play as an important method of learning. 

Prime areas of learning and development

The three prime areas below are about children’s curiosity, enthusiasm for learning and how to learn and form relationships.

Communication and language development 

Communication and language development ​is about giving children opportunities to experience a rich language environment, develop confidence and skills in expressing themselves and to speak and listen in a range of situations

Physical development 

Physical development ​is about providing opportunities to be active, interactive and develop co-ordination, control, and movement. Children are also helped to understand the importance of physical activity and to make healthy food choices

Personal, social and emotional development 

Personal, social and emotional development ​is about enabling children to develop a positive sense of themselves, and others, to form positive relationships and develop respect for others, develop social skills and learn how to manage their feelings, understand appropriate behaviour in groups and to have confidence in their own abilities

Specific areas of learning and development

The four specific areas below help with applying the prime areas. 

Literacy development

Literacy development​ is about encouraging children to link sounds and letters and to begin to read and write. Children are given access to a wide range of reading materials (books, poems, and other written materials) to get them interested

Maths

Maths is about 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

Understanding the world is about 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

Expressive arts and design​ is about enabling children to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials, as well as providing opportunities and encouragement for sharing thoughts, ideas and feelings through a variety of activities in art, music, movement, dance, role-play and design and technology

How children learn

Schools and settings use the 'characteristics of effective learning' when planning educational programmes. These are:

  • playing and exploring - investigating and experiencing things, and ‘having a go’

  • active learning - concentrating and not giving up if they encounter difficulties, and enjoy achievements

  • creating and thinking critically - having and developing their own ideas, making links between ideas, and developing strategies for doing things.

Early learning goals

Your child will make progress in all seven areas of learning through developmental, age-related achievements. This will enable them to reach the early learning goals at the end of the school reception year.

The goals provide schools and settings with an indicator as to whether your child is working within the expected stage of learning and development. Assessments are made through on going observations and schools and settings will work with you as partners in learning to build a profile of your child’s learning journey through the foundation stage.

How you can help your child learn

  • give your child lots of love and encouragement so they see themselves as confident and capable
  • try not to move your child between too many settings as consistency of care and education is very important for young children
  • discover what your child likes and dislikes, every child is a unique individual
  • share stories, rhymes and songs
  • talk to your child, encourage them to ask questions and enjoy discovering new thing with them
  • be involved - work in partnership with your child’s school or setting. The contribution you make as your child's first educator is key.
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