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Early Years Foundation Stage

What is the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)?

It's for children aged 0-5 and covers the time spent in any early years education and childcare setting (including childminders) to the end of reception class in infant or primary school.

What will my child learn?

The EYFS consists of seven areas of learning and development. Each has a number of 'Early Learning Goals' which most children are expected to achieve by the end of the reception year in school, and broad stages of development which help show children's progress towards the goals.

Children should firstly develop three prime areas:

  • Communication and language
  • Physical development
  • Personal, social and emotional development

The prime areas are most essential for your child's healthy development and future learning.

The prime areas will help develop skills in four areas:

  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Understanding the world
  • Expressive arts and design

The seven areas are used to plan your child's learning and activities. Professionals supporting your child will make sure that activities are suited to your child's unique needs. This is similar to a curriculum in primary and secondary schools, but is suitable for very young children. It's designed to be really flexible so that staff can follow your child's unique needs and interests. 

Will the goals put pressure on my child?

No, children will feel they are playing and having fun. The pre-school or school staff will provide a selection of appropriate activities both indoors and outdoors.

Activities will be based on the interests and abilities of the children in the group. Sometimes they will be led by adults in order to practise and develop particular skills like using scissors or gluing, or learning new songs and rhymes to develop children's awareness of sounds and letters.

At other times children will select what they play with from a rich learning environment set up in the playroom or classroom. They will appear to be playing but, as this is how young children learn, they will be learning too.

How will my child's progress be recorded?

In Southampton, most early years settings will use 'Learning Stories in Southampton' to record their observations and note the progress your child is making. They will regularly consult with parents and will involve you in your child's learning journey. When your child starts their education and care you will be asked to complete a booklet called 'My Unique Child' with the staff. This will help them understand all the learning that has taken place already at home, and will help them plan for their future learning in the setting. As children continue to spend the majority of their time at home it is important that you continue to be fully involved in their learning. A leaflet about 'Learning Stories' is available from early years settings.

How can I help with my child's learning?

All the fun activities that you do with your child at home are important in supporting their learning and development, and have a really long lasting effect on your child's learning as they progress through school.

Even when your child is very young and is not yet able to talk, talking to them helps them to learn and understand new words and ideas. If you make the time every day to do some of the following things with your child it will make a real difference to your child's confidence as a young learner.

  • Sing and tell nursery rhymes
  • Talk about the numbers, colours, words and letters you see when you are out and about
  • Allow your child to cut out and stick pictures from magazines
  • On a trip to the supermarket, talk about the different packaging shapes
  • Talk to your child at every opportunity e.g. what you are doing that day
  • Share a book
  • Explore the park at a different time of the year - go off the beaten track
  • Cook / bake together
  • Plant seeds or bulbs in a pot or garden patch
  • Use the weather - shadows, rain, puddles, snow, wind, must and sun - to extend your child's vocabulary

If you're looking for new ideas for things to do then find out what is on offer at your local children's centre. Many offer 'messy play' activities which you and your child can join in with, and many of the activities they provide are free. Staff can also give you advice about the kinds of books or other activities your child might enjoy at different ages.

How can I find out how my child is getting on?

It is important that you and the professionals caring for your child work together. You need to feel comfortable about exchanging information and discussing things that will benefit your child. These conversations will either need to be with your childminder or, in a larger setting like a nursery, with your child's 'key person'. This is the person who:

  • is your main point of contact within the setting
  • helps your child to become settled, happy and safe
  • is responsible for your child's care, development and learning
  • takes a careful note of your child's progress, sharing this with you and giving you ideas as to how to help your child at home.

You should be able to get information about your child's development at any time and there are two stages (at age 2, and again at age 5) when the professionals caring for your child must give you written information about how he or she is doing.

What happens when my child is 2?

At some point after your child turns 2, the professionals working with your child must give you a written summary of how your child is progressing against the 3 prime areas of learning.

This progress check at age 2 will highlight areas where your child is progressing well and any where they might need some extra support. It will show how parents and other family members or carers can work with the key person to help. You might find it useful to share this information with other professionals (such as health visitors who can use it as part of the health and development review).

What happens when my child is 5?

There is an assessment made of each child at the end of the Early Years Foundation Stage (at the end of the Reception Class) called the EYFS Profile.

What is the EYFS Profile?

This is a national scheme to help teachers record observations and to summarise each child's achievements at the end of the Foundation Stage. Assessments are made on the Early Learning Goals of the seven areas of learning. Teachers make observations throughout the year and record children's progress - they do not set special assessment activities. An important part of the EYFS profile is your knowledge about your child's learning and development, so do let your child's class teacher know about what your child does with you: such as how confident your child is in writing their name, reading and talking about a favourite book, speaking to people your child is not so familiar with or their understanding of numbers.

Finding out at this stage how your child is doing will mean that the teacher your child has in their next school year - year 1 - will know what your child really enjoys doing and does well, as well as helping them decide if your child needs a bit of extra support, what that support should be and if they are already getting it.

The school will give you a report of your child's progress, including information from their EYFS profile.

Where can my child access the EYFS?

Children will follow the Early Years Foundation Stage in any early years care and education setting, including childminders. You may find out what is on offer at your local Sure Start children's centre.

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