Learning in Early Years
‘The ways in which the child engages with other people and their environment —playing and exploring, active learning, and creative and thinking critically—underpin learning and development across all areas and support the child to remain an effective and motivated learner’ (Curriculum Guidance for the Foundation Stage , 2012)
Children are at the centre of everything we do at Fairfield Park Lower School. During their Foundation Stage they will have the opportunity to:
- Explore learning experiences that help them to make sense of their world
- Develop ideas, concepts and skills
- Learn self-control and understand the needs for rules
- Play alone or cooperatively, talking about their ideas
- Solve problems and learn from mistakes
- Think creatively and imaginatively
- Explore fears and other feelings in a controlled, safe place.
The practitioners’ role is to support this by:
- Providing a challenging and stimulating learning environment
- Supporting children’s learning though planned activities, provision and play.
- Extending children’s own learning and exploration.
- Developing children’s language and communication skills including their ability to listen and respond to others in a positive way.
- Observing, assessing and reporting on children’s progress, giving additional support and challenge where necessary.
- Developing effective partnerships with parents.
Early Years Foundation Stage Education
The nursery and reception years are known as the Early Years Foundation Stage because of the essential building blocks laid down at this important time.
For more information please read
What to expect, when? A parents' guide | From pregnancy to children aged 5
Our curriculum is based on the National Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum. Within each session there will be an age stage appropriate balance of learning as a whole class, learning as part of a small group, learning as an individual or with a partner and children then practising and applying their skills, linked to their own interests and curiosities.
Sessions are planned to ensure opportunities for development in the seven areas of development which are:
Communication and Language Development: to develop skills in speaking, listening and understanding which involves giving pupils opportunities to speak and listen in a range of situations and to develop their confidence and skills in expressing themselves.
By the end of the reception year the children should listen attentively in a range of situations. They listen to stories, accurately anticipating key events and respond to what they hear with relevant comments, questions or actions. They give their attention to what others say and respond appropriately, while engaged in another activity and they follow instructions involving several ideas or actions. They answer ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions about their experiences and in response to stories or events. They express themselves effectively, showing an awareness of the listeners’ needs. They use past, present and future forms accurately when talking about events that have happened or are to happen in the future and they develop their own narratives and explanations by connecting ideas or events.
Physical Development: to develop skills and control in both gross and fine motor. This involves providing opportunities for pupils to be active and interactive, and to develop their co-ordination, control, and movement. They are also be helped to understand the importance of physical activity, and to make healthy choices in relation to food. By the end of their reception year children should show good control and co-ordination in large and small movements and move confidently in a range of ways, safely negotiating space. They should handle equipment and tools effectively, including pencils for writing. Children also need to know the importance, for good health, of physical exercise, and a healthy diet, and talk about ways to keep healthy and safe. They manage their own basic hygiene and personal needs successfully, including dressing and going to the toilet independently.
Personal, social and emotional development: to create a positive self-image and form good relationships with both children and adults. This involves helping pupils to develop a positive sense of themselves and others,· form positive relationships and develop respect for others, develop social skills and learn how to manage their feelings, understand appropriate behaviour in groups and have confidence in their own abilities. During their Foundation Stage of learning children should become confident to try new activities, and say why they like some activities more than others. They are confident to speak in a familiar group, will talk about their ideas, and will choose the resources they need for their chosen activities. They say when they do or don’t need help. They talk about how they and others show feelings, talk about their own and others’ behaviour, and its consequences, and know that some behaviour is unacceptable. They work as part of a group or class, and understand and follow the rules. They adjust their behaviour to different situations, and take changes of routine in their stride. Children also play co-operatively, taking turns with others. They take account of one another’s ideas about how to organise their activity. They show sensitivity to others’ needs and feelings, and form positive relationships with adults and other children.
Literacy: to develop reading, comprehension and writing skills. This involves encouraging pupils to read and write, both through listening to others reading, and being encouraged to begin to read and write themselves. Pupils have access to a wide range of reading materials for example books, poems, and other written materials to ignite their interest. Children are taught to read and write through a phonics scheme based on DfE ‘Letters and Sounds’ and the ‘Jolly Phonics’ scheme
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By the end of their reception year children read and understand simple sentences. They use phonic knowledge to decode regular words and read them aloud and accurately. They also read some common irregular words and demonstrate an understanding when talking with others about what they have read. Children use their phonic knowledge to write words in ways which match their spoken sounds. They also write some irregular common words. They write simple sentences which can be read by themselves and others with some words spelt correctly and others are phonetically plausible.
The children are taught in a holistic manner with a wide variety of opportunities to practice their skills using very practical opportunities, in their own play and through their own interests.
Parent workshops are held annually, to share our methods – the presentations can be viewed via
Mathematics: to develop and encourage exploration of number, shape and
measure. Children are provided with opportunities to practise and improve their skills in counting numbers, calculating simple addition and subtraction problems and to describe shapes, spaces, and measures. By the end of their reception year they should count reliably with numbers from 1 to 20, place them in order and say which number is one more or one less than a given number. Using quantities and objects, they should add and subtract 2 single-digit numbers and count on or back to find the answer and they will solve problems, including doubling, halving and sharing. Children also use everyday language to talk about size, weight, capacity, position, distance, time and money to compare quantities and objects and to solve problems. They will recognise, create and describe patterns and explore characteristics of everyday objects and shapes using mathematical language to describe them.
We use very practical activities, songs and games to teach these maths skills, ensuring the children have plenty of opportunity to practice them in a purposeful way through their own interests and play.
We have shared our methods of teaching maths with parents in order that they can support at home
Understanding the World: to develop a growing awareness of the world and to encourage curiosity. This involves guiding pupils 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. During their Early Foundation Stage Years children will talk about past and present events in their own lives and in the lives of family members, know that other children don’t always enjoy the same things, and are sensitive to this and know about similarities and differences between themselves and others, and among families, communities and traditions. Children will learn about similarities and differences in relation to places, objects, materials and living things and will talk about the features of their own immediate environment and how environments might vary from one another. They will make observations of animals and plants and explain why some things occur, and talk about changes. Children will also recognise that a range of technology is used in places such as homes and schools and they will be able to select and use technology for particular purposes.
Expressive Arts and Design: to develop expression in all areas of the arts. Children will have the opportunity to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials and be provided with 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. They sing songs, make music and dance, and experiment with ways of changing them. They safely use and explore a variety of materials, tools and techniques, experimenting with colour, design, texture, form and function. Children have the opportunity to show and develop their imagination through use what they have learnt about media and materials in original ways, thinking about uses and purposes. They represent their own ideas, thoughts and feelings through design and technology, art, music, dance, role-play and stories.
The parents' guide for Early Years Foundation Stage is available to download as a PDF here.
Preparing your child for school
Download the School Readiness Guide which gives parents a useful list of the basic skills that their child will need in order for them to get the most out of their time at school. We have also added a school readiness video that parents may find informative.