Part of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum is known as the ‘Characteristics of Effective Learning’ (COEL) which focuses on how children are learning to learn, rather than what they are learning.
These are divided into three areas:
|Playing and Exploring||Active Learning||Creating and Thinking|
|Finding out and exploring
Playing with what they know
Being willing to ‘have a go’
|Being involved and concentrating.
Keeping on trying.
Enjoying achieving what they set out to do.
|Having their own ideas
Choosing ways to do things
The EYFS is made up of seven all important and interconnected areas of learning. There are three prime areas and four specific areas of learning.
The three prime areas are particularly crucial for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning and for building their capacity to learn, form relationships and thrive. These three areas, the prime areas, are:
|Personal, Social and Emotional Development||Communication and Language||Physical Development|
|Self-confidence and self-awareness.
Managing feelings and behaviour
|Listening and attention
|Moving and handling
Health and self-care
Pupils need to be secure in all three of these areas before they are ready to learn more traditional academic skills such as reading and writing.
There are four specific areas through which the three prime areas are strengthened and applied. These are;
|Literacy||Mathematics||Understanding of the World||Expressive Arts|
Shape, space and measures
|People and communities
|Exploring and using media and materials
None of these areas can be delivered in isolation from the others. They are equally important and depend on each other. All areas are delivered through a balance of adult led and child initiated activities. In each area there are Early Learning Goals (ELGs) that define the expectations for most pupils to reach by the end of the EYFS.
During this first year in school, we capture the natural enthusiasm and inquisitiveness of pupils to ensure that they develop an independence and interest in learning. This gives pupils the firm foundation required as they move on to the next key stages of the curriculum. They are encouraged to discover the excitement that can be found in learning new ideas and concepts. They are given the opportunity to develop the broader skills of independence in learning that will help them throughout their school career and beyond.
Early phonics is taught through Letters and Sounds. By the end of Year R all pupils have experienced Phases 1-4, in order to ensure they are on track to achieve the expected standard in the Year 1 phonics screening.
We aim to teach the majority of our curriculum through topics that will engage and excite children in their learning. We kick start each topic through a hook which is developed to capture children’s interests and imagination. The activities that are then delivered throughout the topic will be linked to the hook and lead towards a topic outcome giving the topics a real sense of purpose. Often parents will be invited to come into school to share the topic outcome and find out about the learning that has taken place.
Throughout the year there is a focus on activities that develop children’s fine and gross motor skills. These are essential skills that children need in order to write letters with control. During clever hands time children take part in hand strengthening exercises, for example, rolling, pinching and shaping playdoh or picking up small objects with tweezers.
This is the time when children are able to be in control of their own learning. They are able to follow their own lines of enquiry and explore independently. During these times children are able to move freely around the learning environment both indoors and in the outdoor classroom. We encourage the children to see the outdoor area as another classroom and not just a play area. This is because valuable learning takes place outside and it should have as equal importance as the indoor learning environment.
Although children are free to explore and be in charge of their own learning, this is not a play session and adults are in place to question, extend, challenge and support children in their learning. Great care is also taken to ensure the activities that are available to the children are carefully planned matched their current learning needs so that learning is consolidated and moved forward during independent learning time.
At the end of independent learning time children are supported to reflect on and talk about their learning. An emphasis is placed on the children talking about ‘how’ they have learnt during independent learning time highlighting to them the essentials skills needed for them to grow as successful learners throughout their lives.
Children take part in maths activities daily. These are a combination of whole class teaching and small group work. We take our time to teach numbers slowly ensuring that children have a good understanding of each number, its’ value and its’ place within the number system. There is also be a focus on learning about shapes and pattern.
Children take part in reading activities daily. These are a combination of whole class stories, small group work or one-to-one reading with an adult.
Children have daily phonics sessions as a whole class and then time to practise skills that they have learnt in smaller groups. During phonics time children practise the skills of word building, reading and writing.
Each week children are taught new sounds and some ‘tricky words’ which they need to learn to read by sights as they are not phonetically decodable.
These are activities that are planned weekly by the teachers targeting specific skills across all areas of the curriculum. These may be focused on skills that are new to the children, or skills that they need to practise.