At Stondon Lower School the Early Years Team firmly believes that play is a crucial part of young children’s development. Most learning will be introduced through a mixture of carefully planned play and adult-led focused activities. There will also be opportunities for children to choose the activities that appeal to them, following their own particular interests. Teachers aim to provide a safe and stimulating environment where children can actively engage in a variety of well-balanced activities. Children will be able to maximise their learning through forming strong, warm and supportive relationships with adults and their peers. Our creative curriculum inspires and motivates children to develop their understanding and encourages them to ask questions. We use the Development Matters framework alongside the new EYFS framework (2021) to assist us in planning exciting opportunities to enable children to achieve their Early Learning Goals in the seven areas of development:
- Communication and language development: children are given the opportunity to experience a rich language environment, to speak and listen in a range of situations and to develop their confidence and skills in expressing themselves. On a weekly basis, children are introduced to new vocabulary which links to the books that they will share and explore. They are also provided with a range of resources and activities that encourage them to use this new vocabulary in contexts throughout the day. By commenting on what children are interested in or doing, and echoing back what they say with the new vocabulary added, adults will build children’s language effectively.
- Physical development: children are given the opportunity to enable them to pursue happy, healthy and active lives. Gross and fine motor experiences are crucial in early year physical development. By providing opportunities for play, both indoors and outdoors, adults will support children in developing their core strength, stability, balance, spatial awareness, co-ordination and agility. Children are taught the importance of physical activity and to make healthy choices in relation to food.
- Personal, social and emotional development: children are given the opportunity to develop a positive sense of themselves and others, to form positive relationships, to develop respect for others, to develop social skills and learn how to manage their feelings, to understand appropriate behaviour in groups and to have confidence in their own abilities.
- Literacy development: children are given the opportunity to develop a life-long love of reading through a variety of activities such as sharing books, re-enacting them, ‘innovating’ existing tales and creating their own stories. Children are also given plenty of opportunities to develop their early mark making skills through multi-sensory approaches. In terms of developing early reading and writing skills, the Letters and Sounds programme is used.
- Mathematics: children are given the opportunity to develop a strong grounding in numbers so that they develop the necessary building blocks to excel mathematically. By providing frequent and varied activities to build and apply this understanding, children will develop a secure base of knowledge and vocabulary from which mastery of mathematics is built. In addition, our curriculum includes rich opportunities for children to develop their spatial reasoning skills across all areas of mathematics such as shape, space and measures.
- Understanding the world: children are given the opportunity 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. In addition, listening to a broad selection of stories e.g. non-fiction, rhymes and poems will foster children’s understanding of our culturally, socially and technologically diverse world. Children will carry out the ‘Growing our own vegetables and fruits’ project throughout the year. Through this project, children will learn how plants grow, the importance of insects, observe seasonal changes and gain an appreciation for nature and the circle of life.
- Expressive arts and design: children are given the opportunity to develop their imagination and creativity, and their ability to use a wide range of media and materials as well as having opportunities and encouragement to share their thoughts, ideas and feelings through a variety of activities in art, music, movement, dance, role-play and design and technology.
At the end of the Foundation Stage a judgement is made as to whether a child’s learning meets the expected level or is emerging into the level. Parents/carers are informed of their child’s learning throughout the year through parent evenings, newsletters, parent e-mails and Seesaw where teachers upload photos of children’s activities.