"The goal of early childhood education should be to activate the child's own natural desire to learn". - Maria Montessori
September 2021 saw the introduction of the new Early Years Foundation Stage across all early year's settings and childminders in England. The aim of the reform is to improve outcomes for children, strengthen their language development, particularly for children from disadvantaged backgrounds and reduce workloads so that practitioners can spend more time with your children, supporting their learning.
We will be using a government commissioned document called Development Matters 2020, which provides curriculum guidance to support the implementation of the EYFS, including, ‘The Seven Features of Effective Practice’ and a chart depicting typical child development pathways, divided into three age groups: 0-3 years; 3-4 years; and reception. In the three Prime Areas there are ‘observation checkpoints’ that can be used to assess if your child is on track and developing as expected.
We still have the same headings for the seven areas, known collectively as the ‘Educational Programmes’, and they are still divided into Prime and Specific areas, but the content has changed significantly. There is high importance given to the development of speech and language and literacy skills throughout, especially the acquisition of vocabulary, reflecting the roles these play in improving our children’s outcomes.
Communication and language, the new description states that the development of spoken language underpins all seven areas and the role of high-quality back-and-forth interactions and conversations in a language rich environment. It explains the many ways that your child acquires new vocabulary, including adult modelling and commenting, conversation, storytelling and role play.
Personal, social and emotional development now refers to the importance of attachments, within strong, warm, supportive relationships, and the role of self-regulation. Self-care has moved to this area from Physical Development.
Physical development focuses on the development of gross and fine motor skills and talks about the importance of physical development to children’s all-round health and development, including social and emotional well-being.
Literacy states that developing a lifelong love of reading is crucial. Reading is broken down into comprehension, which begins from birth, and word reading which comes later. Writing is divided into transcription and composition.
Mathematics, this area now focuses strongly on the importance of embedding a deep understanding of number to 10, including the patterns and relationships between these numbers and developing spatial reasoning skills. Your child will be encouraged to develop a positive attitude to and an interest in mathematics, not being afraid to make mistakes.
Understanding the world provides examples of ways in which your child will make sense of their physical world and their community, such as by visiting parks, libraries and museums, and meeting important members of society such as police officers, nurses and firefighters. The importance of experiencing a broad selection of books and rhymes to foster the understanding of ‘our culturally, socially, technologically and ecologically diverse word’ and associated vocabulary is included.
Expressive arts and design now also includes providing regular opportunities for children to engage with the arts and develop a cultural awareness, as well as hands on creative experiences.
The new EYFS has a strong focus on the importance of ensuring that children have a deep, secure understanding of each concept or skill before moving on, rather than rushing them on to next steps.