The Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum consists of seven main areas:
- Communication and language
- Physical development
- Personal, social and emotional development
- Understanding the world
- Expressive arts and design
THE IMPORTANCE OF PLAY
We deliver our curriculum through providing a range of opportunities within which children can develop relationships and personal skills alongside subject related learning. Many of these experiences are provided through high quality play based activities that take place both inside and outside. Play helps young children to progress in a non-threatening and enjoyable way. We need to instill confidence, creativity and successful learning at an early age as learning is a vital life skill in our fast changing world.
While it is a great advantage for a child to have early experience of reading, writing and number, we would always emphasise that learning should be FUN and - as far as possible should arise naturally as part of your child’s everyday life. Formal lessons are not really appropriate at this stage and if learning is viewed as something “boring” which interferes with having fun, then there is a distinct possibility that children will become disinterested.
COMMUNICATION AND LANGUAGE
The use of language is at the heart of learning; expressing needs and feelings and discussing ideas, is very important.
Listening, understanding and speaking
Children need to be able to speak clearly and listen carefully to appreciate words and therefore read and finally write. Encourage your child to complete sentences, avoiding baby talk. If your child is having pronunciation problems or receiving speech therapy please let the teacher know as soon as possible.
Encourage your child to listen and respond to simple instructions. As well as answering questions, try to ask questions which will encourage them to think. Get them to identify the sounds around them. Help them distinguish between similar sounds and words. Let them appreciate silence.
This is essential for health and also balance, control and an awareness of space. Children need to develop large body movements before developing the small scale movements that are needed when using different tools. Providing lots of fun opportunities to play safely with balls, tricycles and climbing frames will help develop these important skills. It is important that children understand and know about the importance of good health, exercise, diet and can talk about how to keep healthy and safe. Being able to manage their own basic hygiene and personal needs successfully is all part of developing physically and becoming more independent.
PERSONAL, SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
This includes developing self confidence and self awareness, being able to express ideas, ask for help and be confident to follow their own interests, managing feelings and behaviour, being able to talk about how they feel, recognize that some behaviour is unacceptable and understand and follow rules as part of a class or group. Making relationships, playing cooperatively and taking turns, taking account of the feelings of others and forming positive relationships with adults and other children, are valuable skills for becoming caring, considerate people. Children’s social and emotional development is really important, and underpins learning in other areas.
Parents can help by arranging for their children to mix with other children, this will help them settle and interact with their peers at school.
Make sure you child has access to a variety of books and try to read to them each day. Make reading together a special time so they learn to enjoy books and want to read for themselves. Join a library and help your child choose a book to share with you at home. Show them how to turn the pages, discuss the pictures with them and ask questions which will encourage them to reflect on the story and predict what may happen next.
Point to the words as you read them and show that you are reading from left to right. This will teach your child that those black squiggles on the page have meaning and will also emphasise the left to right reading direction. Knowing about reading in this way is known as “pre-reading” and is an important first step in learning to read.
Children who have enjoyed a variety of books with you in their pre-school years are likely to make a good start with their reading at school. Reading at Meredale is taught through teaching the children the letters and sounds which are then used to blend, forming words. Each child will have a reading book from the Oxford Reading Tree scheme that they will bring home daily to share with you. They progress through the Reading scheme at their own pace. This will be supported by books from the school library.
However, remember that reading is not confined to books alone. Words are all around us – on shops and buildings, food packaging, street signs and so on. Take the opportunity to point out at least some of the words that your child sees every day. You should even help them to make some labels and signs of their own to place around the home, such as “Paul’s room”, “toys in here”.
Learning to write goes hand in hand with learning to read and so it follows that activities which lay the foundations for reading will also help prepare a child to write. For instance, by pointing to words as you read to your child, you will be helping them to understand the relationship between speech and the written word.
The best way to encourage your child’s earliest attempts at writing is to ensure that they have access to pencils, pens, crayons and paints. By experimenting with these, your child will be developing the hand control which they will need to begin writing.
Do not expect your child’s earliest efforts to result in anything recognisable! Scribbling is an important first stage in learning to draw and write and should be valued as such. It is from these early scribbles that more purposeful shapes and forms will later emerge.
Do encourage your child to hold pencils and crayons correctly. As their pencil control improves, they may enjoy colouring and simple tracings and perhaps even be able to write over your writing of their name (use large, lower case letters please. rather than capitals). However, do not rush things. Before a child can attempt more purposeful activities, they must first have had plenty of “free play” with pens, pencils, crayons and paints.
Daily life provides many opportunities for children to begin learning about numbers. We are surrounded by numbers – on telephones, clocks, coins, buses, houses and so on and are probably unaware of how often during the day we need to count – when laying the table, putting sugar in tea, going shopping, etc. By involving your child in everyday activities such as these you will be teaching them a surprising amount of early maths skills without them even realising! For instance, laying the table together can involve many problem solving skills such as “How many knives/forks/spoons/plates do we need?” “Do we have enough cups?” “Have we got too many spoons?”
Here are some of the skills your child will be working on throughout their reception year and into key stage one (KS1):
Numbers: Counting to ten, then twenty, recognising numerals, putting numbers in the correct order. Matching numbers with objects, counting one more and one less. Beginning to use the language and idea of adding, taking away, doubling, halving and sharing.
Shape, Space and Measure: Beginning to use the language of size, weight, capacity, position, distant, time and money to compare quantities and solve problems. Explore characteristics of everyday objects and shapes and use mathematical language to describe them. Recognize, create and describe patterns.
UNDERSTANDING THE WORLD
This encompasses talking about the past and present in their own lives and those of family and friends. Beginning to understand that not everyone enjoys the same experiences and becoming sensitive to this. Exploring similarities and differences between themselves and others and among communities Understanding and knowing about differences in relation to objects, materials and living things. Talking about the immediate environment and how the environment varies from another as well as observations of animals and plants. Technology is another exciting area of discovering and being aware of uses of technology in everyday life is important as is being able to select technology for a particular purpose. Children learn best by firsthand experience - this helps them to make sense of the world around them. Children also benefit hugely from meeting and interacting with different people, encountering and caring for other living things, using different tools and equipment and going to places of interest. The skills and knowledge gained from these experiences form the foundations of many subjects. Developing an early willingness to experiment, ask questions and find out things for themselves gives children the ability and confidence to tackle a wide range of situations.
EXPRESSIVE ARTS AND DESIGN
This includes art, music, dance, role play and imaginative play. This will help them to express their ideas, feelings and preferences using all their senses. You can help by teaching nursery rhymes and tapping to the beat of familiar songs, by collecting junk and providing glue and string for imaginative modelling. Use paper, paints and different types of coloured pencils; these will also help with the fine motor control necessary for learning letter formation.
SELF HELP AND INDEPENDENCE
We all want children to get the most out of their time in school. One way in which parents can play a big part is by equipping their children with some of the practical skills which will help them to be independent when they start school – this is a huge help for the child in terms of their confidence and self-esteem and also enables the teacher to work more effectively with the class. Imagine trying to get TWENTY children dressed and undressed for P.E. – it wouldn’t leave much time for the P.E. itself!
We understand that children develop at different rates and do not expect every child to be able to do everything on the list but it would be very useful if you could spend time with your child helping them to learn how to:-
1) Use the toilet alone, flush it and wash their hands afterwards.
2) Blow and wipe their own nose.
3) Fasten and unfasten coats and shoes - Velcro strips can be easier than buttons and laces.
4) Get dressed and undressed - ready for P.E. and swimming activities.
5) Sit on a chair correctly at a table – get your child used to working at a table when colouring etc.
6) Cut up their own food using a knife and fork, especially useful if they are having school dinners!
Within Meredale School we encourage children to begin to develop independence from their first day at school. We encourage children to take care of their own belongings and gradually to manage their own practical needs. At home, give your child simple tasks to carry out such as putting away their toys or giving food to the household pets which will encourage thoughtfulness and responsibility from an early age.
"Outstanding teaching in the Reception class helps children make an excellent start in learning to speak, read and write." (Ofsted, 2014)