What is the Early Years Foundation Stage?
The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), is how the Government and early years professionals also describe the time in your child’s life between birth and age 5.This is a very important stage as it helps your child get ready for school as well as preparing them for their future learning. From when your child is born up until the age of 5, their early years experience should be happy, active, exciting, fun and secure; and support their development, care and learning needs.
Nurseries, pre-schools, reception classes and childminders registered to deliver the EYFS must follow a legal document called the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework.
What is the EYFS Framework – why do we have one?
The EYFS Framework exists to support all professionals working in the EYFS to help your child, and was developed with a number of early years experts and parents.
In 2014 the framework was revised to make it clearer and easier to use, with more focus on the things that matter most. This new framework also has a greater emphasis on your role in helping your child develop.
It sets out:
- The legal welfare requirements that everyone registered to look after children must follow to keep your child safe and promote their welfare
- The 7 areas of learning and development which guide professionals’ engagement with your child’s play and activities as they learn new skills and knowledge
- Assessments that will tell you about your child’s progress through the EYFS
- Expected levels that your child should reach at age 5, usually the end of the reception year; these expectations are called the “Early Learning Goals (ELGs)”
There is also guidance for the professionals supporting your child on planning the learning activities, and observing and assessing what and how your child is learning and developing.
Ensuring my child’s safety
Much thought has been given to making sure that your child is as safe as possible. Within the EYFS there is a set of welfare standards that everyone must follow. These include the numbers of staff required in a nursery, how many children a childminder can look after, and things like administering medicines and carrying out risk assessments.
You can find out about the quality of your child’s nursery and other early years providers in relation to the EYFS Framework by checking what the Government’s official inspection body for early years, Ofsted,has to say about it. You can find this information at www.ofsted.gov.uk/inspection-reports/find-inspection-report.
How my child will be learning
The EYFS Framework explains how and what your child will be learning to support their healthy development.
Your child will be learning skills, acquiring new knowledge and demonstrating their understanding through 7 areas of learning and development.
Children should mostly develop the 3 prime areas first. These are:
- Communication and language;
- Physical development; and
- Personal, social and emotional development.
These prime areas are those most essential for your child’s healthy development and future learning.
As children grow, the prime areas will help them to develop skills in 4 specific areas. These are:
- Understanding the world; and
- Expressive arts and design.
These 7 areas are used to plan your child’s learning and activities. The professionals teaching and supporting your child will make sure that the activities are suited to your child’s unique needs. This is a little bit like a curriculum in primary and secondary schools, but it's suitable for very young children, and it's designed to be really flexible so that staff can follow your child's unique needs and interests.
Children in the EYFS learn by playing and exploring, being active, and through creative and critical thinking which takes place both indoors and outside.
How can I find out how my child is getting on?
It is important that you and the professionals caring for your child work together. You need to feel comfortable about exchanging information and discussing things that will benefit your child. These conversations will either need to be with your childminder or, in a larger setting like a nursery, with your child’s “key person”.
This is the person who:
- Is your main point of contact within the setting
- Helps your child to become settled, happy and safe
- Is responsible for your child’s care, development and learning
- Takes a careful note of your child’s progress, sharing this with you and giving you ideas as to how to help your child at home
You should be able to get information about your child’s development at any time and there are two stages (at age 2, and again at age 5) when the professionals caring for your child must give you written information about how he or she is doing.