Why do we need an Early Years curriculum?
The early years are a time of rapid growth and development when the building blocks for future learning and thinking are laid in children’s minds and behaviours. Young children learn through their play. Much of this is the self-chosen, active exploration of their own ideas and interests. This does not mean that the adult has no part to play nor that there is no place for a curriculum framework. It does mean that the early years
curriculum emphasises the importance of depth in learning and places significant focus on the processes involved.
In England, we are governed by a “Statutory framework for the early years foundation stage: Setting the standards for learning, development and care for children from birth to five”. Through our Federation curriculum, we pay particular attention to what the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) refers to as the characteristics of effective learning:
Alongside these, the EYFS identifies 7 areas of learning and development. There are 3 prime areas.
Together, these set the foundations for the 4 specific areas:
Recognising that these are all interconnected, our curriculum offers meaningful learning experiences which will enable all children to thrive and develop the learning skills, along with the attitudes and behaviours which will stand them in good stead for the future.
How do children learn in our Federation schools?
Using all their senses, children learn more before they are 5 than at any other time in their lives. Children learn best when they are happy, secure and actively involved in their own learning. Our curriculum is rooted in the ‘here and now’, the current lived experience of each child and seeks to foster their instinctive curiosity, sense of fun, resilience and zest for life. Our teaching aims to harness this enthusiasm, to be guided by children’s needs and interests and to extend their horizons.
We believe learning is fun. We place a strong emphasis on children playing, exploring and developing their own unique identity, skills and circle of meaningful relationships. This means we take time to foster learning in the prime areas of personal, social and emotional development, communication and language and physical development. This is particularly important for the youngest children. Our approach is to be positive and affirming, to recognise and value children’s efforts and to build new learning securely on things they already know and can do.
As children grow and mature, their play will begin to reflect more of the specific areas of learning and development as, for example, they have confidence to use their increasing physical co-ordination and developing vocabulary to hold a magnifying glass and look closely at tadpoles, talking about what they can see and, with adult support, finding out about their life-cycle. This example shows how the prime area foundations provide secure skills for further learning. Successful learning in the specific areas is dependent upon children having strong foundations in the prime areas. To gain deep understanding and competency, children need many opportunities to repeat, practice and refine their skills.
However, none of the areas of learning are isolated from the others. Early learning is closely interconnected and children’s play and activities will almost always extend across many of the areas.
See our Learning and Teaching Policy and our Curriculum and Assessment Policy for more details
The framework: sets the standards that all early years providers must meet to ensure that children learn and develop well ensures children are kept healthy and safe ensures that children have the knowledge and skills they need to start school.
This non-statutory guidance material supports practitioners in implementing the statutory requirements of the EYFS.