What does the Early Years look like at Sheringdale?
The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) applies to children from birth to the end of their Reception year aged 5. At Sheringdale, children can join the EYFS at the age of three turning four in our nursery, and at four turning five in Reception.
The Foundation Stage is exactly that; the foundation for lifelong learning. It’s about learning how to learn, developing a love of learning and having lots of fun while you’re about it!
The EYFS is based on four core principles:
- A Unique Child – every child is individual and is born with the ability to learn
- Positive Relationships – children learn to be independent and confident when they have a base of secure, loving and positive relationships with parents/carers and/or a key person
- Enabling Environments – the environment is essential for supporting and extending children’s learning and development
- Learning and Development – when the three principles above are recognised and in place, children are in a position to learn and develop successfully. Every child is different and learns in different ways and at different rates. All areas of learning and development are important and interconnected.
At Sheringdale, we aim to provide a safe, secure and happy environment where children can thrive, feel good about being themselves and begin the process of becoming independent, confident, active learners. In partnership with our families, we aim to provide children with a rich variety of teaching and learning experiences that take account of their current knowledge, understanding and ability and target their ‘next steps’ for progress. We are keen to develop children’s skills across all areas of the curriculum, from their number knowledge and fine motor dexterity, to key skills such as listening, developing perseverance and learning how to cooperate and compromise with other people.
There are seven ‘Areas of Learning’ that make up the EYFS.
These are grouped into three ‘Prime Areas’:
- Communication and Language
- Physical Development
- Personal, Social and Emotional Development
And four ‘Specific Areas’:
- Expressive Arts and Design
- Understanding the World
The prime areas are considered the most essential for healthy development and future learning. As children grow, a secure grounding in the prime areas will help them to tackle the learning and challenges and develop skills in the specific areas.
All of these areas of learning are delivered through a mixture of whole class teaching sessions, smaller adult led group or 1:1 activities and child initiated play experiences. The curriculum is designed to be flexible and personalised, enabling staff to tailor learning experiences to the needs of each individual and to follow the children’s interests and fascinations. Staff are experienced in joining children in their play and using these experiences to question and develop their thinking, scaffold and extend their learning and develop their enjoyment of the process.
For each area of learning there is an ‘Early Learning Goal’ (ELG) that defines where children are expected to reach by the end of the EYFS. Throughout the year, records are kept of children’s experiences and achievements so that an accurate profile is developed of each child’s learning journey. At the end of the EYFS, teachers are required to assess the children against each ELG and judge whether they are at an Emerging, Expected or Exceeding level.
Characteristics of Effective Learning:
Alongside the curriculum, staff are also assessing each child’s approach to learning throughout the year. At the end of the EYFS, the Reception teacher will write a short account of how each child learns in their school report. This judgement is based on three ‘Characteristics of Effective Learning’:
- Playing and Exploring (finding out, having a go, applying prior knowledge)
- Active Learning (being engaged, persevering, enjoying and achieving what they set out to do)
- Creating and Thinking Critically (having their own ideas, making links within their learning, choosing their own way of doing things)
At Sheringdale we believe that children do best when home and school work together. Parents play a vital role in the EYFS and we are keen for them to be involved and informed about all that’s going on in the experience of their child. We have an open door policy and encourage parents to meet with staff if there is an issue they wish to discuss. Along with termly parent’s evenings, we also have several open mornings and workshops throughout the year where parents are invited into the classroom to spend time with their child at school and become familiar with the way certain subjects are taught. A weekly newsletter appears on the website every Friday to keep parents informed of what’s going on in class, and we encourage parents to note down their own observations and ‘WOW’ moments at home so that they are also included in the assessment process. At the end of the year, parents will receive their child’s ‘Learning Journey’ book and CD, which contain a record of all their child’s learning and achievements throughout the year.