Our Early Years Curriculum follows Development Matters and is designed to ensure that all 7 areas of learning are covered in a way that allows children to explore, investigate and use their play to develop their thinking and knowledge of the world around them. Adults are used to ‘scaffold their learning, helping them to achieve things they might not yet be able to do independently.
All children are supported at whatever stage of development they are at so that every child has the opportunity to grow and develop as learners. Those who need a bit of extra support are given it when they need it so that children are keeping up, not catching up with learning. “Children learn and develop more from birth to five years old than at any other time in their lives. If children are at risk of falling behind the majority, the best time to help them to catch up and keep up is in the early years. Every child can make progress, if they are given the right support. When we give every child the best start in their early years, we give them what they need today. We also set them up with every chance of success tomorrow.” (Development Matters 2021)
Four guiding principles shapes our practice in Early Years, these are:
Every child is a unique child, who is constantly learning and can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured
Children learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships
Children learn and develop well in enabling environments with teaching and support from adults, who respond to their individual interests and needs and help them to build their learning over time. Children benefit from a strong partnership between practitioners and parents and/or carers.
Importance of learning and development. Children develop and learn at different rates. The education and care of all children in early years is important all children’s needs are carefully considered and planned for.
Characteristics of Effective Teaching and Learning
All activities and adult support is based around the idea that children learn in different ways. Adults are encouraged to interact with the children in their play, not to distract them from their own ideas but to facilitate deeper thinking and question their ideas. They also encourage children when they want to give up and celebrate with them when they achieve their goal.
Playing and exploring – children investigate and experience things, and ‘have a go’
Active learning – children concentrate and keep on trying if they encounter difficulties, and enjoy achievements
Creating and thinking critically – children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas, and develop strategies for doing things
“Tell me and I will forget, teach me and I may remember, show me and I will learn.”
Prime Areas of Learning
Three areas are particularly important for building a foundation for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, forming relationships and thriving. (Early Years Statutory Framework 2021)
Communication and Language (CL)
“Reading frequently to children, and engaging them actively in stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems, and then providing them with extensive opportunities to use and embed new words in a range of contexts, will give children the opportunity to thrive. Through conversation, storytelling and role play, where children share their ideas with support and modelling from their teacher, and sensitive questioning that invites them to elaborate, children become comfortable using a rich range of vocabulary and language structures.” (Development Matters 2021)
Personal Social and Emotional Development (PSED)
“Children should be supported to manage emotions, develop a positive sense of self, set themselves simple goals, have confidence in their own abilities, to persist and wait for what they want and direct attention as necessary. Through adult modelling and guidance, they will learn how to look after their bodies, including healthy eating, and manage personal needs independently. Through supported interaction with other children they learn how to make good friendships, co-operate and resolve conflicts peaceably. These attributes will provide a secure platform from which children can achieve at school and in later life.” (Development Matters 2021)
Physical Development (PD)
“By creating games and providing opportunities for play both indoors and outdoors, adults can support children to develop their core strength, stability, balance, spatial awareness, co-ordination and agility. Gross motor skills provide the foundation for developing healthy bodies and social and emotional well-being. Fine motor control and precision helps with hand-eye co-ordination which is later linked to early literacy. Repeated and varied opportunities to explore and play with small world activities, puzzles, arts and crafts and the practice of using small tools, with feedback and support from adults, allow children to develop proficiency, control and confidence.” (Development Matters 2021)
Specific Areas of Learning
These 4 areas of learning form the foundations for children’s education. Adults support children to develop the skills they need to succeed in the future.
“It is crucial for children to develop a life-long love of reading. Reading consists of two dimensions: language comprehension and word reading. Language comprehension (necessary for both reading and writing) starts from birth. It only develops when adults talk with children about the world around them and the books (stories and non-fiction) they read with them, and enjoy rhymes, poems and songs together. Skilled word reading, taught later, involves both the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and the speedy recognition of familiar printed words. Writing involves transcription (spelling and handwriting) and composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech, before writing).” (Development Matters 2021)
“Developing a strong grounding in number is essential so that all children develop the necessary building blocks to excel mathematically. Children should be able to count confidently, develop a deep understanding of the numbers to 10, the relationships between them and the patterns within those numbers. By providing frequent and varied opportunities to build and apply this understanding – such as using manipulatives, including small pebbles and tens frames for organising counting – children will develop a secure base of knowledge and vocabulary from which mastery of mathematics is built. In addition, it is important that the curriculum includes rich opportunities for children to develop their spatial reasoning skills across all areas of mathematics including shape, space and measures. It is important that children develop positive attitudes and interests in mathematics, look for patterns and relationships, spot connections, ‘have a go’, talk to adults and peers about what they notice and not be afraid to make mistakes.” (Development Matters 2021)
Understanding the World (UW)
“Understanding the world involves guiding children to make sense of their physical world and their community. The frequency and range of children’s personal experiences increases their knowledge and sense of the world around them – from visiting parks, libraries and museums to meeting important members of society such as police officers, nurses and firefighters. In addition, listening to a broad selection of stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems will foster their understanding of our culturally, socially, technologically and ecologically diverse world. As well as building important knowledge, this extends their familiarity with words that support understanding across domains. Enriching and widening children’s vocabulary will support later reading comprehension.” (Development Matters 2021)
Expressive Arts and Design (EAD)
“The development of children’s artistic and cultural awareness supports their imagination and creativity. It is important that children have regular opportunities to engage with the arts, enabling them to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials. The quality and variety of what children see, hear and participate in is crucial for developing their understanding, self-expression, vocabulary and ability to communicate through the arts. The frequency, repetition and depth of their experiences are fundamental to their progress in interpreting and appreciating what they hear, respond to and observe.” (Development Matters 2021)
Early Learning Goals
These are the level of development expected for each child when they reached the end of the Early Years Foundation Stage at the end of their Reception year. They were not used to design our curriculum as this would limit the experiences children need in order to build firm foundations and be ready for year 1. Instead they are used to support the teacher to make a best-fit judgement about children’s development. The class teacher draws on their knowledge of the child and uses their expert professional judgement when deciding if a child has achieved the ELG or whether they need further support as they transition into year 1. Evidence is not required to make these judgements. However, each child has an online learning journey that is shared with parents to celebrate each child’s achievements throughout the year.