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Learning in the Early Years Foundation Stage

By: Sarah Cruickshank - Updated: 21 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Learning In The Early Years Foundation Stage

The Early Years Foundation Stage is the curriculum under which children from birth up until 5 years now learn in England. It was introduced so that all children in England would be learning in the same way in whatever setting was best for them.

A Tick Box Curriculum?

There have been many reports about the Early Years Foundation Stage being a tick box curriculum, but it simply brings together all the “ages and stages” things that parents have seen in books and magazines over many years.

There are Early Learning Goals which MOST children will have achieved by the age of 5 years. That “most” is very important as it means that not all children will achieve all these things by 5, and can equally mean that some children will have achieved more in some subject areas. The curriculum is a guide that enables practitioners across the country to ensure all children are getting similar learning experiences.

Themes and Principles

There are 4 Themes and Principles; Unique Child, Positive Relationships, Enabling Environments, Learning and Development.

Unique Child

Enables practitioners to plan and cater for individuals and their particular needs.

Positive Relationships

Is not just about children building relationships with practitioners and peers, but also about practitioners working well with parents and other professionals who are involved with children.

Enabling Environments

This is about making sure that the child is learning as much as possible in the setting and also the wider environment.

Learning and Development

This is about how and what children learn. The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), promotes experiential learning, through doing and playing.

There Are 6 Areas of Learning Development:

  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development
  • Learning about their own and other people’s development.
  • Communication, Language and Literacy
  • Talking, speaking, listening and writing.
  • Problem Solving, Reasoning and Numeracy
  • Number skills, thinking skills and ways to solve problems across the curriculum.
  • Knowledge and Understanding of the WorldThis area of the curriculum covers history, geography and science skills
  • Physical DevelopmentNot just P.E. but also developing skills needed for using small tools and writing implements. Its also about promoting co-ordination and healthy living.
  • Creative Development
  • Art, music, design technology and general creativity.
  • The Topic Approach

Most settings will plan your child’s learning using a topic approach, where an appropriate theme is chosen for the time of year and then individual activities planned to consolidate existing skills or challenge your child to learn new skills to extend their knowledge and abilities.

Topics are usually covered over around 6 weeks, not all areas of learning development will be covered in every topic, but – over an academic year – the amount of learning in each area will probably equal out. Whilst practitioners will have weekly and daily plans, their observations and evaluations will mean that they are constantly updating their plans to reflect the interests and strengths of your child, the learning they offer will then be tailored accordingly.


The Early Years Foundation Stage has enabled both practitioners and parents to have a clear path to help children to get the best possible start to their learning lives.

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