At our nurseries and nursery schools, we follow the EYFS (The Early Years Foundation Stage Framework – like most nurseries in the UK and Central London). It focuses on 7 broad key developmental areas and 17 sub-learning areas for us, as early years practitioners, to focus on nurturing in order for your child to grow into being the strong, capable and confident child that he or she will become before they start school after leaving nursery…
These areas are what codifies the children’s learning with us and sets us developmental targets, in each area, for the child to achieve by certain ages for us to know that your child is developing at the right speed and in the right areas for them to be school ready by five.
But it doesn’t tell us what we should teach. As you can see from the list adjacent, the areas are quite broad, just as are the targets, which gives us full flexibility in developing and designing a curriculum that can not only meet those targets, but exceed them.
Take Literacy for an example. It doesn’t specify that the language has to be English for children to develop linguistic capabilities. We do, clearly, focus on English as a mainstay in our curriculum, but we find that language learning is enhanced by exposure to more than one. This is supported by all of the recent research into bilingualism and the advantages that it can offer for children’s language acquisition (see our pages on the bilingual benefits. Moreover, exposure to Chinese script 汉子 can also deliver aspects of expressive arts and design, in as much as those characters are pictographs i.e pictures which denote meaning and concept, and so ties in the development of both being imaginative and literacy together. Physical Development can be seen as football, but equally it can be seen as Dance, 太极 or baby yoga…every aspect can have an equal and opposite British / “Western” and / or Chinese iteration, which can only strengthen the overall learning and experience a child will get with us.
Broadly speaking, the first three areas, the areas that the Department of Education and Ofsted refer to as the “Three Primes”, are the primary focus of our practitioners responsible for the under two year olds as they form very much the foundations from which all learning will spring: self-confidence in relationships, self confidence in communication and self-confidence in physical abilities are central to a child’s further development. The “4 Specifics” become more the territory of the Pre-schoolers at 3 plus.
The EYFS also focuses on delivering what we call the “Characteristics of Effective Learning“, which offers parents and us as practitioners the three primary motivational blocks that can inspire children to learn, primarily:
- Learning through play – exploration, creativity and curiosity
- Being actively involved (i.e. taking an active lead in their learning, rather than being instructed by adults)
- Creative thinking – how to expand and develop their ideas further
The role of the practitioner in this is to facilitate, not to lead. We are here to guide the children and channel their learning so that they feel that they are taking full control of what they learn and how they learn.
Broadly speaking, the EYFS approach is summed up in the wheel of learning…
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