What are the Early Years?

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is the stage of education for children from birth to the end of the Reception year.

What is the statutory framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage?

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Framework supports an integrated approach to early learning care. It gives all professionals a set of common principles and commitments to deliver quality early education and childcare experiences to all children.

The EYFS is based on four guiding principles. 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. (See “the characteristics of effective teaching and learning” at paragraph 1.15). The framework covers the education and care of all children in early years provision, including children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

These four themes form the basis of our practise and ensure we provide a secure foundation through planning for the learning and development of each individual child, and regularly assessing and reviewing what they have learned.

Within the EYFS framework there are Seven Areas of Learning and the Characteristics of Effective Learning.

The Characteristics of Effective Learning support the development of the Unique Child in how children are learning. The ways in which children engage with other people and their environment – playing and exploring, active learning, creating and thinking critically – underpin learning and development across all areas and support the child to remain an effective and motivated learner.

The three Prime Areas are particularly important for building a foundation for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, forming relationships and thriving. The prime areas are:

  • communication and language
  • physical development
  • personal, social and emotional development

The four Specific Areas, aim to strengthen the prime areas and allow these skills to be applied through a more specific focus.

The specific areas are:

  • literacy
  • mathematics
  • understanding the world
  • expressive arts and design

The full EYFS framework can be found here:

Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Framework

How do we know how our children progressing?

At Apple Tree we have used ‘Development Matters’ to create a sequences of learning for each area of EYFS from 2-5 years old. This takes the elements of the Early Learning Goals and carefully maps out sequences of achievement so that we can assess progress and develop a child’s next steps through the provision and specific teaching points.

We can also use these during the EYFS as a guide to making best-fit summative judgements, with parents and colleagues across agencies, in relation to whether a child is showing typical development, may be at risk of delay or is ahead for their age.

The age/stage bands overlap because these are not fixed age boundaries but suggest a typical range of development.