The EYFS Curriculum

The Foundation Stage years are an integrated approach to care and education which runs from before a child is born to when they are five years old - the end of Reception Class.

Every child deserves the best possible start in life and support to fulfil their potential. A child’s experience in the early years has a major impact on their future life chances. A secure, safe and happy childhood is important and provides the foundation for children to make the most of their abilities and talents as they grow up. The aim of the Foundation Years is to help young children achieve the five ‘Every Child Matters’ outcomes of staying safe, being healthy, enjoying and achieving, making a positive contribution, and achieving economic well-being. The EYFS principles are grouped into four distinct but complementary themes:

  • A Unique Child – recognises that every child is a competent learner from birth who can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured. The commitments are focused around development; inclusion; safety; and health and well-being.
  • Positive Relationships – describes how children learn to be strong and independent from a base of loving and secure relationships with parents and/or a key person. The commitments are focused around respect; partnership with parents; supporting learning; and the role of the key person.
  • Enabling Environments – explains that the environment plays a key role in supporting and extending children’s development and learning. The commitments are focused around observation, assessment and planning; support for every child; the learning environment; and the wider context – transitions, continuity, and multi-agency working.
  • Learning and Development – recognises that children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates, and that all areas of learning and development are equally important and inter-connected.

Learning and Development in the EYFS

The learning and development in the EYFS comprises three elements:

  • The statutory Foundation Years framework – the knowledge, skills and understanding which young children should have acquired by the end of the academic year in which they reach the age of five;
  • The educational programmes – the matters, skills and processes which are required to be taught to young children;
  • The assessment arrangements – the arrangements for assessing young children to ascertain their achievement.

There are 7 statutory areas covered in the statutory Foundation Years framework

Three prime areas:

  • Personal, social and emotional development
  • Communication and language development
  • Physical development

Four specific areas:

  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Understanding the World
  • Expressive Art and Design


The first three areas are of prime importance and necessary for effective development and achievement in early years and beyond. The specific areas help to support a rounded approach to child development. All areas are delivered through planned, purposeful play, with a balance of adult-led and child-initiated activities both inside and outside.

Assessment arrangements in the EYFS

Ongoing assessment is an integral part of the learning and development process. All practitioners in the setting observe children and respond appropriately to help them make progress towards the early learning goals. Assessments are based on observation of what children are doing in their day-to-day activities. All adults who interact with a child contribute to this process and information is also sought from parents and the children themselves. Observations and assessments are used to identify learning priorities and plan relevant and motivating learning experiences for each child. Observations are then matched to age-related expectations.

At the end of Reception, the Foundation Years statutory framework is used to sum up each child’s development and learning achievements. The framework is based on practitioners’ ongoing observation and assessments in all the areas of Learning and Development. Judgements against these scales are made from observation of consistent and independent behaviour, predominantly children’s self-initiated activities. This information is passed on to the child’s new teacher in Key Stage 1.

Sharing books in the EYFS

Reading regularly to and with your child to foster a love of reading is one of the best ways to support your child and something we encourage all the way up to Year 6. A few useful tips:

  • Take a few minutes to sit in a relaxed, uninterrupted situation with your child.
  • Move your finger gently along the line of writing as YOU read.
  • Look at the pictures and get your child to talk about them.
  • Ask questions about the story – either referring directly to it (how, when, what, who) or questions that require inference (what might happen next? why?).
  • Let your child re-tell the story back to you – even if this is memorising or making up the story from the pictures. These are all part of the early stages of sharing books and learning to read.
  • Don’t worry if your child chooses the same book on several occasions. The familiarity of a well-known story ensures success and increases confidence.
  • Use constant praise for careful listening.
  • Visit your local library.

Library books in the EYFS
Each week the Nursery, Pre-School and Reception classes take a trip to the school library and allow the children to pick a library book of their choice. They can bring this home with them and keep it for a week. This will be a book for sharing (please refer to advice above). 

Phonic development in the EYFS

The Government strongly recommend the use of synthetic phonics when teaching early literacy skills to children. Synthetic phonics is simply the ability to convert a letter or letter group into sounds that are then blended together into a word.

At Midsomer Norton Primary School, we are using the Read Write Inc (RWI) programme to get children off to a flying start with their literacy. RWI is a method of learning based upon letter sounds and phonics, and we use it to aid children in their reading and writing.

Reading opens the door to learning. A child who reads a lot will become a good reader. A good reader will be able to read more challenging material. A child who can read more challenging material is a child who will learn. The more a child learns, the more he or she will want to find out.

Using RWI, the children learn to read effortlessly so they can put all their energy into comprehending what they read. It also allows them to spell effortlessly so they can put all their energy into composing what they write.

The children are assessed regularly and grouped according to their ability. They will work with a RWI trained teacher or teaching assistant. In addition to the RWI, children will also be working on writing skills in their classes with their own teacher.

The Early Years Phonics Lead at the Midsomer Norton Primary School is Miss Hardisty. If you have any questions or need any guidance on the programme, please pop in to the school office or give them a call and they will arrange an appointment for you.

Reading

When using RWI to read the children will:

  • Learn 44 sounds and the corresponding letter/letter groups using simple prompts.
  • Learn to read words using sound blending (Fred talk).
  • Read lively stories featuring words they have learnt to sound out.
  • Show that they comprehend the stories by answering 'Find It' and 'Prove It'.

Writing

When using RWI to write the children will:

  • Learn to write the letter/letter groups which represent the 44 sounds.
  • Learn to write words by saying the sounds and graphemes (Fred fingers).
  • Learn to write simple then more complex sentences.
  • Compose stories based on story strips.
  • Compose a range of texts using discussion prompts.

Talking

When using RWI the children will also work in pairs:

  • To answer questions.
  • To practise every activity.
  • To take turns talking and listening to each other.
  • To give positive praise to each other.

Blending

Help your child learn to read words by sounding-blending (Fred talk) eg. c-a-t = cat, sh-o-p = shop. Children learn to read words by blending the letter-sounds that are in the Speed Sounds set (shown further down the page).

Help your child to say the pure sounds ('m' not 'muh', 's' not 'suh' etc.) as quickly as they can, and then blend the sounds together to say the whole word.

Support your child at home using the following guide:

Reading Books Sent Home

Children in Reception who are learning the first 44 letter sounds and are not blending fluently will bring home sound sheets, picture books and a library book for you to read with them.

Once children can blend fluently and know the first 44 sounds they will bring home Ditty sheets or a red Ditty book and a RWI bookbag book.

After ditty books, children bring home a RWI book and an RWI bookbag book. These will be changed every 3/4 days.

Read Write Inc Books: (This is your child's main reading book) Please encourage your child to read though the speed sounds page first, then the green and red words page and then check your child understands the meaning of words on the vocabulary check page, before they start reading the book. Your child will have read this book at least three times before they bring it home. They should be able to read this book with fluency and expression by the time they bring it home and they should have a good comprehension of what the book is about. At the back of the book are find it/prove it questions for you to do with your child.

RWI Book Bag books: (These books are to support is your child's main reading book) These books are to extend your child's reading. Your child should be able to read most of this book however they might need a little support, especially with the first read.

Visit the Oxford Owl website (external link) which has over 100 free ebooks for to enjoy with your child.

Library Books: (once a week from October Half Term) Library books are chosen by your child from the school library. These are for you and your child to enjoy together. If your child is able to read a few familiar words, great, but if not, please enjoy reading them to your child. Your child can also include in their reading diaries, books they have read from home or books they have taken out of the library and read.

What Else?

What else can I do to help my child learn to read?

Purchasing your own set of RWI sound cards will enable your child to practise the sounds he or she has already learnt and will be most beneficial. Please refrain from teaching new sounds until they have been taught at school. Each week, the sounds being taught in each phonic group are put on the school website for your information. Currently, you can purchase set 1 and set 2/3 Sound cards from the school office. Each pack is £7.00 each. Alternatively, you can also obtain them and other resources such as the Parent Handbook from Amazon.

Reading a variety of books (fiction, non-fiction, rhymes etc.) Discuss the different features of the books. Talk about the books and other reading materials that you have shared. Explain the meaning of new words. See if your child could change a part of the story to make a new version. You could use puppets or soft toys to retell the story. Most importantly though, show that fun can be gained by listening to stories and reading a range of texts, eg. cereal packets, shopping lists, road signs, web pages, magazines, comics, newspapers etc.

Finally, don't worry if your child is struggling at first with their sounds and words, they will get there in their own time. If you have time (we know it is very precious!), we would urge you to try and read stories to your child before they go to bed. This will help develop a wider vocabulary which makes a vast difference to their quality of writing but it will also encourage them to enjoy a good story.

Useful Websites

  • Read Write Inc - for more information and ideas for supporting your child visit the RWI website
  • Oxford Owl - visit the Oxford Owl website which has over 100 free ebooks for to enjoy with your child
  • YouTube: Phonemes Pronunciation Guide - a video clip, demonstrating how we produce our pure sounds to help during our Read Write Inc lessons
  • Family Learning: Phonics Games - Phonics games will help your child to practise sounding out words, which will help them to read
  • ICT Games: Word Reader - Listen to the word and choose which flower has that word underneath it

Progression in handwriting in the EYFS

A wide range of activities and variety of equipment is available throughout Nursery, Pre-School and Reception Classes to encourage and develop the fine co-ordination skills necessary for writing e.g. pegs and pegboards, bead threading, jigsaw puzzles, construction kits and toys, tracing pictures, scissors etc.

We do not expect children coming into Reception to be able to write their name but if they can and want to have a go, please encourage this.

  • pencil gripChildren are first encouraged to use large-scale movements:
  • Chalk or large paintbrushes with water outside on blackboard-painted walls.
  • Skywriting main letter shapes (see below) using whole arm movements starting from the shoulder.
  • Paints, chalks and thick felt pens on large paper.
  • Letter shapes made with finger or small stick in trays of salt, sand, foam or gloop.
  • Children are encouraged to develop an effective pencil grip.

A range of opportunities for writing are always available including paper and card of different shapes, types and sizes, writing implements, notebooks, diaries, labels, envelopes, blank cards etc.

Letters are taught using the basic letter shapes (printing). We do not introduce a cursive style until Year 1 (where appropriate).

Children learn about upper and lower-case letters. When writing their name they need to use a capital letter to begin, then lower-case e.g. Melanie.

We continue with skywriting, ‘finger-writing’ on each other’s backs, whiteboards, chalkboards, sand/salt trays, paper etc.

In Reception, when children are confident with their hand control they are introduced to writing letters on a line. Good handwriting relies on correct letter formation and we encourage correct pencil grip at all times (see picture above).

Mathematical development is EYFS

Some of you will already be familiar with Numicon as your child may well have already been introduced to it during their time in Nursery. For those of you new to Numicon, it can best be described as a multi-sensory maths teaching resource which will be used to support number development and particularly with calculation strategies. Children learn to associate a colour and shape with a particular number. This helps them to begin to recognise patterns in maths – a crucial skill.

numicon graphicNumicon pieces are made of coloured plastic shapes with arrangements of holes that correspond to the numbers 1 to 10. The pattern of the holes for each number follows the same basic system of arranging holes 'in pairs'. So when Numicon patterns are arranged in order, pupils begin to notice important connections between numbers for instance that each number is one more than the last and one fewer than the next, odd and even numbers and place value. Numicon is used to illustrate addition and subtraction, place value, doubling and halving, estimation, division, multiplication.

Fun with Maths
Children will learn that Maths is fun if they are given lots of practical experience and plenty of praise for effort.

Making learning fun at home and in everyday situations

Bath time fun
Talk about concepts and language such as hot/cold, wet/dry, in/out, up/down, full/empty.

Kitchen fun

  • Sort shopping by size, shape etc. and look at prices/barcodes.
  • Help with cooking, weighing, cutting.
  • Look at numbers on the clock/cooker/microwave etc.

Outdoors fun

  • Count steps, lamp-posts, bicycles, dogs etc.
  • Look at door numbers, number plates, street signs etc.
  • Talk about the different sizes of trees, fences etc.
  • Look at 2D and 3D shapes in the environment – windows, doors, tiles etc.

Home learning in the EYFS

In Reception, children are issued with games, books and library books to share at home. In addition we send home new sounds and words that have been taught so that you can reinforce the skills at home. We issue handwriting support sheets as required. On alternate weeks we issue a game to play at home which can be kept for a week. These games are designed to support your child in the early stages of their phonic or mathematical development. They contain resources and toys which need to be carefully used and returned intact. A charge will be made for any loss or damage to the equipment.