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St Gregory's Catholic Primary School

'For every future, for every child'

Early Years Foundation stage (EYFS)

Statement of Intent

At St Gregory's we passionately believe that young children learn best through play and exploration. Wherever possible we offer children the opportunity to experience real life events that are linked to their learning.  Every day our children get the opportunity to be an artist, writer, mathematician, scientist, designer or a storyteller, for example. These play-based experiences enable the children to consolidate their skills, knowledge and understanding and enable them to be become independent and resilient learners. Throughout the environment, both inside and outside, you will see busy children actively engaged in a wide range of activities that they themselves have chosen. Continuous provision supports and encourages our children and staff to have a lifelong love of learning.

 

The Principles Shaping our Practice in EYFS:

Four guiding principles shape 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. 

 

Our learning and development aims are based around the EYFS seven areas of learning and development. We also  utilise the Early Learning Goals (ELGs) which summarise the knowledge, skills and understanding that all young children should have gained by the end of the EYFS. The Early Learning Goals are not a curriculum, but a way of assessing whether children are achieving against the seven areas of learning. Our Reception Overview further below shows how we aim to reach and exceed these goals.

 

All areas of learning and development are important and inter-connected. There are THREE PRIME AREAS that are particularly important for learning and forming relationships. They build a foundation for children to thrive and provide the basis for learning in all areas. These are:

• Communication and language

• Physical development

• Personal, social and emotional development

 

In addition, there are four specific areas which help strengthen and develop the three prime areas and ignite children’s curiosity and enthusiasm. The specific areas are:

• Literacy

• Mathematics

• Understanding the world 

• Expressive arts and design

 

 Communication and Language  (CL): 

The development of children’s spoken language underpins all seven areas of learning and development. Children’s back-and-forth interactions from an early age form the foundations for language and cognitive development. The number and quality of the conversations they have with adults and peers throughout the day in a language-rich environment is crucial. By commenting on what children are interested in or doing, and echoing back what they say with new vocabulary added, practitioners will build children's language effectively. 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.

 

Personal, Social and Emotional Development  (PSED)

Children’s personal, social and emotional development (PSED) is crucial for children to lead healthy and happy lives, and is fundamental to their cognitive development. Underpinning their personal development are the important attachments that shape their social world. Strong, warm and supportive relationships with adults enable children to learn how to understand their own feelings and those of others. 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.

 

Physical Development

Physical activity is vital in children’s all-round development, enabling them to pursue happy, healthy and active lives. Gross and fine motor experiences develop incrementally throughout early childhood, starting with sensory explorations and the development of a child’s strength, co-ordination and positional awareness through tummy time, crawling and play movement with both objects and adults. 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.

 

Literacy

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).

 

Mathematics

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.

 

Understanding the World

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.

 

Expressive Arts and Design

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.

In our Early Years class the room is organised to promote and develop continuous provision.  This continuous provision enables children to return to their explorations and consolidate their learning over the course of a day or a more extended period. It  also allows children to make choices and initiate play without always needing interaction with an adult. Using what they have learnt in a way that is meaningful and personal to them helps this new knowledge to stick. 

Continuous Provision in Action in Early Years

 

The pictures below show some examples of children directing their own learning through continuous provision.  Our Early Years children are provided with large chunks of child initiated learning throughout the day. This allows them to use what they know in ways that interest them. The role of the adults in this time is to support and question the children; making observations and pushing the learning on further. Our children have the opportunity to free flow between the classrooms and the large outside area. We provide these opportunities whatever the weather as we understand that children benefit from outside learning even in the wind and rain. There is a focus on the Prime Areas of learning as these are the building blocks for all future learning. As well as this reading and writing are promoted throughout all areas of provision. This ensures that the children's learning is purposeful and interests them.

 

Early Years Classrooms

The photos below show some of the areas in our Reception classroom and outside space. We also have an additional learning space called the Green Room where the children can access, large block play, sand and water play as well as being a place to change into our wet weather and mud suits. All of the resources are displayed on open shelves so the children have free and easy access. The labelling of resources is used as a way to reinforce maths skills such as matching shapes or counting objects. There are silhouettes underneath containers so that children can easily and independently tidy up resources when they have finished using them.

Water play is a fantastic activity for developing children's hand-eye coordination as they learn to pour, squeeze, stir and even paint with water.

Children can learn new skills, have fun, play and develop self-confidence by spending time in the garden tending to plants and growing their own food.

Engaging in imaginative play shows strong links to language development. Children are learning to communicate with each other verbally but also through non-verbal behaviours such as gestures, facial expressions and body language.

Fine motor skills involve the use of the small muscles that control the hand, fingers and thumb. They help children perform important tasks like feeding themselves, grasping toys, buttoning and zipping clothes, writing, drawing and more.

Small worlds, as well as being fun, are the ideal platform for nurturing children's imagination from a young age.

Learning outside the classroom activities are often authentic, hands-on, interactive and build on classroom learning.

A mud kitchen provides a space for children to retreat to for some time alone in a soothing sensory experience or to play with peers co-operating, communicating, negotiating and sharing.

Through their constructive play, a child will learn what will work and what will not. Trial-and-error is a great method in which to create structures and modify methods. Overcoming problems to build structures in a particular way will always aid creative thinking and problem solving skills.

Music can give children a way to express themselves, to unleash their creativity, to be inspired and uplifted, to relax and to relieve stress and tension.

Skills progression planning for continuous provision

Reception long term plan

Term 6 Curriculum letter

At the end of the Reception year the children will be assessed on the Early Learning Goals.

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