Early Years Foundation Stage


What is the Early Years Foundation Stage?


The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is a very important stage as it helps your child prepare for school, their future learning and successes.


From birth up until the age of 5, a child’s early years experience should be happy, active, exciting, fun and secure; and support their development, care and learning needs.


The Early Years Foundation Stage sets out:


  • the 7 areas of learning and development which guide professionals’ engagement with your child’s play and activities as they learn new skills and knowledge;
  • the legal welfare requirements that everyone registered to look after children must follow to keep your child safe and promote their welfare;
  • assessments that will tell you about your child’s progress through the EYFS;
  • expected levels that your child should reach at age 5, usually the end of the reception year.


Children in the EYFS learn by playing and exploring, being active, and through creative and critical thinking which takes place both indoors and outside.



The EYFS Principles


These principles underpin everything in the EYFS:


  • A unique child - Every child is a competent learner from birth who can be resilient, capable, confident and self assured.


  • Positive Relationships - Children learn to be strong and independent from a base of loving and secure relationships with parents and/or a key person.


  • Enabling Environments - The environment plays a key role in supporting and extending children’s development and learning.


  • Learning and Development - Children develop and learn in different ways at different rates and all areas of Learning and Development are equally important and interconnected.



The 7 Areas of Learning and Development


Your child will be learning skills, acquiring new knowledge and demonstrating their understanding.


Children should mostly develop the 3 prime areas first. These prime areas are those most essential for your child’s healthy development and future learning.


  • Communication and language - looks at supporting children’s developing competence in listening and understanding as well as speaking and communicating. Children should be given opportunities to build these skills and gain confidence to use them in a range of situations.


  • Physical development - looks at supporting children in using their senses and bodies to explore the world around them and make connections between new and existing knowledge. They should have the chance to be active and interact with things to improve their skills of coordination, control, manipulation and movement. Children also need to develop an understanding of healthy living practices.


  • Personal, social and emotional development - looks at supporting children to develop a sense of themselves, social skills and respect for others and a positive disposition to learn. Children’s emotional well-being also needs to be supported in order to help them understand and manage their feelings and behaviour.


As children grow, the prime areas will help them to develop skills in 4 specific areas.


  • Literacy - focuses on learning the skills needed for reading and writing


  • Mathematics - looks at supporting children to develop their understanding of numbers, calculating, shapes, space and measures.


  • Understanding the World - looks at supporting children in developing the knowledge, skills and understanding to help them make sense of their world. They should be able to explore creatures, people, plants and objects and undertake practical ‘experiments.’


  • Expressive Arts and Design - looks at supporting children in developing their creativity by providing a range of opportunities, materials and media in which to express themselves and use their imaginations. The children should be encouraged to explore and share their thoughts, feelings and ideas.


More about EYFS

You can find out more about the Early Years Foundation Stage here.



What are the Characteristics of effective learning??


Characteristics of Effective Learning (CoEL) are a revived element in the current Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum (EYFS). CoEL advocate that in planning and guiding children’s activities, practitioners must reflect on the different ways that children learn, and then reflect these in their practice. A child’s individual learning characteristic will determine the way they respond to both the teaching and learning taking place in the environment.  Three characteristics of effective teaching and learning identified by the EYFS are:

  • playing and exploring - children investigate and experience things, and ‘have a go’;
  • active learning - children concentrate and keep on trying if they encounter difficulties, and enjoy achievements; and
  • creating and thinking critically - children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas, and develop strategies for doing things.

The focus of the CoEL is on how children learn rather than what they learn i.e. process over outcome. Underpinning the CoEL is the understanding that during their earliest years, children form attitudes about learning that will last a lifetime. Children who receive the right sort of support and encouragement during these years will be creative, and adventurous learners throughout their lives. Children who do not receive this sort of support and interaction are likely to have a much different attitude about learning later on in life. Hence, why the supportive practitioner, and the environment they provide, need to nurture these CoELs to occur, but without forgetting that children are individuals who bring their own needs, talents and histories to the learning environment.





“Play underpins the delivery of all of the Early Years Foundation Stage.

Children must have opportunities to play indoors and outdoors. Providing well planned experiences based on children’s spontaneous play both indoors and outdoors, is an important way in which practitioners support young children to learn with enjoyment and challenge.”

(The Early Years Foundation Stage Practice Guidance)