What is the Early Years Foundation Stage?

There are 4 guiding principles which shape practice in all early years settings. They 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, in which their experiences respond to their individual needs and there is a strong partnership between practitioners and parents
  • Children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates
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There are 7 areas of learning and development that must shape educational programs in early years settings. All areas of learning and development are important and inter-connected.

Three areas are particularly crucial for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, and for building their capacity to learn, form relationships and thrive. These three prime areas are:
1. Communication and language (giving children opportunities to experience a rich language environment, develop their confidence and skills in expressing themselves and to speak and listen in a range of situations)
2. Physical development (providing opportunities for young children to be active and interactive; develop co-ordination, control and movement.  Help to understand the importance of physical activity, and to make healthy choices in relation to food)
3. Personal, social and emotional development (Helping children to develop a positive sense of themselves, and others. To form positive relationships and develop respect for others. To develop social skills and learn how to manage their feelings, understand appropriate behaviour in groups; and to have confidence in their own abilities)
Providers must also support children in four specific areas, through which the three prime areas are strengthened and applied. The specific areas are:
4. Literacy (encouraging children to link sounds and letters and to begin to read and write)
5. Mathematics (develop and improve skills in counting, understanding and using numbers, calculating simple addition and subtraction problems, describe shapes, spaces and measures)
6. Understanding the world (guiding children to make sense of their physical world and their community through opportunities to explore, observe and find out about people, places, technology and their environment)
7. Expressive arts and design (enabling children to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials, as well as opportunities for sharing thoughts, ideas and feelings through a variety of activities in art, music, movement, dance, role play, design and technology)