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Early Years

What is the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)?


All children deserve the care and support they need to have the best start in life. Children learn and develop at a faster rate from birth to five years old than at any other time in their lives, so their experiences in early years have a major impact on their future life chances. A secure, safe, and happy childhood is important in its own right. Good parenting and high-quality early learning provide the foundation children need to fulfil their potential.


The EYFS sets the standards that all early years providers must meet to ensure that children learn and develop well and are kept healthy and safe. It promotes teaching and learning to ensure children’s ‘school readiness’ and gives children the right foundation for good future progress through school and life.


At Penn Wood, we aim to provide children with:

  • quality and consistency 
  • secure foundations
  • equality of opportunity

Overarching Principles of the EYFS


1) Every child is a unique child, who is constantly learning and can be resilient, capable, confident, and self-assured.


2) Children learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships.


3) 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.


4) Importance of learning and development. Children develop and learn at different rates.  The framework covers the education and care of all children, including children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

The Characteristics of Effective Learning
In planning and guiding what children learn, practitioners must reflect on the different rates at which children are developing and adjust their practice appropriately.  Three characteristics of effective teaching and learning 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
creating and thinking critically - children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas, and develop strategies for doing things


These underpin learning and development across all areas and support the child to remain an effective and motivated learner.

The Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum
There are seven areas of learning and development that must shape the curriculum offer in all early years settings.  All seven areas of learning are important and interconnected.


The prime areas are particularly important for learning and forming relationships. The prime areas are:


Communication and Language
Physical Development
Personal, Social and Emotional Development


There are four specific areas, through which the three prime areas are strengthened and applied and ignite children's curiosity and enthusiasm. The specific areas are:


Understanding the World
Expressive Arts and Design 

Across the Foundation Stage, we endeavour to provide educational programmes that involve activities and experiences for children, as follows:


Communication and language development involves 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. 

This area underpins all seven areas of learning and development.

Physical development involves providing opportunities for young children to:

  • be active and interactive; and
  • develop their co-ordination, control, and movement.

Children must also be helped to understand the importance of physical activity, and to make healthy choices in relation to food.

Personal, social and emotional development involves helping children to:

  • develop a positive sense of themselves and others;
  • form positive relationships and develop respect for others;
  • to develop social skills and learn how to manage their feelings;
  • to understand appropriate behaviour in groups; and
  • to have confidence in their own abilities.

Literacy development involves encouraging children to

  • link sounds and letters and
  • begin to read and write.

Children must be given access to a wide range of reading materials (books, poems and other written materials) to ignite their interest. For more information about our approach to teaching early reading through phonics (RWI), please visit the Reading area of our website.

Mathematics involves providing children with opportunities to

  • develop and improve their skills in counting, understanding and using numbers;
  • calculate simple addition and subtraction problems; and
  • describe shapes, spaces, and measures.
Understanding the world involves 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 the environment.
Expressive arts and design involves enabling children to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials, as well as providing opportunities and encouragement for sharing their thoughts, ideas and feelings through a variety of activities in art, music, movement, dance, role-play, and design and technology.

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