The Early Years Foundation Stage is the beginning of education for children from birth to the end of the Reception year. At Broomhill First School, we support children’s learning in the Early Years Foundation Stage from age 3 in our Nursery through to the end of Reception at age 5. We also have a newly established Parent and Toddler group, Little Robins, which runs every Friday in our developing Forest School provision.
The Early Years Foundation Stage is based on the recognition that children learn best through play, exploration and active learning which enables them to become creative and critical thinkers. In our setting, children have access to our Early Years unit which includes two adjoining classroom spaces and a large outdoor area. The stimulating learning environment is set up to encourage independence, cooperation and challenge. Our staff work hard to provide exciting and motivating learning activities and resources to follow children’s individual needs and interests, whilst also developing the essential building blocks we have identified in preparation for learning in Key Stage One.
The Early Years Foundation Stage is a very important time as it helps our children to get ready for school as well as preparing them for their future learning and successes. We aim to make each child’s Early Years’ experience happy, active, exciting, fun educationally-rich and secure, while we support their development, care and learning needs.
At Broomhill, it is our intent that all children develop physically, verbally, cognitively and emotionally in a safe, nurturing and secure environment that feels like a home from home. We are an extended family that works together to ensure every child reaches their full potential.
Our curriculum is designed to encourage connection, creativity, curiosity and courage, which are the four core values that underpin the culture and ethos of Broomhill.
Every child is recognised as a unique individual, and we acknowledge and promote children’s interests to provide them with the opportunities to follow their imagination and creativity.
We aim for our children to be:
The Development Matters document alongside the statutory Early Learning Goals set out expectations for our children and we recognise the crucial role that Early Year’s education has to play in providing firm foundations upon which the rest of a child’s education is successfully based.
We aim to provide a learning environment where children can work with adults and peers in a climate of mutual respect to develop confidence in their ability, the social skills necessary to learn and the emotional capabilities to enable them to understand their feelings.
Our Early Years Foundation stage offers a curriculum that is rich, flexible, engaging and exciting, and reflects of the unique needs, passions and interests of our children. The curriculum meets the welfare requirements laid down in the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage and we actively safeguard and promote the welfare of all of our children with safeguarding systems and practices are underpinned by a culture of vigilance. We recognise that children will learn most effectively when they are healthy, safe and secure, when their individual needs are met and when they have positive relationships with the adults who care for them.
Staff are experienced in utilising a judicious mix of adult-directed activities, sustained shared thinking activities (child-initiated activities that are then picked up on and supported by an adult) and uninterrupted child-initiated learning. Adult-led activities are based on the staff’s professional understanding of what each child needs to develop, including what experiences they should be exposed to and when.
Through adult-led activities, staff can introduce children to new ideas, engage children in shared thinking, provide opportunities for them to develop their knowledge and skills and ensure that they experience all areas of learning in the Early Years.
Weekly timetables are carefully constructed so that children have rigorous directed teaching in English, phonics, and mathematics every day; however, timetables are adaptable and they change across the year to reflect the changing needs of the children.
The topics taught in our Early Years have been carefully chosen as building blocks for a firm foundation of learning that will be built upon in KS1 and KS2. At the heart of our choices, are deliberate opportunities to develop early language. In our EYFS, everything we do floats on a sea of talk. Through stories, songs, nursery rhymes, and high-quality peer-to-peer and adult-to-child interactions, language acquisition is prioritised so that our children become confident communicators who have the language to express themselves and connect with others.
The Early Years Curriculum
Our Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum is based on government guidance and each child learns skills, acquires new knowledge and demonstrates their understanding through 7 areas of learning and development. Our curriculum in the Early Years links to the curriculum in KS1 and KS2, with the Early Years teaching and learning building strong foundations for the future.
Three of these are prime areas which form the basic skills that help children develop in the other four specific areas.
1. Personal, Social and Emotional Development
We help children to develop respect for themselves and others and to show an understanding of boundaries and routines. Children are encouraged to express their own feelings and respond to the feelings of others as they work cooperatively to form friendships and learn ways to solve problems. All children are provided with opportunities to increase their independence skills and confidence, whilst developing a positive attitude to learning. Children are also encouraged to manage their own basic hygiene and personal needs including dressing and undressing independently.
2. Communication and language
Children are encouraged to listen with increasing attention and concentration during group activities, at story time and when engaging in conversation with others. They develop their understanding of language as they ask and answer questions and follow instructions. Children are encouraged to talk about their experiences and use language in a variety of ways to communicate with adults and peers. They learn to speak clearly and confidently with increasingly complex sentences and vocabulary linked to their learning. Our learning environment is set up to provide lots of opportunities for children to talk to their friends as they engage in collaborative learning and play.
3. Physical development
Children are taught to move confidently and imaginatively with increasing control and coordination during outdoor play activities and in PE lessons. They learn to negotiate space effectively, adjusting speed or direction to avoid obstacles. Fine motor control is developed using tools, scissors, small construction equipment and malleable materials. Children learn to use a pencil and hold it effectively to trace shapes and form recognisable letters.
We encourage children to develop a love of books and reading at a very early age. Stories often form the starting point for lots of exciting activities and role play opportunities. Children will be encouraged to handle books properly and look at them carefully. We also make reference to words in the environment to help children understand that they have a meaning. Children are encouraged to make marks and ascribe meaning to them in lots of different contexts indoors and outdoors. This ranges from drawing, making marks in the sand, painting with mud and conducting surveys. Children are involved in phonics activities where they learn to hear and say sounds and link them to the alphabet. They also learn to form recognisable letters as they build up to writing familiar words and sentences.
Mathematics is taught through stories, songs, games, imaginative and practical activities. Children learn to count, recite and recognise numbers to ten and beyond. They learn to make comparisons of quantities with language such as ‘more’ and ‘less’. Children begin to represent numbers using fingers, marks and pictures before they learn to write each numeral independently. Simple calculations are set in the context of number problems or challenges to introduce addition and subtraction. Children also learn to describe and compare shapes, position, weight, capacity and size using mathematical language such as, ‘heavy/light’, ‘full/empty’ and ‘long/short’.
3. Understanding the World
Children explore and find out about the world around them including people, places and features of the natural and man-made world. Children are always encouraged to be curious, ask questions, investigate and explore different aspects of the curriculum. They are taught to show care and concern for plants and animals in the environment. There are opportunities to build with different materials and use everyday technology such as computers and moving toys as they learn what they are used for. Children are encouraged to find out about past events in their lives or their families' lives. They also learn about different cultures and beliefs of other children in the UK and around the world.
4. Expressive Arts and Design
Children are encouraged to use their imagination and to explore lots of different media and materials through creative activities. They are given opportunities to explore the sound of musical instruments and use them to make rhythms and to represent events, characters and feelings in stories. Learning is often approached through song or dance where children are encouraged to learn words and make up their own verses or actions and move rhythmically to music. Children are supported and extended in their role play as they use their imaginations to act out stories and familiar events, making their own props and using their own ideas. Children can also explore their artistic and creative abilities as they experiment with colours and make models using a range of tools, techniques and resources.
Parents as Partners
Parents have an extremely important part to play in helping their child learn and develop so at Broomhill First School we aim to establish good home-school partnerships from the very beginning of a child’s education. We like to involve parents in our learning by keeping them informed of current topics and themes and welcoming any contributions that parents can offer to enhance the learning opportunities. We also provide information about ways to support your child at home. We like parents to let us know of any achievements a child makes at home as we love to be able to celebrate their success in school as well.
Parents are welcome to come into the Early Years Unit each morning as they bring their child to school. We encourage children to show their parents around and look at our displays together to talk about what they have been learning and making in Nursery and Reception.
Our staff are friendly and welcoming and hold an open door policy to chat about any queries or concerns. We also hold parent consultations at various points of the year to share the progress of each child.