The Early Years Foundation Stage is the first part of the National Curriculum, focusing on children from birth to the end of their reception year. It is divided into seven areas of learning.
The first 3 are the Prime Areas aimed at engaging a child in learning and preparing them for their next steps – personal, social and emotional development; communication and language; physical development.
The second set are the Specific Areas which help a child to develop knowledge and skills to move forward with their learning and prepare them for year 1 – mathematics; literacy; understanding the world; expressive arts and design.
The cycle of observation, assessment, planning, observation is carried out on a moment-by-moment basis. We have focus children each week (approximately 10% of the group). Activities that occur are recorded when the cycle is complete. These records are on the learning journeys for the focus children and on spontaneous planning sheets for activities in which a group have become involved. We have focus children NOT focus activities. The adult goes to the child. The child is NOT called to come to the adult. We work this way because high-level involvement occurs in child-initiated activity.
When children show high levels of involvement, that is when there is progress and development occurring – when the brain is at its most active. High level involvement occurs most often when children are able to pursue their own interests in an enabling environment. “In the moment” planning helps to make this possible.
We have a workshop style environment indoors and outside. Nothing is set out on the tables. The children select what they want to do in each area. The principle is that resources are accessible to the children and they are varied, open-ended and high quality. This gives children the opportunity to select resources to support their chosen activity.
The adults are there to facilitate learning. They do this through observations and interactions. Our adults know the children very well and have a sound understanding of child development. This ensures that the adults enhance and extend the learning at the appropriate level.
Meaningful Interactions - The children and the adults have time and space to engage in meaningful conversations. The children set the agenda and the adults are there to show interest and engage with the children. The modelling of conversation skills is then adopted by the children, who have long conversations in pairs and groups.
We use the observation cycle on a moment by moment basis. The focus children are given extra attention, but all the children are busy and learning all the time. The planning sheets are a record of activities that have occurred. It is particularly important that the adults’ input is recorded. The symbol “T” indicates “adult”. Adult input is high-lighted in yellow:-
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