Our EYFS curriculum is based on our commitment to actively include our youngest children’s experiences in their learning journey through our school. Whilst the Early Learning Goals (ELGs) describe the expectations for the end of the EYFS, we see this as only one marker along their learning journey. Learning that happens in our EYFS classroom provides the knowledge, skills, language and understanding for them to be successful in later learning. Building blocks are set in place on which new learning can develop later in school life.
Initially, using the ‘Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage’ and its ‘educational programmes’ as our framework, our curriculum provides a rich and stimulating framework through which children make progress within the seven areas of learning and development. We make effective use of the ‘Development Matters’ materials as an overview of how children develop and learn. It guides us through the pathways of children’s development in broad ages and stages. Observation checkpoints help us notice whether a child is at risk of falling behind.
With those things in mind, we carefully create a curriculum which is unique to our setting. We watch our children, observing how they lead their own play. We talk to parents and carers to find out their children’s interests. Listening to what children say also provides us with clues about their curiosities and interests.
Furthermore, with the support of some well-designed supporting curriculum materials, our curriculum expands on aspects, stretches typical expectations and breaks down learning in smaller chunks and ensures those chunks are coherently sequenced so that children gain the new language, knowledge and skills needed to integrate into future learning.
For example, when we introduce children to new learning through a Cornerstones project or teach fine motor skills using PenPals for Handwriting, the knowledge and skills that children need to know and be able to do in order to make progress through the curriculum are mapped from Nursery to Year 4 and beyond. These threads, which Cornerstones projects provide, give children the foundational knowledge and understanding, through the EYFS seven areas of learning and development, they will need for key stage 1 and for the rest of their schooling. Early reading and phonics is taught through a structured phonics programme called ‘Unlocking Letters and Sounds’. We place high value on music and singing because we understand its impact on young children’s development speech and sounds.
“Speech and music have a number of shared processing systems. Musical experiences, which enhance processing can therefore impact on the perception of language, which in turn impacts on learning to read. Active engagement with music sharpens the brain’s early encoding of linguistic sound…”
Professor Susan Hallam, The Power of Music, Music Education Council 2015