Early Years Foundation Stage

Areas of Learning

Communication and language development is one of the prime areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage and involves giving children opportunities to speak and listen in a range of situations, and to develop their confidence and skills in expressing themselves.

Communication and Language is broken down into three aspects:

Listening and attention



The importance of these three aspects has been established from the Every Child a Talker (ECAT) programme. By focusing on listening and attention, and separating receptive language (understanding) from expressive language (speaking), practitioners can gain a better understanding of how language develops, how to support the process, and how to identify children who could be at risk from language delay.

Listening and attention – children tuning in to what they can hear and listening carefully. This is how children learn to distinguish between different sounds as a build-up to learning how to read and write.

Speaking – how children use words to express their needs, ideas and feelings and as a way of sharing what they are thinking with other people. Children need lots of opportunities to talk before they will be ready to communicate through writing.

Understanding – how children make sense of spoken language, starting with simple short sentences and building up to more complex questions and sentences.

Physical Development is one of the prime areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage and is about how young children gain control of their bodies. It also includes how children learn about keeping themselves active and looks at how children learn to use equipment and materials successfully and safely.

What Physical Development means for children…

  • Children learn by being active and Physical Development takes place across all areas of Learning and Development.
  • Physical Development helps children gain confidence in what they can do.
  • Physical Development enables children to feel the positive benefits of being healthy and active.
  • Physical Development helps children to develop a positive sense of well-being.

Good health in the early years helps to safeguard health and well-being throughout life. It is important that children develop healthy habits when they first learn about food and activity. Growing with appropriate weight gain in the first years of life helps to guard against obesity in later life.

Physical Development is broken down into two aspects:

Moving and Handling

Health and Self-Care

Moving and Handling

At Stonehouse Park we make sure that we provide equipment and resources that are sufficient, challenging and interesting and that can be used in a variety of ways, or to support specific skills. We also make sure that the children work both on their fine motor skills and gross motor skills daily.

We do this by:

  • Allowing sufficient space, indoors and outdoors, to set up relevant activities for energetic play.
  • Providing time and opportunities for children with physical disabilities or motor impairments to develop their physical skills, working in partnership with relevant specialists.
  • Incorporating fine motor skills activities into the daily routine such as threading, using tweezers, peg boards etc.
  • Using additional adult help, as necessary, to support individuals and to encourage increased independence in physical activities.
  • Following intervention programmes such as Fizzy and Finger Gym.

Personal, social and emotional development   is one of the prime areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage and involves 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; to understand appropriate behaviour in groups; and to have confidence in their own abilities.

Personal, social and emotional development is split into three aspects:

Self-confidence and self-awareness: children are confident to try new activities, and say why they like some activities more than others. They are confident to speak in a familiar group, will talk about their ideas, and will choose the resources they need for their chosen activities. They say when they do or don’t need help.

Managing feelings and behaviour: children talk about how they and others show feelings, talk about their own and others’ behaviour, and its consequences, and know that some behaviour is unacceptable. They work as part of a group or class, and understand and follow the rules. They adjust their behaviour to different situations, and take changes of routine in their stride.

Making relationships: children play co-operatively, taking turns with others. They take account of one another’s ideas about how to organise their activity. They show sensitivity to others’ needs and feelings, and form positive relationships with adults and other children.

Literacy is one of the specific areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage and involves encouraging children to link sounds and letters and to begin to read and write. Children are given access to a wide range of reading materials (books, poems, and other written materials) to ignite their interest.

Literacy is split into two aspects:

Reading: The teaching of systematic synthetic phonics in Reception follows the Letters and Sounds programme, supported by the use of a modified version of Jolly Phonics.  The approach is multi-sensory and playful, using kinaesthetic actions, songs, stories, puppets and pictures to support children’s learning.

Once children know a reasonable number of sounds and can blend them to make simple words, they practise by reading texts which are entirely decodable from the Floppy’s Phonics, Big Cat and Oxford Reading Tree schemesAs their knowledge and skills develop, they will progress through our Book Banded reading scheme which has books from various published schemes and is designed to give children experience of a variety of reading genres. There are fiction and non-fiction books within each level.

 The Early Learning Goal for Reading at the end of the Foundation Stage states:

Children read and understand simple sentences. They use phonic knowledge to decode regular words and read them aloud accurately. They also read some common irregular words. They demonstrate understanding when talking with others about what they have read.  This goal involves the child using cues such as pictures, letter/word recognition, knowledge of the story or context and reading for meaning, in order to help them comprehend a range of fiction and non-fiction texts.

 Writing: Children are given a wide range of opportunities to experiment with their emergent writing and mark making. Letter formation is taught alongside phonics for reading.  It is very important to encourage correct letter formation from the start, as this is the basis for fluent, legible handwriting in the future.

As children move through the Reception Year, they are given opportunities to write and mark-make in contexts which are meaningful to them, such as making ‘wanted’ posters in a police station role play scenario, writing a ‘recipe’ for a ‘magic potion’ or making labels for their construction models.  They are also given more structured opportunities to write with the support of a Teacher, always on tasks which are meaningful and appropriate to their individual level of development e.g. a list for the play shop, instructions for making sandwiches or a simple retelling of a familiar story.

The Early Learning Goal for writing at the end of the Foundation Stage states:

Children use their phonic knowledge to write words in ways which match their spoken sounds. They also write some irregular common words. They write sentences which can be read by themselves and others. Some words are spelt correctly and others are phonetically plausible.

Mathematics is one of the specific areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage and involves providing children with opportunities to develop and improve their skills in counting, understanding and using numbers, calculating simple addition and subtraction problems; and to describe shapes, spaces, and measures.

Mathematics is split into two aspects:

Numbers: children count reliably with numbers from 1 to 20, place them in order and say which number is one more or one less than a given number. Using quantities and objects, they add and subtract two single-digit numbers and count on or back to find the answer. They solve problems, including doubling, halving and sharing.

Shape, space and measures: children use everyday language to talk about size, weight, capacity, position, distance, time and money to compare quantities and objects and to solve problems. They recognise, create and describe patterns. They explore characteristics of everyday objects and shapes and use mathematical language to describe them.

Understanding the world is one of the specific areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage and involves children making sense of their world and community through opportunities to explore, observe and find out about people, places, technology and the environment. It comprises of three areas: people and communities, the world and technology.

Understanding of the World is split into three aspects:

People and communities: We provide children with opportunities to talk about past and present events in their own lives and in the lives of family members. We will show them that other children don’t always enjoy the same things as them using class discussions and experiences that occur during the day, they are encouraged to be sensitive to this. Children will consider similarities and differences between themselves and others, and among families, communities and traditions.

The world: The children will learn about similarities and differences in relation to places, objects, materials and living things. We will be finding out about some other countries, sorting, investigating, playing and using different materials. They will explore, investigate and talk about the features of their own immediate environment and how environments might vary from one another. They will make observations of animals and plants in and around our garden and begin to discuss and explain why some things occur, talking about changes.

Technology: We have an ICT suite in school which the children will access on a weekly basis to develop their skills and the range of technology used in places such as homes and schools will be highlighted. In the classrooms there are computers for the children to use daily and they can select and use technology for particular purposes on screen and when using the programmable toys available in the classroom.

Expressive arts and design is one of the specific areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage and involves supporting 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.

Expressive arts and design has two aspects:

Exploring and using media and materials: Children will gradually build a repertoire of songs as part of their daily routine, for example to signal a change in routine, such as at tidy up or story time.  They will also sing songs as a fun way of learning, for example, phonic jingles, counting and rhyming songs.  We will celebrate festivals by learning songs as a year group at times such as Harvest and Christmas time.  Children will be shown how to use a range of simple instruments to accompany music and singing and encouraged to explore their different sounds.  During P.E lessons we will explore dances linked to our topic and in class we will encourage children to make music and dance, and experiment with ways of changing them.

In class, children will have opportunities to use a range of simple tools and techniques and we will be helping them to use them safely and independently.  They will have access to a wide variety of creative resources, such as, paint, crayons, chalks, pastels etc. as well materials for junk modelling, collage, play dough modelling, paper and fabric art.  We will encourage them to explore the materials, experiment with textures and combine different media to create new and original effects!  The processes will be more important than the finished product.

Being imaginative: Children will be encouraged to use materials and media in original ways, thinking about how they might use the materials and putting them to a purpose.  In their art and model making they may create simple representations of events, people and objects for example making a junk model walls after learning about The Great Wall of China.

There will be lots of opportunities to express their own ideas, thoughts and feelings through design and technology, art, music and dance.  We will provide role play resources and props in our class home corner and encourage the children to play cooperatively alongside other children acting out their own stories; developing narratives and creating make believe scenarios.