EYFS Learning and Development

What is the EYFS?

Children are deemed to be within the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) from birth until the end of the reception year.  Early Years providers must adhere to The Statutory Framework which sets out the learning and development requirements for children within this stage and the Early Learning Goals which summarise the knowledge, skills and understanding that all young children should have gained by the end of the reception year.  The Statutory Framework defines what early years providers must do, working in partnership with parents and/or carers, to promote the learning and development of all children in their care and to ensure they are ready for year 1.  While there is a statutory duty that providers must help children work towards the Early Learning Goals, the government has stated that the ELGs themselves are not the curriculum.  Early Years providers are able to determine for themselves how best to offer experiences and support to help children make progress in their learning and development.  At Sandcastles, we use the document ‘Birth to 5 Matters’ as a reference point to support our practitioners and to shape our provision to ensure all children at Sandcastles make excellent progress within a warm, nurturing, well-planned, dynamic early years setting.

Follow this link for the Statutory Framework

Follow this link for the Birth to 5 Matters Guidance

“I have been lucky enough to have the children who attended Sandcastles in my class. This year and in previous years I would say that Sandcastles children are more often more independent learners/listeners than children who attended different external settings. They have all settled well and respond well to the familiar routine of being in a setting. I think this comes down to the emphasis that you put on listening, independence and having a familiar routine.

The main independence that helps with transition:

  • being able to put on coats
  • understanding familiar routines
  • following simple one or two part instructions
  • resilience to ‘have a go’
  • separating from their main carer
  • listening and attention 

Academically speaking I would say that the children have come into school working within age related expectations (taking into consideration lock down and the change of expectation in the curriculum too). The jolly phonics that you teach them has given them a good foundation to begin more formal phonics sessions. Something we have noticed from comparing children from different settings is the ability to write/attempt to write their own names. Most of the children from sandcastles were able to do this which helps with confidence in writing also”. 

The Statutory Framework – learning and development requirements

Communication and Language
The development of children’s spoken language underpins all seven areas of learning and development. Children’s back-and-forth interactions from an early age form the foundations for language and cognitive development. The number and quality of the conversations they have with adults and peers throughout the day in a language-rich environment is crucial. By commenting on what children are interested in or doing, and echoing back what they say with new vocabulary added, practitioners will build children’s language effectively. Reading frequently to children, and engaging them actively in stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems, and then providing them with extensive opportunities to use and embed new words in a range of contexts, will give children the  opportunity to thrive. Through conversation, story-telling and role play, where children share their ideas with support and modelling from their teacher, and sensitive questioning that invites them to elaborate, children become comfortable using a rich range of vocabulary and language structures.

Personal, Social and Emotional Development
Children’s personal, social and emotional development (PSED) is crucial for children to lead healthy and happy lives, and is fundamental to their cognitive development. Underpinning their personal development are the important attachments that shape their social world. Strong, warm and supportive relationships with adults enable children to learn how to understand their own
feelings and those of others. Children should be supported to manage emotions, develop a positive sense of self, set themselves simple goals, have confidence in their own abilities, to persist and wait for what they want and direct attention as necessary. Through adult modelling and guidance, they will learn how to look after their bodies, including healthy eating, and manage personal needs independently. Through supported interaction with other children, they learn how to make good friendships, co-operate and resolve conflicts peaceably. These attributes will provide a secure platform from which children can achieve at school and in later life.

Physical Development
Physical activity is vital in children’s all-round development, enabling them to pursue happy, healthy and active lives. Gross and fine motor experiences develop incrementally throughout early childhood, starting with sensory explorations and the development of a child’s strength, co-ordination and positional awareness through tummy time, crawling and play movement with both
objects and adults. By creating games and providing opportunities for play both indoors and outdoors, adults can support children to develop their core strength, stability, balance, spatial awareness, co-ordination and agility. Gross motor skills provide the foundation for developing healthy bodies and social and emotional well-being. Fine motor control and precision helps with hand-eye co-ordination, which is later linked to early literacy. Repeated and varied opportunities to explore and play with small world activities, puzzles, arts and crafts and the practice of
using small tools, with feedback and support from adults, allow children to develop proficiency, control and confidence.

It is crucial for children to develop a life-long love of reading. Reading consists of two dimensions: language comprehension and word reading. Language comprehension (necessary for both reading and writing) starts from birth. It only develops when adults talk with children about the world around them and the books (stories and non-fiction) they read with them, and enjoy rhymes, poems and songs together. Skilled word reading, taught later, involves both the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and the speedy recognition of familiar printed words. Writing involves transcription (spelling and handwriting) and composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech, before writing).

Developing a strong grounding in number is essential so that all children develop the necessary building blocks to excel mathematically. Children should be able to count confidently, develop a deep understanding of the numbers to 10, the relationships between them and the patterns within those numbers. By providing frequent and varied opportunities to build and apply this understanding – such as using manipulatives, including small pebbles and tens frames for organising counting – children will develop a secure base of knowledge and vocabulary from which mastery of mathematics is built. In addition, it is important that the curriculum includes rich opportunities for children to develop their spatial reasoning skills across all areas of mathematics including shape, space and measures. It is important that children develop positive attitudes and interests in mathematics, look for patterns and relationships, spot connections, ‘have a go’, talk to adults and peers about what they notice and not be afraid to make mistakes.

Understanding the World
Understanding the world involves guiding children to make sense of their physical world and their community. The frequency and range of children’s personal experiences increases their knowledge and sense of the world around them – from visiting parks, libraries and museums to meeting important members of society such as police officers, nurses and firefighters. In addition, listening to a broad selection of stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems will foster their understanding of our culturally, socially, technologically and ecologically diverse world. As well as building important knowledge, this extends their familiarity with words that support understanding across domains. Enriching and widening children’s vocabulary will support later reading comprehension.

Expressive Arts and Design
The development of children’s artistic and cultural awareness supports their imagination and creativity. It is important that children have regular opportunities to engage with the arts, enabling them to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials. The quality and variety of what children see, hear and participate in is crucial for developing their understanding, self-expression, vocabulary and ability to communicate through the arts. The frequency, repetition and depth of their experiences are fundamental to their progress in interpreting and appreciating what they hear, respond to and observe.

(information on how Sandcastles helps children progress within the EYFS – Sandcastles approach to teaching, can be found under the parent section of our website)


When my child is two?

Within the EYFS there is a statutory requirement to assess a child’s development following their second birthday. This is titled a ‘2-year progress check’. These will be carried out alongside health checks to identify the need for any early intervention.  Please see the Seahorse section of our Learning and Development policy within the Parent section of our website for more information on the 2 year old progress check.