The Foundation Stage
Here at Montagu Academy, children in Nursery and Reception access the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum. They engage in learning through first hand experiences that foster investigation and enquiry. The Early Years curriculum is made up of 7 areas of learning; 3 prime and 4 specific.
The prime areas of the EYFS are: Personal, Social and Emotional Development, Communication and Language and Physical Development.
Personal, Social and Emotional Development is vital in the Foundation Stage. Through every day learning, we support the children in making strong relationships with their peers and familiar adults and encourage them to become confident and independent young people. At all times, adults support and model appropriate behaviour to promote positive relationships within the classroom; this is reinforced during circle times and small group activities. The children are encouraged to recognise and celebrate personal achievements, however small, and those of their peers.
To promote a rich and varied vocabulary, we provide a language rich environment, which gives opportunities for children to experience new and imaginative vocabulary. We plan specific activities to upscale the children’s vocabulary which is illustrated through our Talk for Writing, book sharing, role-play, child initiated activities and when using the outdoor area. To further deepen the understanding of children’s learning, staff in the Foundation Stage are encouraged to use questioning to allow children to talk about their experiences. The use of questioning also encourages children to use a wider range of vocabulary to form longer, more complex sentences.
Physical Development, is a fundamentally important skill which underpins all aspects of children’s early experiences. If children learn to move with control and coordination; to balance and climb; to move with agility and self-expression they are likely to be more successful learners throughout their school lives. All children in EYFS have access to bikes and wheels.
The specific areas of the EYFS are: Literacy, Mathematics, Understanding the World and Expressive Arts and Design.
As soon as children join Nursery, we being to develop their pre-phonics skills through the use of the Launch Pad for Literacy approach. This approach develops all of the skills that children need, to be successful in phonics and reading. For example, auditory and visual discrimination are key skills that children will need to be able to hear and read letters and sounds as they progress through school. Children are introduced to letters from Summer 1.
In Reception, we have daily phonics sessions using the ELS programme. We use a revisit, learn, practise, and apply new learning structure to embed learning. We also use same day interventions to support children who need further support.
Mark making is the first step towards successful early writing. Children are encouraged to use a variety of different writing materials on a variety of scales. This could be writing on a post it note or making gigantic marks on the playground; it could be using brushes or magic wands. The importance of this mark making practise is to embed fluent movement which will eventually lead to forming recognisable letters. In addition to this daily practise, the children participate in Talk for Writing and purposeful writing in each learning environment.
By the end of the Foundation Stage, many children can write short, simple captions sentences independently and read simple words and sentences.
Early maths is taught through games, song and exploration. In nursery we concentrate on the language of maths through child initiated play, simple challenges, questioning and stories. In addition, we deliver a daily maths session to consolidate and extend learning concepts.
In Reception, we build on the children’s early experiences through a mastery approach to maths, which encourages children to use manipulative resources, like cubes and counters, to solve a range of problems. We ensure that children are fluent with: counting, ordering, adding and subtracting, doubling, halving and sharing before we challenge them to use their reasoning and problem-solving skills. Children also explore 2d and 3d shapes, measuring equipment and start to use the language for a range of mathematical concepts like time and money.
Understanding the World
In Understanding the World, children are encouraged to be curious, explore natural materials, learn about living things and compare different places. Our topics are chosen carefully to exploit the children’s own experiences which are vast and varied. They learn about technology, using computers and programmable toys and the wider application of technology in everyday life. Moreover, they learn about people and communities; how they are different or similar to their friends and they learn about and celebrate other cultures.
Expressive Arts and Design (EAD)
EAD is a fundamental area to develop in Early Years as it gives the children the foundations to underpin their own identity and enables them to develop self-expression and self-confidence.
Children are given the opportunity to use their skills imaginatively in Expressive Arts and Design. They are given the opportunity to explore and use media and materials such as paint, clay and construction equipment. Children are also encouraged to be imaginative in areas such as role play, art and dance.
Children in the Foundation Stage engage in high quality learning experiences both indoors and outdoors. Their learning and progress is tracked through observations, photographs and videos on the online learning journey.
Tapestry is an online, learning journal where practitioners and parents can work collaboratively to highlight the progress, development and personal milestones achieved by children. Practitioners will upload observations of the children at school based on the learning taking place. The observations are then linked to the statements and ages expectations, there are then celebrated with parents too. Parents have the ability to log on to tapestry, view these observations and have a dialogue with practitioners. We feel this important, as it strengthens the communication between school and home. We also encourage parents to upload their own milestones of their children, which can be celebrated in school.