Curriculum in Early Years
At Welsh House Farm we aim to provide our children with the best possible start to their education. We provide an education which is abundant with memorable experiences and wonder, allowing children’s natural curiosity and creativity to ‘grow and flourish.’ We ensure that our children are equipped to meet the challenges of the modern world with purposeful acquisition of knowledge and skills. This combination enables our children to have the best chance to become confident, independent, happy well rounded individuals ready to succeed and embrace their next challenge.
The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) focuses on children from birth to the end of their Reception year. At Welsh House Farm, the Early Years Foundation Stage includes all children in our Nursery and Reception classes.
Throughout Nursery and Reception, we follow the curriculum as outlined in the 2017 statutory framework of the EYFS, supported by non-statutory guidance set out in a document called ‘Development Matters in the Early Years Foundation Stage’
There are four themes that underpin all guidance in the EYFS:
A Unique Child
Learning and Development
The characteristics of effective learning describe factors which play a central role in a child’s learning and in becoming an effective learner. They are vital elements of support for the transition process from EYFS to Year 1. The characteristics of learning run through and underpin all seven areas of learning and development, representing processes rather than outcomes. Information describing the child’s characteristics of effective learning will provide Year 1 teachers with vital background and context when considering the child’s next stage of development and future learning needs.
At Welsh House Farm we look for, and develop Characteristics of Effective Learning. They are as follows…
Playing and exploring – engagement
Finding out and exploring
Playing with what they know
Being willing to ‘have a go’
Active learning – motivation
Being involved and concentrating
Enjoying achieving what they set out to do
Creating and thinking critically – thinking
Having their own ideas
Choosing ways to do things
The EYFS framework includes 7 areas of learning and development that are equally important and inter-connected. We focus on developing the children's skills in the prime areas first, and then the specific areas. The prime areas are seen as particularly important for igniting curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, and for building children’s capacity to learn, form relationships and thrive.
The prime areas are:
• Communication and language
• Physical development
• Personal, social and emotional development
The prime areas are strengthened and applied through 4 specific areas:
• Understanding the world
• Expressive arts and design
Planning in EYFS starts with the long term plan which is devised through gaining an insight of the children’s interests within the first weeks of school. Topics are then chosen to meet the needs of the particular cohort. Medium term plans are written half termly and used by EYFS teachers as a guide for weekly plans. Planning can be fluid and can often change in the moment to follow the interests of the child. We plan first hand experiences which include a wealth of educational trips and visitors to inspire and ignite curiosity.
Staff take into account the individual needs, interests and stage of development of each child in their care, and use this information to ensure all experiences are challenging and enjoyable. Where a child may have a special educational need or disability, staff consider whether specialist support is required, linking with relevant services from other agencies where appropriate.
At Welsh House Farm staff plan and create learning environments to play a key role in supporting and extending our children’s development. We believe that both the indoor and outdoor environment act as third teachers providing opportunities for children to feel comfortable and have the freedom and confidence to explore and learn. Our environments are rich, exciting and challenging and follow the interests of the child. Through play, children encounter all areas of the curriculum and have the opportunity to practise what they are learning.
Phonics in Foundation Stage
In foundation stage, we use Letters and Sounds to teach phonics and jolly phonics to support with actions. Children are taught daily, short exciting sessions, where skills are consolidated during free-flow activities throughout the week.
Phonics begins in Nursery class where we focus on developing children’s listening skills. Activities are divided into seven aspects, including environmental sounds, instrumental sounds, body sounds, rhythm and rhyme, alliteration, voice sounds and finally oral blending and segmenting.
In Reception children begin Phase Two which is taught for up to 6 weeks
Children learn 19 letters of the alphabet and one sound for each. They blend sounds together to make words. They Segment words into their separate sounds and begin to read simple captions.
Once Phase two is completed children move on to Phase Three which runs for up to 12 weeks. Children learn the remaining 7 letters of the alphabet, one sound for each. They learn graphemes such as ch, oo, th representing the remaining phonemes not covered by single letters. They read captions, sentences and questions. Once this phase is completed, children will have learnt the "simple code", i.e. one grapheme for each phoneme in the English language.
Finally the children learn Phase Four which lasts for around 4 to 6 weeks. There are no new grapheme-phoneme correspondences taught in this phase. Children learn to blend and segment longer words with adjacent consonants, e.g. swim, clap, and jump.
Within Phonics sessions children are also taught to read words that cannot be sounded out and these are called tricky words.