When children first enter school in the Reception class of the Foundation Stage they follow a curriculum that is based upon the Early Learning Goals. Learning will be planned within the seven areas of learning and part of each day will be spent in purposeful play and through a mix of adult-led and child initiated activity. Purposeful and structured play is important in developing skills in all areas of learning. The Reception teacher will plan activities that build on skills previously learnt in the Nursery or at home.
During their first weeks in Reception the children will complete a baseline assessment to establish their starting points. This is a statutory requirement for all children. Their ongoing progress will be assessed against the Early Learning Goals using the Foundation Stage Profile throughout their Reception Year. The profile provides parents, carers and teachers with a well-rounded picture of a child’s knowledge, understanding and abilities, their progress against expected levels, and their readiness for Year 1.
The seven areas of learning in the Early Learning Goals include three prime areas and four specific areas. The prime areas are:-
Communication and language development involves giving children opportunities to experience a rich language environment; to develop their confidence and skills in expressing themselves; and to speak and listen in a range of situations. The children play with small world environments like the farm, the town, the jungle/zoo etc. where the children can use their imagination and introduce their own narratives into their pretend play. Role – play situations like the shop, hairdressers, vets and doctors facilitate the children’s ability to show their friends that they want to join in and play. The dark den and science activities like playing with magnets, remote controlled toys etc. enable the children to explain how they feel and what they know. Puppets are used to promote speaking through familiar characters in the stories the children know well.
Different malleable materials, sand and water are incorporated into well planned activities that encourage the children to investigate and talk about their ideas and opinions.
Story areas, big books and story baskets are always available for the children to talk about familiar stories with their friends and organise their own thoughts to retell these stories in their own words.
Physical development involves young children being active to develop their co-ordination, control, and movement. The children use large apparatus on a weekly basis. Weekly P.E. sessions are structured and designed to make children think about moving in different ways. A variety of wheeled toys are available for children to explore on a daily basis. They learn to play simple tag games to improve their use of space. Games skills are practiced freely and in structured lessons ensuring that children gain confidence in their own abilities. Children are helped to understand the importance of physical activity and to make healthy choices in relation to food. Action songs provide a good way of helping children to identify and name parts of the body. Playing games with toy food helps children to talk about different types of food and identify healthy options. Every week the children warm up before games or gym and talk about the changes that happen to their body when they are active. We encourage the children to become independent with their health and self-care. The children need to manage their toileting independently and wash their hands appropriately. Before going outside they are expected to put on their own coats and other outside wear like hats and gloves doing zips, buttons and press studs themselves. PE sessions happen every week where the children have to be capable of changing clothes independently. The children also learn about good life style choices concerning hygiene, fitness and diet.
Personal, social and emotional development involves helping children to develop a positive sense of themselves and others. They are helped to form positive relationships and develop respect for others, developing their social skills. Children learn how to manage their feelings and understand how to behave appropriately in groups. They are encouraged to have confidence in their own abilities.
We provide a variety of interesting opportunities for children to choose activities and resources for themselves. We plan small and large group situations for children to talk about their ideas and opinions. These sessions also develop attention and concentration skills. We share stories that explore different behaviours and discussions ensue where we explore right and wrong choices. Playing games where turn taking is important provide children with the opportunity to work cooperatively with the children around them.
The specific areas are:-
Literacy development involves learning to read and spell words that appear frequently in their reading books. Lots of games are used to help with this. Children take home a reading scheme book, which is changed regularly. A book is often used at the beginning of a Literacy session. The teacher often models reading skills during this session the children then practise these skills in small groups with teacher guidance. More opportunities for sharing books, poems, rhymes and other written materials are allocated throughout the week. Reading books are taken home so that children can practise new skills with their parents.
To be good writers children have to feel free enough to talk about their experiences, thoughts and feelings. If they cannot talk about it they cannot write it. Writing opportunities are planned for and take place both inside and out. The children have access to a wide variety of mark making resources like chalks, paints, crayons, pens etc. We approach writing very creatively and try and provide new ways of making writing interesting and fun! We write on the playground, whiteboards, chalkboards, mirrors etc. Guided writing sessions happen weekly where children’s skills are developed with an adults input.
Mathematics development involves providing children with opportunities to develop and improve their skills in counting, understanding and using numbers to 20, calculating simple addition and subtraction problems which include doubling, halving and sharing numbers of objects.
We count absolutely everything! We start by learning simple number rhymes. We sing these at carpet times but also in small group situations. We expect the children to join in with these as the rhymes become familiar. We encourage the children to listen to number rhymes independently on a listening centre and join in where they can. We learn to recognise what numbers look like by putting numbers in the sand and the water and asking the children to find and name them. We use number puzzles regularly so that the children become familiar with number names. We learn about the order of numbers. Our washing line is very important here as we often hang numbered items on it for the children to explore. We often show the children what we expect and then let them try on their own. We sometimes give the children numbered beads and laces and expect the children to thread the beads correctly. Cubes and number lines are also provided for the children to explore and order. We learn about adding and taking away. We play lots of games with dice so that children can practise this. We expect the children to tell us’ how many altogether’ and ‘how many are left’. We learn to sing number rhymes where we expect the children to add or take away. The children then explore activities where they have to count on or back from a number to find the answer.
They explore and develop language to describe shapes, spaces and measures. The children learn to recognise different shapes by sorting them. They play games like shape bingo, shape dominoes where we expect the children to match or name individual shapes. They play circle games with shapes where we ask the children to guess the shape. We often read shape stories and set up shape interest tables. We provide opportunities for the children to weigh lots of things. They begin by using their hands to feel the weight and then they move on to using a weighing scale. We expect the children to begin using words like heavy and light. We also expect them to begin to realise what happens to the scales when something is light or heavy. At the end of Foundation Stage we find out how heavy by using objects that we can count easily like cubes. Tipping and pouring into different containers allows children to find out how much an object holds we measure how full by counting cupfuls.
Understanding the World involves guiding children to make sense of the world around them through opportunities to explore, observe and find out about people, places, technology and the environment.
Throughout the Foundation Stage we use all of our senses to learn about different materials for example by playing with sand, water and dough. We learn about living things by looking at insects, by growing plants and caring for them etc. We learn about objects and places. Science activities are available every session for the children to explore. These include looking at and using mirrors, kaleidoscopes, magnifiers, instruments and magnets. The outside play area is also available every day with carefully planned activities. We expect children to ask questions and make simple connections while investigating objects and living things.
Expressive arts and design involves encouraging children to paint, print, draw and collage using a variety of colours and textures. We provide opportunities for the children to talk about their ideas and encourage them to select any colours, textures and shapes they might need in their pictures.
We provide opportunities for the children to use their imaginations and express their feelings, ideas and thoughts while carrying out a variety of activities. The children learn to sing songs; rhymes and use musical instruments freely and in structured situations and they can explore the grown – up world through planned role – play situations. They build using lots of different construction toys both on a large and small scale.