Information for families in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole

What is the Early Years Foundation Stage?

The Early Years Foundation Stage framework is the legal requirement for registered childcare providers, and a framework for learning, development and care for children from birth to 5 years, through a range of activities to meet the needs of all children.

All registered early years providers and schools who care for children up until 31 August after the child’s 5th Birthday must follow the Early Years Foundation Stage.

Home childcarers, parent and toddler groups, nannies and crèches do not have to follow the framework, but can use it to support their quality service.

The early years foundation stage framework explains how and what your child will be learning to support their healthy development. It has 3 sections:

  • The learning and development requirements
  • AssessmentAssessmentMeasures children and young people’s learning and development and identifies additional needs.
  • The welfare and safeguarding requirements

The framework helps early years providers, like day nurseries, childminders and pre-schools, to work with you to get your child ready for their future learning and life, as well as preparing them for school. From when your child is born until the age of 5, their experiences at an early years provider should be happy, active, exciting, fun and secure. All this will ensure that their development, care and learning needs are being fully supported.

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What it means for you as a parent

Your child will be learning new skills, developing new knowledge and demonstrating their understanding through 7 areas of learning and development.

Children will develop their skills initially within the first 3 areas. We call these the prime areas:

  • communication and language development
  • physical development
  • personal, social and emotional development

The 3 prime areas are those that are most essential for your child’s healthy development and future learning. As children grow, the prime areas will help them to develop further skills in 4 specific areas:

  • literacy
  • mathematics
  • understanding the world
  • expressive arts and design

Those teaching and supporting your child make sure that the activities are suited to your child’s unique needs. It helps early years providers to create a curriculum that is suitable for very young children. One that is designed to be flexible so that staff can follow your child’s unique needs and interests.

Children in the Early Years Foundation Stage learn by playing and exploring, being active and through creative and critical thinking, which takes place both indoors and outside.

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How you can help your child's learning

All the fun things that you do with your child at home are important in supporting their learning and development. They have a long-lasting effect on your child’s learning as they progress.

Even when your child is very young and not yet able to talk, talking to them helps them to learn and understand new words and ideas. If you make the time every day to do some of the following things with your child, it will make a real difference to their confidence as a young learner:

  • sharing books together
  • playing outside
  • joining in with their games
  • inviting their friends over
  • talking about everyday things
  • having fun together.

If you’re looking for ideas for things to do, find out what's on offer at your local family hub. Many of the activities they provide are free or very affordable. Staff can also give you advice about the kinds of books, toys or other activities your child might enjoy at different ages.

Within day nurseries and pre-schools, children are often cared for within smaller groups based on their age and development. This allows staff to tailor activities depending on where each child is within their development. Outdoor play should be accessible throughout the session. The setting should include all children in all the activities.

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