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Nursery Guide: understanding the nursery curriculum

Updated: Mar 6

If you’re currently registered with us or any nursery, you might have heard of the Early Years Foundation Stage or EYFS. You might know it as something the practitioners use... but what actually is it? And how does it work?

Let’s find out!

The EYFS is how the government and early years practitioners describe the time in your little one’s life between birth and age 5 as is what we base our curriculum on.

This stage is important as it helps your child get ready for school as well as future learning.

The EYFS is put into a framework for practitioners to follow. It’s actually a legal requirement for all registered nurseries/preschools/childminders etc. to follow this.

This framework outlines the following:

· ‘The legal welfare requirements that everyone registered to look after children must follow to keep your child safe and promote their welfare.

· ‘The 7 areas of learning and development which guide practitioner engagement with your child’s play and activities as they learn new skills and knowledge.

· ‘Assessments that will tell you about your child’s progress through the EYFS.

· ‘Expected levels that your child should reach at age 5, usually the end of the reception year; these expectations are called the Early Years Learning Goals (ELGs).’

There is also guidance on how to best plan learning activities as well as observing and assessing how your child is learning and developing.

So, it’s a lot of information but what does this actually mean for you as a parent?

Ensuring safety

Within the EYFS there is a set of safety and welfare standards that childcare professionals and settings have to follow. These include the number of staff required in a nursery (practitioner to child ratio), guidelines for administering medicines, carrying out risk assessments etc.

You can view our policies by clicking here.

Quality of childcare

OFSTED is the Government’s official inspection body, they will refer to the EYFS when assessing a nursery. You can find out the quality of all registered nurseries by looking at their reports online. Click here to find a report.

Nursery curriculum

The EYFS Framework determines how and what your child will be learning to support their development.

Now let’s have a look at the areas of learning we mentioned above!

There are 7 areas of learning and development through which your little one will learn new skills and demonstrate their understanding.

Children should develop the following 3 key areas first:

· Communication and language

· Physical development

· Personal, social, and emotional development

These areas are essential to your child’s healthy development and future learning.

As your little one grows, the key areas will help them develop skills in the following 4 areas:

· Literacy

· Mathematics

· Understanding the world

· Expressive arts and design

These 7 areas are used to plan your little one’s learning and activities.

Nursery practitioners will make sure that the activities are suited to your child’s unique needs. It’s quite similar to a curriculum in schools, but it's designed to be very flexible so that staff can follow your child's needs and interests.

This can involve playing, exploring, being active, creative, critical thinking and more.

At Mindful Nurseries, our practitioners use a framework called Development Matters for additional support with this. Click here for more information.

How can you help your child’s learning?

All of the fun activities that you do with your little one at home are important in supporting their learning and development.

Even when your child is very young and is not yet able to talk, talking to them helps them to learn and understand new words and ideas.

Here are some examples of activities you can do with your little one to help their development:

· Sing nursery rhymes,

· Talk about numbers, colours, words and letters you see when you are outdoors,

· Help your little one to cut out and stick down images from magazines,

· Cook and bake together,

· Garden together,

· Use the weather (e.g. rain, sun, puddle etc.) to expand their vocabulary,

· Explore a park at different times of the year,

· Read storybooks,

· Keeping talking to your child – e.g. what you are doing that day,

· On a trip to the supermarket, talk about all the different packaging – shapes and colours.

If you're looking for new activity ideas ask your key person or click here to visit our activity ideas blog category.

Your little one’s key person will be able to give you advice about the kinds of books or other activities your child might enjoy at different ages.

Finding out how your little one is getting on at nursery

It’s important that you and the nursery practitioners work together to further your little one’s development.

At nursery, you will have a ‘key person’ – they will be your main point of contact. They will: help your little one get settled, be responsible for their care and learning as well as take note of their progress.

You should be able to get information from them about your child’s development at any time. But there are two stages (at age 2 and at age 5) when the key person will give you written information about how they are doing.

When your child is 2

After your little one turns 2, the nursery practitioners must give you a written summary of how your child is progressing against the 3 key areas of learning:

· Communication and language

· Physical development

· Personal, social and emotional development

This is called the progress check at age 2.

This check will highlight areas where your child is progressing well and anywhere, they might need some additional help or support.

This will also mention how you and your family can work with the nursery to help.

When your child is 5

At the end of the EYFS (in the summer term of the reception year in school) teachers will complete an assessment which is known as the EYFS Profile.

This assessment is carried out by the reception teacher and is based on what they, and other staff caring for your child, have observed over a period of time.

Another important part of the EYFS Profile is your knowledge about your child’s learning and development at home, so it’s important to let your little one’s teacher know what your child does with you.

For instance: how confident your child is in writing their name, reading, and talking about a favourite book or their understanding of numbers.

All the information collected is used to determine how your child is doing in the 7 areas of learning and development.

This will give your child’s year 1 teacher a better understanding of what your child enjoys doing and what they do well, as well as help them decide if your child needs a bit of extra support.

The school will give you a report of your child’s progress, including information from their EYFS Profile.

If you have any questions or concerns, please speak to your nursery manager or key person.

They will be able to give you further information about any part of the EYFS as well as activity ideas, ways of additional support and more.


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