We can all agree that children shouldn’t just be learning English, maths and science. This especially applies for very young children, from the ages of 0-5, which is why Ofsted produces the EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage), to assist practitioners in caring for this age group. Young children’s education should be more about making sure they grow to be curious and polite young people who are at ease with the world around them, not passing tests.

Requirements of the EYFS Statutory Framework

With that in mind, the EYFS places great emphasis on non-academic areas, with Behaviour, Attitudes, Self-Esteem and British Values being especially important.

At first glance, taking special notice of these areas of a child’s development can seem like an onerous task – we understand that many practitioners and parents would prefer children at this stage in their development to learn through play.

Promoting positive behaviour in early years

In fact, this is exactly what great early years provision looks like – Behaviour, Attitudes, Self-Esteem and British Values, through play and other activities that don’t look or feel like teaching. Instead, ‘Outstanding’ early years practise in this area is about leading by example, showing children how to move through the world, through conversation, games and activities – all while having fun.

Having said all that, it can be difficult to imagine how you can show what British Values are without a whiteboard and a lesson plan. Here are some examples that should help you satisfy this important requirement in a fun, light-hearted and effective way:

Behaviour, Attitudes, Self-Esteem and British Values: key examples

Behaviour – Understanding that rules are important, and being able to distinguish right from wrong, are key for young children progressing through life. The key to satisfying the EYFS is to do this in a collaborative way, perhaps by involving and guiding children in making their own rules. This could be through ensuring they understand the need to keep their nursery setting clean and tidy, and getting everyone to take part in achieving this.

Attitudes – Young people will encounter different races, faiths, sexualities and levels of mental and physical disability to themselves all the time. While young children aren’t expected to understand all the intricacies of modern life, they should be open to new things, people and ideas. At this young age, this is as simple as giving children an awareness of their own culture and others, encouraging children to respect other people’s opinions and sharing stories, resources and activities that make children aware of different people’s lives.

Self-Esteem – Children should be confident in themselves and their abilities. Young children should be encouraged to take small risks, such as putting forward ideas for building their own creation or art project. If it doesn’t work out – no problem! The point is that they tried their best, and that they become confident in their abilities, and unafraid to fail.

British Values – This part of the framework is often misunderstood, because there’s disagreement over what values are ‘British’ in the first place. In fact, especially at this age, this area is deceptively simple, and most is covered under Behaviour and Attitudes. Ideas like democracy and individual liberty are hard to teach, but easy to show – taking turns and letting children make their own decisions where appropriate all fall under this section.

This is just a short introduction to the key area of Behaviour, Attitudes, Self-Esteem and British Values. This information will take you a long way, but if you want your early years provision to be ‘Outstanding’, take a look at our expert-written course, Behaviour, Attitudes, Self-Esteem and British Values, written by our early years expert, Jacqueline Midgeley.