What is the EYFS, and why is it important?

What is EYFS and why is it important?

The further you progress in your career, the more likely the conversations you have will look like acronym soup to outsiders. The EYFS, or Early Years Foundation Stage, is just one of the many acronyms that are used in the early years sector. Most early years professionals will understand it and it’s requirements intimately, but Avail believes learning has to be available to people of every skill and experience level – which is why we think it’s worth revisiting the basics.

The EYFS sets the standards for children’s education from birth to five years old. When an Ofsted inspector visits your early years setting, how well you meet the EYFS standards will determine whether you get that coveted ‘Outstanding’ rating. The EYFS splits learning into seven areas:

  • Communication and language – encouraging children to listen and speak to one another or nursery practitioners
  • Physical development – encouraging children’s love to be up and about, and imbuing an understanding of healthy food choices
  • Personal, social and emotional development – this area focuses on social skills, and children’s understanding of their own and others’ feelings
  • Literacy – being able to hear and identify words, and developing an interest in reading and writing, are key here
  • Mathematics – an awareness of numbers, shapes and spaces, while understanding basic concepts like doubling, halving, and adding or taking away 1
  • Understanding the world – encouraging curiosity about a child’s environment, be it the physical world or their community
  • Expressive arts and design – experimenting with their creativity through arts and crafts, instruments or other avenues

The first three areas (communication and language, physical development and personal, social and emotional development) are called the ‘prime’ areas, while the latter four are ‘specific’. The prime areas form the building blocks of a child’s development, enabling them to progress and build strength in the specific areas.

When you look at EYFS as a starting point, you can see how it’s designed to get a child ready for school. At this crucial stage, the prime areas are meant to inspire curiosity, giving children the tools they will use to address the specific areas throughout their school career. Then school develops the specific areas further, with renewed focus on literacy and mathematics, and an expansion of ‘understanding the world’ into the sciences, while ‘expressive arts and design’ grows to encompass drama, art, music, and every avenue of creativity.

The EYFS also sets out goals that children should achieve by the end of their first year of reception, as well as how and when a child should be assessed. Of course, at this stage early years practitioners don’t have to worry about test scores, but they do have to report back to parents on a child’s progress at set points, and monitor for special educational needs, so that a plan can be put in place to support them if this is required.

This overview of the EYFS will take you a long way – but if you want an in-depth understanding that will further your career and enable you to deliver ‘Outstanding’ care to young people, take a look at our many early years courses.

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