The early years are an important learning stage for children and the so-called Foundation Stage aims to help key areas of children’s learning and development during this time. Here we explore what the Foundation Stage involves, what children learn and how it can benefit them.
The idea of the Foundation Stage was introduced by the government and is designed to cover children aged three to five years old. It starts from the time they start nursery or pre-school and goes on until they finish their reception class at primary school. To gain the benefits of Foundation Stage early education, children can attend nurseries, reception classes, playgroups, pre-schools or spend time with accredited childminders.
Whatever form of childcare or early learning environment your child is within, you can be sure that they’ll be gaining the same types of experiences and that the staff working with them will be using the Early Learning Goals as a basis for their work. The Early Learning Goals cover six broad areas of learning:
- Personal, Social and Emotional Development.
- Communication, language and literacy.
- Mathematical development.
- Physical development.
- Creative development.
- Knowledge and understanding of the world.
The goals are designed to be achieved by children in a fun and enjoyable way, so there’s no pressure on them and it won’t feel like hard work. Some of the activities used to help boost the Early Learning Goals are group activities, such as singing, sharing stories, doing arts and crafts, physical activities or music and dance. On other occasions, children may be able to play and learn individually on their own, whilst supported by teachers and experienced care workers.
The overall aim is to give children a good early education start in life, in a supportive and helpful environment, and to promote the idea that learning is fun.
The Foundation Stage Profile
When they reach the end of the Foundation Stage, which is when they’re five years old and getting to the end of their time in reception class at school, an assessment of their progress is made. This is called the Foundation Stage Profile.
No formal exam or test-like assessment is involved in compiling the Foundation Stage Profile. Instead, the teachers record details of your child’s achievements throughout the six areas of learning (the Early Learning Goals). This is based on the teacher’s observations of your child’s activities during the time they’ve spent in their reception class. For parents, it provides a useful summary of your child’s achievements so far.
Some parents may think that the Foundation Stage and its related goals and profile sounds like rather a lot of government jargon. Whilst it is true that it may seem a bit jargon-oriented, the principles behind the ideas are sound and it provides a very good basis for early childhood education.
For example, it’s good for parents to know that, whatever form of early childhood education or childcare they choose for their child, they will all be getting care and learning on the same basis, meeting the same goals. When you have limited options available in your area, it’s definitely reassuring to know that your child won’t be missing out or getting a sub-standard learning experience. In addition, it also makes it easier for teachers to assess children at the end of their reception year, as there are certain areas they’ll be observing and monitoring.