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Early Years Curriculum Overview

St. John’s Early Years provision is committed to providing the highest quality setting for all children. We aim to offer support according to the differing strengths and needs of individual children and their families.

St. John’s Early Years provision has philosophy of working together in partnership with Parents/Carers as well as work collaboratively with other agencies, for example Health Visitors, Social Services, Voluntary Agencies and Schools.

Early Years provision at St. John’s is implemented through the commitment to presenting children with the opportunities to experience the Early Years Foundation Stage in an exciting, stimulating and personalised way.

We value the importance of promoting young children’s individuality and allow for opportunities of exploration, challenge and curiosity, in a safe and stimulating child-centred environment. We use the Early Years Foundation Stage as a framework to plan suitably sensory-adapted activities, focusing on the Prime Areas of Learning to integrate therapy provision into learning through play, and Specific Areas of Learning to provide a broad and balanced approach to early learning skills.

Free-flow activities encompassing all seven areas of learning are always available to the children, as well as pockets of focus activities during sessions to promote the children’s communication and attention skills. Children’s progress throughout their Early Years is observed, recorded and planned through the use of observations and topic themes.

At St. John’s, Early Learning is accessible for all, uniquely tailored to meet each child’s needs and abilities and, above all, fun.

St. John’s Early Years provides relevant learning and development opportunities and sets realistic and challenging individual learning intentions for all the learners. Our emphasis is always on achievement, celebration and positive behaviour management.

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) combines the frameworks previously known as Birth to Three Matters and The Foundation Stage. It covers children’s learning and development from birth and continues until the end of the Reception year. It is divided into four main themes expressing important principles which underpin the children’s learning and development.

A Unique Child – every child is a unique child who is constantly learning and can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured;

Positive Relationships – children learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships;

Enabling Environments – children learn and develop well in enabling environments in which their experiences respond to their individual needs and there is a strong partnership between Practitioners and Parents and/or Carers;

Learning and Development – children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates. The framework covers the education and care of all children in Early Years provision, including children with special educational needs and disabilities.

The areas of learning and development

There are seven areas of learning and development. Three areas are particularly crucial for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning and for building their capacity to learn, form relationships and thrive.

These three areas, the Prime Areas, are:

  • Communication and language
  • Physical development and
  • Personal, social and emotional development

There are four Specific Areas through which the three Prime Areas are strengthened and applied.
The specific areas are:

  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Understanding the world
  • Expressive arts and design

Communication and language development involves giving children opportunities to experience a rich language environment; to develop their confidence and skills in expressing themselves and to speak and listen in a range of situations.

Physical development involves providing opportunities for young children to be active and interactive and to develop their co-ordination, control and movement. Children must also be helped to understand the importance of physical activity and to make healthy choices in relation to food.

Personal, social and emotional development involves helping children to develop a positive sense of themselves and others to form positive relationships and develop respect for others; to develop social skills and learn how to manage their feelings; to understand appropriate behaviour in groups and to have confidence in their own abilities.

Literacy development involves encouraging children to link sounds and letters and to begin to read and write. Children must be given access to a wide range of reading materials (books, poems and other written materials) to ignite their interest.

Mathematics involves providing children with opportunities to develop and improve their skills in counting, understanding and using numbers, calculating simple addition and subtraction problems and to describe shapes, spaces, and measures.

Understanding the world involves guiding children to make sense of their physical world and their community through opportunities to explore, observe and find out about people, places, technology and the environment.

Expressive arts and design involves enabling children to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials, as well as providing opportunities and encouragement for sharing their thoughts, ideas and feelings through a variety of activities in art, music, movement, dance, role-play and design and technology.

The experiences that our children meet often enable them to develop a number of competencies, skills and concepts across several areas of learning at a time.

The characteristics of effective learning

In planning and guiding children’s activities, Practitioners reflect on the different ways that children learn and reflect these in their practice. Three characteristics of effective teaching and learning are:

  • playing and exploring – children investigate and experience things, and ‘have a go’
  • active learning – children concentrate and keep on trying if they encounter difficulties and
  • enjoy achievements
  • creating and thinking critically – children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas and develop strategies for doing things.
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