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The Early Years Foundation Stage and School Readiness
The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) covers the stages of development from birth to the end of the child’s first year in school (reception year). These first years see the greatest growth and learning for your child so giving children the right tools as a starting point is essential for their development.
The EYFS is based on 4 overarching principles which shape good practice:
Every child is a unique child, who is constantly learning and can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured; children learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships;
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; and children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates. Taken from the EYFS Statutory Framework 2014
Your child will be learning skills, acquiring new knowledge and demonstrating their understanding through 7 areas of learning and development. Children should mostly develop the 3 prime areas first.
Communication and language
Personal, social and emotional development
These prime areas are those most essential for your child’s healthy development and future learning. As children grow, the prime areas will help them to develop skills in 4 specific areas.
Understanding the world
Expressive arts and design
The expected levels that your child should reach at age 5, usually the end of the reception year are called the “Early Learning Goals (ELGs)” These areas of learning are exactly the same as those in a nursery setting so should be viewed as the final stage in your child’s early learning journey.
When thinking about formal tutoring at this young age it is very important to consider the essential skills your child shuld be developing in order to benefit and grasp formal learning. These include:
1. Visual Perception
Visual perception is the ability to interpret what the brain is seeing. This is a very important skill for learning to read, write and do mathematics and should be developed between the ages of 3 and 7. Visual perception includes visual discrimination, visual memory, perception of shapes, and visual analysis and synthesis.
2. Auditory Perception
Auditory perception is the ability to interpret and attach meaning to sound. It is important for reading, spelling and language development. Auditory perception includes auditory discrimination, auditory memory, auditory foreground-background perception, and auditory analysis and synthesis.
3. Listening Skills
This includes auditory perception, but also the ability to understand and follow instructions. Learning to listen is a very important skill, not just for learning to read, but for coping with all aspects of schooling.
4. Speaking Skills
Language involves listening and speaking. Children must develop their speaking skills in order to learn to read and write, understand the world, convey information, socialize, express their feelings and play. Well-developed auditory skills are a prerequisite for developing good speaking skills.
5. Gross-Motor Skills
Children develop their large muscles before their small muscles. The first few years of a child’s life should be packed with opportunities to develop these gross-motor skills.
6. Fine-Motor Skills
Fine-motor activities build the coordination between the eyes and the small muscles in the fingers and hands. This is crucial for learning to write. When a preschooler has well-developed fine-motor skills they are able to cut, hold a pencil between the thumb, index and middle finger, dress themself, begin to experiment with writing, and perform other important skills.
7. Creativity and Thinking Skills
Creativity is a vital skill that must be stimulated over time. It is not just about art, but also about thinking and problem-solving, skills that are necessary throughout life.
8. Emergent Reading Skills
Before a child learns to read, they must learn important pre-reading skills such as rhyming, visual memory, print awareness, listening comprehension, letter knowledge and auditory perception (including phonological awareness).
9. Emergent Mathematics Skills
Children begin developing pre-mathematical skills early on. These are skills such as an emerging number sense. and a concept of measurement, space and shape.
10. Emergent Writing Skills
Emergent writing involves developing base skills such as visual perception, pencil grip, fine-motor skills, patterning skills and others.
This may seem like a lot of skills, however these skills are developed everyday through play and in order for your child to begin reading they must have developed their auditory and perception skills.
When your child has adequate informal learning through play, the formal learning naturally becomes easier when they are ready for it.
When your child has inadequate learning through play and too many forced formal skills, they suffer later on in school when the gaps start to show and it becomes apparent that foundational skills are missing.