Do you provide childcare to children from birth to age 5? Yes? In that case, as you probably already know, you need to follow the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) learning requirements . In fact, it’s been mandatory since 2008.
The EYFS is not a curriculum alone , though.
It goes beyond the standards of learning and welfare set out in the EYFS and government documentation. Your curriculum needs to incorporate the expectations of your individual early years setting. Ask yourself what you want the children to learn and how you’re going to provide them with opportunities to flourish.
The quality of the EYFS curriculum you provide is one of the biggest things that Ofsted looks at. If your current curriculum doesn’t reflect your vision for learning, now’s the time to make changes if you want to be rated outstanding.
What Is An EYFS Curriculum?
Your curriculum sets out what you want the children in your care to learn during the time they’re with you. It’s unique to your business, but it must follow the 7 key areas of learning set out in the EYFS learning requirements.
The 7 stages of the EYFS curriculum are important because they spark a child’s curiosity, enthusiasm and desire to learn. They include…
1. Communication and Language
This includes conversation, story-telling, role-play and reading, and enables children to become comfortable in using different ways of communicating and a wide range of vocabulary.
2. Physical Development
Vital for a child’s all-round development, a wide range of physical activities helps them to develop gross and fine motor skills, strength, coordination, and lead a happy, healthy and active life.
3. Personal, Social and Emotional Development
Emotional regulation, forming relationships and self-care are all superb skills for children to feel confident with before they head off to school, to transition as easily as possible.
Understanding language starts from birth and is developed through talking, reading and singing. When you make literacy fun and engaging, the children in your care will develop a lifelong love for reading.
The EYFS curriculum encourages you to focus on the numbers 1 to 10, the relationship between those numbers and the patterns within them to give young children the essential mathematical building blocks required for school.
6. Understanding The World
From trips to the park, celebrating different cultural holidays, and talks from members of the emergency services, introducing children to the wider world enriches their development and broadens their horizons.
7. Expressive Arts and Design
The arts are a great way for young people to develop their imagination and creativity and express their thoughts, feelings and emotions when they might not have the words to do so.
How Do You Design Your Own Curriculum?
As a registered childcare provider, you have to include the EYFS learning requirements as part of your curriculum. It’s the most integral part of what you teach – but it’s not a rigid format.
Since 2019, the EYFS has made it easier for you to have a more flexible approach. So if your setting follows a preferred method of teaching, such as Reggio Emilia or Montessori, it’s easier than ever to blend the EYFS curriculum with your core values.
The most important thing about your curriculum is that it should give children an outstanding start to life.
When you put it all together, consider what the EYFS requirements says you need to teach, and make sure you provide plenty of fun, stimulating and engaging ways to achieve the 7 stages.
0-5 years is a sizeable gap. Your curriculum needs to address that and provide ways of teaching that work for every child who attends your setting. Does it cater for children with special educational needs (SEND) or English as an additional language (EAL)? If not, it should! Your setting needs to be all-inclusive and give everyone an equal opportunity to develop, learn and grow in confidence and capability.
‘Development Matters’ and “Birth to 5 matters” are documents providing guidance that can help you put together an EYFS curriculum that reflects the uniqueness of your setting and meets the needs of all the children you care for.
Does Everyone Need To Understand The Curriculum?
Everyone who teaches your curriculum needs to understand it. Not only that, they need to believe in it, embrace it, and support it by embedding it into everything they do. And when you involve your team during the creation of your curriculum, they become empowered to live and breathe it.
It’s not just you and your staff who should understand your curriculum; parents should too. Most parents want to know that when their child is in your care, you’re helping them to develop essential life skills and getting them school-ready. A certain activity might not make sense in terms of development until you explain to them how it lines up with the EYFS and your curriculum. Parents will also be able to support learning at home when they understand what you want the children to achieve .
Where Do You Start?
The EYFS learning requirements is a great place to start when you’re building your own, but where do you go from there?
Whether you’re just starting out in childcare or are changing an existing curriculum, it’s hard to know where to start. Often this comes from a fear of getting things wrong, and there’s nothing wrong with that we understand.
You don’t have to go it alone.
There are teams of people out there who with expertise in putting together curriculums that work and meet Ofsted requirements. We’re one of them! If you’re ready to build an outstanding curriculum, but don’t know where to start, get in touch, and we’ll be happy to help.