The Early Years Foundation Stage

The Early Years Foundation Stages is a framework (Click here to read the EYFS Statutory Framework) for learning, development and care for children from birth to five. Play is vital for children. Quite literally. It is through play that babies and young children learn, grow and have fun.  It helps them to understand the world around them and to develop socially and emotionally.

By singing songs, reading together, playing games with letters and numbers, and having fun with friends gives them a head start. That means not just a happy childhood but it also helps them with their confidence, so they can handle what life may bring them.

It is not about introducing a curriculum for young children.  Or making them read or write before they’re ready.  Quite the reverse.  It means being sure each individual child is learning through high quality play, that’s tailored to them.  So they develop at their own pace, having fun, making friends and learning as they play.  Becoming confident, secure children who, when the time comes, are better prepared for school.  Not pushed, not pressured.  But ready to reach their potential!

How does the Early Years Foundation Stage work?

The EYFS has been developed with parents, carers, early years and childcare providers and academics.  It brings together their experience in a clear, straightforward way. The child is at the centre of the Early Years Foundation Stage.  The people who work with your child will pick up on their interests and abilities, and build on them through play.

They will think for instance, about fun ways to help them develop their language skills.  About what will encourage their creativity.  About how they tackle small challenges. All the while, they’ll make sure that each child in their care is getting the support they need, and above all is enjoying learning through play.

How we deliver the Early Years Foundation Stage?

At Horsted Keynes Preschool, the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum forms the underpinning and overarching framework for learning and development, for all of the children in our care. We intend to enable our children to learn holistically, through play, experimentation and exploration, while making friends, developing social skills and cultural capital. We have created an environment that fosters personal, social and emotional development, reflects British values, and the development of self-esteem and self-efficacy to take forward into school and beyond. We ensure that our curriculum is able to support children with additional needs, those who are disadvantaged or in a minority group, ensuring inclusion for all. Our team value diversity and understand how to apply the EYFS to reflect this, we will work 1:1 or obtain additional support when needed.  
Our team plan ‘In the moment’, meaning each child receives a differentiated learning experience, and ‘next steps’ occur spontaneously. This ensures that all teachable moments are utilised. The focus child approach to observation, ‘wow moments’, and detailed tracking methods, enable assessments to be made regularly and fed back to parents. We believe that our approach, in conjunction with the EYFS, provides an optimal environment that perfectly suits the way that young children learn, play and therefore thrive.  The whole team work collaboratively, with a shared vision for the continuous provision, documentation and how we care for the children at our setting, which is reflected on daily, in order to adapt to all eventualities. 

We deliver the EYFS through play, observation and planning for every individual child as well as for all the children as a group within Preschool.

Each child has a key person who is responsible for monitoring their progress within the setting and for sharing and celebrating that progress with you. Your child’s key person builds an Online Learning Journal which documents your child’s progress within the EYFS while they are with us at Preschool. You have 24/7 access to the journal once your account has been set up.

We encourage you to contribute to your child’s Learning Journal by adding comments, observations and photos from home. We love to see what the children have been up to at the weekends and in the holidays and knowing this information helps us to build relationships and provide an environment that meets your child’s individual interests.

The Areas of Development and Learning comprise:

Prime areas

  • Personal, social and emotional development.

  • Physical development.

  • Communication and language.

Specific areas

  • Literacy.

  • Mathematics.

  • Understanding the world.

  • Expressive arts and design.

For each area, the level of progress that children are expected to have attained by the end of the Early Years Foundation Stage is defined by the Early Learning Goals. These goals state what it is expected that children will know, and be able to do, by the end of the reception year of their education.

The Development Matters guidance sets out the likely stages of progress a child makes along their learning journey towards the Early Learning Goals. Our setting has regard to these matters when we assess children and plan for their learning. Our programme supports children to develop the knowledge, skills and understanding they need for:

Personal, social and emotional development

  • Making relationships.

  • Self-confidence and self-awareness.

  • Managing feelings and behaviour.

Within a nurturing environment, children are individually supported in developing confidence, autonomy and self-respect. They are encouraged to work and concentrate independently and also to take part in the life of the group, sharing and co-operating with other children and adults.  Through activities, conversation and practical example, they learn acceptable ways to express their own feelings and to have respect for the feelings of others.  All children are given the opportunity, as appropriate, to take responsibility for themselves and also for the group, its members and its property.

Physical development

  • Moving and handling.

  • Health and self-care.

A range of equipment and opportunities, both indoors and out of doors, allows children to develop confidence and enjoyment in the use and development of their own bodily skills. A very high level of adult supervision enables children to create and meet physical challenges safely, developing increasing skill and control in moving, climbing and balancing.  At the same time, children are supported in the development of the fine motor skills required to use tools, including pens and pencils, and to handle small objects with increasing control and precision.

Communication and language

  • Listening and attention.

  • Understanding.

  • Speaking.

In both small and large groups, children are encouraged to extend their vocabulary and fluency by talking and listening, and by hearing and responding to stories, songs and rhymes. We provide opportunities for children to communicate thoughts, ideas and feelings and build up relationships with adults and each other. We give opportunities to share and enjoy a wide range of rhymes, music, songs, poetry, stories and non-fiction books. We give opportunities for linking language with physical movement in action songs and rhymes, role play and practical experiences such as cookery and gardening.


  • Reading.

  • Writing.

Children are helped to understand that written symbols carry meaning, to be aware of the purposes of writing and, when they are ready, to use drawn and written symbols for themselves.  A well-stocked book corner gives every child the opportunity and encouragement to become familiar with books, able to handle them and aware of their uses, both for reference and as a source of stories and pictures. We provide opportunities for children to see adults writing and for children to experiment with writing for themselves through making marks, personal writing symbols and conventional script.


  • Numbers.

  • Shape, space and measure.

By means of adult-supported practical experience, children become familiar with the sorting, matching, ordering, sequencing and counting activities which form the basis of early mathematics.  As they use their developing mathematical understanding to solve practical problems, children are assisted to learn and use the vocabulary of mathematics, identifying objects by shape, position, size, volume and number.  Songs, games and picture books help children become aware of number sequences and, when they are ready, to use simple mathematical operations such as adding

Understanding the world

  • People and communities.

  • The world.

  • Technology.

A safe and stimulating environment allows children to explore and experiment with a range of natural and manufactured materials. They learn to observe the features of objects and substances, recognising differences, patterns and similarities, and to share and record their findings. Children are assisted in exploring and understanding their environment, both within the group and within the wider community. A range of safe and well-maintained equipment enables children to extend their technological understanding, using simple tools and techniques as appropriate to achieve their intentions and to solve problems. We encourage children to learn about different cultures and diversity and we teach them about British values.

Expressive arts and design

  • Exploring and using media and materials.

  • Being imaginative.

Children are encouraged to use a wide range of resources in order to express their own ideas and feelings and to construct their individual response to experience in two and three dimensions. Art equipment, including paint, glue, crayons and pencils as well as natural and discarded resources, provides for open-ended exploration of colour, shape and texture and the development of skills in painting, drawing and collage.  Children join in with and respond to music and stories, and there are many opportunities for imaginative role play, both individually and as part of a group.

How do you know how your child’s doing?

Here at Horsted Keynes Preschool we put together information on how your child is doing.  We take photographs and describe what they have been doing during the session or week and upload these to our online learning journal called Tapestry.  We also keep a scrap book for each child which we fill with the drawings and craft that they have done during the session. We hold Parent consultations once per term but we are always available for you to chat to during the sessions or email during the week.

Your child's learning will have ongoing reviews including two key assessments:

If your child moves between early years providers between the ages of two and three, the review will usually be done by the early years childcare provider where your child spends the most time. Your childcare provider must give you a short-written summary of your child's development in the three prime areas of learning and development when your child is aged between 24 and 36 months.

  • The second is in the final term of the year in which they reach the age of 5, using the EYFS Profile.

This will assess your child's development against 17 early learning goals which are linked to the goals in "Development Matters in the Early Years Foundation Stage" between the ages of 40 and 60 months.

Your child's school or early years provider has to share the results of the profile with you. A copy will also be given to your child's Year 1 teacher to help plan activities which meet the stage of their development and learning needs.

We must also make sure your child has enough opportunities to learn and reach a good standard in English language during the EYFS. If your child's home language is not English, then we must give opportunities for your child to develop and use their home language in play and learning, supporting their language development at home.

If you're worried about your child's progress, please talk to us and together you can agree how to support your child.

In the moment planning

We believe children are at the centre of what we do and we believe that children learn best when they are interested, inquisitive and engaged, which at this age and stage of development, is best achieved through play. Play gives children the opportunity to explore their own interests, enquire, plan and take risks. Additionally, play also allows children to use their creativity, develop their imagination, build on their dexterity and physical skills, not to mention supporting the development of cognitive and emotional strength. Play is important to healthy brain development. It is through play that children engage and interact in the world around them.

Delivery of the 'Early Years Foundation Stage' curriculum (EYFS) involves a continuous cycle of three parts.

  • Observing children – What can they do and what do they know?

  • Assessing based on those observations - What is their next step?

  • Planning – How I am going to teach them the next step?

We respect children as individuals and understand that they all develop differently. Therefore, on reflection, we felt that our previous method of planning, with a specific learning intention in mind, and then teaching to a small group was not necessarily the most effective method.

Firstly, it often interrupted what they were doing (something they had chosen to do, that they were deeply involved in) and therefore, understandably, we were met with reluctance and little engagement in what we were trying to do. Secondly, we weren't necessarily meeting the needs of individual children, due to planning for the entire cohort.

By following 'in the moment planning', a model developed by Anna Ephgrave, rather than adults deciding what children will be learning ahead of time and working with children in small groups, we engage with the children at activities they have chosen and teach the children 'in the moment'. Through play, children have access to all aspects of the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum, all the time, without limits or adult agenda. This means that we can meet the needs of individuals more effectively.

The Teachers Role

In the model of 'in the moment planning' the role of the teacher looks a little different. The children will have free-flow access to the provision, which means that the children can choose where their learning takes place. The adult will stand back; observe what the children are doing, assess what they need to do/know/learn next, plan their teaching, which will be delivered there and then.

This means that next steps for individual children are not something that are to be delivered at a point in the future, but right there 'in the moment'.

You may notice an adult standing back and watching. This is important part of our planning as adults need to be clear what the children are doing, to ensure that they can engage appropriately and enhance, not interrupt their play.

We have 2/3 focus children each week, which means that these are the children our observations will be focused upon. Each term every child will be a focus child. This does not mean that the other children are not learning, or getting adult interaction but rather that they are continuing with their own learning journeys independently, whilst we ensure that each child has equal opportunity for quality teaching and learning.

We will continue to lead sessions for phonics with children.


How you can help

At the end of each week we will email you an interest sheet.

All we ask is that you fill in the sheet, with as much detail as possible, and over the weekend add some photos of your child and family to your child’s Tapestry account. You can even fill out the interest form, take a photo and add it to Tapestry instead of handing it back the following week.

Documenting Planning

As already mentioned, our planning is ‘in the moment’ and therefore documented retrospectively. We have a weekly sheet on which we make notes about what the children have been interested in, and learning, in each area. We use this to reflect on what is going well, what could be further developed or improved and respond to this as soon as possible. Additionally, for the focus each week, we record the observations, interactions and achievements throughout the week which are then collated onto Tapestry to show the children’s learning journey for that week.

Phonics inputs are recorded on a separate observation on Tapestry. We plan sessions which are practical, engaging and active, giving the children the skills they can use when accessing the environment independently.

Shared settings

If your child attends more than one setting, we would like to work with them to discuss your child’s development and work together to provide a cohesive care package for you and your child.

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Horsted Keynes Preschool

The Village Hall, The Green

Horsted Keynes, Haywards Heath, West Sussex, RH17 7AP