|"Learning for young children is a rewarding and enjoyable experience in which they explore, investigate, discover, create, practise, rehearse, repeat, revise and consolidate their developing knowledge, skills, understanding and attitudes. During the foundation stage, many of these aspects of learning are brought together effectively through playing and talking."QCA Curriculum Guidance, page 20.
22. Children need more than to be kept in a safe
place. Building on previous efforts to set out desirable learning
outcomes from Early Years education, the Qualifications and Curriculum
Authority has been working with professionals in the field to
develop an appropriate approach to Early Years education. The
Early Learning Goals
published in 1999 by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority
were broadly welcomed by Early Years workers,
parents and the press. They consist of six domains of learning
and development and specify particular knowledge, skills and attitudes
in each of them which most children should acquire during the
Foundation Stage (3 to 5+ years). The areas of learning are:
- Personal, social and emotional development
- Communication, language and literacy
- Mathematical development
- Knowledge and understanding of the world
- Physical development
- Creative development.
Their strong focus on personal, social and emotional
development makes quite clear that the motivational and affective
side to learning is as important as the cognitive side.
1. Early Years practitioners have also welcomed the
Qualifications and Curriculum Authority's more recent Curriculum
Guidance for the Foundation Stage
which offers a detailed description of how children can be supported
in development, related to each curricular area. The many ways
adults can support children's learning are described in the Guidance
document and present a complex array of teaching strategies, some
of them instructional. Most relate to 'teaching' through informal,
play-based means in which children are invited to learn through
exploration and play. The extract in the Table below from the
QCA's Curriculum Guidance for the Foundation Stage illustrates
the recommended approach to the early learning goals for behaviour
and self-control, as part of the curriculum for personal, social
and emotional development. The role of the practitioner in listening
to children and communicating with them and their parents is clearly
|"Successful personal, social and emotional development is critical for very young children in all aspects of their lives and gives them the best opportunity for success in all other areas of learning."QCA Curriculum Guidance, page 28.
Progression from age three to the end of the foundation
||Examples of what children do
||What does the practitioner need to do?
|Make connections between different parts of their life experience.
||Alice pushes the playdough with the palms of her hands, adds more flour and pushes again. 'This is how I help my mum to make pizzas,' she says.
||Provide activities and opportunities for children to share experiences and knowledge from different parts of their lives with each other Develop positive relationships with parents.
|Show a strong sense of self as a member of different communities, such as their family or setting.
||The children have been brought together to discuss watching a mother bathing her baby earlier in the session. The children talk about babies and younger brothers and sisters at home and how they are cared for. Rehana said, 'My mum puts oil on my baby sister's skin when she has had a bath.'
||Create a feeling of openness so that children are able to learn from one another and from each other's family experiences. Anticipate the best from each child and be alert to their strengths.
|Have an awareness of, and show interest and enjoyment in, cultural and religious differences. Have a positive selfimage and show that they are comfortable with themselves..
||Harry looks at the 'weaving loom' created from wire netting on the garden fence. He asks the practitioner how to do it, who says, 'Why don't you ask Shamimara? She wove the streamers in the netting. She can show you.' Later, Harry and Shamimara look at books showing people weaving in different countries.Charlie is a wheelchair user. When the practitioner asks the group for help in finding the repeated phrase in the big book they are using, he volunteers. 'I can read it. I am a good reader.' He propels the wheelchair, unaided, up to the book where he points to and reads the words.
||Strengthen the positive impressions children have of their own cultures and faiths and those of others. Ensure that materials and images used and displayed are accurate and nonstereotypical.Give children opportunities to be curious, enthusiastic, engaged and tranquil, so developing a sense of inner self and peace.
|Understand that people have different needs, views, cultures and beliefs, that need to be treated with respect. Understand that they can expect others to treat their needs, views, cultures and beliefs with respect.
||Bulent's brother had got married and he was showing the photographs to a group of children. They talked about why the bride had money pinned to her dress and, with the practitioner, talked about the different customs they had experienced at weddings.
||Encourage children to talk with each other about similarities and differences in their experiences and the reasons for those similarities and differences.Ensure all children are given support to participate in discussions and to be listened to carefully.
Source: Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, Curriculum
Guidance for the Foundation Stage, 2000, pages 42-43.
2. The Curriculum Guidance stresses the role
of play as the vehicle of most learning in the Foundation Stage,
especially for children of the younger ages:
"Learning for young children is a rewarding
and enjoyable experience in which they explore, investigate, discover,
create, practise, rehearse, repeat, revise and consolidate their
developing knowledge, skills, understandings and attitudes. During
the foundation stage, many of these aspects of learning are brought
together effectively through playing and talking".
|"There is no division between play and work, for children's work is play, and its importance cannot be over-emphasised."Asquith Court Early Years Curriculum, 1999, Page 7
3. There is wide variation in Early Years settings
in the teaching skills (in their widest sense) of the workforce.
There is also disparity in the resources for play
(and thus for learning).
Brent was playing on his own with the 'small world' toys. 'This one's going to get the lorry ¼ but the car comes in ¼ this is dadno, no, no ¼ now you'd better go to bed.'QCA Curriculum Guidance, page 56.
Paul was intrigued by the automatic barrier in the car park. He set up a stick across two chairs and raised it, saying, 'Barrier up!' every time anyone came through.QCA Curriculum Guidance, page 56.
LEARNING FROM ADULTS IN THE COMMUNITY
A group of children was being visited by an elderly neighbour of the setting. She had been invited to join the group, show her lace and demonstrate how lace is made. The children gathered round and sat quietly while she told them all about it.QCA Curriculum Guidance, page 32.
The children were very excited when the local city farm brought a lamb to visit them. They all wanted to hold the bottle to feed the lamb, but waited quietly until it was their turn.QCA Curriculum Guidance, page 36.
4. We support the Qualification and Curriculum
Authority's Curriculum Guidance for the Foundation Stage,
which illustrates rather than imposes stepping stones for a child
to progress from the age of three to the end of the foundation
5. We recognise that the scale of the challenge
in the Guidance to practitioners, who will need to have
imagination and flexibility to enable children to learn in ways
appropriate to their developmental stage.
6. We recommend that training to assist practitioners
to enhance children's personal, social and emotional development
should be supported by the DfEE.
7. We recommend that innovative practice in ways
to foster children's personal, social and emotional development
should be disseminated widely through the Early Years Development
and Childcare Partnerships.