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Early Years & The Foundation Stage

What is the Foundation Stage all about?


The Reception year is the final year of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum which is set for children aged 0-5 years. In the Early Years we promote learning through play and encourage children to develop their own interests so they are able to become independent and skilled learners. The Early years foundation stage is based on four simple but very important principles:

  • 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 with teaching and support from adults, who respond to their individual interests and needs and help them to build their learning over time. Children benefit from a strong partnership between practitioners and parents and/or carers.
  • The importance of learning and development. Children develop and learn at different rates.

Children access the curriculum through 7 areas of learning:

Prime Areas:

  • Personal social and Emotional Development
  • Physical Development
  • Communication and Language

Specific Areas:

  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Understanding the World
  • Expressive Arts and Design

The areas of learning are all interlinked so that children are learning lots of different things in different ways at the same time.




Communication and Language

The development of children's language underpins all other areas of development. We have a high adult pupil ratio allowing for high quality interactions throughout the day in a language rich environment. High quality books and reading experiences underpin our language rich environment where children have the opportunities to develop their language and communication skills.

Personal, Social and Emotional Development

We focus on building warm and supportive relationships. Children are supported to understand their feelings and manage their emotions so that they can develop friendships, co-operate and resolve issues calmly. 

Physical Development

At Highwoods we work on both our fine motor skills, those needed for writing, and our gross motor skills, that help us play safely together.

We have PE lessons once a week and also enjoy additional blocks of  Forest school.

We embrace a child led ethos, therefore children can go outside in our outdoor classroom and playground all year round in all weathers. We have a variety of activities including a mud kitchen, digging area, sandpit, water tray and balance/climbing equipment.


We want our children to develop a life long love of reading. We share a diverse range of stories and learn rhymes and sing songs to support this. We use Read Write Inc as our phonic scheme to teach the decoding of words.

We learn the letter sounds in this order: m a s d t i n p o c k u b f e l h sh r j v y w th z ch qu x ng nk. Once children are secure on these sounds and can blend simple words together we move on to more complex vowel sounds. We liaise closely with parents so you know what your child is learning and how you can best support them with reading at home.

Children are given opportunities to develop their writing linked to the stories that we read and the varied experiences that they have in the setting.


We work at developing a deep understanding of numbers to 10 through using a range of practical equipment eg numicon, tens frames, manipulatives such as bricks, pebbles etc. Children are encouraged to spot patterns and discuss their mathematical ideas.

Understanding the World

Children are supported to develop an understanding of their community, and their place within it. This is supported through planned experiences, visits and visitors as well as through books which develop an understanding of the diversity of the world in which they live. This is further supported by weekly Forest School sessions.

Expressive art and design

In reception we focus on exploring different art and design activities. We want to enthuse a love of creative activities that will prepare children for the rest of their lives.

Children are encouraged to use their imaginations in their play, we provide differing role play areas and story telling props which help to act out familiar stories and for them to make sense of the world around them These activities are fundamental for developing social skills and positive relationships with peers.