Barnett Wood 


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The Early Years Foundation Stage

Key Principles


The early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is guided by four main principles


  • Unique Child - Every child is a unique child who is constantly learning and can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured.

  • Positive Relationships - Children learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships.

  • Enabling Environments - Children learn and develop well in enabling environments, in which their experiences respond to their individual needs and there is a strong partnership between the practitioners and parents and carers.

  • Learning & Development - Children develop and learn in different ways. The framework covers the education and care of all children in early years provision, including children with special educational needs and disabilities.



Areas of Learning


The areas of learning are divided into the prime areas and the specific areas.  The prime areas begin to develop quickly in response to relationships and experiences and suport learning in all other areas.  The prime areas continue to be fundamental throughout the EYFS.  The specific areas include essential skills and knowledge.  They grow out of the prime areas, and provide improtant contexts for learning.


The Prime Areas of Learning:

Personal, Social and Emotional Development

For example:

  • Making relationships

  • Self-confidence and self awareness

  • Managing feelings and behaviour

Communication and Language

For example:

  • Listening and attention

  • Understanding

  • Speaking

Physical Development

For example:

  • Moving and handling

  • Health and self-care

The Specific Areas of Learning:


For example:

  • Reading/pre-reading skills

  • Writing/pre-writing skills



For example:

  • Numbers

  • Shape, space and measures

Understanding the World

For example:

  • People and communities

  • The world

  • Technology

Expressive arts and design

For example:

  • Exploring and using media and materials

  • Being imaginative


Just Playing


When I'm building in the block area,

Please don't say I'm "just playing."

For you see, I'm learning as I play,

About balances and shapes.

Who knows, I may be an architect someday.


When I'm getting all dressed up,

Setting the table, caring for the babies,

Don't get the idea I'm "just playing."

For you see, I'm learning as I play;

I may be a mother or father someday.


When you see me up to my elbows in paint

Or standing at an easel,

Or moulding and shaping clay,

Please don't let me hear you say, "He is just playing."

For you see, I'm learning as I play.

I'm expressing myself and being creative.

I may be an artist or an inventor someday.


When you see me sitting in a chair

"Reading" to an imaginary audience,

Please don't laugh and think I'm "just playing.'

For you see, I'm learning as I play.

I may be a teacher someday.


When you see me combing the bushes for bugs,

Or packing my pockets with choice things I find,

Don't pass it off as "just play.'

For you see, I'm learning as I play.

I may be a scientist someday.


When you see me engrossed in a puzzle

Or some "plaything' at my school,

Please don't feel the time is wasted in 'play.'

For you see, I'm learning as I play.

I'm learning to solve problems and concentrate.

I may be in business someday.


When you see me cooking or tasting foods,

Please don't think that because I enjoy it,

It is 'just play.'

I'm learning to follow direction and see differences.

I may be a cook someday.


When you see me learning to skip, hop,

Run and move my body,

Please don't say I'm "just playing."

For you see, I'm learning as I play.

I'm learning how my body works.

I may be a doctor, nurse or athlete someday.


When you ask me what I've done at school today,

And I say, "I just played',

Please don't misunderstand me.

For you see, I'm learning as I play.

I'm learning to enjoy and be successful in my work.

I'm preparing for tomorrow.

Today, I am a child and my work is play.


-  Anita Wadley

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