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The Eyfs Supports The Acquisition Of Initial Literacy Education Essay

Every Child Matters (ECM) is an initiative which addresses that the child’s well-being and performance are interconnected. ECM focuses on five main outcomes which include; be healthy, stay safe, enjoy and achieve, make a positive contribution, and to achieve economic well-being. The overall aim of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is for young children to achieve these five outcomes.

The EYFS principles include; a unique child, positive relationships, enabling environments and learning and development, which enable EYS to improve the ECM outcomes for all children and contribute to early learning development too. The SEAL (Social And Emotional Aspects of Learning) framework is also implemented within the Foundation Stage to support children meeting the five outcomes. This programme is important for children to develop their social and emotional skills; to encourage positive behaviour; and to overcome barriers to learning. SEAL also facilitates schools to provide a safe and emotionally sound environment for all children to learn.

The following page provides a detailed grid which demonstrates how the ECM outcomes are delivered in Foundation Stage 1 (F1) and 2 (F2)* at Robin Hood Primary School; and how these outcomes contribute to early learning.

* F1 - Nursery class

* F2 - Reception class

ECM grid

ECM Outcomes

How this is delivered in F1 and F2

Be healthy

Milk and fruit are given to all Foundation children as a means of promoting healthy eating lifestyles. Pack-lunches are inspected and a healthy lunchtime menu is displayed for parents and children. Healthy diets contribute to a child’s well-being, which enables them to learn effectively as they are likely to concentrate and be involved in activities more attentively (Q2).

The school nurse is on-site to attend to the needs of those children who require medical assistance and for routine check-ups. In addition, a School Councillor is present if the children display signs of emotional distress. It is important that children’s physical an emotional needs are catered for so that they can develop and learn in a sound environment (Q2, Q5, Q21 (b)).

The Foundation Stage teachers are trained in first aid so they can also attend to children with any injuries. This information is recorded into their medical log for statutory reasons (Q2).

In F1, there are spare changes of clothes for children who have toilet accidents. This enables the children to play in a clean and healthy environment (Q2).

There are specially fitted toilets (including disabled) and soap dispensers for children to use these facilities appropriately. Visual and verbal signs are in place to reinforce basic hygiene for children (Q2).

Children undertake ‘Activate’ in the morning and afternoon sessions, which is a brain gym exercise to enable them to be mentally in-tuned for the day (Q2).

The F2 children have weekly PE sessions as a means of exercising. There is a specially designated play area for F1 children so they can also acquire exercise and play safely with other children (Q2, Q30).

The children also participate in ‘maths aerobics’ as a means of acquiring numeracy skills and exercising.

F1 children are allocated a Key Worker who works closely with particular groups of children and their parents. They form positive relationships with them which in turn enable children to be independent and confident in learning new experiences (Q2, Q5, Q6, and Q10, Q31).

The SEAL programme which links with the area of learning ‘Personal, Social and Emotional Development (P.S.E.D) is another activity that contributes to this outcome. For example, the children have carpet time about how to stay safe such by reading stories and reinforcing the Foundation rules (Q18).

Stay Safe

The school work force have CRB checks and Safeguarding training to ensure that the children are safe from maltreatment, neglect, violence and sexual exploitation (Q3(a), Q3(b), Q21a).

Consent forms are given to parents to verify whether they are content with their child’s photo being taken for school purposes (Q3 (a), Q3 (b)).

The school has secure fencing and security codes to ensure that the children work in a safe environment. F1 also have additional secure fencing as an extra precautionary measure (Q3 (a), Q3 (b)).

First aid boxes and fire extinguishers are visible for staff in case of an emergency (Q2).

The internal doors in Foundation are at adult level to ensure that children remain safe (Q2).

The electrical sockets are secured with safety plugs so children do not endanger themselves.

The majority of equipment such as desks, chairs, toilets etc. is at the children’s height level so they can access and use these safely. Children are also taught how to use resources safely to prevent injury to themselves and others (Q2, Q30).

The outdoor play area has specially fitted matting to prevent injury so children can play in a safe environment. The indoor and outdoor play areas are also risk-assessed to ensure that any hazards are addressed and mitigated (Q2, Q3 (b), Q21 (a)).

The school have rigid anti-bullying policies in place to reinforce how it is wrong to bully and discriminate others and the consequences of such actions. Anti-bullying policies are also reinforced within the Foundation rules. In relation to this, morals from stories and songs are used so children learn to be respectful of different cultures. They also learn about cultures via theme days and activities to celebrate diversity too (Q2, Q3 (b), Q4, Q10, Q18, Q20, Q21 (b) Q25 (a), Q31).

The P.S.E.D lessons address issues of bullying, discrimination, crime and anti-social behaviour. Children are encouraged to play with different children and some of the toys they play with such as dolls reflect different ethnicities to celebrate diversity. ((Q1,Q2, Q3(a), Q3(b), Q10, Q18,Q21(b) Q31)

As mentioned in the above outcome, each child has a key worker they are affiliated too. This ensures they have a source of security and stability so that they can learn effectively and independently too (Q2, Q5, Q6, and Q10, Q31).

Enjoy and achieve

Attendance is monitored. Although F1 is not compulsory for children to attend, the school have a policy to contact the child’s home if this becomes a regular occurrence; this is because absences can impede learning (Q3 (a), Q3 (b), Q10).

In F1, the children place their name badge on the wall so staff and other children can see who is present; it also gives the children a sense of responsibility too.

The children are allocated reward certificates known as ‘happy grams’ for excellent behaviour and progress in subjects. Golden Arrow certificates are allocated to those who demonstrate outstanding behaviour and they then receive a sticker and piece of fruit from the Head Teacher. These Golden Arrows are also displayed on the ‘success wall’ to celebrate achievement and for parents to be proud of their accomplishments too. This reward structure is a mechanism to encourage children to enjoy learning and reach their potential (Q1, Q4, Q5, Q25b, Q31).

There is a ‘parent volunteer’ board in F1. Parents are encouraged to volunteer so that they can support children’s learning and be part of the school community. The Foundation planning for the terms are also made visible for parents so they can see what their children learn and how they can be involved. A notice board is also visible to communicate the upcoming activities. This is to encourage a stronger parent-school link (Q4, Q5, Q10 and Q24).

A parent- liaison worker is present who is a point of call for parents and connects them with the school so they can be part of the community (Q4.Q5).

Toys and educational games are loaned to parents as a means to encourage learning outside of the school (Q24).

In F1, there are a variety of indoor and outdoor activities, which relate to the six areas of learning. Children have the flexibility to choose their own task to initiate self-play. Outdoor learning is strongly encouraged such as exploring wildlife so that children can enjoy recreational activities and experience new learning situations (which the indoors cannot provide). There are also structured adult-initiated activities and intervention to ensure that children develop new skills too (Q14, Q24, Q30).

Children are assessed against the Foundation Stage Profile to monitor their progress and see where support may be required; this enables children to reach their potential. Teachers can also deduce those who have additional educational needs so that measures can be implemented too (Q11, Q15, Q26 (a)).

F2 is split into two classes by age and there is no partition so children can move between the classes. This enables the older children to act as a mentor for the younger children so they can feel secure, which enables them to learn effectively. The younger F2 set are able to spend their ‘choice time’ in F1, which eases transitional issues for the younger children so they are ready for school (Q1).

Make a positive contribution

School rules are displayed around the classroom so that children understand that they should not bully, discriminate or engage in anti-social behaviour. Positive behaviour is encouraged during carpet and play time so that children develop the necessary social and interaction skills (Q1, Q2, Q3 (a), Q3 (b), Q10, Q18, Q21 (b) and Q31).

The F2 children attend assemblies to learn about making right choices in life, which links to the SEAL programme. Parents are also encouraged to attend so they can feel part of the school community (Q1, Q2, and Q18).

The school has a lunch time Rainbow club, which is an opportunity for F2 children to make new friends, develop their social skills and self confidence, which contributes to learning too (Q1, Q31).

The school has extra-curricular activities like cooking club, where the F2 children can participate and learn new skills (Q2, Q30).

The Foundation children get involved with fundraising activities and concerts as a way to engage with the rest of the school and community. For example, the children were involved in the concert ‘we’re going on a bear hunt’, where they sang songs; this was a good way to develop literacy skills too. They also participated in the Harvest Festival were they were involved in raising money for charity (Q1, Q2, Q30).

The children in F2 have to wear school uniforms and the majority in F1 do too. This enables the children to feel responsible and stimulates a learning environment.

In F1 and F2 there are ‘class monitors’, where children are allocated certain tasks such as distributing milk and fruit. This gives them a sense of responsibility and prepares them for the next Key Stage, where a similar routine is in place.

Achieve economic well-being

In F1 there is an indoor and outdoor role-play area, which is centred on particular vocational themes such as doctor, builder etc. This provides children an opportunity to model real life experiences and develop their social, negotiation and interaction skills which are essential life skills (Q1).

There are different toys rotated on the tables, such as construction toys so children can intentionally learn about different vocations and model real life situations. It also encourages children to be aspirational and avoid stereotypes i.e. girls are encouraged to engage in activities such as playing with train toys.

The parent-liaison worker helps parents to access information associated with their economic well-being such (Q24).

ECM part 2

How the EYFS supports the acquisition of initial Literacy, Numeracy skills and understanding

The EYFS has six areas of learning and development. The ‘Communication, Language and Literacy’ (CLL) and ‘Problem Solving, Reasoning and Numeracy’ (PSRN) relate to the literacy and numeracy skills that children develop. This will now be discussed on how children acquire these skills during the Foundation Stage.

Literacy

During the Foundation Stage, adult-led and children’s self-initiated activities are used to build their CCL skills. To develop language for communication and thinking, rhymes, songs, stories and other play-based activities are used to address the diverse learning needs of children (Q18, Q25 (a)). For example, during an F1 literacy lesson, the teacher read the story book ‘Mrs Wishy- Washy’, which used repetition and rhyme to encourage children to join in and learn new vocabulary. They were asked questions about the story so that they could articulate their own thoughts and opinions about the characters. Props and objects were also used so they could act out and retell the story. This was an interactive way for them to develop their communication skills.

Self-initiated activities like role-plays are another essential mechanism to acquire communication and thinking abilities. This is because children can pretend to be different characters or mimic real life work experiences such as playing doctor. Social interaction enables the acquisition of communication skills and this was highlighted in the Rose review (2006):

‘…Much learning is a social and a socialising activity in which many important aspects of communication, language and literacy develop apace’

(Rose 2006, p.34, Independent review of the teaching of early reading)

Linking sounds to letters is another strand children learn under the CCL area of development. They build their phonic knowledge by using the application of synthetic phonics, which was strongly endorsed in the Rose review (2006). For example, during a phonics session in F2, the children were learning the sounds for ‘R’, ‘L’ ‘B’ and ‘D’ with the associated objects so that they could build their word recognition and language comprehension skills. They were also given the opportunity to formulate their own sentences using the new words they learnt. This also shows the use of a multi-sensory approach to be inclusive of the diverse learning needs. Rose strongly recommended this approach in high quality phonic work.

Phonic work for young children should be multi-sensory in order to capture their interest, sustain motivation, and reinforce learning in imaginative and exciting ways.

(Rose 2006, p.70, Independent review of the teaching of early reading)

Reading is another key skill developed under CCL. In F1 and F2, there is a reading corner where children are encouraged to discover a variety of fiction and non-fiction books so that they can begin to read independently. Whitehead (2009) emphasised the importance of reading for understanding and providing new experiences for children, this also contributes to building the process of learning.

The Foundation teachers also have a story time where they read to the whole-class and prompt discussion about the characters. For example, during an F2 reading session, story props were used to engage the children with the book so that they can associate the words with the pictures; this addresses the multi-sensory approach. They also encourage the ‘Simple View of reading’ endorsed by Rose (2006) so they can develop their word recognition and language comprehension (Q15).

Self-initiated activities enable children to acquire reading skills too.

For example, in F1, there was a shopping list in the home corner and children had to acquire the relevant objects that matched this list. This provided an opportunity for children to apply their reading skills and discuss this with other children and the teacher. These type of activities make it fun and meaningful for children to develop their skills and learn independently too.

Writing is a further skill which is developed under the CCL strand. This is also an opportunity for children to develop their fine motor skills too. In F1, there was a ‘post corner’, where children could mark-make on a paper and post- its. A teacher was also present to scaffold their learning. Vygotsky’s (1978) research emphasised the importance of adult interaction. This relates to his concept of the ‘zone of proximal development’ knowledge to enable them to in the sense that it is important to assess the child’s abilities and build on their understand their surroundings. This builds their process of learning too.

Overall, the diverse adult and child initiated activities provide a rich environment for children to develop their CCL skills. It promotes a fun and interactive environment for children to acquire literacy skills, which in turn should strengthen the literacy foundations for future development.

Numeracy

Similarly to Literacy, adult-led and self-initiated play activities enable children to develop their numeracy skills. To develop the PSRN aspect of Numbers as Labels and for Counting, a variety of visual aids, songs and games are used so that it is inclusive of all children’s learning needs (Q18, Q25 (a)). For example, during an F1 maths lesson, the teacher rehearsed the numbers 1-10 with the children as they sang along to the ‘cuckoo song’; the use of rhymes enabled children to recall the numbers. The teacher then played a game, where they had to find certain quantities of objects associated with a number. These play-based activities are essential techniques to employ so children form positive attitudes in maths and develop numeracy skills too. Research by Gifford (2010) reinforces this notion:

‘…It would be helpful in the EYFS if the commitments to play and exploration, active learning, creativity and critical thinking were more rigorously adhered to… the pedagogy of play is important for developing positive attitudes…’ (Gifford 2010, cited in Thompson, p. 116)

The diverse indoor and outdoor self-initiated play activities also provide opportunities for children to acquire numeracy skills. For example, in F1 and F2 there were ICT mathematical games where children could develop their numerical understanding (Q23, Q25 (d)). As noted in the Rose review (2009), ICT can strengthen the areas of learning and should be promoted.

Number visuals such as a numbers line were displayed around the classroom so that children could refer to them and develop an understanding of what the numbers represent.

Relating to the Calculating strand, songs, visuals and play-based activities are encouraged for children to acquire these skills (Q18, Q25 (a)). For example, in F1 during milk and fruit time, the teacher would purposely vary the quantities so that children could develop mathematical language such as ‘less’ or ‘fewer’ in a meaningful context. As stated in the Williams review (2006), it is important to engage children in mathematical discussion so that they can develop logical reasoning and deduction skills. He also emphasised that more opportunities are needed to promote the ‘use and application’ of mathematics to harness mathematical thinking in real life.

There were opportunities during the children’s self-initiated activities for children to record their own calculations through mathematical mark making such as writing and drawing on post-its, whiteboards or via ICT (Q23). Williams (2006) recommended that this should be encouraged as it enables children to communicate or reveal their mathematical understanding; practitioners benefit in gaining an insight into their mathematical development too.

Worthington and Carruthers (2006) also supported the notion of children recording in their own way to acquire numeracy skills. In particular, Worthington highlights the growing emergence of ‘multi-modality’, which is the diverse ways children reveal their mathematical understanding. Her research also demonstrated that children are increasingly using their own complex mathematical graphics to explore and communicate mathematical thinking. This research highlights how these ways should be encouraged so that children can build their process of learning and make connections too.

Relating to the shape, space and measure strand, a variety of techniques are employed to develop this area of understanding. For example, one of the adult-led activities involved the teacher using a ‘feely bag’ to introduce or recall previously learnt shapes. A puppet was used in conjunction to ask the children questions and intentionally made mistakes so the children could intervene. This was a fun and interactive way for children to learn and to develop their mathematical understanding.

Indoor and outdoor self-initiated activities with adult intervention are also encouraged throughout all the strands of learning in order to scaffold the children’s mathematical development (Q14). For example, an activity in F2, involved the children to make patterns using different objects. The teacher intervened to support the child’s understanding, which supports Vygotsky’s (1978) research on the importance of adult intervention to build the process of learning.

Overall, the EYFS provides a diverse range of adult and child initiated activities to enable children to acquire numeracy skills. These activities are play-based in nature and give children the opportunity to learn collaboratively and independently; which provides them with a strong foundation to build their learning development.

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