Teaching Early Years Foundation Stage


Edited by: Jo Basford & Elaine Hodson

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    The Authors

    Wendy Baker

    Wendy Baker is currently a Senior Lecturer in Mathematics Education at Manchester Metropolitan University teaching on both undergraduate and postgraduate courses. She is enthusiastic about and dedicated to teaching in the Early Years.

    Jo Basford

    Jo Basford is a Senior Lecturer in Early Years and Childhood Studies at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her professional career has been within the Early Years sector where she has worked as a nursery teacher and for a local authority. Jo is a High/Scope Endorsed Trainer.

    Rosemary Boys

    Rosemary Boys is a Senior Lecturer in the Institute of Education at Manchester Metropolitan University where she teaches English, special educational needs and teaching studies. Rosemary qualified and taught for many years in Australia but has also gained extensive experience in England, working as a primary teacher and advisory teacher for English. She has been involved in consultancy work for several major publishers.

    Lynne Clarke

    Lynne Clarke is a Senior Lecturer in the Early Years and Childhood Studies Team at the Institute of Education at Manchester Metropolitan University and is Programme Leader for the full and long pathways of the Early Years Professional Status. Lynne has had a broad range of experiences in a range of Early Years settings. She has extensive experience of further education teaching on CACHE and PLA courses. She has worked as an assessor and verifier for the NVQ awards in Early Years. She has also worked for Cheshire Sure Start as an Early Years Consultant, supporting private, voluntary and independent Early Years settings in the development of the Foundation Stage curriculum.

    Teresa Curtis

    Teresa Curtis is Senior Lecturer in Childhood Studies at Manchester Metropolitan University. She was formerly a health visitor, midwife and general nurse and has a particular interest in the health and well-being of children and families.

    Elaine Hodson

    Elaine Hodson is a Senior Lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University where she works on Employment-Based Routes into teaching. She was formerly head teacher of a nursery school and then of a primary school.

    Brenda Keogh

    Brenda Keogh has worked as a primary teacher, lab technician, resources officer, advisory teacher and National Curriculum co-ordinator. She currently lectures in science education at Manchester Metropolitan University where she is Leader of Flexible Programmes. She is the joint creator of the innovative concept cartoon strategy.

    Val Melnyczuk

    Val Melnyczuk is a qualified Early Years teacher and has worked in both the maintained and non-maintained sectors. Having studied for her first degree and then her masters with the Open University, she is now employed part-time as an Associate Lecturer and Early Years Professional assessor for the Open University. Val is a pedagogue with the Cheshire Children and Families Early Years Foundation Stage team. She is also a freelance trainer.

    Stuart Naylor

    Stuart Naylor has worked as a secondary teacher, lab technician and advisory teacher as well as teaching in the USA. He currently lectures in Science Education at Manchester Metropolitan University where he is head of the Science Education Centre. He is joint creator of the innovative concept cartoon strategy.

    Tony Poulter

    Tony Poulter is Senior Lecturer in Primary ICT at the Institute of Education at the Manchester Metropolitan University. He worked for 20 years as a primary school teacher, was an advisory teacher for ICT in Staffordshire and has been employed as a consultant for Becta.

    Elaine Spink

    Elaine is a Senior Lecturer in Primary Education for Manchester Metropolitan University. Elaine was a primary teacher and teacher adviser for science before joining the university. She has worked in Indonesia and South Africa as a consultant for primary education and school business management, and has published in the fields of science education and adult learning. She writes and delivers courses for the Science Learning Centre in the North West.

    Wendy Whittaker

    Wendy Whittaker is a Senior Lecturer in Early Years at Manchester Metropolitan University. Prior to that she was a children's centre manager in Crewe and a Sure Start programme manager. She completed her MA, with distinction, in integrated provision for children and families at Leicester University, taught at Pen Green Research and Development Centre in 2007. With four children of her own, her interests lie in how young children learn, multi-disciplinary issues in working with families and children, and ‘quality’ provision in Early Years.


    From September 2008, the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is recognised as a distinct and unique age phase, supported by its own statutory framework. It is as a result of consultation (and at the time of writing, contentious debate) with key stakeholders in the field concerning the determinants of effective, high-quality Early Years practice. Interestingly the term ‘curriculum’ is no longer evident in the framework and there is now a definite commitment to single, play-based framework for early learning and care. Whether those critics, who felt the guidance was introducing the formal elements of education to very young children too soon, will be appeased, remains to be seen. Previously, the Foundation Stage had been the phase of learning concerned with three to five year old children, and trainee teachers had been required to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the curriculum guidance which was pertinent to this age phase. However, EYFS takes account of the care, learning and developmental needs of all children from birth to the end of the Reception Year. As an Early Years teacher, this has significant implications for the knowledge, skills and understanding you will be required to demonstrate to teach in the Early Years Foundation Stage. Although you may find yourself working mainly with the older children within this phase, those between 30 and 60 months, it is vital that you understand the way that young children learn and develop from birth and the fact that they develop at different rates, and in different ways. Young children do not fit neatly into ‘developmental boxes!

    The Early Years Foundation Stage is supported by a series of key principles which are underpinned by research into children's care, learning and developmental needs. The principles are split into four key themes, which each have four corresponding commitments.

    A Unique Child – every child is a competent learner from birth who can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured.

    Positive Relationships – children learn to be strong and independent from a base of loving and secure relationships with parents and/or a key person.

    Enabling Environment – the environment plays a key role in supporting and extending children's development and learning.

    Learning and development – children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates and all areas of Learning and development are equally important and interconnected.

    (DfES, 2007, Practice Guidance for the Early Years Foundation Stage)

    Chapter 1 of this book outlines the historical context and development of Early Years practice and provides an overview of the range of settings which represent the Early Years Foundation Stage. It then explores the commitments concerned with each of the themes in further depth. This chapter is mainly concerned with standards Q1, Q3, Q14 and Q15.

    By the end of the Early Years Foundation Stage, most children will be expected to reach a number of Early Learning Goals which are linked to six areas of learning and development.

    • Personal, Social and Emotional Development
    • Communicating, Language and Literacy
    • Problem Solving, Reasoning and Numeracy
    • Knowledge and Understanding of the World
    • Physical Development
    • Creative Development

    By developing your knowledge and understanding of how the principles are translated into practice – you will be in a better position to ensure that all children reach their potential, and achieve their Early Learning Goals. The aim of this book is to support and guide you through your own professional journey to becoming a successful Early Years teacher.

    In Chapter 2 we recognise the central importance of each child's personal, social and emotional development, and the significant impact this has on a child's care, learning and developmental needs. (Q18 and Q19). This includes the importance of acknowledging and celebrating each child's unique background.

    The next five chapters focus specifically on the other areas of learning and development, and address: Communication, Language and Literacy; Problem Solving, Reasoning and Numeracy; Knowledge and Understanding of the World; Physical Development and Creative Development. These chapters relate specifically to Standards Q14, Q15, Q16 and Q17. The underlying principles, themes and commitments pertinent to each of the areas of learning and development are exemplified in each chapter.

    We have dedicated Chapter 8 entirely to ICT. Some readers may feel this is contentious, and there are indeed opposing views regarding the appropriateness of using ICT with very young children. We live in a media and technologically driven society. Information and communications technologies are explicit in the everyday lives of our children. They provide a context and motivation for learning for many children, and this is our rationale for committing a whole chapter to this area.

    In Chapter 9 we lead you through the practicalities of documenting children's learning through a consideration of observation, planning and assessment strategies which are a key aspect of your role in tracking children's learning journeys. (Q11, Q12, Q13)

    The final two chapters of this book are concerned with partnerships and relationships. Chapter 10 explores the fundamental importance of establishing authentic relationships with a child's parent/carer and family. Chapter 11 looks beyond the relationships you build within your typical classroom, and looks at the issues, challenges and ultimately benefits of working in a wider context with other professionals to ensure every child achieves the five outcomes as outlined in Every Child Matters.

    We hope that the structure of this book will help you to make connections between the theory of child development, effective pedagogy, and the reality of working in an Early Years context. A number of tasks and classroom stories have been included in each chapter to help you make these connections. We have also provided you with further reading and research which will help you learn more about this important phase of a child's learning and development.

    Working with young children requires a high degree of passion, enthusiasm and a genuine interest in what young children are about. You may well find yourself at times working in an environment where standards and target setting compete with a principled belief that children are entitled to a play-based framework where active engagement lies at the heart of the way children learn, develop and reach their full potential. We hope that this book will be just the start of your journey.

    ElaineHodson, Manchester Metropolitan University, June 2008

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