Children learn and develop at their own pace, but more rapidly during the first five years of their life than at any other time. As a parent, you know your child better than anyone and will be able to identify what they can do at any given stage. High-quality childcare providers will start by getting to know your child as an individual – what they can do and what interests them the most. They’ll follow your child’s interests to foster their learning under the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework (EYFS) in England or the Foundation Phase in Wales.
In England, the EYFS is used by all early years practitioners, including Reception teachers, registered childminders and nurseries.
There are the seven areas of learning under the EYFS and your childcare provider will focus on the first three – the prime areas of learning – when caring for your child:
Prime areas of learning:
- Personal, Social and Emotional Development
- Physical Development
- Communication and Language
Specific areas of learning:
- Understanding the World
- Expressive Art and Design
Check out What to Expect When for a guide to these areas of learning and development and what to expect at various ages.
The Foundation Phase in Wales also has seven areas of learning:
- personal and social development, well-being and cultural diversity
- language, literacy and communication skills
- mathematical development
- Welsh language development
- knowledge and understanding of the world
- physical development
- creative development.
An enabling environment
A large part of supporting children to learn and thrive is creating an enabling environment. Childcare providers should respond to children’s individual interests and children should be supported to learn through a rich variety of fun activities at the setting. High-quality toys and resources should be provided as well as plenty of opportunity to learn and explore outdoors.