Early Years Overview


At Shilbottle First School we are dedicated to ensuring that your child will receive a quality experience that supports their individual development and learning. We plan and provide purposeful play opportunities, with a balance of adult led and child initiated activities which foster the four guiding principles that shape the EYFS curriculum.

The four themes of the Early Years Foundation Stage are:

A Unique Child

Positive Relationships

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.

Enabling Environments

Learning and Development

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

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.


The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is made up of seven areas of Learning and Development, three Prime areas and four Specific areas.  The Prime areas are crucial for building children's curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, and support development in all other areas. These are Personal, Social and Emotional Development, Communication and Language and Physical Development.

The Specific areas include essential skills and knowledge for children to participate successfully in society. These are Literacy, Mathematics, Understanding the World and Expressive Arts and Design. 

The seven areas of learning are detailed below and are incorporated through a wide range of exciting, stimulating and challenging activities.


Communication and Language

This involves giving children opportunities to experience a rich language environment. We aim to develop their confidence and skills in expressing themselves and to speak and listen in a range of situations.

Listening and attention: Children listen attentively in a range of situations. They listen to stories, accurately anticipating key events and respond to what they hear with relevant comments, 4 questions or actions. They give their attention to what others say and respond appropriately, while engaged in another activity.

Understanding: Children follow instructions involving several ideas or actions. They answer ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions about their experiences and in response to stories or events.

Speaking: Children express themselves effectively, showing awareness of listeners’ needs. They use past, present and future forms accurately when talking about events that have happened or will happen in the future. They develop their own narratives and explanations by connecting ideas or events.


Physical Development

This involves providing opportunities for young children to be active and interactive. We aim to develop their co-ordination, control, and movement. Children will also be helped to understand the importance of physical activity, and to make healthy choices in relation to food.

Moving and handling: Children show good control and coordination in large and small movements. They move confidently in a range of ways, safely negotiating space. They handle equipment and tools effectively, including pencils for writing.

Health and self-care: Children know the importance for good health of physical exercise, and a healthy diet, and talk about ways to keep healthy and safe. They manage their own basic hygiene and personal needs successfully, including dressing and going to the toilet independently.


Personal, Social and Emotional Development

This involves helping children to develop a positive sense of themselves, and others. We aim to help children to form positive relationships and develop respect for others; to develop social skills and learn how to manage their feelings; to understand appropriate behaviour in groups; and to have confidence in their own abilities.

Self-confidence and self-awareness: Children are confident to try new activities, and say why they like some activities more than others. They are confident to speak in a familiar group, will talk about their ideas, and will choose the resources they need for their chosen activities. They say when they do or don’t need help.

Managing feelings and behaviour: Children talk about how they and others show feelings, talk about their own and others’ behaviour, and its consequences, and know that some behaviour is unacceptable. They work as part of a group or class, and understand and follow the rules. They adjust their behaviour to different situations, and take changes of routine in their stride.

Making relationships: Children play co-operatively, taking turns with others. They take account of one another’s ideas about how to organise their activity. They show sensitivity to others’ needs and feelings, and form positive relationships with adults and other children.



This area of development involves encouraging children to link sounds and letters and to begin to read and write. Children will be given access to a wide range of reading materials (books, poems, and other written materials) to ignite their interest.

Reading: Children read and understand simple sentences. They use phonic knowledge to decode regular words and read them aloud accurately. They also read some common irregular words. They demonstrate understanding when talking with others about what they have read.

Writing: Children use their phonic knowledge to write words in ways which match their spoken sounds. They also write some irregular common words. They write simple sentences which can be read by themselves and others. Some words are spelt correctly and others are phonetically plausible.



This involves providing children with opportunities to develop and improve their skills in counting, understanding and using numbers, calculating simple addition and subtraction problems; and to describe shapes, spaces, and measures.

Numbers: Children count reliably with numbers from 1 to 20, place them in order and say which number is one more or one less than a given number. Using quantities and objects, they add and subtract two single-digit numbers and count on or back to 7 find the answer. They solve problems, including doubling, halving and sharing.

Shape, space and measures: Children use everyday language to talk about size, weight, capacity, position, distance, time and money to compare quantities and objects and to solve problems. They recognise, create and describe patterns. They explore characteristics of everyday objects and shapes and use mathematical language to describe them.


Understanding the World

This involves guiding children to make sense of their physical world and their community through opportunities to explore, observe and find out about people, places, technology and the environment.

People and communities: Children talk about past and present events in their own lives and in the lives of family members. They know that other children don’t always enjoy the same things, and are sensitive to this. They know about similarities and differences between themselves and others, and among families, communities and traditions.

The world: Children know about similarities and differences in relation to places, objects, materials and living things. They talk about the features of their own immediate environment and how environments might vary from one another. They make observations of animals and plants and explain why some things occur, and talk about changes.

Technology: Children recognise that a range of technology is used in places such as homes and schools. They select and use technology for particular purposes.


Expressive Arts and Design

This involves enabling children to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials, as well as providing opportunities and encouragement for sharing their thoughts, ideas and feelings through a variety of activities in art, music, movement, dance, role-play and design and technology.

Exploring and using media and materials: Children sing songs, make music and dance, and experiment with ways of changing them. They use safely and explore a variety of materials, tools and techniques, experimenting with colour, design, texture, form and function.

Being imaginative: Children are encouraged to use what they have learnt about media and materials in original ways, thinking about uses and purposes. They represent their own ideas, thoughts and feelings through design and technology, art, music, dance, role-play and stories. 


Our effective teaching is characterised by the following:

playing and exploring – allowing children to investigate and experience things, and ‘have a go’;

active learning – encouraging children to concentrate and keep on trying if they encounter difficulties, and enjoy their achievements;

creating and thinking critically – enabling children to have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas, and develop strategies for doing things.