Early Years Foundation Stage

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) sets the standards that nurseries, childminders and other early years providers in England must meet to ensure that children develop and learn well and are kept healthy and safe. The skills, abilities and knowledge that a child is likely to learn in the vital early years, between birth and age five, are divided into seven areas of Learning and Development in the EYFS: three Prime and four Specific.

The Prime Areas

  • Physical Development
  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development, and
  • Communication and Language.

The Specific Areas

  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Knowledge of the World, and
  • Expressive Arts and Design.

All the areas are important and interconnected. However, the Prime areas are seen as fundamental in the earliest years from birth to three, as they support all of children's development and later learning. Without enough of the right kinds of experiences in the Prime areas, children may struggle with their learning, find it difficult to communicate well and their confidence and emotional resilience may be affected.

Importantly, the EYFS recognises that children learn through:

  • playing
  • exploring
  • being active
  • creating, and
  • thinking critically.

It acknowledges too that children develop at their own rate and in their own ways, so 'stages of development' have no fixed age boundaries.

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