At St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, we recognise the importance of Early Years education in providing the essential foundation for all future learning. We acknowledge that play is a powerful medium for learning and that in the Early Years children learn best through well planned play both indoors and outdoors, which will result in them learning with enjoyment and challenge.
In addition to the whole school aims and objectives, the Early Years at St Joseph’s aim to provide children with:
- A happy and secure learning environment, where children become confident and independent learners.
- Space and time to learn through quality structured play, which is creative and challenging
- Specific learning experiences which build on what children know, and can do
- The skills, knowledge and attitudes to achieve the Early learning Goals by the end of the year in which they are 5
The Development Matters Documentation and The Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage (DfE) are used to provide a framework for the Early Years Curriculum. These are incorporated into the whole school long-term plans and policies for each subject. This ensures continuity and progression as well as providing a foundation for Key Stage One of the National Curriculum.
The Early Years Curriculum is planned under the headings of the Foundation Stage. The 7 Areas of Learning and Experience are:
- Personal, Social and Emotional Development
- Communication and Language
- Physical Development
- Understanding the World
- Expressive Arts and Design
All these areas are promoted through use of both indoor and outdoor classrooms as highlighted in the planning. Whenever possible, and appropriate, children’s learning will be through first hand experience and/ or structured play activities with plenty of opportunities for children to talk about what they discover and what they are being taught.
More about the Early Years curriculum
Personal, Social and Emotional Development
This area focuses on children learning to work, play, build relationships, co-operate with others and function as a group beyond the family. Aspects of Personal, Social and Emotional Development are constantly promoted across the curriculum as well as in specific activities, circle times and discussions, so that children can develop a positive sense of themselves and of others: respect for others; social skills and a positive disposition to learn. We aim to establish opportunities for play and learning that acknowledge children’s particular religious beliefs and cultural backgrounds.
When a child’s personal, social and emotional needs are met, learning can take place in other curriculum areas.
Communication and Language
This focuses on developing, supporting and extending children’s learning and competence in communicating, speaking and listening. It involves giving children opportunities to experience a rich language environment, to develop their confidence and skills in expressing themselves, and to speak and listen in a range of situations. All children are encouraged to participate as speakers and listeners in a variety of situations and for a range of purposes and audiences, using and extending language in an imaginative way. They are taught to use talk to clarify thinking, ideas, feelings and events, as well as learning to sustain attentive listening in different contexts.
Children are provided with opportunities to be active and interactive and to improve their skills of co-ordination, control, manipulation and movement. They are supported in developing an understanding of the importance of physical activity and making healthy choices in relation to food.
Dance, Gymnastics, small games apparatus and the playground climbing equipment are all used. In the Summer Term children will also have swimming lessons.
Fine motor skills are developed through writing, tracing, colouring, painting, cutting, threading, plasticine, dough, clay and many other aspects of manipulative play.
Literacy development involves encouraging children to link sounds and letters and to begin to read and write. Our children are given access to a wide range of reading materials to ignite their interest.
We aim for children to enjoy books and begin to become independent and confident readers. They are taught to recognise a range of familiar and common words as well as to apply their phonic knowledge when reading. Many other reading related activities are used to support children’s learning.
Children learn the difference between speaking and writing, and between print and pictures. They are given a range of opportunities to write for different purposes. They work with the teacher to develop and write down their ideas and learn to use their phonics knowledge. Children are also encouraged to practise their developing writing skills in play-based and child initiated situations provided across the curriculum.
Correct letter formation and orientation is taught as a discrete activity as well as using many other cross-curricular opportunities to develop fine and gross motor control.
Phonological awareness is taught in a structured way using Read Write inc, Jolly Phonics and the’ Letters and Sounds’ document. Children learn how to hear, identify and write letter sounds as well as beginning to blend and segment sounds for reading and spelling.
The children are supported in developing their understanding of Mathematics in a broad range of contexts in which they can explore, enjoy, learn, practise and talk about their developing understanding. They are provided with opportunities to practise and extend their skills in these areas and to gain confidence and competence in their use. Children learn about counting, sorting, matching, seeking patterns, making connections, recognising relationships and working with numbers, shape, space and measures. Problem solving skills are developed by using real life situations, both spontaneous and planned, including use of the role play area.
Understanding the World
We guide our 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.
The children are encouraged and supported in developing the knowledge, skills and understanding that help them to make sense of the world. They are given opportunities to use a range of tools safely; encounter creatures, plants, people and objects in their natural environments and in real life situations; undertake practical experiments and work with a range of materials. This area has 3 overarching focuses: People and Communities, The World and Technology. Learning within these areas links to Science, Geography, History, RE and ICT.
People and communities
Children have the opportunity to talk about past and present events in their own lives and in the lives of family members (History). They are taught to recognise that children don’t always enjoy the same things, and are sensitive to this. They are taught to recognise similarities and differences between themselves and others, and among families, communities and traditions (RE).
Children learn about similarities and differences in relation to places, objects, materials and living things.
In science, children are involved in many practical experiences particularly encouraging use of the senses to develop the investigative scientific skills of observing, predicting and communicating findings. Early recording is done by the children: drawing pictures, taking photos and very often with the teacher scribing in a class floor book.
They are encouraged to make observations of animals and plants and explain why things occur and talk about changes.
In Geography, children begin to develop skills, knowledge and understanding with particular reference to their homes, school and immediate local environment. Children are taught to talk about the features of their own immediate environment and how environments vary from one another.
Children are taught to recognise that a range of technology is used in places such as home and schools. They are encouraged to select and use technology for a particular purpose.
In Information Communication Technology, children are taught to use the computer across the curriculum for picture making, word processing and how to move or arrange symbols. Early awareness of the use of controls is encouraged. The use of programmable toys is included. Children are also taught to become aware of the uses of ICT in everyday life. They also use the computer to support learning in other areas of the curriculum. Children are made aware of the importance of e-safety.
Expressive arts and Design
This area involves enabling our children to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials. We provide opportunities to develop and extend children’s creativity, curiosity, exploration and play through the medium of art, music, dance, role play, mathematics and design and technology. Creativity involves the children initiating their own learning and making choices and decisions. We aim to promote a thought provoking environment in which originality, creativity and expressiveness are valued.