An integral component of monitoring children’s development is planning and observation. The EYFS prescribes that all settings have a system of assessment that incorporates children’s interests and takes into consideration each child’s individual stage of development and needs. At Young Friends, we always strive to challenge and support children’s learning as keen observers of play and development.
- Observation – Each child’s keyperson carries out regular observations during the child’s day, both recorded and unrecorded. Observations will inform how activities, environment setups, and interactions are created/carried out. Observations of children are regularly added to Tapestry, our online journaling system, and/or fed back to parents during pick up times to further extend learning at home. When uploading to Tapestry, staff select the areas and characteristics of effective learning evident in the observation. Once saved, parents receive an email alerting them to a new observation to which they can leave comments. Parents also upload their own observations from home onto Tapestry which is an excellent way for the team to extend outside learning into the nursery.
- Planning – Our interest-based planning is created daily. Each group has a planning notebook and collates their observations of children’s play throughout the day, planning access to resources that will be of the greatest interest to their keychildren when they’re next in. We also always encourage families to let us know about what their children are into at home so that activities and the environment at nursery can reflect their interests. Planning is available for parents to see what and how activities are planned for their children.
- Tapestry and Parent/Carer comments and observations – Our online learning journals enable our parents/carers to instantly see videos, pictures and observations of their children via their own secure code. The observations are linked to the EYFS and our families also have the opportunity to observe their children at home and send them back to us. or simply comment on the observation that has been put up. They might give an idea for example of how to extend the activity they have seen in a way that they know their child would enjoy. We really encourage this aspect of our recording system as it is a way of finding out new interests and skills so that we can add it to individual or group planning. We value this close and consistent communication and it is clear to see the benefit of it to our children’s development. Please read more about Tapestry in its own section on this site.
- Differentiation – Differentiation is used to ensure each child’s experience is individualized to his or her developmental needs and interests. When adult-led or group activities are planned, staff include how to support or challenge children within the activity. For example, for an adult-led activity about floating and sinking objects, the differentiation plan will show how or what should be a part of the activity (modelling specific/relevant vocabulary, etc.) and how to challenge or support particular children (support ZZ with using simple sentences). Upon evaluating each activity, staff glean how best to plan next steps for children. Differentiation is very important and is used to ensure each child’s experience is individualized to his or her developmental needs and interests. On this document, also found on the wall for parents/carers to see, adult-led activities are chosen and linked to its relevant area(s) of development from the EYFS. The plan is then used to highlight how to further support or challenge individual children (or the group as a whole) during the activity. For example, for an adult-led activity about floating and sinking objects, the differentiation plan will show how or what should be a part of the activity (modelling specific/relevant vocabulary, etc.) and how to challenge or support particular children (support ZZ with using simple sentences for example)After each activity it is evaluated with ways forward to improve or build upon them for use in the next day’s planning.
- Next steps – Next steps, as the name implies, are planned to extend children’s learning within their interests and provide further support. When a keyperson differentiates an activity for his/her keychildren, planned next steps are always taken into consideration. For instance, a child may be highly interested in stacking objects. A next step may be encouraging the child to make more complex arrangements and/or incorporating maths vocabulary into play such as tall, short, balance, etc.
- Progress reports – At the end of each term and in preparation for parents’ afternoons, each keyperson uses Tapestry to run a summative assessment for each of their keychildren. This provides a glance of where each child’s development falls in the seven areas of learning (early, developing, secure) as collated via uploaded observations and staff’s first-hand knowledge of keychildren’s abilities and development. Using the summative assessments, keyworkers then write up a progress report summarizing where children currently are, what typical characteristics of effective learning they demonstrate in their play, and what he/she will be working on for that child’s next steps, which are shared with and contributed to by parents during their termly parents’ afternoon.
Background to The current EYFS:
In September 2012 the EYFS changed and, we believe, for the absolute better. The revised, simpler framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) was published on 27 March 2012, for implementation from September 2012 and focuses on getting children ready for education and increasing the attainment of all children, particularly those from deprived backgrounds.
Children’s Minister Sarah Teather said:
“What really matters is making sure a child is able to start school ready to learn, able to make friends and play, ready to ask for what they need and say what they think. These are critical foundations for really getting the best out of school.”
The new EYFS maintains a lot of the same principles and characteristics of its predecessor but there are some notable changes:
• It simplifies the statutory assessment of children’s development at age five and the learning and development requirements by reducing the number of early learning goals from 69 to 17.
• There is a new focus on three prime areas which are the foundations for children’s ability to learn and develop healthily: personal, social and emotional development; communication and language; and physical development. The prime areas cover the knowledge and skills that are the foundations for children’s school readiness and future progress. Following on from these prime areas are four areas of learning where these skills are applied: literacy, mathematics, expressive arts and design and understanding the world. With the three prime areas of learning there is a greater emphasis on making sure children have the basic social, emotional communication and language skills they need to learn and thrive at school i.e. being able to make friends and/or listen effectively while the four specific areas serve to reinforce these basic skills.
• For parents, there will be a new progress check at age two on their child’s development. This links with the Healthy Child review carried out by health visitors to help identify early problems or special educational needs in order for children to get any additional support needed before they start school. Childcare providers will carry out these reviews on children’s progress between the ages of 2 and 3. A short written summary must be provided to parents/carers highlighting achievements and areas that may need support, describing how the provider will address any issues.
Our views on education:
We believe all these enhancements are for the better as school readiness is paramount. By this we do not mean we are treating the children like they are at school. Far from it. We are, however, preparing them for what they will face when they begin. Through games, songs, and activities initiated by their interests, they learn manners, patience, how to hold a pencil and recognise letters and numbers. Children love to feel a sense of achievement and we enable this in the nursery environment while making sure this feeling carries on when they arrive in reception. We want them to feel confident and in control when they get to school and with our help and innovative ways of supporting their learning in exciting and fun ways, they do.
We keep parents informed throughout their journey here at the nursery. Not only do we provide monthly advice on how to extend your child’s learning at home but we complete a detailed and informative termly written summery/report for each child from their first day. We feel that keeping families up to date with achievements and ways forward is important and goes hand in hand with children’s development.
Please ask any supervisor or member of the management team for more detailed information on the EYFS and how we help the children learn and prepare for school. We are always happy to help.