The Early Years Foundation Stage

The Early Years Foundation Stage covers children, ages 0 to 5. They use the following guidance to plan their activities with the children.

"Our aim is to provide a high quality, integrated early education and childcare service for all who want it. The Foundation stage of education will make a positive contribution to children’s early development and learning. During this time we cannot afford to get things wrong. The early years are critical in children’s development. Children develop rapidly during this time – physically, intellectually, emotionally and socially. The Foundation stage is all about developing key skills, such as listening, speaking, concentration, persistence and learning to work together and cooperate with other children. It is also about developing early communication, literacy and numeracy skills that will prepare young children to Key Stage 1 of the National Curriculum." 

Margaret Hodge

Framework Structure

The framework has been organised into four sections known as ‘Aspects’. Each aspect has been sub-divided into four components. The chances are that your child’s childcare provider will use these in their planning. The four aspects are:

1. A Strong Child

This aspect of learning is linked to your child’s social and emotional development. It is about helping your child to feel confident, self-assured and to enjoy being with others.

2. A Skilful Communicator

Learning to talk and communicate is an important skill for the very young child to master. This aspect looks at the importance of listening and sensitively responding to babies and toddlers as well as looking at ways to actively promote language through stories, rhymes and toys.

3. A Competent Learner

Babies and toddlers are born curious and ready to explore their immediate world. We know from research that actively moving and exploring helps babies and toddlers’ understand and also respond to their world by, for example, being given new sensations and also items to feel, touch and hold.

4. A Healthy Child

The Birth to Three Matters framework looks at developing the ‘whole child’. This means that food, safety and hygiene is also included. This aspect of learning is also about making sure that children are emotionally secure and also learning to take decisions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will my child be tested?

Birth to Three Matters is not a formal curriculum. In fact is has been deliberately designed to avoid ‘subjects’ or lists of activities that children have to do. You may however find that staff observe your child far more and use the observations to help the staff plan activities and to put out toys that are of particular interest to your child.

How will this benefit my child?

The framework is based on some of the latest research about how to provide the best childcare environments for children. It emphasises the importance of children being active in their learning and also the way in which a ‘special adult’ or key person can help children to develop.

How can I help my child?

The best way is simply to enjoy your child’s company. Look out for times where you can cuddle up together, share a book or play simple games. You might also like to let their setting or key person know when you have noticed a skill that has emerged or something that has fascinated your child. This will help your child’s setting to build on your child’s interests and skills. You may also find that your childcare provider will let you know what your child has particularly enjoyed doing in the setting and you may similarly wish to continue this at home.