Early Years Foundation Stage

Age 3-4

Welcome to The Early Years Foundation Stage at The Phoenix Private School.

The EYFS department embraces the youngest of our students, aged 3-5 years old. It consists of two Foundation 1 and two Foundation 2 classes which welcome students with colourful and resourceful classrooms, versatile timetables and three separate EYFS exclusive outside play areas.

Our department consists of highly qualified and experienced staff that will transform your child’s learning journey throughout EYFS into an unforgettable adventure!

Thanks to very good adult-student ratios and First Aiders in every Classroom we can proudly say that children’s safe guarding and wellbeing are our main priorities. We are able to challenge children and support them according to their personality and level of development. In order to assure such an individual approach we carry out ongoing observations of children according to the Seven Areas of Learning which ensure that children learn through play, in safe and challenging environments that cater to their needs and interests. Based on both adult-led and child-led acitvities (in both the indoor and outdoor EYFS areas) we help children set up challenges, explore and think critically and build on their independence.

Additionally the EYFS timetables at the PPS includes PE sessions, Arabic classes (for Arabic students) Art and Music. Children can also benefit from our Additional Support Programme according to their needs.

The revised version of the Early Years Foundation Stage came into effect in the UK in September 2014. It covers the phase of children’s development from birth to the end of Foundation Stage 2. The curriculum is used by all schools, nurseries and other child care providers in the UK.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is my child learning in EYFS?

There are several ways you can find out about your child’s learning:

  • Talk to their class teacher. It is always a busy time at the beginning or end of a school day, but all EYFS staff are available to make appointments and will be happy to discuss anything in depth.
  • Read our EYFS newsletters, we will write at the start of every topic to let you know an overview of the themes we will be covering. It is not possible to give a complete learning overview as all children have individual learning plans.
  • Keep an eye on our parent’s board for lots of information. It is located opposite Class F2a.
  • Check your child’s planner each day. Homework and any notices will be written in there.

How can I share what my child is learning at home?

  • Bring in pictures, photos, or anything your child has been doing.
  • Write notes in your child’s planner.
  • Staff will use any information from home to inform future planning.

How can I support my child’s learning more?

  • Talk to their class teacher who will be able to give you ideas suited to your child.
  • Read through our information guide for tips
  • Consider the Additional Support Programme to offer additional support on an individual basis. Further information is available from Reception.

How will I know how my child is doing

EYFS guidelines state that your child should have a “key person” (teacher) at his/her class, who is responsible for putting together information on how your child is developing.

The Four Principles of the EYFS

“Every child deserves the best possible start in life and the support that enables them to fulfil their potential. Children develop quickly in the early years and a child’s experiences between birth and age five have a major impact on their future life changes.”

(Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage, 2014)

There are four guiding principles which shape our practice.

A unique child:

Every child is a unique child, who is constantly learning and can be resilient, capable, confident and self assured.

Positive relationships:

Children learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships.

Enabling environments:

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/or carers.

Learning and Development:

Children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates. The framework covers the education and care of all children in early years provision, including children with special educational needs and disabilities.

Planning the curriculum

“Practitioners must consider the individual needs, interests, and stage of development of each child in their care, and must use this information to plan a challenging and enjoyable experience for each child.”

“Play is essential for children’s development, building their confidence as they learn to explore, to think about problems, and relate to others. Children learn by leading their own play, and by taking part in play which is guided by adults.”

(Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage, 2014)

At The Phoenix Private School the inside and outside environments are carefully planned into workshop areas, which allow children to make choices, develop independence and re-visit experiences to reinforce their learning. 

We follow the seasonal patterns of the year, carefully planning challenging and enjoyable experiences for children. Staff also evaluate learning and plan on a daily basis so that they can follow and support the individual interests of children. 

All areas of learning are important and  interconnected.  However three areas are particularly crucial.

The three prime areas are:

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

The four specific areas are:

  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Understanding the World
  • Expressive Arts and Design

All children learn through play with a mixture of child-led and teacher-led learning opportunities. Learning takes place both indoors and outdoors.
We introduce different topics which the children explore through a variety of mediums, including books, art, clay, drama, music, ICT and craft and model making. Numeracy introduces different activities, such as counting games, weighing activities and measuring, and is also taught daily. By the end of Foundation 2 the children are enthusiastic and confident learners, who are ready for the more structured/ less play–based environment of Year 1.


Personal, Social and Emotional Development

This prime area of learning involves:

  • helping children to develop a positive sense of themselves, and others
  • forming positive relationships and developing respect for others
  • developing social skills and learning how to manage their feelings
  • understanding appropriate behaviour in groups
  • having confidence in their own abilities

What you can do to help your child:

  • Play turn taking and sharing games with your child. These can be very difficult concepts for children to learn. Give lots of praise when your child shares to encourage this positive behaviour. This could be playing a board game, or taking turns kicking a ball to each other.
  • Talk about and name feelings with your child e.g. “I’m feeling cross because …” or “I’m feeling excited because we’re going to the park”. This will help children to understand their emotions and how to react. 
  • Talk about and explain rules and boundaries.  Children need boundaries BUT need to understand the reason for them, e.g. we don’t throw blocks because it might hurt someone, but it is OK to throw balls outside. Recognising you have similar boundaries at home will help children settle at school.
  • Encourage your child to tidy away their toys.  They will be expected to help at school and it helps children learn about the value of caring for resources.

Communication and Language

Communication and language development involves: 

  • giving children opportunities to experience a rich language environment
  • helping to develop their confidence and skills in expressing themselves and learning to speak and listen in a range of situations

At The Phoenix Private School we do this by providing a wide range of first hand experiences which introduce children to new language; having lots of opportunities for high quality interactions with  adults and with other children; and by sharing lots of stories and rhymes.

What you can do to help your child:

  • Speaking and listening are the foundations of reading and writing. Everyday activities, such as preparing a meal, going shopping or walking to and from school give you a chance to talk to your child, explaining what you are doing. If English is not your home language, use your home language to talk to your child. This will support their language development.
  • Books will have lots of new words for your child.  Share a story every day, talk about the pictures and ask your child to tell you about the story.  Reading the same story everyday may get boring for you, but helps improve your child’s understanding of language.
  • Listen to your child telling you about a favourite activity or the painting they bring home “Tell me about your picture” will often lead to a long explanation!
  • Ask ‘why?’ It will encourage your child to think about what they are saying and to use reasoning. 

Physical Development

Physical development involves providing opportunities for young children to be active and interactive; and to develop their co-ordination, control, and movement.

Children must also be guided and encouraged to understand the importance of physical activity, and to make healthy choices in relation to food. 

At The Phoenix Private School, children have the opportunity to use large and small equipment inside and outside every day (weather permitting). They are encouraged to take risks, learning how to keep themselves safe, for example, when climbing or using tools such as scissors and knives.

What you can do to help your child:

  • Allow your child to use tools such as scissors, or to help you chop vegetables.
  • Talk about the food you eat at home. Discuss ways of staying healthy such as getting enough sleep, drinking plenty of water, eating healthily and what foods are occasional treats.  
  • Find different ways for your child to move; can they hop or skip or jump?
  • Discuss what happens to their body when they exercise e.g. getting warm, heart beating faster…
  • Go to the park regularly; it gives your child space to explore different ways of moving as well as a chance to ‘let off steam’! 
  • Encourage your child to take part in afterschool activities both within school and in the local area.

Expressive Arts and Design

Expressive Arts and Design involves enabling children to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials. It also provides 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.

At The Phoenix Private School we have a rich environment for encouraging creativity from using malleable materials such as the dough and clay, paint mixing, collage, block play, role play and using a range of materials inside and outside.

Children are encouraged to talk about their creations and these are valued. It is the process and not the product which is important in supporting children’s learning.

What you can do to help your child:

  • Let your child listen to and sing songs and rhymes
  • Play different styles of music and encourage your child to move to the music
  • Value your child’s creations. It’s amazing how many children’s paintings are discarded just outside the school gates
  • Talk to your child about what they have done and listen to their ideas
  • Use natural materials such as stones and twigs to create pictures outside
  • Explore different materials and tools, such as paint, glue, crayons, pencils, scissors and hole punches
  • Make play dough: staff can provide you with a simple recipe to use at home

Understanding the World

Understanding the world 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.

At The Phoenix Private School children explore changes in nature, get involved in planting and hunting for minibeasts.  They take part in ‘Outdoor Classroom’ activities and they use a wide range of technology from interactive whiteboards, to programmable toys, to iPads.

What you can do to help your child:

  • Answer the ‘why?’ questions as best as you can and if you don’t know the answer try and find out together using the library or internet.  Young children are naturally curious about how things work and why things happen
  • Plant with your child. Cress is easy and quick to grow or try sprouting carrot tops on a saucer or planting sunflower seeds
  • Notice changes in the natural environment, such as clouds, humidity, temperature, and talk about these with your child
  • Look at photos of family and friends; talk about how we change as we grow older
  • Provide bath toys and explore floating and sinking or watching the changes to the bubbles


Mathematics 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.

At The Phoenix Private School we provide opportunities for children to use mathematics through their play and real first hand experiences, as well as playing ‘maths games’.   Mathematics is in every day experiences, from measuring ingredients when cooking, to working out how tall to build a tower of blocks to filling a plant pot with compost.

Maths through play

Young children are learning maths all the time through a wide variety of play experiences. In the home, in parent and toddler groups, and pre-school settings, children have many opportunities to enjoy and learn maths through play.

“Play is an effective vehicle for fostering Mathematical concepts and developing positive attitides to mathematics…Adults in the pre-school setting should seek to extend the math experiences the children have already had in their home environment. “(Curriculum Guidance for Preschool Education).”

Maths is everywhere in the home. With the support of the parents, children can grasp many mathematical concepts through their play.

Children will begin to:

  • Know and understand early maths language of measurements, shapes, spaces, positions, early numbers, order and patterns
  • Know the sequence of numbers
  • Understand positional words, e.g. in, on, outside
  • Show an awareness of time
  • Be aware of shapes in their environment
  • Acquire new vocabulary
  • Learn number rhymes and songs, e.g. one, two, buckle my shoe

Young children have many mathematical experiences in their home environment. For example:

  • They learn about money as they go shoping with parents
  • Become aware of numbers as they count the stairs to bed
  • Start to understand the concept of time as they become familiar with the routine of their day – wash, dress, breakfast

What you can do to help your child:

  • Use as many opportunities as possible to count with your child: stairs, fruit, buttons, etc.
  • Look for numbers around you e.g. house numbers, bus numbers, telephone numbers
  • Use number rhymes such as five speckled frogs or ten in the bed.  Staff will be able to provide you with rhymes if you need ideas, and we will sometimes print them on our newsletter
  • Cook with your child; this involves lots of counting and measuring
  • Calculate in everyday activities; laying the table is always a good opportunity for working out how many more we need
  • Look for shapes around the home and as you walk around the local area.  Talk about the number of edges and corners and use the proper names for shapes


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

At The Phoenix Private School we provide a literacy rich environment, with plenty of opportunities for sharing fiction and non fiction texts, and mark-making both inside and outside, using traditional materials such as pens and pencils, but also brushes and water, or sticks in the sand. Children’s early marks are the basis of writing.

What you can do to help your child:

  • Children who are read to and enjoy books from an early age are most likely to be successful readers in the future.  Try and share a book with your child as often as possible. Encourage your child to turn the pages, talk about the book and notice familiar letters, such as letters from their name.   You could point to the words as you read
  • Give your child lots of opportunities for making marks using different materials, e.g. writing shopping lists together, making cards, or drawing with chalk outside
  • Notice print in the environment;  shop names, food labels and car logos are often instantly recognisable to young children. They are already readers!

Characteristics of Effective Learning

The ways in which the child engages with other people and the environment: playing and exploring, active learning, and creating and thinking critically, underpin learning and development across all areas and support the child to remain an effective and motivated learner.

There are 3 characteristics of effective learning which help us to focus on and understand how children learn. They are:

Playing and Exploring (Engagement)

This characteristic of effective learning involves:

  • Finding out and exploring
  • Showing curiosity
  • Using senses to explore
  • Engaging in open ended activities
  • Showing particular interests
  • Playing with what they know
  • Pretending with objects
  • Representing experiences
  • Role play
  • Acting out experiences
  • Being willing to ‘have a go’
  • Initiating activities
  • Seeking challenge
  • Showing a ‘can do’ attitude
  • Taking risks

Active Learning (Motivation)

This characteristic of effective learning involves:

  • Being involved and concentrating
  • Maintaining focus for a period of time
  • Showing high levels of energy or fascination
  • Paying attention to details
  • Keeping on trying
  • Persisting with challenges
  • Showing belief that more effort or a different approach will help
  • Bouncing back after difficulties
  • Enjoying achieving what they set out to do
  • Showing satisfaction
  • Being proud of their effort, not just the result
  • Enjoying challenge for its’ own sake, not for rewards 

Creating and Thinking Critically

This characteristic of effective learning involves:

  • Having their own ideas
  • Thinking of ideas
  • Finding ways to solve problems
  • Finding new ways to do things
  • Making links
  • Noticing patterns in their experience
  • Making predictions and testing their ideas
  • Developing ideas of cause and effect
  • Choosing ways to do things
  • Planning, making decisions
  • Solving problems and reaching a goal
  • Checking how well their activity is going
  • Changing strategy when needed
  • Reviewing how well their approach has gone
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