The EYFS is a UK law introduced in 2008. The Early Years Foundation Stage imposes mandatory education targets for children below the age of compulsory education (the age of 5).
The Early Years Foundation Stage includes Welfare Requirements and Learning and Development Requirements. The Learning and Development requirements apply in England only. These requirements must be followed by providers of care for children below 5 years old.
All childcare providers in the United Kingdom, including nurseries, childminders, kindergartens and pre-school classes, are bound to the Welfare and to the Learning and Development requirements.
The EYFS is based on the following 4 principles:
The learning goals for this early development stage are related to:
Same examples of the defined targets for children of 5 year olds are:
Even before the acceptance of the law in parlement in 2008, a lot of concern and criticism from educators and child development experts has come forward.
The program could be harmful to children. ADHD and dyslexia have been reported to be possible causes of starting at a too young age. The physical age is not important. The mental development must be progressed to a phase in which it can really start learning things as reading and writing.
In countries where children learn to read and write at a later age, the percentage of children with dyslexia seems to be lower. This is the case in Finland, where children start formal schooling at the age of 7. This means that there is a correlation. However, it is dangerous to draw the conclusion that learning to read and write at a young age can result in dyslexia. Other factors play a role too. Finnish is the most transparant language for reading and writing. Second comes Italian. In these countries, the percentage of dyslectic children is lower.
There exist special schools for young children. Those schools have their own methodology for child development. Among these schools are the Steiner-Waldorf schools. Steiner-waldorf schools work with three 7 year stages in child development. The Early Years Foundation Stage Learning and Development requirements conflict with this approach.
Originally in 2008, EYFS included 68 requirements. Due to a lot of criticism, those requirements have been simplified and reduced. As of 2013 only 17 requirements remain.