EYFS: Early Years Foundation Stage

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:

  1. The uniqueness of every child: it is constantly learning, interacting, it can be resiliant, capable, confident and
  2. self assured
  3. Independent relationships make a child strong and independent
  4. Enabling environment are good for learning. There is a strong partnership between parents and
  5. teachers. The environment responds to the individual needs of each child
  6. Children learn and develop at different speeds and in different ways

The learning goals for this early development stage are related to:

  • the prime areas of learning, being:
    • personal, social and emotional development
    • physical development and
    • communication and language and
  • to specific areas of mathematics and literacy

Same examples of the defined targets for children of 5 year olds are:

  • use written language in their play and in their learning
  • use phonic knowledge to write simple regular words; make phonetically plausible attempts to write more complex words
  • show an understanding of how information can be found in non-fiction texts to answer questions about where, who, why and how
  • begin to form simple phrases, using punctuation now and then

Criticism on EYFS

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.

Special schools

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.

More information about:   Social and Emotional Development and
  Child Development Stages.

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