Category: Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)
The EYFS requires that parents are involved in assessments of their children because there is a recognition that parents spend more time with their little ones than any individual carer does and therefore knows them best.
Carers should take the time to talk with parents as a key part of undertaking assessments. In particular they should solicit the parent's views on how their child is developing and what milestones they have noticed the child has hit or is progressing towards. They should talk about what each child enjoys doing because what they do in a domestic setting may be different to what they do with a childminder or at nursery.
Parents may have a better insight into how language is developing and should offer their observations to the keyworker undertaking the assessment. They should also discuss other patterns that they have observed in play or development.
Parents aren't trained child practitioners so may not willingly express the information required so the childminder or key worker should spend the time asking relevant questions to try to ascertain information from the parents that is useful for the assessments.
Ideally parents will interact with childminders and key workers regularly so that this information is gathered frequently and not only at junctures where formal written assessments are being made. This will help the key worker plan next steps for children, taking into account emerging development.
As a parent, if your work life restricts the time you have to interface with your child's key worker, perhaps you have to drop off quickly before work and pick up quickly once done before your next scheduled engagment, then look at setting up meetings with the key worker on a regular basis so that you have the opportunity to feed into assessments.
The EYFS covers broad aspects of child development (such as Communication and Language, Literacy, Mathematics) rather than specific topics such as 'Dinosaurs', 'The Romans' or 'Days of the Week'. At ToucanLearn we have a range of activities suited to the capabilities of each individual child. The selection of activities you see for a 3 month child is different for those of a 9 month child or 2 year old toddler. Our activity programme takes each child up to school age.
If you want to cover specific topics in your setting then look at adapting our activities to cover the topics you want to cover. Some of our activities will map very easily whilst some may not. For example, if you are studying 'Minibeasts' then look at adapting the range of activities being offered to change the focus to creepy crawlies instead.
Of course, there are plenty of other activity sites on the Internet and a quick search will bring up all sorts of activities relating to specific topics. Where ToucanLearn differs is that we offers activities aimed at the specific capabilities of each child, each one focusing on different aspects of the EYFS at that stage of development. By adapting our activities to a different topic, you can ensure that the activities are pitched at the right level in terms of capability.
One of the new requirements introduced in EYFS 2012 was the need to conduct a progress check at some point during each child's second year. The exact timing of the check is left open - the government recommends that it is undertaken at a suitable point that the child moves setting, or at another point by agreement with the parents. The check may even be undertaken after their third birthday but ideally it will be done between 24 and 36 months.
There is no prescribed format for progress checks, indeed they should very much be unique for each child. The purpose is to clock the developmental progress of the child and ensure that any issues are identified and flagged. This will help child carers concentrate on areas that may be lacking, or even to build further on strong areas. The assessment helps to inform parents of porgress and allows both parents and carers to plan for future activities with the child.
The child carer should assess each of the prime areas of learning: Personal, Social and Emotional Development; Physical Development; and Communication and Language. Only one assessment is required so if a child attends more than obe setting, the check should be done by the setting that the child spends most time in. The check should be undertaken by the key person who has most exposure to the child and who knows them best.
The report should be drafted in a manner that is easy for parents to understand and that informs them clearly of any action the carer would like the parents to undertake. It would be a good idea to encourage parents to write their own brief response to file with the report to demonstrate that they have read and understood the report. The better you document future actions, the easier it will be to refer back to them and ensure that progress is maintained as planned.
While the check forms a mandatory part of the EYFS, it is only relevant for children who spend time with a child minder or carer. Children who are raised by 'stay at home mums' will not be affected.
Maths would appear to be one of those subjects that you can either do, or you can't, some love it whilst other hate it. Marcus de Sautoy is Professor of Maths at Oxford University, he LOVES maths and he's brilliant at it! He is one of those people who can explain really complex ideas in ways that ordinary people can begin to understand. In 2006, he delivered the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, bringing accessible maths to an audience of school aged children.
In one of his TV documentaries, de Sautoy distilled maths into a single, basic concept - the study of patterns. Our ability to discover patterns (whether in abstract numerical groups or physical real world objects) leads us to being able to solve problems, a fundamental reason for learnbing maths. While we usually think of maths as the adding and subtracting of numbers, numbers merely act a labels to more abstract concepts.
Of course, this is a vast oversimplification of maths, but it's premise is in fact and not fiction.
EYFS 2012 introduced Mathematics as one of the 'Specific Areas', breaking down further into Numeracy and Shapes, space and measures. While the specific areas are aimed at older and more develeoped children, you can be sowing the seed for good numeracy early on by encouraging that great foundation of maths - pattern recognition. Babies can learn and spot patterns from a very early age and evidence suggests that stimulating these skills early on will assist numeracy skills during their early years.
Play games that encourage pattern matching such as pairing cards, playing memory games, grouping items into 'classes' and counting items in collections. All of this will encourage cognitive development that will assist numeracy in their early years.
The EYFS is all about facilitating early learning, it's not a curriculum that should be followed prescriptively. Indeed, prescriptive learning lies far from the aims of the EYFS. Children have developed through learning since the dawn of humankind, and the EYFS doesn't bring us anything radically different in our approaches to learning for preschoolers, it simply encourages particular types of learning to stimulate the important parts of early development.
For this reason, it's not possible to pigeonhole an activity and say 'this is an EYFS activity'. You would be hard pushed to undertake any activity that didn't cover at least one of the bases of the EYFS areas of learning. However, certain activities cover certain areas of learning better than others.
At ToucanLearn, we offer hundreds of actvities that, for our premium members, are all categorised by EYFS areas of learning. Most of our activities predate the EYFS, but they were designed with the same aims of the EYFS, to promote health early years development. As a young carer, you should observe the way that your wards are developing and should aim to promote those areas where you perceive work is needed. Babies develop at different rates but generally conform to a linear pattern, hitting goals in a very similar order. If you observe that your little ones might be struggling with gross or fine motor skills, or in the development of language, then actively seek out activities that will help to promote these areas. At ToucanLearn you can achieve this simply by searching for an activity covering a particular area of learning.
Do continue pursuing activities in all the other areas of learning too - babies are developing rapidly so even if progress is good, or even better, continue visiting activities that you know they will cope well with as practice, repetition and the sheer fact that they are engaged in activities will all help their early development.
If you have stumbled across this entry inadvertently, then please do visit our main site, ToucanLearn. Sign up for free and access hundreds of preschool activities. If you're a professional childminder then you will find that we offer lots of services to help you fulfil the EYFS, and hopefully we can play a small part in helping your little ones achieve their potential in life.
Weather makes for a great long term project, especially at this autumnal time of year when the weather is quite changeable. Observing the weather ticks a number of EYFS boxes, particularly in Communication and Language and Understanding the World but you can also extend it into Literacy by having your older toddlers write weather symbols, and you can easily create counting games based on weather observations.
You can buy some really good weather and calendar charts, but you can make them yourself at almost no cost. Just create a chart on a large sheet of paper covering the days of the week and cut out some weather symbols stuck onto card. Have your little ones select the right weather symbols to match the current weather.
Because the weather can change, they can add symbols for each type of weather during the day. It may start off sunny, cloud over and then rain before clearing up again. Instill observation in your little ones by encouraging them, proactively, to add a symbol to the weather chart each time they observe a change outside.
It seems that we've waited forever since EYFS 2012 was published back in March, but it has finally come into force and we have updated ToucanLearn to reflect the revised areas of learning.
One of the changes introduced in EYFS 2012 is a split between 'prime' areas of learning and 'specific' areas. The prime areas (Personal, Social and Emotional Development, Communication and Language and Physical Development) are the essential building blocks designed to promote healthy development. The specific areas (Literacy, Mathematics, Understanding the World and Expressive Art and Design) are more attuned to future school learning in specific subjects.
You will find that activities for younger children focus more on the prime areas but as they grow older, more and more focus will switch to the specific areas. This follows natural learning and progression and is reflected in the activity programme offered to all preschoolers in ToucanLearn.
A core requirement for EYFS is that childcare providers must give parents information on the types of activities they are undertaking, the daily routine, food and drink provided and, in EYFS 2012, how the EYFS is being delivered.
This is exactly what ToucanLearn's Daily Diary is intended for. Each child has their own unique Daily Diary and you can create entries during the day. Each Diary can be shared between parents and childcare providers which allows parents to log in and see what's going on at any time of the day. Everyone can even add their own entries.
We recently launched our mobile phone service where you can email a photo directly from your mobile into the relevant Daily Diary - what could be easier?!
This service also processes text messages, so, for example, if you want to quickly report on what the children are eating, just send a text email (not an SMS message) to your diary and a new entry will be logged. Remember to name the children in the subject line or the body of the message, and please ensure that your 'from' address matches your ToucanLearn login. Entries should arrive in your diary within 2 minutes and if it fails to match, you will receive a notice back telling you that.
Find out more here: http://www.toucanlearn.com/daily-diary.
Sharing your pictures has never been easier with ToucanLearn's facility to email photos directly from your mobile phone into the correct Daily Diary! There isn't an easier way to maintain EYFS diaries throughout the day and what's more, you can share your diaries straight with the relevant parents too, so that they can stay informed throughout the day.
Those members who tested this for us are unanimous in their praise!
"This great new feature of being able to send photos straight to the learning journey is great! It really makes my work very much enjoyable and its simple to use", Fay, Childminder, Bedfordshire.
Here’s what to do! Give it a try and let us know how you get on...
- Take a photo on your mobile phone
- Add a subject line and message - this will appear in the diary
- Include the child's name (or children's names) in the subject or message
- Email it to email@example.com directly from your phone
The photo will automatically appear in the account/s of the child/children's written in the subject line.
Subject: Musical statues
Message: Ben and Polly played musical statues, Polly won because Ben got the giggles and couldn't stay still!
This email will be turned into a Daily Diary entry for both Ben and Polly with the subject line as the entry title, and the message becomes the caption for the photograph.
Photo entries should appear in your diary within two minutes. If we fail to match the photo to the correct diary then you will receive an email back explaining the problem.
This feature is for Premium Members only as we don't offer photo uploads on free accounts.
Many of our members are professional childminders and have expressed concern at potential changes to the way that childminders are regulated in the UK. In March, Sir Michael Wilshaw, Chief Inspector for OFSTED, told a select committee that OFSTED inspections of childminders are disproportionately expensive when compared to school and nursery inspections and stated that their future is 'unsustainable'.
More recently, Elizabeth Truss, MP for South West Norfolk, has published a report examining the high costs of childcare in the UK for parents, compared with other European nations, and proposes a new agency model of regulation moving forwards.
Childminders are right to interpret these as challenges to the way that they work. Currently childcare providers feel that being treated on a par with nurseries sends a positive message to parents that they offering a professional service. Deregulating childcare could allow the market to be flooded by cheap and unqualified providers.
Note that proposed changes will NOT see the EYFS being dismantled, this is expected to stay through any regulatory changes to the industry overall.
If you wish to add your voice to those demanding that the government researches these proposals more thoroughly then add their signature to a petition at this website:
One of the requirements of the EYFS has always been to observe children and gage their progress against the areas of Learning. Observation should tell you what stage your children have reached in terms of development and will help you plan activities to challenge their current capabilities. Parents naturally observe their children but in an informal way, and it doesn't necessarily lead them to challenge their children.
There are two key modes of observing children. The first, formal mode, is to watch them for a period of time as they play in their setting. Watch what they do, what they say, how they solve problems, and make a record. Doing this on a frequent basis will let you notice patterns emerging and help you plan progress. The other mode of observation is simply noticing particular moments that strike you as funny, special, amazing. Young children are constantly amazing us, perhaps they do something in the way that you do, or say something that you would nomally do; maybe they achieve something that you really didn't think they could do, a baby rolling over, pulling a cushion off a sofa, pulling themselves up to a standing position. Note these moments too and again you will see patterns emerging over time.
Using ToucanLearn's Daily Diary, you can keep a permanent record of progress and come back to it over time. If you are a childminder, share the Diary back with parents and that way they can log in at any moment and see how their child is progressing, and what they are doing.
Although the EYFS is a prescriptive programme to help cover a wide variety of development topics, almost everything we do covers aspects of EYFS without even having to try, and that's because EYFS is really gearing us up to learning about the real world.
Take a trip to the supermarket for example, your little ones are learning where their food comes from, they can help find products on the shelves, they help you with the money when you come to pay. These activities touch elements of health and bodily awareness (PD), place (KUW), and shapes, space and measures and calculating (PSRN).
Picking up siblings or other children from school and chatting with mum's at the school gate aids language (CLL) and sense of community (PSED) as well as helping grow confidence (PSED), the walk alone contributing to Physical Development.
Familiarity with the goals of EYFS will let you turn every routine task or chore into a learning game. Accentuate the lessons across the different areas of the EYFS and at every step you will be nurturing your children in understanding the world, their place within, and in how everything works. Don't forget to log the lessons learned in your Daily Diary at ToucanLearn!
When childminders give children snacks and meals, the Early Years Foundation Stage statutory framework requires that they be 'healthy, balanced and nutritious'. It's fairly easy to whip up a meal that fills the criteria because you can balance a meal with fresh vegetables and use fresh ingredients.
If you are providing processed foods such as sausages, ham, nuggets, fishfingers or burgers then check the ingredients and the nutritional breakdown of the foods you are buying. To buy the healthiest options, compare the fat, sugar and salt content. Processed foods are often far more laden with salt and sugar to create flavour than if you were to make the same fare at home. When comparing fat content of products, go for ones with the least saturated fat which is more harmful than unsaturated fat. Better still, try make your own products at home and then you are aware of their contents. You can easily make burgers, fishcakes and breaded chicken or turkey nuggets - slightly time consuming but not difficult.
Try to ration meat to two or three main meals a week, offer vegetarian options (eg. jacket potato and baked beans, mild vegetarian chilli, vegetable lasagne etc.) and fish (fishcakes, jacket potato and tuna, breaded fish etc.) on other occasions.
Processed snacks can also be much less healthy than you might imagine. Snacks are often packaged to make them appear to be healthy but when choosing snacks, again, make sure you compare the fat, sugar and salt content. It's very easy to give children a high salt diet without realising and some healthy looking snacks contain more saturated fat than a packet of crisps! Better still, make snacks yourself. Fruit and vegetables chopped into portions perhaps make the best snacks. Buy yourself a hot air popcorn maker and make fresh popcorn but without the salt or sugar.
Providing healthy, balanced and nutritious food isn't difficult but it can be deceptive if you are offering factory processed foods. Check the food labels and know what you are feeding your little ones.
The revised EYFS framework was published this week, the existing framework, EYFS 2008, remains in place until the end of August, the new framework called EYFS 2012 will be mandated from the 1st September. The revised framework aims to reduce bureaucracy and simplify learning and development requirements, reducing the early learning goals from 69 to 17. The framework concentrates on the three areas of learning deemed the most important:-
- Communication and language
- Personal, social and emotional development
In addition to these 'Prime Areas' there are also four futher 'Specific Areas':-
- Understanding the world
- Expressive arts and design
At ToucanLearn we will revise our system to tie in with EYFS 2012, ready for launch on 1st September. At the same time we will launch some new features to offer new tools to help childcarers implement the EYFS. We're excited about these changes, while we always felt that the EYFS offered a great platform for early learning, we also think that these revisions help to focus on the important parts of learning and will help those who might have struggled with the breadth of coverage of EYFS 2008. We will write more about the revised EYFS framework over the next few months, and keep you informaed of changes coming toToucanLearn.
You can download the new EYFS framework here.
Making friends, especially if you are a toddler, is not always easy... some children are keen to have 'best friends', others go around in packs and some are simply not interested at all. When you ask who they played with a nursery and they say 'no one' it can be heart-breaking. But, we have to remember that some children are emotionally 'advanced' and understand the concept of having a friend; whereas others are more interested in playing along side another child with no interaction at all.
If your child is nervous of making friends or you want to gently encourage them to make some new friends, here are a few ideas for encouraging and guiding them. Friendship is an important part of all our lives and the importance placed on making friends in childhood is demonstrated by the fact that 'Forming Relationships' is part of the EYFS and is a focus of Personal, Social and Emotional Development.
Here are some tips on how you can help children make friends:
- Give them plenty of opportunity to make friends: see lots of people and do lots of different activities
- Give them lots of praise when they do something kind to another person
- Don't force them or try to make them form friendships with people they don't like even if you like them!
- Try not to interfere when they are interacting or playing
- Be bold and approach people at playgroup and get to know them yourself
- Lead by example, chat to people and make friends yourself
- Talk about being kind, sharing and being a good friend while you are at home
- Support any efforts to make friends even if they fail
- Look at photos of friends and chat about how much fun they can be
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