How to Take the EYFS Outside
Posted on 11th April 2022 at 07:29
For children up to the age of five, the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is required in all Ofsted-registered schools and early childhood providers. The Early Years Foundation Stage documentation covers a wide range of regulatory requirements and guiding concepts in order to design provision. (Oxfordshire.gov). The curriculum in Wales is the Early Years Foundation Phase.
Activities and experiences are shaped by the areas of learning and development of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). Each setting, whether it’s a nursery, childminder, pre school or reception in a primary school, determines their own approach to best meet the needs of children and the available learning spaces.
The Different Areas of Learning
There are seven areas of learning; communication and language, physical development, personal, social and emotional development, literacy, mathematics, understanding the world and expressive arts. When considering how to incorporate the areas into the learning spaces, a practitioner may naturally visualise an indoor classroom, which has many learning opportunities, but brings limitations too. Let’s look at outdoor learning spaces and approaches and how they can accommodate children’s learning and development within the seven areas.
Creating an Outstanding Garden
In the early years and beyond, there are endless learning opportunities whilst the children engage with outdoor play, for example, an activity such as creating an outstanding garden is an ideal activity. This could start with simple but effective seed planting. Let’s take a look at how the process of creating a garden could strengthen the child’s learning in the early years, within those areas of learning. Creating a garden can bring many opportunities to spark the children’s interests in the early years.
The areas are interconnected and simultaneously enhance the child’s learning. For example; a child’s understanding of the world can be enhanced by exploring and discovering what soil is, how it helps plants and flowers to grow during the process of planting the seeds, all whilst learning new words to enhance their vocabulary and communication and language skills. Counting out the seeds, measuring the soil, water and so on brings the opportunity to really boost mathematical skills. Not to mention the offering of opportunity to really boost a child’s emotional skills. This might be a sense of achievement and could range to the emotional risk that something might go as planned, this can help to develop emotional resilience. In the early years, crawling, digging, lifting things up can develop physical strength, enhancing balance skills and coordination.
An Eco Friendly Garden
It’s a well know fact that we all need to look after the planet, instilling this into children in the early years can help to make it an integral part of their life as they gro and develop. This can yet again be so simple but effective, for example; encouraging the children and participants to utilise natural items such as using kitchen roll tubes when planting seeds into the soil, resulting in them decomposing.
The use of plastic within the garden could be well thought out and encourage recycling, for example; utilising a milk carton to collect and use rainwater to water the garden. This also interconnects with the elements of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum, for example, the knowledge and understanding of the world element. So choosing a selection of bee-friendly plants and providing a variety of flower shapes to accommodate different feeding patterns is one of the simplest ways to create an eco-friendly environment – Some bees have long tongues and like tubular blooms, whilst other pollinators prefer open echinacea and buddleia flowers. (GardeningEtc).
Encouraging children to appreciate and respect their garden could have a long lasting effect as they get older, for example, allowing different areas of the garden to have breathing space and not be trampled on, this might mean rotating the walk ways so that grass has chance to grow back.
Create a Reggio Emilia environment outside
Whilst the practitioners build the components of the Reggio Emilia approach by collectively embracing outdoor play and the role of each participant; the child, the environment and the teacher. This would work perfectly in the outdoor area and creating a garden brings a sense of community, sitting well with the Reggio Emilia approach, at the same time as underpinning personal, social and emotional development.
Creating an Enabling Environment
Practitioners (whether they are nursery nurses, childminders, primary school teachers, parents and so on) could aim to view the environment through the eyes of the child, this can help to open up opportunities for learning and devising an enabling environment. This can help to accommodate natural discovery Creating a garden takes a Forest School approach. Forest School is a child-centered, enabling learning environment that provides opportunity for holistic development through regular sessions. It's a long-term programme that encourages children to play, explore, and take risks. It fosters self-esteem and confidence in learners through learner-led, hands-on experiences in a natural context. (Forest School Association). Incorporating forest school into the early years outdoor learning spaces could allow for long term learning and development opportunities.
Taking the EYFS outside can allow for less distraction, more creative thinking, such as deciding what to do with a stick, is it a wand, is it to make a stick wind chime? Building resilience, this might bring challenges such as a child falling over in the outdoor environment, but this brings the opportunity for them to develop resilience, also, finding an insect or a worm can help them to challenge themselves to pick it up, this can then be transferred into other situations within the child’s life to enable them to use that resilience they developed through these enabling experiences within the early years learning spaces.These outdoor emotion flashcards are a perfect way to engage children with the outdoor environment.
Tagged as: children outdoors, early years, early years foundation phase, early years foundation stage, forest school, Learning spaces, outdoor classroom
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