EYFS: Nursery group reassesses approach to learning and development in run-up to EYFS

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Karen Walker, head of children's services at the London Early Years Foundation, spoke to Nursery World about how the group's nurseries are preparing for the new framework.

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How are you getting ready for the EYFS?

We wanted to look at how we plan, observe and assess, to see if we needed to make any changes. Now that there are Prime and Specific areas, we wanted to see how everything would link, and make sure we consider all the key areas.

We wanted to look at the environment for two-year-olds and more on supporting families. We felt that previously there was not enough emphasis on the nought to threes, but in the revised EYFS we like the idea of the three Prime areas.

How are you going to support the prime area of physical development?

We're based in central London and many children live in flats and may only have access to a small balcony, and so have to rely on getting out to the park.

We had to look at how we could ensure that our outdoor and indoor spaces offered opportunities for children's physical development.

Many of our staff did a workshop through Westminster City Council on supporting children's movement.

After the course, one practitioner decided to build a soft play area inside the nursery to encourage children, particularly the under-twos, to do rolling and crawling. The children attend the Holcroft Community Nursery based in the West End and have very little outdoor space.

It's that idea of what we used to call 'rough and tumble' play, for example, using cushions to make 'a child sandwich', to commando crawl under a blanket and encouraging children to use their elbows to pull themselves along.

What about the focus on language and communication?

We're already doing signing in Makaton at all our nurseries. Signing and speaking helps children as they develop language, especially for children who don't have English as a first language.

All LEYF staff will have training in Makaton and we're looking at what other training we need to plan.

Looking at the two-year-old check, we've been talking to speech therapists about what we should record, which might include what children are able to sign at that age.

Our mantra from Every Child A Talker is '50 words at two, 1,000 words at three and fluent at four'.

If we can achieve this, we know children will be going to school from a positive position.

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