Within the characteristics of effective learning there are seven areas of learning and development made up of three prime areas and four specific areas. The areas describe what children learn through play and exploration, active learning and creating and by thinking critically.
Prime areas – If a child is not secure in the prime areas between the ages of 3 and 5 years, the absence of these may make other areas of their learning more difficult to achieve. This makes the prime and specific areas so interdependent.
The prime areas occur in all cultures and communities and are not dependent on the specific areas.
Personal, Social and Emotional Development
Self-confidence and self-awareness
Managing feelings and behaviour
Communication and Language
Listening and attention
Moving and handling
Health and self-care
Specific areas – These are less time-sensitive. The specific areas reflect what children have understood and their cultural knowledges which can develop during various stages through life. The specific areas of learning will not take place easily without the prime areas.
Shape, space and measure
Understanding the World
People and communities
Expressive Arts and Design
Exploring using media and materials
The documented expected outcomes are the early learning goals within the EYFS. The early learning goals are the 17 learning and development requirements covered in the characteristics of effective learning – the three prime and the four specific areas. The early learning goals summarise the knowledge, skills and understanding that all young child should have gained by the end of their reception year. However, not all children will reach the early learning goals by this stage and as all children are unique, their learning will be supported by practitioners to help them progress at their pace. The ‘Development Matters in the Early Years Foundation Stage’ document provides, in detail, guidance for observing what children are learning. It also provides examples of what early years practitioners can do to enable environments and support positive relationships across all of each area.
The documented outcomes are assessed and recorded in a variety of ways and come together to help finalise the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile which is completed at the end of a childs reception year. Leading up to this point, the development of children will have been observed and their progress tracked. Some of the methods used to record progression towards the early learning goals are: Daily observations when children are in session – At nursery all staff observe all children, not just their keychildren.
The observations are linked to the EYFS and recorded in the children’s folders 2 year check – this consists of a short written summary of a child’s development when they are between 24 and 36 months Learning and Development Summary – observations are used to complete this document on a termly basis for each child. These are shared at parent consultation appointments. Contributions from parents – very useful as parents information is essential and helps support early learning in the home environment.