Parents Guide to the EYFS

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What is the Early Years Foundation Stage?

Welcome to the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), which is how the Government and early years professionals describe the time in your child’s life between birth and age 5.

This is a very important stage as it helps your child get ready for school as well as preparing them for their future learning and successes. From when your child is born up until the age of 5, their early years experience should be happy, active, exciting, fun and secure; and support their development, care and learning needs. 

Nurseries, pre-schools, reception classes and childminders registered to deliver the EYFS must follow a legal document called the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework.

What is the EYFS Framework – why do we have one?

The EYFS Framework exists to support all professionals working in the EYFS to help your child and was developed with many early years experts and parents.

In 2012 (and again in 2017) the framework was revised to make it clearer and easier to use, with more focus on the things that matter most. This new framework also has a greater emphasis on your role in helping your child develop.

It sets out:

  • The legal welfare requirements that everyone registered to look after children must follow to keep your child safe and promote their welfare
  • The 7 areas of learning and development which guide professionals’ engagement with your child’s play and activities as they learn new skills and knowledge
  • Assessments that will tell you about your child’s progress through the EYFS
  • Expected levels that your child should reach at age 5, usually the end of the reception year; these expectations are called the “Early Learning Goals (ELGs)”

There is also guidance for the professionals supporting your child on planning the learning activities and observing and assessing what and how your child is learning and developing.

How will my child be learning?

The EYFS Framework explains how and what your child will be learning to support their healthy development.

Your child will be learning skills, acquiring new knowledge and demonstrating their understanding through 7 areas of learning and development.

Children should mostly develop the 3 prime areas first. These are:

  • Communication and language;
  • Physical development; and
  • Personal, social and emotional development.


These prime areas are those most essential for your child’s healthy development and future learning.

As children grow, the prime areas will help them to develop skills in 4 specific areas. These are:

  • Literacy;
  • Mathematics;
  • Understanding the world; and
  • Expressive arts and design.

These 7 areas are used to plan your child’s learning and activities. The professionals teaching and supporting your child will make sure that the activities are suited to your child’s unique needs. This is a little bit like a curriculum in primary and secondary schools, but it’s suitable for very young children, and it’s designed to be really flexible so that staff can follow your child’s unique needs and interests.

Children in the EYFS learn by playing and exploring, being active, and through creative and critical thinking which takes place both indoors and outside.

As a parent, how can I help with my child’s learning?

All the fun activities that you do with your child at home are important in supporting their learning and development and have a long lasting effect on your child’s learning as they progress through school.

Even when your child is very young and is not yet able to talk, talking to them helps them to learn and understand new words and ideas. If you make the time every day to do some simple activities with your child, it will make a real difference to your child’s confidence as a young learner.

Some examples of activities you can do with them are:

  • Sing & tell nursery rhymes
  • Talk about the numbers, colours, words & letters you see when you are out & about
  • Allow your child to cut out & stick pictures from magazines & catalogues
  • Cook/bake together
  • Plant seeds or bulbs
  • Use the weather to extend your child’s vocabulary – shadows, rain, puddles, snow, wind, mist & sun
  • Explore the park at a different time of year – go off the beaten track
  • Share a book
  • Talk to your child; ask them questions
  • On a trip to the supermarket, talk about all the different packaging shapes

How can I find out how my child is getting on?

It is important that we, you and us as the professionals caring for your child, work together. We both need to feel comfortable about exchanging information and discussing things that will benefit your child. These conversations will normally take place with your child’s keyworker.

We offer many opportunities for you as parents to be involved; we want you to stay informed of how your child is developing within the setting and what we’re assisting them in working towards to ensure their progress. Your child’s keyworker will carry out observations on your child during play which will inform their individual and unique planning. We also provide Parent’s Evening. These occasions are the perfect opportunity for you to have an informal one to one with your child’s keyworker to discuss their progress.

We understand and appreciate the fact that sometimes children will display things at home that they don’t/haven’t yet display at nursery and because of this we invite you to contribute to the recording of their progress in the form of parent/carer observations.

When your child is 2

At some point during your child’s third year we are required to give you a written summary of how your child is progressing against the three prime areas of learning, this is called the progress check at age 2. 

This check will highlight areas where your child is progressing well and anywhere they might need some extra help and support.

What if I have concerns about my child’s developmental progress?

Your keyworker will be happy to discuss any aspect of your child’s development with you. If you, or they, think there is cause for concern they will follow the nursery’s procedure of observing, recording and making a referral to the setting’s Special Education Needs Coordinator (SENCO) where appropriate.

If your child is, or at any time becomes, involved with any other agencies to support them in areas such as hearing, speech or behaviour for example please inform your keyworker who will, in turn, inform the SENCO. This will enable us to work in partnership where appropriate.