Early Years at Amherst School
In Reception, we adhere to the four themes of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and the guiding principles that shape practise within Early Years settings
∙ A unique child – developing resilient, capable, confident and self-assured individuals.
∙ Positive relationships – supporting the children in becoming strong and independent.
∙ Enabling environments – where opportunities and experiences respond to the individual needs of the child by developing a strong partnership between practitioners, parents/carers and the child.
∙ Learning and developing – an acknowledgement that children learn in different ways and at different rates.
In Reception, we do not have a mid-morning break time. We use these times to enjoy our healthy snacks with the children and model a new skill for the children to use in their independent learning or to teach extra literacy sessions. These change weekly depending on the children's needs and interests.
The Characteristics of Effective Learning
The characteristics of effective learning describe factors that play a central role in a child’s learning and in becoming an effective learner. The characteristics of effective learning run through and underpin all seven areas of learning and development, representing processes rather than outcomes and supporting the child to remain an effective and motivated learner.
Playing and exploring – engagement
Finding out and exploring
Being willing to ‘have a go’
Active learning – motivation
Being involved and concentrating
Enjoying achieving what they set out to do
Creating and thinking critically – thinking
Having their own ideas
The EYFS Areas of Learning
There are 7 areas of learning which are broken down into the 3 Prime Areas and then 4 specific areas. These 7 areas of learning are further subdivided into 17 aspects.
The Prime Areas
Personal, Social and Emotional Development (PSED)
Self-Confidence and Self-Awareness
Managing Feelings and Behaviour.
Physical Development (PD)
Health and Selfcare
Communication, Language and Literacy (CLL)
Shape, Space and Measure
Understanding the World
Expressive Arts and Design
At Amherst school, we believe it is age-appropriate for children to learn through play (Continuous Provision/ CP) in Reception. Throughout the school day, there is a balance of adult-led directed carpet sessions and child-initiated play. Please see below for an example of our daily timetable.
We teach daily phonics using the ‘Sounds Write’ scheme. Alongside these teacher-led phonics lessons, we also have daily class reading sessions where we focus on consolidating the sounds and words we have been learning. The children have further opportunities to consolidate and practise their reading skills by reading phonetic books with adults in class which are then brought home for home reading.
We also have daily adult-led maths lessons. We predominantly use ‘White Rose Maths’ to support our maths planning and progression throughout the year.
We have weekly P.E lessons which include dance, teaching fundamental skills and gymnastics following ‘Get Set 4 PE’ and in the Summer Term we have weekly swimming lessons.
This is taught once a week following the KAPOW scheme.
In order to best support the children’s independence with their learning through play, we have created inspiring environments both inside and outdoors.
Our indoor and outdoor environments provide the children with a range of open-ended resources and quality continuous provision that are easily accessible for the children to independently select each day. At Amherst school, we have a purpose-built outdoor learning environment for our Reception age children that is available throughout the day.
Children always have access to wet weather clothing including wellington boots so that our area can also be enjoyed in wet weather. We believe that outdoor learning allows children to develop their creativity, independence, confidence and problem-solving skills and as such it is a big part of our Early Years curriculum at Amherst.
Each week the children take part in a dedicated day to outdoor learning that we call ‘Welly Wednesday’. During these sessions, children will learn skills that will help them to become confident and successful learners.
During our morning soft starts your child will be set an activity to complete that is focused on an area of learning they might need extra support in or have the challenge to further their development.
In Reception we have ‘focus children’, not ‘focus activities’. The adults go to the child, the child is not called to come to the adult. We work this way because high-level involvement occurs in child-initiated activity. Your child will be selected to be a focus child once each term. At the end of their focus week, we will invite you in to go through progress and share how your child is developing through the EYFS.
First steps to independence
We encourage our children to be as independent as possible by taking responsibility for their own belongings, hanging up their coats and putting their lunch boxes and books bags away themselves right from the start.
You can help them with this at home by encouraging and helping your child to do the following:
• Recognising their own name
• Getting dressed and undressed with the minimum of help including taking and putting on of shoes and practising fastening buttons and zips,
• Share their toys and play cooperatively with other children
• Tidy up and put away toys.