The Rise EYFS Curriculum is ambitious. Our Early Years curriculum values and sequences powerful knowledge (Burns, 2018) in a meaningful way. This supports children to learn more and remember more over time. The curriculum is an interesting, engaging, carefully structured introduction to the world around children whilst enriching and expanding their vocabulary and spoken language. We place high importance on providing children with language rich, first-hand experiences to make learning meaningful and bring it to life whist developing children communication skills.
Within the EYFS curriculum, we have thought very carefully about what we want our children to learn which is then ordered, carefully sequenced in a progressive model so that content and learning can build over time. We believe that ‘depth in early learning is much more important than covering lots of things in a superficial way.’ (Grenier, 2020) rather than jumping from disconnected topics, each part of our curriculum fits into a bigger picture of understanding. This is delivered through a holistic interwoven curriculum which maximises opportunities for meaningful links and learning experiences.
Our curriculum is built upon and begins with children’s experiences in their family and immediate environment, so learning is meaningful and develops from there. Through our carefully planned curriculum children are presented with opportunities to explore history and culturally based concepts that have an immediate connection to their understanding of their environment and life experiences and the world around them. By the end of their time in the EYFS, it is expected that students will, among other aspects, have developed an awareness of and respect for the lives of others in relation to their own; be beginning to comprehend comparisons of life today and life in the past; and be responsive to their local surroundings. Such understandings contribute to a student’s sense of identity, belonging and social responsibility.
Within our Early Years curriculum for ‘Understanding the World’, we have thought carefully about how our curriculum can teach foundational knowledge which will provide secure foundations and the building blocks to lead into the KS1 curriculum, equipping our children for success later in their primary education. We know that, for example, key science and historical learning does not just take place in KS1 but important underpinning knowledge and understanding takes place in the early years. We are aware of the principles of cognitive science and early childhood and brain development, therefore, throughout the curriculum there will be the opportunity for the children revisit prior knowledge and build on it, adding to their schemas and making links, before building on and introducing new concepts.
Story and high-quality texts are an integral part of our EYFS curriculum. Each of the units we teach highlight key texts, chosen for a purpose, to enhance the curriculum, bring the topics to life and inspire and engage all children. We feel that the rich language experienced in stories and key texts helps children to widen their vocabularies and learn words that are far beyond everyday spoken language.
Our approach is influenced by the work of educationalists, researchers, psychologists and practitioners who have guided our knowledge of how young children learn and how adults can support their learning. “Knowledgeable practitioners appreciate that adult-led learning offers a child something different from, but complementary to, child led learning and it is one without the other that leads to an impoverished educational experience.” Fisher, 2016.
The curriculum is underpinned by learning through play, learning by adults modelling, by observing each other and through guided learning and direct teaching - a complementary relationship between adult led, adult-initiated and child led learning. This is then enhanced with suggestions for enhancements to the learning environment to offer extended opportunities for children to revisit, reflect and apply their learning.
Burns R (2018) Applying the ‘powerful knowledge’ principle to curriculum development in disadvantaged contexts . Impact 4. Available at: https://my.chartered.college/impact_article/applying - the - powerful - knowledge - principle - to - curriculum - development - in - disadvantaged - contexts (accessed 6 May 2022).
Grenier, J (2020) Working with the revised Early Years Foundation Stage: Principles into Practice
Fisher, J (2016) Interacting or Interfering? Improving interactions in the Early Years