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Foundation Phase Curriculum Framework
The Foundation Phase encompasses the developmental needs of children.
At the centre of the Curriculum Framework lies the holistic development of children and their skills across the curriculum, building on their previous learning experiences, knowledge and skills.
The Foundation Phase curriculum promotes equality of opportunity and values and celebrates diversity.
Positive partnerships with the home are fostered and an appreciation of parents/carers as the children’s first educators acknowledged.
Children learn through first hand experiential activities with the serious business of ‘play’ providing the vehicle.
Through their play, children practise and consolidate their learning, play with ideas, experiment, take risks, solve problems, and make decisions individually, in small and in large groups.
First hand experiences allow children to develop an understanding of themselves and the world in which they live.
The development of children’s self-image and feelings of self-worth and self-esteem are at the core of this phase.
Foundation Phase Curriculum Aims
The Foundation Phase curriculum aims to excite and stimulate children’s learning, improve their attainment and to secure the best possible start for all children in Wales.
It aims to provide a learning continuum in all areas of learning and development and flexibility to meet the diverse needs of all children.
The curriculum aims to help children learn and develop their thinking skills and to acquire positive attitudes towards lifelong learning.
The Foundation Phase curriculum is planned as a progressive framework which spans over four years (3-7 years) to meet the diverse needs of all children, including those who are at an earlier stage of development and those who are more able.
Throughout their formative years, children’s learning develops more rapidly than at any other time. However, progress is not even and children go through periods of rapid development and times when they seem to regress.
A curriculum for young children should be appropriate to their stage of learning rather than focusing solely on age related outcomes to be achieved.
Children should move on to the next stages of their learning when they are developmentally ready and at their own pace.
Indoor and outdoor environments that are exciting, stimulating and safe promote children’s development and natural curiosity to explore and learn through first hand experiences.
The Foundation Phase environment should promote discovery and independence and a greater emphasis on using the outdoor environment as a resource for children’s learning.
Areas of Learning
Areas of learning have been identified to describe an appropriate curriculum for 3-7 year olds that supports the development of children and their skills, (The Developing Child).
They must complement each other and work together to provide a cross curricular approach to form a practical relevant curriculum.
They should not be approached in isolation. Emphasis is placed on developing children’s skills across the areas of learning, to provide a suitable and integrated approach for young children’s learning.
The seven areas of learning are:
Children’s Personal and Social Development and Well Being is at the heart of the Foundation Phase and should be developed across the curriculum.
Personal and Social Development and Well Being
Children will be learning about themselves, their relationships with other children and adults both within and beyond the family.
Children will be encouraged to develop their self-esteem, their personal beliefs and moral values.
An understanding that others have differing needs, abilities, beliefs and views is promoted.
Children are supported in becoming confident, competent and independent thinkers and learners.
They should develop an awareness of their environment and learn about the diversity of people who live and work there.
Children’s personal and social development and well being are promoted through activities that enable their physical, emotional and intellectual independence to grow.
Through the different types of play, practical experiences and stimuli, in safe, secure and stimulating indoor and outdoor learning environments, children’s personal and social developmental needs and well being are fostered.
The nursery environment provides challenges and experiences that extend children’s learning. Opportunities are provided for children to work individually, in pairs and in small groups.
As a core area Personal and Social Development and Well Being is developed through all other areas of learning.
Language, Literacy and Communication Skills
Children are immersed in language experiences and activities.
They are encouraged to communicate their needs clearly, re-tell experiences and discuss individual and group play, referring to their intentions by asking questions, voicing / expressing opinions and making choices through a variety of media.
Some children will communicate by means other than speech.
They are encouraged to listen and respond to others and to a range of stimuli, including audio-visual material and ICT interactive software.
They have opportunities to choose and use reading materials, understand the conventions of print and books and are given a wide range of opportunities to enjoy mark making and writing experiences.
They are helped to develop an awareness of Wales as a country with two languages, and to show positive attitudes to speakers of languages other than Welsh and English.
Children’s language, literacy and communication skills develop through talking,
signing / communicating and listening in a range of play and practical activities using a range of stimuli, in safe and stimulating indoor and outdoor learning environments that build on their previous experiences.
They are encouraged to talk and to use words and patterns with their peers and adults as they play and undertake activities across all areas of learning.
Children are encouraged to express their own needs, feelings and thoughts.
Flexibility of approach is essential to allow adults to cater for the differing needs of children, as they enter and move through the Foundation Phase.
Children develop their knowledge and understanding of mathematics through oral, practical and play activities, exploration and discussion in a range of contexts across the curriculum, as well as through daily routines, imaginative role-play, and investigation.
Number rhymes, songs, stories and counting activities help them to develop their understanding of counting on and back, to recognise numbers and to match mathematical symbol to sound.
They develop a range of flexible methods for working mentally with number, using these to solve numerical problems in a variety of contexts.
They sort, match, sequence and compare objects and events, and are be encouraged to talk about and explain their mathematics, using appropriate mathematical language.
They are encouraged to recognise and create simple patterns and relationships.
They learn to represent their work in a variety of ways using objects, pictures, diagrams, words and symbols and ICT. They check their answers in different ways and use written methods of recording, which reflect the mental strategies they use.
Encouraging children to talk about their work has high priority in order to develop their use and understanding of mathematical language.
Children have plenty of opportunities in nursery to develop their mental skills; they are allowed to progress at their own pace and be introduced to the more formal methods of working and recording only when they are developmentally ready. They experience a wide variety of activities, some of which will focus directly on mathematical development and some that will draw out the mathematics in other activities.
The indoor and outdoor environment provides children with a context for activities that should allow them to investigate, estimate and to solve real life problems.
Bilingualism and Multi-Cultural Understanding
The Foundation Phase curriculum helps acknowledge the diversity of Wales in the twenty-first century and should celebrate the distinctive cultures, languages and traditions of Wales while respecting the values of other cultures around the world.
The aim in the Foundation Phase is to enable children to use and communicate in Welsh to the best of their ability. Children listen to Welsh being spoken and respond appropriately in familiar situations using a range of patterns.
They are encouraged to communicate their needs in Welsh and are increasingly exposed to Welsh through the different types of play, practical activities and a range of stimuli.
The children’s oral experiences are used to develop their reading skills and they are encouraged to choose and use Welsh reading materials.
They listen to a range of stimuli including audio-visual material and ICT interactive software in Welsh. Children are given a range of opportunities to enjoy mark-making and develop their writing skills in Welsh.
Bilingual skills are developed through communicating in a range of enjoyable, practical planned activities that build on and increase children’s previous knowledge and experiences in safe and stimulating indoor and outdoor learning environments.
Children are encouraged to speak Welsh and use words and patterns with their peers and adults as they play and undertake activities across the different areas of learning.
Good role models promote the development of Welsh through appropriate and purposeful planning of provision and facilitating activities.
Written material, including books, signs and labels in Welsh are an integral part of the children’s environment.
Language skills learnt in one language support the development of knowledge and skills in another.
Knowledge and Understanding
The Foundation Phase provides children with opportunities to develop their knowledge and understanding.
Children’s understanding of who they are, and the development of their self-confidence and self-esteem, is promoted and viewed as essential so children can acquire the appropriate attitude to / disposition for learning.
Children are encouraged to develop a sense of adventure in their learning so that they feel confident to explore and experiment with new learning opportunities, know what they are good at and understand how they can improve in their learning.
Children begin to take responsibility for personal hygiene and gradually should become able to dress and undress themselves for physical activities.
Children begin to understand that people have different preferences, views and beliefs to themselves but that all people are equal in value.
Developing children’s confidence is important so that they are able to form relationships with other children and adults. Children should show sensitivity to others and gradually know how to be a good friend. Knowing what is fair and unfair, right and wrong are important learning elements for children. They learn about their own past and their own culture as well as that of others.
They experience the joy of sharing special occasions of their own and other cultures and traditions.
Children‘s physical development, enthusiasm and energy for movement, is continually promoted through helping them to use their bodies effectively, by encouraging spatial awareness, balance, control and co-ordination and developing manipulative and motor skills.
They develop their gross and fine motor skills, physical control, mobility and an awareness of space, using large and small equipment.
Children are encouraged to enjoy physical activity.
A developing sense of identity is linked closely to their own self-image, self-esteem and confidence. They are introduced to the concepts of health, hygiene and safety and the importance of diet, rest, sleep and exercise.
Children’s physical development are fostered using safe and stimulating learning indoor and outdoor environments.
Through the different types of play, practical experiences and a range of stimuli, children’s physical skills is developed through opportunities to take part in regular physical activities that should enable them to develop their gross and fine motor skills.
Activities are organised and planned to provide opportunities for children to work individually, in pairs and in small groups.
Physical development focuses on increasing the skill and performance of the body.
Children have experiences that enable them to:
Children are continually developing their imagination and creativity across the curriculum.
Their natural curiosity and disposition to learn should be stimulated by everyday sensory experiences, both indoors and outdoors.
Children engage in purposeful, imaginative activities in art, craft, design, music, dance and movement.
They are encouraged to think and behave imaginatively, and learn how to apply their imagination to make things that are original and of value.
Children explore a wide range of stimuli, and develop their ability to communicate and express their creative ideas.
They learn how to reflect on and talk about their work and plan how to improve it.
Children develop their creative skills through play and a range of planned, practical activities, in safe and stimulating indoor and outdoor learning environments that build on their previous experiences. Children are encouraged to talk about their own work and that of others and to respond creatively and imaginatively.
They use a wide range of resources and engage with work from a variety of contexts including the familiar and Welsh.
Children learn about sounds and music-making through singing, playing, creating and listening to music.
They experience creative activities as individuals and in small and large groups.
Assessment within the Foundation Phase
Through staff carefully observing and interacting with children, Foundation Phase assessment focuses on children’s achievements and development along a learning continuum.
Assessment is an integral part of the planning process.
Future planning is based on children’s prior attainment and current achievements.
Assessment enables staff to: