At Cliffedale, we pride ourselves on creating a caring, supportive and effective environment for learning in the EYFS. Our bright, adjoining EYFS classrooms provide endless opportunities for learning across all areas of the EYFS curriculum. Both EYFS classrooms have access to our EYFS outdoor area, which provide further learning experiences for our EYFS children. Outside, we have a climbing frame, mud kitchen, sandpit, den-making area and lots more exciting areas for our children to explore!
Our curriculum provides children with practical, engaging and fun learning opportunities and experiences that are tailored to the needs of all children. Each activity and experience is flexible to ensure that the learning is engaging, accessible and challenging for all. We believe that sparking the children’s interest and using their strengths is of the utmost importance for successful learning. Each term, we have a new theme which is the inspiration for all of our learning across the curriculum. Some of the themes that we have enjoyed previously are ‘We Love Animals’, ‘Zoom to the Moon’ and ‘Minibeast Magic’. Within these themes, we enjoy some educational visits and experiences, such as visits from a Vet and a race car driver!
Our Early Years classrooms, and outdoors, are organised to reflect different areas from water, building and sand, to Maths, writing and creative. The children have access to the outdoors in all weathers! The areas of the classroom and outdoors, and the resources within them, create our Continuous Provision. The areas and resources are also enhanced to reflect the current learning, the needs of the children and their interests. This allows for independent learning, which is extended through adult questioning and modelling.
At Cliffedale, we aim to strike a balance between adult-led and independent learning. The children take part in a wide range of practical activities in small groups with an adult’s support, as well as accessing independent, play-based learning within the different areas of the classroom. We aim to promote independence, both in learning and as a valuable life skill. We believe that this approach prepares our children for their eventual transition into Year 1, and beyond.
Assessments are carried out through observations and are conducted by all of the EYFS adults. These assessments feed into our planning and create ‘Next Steps’ for each child’s learning. Our observations are uploaded to create an online learning journey, through Tapestry; which parents and carers also have access to. We encourage parents and carers to upload their child’s learning and key achievements from home, so as to create a collaborative picture of each child’s learning and development.
Phonics and reading take a high priority within our EYFS curriculum. Phonics is taught daily and is constantly reinforced within the continuous provision and activities. We follow ‘Letters and Sounds’, a systematic approach to the teaching of Phonics. The children learn lots of new sounds during their time in EYFS, as well as understanding the link between letters and sounds and the concepts of blending to read and segmenting to spell. They are given endless opportunities to apply their learning within adult-led and independent activities.
The classroom environment is print-rich and includes several inviting reading corners and spaces for the children to enjoy looking at books and practice their reading skills. We love story time at Cliffedale – we encourage the children to bring in their favourite books from home, so that we can share them as a group. Our weekly learning is centred on around a book of the week, which the children enjoy spending an extended period of time working on. The children also take home a book, which is tailored to the Phonics Phase that they are currently working on, to enjoy at home alongside an adult.
We pride ourselves on supporting parents and working collaboratively, in order to help children to achieve their full potential. We aim to create a strong home-school relationship and actively encourage parents to reach out if they would like further support. We support parents and carers with helping their child’s Phonics learning by holding Phonics Workshops. We help parents and carers to understand the relevant terminology and how to support their child with blending to read and segmenting to spell. We also offer Early Reading and Writing Workshops.
The children have plenty of opportunities to extend their learning at home through homework tasks, reading, and tricky word practise. We are also building up additional opportunities for parents and carers to join us in EYFS for curriculum workshops and events throughout the year. So far, our parents, carers and children enjoy a ‘Come and See Where I Learn’ event during which the children show their adult around their classroom, a Christingle Workshop and our Christmas Performance, as well as story re-telling throughout the year. Our favourite story to re-tell is probably, ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt!’