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What your child learns in the Early Years Foundation Stage

Little girl concentrating on her work
The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is the programme which must be followed in all childcare settings from birth to five years, so for schools this means nursery and Reception.
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Communication, language and literacy

This is the first stage in your child learning to read and write. At this stage the children will be working on simple phonics. Your school will probably have a reading scheme, so your child will be bringing books home to read, and moving through the reading levels as they progress.

They will be reading at school with the teacher and in small groups with children of a similar level, known as ‘guided reading’. With writing, children will start drawing vertical lines and anti-clockwise circles, and move on to forming letters. Speaking and listening is also part of literacy, so your child will be listening to stories and joining in with songs and rhymes.

Your child will learn to:

  • name and sound the letters of the alphabet
  • recognise groups of letters
  • hear and say sounds in words
  • recognise common and familiar words
  • understand a story has a beginning, middle and end
  • hold a pencil correctly
  • form letters
  • write their name
  • write simple consonant -vowel-consonant words
  • begin to write simple sentences
  • use basic punctuation

Problem solving, reasoning and numeracy

This is the first stage of maths. Your child will be playing with numbers every day and using a range of familiar objects to help them understand basic mathematical ideas. They will be playing number games, singing counting songs, making models and using a role-play area, such as a pretend shop or cafe. Maths will also be linked to any topic work they are doing.

Areas they will be covering will include:


  • Counting up to ten and beyond
  • Recognising numbers up to nine
  • Counting on and back using a number line
  • Counting out a number of objects from a group
  • Sharing objects into equal groups
  • Understanding that ‘addition’ means adding on, and ‘subtraction’ means taking away
  • Finding the total number of objects in two groups by counting them all
  • Naming and describing the shape and size of 2D and 3D shapes
  • Creating their own patterns
  • Building models and shapes

Knowledge and understanding of the world

This is the science part of the curriculum for young children and is designed to help them make sense of the world around them. The children will be working in a practical way, exploring and conducting experiments and then presenting their findings through drawings and charts. They will be working with a range of materials, both inside and outside the classroom, possibly linking their work to a school trip, for example to a local park. Topics they may cover could include:

  • Minibeasts (insects)
  • Animals
  • Plants
  • People who help us
  • Festivals and celebrations
  • Ourselves
  • Where we live
  • Water
  • Seasons and weather
  • Communities and cultures
  • Time

As part of this topic work, the children will be encouraged to develop particular scientific skills:

Investigation and exploration

  • Using their senses
  • Looking at similarities, differences and patterns
  • Identifying features of living things, objects and events

Design and construction

  • Using materials
  • Choosing the right tools
  • Making and describing an object


  • Exploring how we use ICT in everyday situations
  • Completing a simple computer programme
  • Using a mouse and keyboard