What are the key features of early years' practice

Practitioners promote the 'Characteristics of Effective Learning' (CEL) throughout the Foundation Stage. These are 'playing and exploring', 'active learning', 'creating and thinking critically'.

Practitioners provide 'enabling environments' using a wide variety of resources and approaches. Practitioners use outdoor space, active learning, learning through play and different sensory experiences to help young children develop in a holistic way.

Practitioners use focus tasks and observation of each child to choose appropriate 'next steps' for each child. Practitioners provide activities in 'areas' where children can choose to develop their learning themselves and develop their attention and focus in one area of the setting - this is called 'Child Initiated Learning'.

Practitioners assess children's development against milestones in the 'Development Matters' document (which is not statutory). They then use their knowledge of the child's unique preferences and strengths, as well as areas they could promote further to consider their 'next steps'.

At the end of the Reception year, teachers use the 'Early Learning Goals' (ELGs) to assess whether children have met the goals in each Area of Learning. If the child has met the ELGs in the 3 prime areas and in Literacy and Mathematics (so in 5 areas in total) then the child is considered to have a GOOD LEVEL of DEVELOPMENT (GLD) ready to progress to the National Curriculum in Year 1.

If this is a new area for you or if you have parents and carers who would like some help navigating the terminology of the EYFS then take a look at our Jargon Buster.