If you have a child under the age of 5, who attends a childminder, nursery or school, then chances are you have seen the letters EYFS. As a parent, your main experience of the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile (EYFS) is likely to be in the links to the EYFS section of an observation. This can sometimes be confusing, with the links being shortened or with information missing.
It's difficult as a parent to know what communication and language at 8-20 months means, other than your child is reaching developmental milestones that are appropriate for their age. When I was working as an early years teacher, I was just as guilty of doing the same. Now, as a parent, I realise that this approach isn't great for reporting on children's progress with parents, especially those who do not have experience of the EYFS.
A good example of how reporting can be better is the app used by some nurseries and child minders, which explains clearly which part of each area of learning.
What can we do as parents, if our childcare provider doesn't provide much information?
Foundation Years is a great place to start. It features news, resources and information on the early years. It also has an excellent Parents section, featuring lots of information on child development and play, tailored towards parents.
One of the best sections of the website is the EYFS Framework section. Here you can find links to Development Matters and the 4Children Parents' Guide.
Development Matters is the document that early years professionals use to assess children. It's based upon the Early Years Outcomes document published by the Department for Education. Other than showing what behaviour should be observable at each stage of development, it also includes ways for the childcare practitioner to enable those behaviours, both with their actions and the learning environment. It is an invaluable tool, one which I continue to reference for Baobao from time to time.
The 4Children's Parents' Guide, titled "What to expect, when?" uses the same information as development matters, but has it set up in a way that is more easily accessible to parents. Rather than presenting development by area of learning, in a way that early years professionals might find it useful for planning next steps, it presents information by age. This can be useful for parents, who can see if their child is working developmentally at an appropriate level for their age across the board quickly, rather than having to scour through pages of fragmented information.
Hopefully, by accessing Development Matters or "What to expect, when?" you'll be able to know more clearly how your child is getting on and make more sense of those observations.
In the coming months, I'll be posting a more in depth guide to the EYFS and how development looks in the different areas of learning at each age, using Baobao and the activities we do together, as an example of how you can use these tools to plan effective learning experiences for your child at home.