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The Foundation Years

With my second son turning 5 this year I find myself thinking more about how we will go about education, as he’s never attended nursery he’s not had a similar experience to most children his age. I was curious to know what the government thinks he should be doing at this stage so I looked up the Foundation Years Statutory Framework.

The framework outlines 7 areas of learning and development (this is between 0-5 years so he is at the top end of this):

  1. Communication and language
  2. Physical development
  3. Personal, social and emotional development
  4. Literacy
  5. Mathematics
  6. Understanding the world
  7. Expressive art and design

1. Communication and language

“Communication and language development involves giving children
opportunities to experience a rich language environment; to develop their
confidence and skills in expressing themselves; and to speak and listen in a
range of situations.”

I feel confident that we’re meeting this, as my children generally come everywhere with me they experience a wide range of situations and meet lots of different people. They are happy talking to people and are confident in expressing themsleves and listening to each other.

2. Physical development

“Physical development involves providing opportunities for young
children to be active and interactive; and to develop their co-ordination,
control, and movement. Children must also be helped to understand the
importance of physical activity, and to make healthy choices in relation to

The boys have the chance to walk, run and climb indoors and out. We spend time in the garden, parks and the woods. They also go to a climbing from time to time where they get the chance to coordinate their limbs. I believe risk taking is an important part of this. Both boys cook with me and this is helping my 4 year old especially to understand food choices and we are letting him having more choice over what he eats which is actually increasing his range of food rather than limiting it. We also grow herbs and will soon be growing vegetables. They spend time at friend’s houses where there are chicken and other farm animals so they have a good understanding of where food comes from.

3. Personal, social and emotional development

“Personal, social and emotional development involves helping
children to develop a positive sense of themselves, and others; to form
positive relationships and develop respect for others; to develop social skills
and learn how to manage their feelings; to understand appropriate behaviour
in groups; and to have confidence in their own abilities.”

One of the biggest questions I get as a home educating parent is over how my children will socialise. Aside from the fact I strongly believe they are socialising all the time with adults as well as children, we do go to play groups and home education groups where they get the chance to play with other people their own age. They have excellent social skills and understand how to behave in a range of situations, even if they don’t always manage it!

4. Literacy

“Literacy development involves encouraging children to link sounds
and letters and to begin to read and write. Children must be given access to a
wide range of reading materials (books, poems, and other written materials) to
ignite their interest.”

This is where I start to move away from the expected curriculum, I am not going to be formally teaching them to read and write until they’re about 7. We are very much taking a play based approach to the early years, if they show an interest in learning to read and write I will of course go with is, I know lots of children are keen to learn what’s going on in books. They always have access to books and I read to them often. Story telling generally is important as is make believe play which they naturally do.

5. Mathematics

“Mathematics involves providing children with opportunities to develop
and improve their skills in counting, understanding and using numbers,
calculating simple addition and subtraction problems; and to describe shapes,
spaces, and measures.”

Again I would say we’re deviating from this slightly. My 4 year old can count to 10 but I wouldn’t promise he’ll always get it right. He has an understanding of his and his brothers age and who is older or younger. They are both happy saying what the different shapes are, have an understanding of big, small, etc and measure things when we are cooking.

6. Understanding the world

“Understanding the world involves guiding children to make sense of
their physical world and their community through opportunities to explore,
observe and find out about people, places, technology and the environment.”

I think this is an area they understand well, even in terms of some children go to school and some don’t. They are part of the community we live in and get a chance to meet such a range of people, especially with all Arthur’s hospital appointments. They have a good understanding of the world in terms of countries and our place on the planet. My 4 year old is getting used to explaining things that have happened in the past and what will happen in the future. I would say technology is more limited as they don’t have access to anything like a laptop or tablet.

7. Expressive art and design

“Expressive arts and design involves enabling children to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials, as well as providing opportunities and encouragement for sharing their thoughts, ideas and feelings through a variety of activities in art, music, movement, dance, role-play and design and technology.”

Art and crafts are particularly popular at the moment and I’ve been impressed by how programmes such as Mister Maker and Get Squiggling have helped them to develop their art skills and improve their confidence. They love to dance when I put music on and have their own “pretty dresses” for dancing! We have a box of musical instruments which we get out and play, they both have quite a knack with the harmonica. Given freedom role-play is an important part of their lives and how they process and understand situations, an example of this is playing doctors after we’ve been to the hospital.

It’s been really interesting to look at the framework and to actually see how well they are doing, I hadn’t realised how much we have achieved. I’m happy that literacy and maths will come in time, I do think the freedom to play and explore is more important at this age. My main goal is to nurture their natural desire to learn.

10 Responses

Stella Branch
Stella Branch March 18, 2014 at 9:46 am · Reply →
Sounds like you have it all under control. I think there are a lot of parents of almost 5 yr olds who have no idea what these guidelines even are. When you go through the “normal” system – ie not home ed – the Teachers/Nursery Leaders are the ones that monitor all these things. I’m sure he would slot right in when/if you decide it’s school time.

Corinne March 18, 2014 at 6:11 pm · Reply →
I hadn’t thought of that, I think because I used to teach I’ve been aware of the guidelines. I do love being with the boys and watching them learn.

Rachel Scott
Rachel Scott March 18, 2014 at 10:39 am · Reply →
Can I ask why you decided to home school? I respect everyone’s decision to choose what is best for their kids. My daughter is in Scottish P1 and we are continually blown away how much she has learnt this past year. They are such little sponges at this age.

Corinne March 18, 2014 at 6:15 pm · Reply →
Lots of reasons, my eldest is at GCSE age and I find the thought of being tied to the school system for another 18 years quite off putting. We like the freedom home ed offers for our family, we’ve never settled in one place and home ed offers more freedom to move. I am keen for them to have a more outdoor forest school approach in the early years and this is something we can do. The biggest reason is that I love being with them.

Sam March 18, 2014 at 5:21 pm · Reply →
As you know, my three are school goers. The amount of kids in my children’s class at reception and year one that had so little social skills was scary. Your boys are lovely, a proper joy to be around.

They are obviously intelligent and well rounded kids who have a lot to say and are well rounded. I know you aren’t formally teaching them literacy and numeracy but how they are learning is very similar to how my school going kids learnt.

They look at books and ‘read’ them, they’re read to and they have a mum and dad who talk to them a lot and enjoy sharing wisdom and spending time with them.

Curriculum or no, Id say your kids are leaps ahead of many children in school.


Corinne March 18, 2014 at 6:11 pm · Reply →
Thank you Sam, that’s all the things I’d hoped! x

Sam March 18, 2014 at 5:21 pm · Reply →
I said well rounded twice. I must REALLY mean it…

Pheebstweets March 19, 2014 at 12:51 am · Reply →
Have you looked at the Development Matters document? What you’ve written about here is the Foundation Stage Profile statements which children are assessed on at the end of reception and assumes that they are 5 years old. DM is useful because it gives ‘typical’ development in all these areas from birth-5 years but more usefully for you as a homeschooler, it gives suggestions for ways to develop each area. It might be of some use to you! 🙂

Corinne March 19, 2014 at 8:55 am · Reply →
I haven’t but I will look it up, thank you!

snafflesmummmy March 19, 2014 at 3:58 pm · Reply →
sounds like they are doing very well and they are clearly happy and content and have mummy around lots which counts for far more than school can provide at this age.

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