There are seven areas of learning and development that must shape educational programmes in early years settings. All areas of learning and development are important and inter-connected.
Three areas are particularly important for building a foundation for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, forming relationships and thriving. These are the prime areas:
• communication and language
• physical development
• personal, social and emotional development
Providers must also support children in four specific areas, through which the three prime areas are strengthened and applied. The specific areas are:
• understanding the world
• expressive arts and design educational orogrammes
Educational programmes must involve activities and experiences for children, as set out under each of the areas of learning.
Communication and Language
The development of children’s spoken language underpins all seven areas of learning and development.
Children’s back-and-forth interactions from an early age form the foundations for language and cognitive development. The number and quality of the conversations they have with adults and peers throughout the day in a language-rich environment is crucial. By commenting on what children are interested in or doing, and echoing back what they say with new vocabulary added, practitioners will build children's language effectively.
Reading frequently to children, and engaging them actively in stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems, and then providing them with extensive opportunities to use and embed new words in a range of contexts, will give children the opportunity to thrive.
Through conversation, story-telling and role play, where children share their ideas with support and modelling from their teacher, and sensitive questioning that invites them to elaborate, children become comfortable using a rich range of vocabulary and language structures.
Guidance from the EEF:
Communication and Language - Approaches and practices to support communication and language development in the early years