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Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) for Parents

Why play is important

Play is vital for the well rounded development of all children - it’s through play that babies and young children learn, grow and have fun. It helps them understand the world and to develop socially and emotionally. Singing songs, reading together, playing games with letters and numbers and having fun with friends gives them a head start. It also helps develop their confidence, self esteem, independence and coping skills so they can handle whatever life brings them.

Parents will always be the most important influence in their child’s life. Getting involved and talking to your child’s childminder or 'key person' at nursery, pre-school or playgroup makes a real difference. It means they can pick up on what you’ve told them about your child and link it to what they do during their time together. And it works both ways - by finding out what’s caught your child’s imagination, you can build on that at home.

Children thrive from a base of loving, secure attachments and relationships. This is normally provided by a child’s parents but it can also be provided by the childminder or key person.

Building secure attachment involves the childminder or key person responding sensitively to children’s feelings and behaviours and meeting emotional needs by giving reassurance, such as when they are new to a setting or class, and supporting the child’s well-being. The childminder or key person supports physical needs too, helping with issues like nappy changing, toileting and dressing. That person is a familiar figure who is accessible and available as a point of contact for parents and one who builds relationships with the child and parents or carers.

Some parents can find it difficult when their child becomes securely attached to their childminder or key person as they feel that they are being replaced. This is not the case, it is normal development for children to become attached to a secondary caregiver this is a good sign that your child is happy in their environment and will aid the well rounded development of your child

All children should be able to play and learn in a fun environment, with adults who understand and care about them. You should be able to feel confident about leaving your child with a nursery, playgroup, pre-school or childminder if you want to.

The child is at the centre of the early years foundation stage. The people working with your child will pick up on their interests and abilities, and build on them through play.

They will for instance think about:

  • fun ways to help them develop their language skills
  • what will encourage their creativity
  • how they tackle small challenges

All the while, they’ll make sure that each child in their care is getting the support they need, and above all is enjoying learning through play.

The EYFS is not about making children read or write before they are ready. It means being sure that each individual child is learning through high quality play that is tailored to suit them - so they can develop at their own pace, having fun, making friends and learning as they play.

This means becoming confident, secure, independent children who, when the time comes, are better prepared for school. Not pushed, not pressured - but ready to reach their potential.

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Page last updated:

April 28, 2020

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