The Foundation Phase Curriculum
The Foundation Phase encompasses the developmental needs of children, promoting equality of opportunity and values and celebrates diversity. Children learn through first-hand experiences, often entered around ‘play’. Through their play, children practise and consolidate their learning, play with ideas, experiment, take risks, solve problems and make decisions. First hand experiences allow children to develop an understanding of themselves and the world in which they live.
The Foundation Phase curriculum is planned as a progressive framework that spans four years (3 to 7 years) to meet the needs of all children, including those that are at an earlier stage of development and those who are more able.
Indoor and outdoor environments that are fun, exciting, stimulating and safe promote children’s development and natural curiosity to explore and learn through first-hand experiences. The Foundation Phase environment promotes discovery and independence with a greater emphasis on using the outdoor environment as a resource for children’s learning.
Areas of Learning
There are seven Areas of Learning in the Foundation Phase curriculum. They must complement each other and work together to form a practical relevant curriculum.
The seven Areas of Learning are:
- Personal and Social Development, Well-Being and Cultural Diversity
- Language, Literacy and Communication Skills
- Mathematical Development
- Welsh Language Development
- Knowledge and Understanding of the World
- Physical Development
- Creative Development
Personal and Social Development, Well-Being and Cultural Diversity is at the heart of the Foundation Phase and is developed across the curriculum.
Personal and Social Development, Well-Being and Cultural Diversity
Personal and Social Development, Well-Being and Cultural Diversity is at the heart of the Foundation Phase and children’s skills are developed across all Areas of Learning. Children learn about themselves, their relationships with other children and adults both within and beyond the family. They are encouraged to develop their self-esteem, their personal beliefs and moral values. The Foundation Phase supports the cultural identity of all children, to celebrate different cultures and help children recognise and gain a positive awareness of their own and other cultures. They should become increasingly aware of the traditions and celebrations that are important aspects of the cultures within Wales.
Language, Literacy and Communication Skills
Children are immersed in language experiences and activities. Their skills develop through talking, signing, communicating and listening. They are encouraged to communicate their needs, feelings and thoughts, retell experiences and discuss individual and group play. They have opportunities to choose and use reading materials, understand the conventions of print and books and be given a wide range of opportunities to enjoy mark making and writing experiences. They develop an awareness of Wales as a country with two languages, and develop positive attitudes to speakers of languages other than Welsh and English.
During the Foundation Phase, children develop their skills, knowledge and understanding of mathematics through oral, practical and play activities. They enjoy using and applying mathematics in practical tasks, in real-life problems, and within mathematics itself. They use a variety of ICT resources as tools for exploring number, for obtaining real-life data and for presenting their findings.
Welsh Language Development
Children learn to use and communicate in Welsh to the best of their ability. Children listen to basic Welsh being spoken and are expected to respond appropriately, using a range of patterns. They are encouraged to communicate their needs in Welsh. Skills are developed through communicating in a range of enjoyable, practical planned activities, and using a range of stimuli that build on and increase children’s previous knowledge and experiences.
Knowledge and Understanding of the World
Children experience the world through enquiry, investigating the indoor and outdoor environment in a safe and systematic way. They are provided with experiences that help them to increase their curiosity about the world around them and help them to begin to understand past events, people and places, living things, and the work people do. Using all their senses, they are encouraged to enjoy learning by exploration, enquiry, experimentation, asking questions and trying to find answers.
Children’s physical development, enthusiasm and energy for movement is continually promoted through helping them to use their bodies effectively, by encouraging spatial awareness, balance, control and coordination, and developing motor and manipulative skills. They develop their gross and fine motor skills, physical control, mobility and an awareness of space, using large and small equipment.
Children should engage in creative, imaginative and expressive activities in art, craft, design, music, dance and movement.
The Foundation Phase Classroom
The classrooms are divided into areas of learning, these areas may include:
- Role play
- Art and Graphics
- Sand/ Water
- Small World
Each of these areas has a range of resources available to the children for them to use on a daily basis. The class teacher will then enhance these areas weekly, to fit in with the topic/ theme. Although the children still have relatively formal introductions to activities/ topics the work carried out afterwards is delivered in a more skills based way. The teacher and support staff will support many child initiated activities as well as carrying out focused work to enhance new ideas. The children are much more free to work in the areas, they decide where they would like to work and these choices are supported and encouraged by all staff. Where appropriate, staff will intervene and work with the children to improve their experiences within the different areas.
As well as the areas indoors, each class has an outdoor area. The Outdoor area is seen as an extension to the classroom and the main aim is for the children to experience the outdoors as it is with the many resources available.