Understanding The Basics Of Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Curriculum (By Gift Onyi Esther Okorongu)

Gift Onyi Esther Okorongu is a seasoned Educationist with over 7 years of experience in teaching secondary school students. She is also a Certified EYFS Practitioner with over 4 years in Early Childhood practice.

She is passionate and determined to use her platform @childathearts to improve childcare procedures to best practice. She is also a mother of a bubbly three year old.

Here is her session with us:

EYFS stands for Early Years Foundation Stage. It is a curriculum initiated by the British to fine tune Early Childhood Education to be in sync with the conventional education system. The EYFS curriculum is basically for children under age five(5). It was created in 2006 and put in place in 2008. However, the legislation behind the EYFS was recently updated with the changes coming into effect in April of 2017.

Training for the EYFS can be teacher based or parent based. What I am doing for this session is the EYFS parent based training. This implies that not every bit of the EYFS framework and curriculum is needed by parents. They need basics. That is why this session is called “Understanding the basics of the EYFS curriculum”.

The EYFS curriculum is based on the principle that your child’s “learning and development” takes place simultaneously. For learning to take place, every parent should remember that each child is unique.

For learning and development to take place, there should be POSITIVE RELATIONSHIP between the parent or the teacher and the child. For learning and development to take place, there should be an ENABLING ENVIRONMENT(safe and child friendly) for the child. When there is an understanding that every child is unique, needs positive relationship and an enabling environment, then LEARNING and DEVELOPMENT can happen. Having laid that foundation, we will be looking at the Seven Areas of Learning in the EYFS.

Each of these Areas of learning are linked to the Early Learning Goals(ELGs) of your child. Hence, in the EYFS, we have altogether 17 Early Learning Goals(ELGs). The ELGs form the insight to what you are expecting/looking out for in your child.

The first Early Learning Goals, called ELG 01 is Listening and attention

Before, I continue, I will like to say that in the EYFS, we count in months and not usually in years. The months are usually in bands and overlap. For instance;
In Stages in Childhood Development, we use the following age bands

  1. Birth – 11 months
  2. 8- 20 months
  3. 16- 26 months
  4. 22- 36 months
  5. 30- 50 months
  6. 40- 60 months This is because children develop at their own rates, and in their own ways.

The development statements and thier order should not be taken as necessary steps for individual children.

The age/stage bands overlap because these are not fixed age boundaries but suggest a typical range of development.

I will list a couple of activities and resources with the area of learning/skills it can develop in your child. It may also interest you to know that asides the seven areas of learning, we usually engage our children in Sensory activities. These sensory play develops cognitive skills in our children.

Example of sensory activities includes, spaghetti messy play, corn flour and water mix play. Touchy feeling books and surfaces


You can try these, please ensure they are supervised.

  1. Bead maze
  2. Water play
  3. Sensory basket
  4. Music and dance
  5. Stick taped toy activity
  6. Ball in
  7. Legos(building blocks)
  8. Touchy feely books
  9. Outdoor play time(running, water play and sand play)
  10. Suspended socks or toys using ribbons.
  11. Squishy bag with glitters.
  12. Balloon in water or water in balloon
  13. Dress me up,( try to put on their socks and watch them try themselves)
  14. Book reading/library session( hard books please)
  15. Coloured ice block sensory activity
  16. Corn flour/cereal messy play
  17. Picture me. Identify me, dad or mum. Stick pictures of them, you or your wife on the wall within your baby’s reach, point to it, see if they recognise themselves.

I will like to share an activity plan I used as an early years teacher. One is for the baby room and toddler class(containing the prime areas of learning) and the second is for the preschool class( the prime and specific areas)


The first you can look at it later and practice the activities with your preschooler and ask your questions in case you encounter a challenge with resources or your child nit cooperating.

Always remember, that every activity is child centered and should be flexible.

We as EYFS practitioners, believe in child led activities.

This implies that when you are set to engage your child in any learning activity and he or she picks interest in another activity, wait, then observe your child. Look at that activity he or she has chosen and with your knowledge of the EYFS Areas of learning, you can identify what skill that particular activity your child has chosen is developing in him or her and you can reinforce. It’s such a beautiful experience to see how seamless the Understanding of the EYFS curriculum makes teaching easy for the parents and teachers as well learning for the child.

We can also Talk about “Different stages in Childhood Development.”

Specifics to look out for in an Early Childcare facility Or Top questions to ask…

  1. What is Program and curriculum of the school?

Every parent should know what they want and look for it. When you find it, you will know. This why this training is very vital. You do not just take your child to a school where you do not fully have a grasp of what they are using as a blueprint to teach. Find out. It will do you good. Don’t depend on hear say or because your friend’s kids are there. Your friend might have taken their kids there because their friend’s are there without doing their due diligence.

That a school pays high in millions doesn’t certify they have good content.

  1. Go there and see it. Feel the ambience yourself.

There’s so much you can tell by just being around a place. As a parent you want the best for your child. That puts your instincts into play. Visiting the facility and have them take you around, so you see and ask questions will help a whole lot. Please avoid assumptions.

  1. What is their Hygiene level?

I am so big on hygiene. From my training, hygiene is our top notch as Early years Practitioners.

This is because every early childcare center must understand that the children they are dealing with are still at their formative stage hence their immunity is not so strong to fight some germs. There should proper procedures to cleaning and handling children and such procedures are to be followed strictly and religiously.

  1. What quality/standard of their teachers and care givers/childcarers do they have on ground?

The teachers should display some level of decorum at first glance. They should be thorough with delivery of care and be in sync with the educational conduct as regards professional. They should be cheerful always, approachable flexible, and humble.

  1. What are the Food options/Meal options?
    Do they allow children to bring food from home or they prepare the children’s meals? What are the safety conditions to ensure these meals meet the required standards for every parent and their child? Do they have solid plans in place for children with allergies?
  1. What are their values and code of conduct?

How healthy is the management and staff relationship? Do teachers quit often or they enjoy a healthy work environment? This has alot to do with the coping mechanism of children and how they progress in learning.

Some children take take to bond with teachers and will have challenges when their teachers are changed often. Teachers stay in a good school that has good management and welfare team.

  1. Do they have the basic resources and facilities that ensures a standard childcare facility?

A childcare facility that is still a start-up may not have numerous resources and facilities, however, they must have the basics like learning resources and play equipment. Scan through, and ascertain for yourself. Ask questions and ask that you will be shown if you are in doubt.

  1. Do they display Professionalism?

Friendliness is beautiful as they are in business they should be nice, however, there should be the line of fairness and integrity in dealing with both the children, teachers and parents. On no account should you put your child in a school where the teacher is allowed to raise their voice at your baby, toddler or preschooler let alone you.

It is a no no!

  1. Do they have a quality control unit?

Do they check for discrepancies like misconduct? Do they have a working CCTV and are they sincere with the footage.

You will know by asking to see nicely. Remember, you are not over reacting, you are just being the mother or dad that you are. So, it’s not out of place at all.

  1. What does your gut instinct tell you about the school in sum total?

Do you feel unsure or you are convinced to start? I will end by saying, once you get into a good facility for your child, you will know.

PS: note, every good early years teacher stoops to greet a child. We come down to their level, so they do not have to look up. We maintain eye contact with them and a eager to see them relaxed and safe.

These are a few amongst many questions to ask.


Q: Are there ways or steps we can take to ensure this communication & language goal is fulfilled?

Yes please, by engaging your child in activities that will develop this skill(listening and attention), for example for babies between 0-2 years, you read books to them (animals books like “Old McDonald” making the animal sounds like “moo moo for cow”, and watch them repeat, or making the bird sound “tweet tweet”), You can sing nursery rhymes and have them respond.

While, interacting and engaging your child daily in activities, your choice of words are deliberate to ensure learning is taking place.. During the Activity time, we will explore different activities that will develop each of these Areas of learning and the Early Learning Goals in your child for the different age bands.

Q: Please what is the difference between EYFS and Montessori learning

The EYFS does tie numerous educational frameworks together, but some parents prefer to use a different approach for their children. The EYFS curriculum has a bit of almost all the philosophies, including Montessori method.

While the EYFS supports learning and development with detailed frameworks, the Montessori method is one that asserts that the child is naturally eager and capable pf learning. They actually have their different approach. As a parent, you will need to understand the two, so you decide which you specifically want for your child.

If you ask me, with the EYFS, Montessori is covered.

Q: I worry my soon to be 4-year old is nowhere near being able to read, they just commenced 2- letter words this term, Covid also has a role in this though, as practically no school last year, but i gather some 4-year olds can read, should I be worried?

Download alphablocks for him to always watch instead if cartoons.

Well, do not worry Mama. I will recommend you get some books and phonics media. You can set out 1hour everyday to practice phonics and word puzzles with him. Then buy flash sticky three letter flash cards or use card board cut out shapes and write simple words and phonic sounds on them.

Stick them on the walls at random places around the house even on the refrigerator using masking tape and every time you pass, you point to one flash card or phonic sound and ‘sound” it, or read it out loud. Ask him to read it out at random. With 1hour(structured) practice with him and this unstructured method, let’s see his improvement.

You can reach Gift Onyi Esther Okorongu on instagram: @childathearts

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