The Foundation Stage is a distinct phase of education for children aged 3 to 5. In Great Britain, this comprises Foundation and Reception. In the United States, it is the equivalent of Pre-kinder and Kindergarten. At The International Preparatory School, children in the foundation stage not only follow an academic programme, they also participate in activities throughout the school, including shows and assemblies, house activities and special events.

Children aged three to five are constantly encountering new experiences and seeking to understand them in order to extend their skills, develop their confidence and build on what they already know. Children learn in many different ways. They deepen their understanding by playing, talking, observing, planning, questioning, experimenting, testing, repeating, reflecting and responding to adults and to each other. The foundation stage is designed to give them opportunities to further their development and prepare for their future learning experiences. There are six areas of learning in the foundation stage:

Personal, social, and emotional well-being
The Foundation Stage supports the transition between home or playgroup, and the larger school environment. Opportunities are provided for each child to develop a strong self-image and self-esteem as a valued member of our community. The children are encouraged to develop an enthusiasm for knowledge and learning, increasing confidence in their ability to be successful learners. They are provided with opportunities that enable them to learn how to cooperate and work harmoniously alongside and with each other and listening to their peers and teachers. They develop the capacity to concentrate on their own play/learning or on group tasks.

Foundation children develop an awareness of their own needs, views, and feelings, becoming more sensitive to those of others. They are developing respect for their own cultures and beliefs and those of other people. As part of this development, they participate in our International Day celebration.

Language and communication
The children are given opportunities to talk and communicate in a widening range of situations, responding to adults and each other, to practise and extend their range of vocabulary and communication skills, as well as listening carefully. They learn to speak clearly and audibly with confidence and control, showing their awareness of the listener by using conventions such as greetings, ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. They learn to hear and say initial and final sounds in words and short vowel sounds within words. They link sounds to letters, naming and sounding the letters of the alphabet and begin to use their phonic knowledge to write simple words.

The children have opportunities to explore, enjoy, learn about and use words and text in a broad range of contexts and to experience a rich variety of books. They become aware that print carries meaning and begin to experiment with writing by making and giving meaning to marks. They learn to use a pencil and to hold it effectively to form recognizable letters. They understand that English is read from left to right and from top to bottom. The children are encouraged to ask questions and to make patterns of their experiences through cause and effect, sequencing, ordering and grouping.

The children develop their understanding of number, measurement, pattern, shape and space through a broad range of contexts in which they can explore, enjoy, learn, practise and talk about the concepts introduced. The children begin to learn number names and language and enjoy number rhymes and songs. They begin to represent numbers using fingers, marks on paper or pictures. In practical activities, they begin to use the vocabulary involved in adding and can relate addition to combining two groups of objects. They use ‘more’ or ‘less’ to compare two numbers and can talk about and recognize simple patterns. They are introduced to two-dimensional shapes and some three-dimensional ones.

Knowledge and understanding of the world
The children learn to solve problems, make decisions, experiment, predict, plan, and question in a variety of contexts, looking to explore and find out about their environment and people and places that have significance in their lives. They learn about the features of living things, their own cultures, and ask about how things work. They are encouraged to look at their own personal experiences and how these are similar to or different from those of other children. They make observations and begin to differentiate between past and present. To develop their knowledge of living things, people and places, foundation classes participate in different field trips based on the themes being studied. The children can visit a farm, the zoo, the post office and other locations which are related to class topics.

This provides the foundation for their future work in areas such as science, history, geography and information technology.

Physical development
The children are given the opportunity to develop and practise their fine and gross motor skills, increasing their understanding of how their bodies work and what they need to do to be healthy and safe. They learn to recognize the importance of keeping healthy and which things contribute to this. They improve their coordination skills, control, and movement while gaining confidence in what they can do. The children respond to rhythm, music, and stories through gesture and movement, expressing their feelings.
By manipulating mark-making implements, blocks, construction sets and other small equipment, the children develop their fine motor abilities and are increasingly able to handle objects safely and with control.

Creative development
The children explore and share their thoughts, ideas and feelings through a variety of activities involving art, design and technology, music, movement, dance, imaginative and role play. They are encouraged to make connections between different areas of learning and to extend their imagination. They explore colour, texture, shape, form and space, sing simple songs and play instruments which do not require tuning.

Adapted from the QCA document “Curriculum Guidance for the Foundation Stage”.