EYFS: What is it?


EYFS explanation

EYFS is the acronym for Early Years Foundation Stage, but what is it and where does it apply?


The EYFS is a framework created under the ChildCare Act of 2006 concerned with the learning, development and welfare of all children from birth to the age of five. It applies to

  • Childminders.
  • Day nurseries.
  • Playgroups and holiday play-schemes.
  • Breakfast and after school clubs.
  • School reception and nursery classes.
  • Sure Start Children’s Centres.

What are the 4 main principals of the EYFS?

  • Every child is a unique child, who is constantly learning and can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured.
  • Children learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships.
  • Children learn and develop well in enabling environments, in which their experiences respond to their individual needs and there is a strong partnership between practitioners and parents and/or carers.
  • Children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates.

What are the 7 main learning areas of the EYFS?

According to the legislation, educational programmes must involve activities and experiences for children, as follows

  • Communication and language development – giving children opportunities to experience a rich language environment; to develop their confidence and skills in expressing themselves; and to speak and listen in a range of situations.
  • Physical development – providing opportunities for young children to be active and interactive; and to develop their co-ordination, control, and movement. Children must also be helped to understand the importance of physical activity, and make healthy choices in relation to food.
  • Personal, social and emotional development – helping children to develop a positive sense of themselves, and others; to form positive relationships and develop respect for others; to develop social skills and learn how to manage their feelings; to understand appropriate behaviour in groups; and to have confidence in their own abilities.
  • Literacy development – encouraging children to link sounds and letters and to begin to read and write. Children must be given access to a wide range of reading materials (books, poems, and other written materials) to ignite their interest.
  • Mathematics  – providing children with opportunities to develop and improve their skills in counting, understanding and using numbers, calculating simple addition and subtraction problems; and to describe shapes, spaces, and measure.
  • Understanding the world – guiding children to make sense of their physical world and their community through opportunities to explore, observe and find out about people, places, technology and the environment.
  • Expressive arts and design – enabling children to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials, as well as providing opportunities and encouragement for sharing their thoughts, ideas and feelings through a variety of activities in art, music, movement, dance, role-play, and design and technology.

You can find explanations of the other key stages in the national curriculum in our Key Stage 1 blog, Key Stage 2, Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4.


If the EYFS sounds like a teaching stage that interests you, you can browse our jobs EYFS jobs here. If you’re a UK based teacher or TA you can pre-register here and if you’re overseas make initial contact with us here.