The Foundation Phase encompasses the developmental needs of children, promoting equality of opportunity and values and celebrates diversity. Children learn through first-hand experiential activities with the serious business of ‘play’ providing the vehicle. 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 development of children’s self-image and feelings of self-worth and self-esteem are at the core of this phase.
The Foundation Phase curriculum is planned as a progressive framework that spans four years (3 to 7 years) to meet the diverse 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 should promote discovery and independence and a greater emphasis on using the outdoor environment as a resource for children’s learning.
Areas of Learning
Seven Areas of Learning have been identified to describe an appropriate curriculum for 3-7 year olds that supports the development of children and their skills. 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 is at the heart of the Foundation Phase and should be 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 through participation in experiential learning activities indoors and outdoors. 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 should be encouraged to communicate their needs, feelings and thoughts, retell experiences and discuss individual and group play. They should 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 should be helped to develop an awareness of Wales as a country with two languages, and to show 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
During the Foundation Phase, children should learn to use and communicate in Welsh to the best of their ability. Children should listen to Welsh being spoken and respond appropriately in familiar situations, using a range of patterns. They should be encouraged to communicate their needs in Welsh and should be increasingly exposed to 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 should experience the familiar world through enquiry, investigating the indoor and outdoor environment in a safe and systematic way. They should be given 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 should be encouraged to enjoy learning by exploration, enquiry, experimentation, asking questions and trying to find answers.
Children’s physical development, enthusiasm and energy for movement should continually be promoted through helping them to use their bodies effectively, by encouraging spatial awareness, balance, control and coordination, and developing motor and manipulative skills. They should develop their gross and fine motor skills, physical control, mobility and an awareness of space, using large and small equipment, across all Areas of Learning.
Children should be continually developing their imagination and creativity across the curriculum. Their natural curiosity and disposition to learn should be stimulated by everyday sensory experiences, both indoors and outdoors. Children should engage in creative, imaginative and expressive activities in art, craft, design, music, dance and movement.