The Foundation Stage - Years 1 and 2
Young children come to school from a variety of different backgrounds, having had a range of diverse learning experiences at home and for most, some form of pre-school education. The Foundation Stage aims to build on these learning experiences by providing children with an appropriate learning programme to develop their dispositions to learn and to provide them with the skills and competencies they will need to succeed in school and future life. The Foundation Stage also endorses good early years practice where teachers have more flexibility in terms of what they teach. This flexibility allows teachers to follow the interests of the children, encouraging them to see links in their learning and to appreciate that the skills they learn in one area can be applied elsewhere.
THE AIMS OF THE FOUNDATION STAGE
The Northern Ireland Curriculum aims to empower young people to develop their potential and make informed and responsible choices and decisions throughout their lives. The Foundation Stage aims to provide a learning programme which will:
- promote children’s personal development;
- promote positive attitudes and dispositions to learning;
- promote children’s Thinking Skills and Personal Capabilities;
- encourage creativity and imagination;
- enable children to develop physical confidence and competence;
- develop children’s curiosity and interest in the world around them;
- enable children to communicate in a variety of ways;
- motivate children to develop literacy and numeracy skills in meaningful contexts.
THE PRINCIPLES UNDERPINNING THE FOUNDATION STAGE
Young children learn best when learning is interactive, practical and enjoyable for both children and teachers.
Children learn best when they:
- have opportunities to be actively involved in practical, open-ended and challenging learning experiences that encourage creativity;
- have opportunities to initiate experiences that capitalise on their individual interests and curiosities;
- are actively involved in planning, reviewing and reflecting what they have done;
- are enabled to express themselves by creating images, sounds, movements, structures and invented stories;
- are involved in play that is challenging, takes account of their developmental stage and needs and builds on their own interests and experiences;
- work in stimulating environments and have access to a range of resources;
- develop secure relationships with peers and adults;
- have choice and exercise autonomy and independence in their learning, and are encouraged to take risks.
THE CURRICULUM IN THE FOUNDATION STAGE
The statutory curriculum in the Foundation Stage is set out under the following Areas of Learning:
- Language and Literacy including Talking and Listening, Reading and Writing;
- Mathematics and Numeracy including Number, Measures, Shape and Space, Sorting and Pattern and Relationships;
- The Arts including Art and Design, Music and Drama;
- The World Around Us including Geography, History and Science and Technology;
- Personal Development and Mutual Understanding including Personal Understanding and Health and Mutual Understanding in the Local and Wider Community;
- Physical Development and Movement including Athletics, Dance, Games and Gymnastics.
- Religious Education in accordance with the core syllabus drafted by the Catholic Church and specified by the Department of Education.