Getting minds wriggling
From mini-beast hunts to puddle jumping, we make learning creative and natural.


As an Ofsted-registered school, we must follow the early years foundation stage of the national curriculum.

This page contains information about what the early years foundation stage covers and how we teach it. If you would like to view the latest early years framework document, effective Janaury 2024, it is available below.

Principles of EYFS

Four guiding principles which shape practice.

  1. A unique child
    Every child is a unique child, who is constantly learning and can be resilient, capable, confident and self‐assured.
  2. Positive relationships
    Children learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships.
  3. Enabling environments
    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
  4. Learning and Development
    Children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates. The framework covers the education and care of all children in early years provision, including children with special educational needs and disabilities.

Characteristics of Effective Learning

Trying new things - Persevering - Having their own ideas

The Characteristics of Effective Learning are about how children learn rather than what they learn. The way in which the EYFS is delivered should encourage children to develop Characteristics of Effective Learning; learning dispositions applicable to all areas of learning and providing a good foundation for lifelong learning.

“Every child deserves the best possible start in life and the support that enables them to fulfil their potential. Children develop quickly in the early years and a child’s experiences between birth and age five have a major impact on their future life chances.”

Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage, 2023

The Prime Areas of Learning

Personal, Social and Emotional Development

We encourage children to be as independent as is appropriate for their age and stage of development, giving them time and opportunity to do things for themselves. We show them that we are proud of their accomplishments and give them praise to develop their confidence and extend their learning.

It is important to the development of a positive self image that children feel that we not only value them but also their families and welcome you to share your knowledge of your child with us, as well as sharing your skills alongside us in the nursery. A child who has a good self image and is confident finds it easier to learn. They are not turned off by failure but use a mistake as a learning experience.

The children are helped to be aware of themselves and others. We are a multi-faith school and children are encouraged to share with us their particular family celebrations and festivals. They learn to share and co-operate and understand about being a member of the school and the wider community.

Communication and Language

Communication & language play a central role in the curriculum for it is through this that children form and express their thoughts, feelings and ideas and it promotes co-operation and confidence. Children express themselves in many ways and we self expression and communication through gestures, signs and facial expression, music, dance and art, as well as through developing verbal language.

In all activities we aim to provide experiences which will enrich the children’s language development and help them gain the confidence necessary for listening, talking to one another and to adults and exploring and understanding the concepts of reading and writing.

Children join us at all stages of development in language and communication and many will have English as an additional language to their home language. All languages verbal and non-verbal are encouraged to enable children’s communication skills. We recognise that fluent use of English is a very important goal which we support through a wide range of provision.

Physical Development

Much of the children’s learning occurs in the garden and the outdoor provision is given as much attention as that indoors. The children have access to the garden at all times unless it is very wet or cold. We have a large outdoor space with plants and trees, a grassed area, climbing equipment, sandpit, bird table, and a mini-pond. All classes open out to the garden where children learn about co-operating with others, they learn to balance, steer toys competently, climb, hop, skip, jump, throw and catch, push and pull and use their bodies in an imaginative way. They also learn the vocabulary of movement, shape and space and are just as likely to be developing language, maths or science skills as they would be in the classroom.

In each session are supported to access a healthy snack and when they stay for lunch, it is served in a family service style. Children begin to learn about what they eat and the need for a variety of food to keep them healthy. We help them to enjoy and understand the health benefits of physical activities and to be able to look after their personal needs such as dressing and going to the toilet, learning about risk taking and keeping safe while exploring is a most important feature of our daily work with the children.

The ways in which the child engages with other people and the environment—playing and exploring, active learning, and creating and thinking critically—underpin learning and development across all areas and support the child to remain an effective and motivated learner.

Development Matters in the EYFS, 2024

The Specific Areas of Learning


This area of learning focuses on the early skills essential in reading and writing. Imaginative play provides a wealth of opportunities for developing these skills in a meaningful context - from writing out the shopping list in the home corner to running a shop in the garden.

There are a range of resources provided around the nursery, for example, the home corner, office resources and clipboards for outside, where children will often practice their developing reading and writing skills. There is also a book corner in each classroom which is always popular with the children and often an adult will be based there to support them. In each class there is a basket of books which may be borrowed to take home.

Over their time at Balham Nursery children are supported to see themselves as a reader whatever their stage of development. Children are always supported and extended in their learning about the meaning and sequence of stories and the process of early reading, such as repetition, rhyme, alliteration and phonics. As in all their learning children are individuals and have different strengths and learning styles, and this is always our starting point.


The opportunities for mathematical development, like those for language, are everywhere in the nursery. When children are playing with the blocks, observing different shapes, finding the right size of dress for the doll, manipulating the dough, singing finger rhymes and songs, they are learning maths and a great deal of mathematical learning goes on at the sand or water trolley, in the home corner, the cooking activity, the ‘office’ and in the garden. Importantly, children are working out how to solve a range of problems.

We aim to provide children with a wealth of opportunities to enrich, support and extend their mathematical experience and encourage them to become more able, skilled and confident learners. Materials and equipment are clearly labelled and accessible to the children. These include materials for counting, sorting, matching, comparing and classifying, pattern making, construction, 3D and 2D shapes, weighing and measuring as well as computer software, puzzles and games.

Understanding the World

This area of learning involves exploring and investigating, experimenting, observing, raising questions, and making hypotheses as children develop their own theories about the world around them. At this age the starting point for most children in this area of development is themselves and their families.

In all the play activities we provide materials and experiences that will stimulate an interest in the children and encourage them to observe closely, ask questions, experiment, guess what will happen if?… and tell us what they have found out. Our garden provides a range of interesting experiences for the inquisitive mind, from discovering new insects to building a den.

We use have a number of digital cameras and photo printers for the children to use independently . The children are also supported to use I Pads in a creative way to encourage them to interact with the environment and with others.

Having a school in an old Victorian house is a resource in itself for learning about the past and present. In our garden the children dug up a toy Spitfire aeroplane and a 200 year old key in their digging area and they love to visit the cellar and attics. We even have a coal hole!

Expressive Arts and Design

Creativity incorporates all areas of learning and imaginative thinking is the key to rich thinking.

When children are involved in imaginative play they are ‘acting’ naturally and this role play can be extended by appropriate adult interaction, props and dressing up clothes. Puppets, story props and small world equipment like play people can encourage children to dramatise their own or a favourite story. We encourage the children to be creative with a variety of materials in design and technology for models, drawings, collage and paintings.

The children listen to a variety of music as well as having access to musical instruments and a piano. They are also encouraged to make their own instruments and compositions. Dancing, singing, playing and clapping games help them to understand rhythm and different musical styles.

Woodwork is always popular and here the children are also taught to use and look after tools such as properly including hammers, screwdrivers and saws. Our children often find very creative ways of expressing themselves and their ideas!