The Foundation Phase identifies seven areas of learning that should be catered for when planning a curriculum for 2,3 and 4 year olds.
Through their play, children practise and consolidate their learning, play with ideas, experiment, take risks, problem solving and making decisions. First-hand experiences allow children to develop an understanding of themselves and the world they live in. The children enhance their learning skills in the following areas:
Personal and Social Development, Well-Being and Cultural Diversity
This is at the heart of the Foundation Phase and children's skills are developed across all areas of learning through participation in experimental learning activities both indoors and outdoors.
Children learn about themselves, their relationships with other children and adults both within and beyond the family unit. They are encouraged to develop their self-esteem, their personal beliefs and moral values.
Language, Literacy and Communication Skills
Children are immersed in language experiences and activities. Their skills develop through talking, signing, communication and listening. They are encouraged to communicate their needs, feelings and thoughts. To re-tell experiences and discuss individual and group play. Some children communicate by means other than speech. Children refer to their intentions by asking questions, voicing/expressing opinions and making choices through a variety of media and by building on previous experiences. They will be encouraged to listen and to respond to others, to the variety of life experiences that their peers bring to the learning environment and to a range of stimuli including audio-visual material and ICT interactive software. They will 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 will 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. Language skills learned in one language should support the development of knowledge and skills in another language.
During the Foundation Phase, children develop their skills, knowledge and understanding of mathematics through oral, practical and play activities. Children enjoy using and applying mathematics in practical tasks and in real-life problems. They use a variety of ICT resources as tools for exploring number, for obtaining real-life data and for presenting their findings. Much of their work will be oral. They develop their use and understanding of mathematical language in context, through communicating/talking about their work. They ask and respond to questions and explore alternative ideas. They use appropriate mathematical language to explain their thinking and the methods they use to support the development of their reasoning. They develop a range of flexible methods for working mentally with number, in order to solve problems from a variety of contexts, checking their answers in different ways, moving on to using more formal methods of working and recording when they are developmentally read. They explore, estimate and solve real-life problems in both the indoor and outdoor environment. They develop their understanding of measures, investigate the properties of shape and develop early ideas of position and movement through practical experiences. They sort, match, sequence and compare objects and events, explore and create simple patterns and relationships and present their work in a variety of ways.
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 will 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, in safe and stimulating indoor and outdoor learning environments.
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 will be encouraged to enjoy learning by exploration, enquiry, experimentation, asking questions and trying to find answers. They will learn to demonstrate care, responsibility, concern and respect for all living things and the environment. They should develop and communicate using an increasing range of appropriate vocabulary. They should learn to express their own ideas, opinions and feelings with imagination, creativity and sensitivity. The children's skills will develop across all areas of learning through participation in experiential learning activities and through the use of sources such as stories, photographs, maps, models and ICT.
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 will 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, indoors and outdoors. Children should be encouraged to enjoy physical activity. a developing sense of identity should be linked closely to their own self-image, self-esteem and confidence. They should be introduced to the concepts of health, hygiene and safety and the importance of diet, rest, sleep and exercise.
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. Children should explore a wide range of stimuli, develop their ability to communicate and express their creative ideas and reflect on their work.