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Foundation Phase

Foundation Phase is the statutory curriculum for all 3 to 7 year olds in Wales, in both maintained and non-maintained settings.

It encourages children to be creative, imaginative and makes learning more enjoyable and more effective.

Children will be given opportunities to explore the world around them and understand how things work by taking part in practical activities relevant to their developmental stage. They will be challenged through practical activities and develop their thinking with open-ended questions. Children will be encouraged to explore concepts and share ideas for solving problems.

The Foundation Phase has 7 areas of learning which are delivered through practical activities and active learning experiences both indoors and outdoors.

The 7 Areas of Learning

  • Learning about themselves and forming relationships with other children and adults is an important part of the Foundation Phase. Your child will be encouraged to develop their self-esteem and personal moral values as well as develop their understanding of the Welsh culture and the wider world.

  • Children will be immersed in language experiences and activities. Their skills will develop through talking, signing/communicating and listening.
  • They will be able to choose and use a range of reading materials to develop their enjoyment and understanding and will be supported as they develop their skills for writing.
  • They will also be encouraged to communicate their needs, feelings and thoughts, and talk about experiences.

  • Children will develop their skills, knowledge and understanding of mathematics through practical experiences. By playing with numbers in their daily activities they will develop different ways of solving problems in a variety of situations.
  • They will also investigate the properties of shapes and will sort, match, sequence and compare objects, and create simple patterns and relationships. Children will also develop their understanding of time and money in ways that are meaningful to them.

  • Children learning mainly through the medium of English will have the opportunity to learn to use and to communicate in Welsh to the best of their ability. Children will develop these skills by taking part in a variety of enjoyable, practical activities, using a range of resources that build on and increase previous knowledge and experiences. Their oral experiences will be used to help them develop their reading and writing skills.
  • Throughout the Foundation Phase all English-medium settings or schools will give children opportunities to learn and enjoy using the Welsh language through daily access to appropriate Welsh-medium play-based activities.

  • Children will be given experiences that increase their curiosity about the world around them to help them understand more about past events, people and places, living things and the work people do.
  • They learn to demonstrate care, responsibility, concern and respect for all living things and the environment.
  • They will develop their own ideas, and learn how to express their opinions and feelings with imagination, creativity and sensitivity.

  • Children will be encouraged to enjoy physical activity, and a developing sense of identity will be linked closely to their own self-image, self-esteem and confidence.
  • They will develop their views on health, hygiene, safety and the importance of diet, rest, sleep and exercise.
  • They will be given opportunities to develop their gross motor skills (larger movements of arms, legs, feet, or the entire body such as crawling, running and jumping) and fine motor skills (using the smaller muscles of the hands and fingers to carry out activities such as using pencils or scissors, threading, and doing up buttons), physical control, mobility and awareness of space, using large and small equipment, across all Areas of Learning, indoors and outdoors.

  • Taking part in creative, imaginative and expressive activities in art, craft, design, music, dance and movement will help support children’s creative development.
  • They will explore a wide range of resources, develop their ability to communicate and express their creative ideas and reflect on their work.

Learning Through Play

Play is one of the main ways in which children learn. It is recognised as so important to children’s well-being and development that the right to play is set down in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Play is so critically important to all children in the development of their physical, social, mental, emotional and creative skills that society should seek every opportunity to support it and create an environment that fosters it.

The Foundation Phase is built on the principles of learning through play and is an essential ingredient in the curriculum. Evidence shows that learning through play is a powerful tool which can help children to develop and extend their language and communication skills, allows them to be creative, and to investigate and explore different materials, and gives them opportunities to experiment and predict outcomes. It can also help them to develop their confidence, self-motivation and control of their own thoughts and actions. Play also allows children to test their abilities, use initiative, take risks and make mistakes without fear of failure. Through play, children learn the skills of negotiation and the art of forming relationships with their peers.

There are many forms of play that support the seven Areas of Learning in the Foundation Phase. Though not a full list, examples of this kind of play include construction play, role play, creative play, symbolic play such as mark making (for example drawing, painting, writing, and so on) and exploratory play.

How can I support and help my child’s learning in the Foundation Phase?

You can have a positive effect on your child’s development, imagination and interest by getting actively involved in their learning, not just at home, but in the garden, in the park, and at the shops. The more children are stimulated, encouraged and involved, the more they will learn. Schools can also work with families to help support your child’s learning.

Literacy and Numeracy Tips

Words and numbers can be seen everywhere. Show children how important number and word skills are and boost their confidence by helping them to develop these essential skills.

Don’t just read books, give them comics, magazines, pages from the internet, cookery books, games, and so on.

When you go out for a meal, read the menu together and ask them to help you choose.

Sing nursery rhymes together if your child is young or for the older ones, sing along to music on the radio.

Join your local library for free. You’ll be amazed what’s on offer – storytelling, fun events and children’s books that are free to borrow.

Reading with your child for as little as 10 minutes a day can make a huge difference and make them a better reader.

When you go shopping, ask your child to count the number of pieces of fruit you want, for example ask for 3 oranges, 5 apples and 3 bananas.

Play games that include spotting numbers on clocks, coins, supermarket prices, buses and packages.

Involve your child as you pay for the shopping bill, showing how you can pay for things in different ways using bank cards and money.

Help your child plan how to spend their birthday money. This will help develop skills in managing money.