Learning Through Play and The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)

Our approach to learning, development and assessment

  • Learning Through Play at Little Acorns

Children start to learn about the world around them from the moment they are born. The care and education offered by our pre-school helps children to continue to do this by providing all of the children with interesting activities that are right for their age and stage of development. Play supports all aspects of your child's development. Children learn by doing, by being given appropriate responsibility and by being allowed to make decisions, choices and errors. They can decide which area of the pre-school they would prefer to play in, select their own resources to play with and choose how they wish to use them. They can actively and naturally explore, discover, experiment and practise their new skills. In supporting children’s natural desire to play and interact with their environment, adults can then encourage them to discover things for themselves and to continue to build their knowledge base.


We believe that careful planning is required if play is to be high quality. Staff will interact with your child in order to support and extend learning through knowledge and understanding. They will make suggestions, ask questions and talk informally with them, introducing new vocabulary and concepts. They will participate, demonstrate, offer choices and encourage your child to try out new skills, allowing them to experiment, encourage persistence when things get difficult, and inspire them. Every aspect of their learning is equally important and interdependent They will reflect on, and evaluate activities in order to plan future play effectively.

When you are little everyday is a learning experience and at Little Acorns we make those experiences fun.


Characteristics of effective learning

We understand that all children engage with other people and their environment through the characteristics of effective learning that are described in the Development Matters guidance to the Early Years Foundation Stage as:

  • playing and exploring - engagement

  • active learning - motivation

  • creating and thinking critically – thinking

We aim to provide for the characteristics of effective learning by observing how a child is learning and being clear about what we can do and provide in order to support each child to remain an effective and motivated learner.

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and Children's development and learning


The provision for children's development and learning is guided by The Early Years Foundation Stage.  It promotes best early years practice from birth until the end of reception class and provides a more cohesive approach to child development, care and learning.

Our provision reflects the four guiding themes and principles of the Early Years Foundation Stage.

  • A Unique Child

Every child is a unique child who is constantly learning and can be resilient, capable, confident and self assured.

  • Positive Relationships

Children learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships

  • 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, parents and carers.

  • Learning and Development

Children develop and learn in different ways. The framework covers the education and care of al children in early years provision including children with special educational needs and disabilities.

Children's learning and development is made up of seven areas, three prime areas and four specific. All areas are connected to one another and the prime areas thread heavily through into the specific areas. Further information is available in the parent information folders.


The Areas of Development and Learning comprise:

Prime Areas

  • personal, social and emotional development;

  • physical development;

  • communication and language;

Specific Areas

  • literacy
  • mathematics
  • understanding the world

  • expressive arts and design

For each area, the level of progress children should be expected to have attained by the end of the Early Years Foundation Stage is defined by the Early Learning Goals. These goals state what it is expected that children will know and be able to do by the end of the reception year of their education.

The ‘Development Matters’ guidance sets out the likely stages of progress a child makes along their learning journey towards the early learning goals. Little Acorns has regard to these matters when we assess children and plan for their learning.


Personal, social and emotional development


Our setting supports children to develop:

  • making relationships

  • self confidence and self awareness

  • managing feelings and behaviour


The main focus of this stage is how children play and cooperate with others. An important aspect of social development is building relationships both with adults and other children as well as building an understanding and respect for other beliefs and cultures.  They become aware of the rules which we all need to help us to look after ourselves, other people and our environment. We believe in encouraging an enthusiasm for learning and it is important to help the children develop their self confidence and self esteem and to value their own achievements.  We pride ourselves in understanding the importance of this from an early age. We offer support to them during the introduction of new situations which develops a positive approach to learning and finding out about the world around them. We encourage and support children to care for themselves to include being able to dress and undress and look after their personal hygiene needs.

We want our children to feel secure and happy from the start so they can't wait to come back tomorrow!

Physical development


Our learning experiences support

children to develop:

  • moving and handling

  • health and self-care

This stage focuses on developing a child’s physical control, mobility, awareness of space and manipulative skills. Little Acorns believes in establishing a positive attitude towards a healthy and active way of life. Children learn about the importance of healthy eating and how to look after their bodies. We provide both indoor and outdoor activities to allow the children to practice a full range of large movements including balancing, running, hopping, jumping, skipping, rolling, climbing, lifting, throwing and catching. Small movements with their arms wrists and hands, so that they can pick up and use objects, tools and materials are equally important and practiced regularly.



Communication and language

Our daily experiences support children to develop:

  • listening and attention

  • understanding
  • speaking

This prime area focuses on these main principles. We develop their skills through speaking and listening opportunities in small and large groups.


Children listen with increasing attention when they are interested and staff ‘tune in’ to what individual interests children have. We encourage children to expand their vocabulary in a variety of ways including learning about words, singing songs, learning rhymes and listening to stories. Children are actively listened to and all adults give children time to respond to questions and value their contributions. To promote children’s understanding adults often provide a running commentary of what children are doing and prompt children’s thinking and discussion through becoming involved in their play.




We support children to develop skill in:

  • reading
  • writing

We have a vast range of books and a book corner where children can sit individually or in a group. Adults are available to read to children throughout the session. They discover how to handle books and learn that they can also be a source for information. We foster a love of books from a very early age by operating a library system where children can take books home to share and enjoy with their family. This area of children's development also covers getting to know the sounds and letters which make up the words we use.  We ensure that print is all around them in the form of books, posters, labels on boxes and names on coat stands. We use writing materials in all areas within the pre-school so that we take literacy to the children rather than waiting for them to access it.


This helps to foster a positive attitude to reading and writing and encourages them to use writing for a purpose where they make their own attempts at writing and mark making and experiment by making up shopping lists, filling in forms and writing letters.



We encourage children to develop knowledge regarding: 

  • numbers
  • shape space and measure

The focus here is the use of practical activities to enhance each child’s development of simple mathematical ideas such as; numbers, measurements, patterns, shape and space. The children learn how to describe shape, position, size and quantity as well as how to recognise and recreate patterns. The use of number rhymes, stories and counting games all help familiarise the children with use of numbers. Activities are designed so that children can compare, sort, match, order, sequence and count using everyday objects. Children start to understand that numbers help us to answer questions about how many, how much, how far and how big. They build up ideas about how to use counting to find out how many and are introduced to finding the result of adding more or taking away from the amount they already have.



Understanding the world

Our provision supports children to develop an understanding of:

  • people and communities

  • the world

  • technology

Our focus is on developing a child’s knowledge and understanding of their environment, including other people and features of the man made and natural world.  They begin to learn about their own and other cultures. They begin to learn about their locality and its special features. It is very important that children question ‘why’ and ‘how’ to enable them to gain a greater understanding. We encourage children to share information about their families, past and present events in their lives. We provide experiences where they learn how to choose and use the right tool for a task and how to use computers and other well known daily devices.



Expressive arts and design

We support children to develop:

  • exploring and using media and materials

  • being imaginative

This focuses on the development of a child’s imagination, the ability to communicate and express ideas and feelings in a creative manner. The children can explore and share thoughts, feelings and ideas in many ways; painting, drawing, modelling, music, movement, dance and role play. We encourage children to explore sound, colour, texture, shape and dimensions.

Play helps young children to learn and develop through doing and talking, which research has shown to be the means by which young children think. 


At Little Acorns Pre-school we provide a range of play activities which help children to make progress in each of the areas of learning and development at their own pace. In some of these activities children decide how they will use the activity and, in others, an adult takes the lead in helping the children to take part in the activity. In all activities information gained from participating children is used to evaluate its effectiveness and review the learning that has taken place. This helps us to plan for individual children, record their progression and identify some next steps in their learning.


At Little acorns we provide every child with

opportunities to discover, learn and grow in a fun, imaginative and exciting way.


Children’s experiences in the earliest years of their lives can have a dramatic effect to their continuing development and future success...


The progress check at age two

The Early Years Foundation Stage requires that we supply parents and carers with a short written summary of their child’s development in the three prime learning and development areas of the EYFS: personal, social and emotional development; physical development; and communication and language; when a child is aged between 24 - 36 months. At Little Acorns this will be just before their third birthday, as our entry age is 2 years and 9 months. The key person is responsible for completing the check using information from ongoing observational assessments carried out as part of our everyday practice, taking account of the views and contributions of parents and other professionals. Your consent is required for this check and you will be given relevant information prior to this taking place.



Assessment and how we record your child's progress

We assess how young children are learning and developing by observing them frequently. We use information that we gain from observations, as well as from photographs of the children, or their conversations, to document their progress and where this may be leading them. We analyse observations and decide what they tell us about the children. We have recently started using LearningBook, an online system for recording observations on your child. This has a parent portal where you can view and add comments to their Learning Journey. On admission you will be given information regarding this. We believe that parents know their children best and we ask them to contribute to our assessments and recordings by sharing information with us about what their children like to do at home. We also share this information with you by encouraging parents to utilise our open door policy, where you can chat to your key person whenever you choose. We hold key person meetings where you can discuss your child’s progress and also any concerns that you may. Together we decide on how to help with any issues and how to progress your child in their development. This is at the heart of the pre-school and parents working in partnership. Special books are used to share interests and achievements and are shared between the pre-school and home, providing a very positive link.


Recording Progress

We have recently swapped our paper observation and recording system to an online digital system called LearningBook. LearningBook is a complete digital solution for learning journeys where we can record, analyse and share information on your child’s progress. It is a safe and more accessible way of capturing your child’s learning. It also allows you to interact with their learning journey, strengthening the link between home and pre-school. With LearningBook, you can:

  • View and comment on observations taken at pre-school through the MyLearningBook portal.

  • See how each observation is linked to the Early Years Foundation Stage

  • View your child’s progress

  • Give family members access to view your child’s learning journey.

  • Upload your own photos and video media from home activities to enhance your child’s learning record.

  • Get more involved with your child’s education - wherever you are, whenever it suits you.


Key staff acknowledge children’s interests and work together to provide what your child needs for her/his well-being and to make progress. A key meeting twice a year also celebrates their achievements and supports parents in developing learning at home. Staff and parents working together on their children's development is one of the ways in which the key person and parents work in partnership.



Little Acorns Pre-school

Eversley Village Hall

Glaston Hill Road

Eversley Hampshire


Our Ofsted Report covering letter
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Our latest Ofsted Report
Ofsted Report January 2018.pdf
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We can now be found on Facebook, please note the above logo is not a link.

To join you will need to go to the search field on Facebook and enter - Little Acorns Pre-school, Eversley. It is a closed group so once you have requested to join it will be approved provided you are a current parent of our pre-school. The page will be used to provide up to date information, up and coming events and any special activities that have taken place.

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