How to Follow Development Matters in Science

Written by Dan

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is a crucial period in a child’s educational journey, as it sets the foundation for their future learning experiences.

One key component of the EYFS is Development Matters, a non-statutory guidance offering practical advice for early years practitioners on supporting child development.

By following Development Matters in science education, practitioners can ensure that children develop a strong understanding of scientific concepts and a curiosity for exploring the natural world.

Science lab

For early years practitioners, it is essential to understand the EYFS framework and their roles in implementing Development Matters in their daily work.

This includes not only engaging with children in a variety of science-related activities but also working collaboratively with other stakeholders, such as parents and other professionals, to support children’s learning and development.

By adopting a proactive approach, early years practitioners can create a learning environment that encourages children to use their innate sense of curiosity and supports them in developing scientific knowledge and skills.

Key Takeaways

  • Development Matters guidance plays an important role in EYFS science education
  • Early years practitioners must understand the EYFS framework to effectively implement Development Matters in their work
  • Collaboration with stakeholders is crucial for supporting children’s scientific learning and development

Understanding the EYFS Framework

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is a comprehensive framework that sets the standards for the learning, development, and care of children from birth to 5 years old in the UK.

In this section, we will explore the principles of the EYFS and discuss statutory requirements and guidance.

Principles of Early Years Foundation Stage

The EYFS is built upon four guiding principles that shape practice in early years settings. These principles are:

  1. A unique child: Every child is a unique individual with their own strengths, interests and learning style.
  2. Positive relationships: Children learn effectively when they feel secure and are supported by responsive relationships with adults.
  3. Enabling environments: High-quality environments support children’s learning and development.
  4. Learning and development: A developmentally appropriate curriculum helps children to progress in all aspects of their learning.

Within the EYFS framework, there are seven areas of learning that are divided into two groups:

  • Prime areas: Personal, social and emotional development; communication and language; physical development.
  • Specific areas: Literacy; mathematics; understanding the world; expressive arts and design.

Each area of learning contains early learning goals that outline the expectations for children’s development by the end of their Reception year.

Statutory Requirements and Guidance

EYFS sets statutory requirements for all early years providers, outlining their responsibilities for the care, welfare, learning, and assessment of children.

Providers must follow the EYFS statutory framework for delivering the curriculum, assessment, and safeguarding, ensuring that all aspects of children’s learning are covered.

In addition to the statutory framework, the Development Matters guidance supports practitioners in implementing the EYFS in their settings.

This document is non-statutory, so Ofsted and Childcare Minimum Agencies (CMAs) will not evaluate compliance with this guidance during inspections.

However, it offers a valuable resource for designing an effective early years curriculum following EYFS requirements.

Recently, the EYFS statutory framework has been revised. Early years providers must update their practices and procedures to align with the changes. This includes adjustments to the curriculum, assessment methods, and safeguarding policies.

Understanding the EYFS framework is essential for practitioners to effectively support children’s learning and development in the early years while meeting statutory requirements.

Development Matters guidance supports practitioners in planning the curriculum and implementing best practices while adhering to the revised EYFS statutory framework.

Roles of Practitioners in EYFS

Science development matters

Early Years Teachers and Educators

In the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), practitioners play a vital role in promoting the development and learning of young children.

Early Years Teachers and Educators are responsible for fostering a supportive and stimulating environment for the children under their care. Their main focus lies in Development Matters, which provides a top-level view of how children develop and learn.

These professionals are trained to understand and implement the early years curriculum, ensuring that children receive a consistent and high-quality educational experience.

The practitioners observe and assess each child’s progress, allowing them to make well-informed professional judgements and adapt their teaching methods accordingly.

Practitioners need to work closely with parents and carers, sharing updates on their child’s progress and development.

Curriculum Design and Effective Pedagogy

Regarding curriculum design, early years practitioners are responsible for creating a balanced and engaging learning programme based on the EYFS Framework and adheres to the principles of Development Matters.

Their primary objective is to ensure that the curriculum covers the seven areas of learning, including:

  1. Personal, Social, and Emotional Development
  2. Communication and Language
  3. Literacy
  4. Mathematics
  5. Understanding the World
  6. Physical Development
  7. Expressive Arts and Design

Effective pedagogy in the early years requires knowledgeable and skilled practitioners. They must be proficient in various teaching techniques, catering to the diverse needs and interests of children in their care.

Some strategies include child-initiated learning, where children actively explore and learn through play, and practitioner-led activities, which offer more structured guidance.

In practice, early years practitioners are expected to adapt and modify their pedagogy as needed. The objective is to ensure that every child receives the necessary support and opportunities to develop and learn effectively, cementing the foundations for future learning and success.

Development Matters in Action

how to follow development matters in science

Implementing Development-Focused Education

When incorporating Development Matters into science education, creating an environment that fosters exploration and nurtures a child’s natural curiosity is essential.

Tailor learning experiences to the child’s interests and developmental stage, providing opportunities for hands-on, inquiry-based learning.

A solid foundation in Understanding the World within the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum is vital for introducing scientific concepts to young learners.

To ensure effective implementation of development-focused education, educators must consider the following steps:

  1. Plan activities that inspire curiosity and engage children in scientific inquiry.
  2. Promote opportunities for pupils to ask questions, make predictions, and investigate ideas.
  3. Incorporate a mix of adult-led and child-initiated activities to provide varied learning experiences.
  4. Integrate cross-curricular connections to help children see the relevance of science to their everyday lives.

Observation and Assessment Techniques

Observations and assessments play a crucial role in monitoring children’s progress and informing future planning.

In the context of Development Matters, educators should focus on the broad ages and stages of learning, rather than narrowly defined milestones. This approach allows for a more holistic understanding of a child’s development throughout the EYFS.

Key observation and assessment techniques include:

  • Anecdotal records: Document significant events, behaviour patterns, or discoveries that demonstrate a child’s progress in specific areas of development.
  • Learning journals: Compile a chronological collection of children’s work, photos, and observations, revealing their ongoing learning process.
  • Structured observations: Use targeted assessments to evaluate specific developmental skills, such as problem-solving or conducting an experiment.

By employing a variety of observation and assessment techniques, educators can provide valuable insights into each child’s learning journey.

This data can then be used to inform planning, ensuring that all children continue to make progress, encounter meaningful learning experiences, and have their individual needs met.

Supporting Child Development

Key Stages in Child Growth

Supporting child development in science begins with understanding the stages of growth. The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) outlines various milestones in children’s growth, focusing on essential areas like communication, physical development, and understanding the world.

These stages serve as a basis for educational approaches and materials that help young learners meet developmental goals.

Teachers and childcare practitioners can introduce scientific concepts through play-based learning, using various resources and activities. For instance, children can engage with simple experiments or explore natural environments for a hands-on learning experience.

These activities are best tailored to the child’s age, emphasising key milestones within the EYFS framework.

Inclusive Practices and SEND Support

Inclusive practices play a significant role in promoting development in science for all children, irrespective of background or abilities.

A crucial aspect of supporting child development is recognising and accommodating the diverse needs of learners, including those with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).

  1. Differentiation: Adapt teaching strategies and materials to suit individual needs and abilities within the class. For example, visual aids, sensory resources, or simplified experiments can help engage SEND children effectively.
  2. Collaborative Environment: Teach children to work together, valuing and respecting each other’s contributions. This encourages a sense of belonging, promoting learning and development through shared experiences.
  3. Ongoing Support: Continuously monitor and evaluate the progress of every child, communicating regularly with parents and other professionals to ensure necessary support is in place. This approach helps to identify and address any concerns, barriers, or potential areas for growth in a child’s learning journey.

By incorporating these inclusive strategies and providing adequate SEND support, practitioners guide children in maximising their potential while appreciating the diversity and unique characteristics within the learning environment.

Development Matters serves as an essential resource, offering guidance for early years practitioners in achieving these objectives and fostering development across all areas of learning, including science.

Engagement with Stakeholders

One of the major aspects of science development is fostering communication and collaboration among all parties involved. Here, we explore the importance of engagement with stakeholders, including parents, local communities, and external researchers.

Collaborating with Parents and Local Communities

Engaging with parents and local communities is essential for bridging the gap between science and society. These groups can offer valuable perspectives and insights on the relevance of research projects in their unique contexts.

By involving parents, settings that focus on multi-generational learning can be created, better targeting scientific outcomes to the specific needs and interests of the general public.

It is also essential to nurture a culture of community involvement in research projects. Collaborative initiatives, such as citizen science projects, can be an effective way to involve local communities in scientific research.

For example, residents could participate in environmental monitoring projects, enhancing a sense of ownership and promoting environmental awareness. Some successful strategies for engaging with local communities include:

  • Hosting science workshops for residents
  • Organising public lectures by experts
  • Establishing partnerships with local educational institutions
  • Seeking community input and feedback on research projects

Utilising External Research and Feedback

The scientific community thrives on the exchange of knowledge and ideas. Leveraging external research and inviting feedback from other practitioners contributes to a more robust body of evidence in science.

Scientists should engage with their peers, both within and outside their area of expertise, to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the subject matter. External expertise can provide valuable critiques and innovative suggestions, paving the way for scientific breakthroughs.

A more transparent and collaborative approach can be achieved through:

  • Attending conferences and seminars to share findings and learn from others
  • Participating in peer review processes to evaluate the quality of research articles
  • Submitting work to open-access journals for public dissemination
  • Incorporating interdisciplinary feedback into project design and evaluation

Ultimately, it is through consistent engagement with stakeholders that science will continue to advance. Encouraging dialogue and collaboration between researchers, parents, and local communities enriches the science development process, ensuring it remains relevant, inclusive and effective in addressing societal needs.

About The Author

I'm Dan Higgins, one of the faces behind The Teaching Couple. With 15 years in the education sector and a decade as a teacher, I've witnessed the highs and lows of school life. Over the years, my passion for supporting fellow teachers and making school more bearable has grown. The Teaching Couple is my platform to share strategies, tips, and insights from my journey. Together, we can shape a better school experience for all.






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