Ages and Stages are not important; it’s about the individual!
The EYFS made massive changes in 2012 placing a higher emphasis on each child being an individual learner, who develop in their own ways and at their own rates. It also ensured the age brackets overlapped and stated they are not to be used as a checklist, but unfortunately, these principles are often forgotten with pressure being placed on children by practitioners and parents to achieve particular milestones.
All too often children are compared to one another instead of the child being seen as an individual. Children within the same rooms and age ranges can display a massive variety of skills, talents and a range of development milestones and each child should be valued and supported whatever stage they are at in their development.
Ofsted will want to see evidence that each child is being individually supported in their next steps and their achievements. Learning journals are a way to champion children for their individual abilities, but it’s the next steps that are the most important. Each child should have an individual set of next steps. These should be incorporated into the weekly planning to show individuals have been considered.
Each child should be made to feel proud of their achievements. It is important that tracking is completed to highlight areas of weakness but instead of focusing on where a child is achieving it is important to place a higher emphasis on the next steps and the support that will be put in place. As long as an individual is achieving and meeting next steps, then that is the most important aspect. This should be relayed to parents through parent partnerships and parents should be fully aware of the support they can offer their children to promote their development.
There are many ways the individual can be supported regardless of their age or stage, some of these include:
• Accurately track and observe, to create next steps
• Follow individual interests and use these to promote development
• Use key group time to allow key person time to work on individual goals
• Remember any development is a great step forward for every child
• Ensure children feel happy and secure to develop
• Add children’s initials to the weekly planning to show you are considering the individual and planning for their next steps
• Use learning journals as a way to share achievements and to make that child feel proud and special
• Do not compare children; every child is an individual with their own personalities and strengths
• Work closely with parents to ensure they are aware of any support a child needs and ways to promote development
• Let children learn from one another instead of splitting into ability groups; studies show how effective scaffolding can be
• Do not give children labels such as the clever one; every child is clever in their own way
All children are special, and all have their own abilities, with the correct support, a key person bond and an enabling environment they will all develop and meet new milestones at their own rates regardless of what milestones are suggested for a child’s age.