As a recent graduate who was only shown the EYFS document once on my three year university teaching course, Foundation Stage has always been a bit of a mystery to me- until I started supply teaching, and suddenly found myself thrown in the deep end one day! The “EYFS Supply Teaching Made Simple” book is for those of us who aren’t really sure where to start with Foundation Stage, or what we’re meant to be doing if we get put the classroom for the day. After reading it, I can say that it does the job of preparing someone for Foundation Stage brilliantly!
The introduction really explains what the foundation stage is and what you can expect. FS is very different from KS1 and KS2, and sometimes it can be a bit of a shock, so this introduction is good to help you get a feel for what you are going to encounter! It clearly tells you all the “need to know” information, such as the Development Matters statements. These are based in three prime areas in Foundation Stage: Personal, Social, and Emotion Development (PSED), Communication and Language (C&L), and Physical Development (PD). There are four further specific areas, which are Literacy, Numeracy, Understanding the World, and Expressive Art and Design. Everything in FS should be guided around these areas. FS is a much more creative, inclusive atmosphere where everything seems to overlap. We are reminded that they should overlap, and that’s helpful to know, so you can be sure you’re not focusing too much on one thing in the classroom. There are many different strands within FS that you can explore, and it’s made clear how you can do that.
The Supply Bag section is great- I have been a supply teacher for just under a year, and I have been looking up ideas for things I could have in a “supply bag”. The list here tells us explicitly what would work, and why, along with some ideas for activities that could go with them.
Practicalities tell us the truth- foundation stage is tiring! If you go into FS expecting a quiet day, you are in for quite a rude awakening! The first few times I covered FS I didn’t even think about outdoor clothes etc, and it is always good to have these handy. It covers some common sense points, such as about tidying up, but also mentions observations, which are extremely important in FS. There’s a good bit about distinguishing what is a relevant observation, which was interesting as sometimes I feel that I am making observations in FS for the sake of it, not because it is something worth noting. It gives you a real clear idea of what is actually important.
The plans are really varied and offer ideas based in all the aforementioned strands. There are examples of how you can apply these ideas into a classroom, and also tells you where they overlap into other. It is clearly set out to tell you what the key points are, and different ways you might be able to achieve them, and gives lots of related activities. Having just a few of these up your sleeve might be the difference between a day going smoothly, and a day with lots of awkward fillers!
Overall, I really enjoyed reading this, and I found it extremely helpful. It isn’t written in a way that it feels like it is lecturing you; it feels more like someone giving advice. It is informative and well written, and easy to understand for people who have not encountered the FS before. As someone who received absolutely zero training in the Early Years, I have almost felt like I was bluffing my way through my days’ supply that I’ve had with them so far. However, after reading this, I feel much more prepared, and like I will be a much more valuable asset to the staff for the time that I am with them.
Emma is a primary school teacher currently on supply. You can join her on Twitter: @EmmaCKThompson