Nannies and the EYFS
What is the EYFS framework?
The EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage) Framework is a Government document produced to support those working with children aged 0-5. It is compulsory for nurseries, pre-schools and childminders to follow but it is not obligatory for nannies. However nannies should have a good knowledge of the framework and the welfare requirements, areas of learning and development, assessment and Early Learning Goals contained within it as well as the overarching principles.
What are the overarching principles?
Each child is a unique child – the most cornerstone of the EYFS this means recognising and accepting that each child is different and must be celebrated and supported as an individual. For nannies, especially nannies of twins, it is vital to see children as part of a family in relation to their siblings but also as unique people in their own right.
Children learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships – as a nanny you are able to create a close and lasting bond with your charges. They have a secure attachment to you as a caregiver as well as to their parents and other significant adults in their lives, and you can encourage them to develop self-confidence and self-reliance. As your relationship with your charges as their nanny ends they must be supported through the transition, hopefully remaining in contact with you but also developing a bond with their new caregiver(s).
Children learn and develop well in enabling environments – nannies have a responsibility to ensure that both the physical and the emotional environment are safe and support children’s learning. This means providing a space where risks are identified and minimised, and which is appropriate for children to explore, learn and play, and where a child feels comfortable, emotionally secure and able to express their feelings.
Children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates – each unique child has their strengths and the ways they learn best. A child may be a visual learner or rely on tactile sensations and movement to integrate knowledge. Working closely with your charges you will come to understand how they can be best supported to learn and follow their natural sequence of development, while being aware of normative child development and significant milestones.
What are the areas of learning?
There are seven areas of learning in the EYFS, divided into 3 prime areas and 4 specific areas.
The 3 EYFS prime areas are:
- Communication and Language
- Physical Development
- Personal, Social and Emotional Development
The 4 EYFS specific areas are:
- Understanding the World
- Expressive Arts and Design
Communication and Language
This area of learning covers skills such as the development of speech by learning and using new vocabulary and grammatical structures but also listening to and understanding others, and engaging in meaningful communication. For a young baby this meaningful communication may mean learning to recognise your voice or smiling and exchanging other facial expressions with you or their parents. As they develop they will learn to recognise their name and experiment with producing sounds, learning to vocalise and combining vocalisations into streams of babble which then develop into recognisable words. Your input, exposing them to a wide range of language and responding to their attempts to communicate, is vital to aid their development. Communication and language also covers methods of assisting communication, such as Makaton, and helping children to communicate even when they cannot verbalise.
This area of learning covers how children gain control over their bodies, as well as learning to meet their hygiene needs and making healthy choices regarding hygiene, food and activities. All children follow the same basic sequence of development, which starts with head control and then moves onto core and lower body control (gross motor skills) which enables them to sit, crawl, stand, walk, run and jump. NB some children will miss out the crawling stage and this is not a cause for concern if they are pulling themselves to standing. A child’s natural sequence of physical development should always be respected. Parallel to these gross motor skills are the fine motor skills which enable children to manipulate objects - grabbing and dropping them, taking things apart and putting thing back together – and make marks, which lay the foundations for writing. Children also develop the control over their bodies that we call potty training and the dexterity to dress and undress themselves, brush their teeth and wash their hands and faces.
Personal, Social and Emotional Development
This area of learning covers the development of a child’s personality and how they interact with others. Children must gain confidence in themselves and in others, develop healthy relationships with other children and with adults, learn to recognise and manage their feelings, and make choices about their behaviour, leaning what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. Children are born with instincts, which include basic social instincts, but an important part of a nanny’s role is to work with parents to provide a solid framework of boundaries and tools to manage their emotions, while instilling self-confidence and ensuring that the child feels loved and secure.
This area of learning covers the skills associated with reading and writing – letter recognition, phonics, letter formation and understanding the conventions associated with the representation of text (reading from left to right etc.). Literacy is closely linked with communication and language, and is approached through reading stories, mark making and identifying representations of text in the world around us such as street signs and writing on groceries but also through constructing and deconstructing spoken language, which is closely linked to phonics. As a nanny you should provide daily opportunities for children to develop their literacy skills, whether through stories or the world around, and show a positive attitude towards reading and writing.
This area of learning covers the acquisition of number, and the ideas of space, shape and measure. Although children often learn to count by rote they also need to have an understanding that the word ‘one’, related to the written numeral ‘1’, is associated with a single object and that ‘two’ means two objects, and notions of double and half in concrete terms. Mathematics is also applied to solve problems, particularly relating to quantity, space and measure, and basic scientific concepts such as volume (which container holds more water etc). Encouraging children’s natural curiosity and helping them to enjoy mathematics gives them a solid foundation to progress, even if you don’t feel comfortable with advanced mathematical manipulations and prefer to use a calculator yourself.
Understanding the World
This area of learning is subdivided into People and Communities, Technology and The World. Children are natural investigators and very interested in the similarities, differences and changes they observe in the world around them. Encouraging this curiosity and providing opportunities for children to use all 5 sense to explore, experience consequences and reactions to their actions helps children to understand the world they live in. Through the people around them, their local community and other communities they are in contact with they learn about history and social values, through being in their own environment in contact with various types of toys and devices which rely on technology, from the commonplace such as a freezer to keep cold to the extraordinary such as a rocket to visit space via the TV, they can identify the different sorts of technology which surround us and what their uses are, and through visiting other places and looking at images they can learn about the world we live in. By providing different experiences and age-appropriate explanations you help children to make sense of their surroundings.
Expressive Arts and Design
This area of learning covers the Arts – music, dance, drama, art etc. – by encouraging children to explore different media and materials, and developing their imagination. Craft activities, singing songs and role play activities are all linked to this area of learning as adult led activities, but it is also important to let your charges develop their creativity and imagination by giving them free reign. Nannies have a huge amount of freedom to use local resources such as museums and concerts to supplement home based activities based around Expressive Arts and Design, and the chance to make the most of all the opportunities their charge’s home can provide to encourage creativity.
Why are the prime areas singled out?
The prime areas give children the most important life skills. They learn to communicate, both verbally and non-verbally, control their bodies, and manage their emotions and relationships with others. In the earliest years you should focus on the prime areas of development because this lays the foundations for progress in the specific areas.
How do I use these areas of learning as a nanny?
Although you may not be producing written plans, keeping the areas of learning set out in the EYFS in mind will help ensure you provide a balanced range of activities for your charges. One activity may fit into two or more specific areas of learning and all activities can help children develop in the prime areas. For example reading a book together is a literacy based activity and you may be introducing them to different letters and sounds, but they are also learning to listen and to ask and answer questions when talking about the story. You can let the child hold the book and turn pages to develop their motor skills and they are learning appropriate behaviour while reading, developing patience and experiencing reading as a social activity. Depending on the book you may find additional themes to help your charge with their personal or emotional development, for example a book about potty training or a new sibling.
What are the assessments in the EYFS?
The EYFS has two points of assessment: at 2 and at 5 years old. The 5 year assessment is carried out by a child’s reception teacher at the end of the year, but as a nanny you can carry out a 2 year progress check if you wish. This provides a good opportunity to reassure your employers that your charge is progressing well, or to raise any concerns. It is not a formal assessment which requires a lot of preparation and work but a snapshot of what a child can do.
What does the 2 year progress check involve?
You can find more information in the Docu-zone.
What do the Welfare Requirements mean for me as a nanny?
The welfare requirements in the EYFS which could apply to nannies cover child protection, safeguarding, the safety of the premises, health, managing behaviour and Special Educational Need.
As a nanny you are not subject to ratios (other than those indicated by your insurer) or minimum qualifications or training requirements (other than those required by a regulatory body that you are registered with).
All childcare professionals, including nannies, have a responsibility to all children to be aware of the signs of abuse and the local mechanisms for reporting suspicions of abuse, regardless of the EYFS. You should also be aware of the risks surrounding the use of mobile phones and cameras while caring for children, particularly storing and sending personal data and images.
Although your employers have a responsibility to ensure that you are a suitable person to care for their children you also have a responsibility to ensure that you are in a fit state to care for children, which includes but is not limited to not being under the influence of drugs, including over the counter or prescription medication which as adverse side effects, or alcohol, or experiencing health problems which may impact upon your ability to provide quality care.
It is good practice to carry out regular risk assessments on your workplace and discuss your findings with your employers, as well as minimising risks on a daily basis (e.g. putting away knives or moving small objects out of the reach of children). You should also be aware of the risks around you when out in the community and consider carrying out a formal risk assessment on any regular journeys outside the home by foot, by car or on public transport such as school runs.
Nannies are generally expected to care for children suffering from illnesses. As such you should be aware of the common signs of illness, effective infection control and best practice for recording and administering medication. BAPN produce a range of materials on Child Health if you want further information about any childhood illnesses, and a template form to record medication. You should have a method of recording accidents, and remember that you should inform your insurance company of any serious incidents. Health also covers good nutrition and food hygiene. Childcare professionals should always follow best practice for handling food and milk, and you can request more information from us on how this can be managed in a home setting.
As a nanny you must agree upon a strategy for managing behaviour with your employers. Members of BAPN agree not to use corporal punishment and to ensure that any consequences for undesirable behaviour are age-appropriate and not overly punitive as part of the professional standards. You are uniquely placed to guide and assist parents with managing their child’s day to day behaviour, modelling positive reinforcement and providing boundaries.
Finally, you may find yourself nannying a child with suspected or identified Special Educational Needs. Although you do not need to make a formal learning plan you should still differentiate your care and inform yourself about the particular needs of your charge and their learning and development. Your provision, taking the unique child in front of you into account, will automatically adapt to their needs in a way that larger settings can’t.