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Early Years Foundation Stage

Reception age children and religious education:

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS 2008) describes the phase of a child’s learning and development from birth to the end of the reception year at the age of 5.

Religious education is statutory for all pupils registered on the school roll. This means that religious education in accordance with the Agreed Syllabus is applicable to children in the reception class.  The statutory requirements for religious education do not extend to nursery classes, although religious education in its broadest sense will form a valuable part of the educational experience of children throughout the Key Stage.

There is a general requirement to provide for children’s spiritual, emotional, social and cultural development. For example: observing the growth of a seed, this may involve the opportunity to experience the awe and wonder, mystery and excitement of growth in the natural world.

The contribution of Religious Education to the ‘Early Learning Goals’:

The Early Learning Goals set out what most children should achieve by the end of the Early Years Foundation Stage. Religious Education can make an active contribution to all six areas of learning, but has a particularly important contribution to make to personal, social and emotional development and knowledge and understanding of the world.

Relevant goals from personal, social and emotional development:

Have a developing respect for their own cultures and beliefs and those of other people.

Understanding that people have different needs, views, cultures and beliefs that need to be treated with respect.

Understand that they can expect others to treat their needs, view, cultures and beliefs with respect.

Approaches to learning in Religious Education in the Early Years Foundation Stage linked to personal, social and emotional development could include:

  • children use stories from religious traditions as a stimulus to reflect on their own feelings and experiences and explore them in various ways;
  • children learn about a story and its meanings through activity and play. They reflect on the words and actions of characters and decide what they would have done in a similar situation;
  • using role-play as a stimulus, children talk about some of the ways that people show love and concern for others and why this is important;
  • children think about issues of right and wrong and how people help one another;
  • children begin to know about their own cultures and beliefs and those of other people.

Approaches to learning in Religious Education in the Early Years Foundation Stage linked to knowledge and understanding of the world could include children:

  • asking and answering questions about religions and culture as they occur within their everyday experiences.
  • visiting places of worship, show respect and learn new words.
  • listening and responding to a range of stimuli about and from different religious and ethnic groups and from the natural world.
  • handling artefacts with curiosity and respect.

Children will learn about:  themselves and  their families and friends, giving and receiving, belonging and why belonging is important. They will learn about people who are special to particular religions and special festivals and places of worship.  They will be involved in practical activities, listen to stories and take part in visits and listen and talk to special visitors.

Children will be supported to achieve the above Early Learning Goals during the Reception (and Nursery) class.  A summative assessment of their attainment will be completed at the end of the Reception Year using the Foundation Stage profile.

(Please see Resources page for more creative ideas for RE at EYFS)

Expectations at the end of  Early Years and Foundation Stage

Knowledge and Understanding

Pupils should begin to know about   the place of religion and belief in their local communityThey begin to recognise diversity and the influence of those religions and worldviews, and explore questions about the meaning, purpose and value of life.

They begin to know about some of the key features of Christianity and at least one other religion or non religious worldview,  including key beliefs, teaching and values behind celebrations and commemorations, patterns of worship, places of worship, and stories.

Children should be given opportunities to:

  • begin to explore the world of religion in terms of special people, books, times, places and objects and by visiting places of worship.
  • listen to and respond to stories.
  • hear and use religious words.

Skills and Attitudes

Pupils should begin to understand that people have a variety of life experiences and  to recognise a range of emotions in themselves and in  others.

Pupils should begin to know the difference between right and wrong . Begin to value themselves, others and the world in which they live, recognising  that they have responsibilities. They should start to on their own experiences and those of others and express their own thoughts.

Children should be given opportunities to:

  • Use their senses in exploring religion and beliefs, practices and forms of expression.
  • Reflect their own feelings and experiences.
  • Use their imagination and curiosity to develop their appreciation and wonder of the world in which they live.

Suggested teachings

Core ContentCore Content Examples and notes

( Some of the examples and notes are linked to units of work found in the Foundation Key Stage Solihull Handbook)
Easter, the cross and salvation The birth of Jesus (Foundation Stage 2004) p158,

Easter (Foundation Stage 2004) p168,

Making religious artefacts, Plays and performance, Stories of Jesus
Christian love (“Agape”) An enquiry into the idea of “Christian love”The Good Samaritan, (Foundation Stage 2004) p51,

I am the Good Shepherd, (Foundation Stage 2004) p208,

Healing the man who couldn’t walk, (Foundation Stage 2004) p248,

Zacchaeus (Foundation Stage 2004) p35