The Foundation Stage isn’t called the ‘Foundation Stage’ for nothing. It is the foundation of later learning in all areas. But in an increasingly government driven curriculum children are being forced into formal schooling priorities sooner and sooner.
Of course mathematics and literacy are essential skills and we teach these in fun and multi-sensory ways but how many of us still feel the pressure to make mathematics and literacy our primary focus and all thanks to the DfE and Ofsted. Some skills, like maths and literacy, will come naturally over a child’s time in education and, at the very least, the vast majority will end up with a level of maths and literacy skills that comfortably gets them through their days.
Some skills, however, are in built as children but almost disappear by adulthood. Think about all of the adults you encounter in your daily life; family, friends, people on Facebook, people who are on the television. How many of these people still ask questions and ponder the wonders of the world that we all share? How many of them take a moment to soak in nature and wonder about its intricacies? How many dare to dream and wonder? Now think about how many have already built their ideas and habits and view of the world and that is that. They will be swayed by a compelling argument but otherwise are pretty fond of their own view of the world and comfortable in their knowledge of it. Comfortable enough not to need to wonder and explore.
There is nothing wrong with this. Being grateful, satisfied, mindful and settled is what we all strive for and it is what I hope for my own children but then… is it really? Are the great explorer, scientists, inventors, artists and innovators of the world the people who were happy to settle? Or are they the ones who never stopped wondering and imagining? Is our job as educators and parents to teach the children in our care that there is a certain fixed, straight train of thought that they should follow and a predestined future that there is no need to bother questioning? Or is our role to help them to, not only be mindful and find happiness where they can, but also to never stop wondering, never stop imagining and never stop questioning? There is a reason why Communication and Language is one of the prime areas. Let's never let the changes in the curriculum make us forget that.