What are the Benefits and Challenges of an Integrated Foundation Phase Curriculum in terms of Developing Childrens Learning?

Authors Avatar

                CS2 Assignment – G106372

What are the Benefits and Challenges of an Integrated Foundation Phase Curriculum in terms of Developing Children’s Learning?

The Foundation Phase, launched in 2001, is the new approach for learning aimed at children aged three to seven years, replacing the Key Stage One and Early Years Curriculums. Whilst there are no single curricular subjects for the children to learn, there are 7 areas of learning, which are taught through an holistic approach; Creative Development, Mathematical Development, Physical Development, Knowledge and Understanding of the World, Language, Literacy and Communication, Personal and Social Development, Well-Being and Multi-Cultural Diversity (PSDWBMCD) and Welsh Language Development.

‘An appropriate curriculum for young learners in the Foundation Phase in

Wales should be made up of integrated and overlapping areas of learning.’ (WAG, 2003, p.9) This means that during a single activity a child may gain several different skills at once and that the areas of learning should not be taught in isolation (See Appendix 1). The means for implementing this style of teaching is through topics and themes rather than subjects such as English, Maths and Science. Using themes allows teachers to provide opportunities for developing skills in many if not all of the areas of learning. The cross-curricular areas also enable children to advance their logic, problem solving skills, perceptive thinking and conceptual skills. As a result, each child will proceed to develop their skills and their personality in an holistic manner.

Both work and assessment in the Foundation Phase goes beyond the textbooks of the old curriculum. Observation of young children in this system of learning shows progression in all aspects of the child development, not just their academic ability. The child’s personal and social skills are assessed, along with their ability to become more self-reliant, independent and active learners. Children’s skills and knowledge of how the world works (Knowledge and Understanding of the World) are not developed merely as a demonstrable amalgam of the sciences, geography and history, but as applicable skills in logic and adaptation of prior knowledge and experiences.

As an integrated curriculum, the Foundation Phase is dedicated to developing each child in an holistic approach. Great emphasis is placed on the child’s personal and social well-being and is seen as “a central concept” (WAG, 2008, p.5) in order for them to become confident and independent learners. This will be discussed in further depth below.

This essay will examine the holistic and integrated nature of the Foundation Phase curriculum with particular reference to its benefits and challenges that may be present in participating schools involving the staff and pupils.

One of the key features of the integrated Foundation Phase is the focus on the child’s stage of development and not their age. Additionally, it can be argued that ‘when the program at each age level is developmentally appropriate, children’s transitions between programs or groups will be smoother and more successful.’ – a positive perspective provided by BREDKAMP (1997, p.122).

The central tenet of this idea is that children are the centre of their own learning, whilst the role of adults is to guide and facilitate the learning process, not to teach directly. The purpose of this framework is to emphasise active involvement which allows the child to develop a positive attitude to lifelong learning and achievement through pursuing their own interests and actively increasing their own motivation and developing skills for communication, creativity and social awareness. These skills are expanded in experiential learning through play and focused activities appropriate to an individual’s stage of development which are relevant to every-day living.

Learning through experience or play is an ‘essential ingredient’ (WAG, 2008, p.5) in the Foundation Phase, but also to teaching an integrated curriculum successfully. ‘It is in their play that children show their intelligence at the highest level of which they are capable’ (BRUCE, 2001, p.112), thus providing more reliable evidence of an individual’s progress or development. The idea of learning through play is not a new one. Even Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Johann Pestalozzi agreed that education of children should be according to the child’s nature, which is of course, to play. Freidrich Froebel’s writing was one of the first influencing a major step forward toward experiential learning as it was he who suggested that “children should be encouraged to do something instead of being told or shown”. (POUND, 2005, p.15) An additional key theorist is John Dewey, whose theory agreed with Froebel in that children should learn by doing and that activities should be relevant to real-life experiences.

Join now!

In accordance with Rouseau’s ideal of “let children be children” (POUND, 2005, p.6) children are able to learn about what interests them and focus on progressing in those areas through their play. This does not mean that other areas are neglected. Language, literacy communication and mathematical development are given a high priority and through focused tasks are given a ‘solid foundation’ (WAG, 2008, p.8). On the contrary, the result is that the children are able to learn and develop these skills whilst learning about a topic that they find interesting and are naturally curious about. The skills that are emphasised ...

This is a preview of the whole essay