Early Years

Enabling Learning Environments

Enabling Learning Environments

Enabling Learning Environments

The statutory framework for the EYFS (2021) states that one of the overarching principles that should shape practice in all Early Years settings is that children learn and develop well in enabling environments.

Getting the environment right for your community of children and giving them access to a well-considered continuous provision takes a lot of thought and effort. While there is no universally agreed definition, continuous provision is resourced for the children to explore, make choices, initiate play and consolidate learning across the areas of learning. The selected resources should support the curriculum, interests and support next steps and depth of learning. It should also give children the opportunity to demonstrate the Characteristics of Effective Teaching and Learning (CETL). The environment should follow on from adult-led learning around skills, knowledge and experiences taught as part of your curriculum.


How do you know if your continuous provision is working?

Are children…

  • engaged and involved?
  • exploring and making choices?
  • Challenged, taking risks and learning something new?
  • consolidating skills, knowledge and experiences?
  • able to demonstrate their independent learning to you?


Considerations for managing continuous provision

  • Be clear about the intention of the area and link to CETL, based on your planning
  • Enhance the areas with resources that will develop curriculum (experiences, knowledge and skills, vocabulary) next steps, interests, progressive opportunities
  • Flexible – tomorrow follows on from today
  • Planning document – to support the team working with the children
  • Reflect, evaluate then enhance, tweak or change
  • Areas allocated to team members to manage and resource


What is the role of the adult in continuous provision?

Considerations for interactions

  • Develop language
  • Step back or step in, enhance the play, not stop it
  • Develop cognitive skills and foster CETL
  • Support children to embed knowledge and skills taught in different contexts
  • Provide challenge
  • Entice children in
  • Chance to observe how the children are progressing


What is the role of the adult in continuous provision?

Considerations for planning

  • Is the intent clear?
  • Does it support next steps?
  • Does it reflect children’s interests?
  • Does the area provide challenge? Group or individual?
  • Does it facilitate CEL, does it provide opportunities to engage, be motivated and think?
  • Is vocabulary considered, differentiated and progressive?
  • Is the area resourced well to meet the above?


With each zone of learning in your continuous provision, have you considered the following:

  • Is there an appropriate amount of space?
  • Can children and staff circulate freely in the zone?
  • Is space arranged so that pathways don’t interrupt play?
  • Is the noise level appropriate for the space?
  • Is the furniture sturdy and in good repair?
  • Is the space clean, tidy and well organised?
  • Are resources and materials organised by type?
  • Are resources independently self-selectable and accessible so children can choose what they want to do? Are the resources displayed at child height?
  • Are resources and materials clearly labelled with pictures and words? Are labels bilingual where appropriate?


From the children’s perspective, how does your provision:

  • entice, invite, excite and encourage children to explore?
  • promote open-ended play opportunities throughout?
  • provides quality, real life objects for the children to play with and explore?
  • give children the chance to think?
  • support and celebrate the process of learning rather than the product of learning?
  • offer children the opportunity to talk and have a conversation about the learning they are engaged in? How is the provision communication rich?
  • give children the opportunity to play with natural loose parts so they can take their learning anywhere they wish?
  • provide ambition and challenge?

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