Find out how you can effectively support children's learning by responding to their common, basic needs and tailoring care to meet the individual needs of each child. This approach will ensure that every child has a solid foundation for learning in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS).
Children's needs differ according to their genetic make-up and life experiences but there are some basic needs that are vital for all children to be able to thrive and learn well. All children need to feel comfortable, warm, well fed, safe and loved. To meet these basic needs, the learning environment should provide children with caring, responsive and knowledgeable key people to be with and learn from. When children feel safe and know that there is someone who they can depend upon, they develop confidence to tackle new challenges and are prepared to take risks. They explore and experiment, relate well to others and are independent but will seek help when necessary.
Beyond basic needs, all children have their own needs that arise from a combination of genetic factors, cultural practices, social trends and many experiences. Children's individual identities develop from the expectations of their families, culture and the society in which they live. They need to know who they are and how they belong in whatever situation they find themselves if they are to feel valued, confident and good about themselves. All of children's experiences contribute to their sense of self, their disposition to learn and their understanding of the world around them. We must expect differences in what they know, can do and feel, and we should be ready and enthusiastic contributors to each of their learning journeys.
The bedrock of enabling learning is to create an environment that is flexible and varied enough to respect and respond to individual needs. For example, some children may be very fluent and respond readily to suggestions that they construct stories in their imaginative play. Others may be shy but equally capable of composing narratives with the support of role-play that reflects their interests, and additional reassurance and encouragement.
It is vital to talk with parents about the needs of children whose development is giving cause for concern, as parents and children may need extra support to promote their children's developing capabilities. Where needs are clearly identified and understood, both people and resources can be harnessed to create an environment that enhances learning and development.