In Reception we follow the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). We deliver our curriculum through the 7 areas of learning in the EYFS Framework.
The EYFS is a single framework to support children's learning and development from Birth to 5 years. The framework recognises children as individuals and competent learners. The EYFS is delivered through a well planned play based approach to learning and development. At this stage learning is all about playing, 'hands-on' investigating and discovery.
A huge amount is learned through instructional talking where new vocabulary and ideas are introduced. The children aren't just left to it; the teacher has to plan carefully to introduce the skills and concepts through structured, enjoyable learning activities. At all ages we learn most effectively by 'doing' and 'first hand' experiences followed by lots of rehearsing and repetition to consolidate what has been learnt.
There shouldn't be a distinction between play and work at this stage. Sometimes there is no 'learning outcome', for instance a walk in the garden to listen for sounds, role play in the 'Sea World, or the 'Potting shed', singing songs etc, but these activities develop skills and reinforce knowledge.
Often what appears to be a simple learning outcome, like a vehicle made from junk, encapsulates a realm of ideas, skills, design features and is accompanied by high level thinking and lots of informed talk. If your child says they did 'nothing' at school today- don't believe them!!