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Early years education: what is your child learning?

Whether your child is at nursery, playgroup, preschool or with a childminder, they will be laying the foundations for starting school.

Early Years Foundation Stage

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) sets standards for the learning, development and care of your child from birth to five years old.

All schools and Ofsted-registered early years providers must follow the EYFS, including childminders, preschools, nurseries and school reception classes.

What is the Early Years Foundation Stage framework?

Every child’s early years experience should be happy, active, exciting, fun and safe; and support their development, care and learning needs.

The Early Years Foundation Stage Framework (EYFS) exists to support all professionals working with pre-school children.

In 2012, the framework was updated to focus on how parents and carers support their child’s development. The areas of learning and development are all important and are interconnected. They give children the building blocks to learn, be critical thinkers, form relationships, understand the importance of sharing and taking turns, be sensitive to one another’s feelings and thrive through communication and language, physical development, and personal, social and emotional development.

Happy little boy colouring

Areas of learning

Your child will mostly be taught through games and play. The areas of learning are:

  • communication and language
  • physical development
  • personal, social and emotional development
  • literacy
  • mathematics
  • understanding the world
  • expressive arts and design


Your child’s progress will be reviewed when they’re between two and three by an early years practitioner or health visitor.

Their class teacher will assess them at the end of the school year when they turn five.

The assessment is based on classroom observation – your child won’t be tested. It uses the early learning goals, which can be found in the Early Years Framework.

How can you help with your child’s learning?

All the fun things you do with your child, from playing and exploring to creative and physical activities at home support their learning and development and will have a lasting impact on their progress.

The EYFS sets out:

  • The legal requirements that everyone registered to look after children must follow to keep your child safe and promote their welfare
  • The seven areas of learning and development which guide professionals’ engagement with your child’s play and activities as they learn new skills and knowledge
  • Assessments that will tell you about your child’s progress

Useful Links

Page last reviewed: 22-03-2021

Next review due: 22-03-2024