What is the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)?

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(Photo by Seattle City Council)

What is the EYFS?

Early Years Foundation Stage, typically abbreviated to EYFS, is a UK government framework that sets out welfare and development goals for children aged five and under. If your child is in any form of childcare beyond their parents (i.e. nanny, childminder, nursery, pre-school, reception year at school etc) the EYFS framework will be used to monitor and track your child’s progress. This information on your child’s development will be shared with you.

In terms of the development sections covered within EYFS these are separated into the following:

  • Prime areas of Learning and Development
    • Personal, social and emotional development
    • Communication and language
    • Physical development
  • Specific areas of learning and development
    • Literacy
    • Mathematics
    • Understanding the world
    • Expressive Arts & Design

Below are the EYFS early learning goals, from the Statutory framework for the early years foundation stage (from 1 September 2014).


At the bottom of each section there are toys, apps and play ideas to support your child’s learning in that subject area.


Personal, social and emotional development

Self-confidence and self-awareness

  • Are confident to try new activities
  • Can say why they like some activities more than others
  • Are confident to speak in a familiar group
  • Will talk about their ideas
  • Will choose the resources they need for their chosen activities
  • Say when they do or don’t need help

Managing feelings and behaviour

  • Talk about how they and others show feelings
  • Talk about their own and others’ behaviour, and its consequences
  • Know that some behaviour is unacceptable
  • Work as part of a group or class
  • Understand and follow the rules
  • Adjust their behaviour to different situations
  • Take changes of routine in their stride

Making relationships

  • Play co-operatively, taking turns with others
  • Take account of one another’s ideas about how to organise their activity
  • Show sensitivity to others’ needs and feelings
  • Form positive relationships with adults and other children


Communication and language

Listening and attention

  • Listen attentively in a range of situations
  • Listen to stories, accurately anticipating key events
  • Respond to what they hear with relevant comments, questions or actions
  • Give their attention to what others say and respond appropriately, while engaged in another activity


  • Follow instructions involving several ideas or actions
  • Answer ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions about their experiences and in response to stories or events


  • Express themselves effectively, showing awareness of listeners’ needs
  • Use past, present and future forms accurately when talking about events that have happened or are to happen in the future
  • Develop their own narratives and explanations by connecting ideas or events

Physical development

Moving and handling

  • Show good control and co-ordination in large and small movements
  • Move confidently in a range of ways, safely negotiating space
  • Handle equipment and tools effectively, including pencils for writing

Health and self-care

  • Know the importance for good health of physical exercise, and a healthy diet
  • Talk about ways to keep healthy and safe
  • Manage their own basic hygiene and personal needs successfully, including dressing and going to the toilet independently



  • Read and understand simple sentences
  • Use phonic knowledge to decode regular words and read them aloud accurately
  • Read some common irregular words
  • Demonstrate understanding when talking with others about what they have read



  • Use their phonic knowledge to write words in ways which match their spoken sounds
  • Write some irregular common words
  • Write simple sentences which can be read by themselves and others
  • Spell some words correctly and others are phonetically plausible



  • Count reliably with numbers from 1 to 20
  • Place the numbers 1-20 in order and say which number is one more or one less than a given number
  • Using quantities and objects, they add and subtract two single-digit numbers and count on or back to find the answer
  • Solve problems, including doubling, halving and sharing

Shape, space and measures

  • Use everyday language to talk about size, weight, capacity, position, distance, time and money to compare quantities and objects and to solve problems
  • Recognise, create and describe patterns
  • Explore characteristics of everyday objects and shapes and use mathematical language to describe them

Understanding the world

People and communities

  • Talk about past and present events in their own lives and in the lives of family members
  • Know that other children don’t always enjoy the same things, and are sensitive to this
  • Know about similarities and differences between themselves and others, and among families, communities and traditions

The world

  • Know about similarities and differences in relation to places, objects, materials and living things
  • Talk about the features of their own immediate environment and how environments might vary from one another
  • Make observations of animals and plants and explain why some things occur, and talk about changes


  • Recognise that a range of technology is used in places such as homes and schools
  • Select and use technology for particular purposes

Expressive arts and design

Exploring and using media and materials

  • Sing songs, make music and dance, and experiment with ways of changing them
  • Safely use and explore a variety of materials, tools and techniques
  • Experiment with colour, design, texture, form and function

Being imaginative

  • Use what they have learnt about media and materials in original ways, thinking about uses and purposes
  • Represent their own ideas, thoughts and feelings through design and technology, art, music, dance, role play and stories