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starting-school

Early years foundation stage checklist

Is your little one on track?

What developments you can expect to see and when

When do they count to 10? When do they say their first word? Sometimes it can be hard for mums to know if their little ones are developing at the ‘right’ pace. If you’d like to know more, there’s official guidance on what they might do and when.

At a glance

  • The EYFS guidelines cover 17 key areas of development
  • They list the mental and physical skills and abilities children are likely to develop
  • The guidelines are aimed at nurseries & providers of education rather than parents
early-years-foundation-stage-checklist

It’s always good to know that our kids are progressing roughly in line with what’s expected for their age. No one wants to be competitive about their little one’s development but it can be useful to know what developments we can expect to see – and when.

The British Association for Early Childhood Education

The British Association for Early Childhood Education, in partnership with the Department for Education, produces a list of mental and physical skills and abilities children are likely to develop in five overlapping age groups (Birth to 11 months; 8-20 months; 16-26 months; 22-36 months; 30-50 months) and how the adults in their lives can help them develop those skills. 

The guidelines cover 17 key areas. These are: making relationships, self-confidence and self-awareness, managing feelings and behaviour, listening and attention, understanding, speaking; moving and handling, health and self-care; reading, writing; numbers, shape, space and measure, people and communities, the world, technology, exploring and using media and materials and being imaginative.

The guidelines are aimed at nurseries and providers of education in the Early Years Foundation Stage (aged 2-5) rather than at parents. They stress that the guidelines shouldn’t be used as checklists because children develop at their own rates and in their own ways. You can read the full version of the EYFS guidelines here if you’d like to know more.

Here’s a snapshot of what the framework suggests:

Understanding

Birth to 11 months

  • Stops and looks when hears own name
  • Starts to understand contextual clues, e.g. familiar gestures, words and sounds

8-20 months

  • Developing the ability to follow others’ body language, including pointing and gesture
  • Responds to the different things said when in a familiar context with a special person (e.g. ‘Where’s Mummy?’, ‘Where’s your nose?’)
  • Understanding of single words in context is developing, e.g. ‘cup’, ‘milk’, ‘daddy’

16-26 months

  • Selects familiar objects by name and will go and find objects when asked, or identify objects from a group
  • Understands simple sentences (e.g. ‘Throw the ball.’)

22-36 months

  • Identifies action words by pointing to the right picture, e.g., “Who’s jumping?”
  • Understands more complex sentences, e.g. ‘Put your toys away and then we’ll read a book.’
  • Understands ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’ in simple questions (e.g. Who’s that/can? What’s that? Where is.?)
  • Developing understanding of simple concepts (e.g. big/little)

30-50 months

  • Understands use of objects (e.g. “What do we use to cut things?’)
  • Shows understanding of prepositions such as ‘under’, ‘on top’, ‘behind’ by carrying out an action or selecting correct picture
  • Responds to simple instructions, e.g. to get or put away an object
  • Beginning to understand ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions

40-60+ months

  • Responds to instructions involving a two-part sequence
  • Understands humour, e.g. nonsense rhymes, jokes
  • Able to follow a story without pictures or props
  • Listens and responds to ideas expressed by others in conversation or discussion

Speaking

Birth to 11 months

  • Communicates needs and feelings in a variety of ways including crying, gurgling, babbling and squealing
  • Makes own sounds in response when talked to by familiar adults
  • Lifts arms in anticipation of being picked up
  • Practises and gradually develops speech sounds (babbling) to communicate with adults; says sounds like ‘baba, nono, gogo’

8-20 months

  • Uses sounds in play, e.g. ‘brrrm’ for toy car
  • Uses single words
  • Frequently imitates words and sounds
  • Enjoys babbling and increasingly experiments with using sounds and words to communicate for a range of purposes (e.g. teddy, more, no, bye-bye.)
  • Uses pointing with eye gaze to make requests, and to share an interest
  • Creates personal words as they begin to develop language

16-26 months

  • Copies familiar expressions, e.g. ‘Oh dear’, ‘All gone’
  • Beginning to put two words together (e.g. ‘want ball’, ‘more juice’)
  • Uses different types of everyday words (nouns, verbs and adjectives, e.g. banana, go, sleep, hot)
  • Beginning to ask simple questions
  • Beginning to talk about people and things that are not present

22-36 months

  • Uses language as a powerful means of widening contacts, sharing feelings, experiences and thoughts
  • Holds a conversation, jumping from topic to topic
  • Learns new words very rapidly and is able to use them in communicating
  • Uses gestures, sometimes with limited talk, e.g. reaches toward toy, saying ‘I have it’
  • Uses a variety of questions (e.g. what, where, who)
  • Uses simple sentences (e.g.’ Mummy gonna work.’)
  • Beginning to use word endings (e.g. going, cats)

30-50 months

  • Beginning to use more complex sentences to link thoughts (e.g. using and, because)
  • Can retell a simple past event in correct order (e.g. went down slide, hurt finger)
  • Uses talk to connect ideas, explain what is happening and anticipate what might happen next, recall and relive past experiences
  • Questions why things happen and gives explanations. Asks e.g. who, what, when, how
  • Uses a range of tenses (e.g. play, playing, will play, played)
  • Uses intonation, rhythm and phrasing to make the meaning clear to others
  • Uses vocabulary focused on objects and people that are of particular importance to them
  • Builds up vocabulary that reflects the breadth of their experiences
  • Uses talk in pretending that objects stand for something else in play, e,g, ‘This box is my castle.’

40-60+ months

  • Extends vocabulary, especially by grouping and naming, exploring the meaning and sounds of new words
  • Uses language to imagine and recreate roles and experiences in play situations
  • Links statements and sticks to a main theme or intention
  • Uses talk to organise, sequence and clarify thinking, ideas, feelings and events
  • Introduces a storyline or narrative into their play

Reading

Birth to 11 months

  • Enjoys looking at books and other printed material with familiar people

8-20 months

  • Handles books and printed material with interest

16-26 months

  • Interested in books and rhymes and may have favourites

22-36 months

  • Has some favourite stories, rhymes, songs, poems or jingles
  • Repeats words or phrases from familiar stories
  • Fills in the missing word or phrase in a known rhyme, story or game, e.g. ‘Humpty Dumpty sat on a …’.  

30-50 months

  • Enjoys rhyming and rhythmic activities
  • Shows awareness of rhyme and alliteration
  • Recognises rhythm in spoken words
  • Listens to and joins in with stories and poems, one-to-one and also in small groups
  • Joins in with repeated refrains and anticipates key events and phrases in rhymes and stories
  • Beginning to be aware of the way stories are structured
  • Suggests how the story might end
  • Listens to stories with increasing attention and recall
  • Describes main story settings, events and principal characters
  • Shows interest in illustrations and print in books and print in the environment
  • Recognises familiar words and signs such as own name and advertising logos
  • Looks at books independently
  • Handles books carefully
  • Knows information can be relayed in the form of print
  • Holds books the correct way up and turns pages
  • Knows that print carries meaning and, in English, is read from left to right and top to bottom

40-60+ months

  • Continues a rhyming string
  • Hears and says the initial sound in words
  • Can segment the sounds in simple words and blend them together and knows which letters represent some of them
  • Links sounds to letters, naming and sounding the letters of the alphabet
  • Begins to read words and simple sentences
  • Uses vocabulary and forms of speech that are increasingly influenced by their experiences of books
  • Enjoys an increasing range of books
  • Knows that information can be retrieved from books and computers

Numbers

Birth to 11 months

  • Notices changes in number of objects/images or sounds in group of up to 3

8-20 months

  • Develops an awareness of number names through their enjoyment of action rhymes and songs that relate to their experience of numbers
  • Has some understanding that things exist, even when out of sight

16-26 months

  • Knows that things exist, even when out of sight
  • Beginning to organise and categorise objects, e.g. putting all the teddy bears together or teddies and cars in separate piles
  • Says some counting words randomly

22-36 months

  • Selects a small number of objects from a group when asked, for example, ‘please give me one’, ‘please give me two’
  • Recites some number names in sequence
  • Creates and experiments with symbols and marks representing ideas of number
  • Begins to make comparisons between quantities
  • Uses some language of quantities, such as ‘more’ and ‘a lot’
  • Knows that a group of things changes in quantity when something is added or taken away

30-50 months

  • Uses some number names and number language spontaneously
  • Uses some number names accurately in play
  • Recites numbers in order to 10
  • Knows that numbers identify how many objects are in a set
  • Beginning to represent numbers using fingers, marks on paper or pictures
  • Sometimes matches numeral and quantity correctly
  • Shows curiosity about numbers by offering comments or asking questions
  • Compares two groups of objects, saying when they have the same number
  • Shows an interest in number problems
  • Separates a group of three or four objects in different ways, beginning to recognise that the total is still the same
  • Shows an interest in numerals in the environment
  • Shows an interest in representing numbers
  • Realises not only objects, but anything can be counted, including steps, claps or jumps

40-60+ months

  • Recognise some numerals of personal significance
  • Recognises numerals 1 to 5
  • Counts up to three or four objects by saying one number name for each item
  • Counts actions or objects which cannot be moved
  • Counts objects to 10, and beginning to count beyond 10
  • Counts out up to six objects from a larger group
  • Selects the correct numeral to represent 1 to 5, then 1 to 10 objects
  • Counts an irregular arrangement of up to ten objects
  • Estimates how many objects they can see and checks by counting them
  • Uses the language of ‘more’ and ‘fewer’ to compare two sets of objects
  • Finds the total number of items in two groups by counting all of them
  • Says the number that is one more than a given number
  • Finds one more or one less from a group of up to five objects, then ten objects
  • In practical activities and discussion, beginning to use the vocabulary involved in adding and subtracting
  • Records, using marks that they can interpret and explain
  • Begins to identify own mathematical problems based on own interests and fascinations

Health and self-care

Birth to 11 months

  • Responds to and thrives on warm, sensitive physical contact and care
  • Expresses discomfort, hunger or thirst
  • Anticipates food routines with interest

8-20 months

  • Opens mouth for spoon
  • Holds own bottle or cup
  • Grasps finger foods and brings them to mouth
  • Attempts to use spoon: can guide towards mouth but food often falls off
  • Can actively cooperate with nappy changing (lies still, helps hold legs up)
  • Starts to communicate urination, bowel movement

16-26 months

  • Develops own likes and dislikes in food and drink
  • Willing to try new food textures and tastes
  • Holds cup with both hands and drinks without much spilling
  • Clearly communicates wet or soiled nappy or pants
  • Shows some awareness of bladder and bowel urges
  • Shows awareness of what a potty or toilet is used for
  • Shows a desire to help with dressing/undressing and hygiene routines

22-36 months

  • Feeds self competently with spoon
  • Drinks well without spilling
  • Clearly communicates their need for potty or toilet
  • Beginning to recognise danger and seeks support of significant adults for help
  • Helps with clothing, e.g. puts on hat, unzips zipper on jacket, takes off unbuttoned shirt
  • Beginning to be independent in self-care, but still often needs adult support

30-50 months

  • Can tell adults when hungry or tired or when they want to rest or play
  • Observes the effects of activity on their bodies
  • Understands that equipment and tools have to be used safely
  • Gains more bowel and bladder control and can attend to toileting needs most of the time themselves
  • Can usually manage washing and drying hands
  • Dresses with help, e.g. puts arms into open-fronted coat or shirt when held up, pulls up own trousers, and pulls up zipper once it is fastened at the bottom

40-60+ months

  • Eats a healthy range of foodstuffs and understands need for variety in food
  • Usually dry and clean during the day
  • Shows some understanding that good practices with regard to exercise, eating, sleeping and hygiene can contribute to good health
  • Shows understanding of the need for safety when tackling new challenges, and considers and manages some risks
  • Shows understanding of how to transport and store equipment safely
  • Practices some appropriate safety measures without direct supervision

Moving and handling

Birth to 11 months

  • Turns head in response to sounds and sights
  • Gradually develops ability to hold up own head
  • Makes movements with arms and legs which gradually become more controlled
  • Rolls over from front to back, from back to front
  • When lying on tummy becomes able to lift first head and then chest, supporting self with forearms and then straight arms
  • Watches and explores hands and feet, e.g. when lying on back lifts legs into vertical position and grasps feet
  • Reaches out for, touches and begins to hold objects
  • Explores objects with mouth, often picking up an object and holding it to the mouth

8-20 months

  • Sits unsupported on the floor
  • When sitting, can lean forward to pick up small toys
  • Pulls to standing, holding on to furniture or person for support
  • Crawls, bottom shuffles or rolls continuously to move around
  • Walks around furniture lifting one foot and stepping sideways (cruising), and walks with one or both hands held by adult
  • Takes first few steps independently
  • Passes toys from one hand to the other
  • Holds an object in each hand and brings them together in the middle, e.g. holds two blocks and bangs them together
  • Picks up small objects between thumb and fingers
  • Enjoys the sensory experience of making marks in damp sand, paste or paint
  • Holds pen or crayon using a whole hand (palmar) grasp and makes random marks with different strokes

16-26 months

  • Walks upstairs holding hand of adult
  • Comes downstairs backwards on knees (crawling)
  • Beginning to balance blocks to build a small tower
  • Makes connections between their movement and the marks they make

22-36 months

  • Runs safely on whole foot
  • Squats with steadiness to rest or play with object on the ground, and rises to feet without using hands
  • Climbs confidently and is beginning to pull themselves up on nursery play climbing equipment
  • Can kick a large ball
  • Turns pages in a book, sometimes several at once
  • Shows control in holding and using jugs to pour, hammers, books and mark-making tools
  • Beginning to use three fingers (tripod grip) to hold writing tools
  • Imitates drawing simple shapes such as circles and lines
  • Walks upstairs or downstairs holding onto a rail two feet to a step
  • May be beginning to show preference for dominant hand

30-50 months

  • Moves freely and with pleasure and confidence in a range of ways, such as slithering, shuffling, rolling, crawling, walking, running, jumping, skipping, sliding and hopping
  • Mounts stairs, steps or climbing equipment using alternate feet
  • Walks downstairs, two feet to each step while carrying a small object
  • Runs skilfully and negotiates space successfully, adjusting speed or direction to avoid obstacles
  • Can stand momentarily on one foot when shown
  • Can catch a large ball
  • Draws lines and circles using gross motor movements
  • Uses one-handed tools and equipment, e.g. makes snips in paper with child scissors
  • Holds pencil between thumb and two fingers, no longer using whole-hand grasp
  • Holds pencil near point between first two fingers and thumb and uses it with good control
  • Can copy some letters, e.g. letters from their name

40-60+ months

  • Experiments with different ways of moving
  • Jumps off an object and lands appropriately
  • Negotiates space successfully when playing racing and chasing games with other children, adjusting speed or changing direction to avoid obstacles
  • Travels with confidence and skill around, under, over and through balancing and climbing equipment
  • Shows increasing control over an object in pushing, patting, throwing, catching or kicking it
  • Uses simple tools to effect changes to materials
  • Handles tools, objects, construction and malleable materials safely and with increasing control
  • Shows a preference for a dominant hand
  • Begins to use anticlockwise movement and retrace vertical lines
  • Begins to form recognisable letters
  • Uses a pencil and holds it effectively to form recognisable letters, most of which are correctly formed

To see what other mum's  are talking about, visit the Bounty Toddler Community

At a glance

  • The EYFS guidelines cover 17 key areas of development
  • They list the mental and physical skills and abilities children are likely to develop
  • The guidelines are aimed at nurseries & providers of education rather than parents
The guidelines should not be used as a checklist as children develop at their own rate & in their own ways

Early years foundation stage checklist