Learning opportunities

Children learn and develop at their own pace, but more rapidly during the first five years of their life than at any other time. As a parent, you know your child better than anyone and will be able to identify what they can do at any given stage. High-quality childcare providers will start by getting to know your child as an individual – what they can do and what interests them the most. They’ll follow your child’s interests to foster their learning under the Early years foundation stage statutory frameworks in England or the Foundation Phase in Wales.


In England, the Early years foundation stage statutory frameworks are used by all early years practitioners, including Reception teachers, registered childminders and nurseries.

There are the seven areas of learning under the Early years foundation stage statutory frameworks and your childcare provider will focus on the first three – the prime areas of learning – when caring for your child:

Prime areas of learning:

  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development
  • Physical Development
  • Communication and Language

Specific areas of learning:

  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Understanding the World
  • Expressive Art and Design

Check out What to expect in the Early Years Foundation Stage: a guide for parents for a guide to these areas of learning and development and what to expect at various ages.


In Wales the curriculum delivered in early years settings has five developmental pathways.  They focus on what is important for the child and link closely to the key principles of child development. The five developmental pathways are:

  • belonging
  • communication
  • exploration
  • physical development
  • well-being

An enabling environment

A large part of supporting children to learn and thrive is creating an enabling environment. Childcare providers should respond to children’s individual interests and children should be supported to learn through a rich variety of fun activities at the setting. High-quality toys and resources should be provided as well as plenty of opportunity to learn and explore outdoors.