Early Years

Understanding The World

Understanding The World

From 1st September 2021, the statutory framework for the EYFS (2021) states that educational programmes must involve activities and experiences for children, as set out under each of the areas of learning.

Understanding the world involves guiding children to make sense of their physical world and their community. The frequency and range of children’s personal experiences increases their knowledge and sense of the world around them – from visiting parks, libraries and museums to meeting important members of society such as police officers, nurses and firefighters. In addition, listening to a broad selection of stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems will foster their understanding of our culturally, socially, technologically and ecologically diverse world. As well as building important knowledge, this extends their familiarity with words that support understanding across domains. Enriching and widening children’s vocabulary will support later reading comprehension.

Increasingly, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) or STEAM (including the Arts) is being recognised as a critical part of Early Years learning, teaching and development. Understanding the World is the main area that underpins this in the EYFS. 

Understanding the World is broken into three aspects:

People and Communities

Joining an early years setting can be a child’s first experience of life outside the family home. They become part of a new community and will meet new people, explore different places and enjoy new experiences. Practitioners can support this transition by valuing all children and their families and by welcoming their unique contributions to the setting. This leads each child to develop a deeper understanding of the wider world and of the similarities and differences between their own lives and the lives of others.

The World

Children learn about different environments and about the natural world. Practitioners can build on children’s natural curiosity about the world around them by providing opportunities to observe, investigate and explore. Practitioners can help foster curiosity within children whilst developing their skills of observation, prediction, categorising, sorting, comparing, measuring and questioning. 


Technology is a significant influence in the lives of all children; even the youngest children may have accessed information about people and the world from everyday technology, often being able to operate equipment independently. Technology provides a relevant way to engage children in their learning and although it will change, technology will be an important aspect of their future learning. Very young children learn how their actions have an effect, for example when changing channels on the television and they can refine this understanding to make choices and decisions as their skills develop. Practitioners can support children’s learning by providing a wide range of technology based experiences (e.g. finding information, communicating, practising skills) that show the potential of this aspect of learning.

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