EYFS: A Unique Child: 1.1 Child Development

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By Jane Colerecently retired Foundation Stage regional adviser and early childhood consultant

We start this series looking at Commitment 1.1 Child Development, with the focus being on practitioners to consider the whole child, develop their competence as learners and realise their potential


Competent from birth

From the first moment a parent looks into their baby’s eyes and says ‘hello’, it is obvious to them what a powerful learner and communicator this new person in their family already is. These moments will soon be forgotten in hectic family life, but some researchers have filmed them. It is extraordinary to sit back and observe the ‘conversations’ between the baby and the adult: the baby mimicking facial movements and gestures; learning and developing every minute; using all of their senses to attach themselves to this significant person in their life; and to get their needs known and met. It is also very individual with the parent naturally delighting in their baby’s responses and stimulating them further.

This is an intimate time and its importance cannot be underestimated as the bonds that children make with their family and carers stay with them throughout life.

Child development

As a practitioner, we need to understand this continuous and complex process of development. Both from our training and experience of working with a range of babies and young children, we can build up our knowledge of these developmental pathways. The EYFS reminds us that each child will make individual progress, and it is not helpful to set ‘expectations’ that are too closely tied to ages. However, to help us in our work, the EYFS splits the birth to five age range into a series of broad developmental phases. This is particularly useful as many practitioners are trained and work with either children from birth to three, or from three to five. The EYFS is bringing together these guidance materials so that we can look at each individual child, identify their progress in learning and support their next steps – making your work developmentally appropriate and therefore effective whatever the age or stage of each child.

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