Nurture, Cherish, Succeed

Your new design will be uploaded in:
Please contact Delivery Team on
0113 3200 750 if you have any queries.

Cranborne Road, Newbold, Chesterfield, S41 8PF

01246 232370

Nurture, Cherish, Succeed

Nurture, Cherish, Succeed

  1. About Us
  2. EYFS
  3. EYFS Areas of Learning
  4. Understanding the world

Understanding the world

In the early years understanding the world is broken down into three aspects:

  • Past and present
  • People, culture and communities 
  • The natural world

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.


3 and 4-year-olds will be learning to:

  • Use all their senses in hands-on exploration of natural materials.
  • Explore collections of materials with similar and/or different properties.
  • Talk about what they see, using a wide vocabulary.
  • Begin to make sense of their own life-story and family’s history.
  • Show interest in different occupations.
  • Explore how things work.
  • Plant seeds and care for growing plants.
  • Understand the key features of the life cycle of a plant and an animal.
  • Begin to understand the need to respect and care for the natural environment and all living things.
  • Explore and talk about different forces they can feel.
  • Talk about the differences between materials and changes they notice.
  • Continue developing positive attitudes about the differences between people.
  • Know that there are different countries in the world and talk about the differences they have experienced or seen in photos.


Children in reception will be learning to: 

  • Talk about members of their immediate family and community.
  • Name and describe people who are familiar to them.
  • Comment on images of familiar situations in the past.
  • Compare and contrast characters from stories, including figures from the past.
  • Draw information from a simple map.
  • Understand that some places are special to members of their community.
  • Recognise that people have different beliefs and celebrate special times in different ways.
  • Recognise some similarities and differences between life in this country and life in other countries.
  • Explore the natural world around them.
  • Describe what they see, hear and feel whilst outside.
  • Recognise some environments that are different from the one in which they live.
  • Understand the effect of changing seasons on the natural world around them.


Early Learning Goals

Children are expected to achieve the following early learning goals (ELGs) for Understanding the World by the end of the academic year in which they reach the age of five.


Past and Present

Children at the expected level of development will:

  • talk about the lives of the people around them and their roles in society

  • know some similarities and differences between things in the past and now, drawing on their experiences and what has been read in class

  • understand the past through settings, characters and events encountered in books read in class and storytelling.



People, Culture and Communities

 Children at the expected level of development will:

  • describe their immediate environment using knowledge from observation, discussion, stories, non-fiction texts and maps

  • know some similarities and differences between different religious and cultural communities in this country, drawing on their experiences and what has been read in class

  • explain some similarities and differences between life in this country and life in other countries, drawing on knowledge from stories, non-fiction texts and – when appropriate – maps.



The Natural World

Children at the expected level of development will:

  • explore the natural world around them, making observations and drawing pictures of animals and plants

  • know some similarities and differences between the natural world around them and contrasting environments, drawing on their experiences and what has been read in class

  • understand some important processes and changes in the natural world around them, including the seasons and changing states of matter.

The EYFS states that the ELGs should not be used as a curriculum or in any way to limit the wide variety of rich experiences that are crucial to child development, from being read to frequently to playing with friends. Instead, the ELGs should support teachers to make a holistic, best-fit judgement about a child’s development, and their readiness for year 1.

What Understanding the World Means for Children

Developing this area of learning enables children to:

  • find out about the world through exploration and a variety of resources

  • have regular opportunities to learn about different ways of life and to develop caring attitudes

  • be supported to learn respect and value all people avoiding misapprehensions and negative attitudes

  • be involved in practical applications of their knowledge and skills to promote their self-esteem.

Understanding the world progression