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Parent's guide to nursery curriculum - birth to three

Updated: Jul 19, 2022

Are you about to register your little one for a nursery space but aren’t sure what to expect?

Or maybe you’re already registered but are unsure about what we do in the nursery or how your little one is learning?

Over 6 weeks, we are doing a deep dive into everything you need to know about the EYFS, development matters and more to help you better understand our nursery’s curriculum!

This section is all about Development Matters for birth to three (click here for more information).

Here, we will include examples of your little one using Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) skills followed by how they will develop this and finally what you can do to help their learning.

Missed part 3? Click here to read it!

Let's dive straight in!

Communication and Language

When they’re a baby they will…

Turn towards familiar sounds, are startled by loud noises and can locate the source of a familiar voice, as well as listen and respond to simple instructions.

Gaze at faces and copy facial expressions. They will also take turns in joining in with conversations by babbling and use sounds and gestures to get attention and communicate.

When they’re a bit older they will…

Understand and be able to pronounce l/r/w/y f/th s/sh/ch/dz/j, speak single and frequently used words whilst also being able to recognise and point to objects when asked.

Listen when someone is talking and be able to understand longer sentences and simple questions, but get frustrated when they can’t make themselves understood.

Things you can do to help

Talking is vital! Listen and respond to babble, have back and forth conversations, talk about what you’re doing (e.g. ‘I’m pouring milk into the cup’), tell your little one names of objects as they pick them up.

Songs and rhymes can also be very helpful to help your child develop these skills.

Personal, Social and Emotional Development

When they’re a baby they will…

Develop best when provided with warm, loving, and responsive care: this will help your little one begin to develop a sense of self by interacting with yourself and others. In turn, they will feel more confident both in interactions with others and when exploring new things.

Your baby will also be able to show you what they want using gestures, eye contact and words whilst also learning to cope with feeling sad when you leave them.

Wanting more independence may sometimes result in your child becoming frustrated when they want to do something themselves but can’t.

When they’re a bit older they will…

Begin to understand how to wait for their turn and control their feelings - by learning about feelings through stories and play and by learning to talk about how they are feeling.

They will also be learning how to make friends with other children and start to show you they are ready to use the potty.

Things you can do to help

Provide loving, responsive and playful interactions – be sure to find out what makes them feel calm.

Allow them to be a little more independent by providing choices between two things and allow them to help with the preparation of lunch, snacks, drinks etc.

Teach them more feelings and patience – labelling feelings with words and modelling turn-taking.

Physical Development

When they’re a baby they will…

Lift up their head when on their tummy, push up their chest with straight arms and roll over onto their back.

Sit without support and begin to crawl in different directions, enjoying moving in and out doors.

Their coordination will be developing so they will reach out for different objects and pass things from one hand to the other and give things to you. They will also like to drop things and control their whole body with lots of practice of waving, kicking, rolling etc.

When they’re a bit older they will…

Be able to perform a range of movements including: clapping and stamping to music, walking, running, humping and climbing, spin and roll and ride a scooter or tricycle.

They will also be learning to kick, throw and catch, walk by themselves, use stairs independently and find new ways to support themselves.

Things you can do to help

Put your little one on their tummy or back on a blanket so that they’re able to kick their legs and roll around. You can also allow them to sit, climb on you and rock, bounce or sway with you.

Giving them lots of things to grasp, hold, explore; finger painting, playdough, spoons, shells etc. You can also let them try to put their shoes on and play ball games.


When they’re a baby they will…

Love listening to and joining in songs and rhymes! They will be able to say some of the words and copy the sounds.

Enjoy signing when playing, sharing books and repeating words and phrases from their favourite stories.

They will be able to recognise familiar letters, logos and door numbers.

Things you can do to help

Snuggle up and share books with your child. Point to and name things to help them build their vocabulary.

It’s important to share books that show people of different races, cultures and genders.


When they’re a baby they will…

Enjoy playing by stacking blocks, boxes and cups, putting objects inside others and taking them out again.

They will react to changes of amount and be able to compare amounts by saying ‘lots’, ‘more’ and ‘some’. Also weights and sizes using words like ‘bigger/little/smaller’, ‘high/low’, ‘tall’, ‘heavy’.

Show an interest in counting by making sounds, pointing and saying some numbers in order, although they may skip some numbers.

Things you can do to help

Provide your little one with resources like cups, blocks, boxes and puzzles. Allow them to explore full and empty containers. Using words like ‘in’, ‘on’, ‘more’, ‘lots’ when they play.

You can also count with your child as you complete daily routines e.g. “One sock, two socks”. Rhymes with numbers like Two Little Dicky Birds can also be useful in their development.

Understanding the World

When they’re a baby they will…

Enjoy kicking and waving, repeating actions that have an effect.

Explore objects with different textures, sounds, smells and tastes. As well as exploring natural materials in and out doors.

When they’re a bit older they will…

Enjoy exploring the natural world – splashing in puddles, looking for worms.

They will also make connections between different family features and notice differences between people.

Things you can do to help

Introduce your child to new grown-ups to form new relationships.

Allow them to explore different textures by making treasure baskets and sensory trays full of everyday items like veggies, pegs, spoons, cones etc.

Let them explore the natural world – stand in the rain with wellies and an umbrella, splash in puddles, and search for creepy crawlies.

Expressive Arts and Design

When they’re a baby they will…

Be aware of sounds and enjoy music, they will respond emotionally and physically when it changes. They will also move and dance to music as well as enjoy joining in and making sounds while exploring their voice.

Finally, they will be able to notice patterns with contrasts and are interested in patterns that look like faces.

When they’re a bit older they will…

Enjoy mark making! They will have fun exploring paint using fingers and art tools like brushes and sponges. Sometimes this mark-making will have meaning, expressing ideas and feelings.

Begin to take part in pretend play and explore different materials like playdough, making simple models and using their imagination in play.

Things you can do to help

Allow your little one to make a mess! Allow them to explore paint, different materials and textures.

Also, consider singing to your little one. Allow them to hear different types of music from other cultures and languages to give them a wider understanding of the world.

Part 5, looking at Development Matters for 3 & 4 year olds, is coming next week!


Don't forget to check out our nurseries by clicking here.

OR... why not visit us in person, click here to book a show-around now!


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