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Our Favourite Ways of Understanding the EYFS Part 3: 8 to 20 Months

In our series on understanding the Early Years Foundation Stage, we have a look at your child's development from the ages of 8 to 20 months old


In the first part of our series on the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), we gave you a general understanding of what the stages are, and how they might be interpreted. In the coming months, we will explore each stage in more detail and help you understand how they apply directly to your child. This will also help you understand the kinds of things you can be doing with them at home to help them learn.

As a quick reminder, there are 7 stages; 3 primary and 4 specific areas of learning. You will notice the stages overlap - this is an indication that every child will develop at their own rate, and EYFS should be used as a guideline. We have broken each stage into parts so that they are easy to digest and you'll become familiar with what to expect as they start to grow.

Other articles in this series

EYFS: the Basics
EYFS: Birth - 11 months
EYFS: 8 - 20 months
EYFS: 16 - 26 months

EYFS Primary Areas of Learning 8 to 20 Months

Personal, Social and Emotional Development

Making relationships 

  • I can use noises, words, pointing or touch to start a conversation with you.
  • I am beginning to make friends with special grown-ups.
  • I am quiet or can get worried when I meet new grown-ups for the first time.
  • I need help from a grown-up that I know when I am playing with children or visiting a new place for the first time.
  • I like to watch what my friends are doing.

Self confidence and self awareness

  • I like to find my nose, eyes or tummy when you play games or sing songs like "Round and round the garden".
  • I know that when I make different noises and sounds with my voice you will help me or play with me.
  • I can use pointing or looking to tell you what I want or need.

Managing feelings and behaviour

  • I will go to a grown-up that I know when I am feeling excited, happy, tired or cross.
  • I may have a special comforter and will use it when I am feeling tired or upset.
  • I will let a grown-up that I know wash me, change my nappy or get me dressed.
  • I am beginning to understand that when you say "Yes" I can do or have something and when you say "No" I have to stop doing something or can't have something.

Physical Development

Moving and handling

  • I can sit up on the floor.
  • When I am sitting, I can lean forward to pick up a small toy with my hand.
  • I hold on to furniture, like a sofa, or an adult, to help me pull myself up so I am standing.
  • I can move around the floor by crawling, bottom shuffling or rolling over and over.
  • I can hold onto an adult or furniture to help me lift one foot at a time, step sideways and walk by myself.
  • I can walk when an adult holds one or both of my hands.
  • I can walk by myself.
  • I can hold a toy, like a brick, between my thumb and fingers in each hand and bang them together.
  • I can hold a chunky pen/crayon in my hand or in a fist grasp and explore the marks I make.

Health and self-care

  • I open my mouth when I see the spoon you are going to feed me with.
  • I can hold my own bottle or lidded cup.
  • I can pick up food between my thumb and fingers, hold it in a fist and lift it to my mouth. I am beginning to use a spoon.
  • I can lift the spoon up to my mouth, but sometimes the food falls off before I put it into my mouth.
  • When you change my nappy I will help you by lying still or lifting my legs up into the air.
  • I am beginning to tell you, by pointing or making a face, that I have filled my nappy.

Communication and Language Development

Listening and attention

  • I like to move my head, body, arms and legs when I hear music.
  • I like to explore toys and other things that look interesting to me.
  • I will stop what I am doing or playing with if I hear a noise or a grown-up talking.


  • I will watch as you point to things or hold them out to me.
  • When a grown-up that I know asks me "Where's mummy?" or "Where's your nose?" I can point or find the thing.
  • I am beginning to understand words that are important to me like "cup" or "teddy" by pointing or finding them.


  • I can make sounds that match what I am playing with, like "brmmm" for a car.
  • I can use single words, like "cup" or "daddy" that are important to me.
  • I will copy new sounds and words that I hear you using as you play with me.
  • I like to use new words, like "more" to tell you that I want more milk.
  • I will look at things to let you know what I want.
  • I will make up and use my own words, like "baba" for baby.

EYFS Specific Areas of Learning 8 to 20 Months



  • I like to hold books and look at the pictures in them.


  • I need to hear words and learn to use these.
  • I need to explore what happens when I use my hands and feet.
  • I can hold a chunky pen or crayon in my whole hand or in a fist grasp and explore the marks I can make.



  • I like to join in with saying number names as you sing rhymes and songs with me.
  • I will watch you hide a toy under a blanket and then look for it.

Shape, space and measure

  • I can point to a picture in a book or a toy when you ask me "Where's the big teddy?" and "Where's the little teddy?"
  • I can recognise things that I use at mealtimes, bedtime or when I have my nappy changed.

Understanding the World

People and communities

  • I need to develop relationships with grown-ups.

The world

  • I will watch what you do as you play with me using toy cars, toy animals and toy people.
  • I will watch you hide a toy under a blanket and then look for it.
  • I can find things after you have dropped them into a bowl or basket.
  • I like banging things, like bricks, together and filling up boxes and baskets with things.
  • When you play with me I am finding out that things can be used in different ways, like a ball can be rolled or kicked or that a toy car can be pushed.
  • I need to explore lots of different things to find out what I can do with them.

Expressive Art and Design

Exploring and using media and materials

  • I can copy actions, like clapping or waving, that I see a grown-up doing.
  • I can show you that I like music and songs by patting the floor with my hands, opening and closing my hands or wriggling my body and legs.
  • I can explore the marks I make as I use a chunky pen or crayons or use my hands in bubbles, mud or paint.
  • I can explore what happens when I use my hands to pull, squash and squeeze dough.

Being imaginative

  • I need to play with lots of different things to find out what I can do with them.
  • I need to develop relationships with grown-ups.
  • I need to hear words and learn to use them.
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The nanny provided by Tinies was very punctual (early in fact), and had lots of energy. She seemed to have plenty of experience and was happy to take my kids to the park for hours.
Liz, North London