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Our Favourite Ways of Understanding the EYFS Part 4: 16 to 26 Months

As your child develops from a baby into a toddler, they learn lots of new important and exciting skills. Here's what to expect


In the series on the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), we're exploring each stage in detail and helping 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 to 11 months
EYFS: 8 - 20 months

EYFS Primary Areas of Learning 16 to 26 months

Personal, Social and Emotional Development

Making relationships

  • I like to play next to other children.
  • I can go and play by myself or with other children, but when I am feeling tired, worried or upset I will find a grown up that I know.
  • I can play turn taking games, like rolling a ball back and forth, with a grown-up.

Self confidence and self awareness

  • I can go and play with new toys by myself but like to find a grown-up that I know when I need them.
  • I am beginning to use my toys to pretend they are something else, such as pretending my teddy is a baby.
  • I try to do things for myself, such as putting my boots on, and will tell you "No" if you try to help me.

Managing feelings and behaviour

  • I will look worried if I hear someone I know crying or happy and excited if I hear a grown-up that I know.
  • Sometimes I will get cross when I want to do things for myself and I can't do them.
  • Sometimes, when you tell me what to do, rather than "no" I am able to do it.
  • I know which toys are mine, which toys belong to my friends, and that sometimes I have to share toys.

Physical Development

Moving and handling

  • I can run without bumping into things or tripping up.
  • I can squat down on my knees to play and can get up without using my hands.
  • I can climb up a ladder on a small slide or climbing frame or onto a sofa or armchair.
  • I can kick a large ball.16 to 26 months milestone: learning to kick a ball
  • I can turn the pages in a book. Sometimes I might turn over more than one page at a time.
  • I can hold a small jug and pour my own drink.
  • I can hold a chunky crayon, pencil, pen or paint brush and makes lines that go across, up and down or round and round.
  • When I walk up and down stairs or steps I hold onto the hand rail and move one foot at a time on to the next step until both my feet are on. Then I do the same to get to the next step.

Health and self-care

  • I am beginning to choose to hold objects in one hand more than in the other.
  • I can hold a spoon to pick up my food and put it into my mouth to feed myself.
  • I can drink from a cup with no lid and not spill my drink as I put the cup to my mouth.
  • I can tell you when I need to use the potty or toilet.
  • I know how far I can climb up the stairs, the slide or the climbing frame on my own before I need to ask you for help.
  • I can put on my hat, unzip my coat and take off my unfastened shoes/boots and cardigan/shirt by myself.
  • I am beginning to be able to wash and dry my hands by myself.
  • I am beginning to be able to sit on a potty or toilet by myself.
  • I can use a set of steps to help me reach the sink or toilet by myself.

Communication and Language Development

Listening and attention

  • When you read me a story I like to join in with the sounds that different characters and things make.
  • When you sing rhymes, I join in with the actions and sounds that are made.
  • When I play with my favourite toys I am enjoying myself so much I don't always hear you when you talk to me.


  • I can say the names of toys or things I want.16 to 26 months milestone: saying the names of toys they want
  • If you tell me to find a toy or thing from a basket or box, I can find the right thing.
  • I can understand what to do when you tell me do one thing, such as "Throw the ball" or "Put the baby in the bed".


  • I use words that I have heard you say, such as "Oh dear" or "All gone".
  • I am starting to say two word phrases such as "Want ball" or "More juice" to tell you what I want or need.
  • I use lots of everyday words that are important to me, such as "Banana", "Go", "Sleep" or "Hot" to tell you things.
  • I am beginning to ask you questions, like "What's that?" and "Why?"
  • Sometimes when I am playing with toys or sharing a story with you, I will talk to you about things that the toys and pictures remind me about.

EYFS Specific Areas of Learning 16 to 26 months



  • I like to share stories with you and can find my favourite stories for you to read to me.
  • I have favourite rhymes and songs and join in with the actions and songs.


  • I need to hear words and learn to use these.
  • I need to explore what happens when I use my hands and feet.
  • I know that when I move a chunky crayon or pen round, up and down and across, the marks I make on the paper look the same as the way I moved my hand.



  • 16 to 26 months milestone: sorting out toysI know that when you hide a toy under a blanket I will find it under the blanket.
  • I can sort out my toys and things so that all the same ones are together.
  • When I am playing with my toys or singing songs I will say number names in a mixed up order.

Shape, space and measure

  • I try to put the shape pieces into a jigsaw board and sometimes match the right piece into the right hole.
  • I can build towers and long lines across the floor with bricks.
  • I know the order I need to use things to help me get ready at bedtime or to get dressed.
  • I know that when I see you with your coat we are going outside or when I see my cup and bowl on the table it is time to have a drink and something to eat.

Understanding the World

People and communities

  • I like to look at and talk to you about photos of those who are special to me, such as family members, brothers and sisters, friends and pets.
  •  I like to listen to stories about children and families.

The world

  • I like to explore things to see what I can do with them. I might shake them, hit things with them, look at them, touch them, put them in my mouth or pull them to find out what happens.
  • I can put things together that belong together, such as a lid on the teapot or a lid on a box.


  • I know that when you press the button on the remote control the television comes on or the button on the car key the car makes a noise and a light comes on.
  • I can press buttons on my toys to make a noise or get something to pop up.

Expressive Art and Design

Exploring and using media and materials

  • I need to explore lots of different things to find out what I can do with them.
  • I will jump, bounce or swing my arms when I hear music or songs that I like.
  • I will join in with some of the words and actions I know when you sing my favourite songs.
  • I can use chunky pens or crayons to make lines that go up and down and round and round.
  • I am starting to make different sounds, like fast and loud, when I am playing musical instruments or everyday things like spoons, pots or plastic bowls.

Being imaginative

16 to 26 months: exploring new toys
  • I can use my hands to make marks in paint or mud. As I make the marks with my hands I make different sounds like "Weeee".
  • I can pretend that a toy or thing is something else, such as pretending that my teddy is a baby.
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