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Our Favourite Ways of Understanding the EYFS Part 6: 2 - 3 Years

Understand and help foster your child's physical and emotional development from the age of two until they turn three with our helpful guide on the Early Years Foundation Stage


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 grow.

Other articles in this series: 

EYFS: the Basics
EYFS: Birth to 11 months
EYFS: 8 - 20 months
EYFS: 16 - 26 months
EYFS: 22 - 36 months

EYFS Primary Areas of Learning 2 - 3 years

Personal, Social and Emotional Development

Making relationships

  • I can play in a group with friends. I can make up ideas for things to do and games to play.
  • I will ask my friends to play with me.
  • I can watch what my friends are doing and join in with them.
  • I talk to and make friends with other children and grown-ups I know.

Self confidence and self awareness

  • Understanding the EYFS I choose the toys I want to play with and what I want to do with them with help from an adult.
  • I like it when you say things like "Well done for eating all your dinner".
  • I like helping when you're busy, like putting shopping away or matching socks together.
  • I am starting to talk to adults I don't know when you're there, and join in new things.
  • When we are playing, I will chat to my friends about you and our family.
  • I can ask grown-ups for help when I need it.

Managing feelings and behaviour

  • I know when I am sad or cross. If I say unkind things I may make friends sad or cross too.
  • I know that sometimes my friends will want to have the toys I am playing with. I need help from an adult to help me share these.
  • I am starting to understand that when you're busy, I can't always have what I want.
  • I know that sometimes I can't do things I want to do, like running around in the supermarket.

Physical Development

Moving and handling

  • I like running, walking, jumping, hopping, skipping, and moving around in lots of different ways.
  • I can go up and down stairs and steps like a grown up, using one foot per step.
  • I can carry something I like carefully downstairs, usually stopping with two feet on each step.
  • I can run around, stop, change direction and slow down so I don't bump into things.
  • When you show me how to stand on just one foot, I can copy you, just for a second, without falling over.
  • I can catch a large ball when you throw it to me.
  • I can wave my arms or ribbons to make up and down lines and circles in the air.
  • I can use child scissors to make snips in paper.
  • I can hold my pencil near the top, like a grown up, using my thumb and two fingers, not my whole hand.
  • I can make the lines and marks that I want with a pencil.
  • When you write my name, I can copy some of the letters by myself on my piece of paper.

Health and self-care

  • I notice that when I am running, I get hot and I pant a bit.
  • I understand that I have to be careful when I am using children's scissors to snip or my knife to spread jam.
  • Most of the time, I remember to go to the toilet in time and wipe myself.
  • I can wash and dry my own hands.
  • When you help me and hold out my coat, I can put it my arms in and I can do the zip up when you start it. I can pull my own trousers up too.

Communication and Language Development

Listening and attention

  • When I like what they are talking about, I listen to my friends.
  • I listen to the stories you tell me and I talk about them later.
  • When you read me stories, I join in with my favourite bits, like "Who's been sleeping in my bed?" when we are reading Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
  • I can join in with my favourite rhymes and stories with you and guess what will happen next.
  • I stop what I am doing and listen when I hear you talk to me, or I hear the doorbell ring.
  • When you ask me to do something like "Come and put your coat on", I will do it if I am not busy playing.


  • When you ask me questions like "What do we need to cut the bread?" I know it's a knife.
  • When we are playing and you ask me to "Put teddy under the blanket" or "Put the car on top of the garage" I know what you mean and can do it by myself.
  • I can help you when you ask me to put something away or get something like "Put your shoes in the basket, please".
  • I am beginning to understand when you ask me questions like "How can we mop up the juice?" and "Why do you want to wear your boots today?"


  • I am beginning to use longer sentences with words like "because" and "and". E.g. "I cried, because I banged my foot".Understanding your child's development
  • I can tell you about something that happened yesterday, like "Remember when we went to the park and had a green apple and came home".
  • I ask lots of questions and answer your questions too.
  • I can talk about what we are doing now, and what might happen later or tomorrow.
  • When I talk to you, sometimes I talk like a grown up to make myself clear, like "I really, really need the toilet now".
  • I can use lots of words about things that interest me, like "diplodocus" and "brontosaurus" and I like to learn lots of new words.
  • I pretend about things when I am playing, like using my coat on my head "This is my magic flying cape".

EYFS Specific Areas of Learning



  • I like singing nursery rhymes and songs.
  • I can join in with rhymes and I recognise when words start the same, like "big boat" and "tall tower".
  • I can clap my hands to match the sounds in words, like 2 claps for "he-llo".
  • I can listen and join in when we read books and sing rhymes.
  • I can join in with my favourite stories and guess what will happen next.
  • I know that stories have beginnings and endings, and sometimes I guess how the story will end.
  • I can listen to longer stories and talk about them.
  • I can talk about the places and people in stories, and the important things that are happening.
  • I like to look at the pictures and words in books. I can show you words when we are outdoors.
  • I can recognise my own name and words that are special to me, like "mummy" and my favourite shops and foods.
  • I hold the book the right way up and turn the pages carefully when I look at it on my own.
  • I know that books can tell me things like the names of cars I am interested in.
  • I know that the words in the book tell me things and where the words start on the page.


  • Sometimes I can tell you about my drawings and paintings, and what my writing means.
  • When I see your writing, I tell you what I think it means, like the shopping list says "Beans and chips and ice cream".
  • I can make the lines and marks that I want with a pencil.
  • When you write my name, I can copy some of the letters by myself on my piece of paper.



  • I can use some number names and words like "more than" and "fewer than", when I am playing.
  • I can say numbers in order from 1 to 10.
  • I know that numbers tell me how many things there are altogether, like 8 biscuits on a plate.
  • I use my fingers, pictures or marks to show you how many things there are.
  • Sometimes I can match a numeral to the right number of things, like "3" to three balls.
  • I am interested in numbers and I talk about them and ask you questions.
  • I know when there are the same number of things, like 2 cakes, one for you and one for me.
  • I show I am interested in playing with numbers when I share things out in different ways, like putting my 10 farm animals in 2 fields and then in 3 fields. I am beginning to know there are still 10 animals.
  • I talk about the numbers I see when we are outdoors.
  • I am interested in making marks and calling them numbers.
  • I know that I can count claps and jumps as well as things like apples, buses and dinosaurs.

Shape, space and measurement

  • I like lining up shapes, and fitting shapes and different things into boxes.
  • I see shapes when we are outdoors, like square windows and triangle and circle shapes in road signs.
  • I can use words like "under", and "next to" to describe where things are.
  • I choose to play with different sorts of building sets and talk about what I am making.
  • When I am doing puzzles, I look at the missing shapes to see what could fit.
  • I am beginning to use words like "round" and "straight" when I talk about the shapes I see.

Understanding the World

People and communities

  • I am interested in the grown-ups I know and talk about where they live and what they do.
  • I remember times that are special and talk about them, like the first day I got my scooter.
  • I can talk about people and times that are special to me, my family and friends, like "Remember the party with the fireworks".
  • I am interested in the different jobs that grown-ups do, like fire fighters and doctors.
  • I know I'm special and some things I do are the same as my friends and some are different. I might say things like "I don't eat meat" and "I go to the same swimming pool as my friends".

The world

  • I can talk about my home and the places that I know like the park, the shops and the library. Sometimes I ask questions about the animals and trees I see.
  • I can talk about plants and animals that interest me, like next door's dog that barks and the really tall tree in the park.
  • I talk about why things happen and how things work, like "Where does all the bathwater go when it goes down the plughole?"
  • I am beginning to notice changes in things, when bananas turn black when they stay in the bowl for too long or the flowers in the park getting bigger.


  • I know how to operate simple equipment. I can turn on the DVD player and use remote controls.
  • I like toys with knobs and touch screens and real objects like cameras or mobile phones.
  • I can make toys move, or the sound/picture images on toys work by pressing switches or touching the screen.
  • I know that I can find out things that interest me from the computer, mobile phone or tablet.

Expressive Art and Design

Exploring and using media and materials

  • I like joining in with dancing and ring games.
  • I can sing some familiar songs.
  • I am beginning to move with rhythm, especially when I hear music I like.
  • I can tap out simple repeated rhythms, especially to songs and rhymes I like.
  • I can make lots of noises with different things, like banging a spoon on my plate or popping bubble wrap.
  • I can mix paints together to make new colours.
  • I know that I can join up lines on paper to make different shapes and I use these shapes to make things I know, like a face or a door.
  • I like to find out more and talk about things that feel different, like the soft duvet cover or the shiny saucepan.
  • I can use all sorts of building toys and empty cardboard boxes to make things.
  • I make lines and piles of blocks, joining the pieces together to make things like houses and car parks.
  • I know that I can use tools like scissors, spoons and hammers to do different things.

Being imaginative

Understanding your child as they grow out of the toddler stage
  • I am beginning to like some things more than others, and sometimes I might like painting and drawing more than dancing or singing.
  • I move around in different ways when I am happy or excited. Sometimes I dance and jump up and down when I hear music.
  • I sing to myself and I change songs I know to make up my own songs and rhythms.
  • I notice the things that you do, like cooking and cleaning and I pretend to do the same.
  • When something special has happened to me, I pretend play it happening, like feeding the new baby or my first swimming lesson.
  • When I am playing with my toys, I make up stories like superheroes rescuing people from a building or animals eating grass.
  • I use ordinary things and pretend they are something else, like a spoon is a fire hose and my bricks are fish fingers and chips.
  • When we have done something exciting, I like to draw or paint a picture or make up a dance or song/rhyme.
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