How to Follow Development Matters in History

Written by Dan

Incorporating history into the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) can be a challenging task for educators, as the term “history” is not explicitly mentioned in the curriculum framework.

Nevertheless, it is essential to understand how to follow Development Matters in history education to effectively support children’s learning and development during these formative years.

By grasping the principles and objectives of Development Matters, educators can design meaningful historical learning experiences for young children.


To achieve this, teachers and practitioners must comprehend the ethos of the EYFS and the role of Development Matters as a guidance document in shaping learning experiences.

Nurturing historical understanding within the EYFS involves thoughtfully selecting curriculum content and educational programmes that align with children’s developmental stages, interests, and the wider contexts in which they live.

Furthermore, consistent assessment and progress monitoring allow educators to evaluate the effectiveness of their practice and modify their approaches accordingly.

Key Takeaways

  • Development Matters guides incorporating history into the EYFS curriculum.
  • Careful selection of curriculum content ensures meaningful historical learning experiences for young children.
  • Assessment and progress monitoring are essential for evaluating and improving teaching practices.

Understanding Development Matters in the EYFS

The Importance of Early Years Learning

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is a crucial period in a child’s development, laying the foundation for their future learning and overall development.

The Development Matters aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of how children develop and learn during this stage.

It serves as a valuable curriculum guidance for all early years practitioners in the United Kingdom, including childminders, nursery staff, and nursery school teachers.

Children’s experiences during the EYFS shape their cognitive, physical, and social-emotional development. The Development Matters framework acknowledges this fact by focusing on children’s specific needs and progress throughout the EYFS.

By implementing this guidance, practitioners can identify and address individual strengths and areas for improvement, thereby supporting children in reaching their full potential.

Statutory Framework and Curriculum Guidance

The EYFS consists of a statutory framework that sets the standards for learning, development, and care for children aged from birth to five years.

This framework ensures that all early years settings adhere to principles and requirements for delivering high-quality education and childcare.

The Development Matters guidance complements the EYFS statutory framework by providing curriculum guidance for all practitioners within early years settings.

It details the learning outcomes children should aim to achieve within the Foundation Stage. This guidance is designed to help practitioners:

  • Plan suitable activities and learning experiences tailored to each child’s needs and interests
  • Observe and assess children’s progress and development
  • Identify and support children’s next steps in learning

The Development Matters guidance divides children’s development and learning into Prime and Specific areas.

The Prime areas – communication and language, physical development, and personal, social, and emotional development – are crucial for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning.

The Specific areas – literacy, mathematics, understanding the world, and expressive arts and design – help children to enhance their skills and knowledge in specific disciplines.

In summary, the Development Matters framework within the EYFS is a comprehensive tool that supports early years practitioners in delivering high-quality education and childcare.

By understanding and implementing this guidance, practitioners can navigate the statutory framework, effectively plan and deliver activities, and assess children’s progress to ensure they receive the necessary support for holistic development.

Curriculum Content and Educational Programmes

The Seven Areas of Learning and Development

In the United Kingdom, nurseries and reception programmes follow the Development Matters, a guidance for the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum.

The EYFS framework covers seven learning and development areas, divided into three prime areas and four specific areas.

The prime areas are essential for nurturing children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, while the specific areas help them gain further knowledge and skills. These areas are as follows:

  • Prime areas:
    1. Communication and Language
    2. Physical Development
    3. Personal, Social, and Emotional Development
  • Specific areas:
    1. Literacy
    2. Mathematics
    3. Understanding the World
    4. Expressive Arts and Design

Each area is supported by a set of early learning goals, which are the expected knowledge and skills children should gain by the end of the reception year.

Incorporating History into EYFS

The “Understanding the World” area in the EYFS curriculum encompasses history learning. It aims to develop children’s knowledge of the world and their place within it and their understanding of people, communities, and events from both the past and present.

Here are some aspects that educators can incorporate into their educational programmes:

  1. Past and present events in their own lives: Children should be encouraged to talk about past and present events in their own lives and those of their family members, showing an awareness of time and differences.
  2. Significant events and people: Educators can introduce stories that feature significant historical events and people, such as great kings, famous inventors, or ancient civilizations.
  3. Celebrations and traditions: Another way to incorporate history is by discussing and celebrating cultural traditions and events, fostering a genuine interest in the customs and practices of different societies.
  4. Comparing old and new items: Showcasing objects or photographs from the past can provide valuable insights into how things have changed over time, stimulating children’s historical understanding.

By interweaving history content into the curriculum’s seven areas of learning, educators can foster a rich and engaging learning environment that prepares children for future schooling.

Assessment and Progress Monitoring

Early Learning Goals and Desired Outcomes

Assessment is crucial in ensuring that children reach their full potential by tracking their educational progress. In history, the Early Learning Goals (ELGs) functioned as a set of desired outcomes that children were expected to achieve by the end of the Reception year.

This holistic approach considers various aspects of child development, including historical knowledge, skills, and understanding. Regularly evaluating each child’s progress against the ELGs enables teachers to identify areas where additional support may be needed.

Observation and Reporting Techniques

Continuous observation and reporting are essential to tracking children’s progress in history. Using observation techniques, educators can gather evidence about a child’s historical skills and knowledge, identifying strengths and areas for improvement.

Teachers can then use this information to plan and adjust their teaching approach to support each learner better.

In addition to observations, teachers may employ various ways to assess children’s progress, such as questioning, analysis of written work, and oral presentations. Regardless of the method, it is vital to tailor assessment tools to suit individual learning goals and establish a clear picture of progress.

In the context of inspections, Ofsted expects educators to demonstrate children’s development and progress in history. Evidence of children’s achievements through observations, assessments, and accurate reporting techniques can support a positive inspection outcome.

In summary, regular assessment and progress monitoring in history enables educators to tailor their teaching approaches to meet each child’s needs, ensuring they reach their full potential.

Using Early Learning Goals and various observation and reporting techniques, teachers can accurately track children’s development and maintain a clear record of their progress.

Support and Involvement for Stakeholders

Development matters

The Role of Parents and Caregivers

Parents and caregivers play a crucial role in developing a child’s understanding of history. Their knowledge and skills can provide a solid foundation for children in their early years.

Parents need to engage with their children by discussing historical events, reading age-appropriate books and participating in historical activities.

For example, parents can:

  • Visit nursery schools and museums with historical exhibits, enhancing the child’s curiosity in history
  • Encourage discussions about family history to help children understand their own heritage
  • Use interactive resources like historical games, puzzles, and apps to make learning enjoyable

Working with Early Years Practitioners

Early years practitioners, such as childminders, nursery school teachers, and colleagues, play a vital role in a child’s journey into history exploration.

They not only foster a child’s understanding of history, but also develop relevant skills for future learning. Collaboration between parents and early years practitioners ensures continuity in learning and support for the child.

A few ways early years practitioners can support history learning include:

  1. Curriculum planning that incorporates history topics suited for the age and abilities of children
  2. Engage in active learning by using hands-on experiences, role-plays, and storytelling to explain historical events
  3. Encourage peer learning by setting up group activities and discussions related to history

To ensure effective collaboration with parents and caregivers, early years practitioners can:

  • Share information on the child’s progress and learning experiences in history
  • Suggest age-appropriate resources and activities for families to engage in at home
  • Organise events like parent-teacher conferences or workshops to discuss the importance of learning history and offer guidance on supporting the child in their historical journey

By working together, parents and early years practitioners can provide a strong support system that enables children to thrive in their exploration of history and develop relevant skills for their ongoing education.

Practical Strategies for Implementing Development Matters

Activities Integrating History

One effective way to incorporate Development Matters in history is through stories. Engaging children with historical narratives can help them understand the context and relevance of events.

For example, using picture books with illustrations can help bring history to life for young learners.

Additionally, songs can be used to explore different historical periods. Singing traditional folk songs or cultural anthems can stimulate discussions on the origins and meanings of these tunes.

Integrating artefacts into the learning environment encourages curiosity and investigation. Items such as pottery, tools, and clothing can be used to help children compare and contrast past and present life.

Role play encourages children to empathise with people from different times and cultures. Setting up a historical scene or re-enacting important events can give children a new perspective on the past.

Collaboration and Continuous Improvement

Teachers can ensure that historical learning is consistently reinforced by incorporating historical elements into themes and curriculum planning. This can be done by linking key historical events, people, and places with the wider curriculum.

Working with colleagues to share ideas and resources can also enhance historical learning. Organising events such as history-themed weeks or inviting guest speakers can further engage children with the subject.

Lastly, continuous improvement is essential for maintaining high-quality historical learning.

Teachers should engage in regular professional development, including research on effective practices and keeping up-to-date with changes to the Development Matters guidance. This ensures that they remain knowledgeable and confident in their teaching.

About The Author

I'm Dan Higgins, one of the faces behind The Teaching Couple. With 15 years in the education sector and a decade as a teacher, I've witnessed the highs and lows of school life. Over the years, my passion for supporting fellow teachers and making school more bearable has grown. The Teaching Couple is my platform to share strategies, tips, and insights from my journey. Together, we can shape a better school experience for all.






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