An Introduction to the 7 Areas of Learning & Development

April 16th, 2013

An Introduction to the 7 Areas of Learning & Development


This blog introduces our new series of blogs on the 7 areas of learning & development. Over the coming weeks we will look at each of the seven areas in turn. As each of these areas has either 2 or 3 aspects that relate to it, we will also look at each aspect (each one of these leads to an early learning goal). We will take a look at what both the Department for Education (DfE) and leading Early Years professionals say about each aspect. We will also give suggestions on how you can promote each aspect in your care, both for 0 – 3 year-olds and for older EYFS-aged children.

In this blog we look at an overview of the the 7 areas of learning & development as well as why they are important for Ofsted registered childminders.

The EYFS framework emphases the need for a mix of adult-led and child-initiated activities and for activities to consider the three characteristics of effective learning. So in this series we look at ways to include these in your practice for each area of learning & development. Don’t worry if you are unsure of these – we have written two eBooks about them that all members can download.

What are the 7 Areas of Learning & Development?

All Ofsted registered childminders must work to the regulations set out in the DfE’s ‘Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)’. The EYFS 2012 regulations include 7 areas of learning & development. Three of these areas are considered ‘Prime’ areas and should be given greater focus for young children. The remaining four are considered ‘Specific’ areas, which the childminder should provide equal focus to, as the child develops (potentially from around two years old).

The DfE describes the prime areas as being fundamental to children’s learning of the specific areas, with the specific areas in turn helping to further develop the prime areas. In reality this means planning activities that support the three prime areas for younger children (so until around 2 years-old). For children aged two and above, planning and activities should be widened to also incorporate the four specific areas of learning & development.

The diagram below summarises how the 7 Areas of learning & development are structured with 17 aspects. It also includes the first few words of each related early learning goal.

Areas aspects and ELGs













Why are the 7 Areas of Learning & Development important?

The EYFS framework states:

“Practitioners must consider the individual needs, interest, and stage of development of each child in their care, and must use this information to plan a challenging and enjoyable experience for each child in all of the areas of learning and development” (Clause 1.7).

The clause continues by confirming that the focus for the youngest children should be on the three prime areas, with the four specific areas being introduced as the child grows in ability and confidence across the three prime areas. In reality this means that you must be aware of the areas of learning and development and promote them in the activities and experiences that children in your care undertake.

Ofsted will likely want to see evidence that they are central to your observation, assessment and planning, and so are at the heart of your provision. This evidence may be through you sitting with the inspector watching a child carry out an activity, with you explaining how the activity supports an area of learning and development and how the child has developed in that area. You may also keep written evidence through observation, assessment and planning documents. We would recommend you have some written evidence and our eBook “A guide to EYFS Observation, Assessment & Planning” as well as our many EYFS planning resources (all with reference to the 7 areas) have been helping our members.

Next in this series of blogs

The focus for the next blog in this series is the ‘Personal, Social and Emotional Development’ prime area of learning & development. This area contains three aspects and three early learning goals. We will discuss each aspect and review each early learning goal before suggesting activities that will promote each aspect for both younger and older EYFS-aged children.

If you have any comments or suggestions on this series of blogs, please just let me know.

Thanks for reading,

Source used in the document:

Early Years Foundation Stage Framework, DfE 2012

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