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Curriculum planning

Find out more about how curriculum planning helps give the children a better experience, covering all early years foundation stage (EYFS) areas of learning.

What is a curriculum?

A curriculum is what you want the children to learn in the time they are with you.

It must be based on the statutory early years foundation stage (EYFS), which gives you a framework that you can build on, through the 7 areas of learning.

You can decide how best to deliver those areas by creating a curriculum unique to your setting, providing activities and experiences that deliver those areas of learning.

Planning your curriculum

You should always start with the early years foundation stage (EYFS) framework. It contains educational programmes that sit under 7 areas of learning. These are high-level curriculum summaries that you must follow and work into a rich curriculum that meets the needs of the children.

From there, break down those high-level curriculum summaries into smaller steps. Decide what you want children to learn, the activities you want to do with them and how your setting can support their learning.

Childminders or nursery leaders (working with their staff) should decide how to implement these activities and experiences, so the children can progress in all the areas of learning. You should evaluate how well the curriculum works, checking what children know and can do as they move through the EYFS.

You should consider using ‘Development Matters’ the non-statutory curriculum guidance for the early years foundation stage to support you in planning your curriculum.

Watch your children, studying how they lead their own play. Talk to parents and carers to find out their interests. Listening to what children say also provides clues about their curiosities and interests.

Use this knowledge to decide how best to engage children in the curriculum, choosing the right activity or environment. It should not be overly complicated and should meet the needs of the majority of children. Some children, such as those with SEND, may need additional support.

It’s important not to use the early learning goals (ELGs) from the EYFS as the basis for your curriculum because it could narrow your curriculum and children’s learning. They should only be used as an assessment during the summer term of the reception year.


  • Consider what you want children to learn then plan the activity.
  • Ensure your curriculum is holistic, covering the 7 areas of learning in the EYFS, using the statutory educational programmes (high-level curriculum summaries) as a starting point.
  • The new EYFS framework is more specific, and better suited to be used as a basis for curriculum planning.
  • Consider using Development Matters to help you plan your curriculum.
  • Do not use the ELGs as a curriculum starting point. They should only be used as an assessment during the summer term at the end of the reception year.