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Development statements

development statements
© British Council

Earlier in the course we asked you to look at some descriptions of childhood development and think about the age range these statements are referring to.

According to the Early Years Foundation Stage framework (England), children typically develop the following things within these age ranges:

16-26 months

  • Copies familiar expressions, e.g. Oh dear! All gone!
  • Explores and experiments using senses and whole body.

22-36 months

  • Listens with interest to the noises adults make when they read stories.
  • Is interested in others’ play and is starting to join in.
  • Runs safely on whole foot.
  • Is aware that some actions can hurt or harm others.
  • Repeats words or phrases from familiar stories.
  • Recites some number names in sequence.
  • Experiments with blocks, colours and marks.

30-50 months

  • Responds to simple instructions, e.g. Put your toys away.
  • Can catch a large ball.
  • Notices what adults do, imitating what is observed and then doing it spontaneously when the adult is not there.
  • Can play in a group.
  • Holds books the correct way up and turns pages.

40-60+ months

  • Uses a pencil and holds it effectively.
  • Extends vocabulary by grouping, naming, and exploring the sounds of new words.
  • Writes own name and other things such as labels or captions.
  • Constructs with a purpose in mind, using a variety of resources.

The Development Matters document warns not to use these statements as checklists. It states:

“Children develop at their own rates, and in their own ways. The development statements and their order should not be taken as necessary steps for individual children. They should not be used as checklists. The age/stage bands overlap because these are not fixed age boundaries but suggest a typical range of development.”

Here are some of the problems with using the development statements as a checklist.

  • Focus on a limiting generalisation rather than individuals.
  • Negative observations of what each child can’t do rather than what they can do.
  • Goals become time driven as though learning is a race, when the child needs more time to develop.
  • Observations become judgemental and can lead to unjustly labelling or comparing children and children pick up on this. It inhibits learning.
  • Undermines self-esteem and confidence, and can lead to a cycle of underachievement.
  • Parents become anxious about developmental delays and potential special educational needs.
  • Focus on separate skills instead of looking at whole child development.

Use the Comments to expand on one or two of them, and explain why this is a problem.

© British Council
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English in Early Childhood: Learning Language Through Play

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