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Early Learning and Development: Understanding the World

Updated: Apr 20, 2023

We built the learning journey area of Onoco inspired by the EYFS to help parents gain a deeper understanding of their child’s development, and to explore together the wide range of milestones we can celebrate in our families.

In the latest of our Early Learning and Development focus series, we’re looking at Understanding the World!

One of the seven areas of learning in the EYFS, Understanding the World involves supporting children's developing curiosity and understanding of people, communities, and the natural world. It includes experiences with the environment, people, and objects, which in turn provide opportunities to develop skills related to observation, investigation, problem-solving, and critical thinking.


This is such a fun area to develop because it’s a great opportunity to form deep and lasting connections not only together but with wider family and friends. You’re looking for your little one to be able to talk about past and present events in their own lives, and to recognise the similarities and differences between themselves and others, as well as wider families, communities and traditions.

0-20 months

  • Introduce your little one to lots of different people!

22-36 months

  • Talk to them about their friends and family, and why they’re important

  • Support your child’s understanding of difference and empathy by using dolls or puppets to tell stories about diverse experiences

30-50 months

  • This is a great time to teach and model positive attitudes towards different family structures and cultures using personal connections, books and puppers

40-60+ months

  • Encourage your little one to share their feelings and discuss different emotional reactions to events and situations

  • Explain why some children may need extra help or support, or why some children feel upset by particular situations

  • Share stories that reflect the diversity of children’s experiences


This is all about our little ones knowing similarities and differences in relation to places, objects, materials and living things. By five, they should be on their way to talking about the features of their own immediate environment and others, and making observations of animals and plants. And don’t forget - teaching our littles about nature is a fantastic first step to increasing our future sustainability, as families and as communities!

0-11 months

  • Encourage movements through interactions, such a touching fingers and toes and celebrating kickings and waving

  • Let your little one look in mirrors, hold items of varying textures, and play with toys which make different noises

8-20 months

  • Play hide and seek with your child’s toys

  • Explore picture books together with ‘lift the flap’ mechanisms to show something hidden from view

16-26 months

  • Talk with your child about their responses to sights, sounds and smells in the environment

  • Explore puddles, trees and surfaces such as grass, pebbles and sand together

22-36 months

  • Tell stories about places and journeys, and make up stories about upcoming adventures together

  • Explore toys such as bubbles and streamers when it’s windy to explore the impact of changing weather on different items

30-50 months

  • Introduce different vocabulary around your little one’s observations and encourage them to ask questions

  • Explore different means of viewing things, like photographs or through magnifying glasses

  • Plant seeds together to explore natural change

40-60 months

  • Encourage opinions on natural and built environments and give opportunities to hear views on the quality of the environment

  • Pose carefully framed open-ended questions, such as “How can we...?” or “What would happen if...?”

  • Give opportunities to record findings by drawing, writing, making models, taking rubbings or photos


Whether we like it or not, technology is a significant part of our lives. The aim by age five for your child isn’t to be a computer whizz or social media star, but instead to recognise and understand that there’s a range of technology in homes and schools, and that they can select and use it for particular purposes.

(Here we aren’t directly referring to screen time, but don’t forget you can add this activity to Onoco with custom logs, if you are looking for closer monitoring!)

0-20 months

  • Give your little one different objects to explore, like pots and pans

16-26 months

  • Comment on ways you can push, pull, lift and press toys and items around the house

  • Have items like knobs, flaps, keys and shutters to interact with together

22-36 months

  • Let them press buttons on things like torches or remote control cars to see what happens

  • Support them in exploring the control technology of toys e.g. toy electronic keyboard

30-50 months

  • Let them press buttons, like on the pelican crossing or the doorbell at a friend’s house, to see what happens

40-60+ months

  • Listen to stories and songs on the radio, app or websites together

  • Hand over your camera and see what they snap!


Ready to get started on your own Onoco learning journey? We have over 460 milestones available to celebrate, broken down into age appropriate categories, each with their own hints and tips similar to those we’ve listed here…

You can even get those tips delivered directly to your profile with Onoco Premium.

Better yet, when you’re marking off your milestones, you can add photos to share with your connected family accounts so everyone can get involved in the celebrations!


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