• communication and language
• physical development
• personal, social and emotional development The four specific areas help children to strengthen and apply the prime areas:
• understanding the world
• expressive arts and design
All of those areas of learning are connected together. The characteristics of effective teaching and learning weave through them all. That’s because children in the early years are becoming more powerful learners and thinkers. These characteristics develop as they learn to do new things, acquire new skills, develop socially and emotionally, and become better communicators. Development Matters sets out the pathways of children’s development in broad ages and stages. However, the actual learning of young children is not so neat and orderly. The main purpose of these pathways is therefore to help you assess each child’s level of development. Accurate assessment helps practitioners to make informed decisions about what a child needs to learn and be able to do next. The document is not a tick list for generating lots of data. You can use your professional knowledge to help children make progress without needing to record lots of next steps. Settings can help children to make progress without generating unnecessary paperwork.