Tracking Development In The EYFS

April 15, 2019 1:40 pm
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Tracking a child’s development in the EYFS can be a very time-consuming process for early years practitioners, but it is essential for an individual’s overall development. There are many ways in which practitioners can track a child’s development, there isn’t a set template. As long as the right information is recorded and reviewed you can tailor the process to your needs.

We have created this article with the aim to make understanding the tracking process in the EYFS easy.

This article will include:

  1. Why is tracking a child’s development in the EYFS important?
  2. Different ways in which development can be tracked in the EYFS
  3. What inspectors will look for in regards to tracking a child’s development
  4. Parent engagement and checklist for parents supporting their child’s development
  5. Important guidance

Why is tracking a child’s development in the EYFS important?

The most important reason for tracking a child’s progress in the EYFS is to check if a child’s overall development is on track.

The EYFS requires practitioners to be able to demonstrate how children make progress in their learning and development in order that they reach their full potential. It is important that their progress is tracked and reviewed regularly throughout the EYFS.

Regular tracking allows practitioners to notice if a child is falling behind in one area of development and then allows them to give the child the extra support they need to succeed in this area. It is also a tool to share with parents (and a professional if need be). Parents will be able to understand their child’s learning and support and make improvements at home.

A delay in support could result in developmental disabilities later on in a child’s life.

Developmental disabilities are issues that children don’t outgrow or catch up from, though they can make progress. While it’s not always clear what is causing the delay, early intervention can often help children catch up. Some children still have delays in skills when they reach school age.

1 in 6 children have a developmental disability, however, only half of these are identified before starting school.

Children with developmental problems are at increased risk of poor outcomes in many areas important to health, well-being, and success in life. Developmental disorders have also been found to increase a child’s risk of poor school performance, frequent absences from school, repeating a grade, and having more health problems.

If development tracking in the EYFS is carried out regularly and thoroughly, the instances of developmental disability in your setting should be less.

Different ways in which development can be tracked in the EYFS

In order to track children’s progress, settings need a system for channelling the wealth of information gathered about individual children into a manageable summary. Detailed individual observations of self-initiated activity in a particular context, photos, and special moments contained in a child’s portfolio, all document the child’s unique learning journey.

There is no prescribed format for this system but it should be:

  • Grounded in the principles of the EYFS
  • Derived from observational assessment as described in the EYFS based on a quality-improvement strategy
  • The formats of the documents used to record information may vary from each setting but they will all have the same aims. These documents are:
  • Progress summary, such as EYFS summary report forms
  • Progress check at age 2
  • Individual tracker – such as learning journey tracker
  • Group trackers
  • Language and communication monitoring tool
  • Handy tools such as observation sticky notes

Individual learning journeys are a versatile way of recording a child’s development in the EYFS and they can be easily added to.

Trackers are also a simple way for practitioners to mark when a child has met certain stages in their development and where they may need more support.

In order to capture progress information, a robust system is needed for identifying the stages children are at and showing the progress they make over time across all six areas of learning and development. The six areas of learning and development are:

  • Personal, social and emotional development
  • Communication and language
  • Physical development
  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Understanding the world
  • Expressive arts and design

Observations of children are vital. Because each child has a unique set of abilities and talents, observations in different situations capture this firsthand.

The starting point is always with the child. Observing what children choose to do, what their interests are, and who and what resources they enjoy playing with provides adults with reliable information about children as individuals. Discussing these with the child, their parents, and team members provides a starting point for a comprehensive approach that will ensure that the child is always central to what is planned.

In the moment planning records are particularly useful when centring a child in the middle of their development. As a practitioner they allow you to simply record what you have observed and how you supported the child in terms of their development and which areas and learning outcomes this was associated with.

What inspectors will look for in regards to tracking a child’s development?

The Early Years Inspection Handbook April 2018 states that:

Inspectors will make a judgment on the effectiveness of teaching, learning and assessment by evaluating the extent to which:

  • The assessment information is gathered from looking at what children and learners already know, understand and can do, and is informed by their parents/previous providers as appropriate
  • The assessment information is used to plan appropriate teaching and learning strategies, including identifying children and learners who are falling behind in their learning or who need additional support, enabling children and learners to make good progress and achieve well.

The handbook also states that ‘The inspector should discuss with the provider the relevant children’s starting points, looking at any assessment evidence the setting provides and the children’s progress.’ This will include:

  • The impact of any early years pupil premium funding on the children’s progress
  • Whether children who are disadvantaged or under-performing are catching up quickly
  • How well-disabled children and those with special educational needs are supported to make progress
  • How quickly do children who speak English as an additional language gain the skills they need to communicate effectively

Parent engagement

In a busy early years setting it is often challenging to find time to build up effective partnerships with parents – but the evidence tells us that it is crucial for children’s well-being, learning and development.

Parents are children’s first and most permanent educators. It has been found that when parents and practitioners work together in early years settings the results have a positive impact on children’s development and learning.

It is essential that any system for helping practitioners get to know and understand children includes and values contributions from parents and carers.

Effective parent partnership practice includes:

  • Effective methods for including and welcoming all parents from all backgrounds. This includes parents who may speak more than one language at home, parents with busy working schedules and/or unsociable hours, same-sex parents, traveller parents, and single parents
  • Time for the key person to talk to parents before a child joins a setting
  • Regular opportunities for both of the above

Parent guides are a really handy tool to help parents understand different parts of their child’s time in the EYFS as there is not always ample time for parent/practitioner interaction.

Parent input checklist

Parents can help promote their child’s development and track their progress at home in the seven areas of the EYFS through:

Communication and language

  • Speak to your child regularly about everyday activities like getting dressed, eating and washing, what they’ve done at nursery or school, and develop on what they say.
  • Read with your child daily and teach them rhymes or word games.

Physical development

  • If you can, give your child space to use large muscles through activities such as climbing, playing on a swing, or running around. Take them to a park if you don’t have the space at home.
  • Go on family walks, talking about what you see. This will help to develop their communication and language skills too.

Personal, social and emotional development

  • Help your child develop empathy by listening to what they have to say and encouraging them to listen to others before speaking.
  • Encourage your child’s natural curiosity by engaging in the community and giving them new experiences. This may be going to village fetes, charity days, parent-toddler clubs, or even going to the village shop and speaking to the shop owner/cashier.
  • Try and arrange play dates with other children to encourage them to develop their social skills.
  • Show affection and love towards your child and try to teach them to show it back.
  • Encourage your child to have self-belief in whatever they are doing. For example, praise them when they use the potty/toilet successfully, when they tidy up their toys, when they draw a picture, or when they get dressed/ brush their teeth on their own.

Expressive arts and design

  • Encourage your child to express themselves and be creative. You can do this by, for example, providing a range of craft activities or any play equipment and allowing your child to create their own masterpiece.
  • Allow your child to choose the type of music they like listening to and even their own clothes if you’re brave! It’s about giving them the tools to express who they are as an individual.


  • Talk about maths in a positive way and try to use the real world. Use numbers as much as you can with your child. For example, count items when you are shopping in the supermarket, or count plates and cutlery when setting the table with them.
  • Ask your child questions when you’re outside such as ‘how many birds can you see?’
  • Help your child to tell the time by using rhymes and counting down the minutes to nursery or bath time.


  • Provide an inviting space to read and write if possible – a comfy corner with pencils and paper and books – and encourage them to choose what they read and write.
  • Read and draw together if they need a little extra encouragement.
  • Tell a story and encourage them to tell their own imaginary stories too; use toys as characters to make it more engaging and fun!

Understanding the world

  •  Help your child to understand the different kinds of people there are in their community by, for example, taking them to multicultural events and festivals. Take them into different ethnic food shops and talk about what kind of food there is on the shelf.
  • Help teach your child about the circle of life by, for example, taking them to the zoo or a farm to see the baby and adult animals, and talking about where they have come from. Alternatively, you could set up a bird feeder in your garden and watch for birds, talking about what they eat and where they live.
  • Teach your child about technology by using a computer or child-friendly tablet with them. Get them to speak to people on the phone such as their family.

Important guidance for practitioners and all staff to read/be aware of


CDC – Celebrating Milestones and Sharing Concerns

Foundation Years – Progress Matters 

Oxfordshire Council – Managing Assessment Information in the EYFS

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