Our learning areas - Understanding the world

Understanding the world is all about a child’s knowledge and understanding of their world.

Finding Out

Introduction to ‘Understanding the world’

Understanding the world is all about a child’s knowledge and understanding of their world. It can include exploring, investigating, using computers, discovering the living world, people and nature around them, experiencing other cultures and beliefs and thinking about different life events.

Children love to ask “why?” as they begin to work out the reasons for things changing, seasons, weather and animal behaviour. They are working out connections and differences between people and the environment and how they fit into it. They enjoy finding out about their own family history and how their family celebrates. This encourages their natural sense of wonder and curiosity about the world around us.

At CBeebies, we have linked our learning areas with the Early Years curricula of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Understanding the World links to Understanding the World, (England), Science, Social Studies and Religious and Moral Education (Scotland), Knowledge and Understanding of the World and Personal and Social Development, Wellbeing and Cultural Diversity (Wales) and The World Around Us and Personal Development and Mutual Understanding (Northern Ireland).

How are children’s early years supported around the UK?

There are different curricula for supporting early development in the UK, depending on where you are based. In England and Wales there is the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), in Scotland there is the Curriculum for Excellence and in Northern Ireland there is the Foundation Stage.

The EYFS is used by all care and education providers working with children from birth to the age of five (or the end of reception year), developing existing knowledge, skills and understanding using a fun play-based approach.

It aims to achieve the Early Learning Goals and encourages the sharing of knowledge of your child’s achievements with the adults they are working with, recognising that all children are individual and will learn and make progress at their own pace.

The EYFS broadly covers six areas of learning, as are the Areas of Learning at the Foundation Stage in Northern Ireland which serves a similar purpose. These areas are:

  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development (Personal Development & Mutual Understanding in Northern Ireland)
  • Physical Development (Physical Development & Movement)
  • Communication, Language and Literacy (Language & Literacy)
  • Problem Solving, Reasoning and Numeracy (Mathematics & Numeracy)
  • Knowledge and Understanding of the World (The World Around Us)
  • Creative Development (The Arts)
  • Scotland's Curriculum for Excellence provides the framework for learning for all children and young people in Scotland aged 3 to 18. The curriculum aims to ensure that every child in Scotland becomes:

  • a successful learner
  • a confident individual
  • a responsible citizen
  • an effective contributor
  • Curriculum for Excellence has 5 different levels of learning for different ages. The Early Level is mainly, but not only, for children 3-6 years.

    To read more about each curriculum and our Learning Areas have a read of the links to the right.

    Ideas for understanding the world with CBeebies

    The games, songs and stories across CBeebies relate to all areas of learning from the EYFS curriculum. Use them as a ‘starting point’ to inspire your child to want to find out more about a whole range of topics and interests.

    Here are a few ideas for games you can do at home to support Knowledge and Understanding of the World:

  • Play Mr Bloom’s ‘Guess the Veg’ game and listen to Mr Bloom’s descriptive clues. If there’s a vegetable that you’re child hasn’t eaten before, why not take a trip to the shops to buy it? Talk about how it feels and smells and tastes. You might even feel inspired to have a go at growing some vegetables of your own!

  • Dance together to the Boogie Beebies Weather Song. Talk to your child about what the weather is like today, asking lots of questions to find out their thinking and understanding. What sort of clothes do you choose to wear when you’re going out and about? Why do we wear wellies when it rains or woolly hats when it’s cold?

  • Enjoy PC Plum’s’ Nature Trail’ and click on the different creatures as you spot them. Armed with a magnifying glass or binoculars, and maybe a camera, you could go on a ‘bug hunt’ of your own.

  • Play Green Balloon Club’s ‘What’s That Noise’ game. Does your child recognise which animals make each sound? Think of other animal sounds together and teach your child some sounds of animals they may not have heard before. Your child can find out about characteristics of living things, and explain their own knowledge and understanding, which forms part of the EYFS curriculum.

  • By Susan Richmond

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    Top tips

    • Try  explaining your everyday tasks to your child, why you do things that way. Try not to smoother a child too much – let them try things themselves. Failure is part of the learning process.