Understanding the World (UW)
What is it?
Understanding of the World is about how children get to know about other people, the place where they live and about all aspects of the environment. In the Revised Early Years Foundation Stage, Understanding the World is broken down into three aspects:
+ People and Communities
+ The World
Finding out about the world around them is what babies and young children do very effectively when they investigate by touching, holding or pressing things and by climbing on and jumping off things. Older children love to explore and investigate how and why things work and to test out their ideas of what will happen if they do a particular thing like pouring more and more water into a container, for example.
People and Communities
As children learn about the world around them they find out about the past through talking to parents, grandparents and friends and they develop an interest in their own story as well as the stories in their family – this is the beginning of developing an understanding of the past and helps them to learn about how other people are different from them, yet share some of the same characteristics and ideas.
Understanding of the world develops as children take notice of everything around them including places and all the things within them such as trees in the natural environment and roads and traffic in the built environment. Finding out about places begins initially when a child learns about their own home and the things nearby, then later as children notice things on journeys to and from home – such as the sequence of the traffic lights or names on street signs. This awareness is extended by visiting places and finding out about different elements of environments in books, on TV and through using other technology. This aspect also focuses on learning about cause and effect and is developed through having conversations with adults and other children about the things they observe.
Technology has become commonplace for many families and children often see and use it quite naturally when they activate a toy such as an ambulance or police car to make a siren sound. Recognising the role of technology at home or in a setting is important because this helps children to identify the different types of technology and what they are useful for.