Curriculum for Wales: Five Developmental Pathways

The five developmental pathways in the Curriculum for Wales, are fundamental to the development of all children within the early years. Practitioners can use them to ensure children are supported to make progress at their own pace and in their preferred learning environment.

This is important for all children, but particularly so for younger children and children who may have ALN or uneven developmental profiles. Holistic use of the five pathways will support authentic and purposeful learning, and the realisation of progression for all children.

The five developmental pathways are:

  • Belonging
  • Communication
  • Exploration
  • Physical development
  • Well-being

The Welsh language and the Curriculum for Wales

Within the Foundation Phase, there was an area of learning focusing on Welsh Development, however, you may have noticed that the Welsh language does not have a standalone section above within the ‘Curriculum for funded non-maintained nursery settings.’ However, Welsh language will continue to be a compulsory element in the curriculum. Instead, Curriculum for Wales places great emphasis on bilingualism. See our free factsheets in the supporting resources below to support you in developing a strong Welsh ethos within your setting.


Belonging is essential to a sense of happiness and well-being. It shapes a child’s sense of who they are and who they can become, and should underpin the ethos of all settings. During the early years, children begin to develop a sense of how they fit into the many groups and communities to which they belong, and a sense of their importance within them. Settings should develop an ethos that fosters strong and secure relationships, as those are vital to a strong sense of belonging for all children.

A strong sense of belonging can help to create positive feelings of connection between children and their home, as well as their setting, and which can also be extended to their community and to Wales and the wider world. Settings that value, celebrate and build upon past and present experiences from the child’s home and their community, can strengthen a sense of belonging. Settings should ensure children feel safe and secure within their environment, and show genuine care and provide emotional support.

See a visual diagram of this here.



Communication is fundamental to a children’s development. It is vital to the foundation of relationships and essential for learning, play and social interaction. Communication involves developing attention, listening and understanding skills, alongside vocabulary and expressive skills.

The amount, and type, of language children experience and interact with can have a marked effect on their communication development. Practitioners should make the most of interactions to support children to understand and make themselves understood. Children acquire and develop skills at different rates, and practitioners can support their language development by modelling active listening and speaking for different purposes.

Practitioners should provide an environment that supports children to express and communicate their needs, thoughts and feelings. Developing effective communication, language and literacy skills is important to self-expression, to the development of strong social relationships and to learning more generally.

See a visual diagram of this here.



Children’s curiosity about the world around them is a strong motivator for exploration. Practitioners should build on children’s curiosity during everyday occurrences, to stimulate awe and wonder. Children should have the opportunity to explore and investigate by themselves, and with others, in order to share their delight in new knowledge or skills, and to learn from each other, and celebrate their achievements and those of their peers. Children should be encouraged to seek knowledge and skills that are both within and beyond their current capabilities. With appropriate support, they can focus attention for extended periods of time on things that are of interest to them. As their exploration develops, they can rehearse and practise skills and test emerging theories, both alone and with others.

Learning involves the gradual development of skills, knowledge and competencies in increasingly complex ways. Inclusive environments, both indoors and outdoors, that provide time and opportunity to explore, play and investigate, and where adults are attuned to children’s interests, can support positive dispositions towards learning, as well as increasing knowledge and skills.

See a visual diagram of this here.


Physical development

Physical activity and movement are fundamental to the development of all children and are linked to cognition and learning. Engaging in physical activities enhances a child’s sense of belonging and well-being and can support greater levels of concentration, motivation and memory, as well as support healthy bone and muscle development.

Practitioners should provide plenty of opportunities for movement and understand its important relationship to learning. As part of their development, all children have a natural need to move, or be moved, and to move or manipulate objects. This involves both gross motor and fine motor manipulation. These motor movements become more refined and smoothly co-ordinated with time and opportunity. Repetition and variety are critical to development as children begin to explore their increasing physical capabilities and develop increasing independence.

See a visual diagram of this here.



Feeling connected, secure and safe is essential for positive well-being. Children are influenced by the adults, experiences and environments they encounter. These three enablers should work together to provide children with the opportunities to develop their emotional, social and physical health to create a strong sense of well-being.

Practitioners should create emotionally safe environments that support children to begin to recognise and manage their feelings and behaviours in positive ways. They can also help children to begin to understand that actions have consequences.

Practitioners should provide opportunities for children to develop secure attachments and relationships, so that they can feel confident in themselves and be better able to make choices, take risks, show greater resilience and independence, and participate positively in everyday activities.

See a visual diagram of this here.


Supporting resources: