Skip navigation

Early Years Library

A compilation of evidence-informed skills and practices to support children’s cognitive and social-emotional development

The Early Years Library is designed to help early childhood education practitioners support young children’s development and essential skills for life. It describes the key skills relating to their cognitive and social-emotional development, and provides a comprehensive set of low-burden strategies and activities which can be integrated into everyday practice.

Download the Early Years Library

Download the full Early Years Library

Language & early literacy
Early numeracy
Social & emotional learning
Full series: intro + 4 booklets Full series: intro + 4 booklets Full series: intro + 6 booklets
Series introduction Series introduction Series introduction
Language and listening Pattern and shape Recognising and expressing emotions
Phonological awareness Measurement Regulating emotions
Print and letter knowledge Numbers and counting Communicating with others
Early writing Adding and taking away Working together
Developing positive relationships
Resolving conflict
Laying the foundations: Supporting children's self-regulation

This free resource includes 14 booklets across three vital areas of early years learning:

  1. Language & early literacy
  2. Early numeracy
  3. Social & emotional skills

The practices set out in these three series can all be supported and reinforced through the principles set out in the final booklet, ‘Laying the foundations: Supporting children’s self-regulation’.

Booklets may be used together or individually, in any order. When downloading the individual booklets, please refer to the series introduction for important information about the how the booklets were created and how they can be used in your early years setting.

The Library is aligned to statutory requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and is designed to support practitioners in implementing these statutory requirements.

The Library presents practices that are commonly described in evidence-based programme manuals. Other elements of early years settings that are also known to be effective – including broader environmental and organisational features such as leadership, positive relationships, resources and environment – are often not targeted by programme manuals and so are not covered by the Early Years Library. The Library showcases discrete practices that can support specific developmental skills in young children.

How was the Early Years Library developed?

The Early Years Library has been developed by EIF and PEDAL, the Play in Education, Development & Learning centre at the University of Cambridge, using an innovative ‘common elements’ methodology.

To develop the Library, we examined the content of 22 early childhood education programmes for children aged 2–5 years that have robust evidence of a positive impact on children’s numeracy, literacy, cognitive or social-emotional outcomes. Through this analysis, we have identified the practices that are most commonly used to support children’s skill development. The Library describes these practices, along with the most common strategies, inspirational ideas and implementation tips for integrating the evidence into everyday practice.

Beta version
This beta version of Early Years Library will be tested and adapted through our work with early years settings and practitioners. We would welcome any feedback on the content or structure of the booklets – let us know if you're using it and what you think by emailing

About the contributor

Helen Burridge

Helen is a senior research officer at EIF.