The "nappy curriculum" for under-fives is bogged down by targets and drastically in need of reform, a Government-commissioned review is due to conclude.
Childminders and nursery staff are spending too much time filling in forms rather than helping children to develop, Dame Clare Tickell's review of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) will say.
While the review will not call for the curriculum to be scrapped, it will say that it should be massively scaled back, reducing the number of goals youngsters are expected to meet.
The EYFS, dubbed the "nappy curriculum", was introduced by the last Labour government and became mandatory in September 2008.
Under the system, every nursery, childminder and reception class in England has to monitor children's progress towards 69 centrally set "early learning goals" up to the age of five.
In her review, Dame Clare, chief executive of the Action for Children charity, will say that the number of goals should be cut to 17.
Her report will say that the EYFS is "too bureaucratic" and that primary school teachers have said that the EYFS reports they get on five year olds are meaningless because the children are being measured against too many targets.
A revamped EYFS should be more in line with what children will be expected to learn at primary school, to help get them ready for the classroom, the review will say.
Dame Clare was tasked with carrying out a review of EYFS last summer, after ministers raised concerns that the curriculum was too rigid and puts too many burdens on childcare workers, some of whom say they spend too much time ticking boxes.
Speaking when the review was announced, Dame Clare said: "It is important that professionals in the early years have the time to tackle the important issues - helping children from poorer backgrounds, and those with special needs, as well as giving all children a fun and stimulating learning experience."