When we see a baby in their cot, we’re looking at ‘the greatest mind that has ever existed, the most powerful learning machine in the universe.’
Children are developing their skills as a learner, which they will take with them throughout their education, and indeed their life. We can help children become even more powerful learners through three Characteristics of Effective Teaching and Learning:
- Playing and exploring – I investigate and experience things, and ‘have a go’.
- Active learning – I concentrate and keep on trying even when I encounter difficulties. I enjoy achieving.
- Creating and thinking critically – I am learning to develop my own ideas, make links between ideas, and develop strategies for doing things.
- Playing and Exploring
To be a good learner, children need to be curious about the world around them, to be willing to explore and find out about new objects and people, and relate this to what they already know. They need to be willing to try new things, to seek new challenges, and not to be scared of making mistakes.
Within playing and exploring:
- I understand that my actions have an effect on the world, so I want to keep on exploring.
- I am learning to plan and think ahead about how I will explore or play with objects.
- I might talk to myself or use visual aids such as pictures while I am playing to help my thinking. For example, when doing a jigsaw, I might whisper under my breath: “Where does that one go? – I need to find the big horse next.”
- I can make independent choices.
- I bring my own interests and fascinations from home into my setting. This helps me to develop my learning.
- I respond to new experiences that you introduce.
- Active Learning
To develop skills and learn children need to stay focused on what they are trying to achieve; to concentrate. They need to remain focused and keep on trying without giving up when things become difficult.
Within Active Learning:
- I join in with routines without needing to be told, like going to my cot when I want to sleep.
- I am learning to predict what might happen because I understand a familiar routine, e.g. I may get my coat when adults open the door to go outside.
- I show goal-directed behaviour, e.g. as a baby I may pull myself up by using the edges of a low table to reach for a toy on top of the table. As a toddler, I might turn a storage box upside down so I can stand on it and reach up for an object.
- I am learning to correct my mistakes myself, e.g. instead of using increasing force to push a puzzle piece into the slot, I try another piece to see if it will fit.
- I keep on trying when things are difficult
- Creating and Thinking Critically
Good learners have their own ideas, based on what they already know, have seen or can already do. They develop their own ideas, make links in their learning and develop strategies for doing things.
Within Creating and Thinking Critically
- I take part in simple pretend play, e.g. I might use an object like a brush to pretend to brush my hair, or ‘drink’ from a pretend cup.
- I can sort materials, e.g. at tidy-up time, I know how to put different construction materials in separate baskets.
- I can talk about my learning. I think about my progress as I try to achieve a goal. I check how well I am doing.
- I am learning to solve real problems, e.g. to share nine strawberries between three friends, a strategy I might use is to put one in front of each, then a second, then a third. Finally, I might check at the end that everyone has the same number of strawberries.
- I like to ‘pretend’ in my play. By pretending to be someone else I can imagine other points of view, e.g. when I am playing ‘The Three Billy Goats Gruff’ I might suggest that “Maybe the troll is lonely and hungry? That’s why he is fierce.”
- As I learn more things, I become more confident to come up with my own ideas and explanations. When I know about different types of dinosaurs, I can say which ones are meat eaters by seeing if they have big sharp teeth.
- I can concentrate hard to achieve something that’s important to me. I can focus my attention and ignore any distractions around me.
When we plan and think about the children’s activities and experiences, we reflect on the different ways that children learn and how this can be developed and extended. We celebrate the differing learning styles with our children click here for our visual representations.