HOW YOUNG CHILDREN LEARN
In partnership with parents and carers, we have a set of core aims, intended to provide:
High quality learning and care for children from birth to five years, within a nurturing, secure (physically and emotionally), stimulating and inclusive environment that is positive and enjoyable;
We offer planned learning opportunities which:
build on the children’s home experiences
promote children’s developmental and individual needs
give equal access of opportunity for children of differing ability,
gender, religion, culture and socio-economic backgrounds
encourage, support and challenge the children in all aspects of their social,
emotional, moral, spiritual, physical and intellectual growth
develop necessary skills, concepts and attitudes for the children to
grow into confident and independent learners.
- learn actively by doing, constructing, exploring, experimenting, problem solving
- have a range of learning styles
- require a wide range of experiences
- require opportunities, space and time to repeat, practise and consolidate what has been learned, as well as challenging new experiences
- build on what they can do and explore further what is familiar to them.
- work most effectively on current interest to them, learning form first-hand experience
- need opportunities to take risks, make mistakes and try things out without fear of failure
- learn from play – which can be spontaneous, purposeful, fun or serious – which encourage children to develop their ideas, understanding and language as well as promoting control, confidence and wellbeing
- are naturally curious and have an innate desire to find out more
- learn most effectively in a social context, but that the role of adults in mediating, supporting and extending learning is crucial
- learn from each other and benefit from working in an environment that reflects the needs of the whole age range from birth to five
- need opportunities to represent their first hand experiences through a wide range of media as they move from behavioural to symbolic knowledge
- require opportunities to experience what it feels like to understand something in depth, so that their disposition to seek in-depth understanding can be developed
- gain the dispositions to be interested, engaged, absorbed and involved in intellectual effort when they have extended opportunities to work on their own interests over time
- are not likely to gain desirable dispositions from only instructions; rather, these are gained from being around people who exhibit, exemplify and model them
- gain a positive self-esteem when adults show respect for their ideas, thoughts, interests and concerns
- use talk as an important tool to express their ideas and feelings; and in so doing they question and develop their powers of reasoning, interpret thoughts, modify ideas and extend their thinking
- learn best when they are confident that their own abilities, gender, home culture and background are valued
- benefit from the security of knowing that positive attitudes have been fostered between school and Home, through close partnerships and shared understanding
- Children need “…… freedom to investigate and try, to make mistakes, to choose where and with whom to invest their curiosity, intelligence and emotions. Children need the freedom to appreciate the infinite resources of their hands, their eyes, their ears, the resources of forms, materials, sounds and colour. They need the freedom to realise how reason, thought and imagination can create continuous interweaving of things, and can move and shake the world”.
(Adapted from Malaguzzi: Hundred Languages of Children, 1996)
“Education is not filling a bucket but lighting a fire”
W B Yeats
The Comper experience in Reception
We provide a broad curriculum which supports all aspects of the child’s development, social, emotional, creative, physical, intellectual and linguistic. It includes the early stages of reading and writing, maths, science, physical development and humanities, and wide variety of creative skills.
We take account of where the children are in their learning when they start with us in Reception; roughly an equal number of children join us from our own Nursery School as from a large number of other settings. Children are at a very wide range of starting points, often affected by their previous experience, age and other factors. It is also true that children learn in a variety of different ways and, inevitably, some are more confident than others.
The promotion of equal opportunities, and inclusion of children, whatever their abilities and needs, is central to all our work.
Each term we develop plans based on observations of children’s interests and needs which provide a focus for the resources and experiences. There is a wide range of ongoing school experiences: cookery, visual and other arts, sand and water, construction, role-play, outdoor play activities and a great deal more. We believe that children need to feel positive in order to learn, confident to try out ideas; we strongly encourage learning dispositions, such as curiosity, perseverance and problem-solving.
We provide lots of hands-on and real-life experiences, such as vegetable gardening. Through our provision, we want children to acquire the skills, knowledge and attitudes needed to make sense of the world around them. We encourage success and help the child to develop independence in making decisions.
Planning for children’s learning and development
Staff has a vital job in considering the individual needs, interests, and stage of development of each child in their care. They use this information to plan a challenging and enjoyable experience for each child in all of the areas of learning and development (see above).
Our staff working with the youngest children focus strongly on the three prime areas Communication & Language, Physical, and Personal, Social & Emotional Development). The prime areas are the basis for successful learning in the other, four specific areas. The three prime areas reflect the key skills and capacities all children need to develop and learn effectively, and become ready for school.
It is expected that the balance will shift towards a more equal focus on all areas of learning as children grow in confidence and ability within the three prime areas.
If a child’s progress in any prime area gives cause for concern, the practitioner will discuss this with the child’s parents and/or carers and agree how to support the child.
Practitioners must consider whether a child may have a special educational need or disability which requires specialist support. They should link with, and help families to access, relevant services from other agencies as appropriate.
English as an Additional Language
For our many children whose home language is not English, we take reasonable steps to provide opportunities for them to develop and use their home language in play and learning, supporting their language development at home. We also ensure that children have sufficient opportunities to learn and reach a good standard in English language during the EYFS: ensuring children are ready to benefit from the opportunities available to them when they begin Year 1.
When assessing communication, language and literacy skills, practitioners must assess children’s skills in English. If a child does not have a strong grasp of English language, we explore the child’s skills in the home language with parents and/or carers, to establish whether there is cause for concern about language delay.
Each area of learning and development is implemented through planned, purposeful play and through a mix of adult-led and child-initiated activity. Play is essential for children’s early development, building their confidence as they learn to explore, to think about problems, and relate to others. Children learn by leading their own play, and by taking part in play which is guided by adults; this makes play ‘purposeful’
The balance in children’s learning as they go through the school
There is an ongoing judgement to be made by practitioners about the balance between activities led by children, and activities led or guided by adults. Practitioners must respond to each child’s emerging needs and interests, guiding their development through warm, positive interaction. As children grow older, and as their development allows, the balance will gradually shift towards more activities led by adults, to help children prepare for Year 1. Activities become increasingly challenging and, in order to best meet the wide range and complexity of needs, more often happen in smaller, targeted groups.
A typical day in Reception
Each day includes:
- A time for the whole class to be together for registration, a story, to celebrate a birthday, to look ahead or to reflect on a day or activity etc
- A phonics session (in a group with an adult)
- A mathematics session (again, in a group with an adult)
- Time to self-select (indoors/outdoors); for example, sand, water and modelling (explorer time)
- A time for a snack of fresh fruit and a drink of water or milk
- A group session/time for (and this changes from day to day) music, physical activity, drama, cooking etc
- A challenge (perhaps for two or three times a week); for example, We need to build a house for the little pig that will not blow down in the garden
You may also find it useful to read about the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), also under Reception.