Characteristics Of Effective Learning In Early Years

January 8, 2019 3:27 pm
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Characteristics Of Effective Learning (COEF) is an evolving field and as practitioners, we should embrace this and always add new learning experiences to our environment. However, even as we add to our learning environments we should focus on the fundamentals of effective learning so we know what will be most beneficial to the children in our care.

1. What Is the Characteristics Of Effective Learning?

Children learn through exploring, navigating and coming to their own conclusions. Traditional learning is more about what a teacher can impart on a child, whereas effective learning is more of a guided process. Practitioners create an enabling environment that encourages and facilitates learning by adding key elements that ensure this is done. What a child learns is ultimately up to them.

2. Why Is Effective Learning Important In Early Development?

During their early years, children are naturally inquisitive, intuitive and self-motivated. Learning and exploring come naturally to them. They want to interact with the world around them and the things they encounter. An effective learning environment encourages these characteristics in children and aids in their development. When given the resources to learn and engage children can develop emotional intelligence and succeed academically and in life in general. They’ll ultimately become critical thinkers, and lifelong learners and embrace change, creativity and new ideas. All as a result of their early childhood learning that promoted these qualities.

3. How To Include Effective Learning Techniques In Your Nursery

Before you add elements to your learning environment or incorporate any aspects of effective learning you should understand the key elements and how they work together.

Understand A Child’s Learning Process: Effective learning is all about creating your environment to stimulate and engage children and their inquisitive young minds. So, the first step is to monitor the children and what they find interesting. This way you can plan your learning area and what to include so that it is stimulating to the children in your care. It is only your job to guide and intervene when you feel necessary.

Nursery Resources Observation Sticky Notes are a handy resource to pick up and write down a child’s learning and development as you observe it. You can then add these to their learning journey later.

Add Elements That Encourage Learning: You should always be adding elements that will excite children and give into their inquisitive and creative nature. Once again, monitoring will prove essential when you do add elements. What gave the children the most value? What elements could add value?

Create An Open-Ended Learning Experience: Ask open-ended questions and create open-ended learning experiences as this is what will facilitate growth and development. To stimulate their critical thinking create experiences that allow them to problem solve, to find the right path with an end goal in mind.

Change Areas That Are Underutilised: When the time comes don’t be afraid to improve or change areas of your environment that don’t facilitate open-ended learning, especially areas where you see children become bored or uninterested quickly.

The 4 Characteristics Of Effective Learning:

Nursery Resources Characteristics of Effective Learning Flashcards are a useful and mobile resource that helps practitioners to remind themselves of what behaviours and learning they should be observing from the children in relation to the characteristics of effective learning.

Effective learning is underpinned by these characteristics. They’ll serve as a guide and give you an idea of what to add to your learning area.

  1. Playing and Exploring

This includes:

  • Finding out and exploring
  • Being willing to try something new (“have a go”)
  • Playing with what they know

Finding Out and Exploring:

It is important that children are able to engage with the environment and participate in sensory play. Play that stimulates their senses – sight, sound, taste, touch and smell. Through this type of play, they’re able to understand the world around them.

Being Willing To Try Something New:

Trying new things helps children build confidence and resilience and therefore new activities should be included in the area of play and children encouraged to participate. These new activities should be based on a child’s developmental stage.

Playing With What They Know:

To develop their skills children need to continuously play with certain toys or participate in certain activities. This way they’re able to master certain skills. It’s also not uncommon for children to choose toys and activities they’re familiar with or see other children using.

  1. Active Learning

This Includes:

  • Being Involved and Concentrating
  • Continuously Trying
  • Enjoying Achieving What They’ve Set Out To Do

Being Involved and Concentrating

Activities should be set out in a manner that encourages lengthier involvement. This ensures children are able to concentrate until they’ve accomplished a set goal. You should allow children to choose these activities themselves but they can be added to a routine or be encouraged to ensure children are progressing. The time it takes to complete the activity should be age-appropriate and based on a child’s ability. This way you’re not setting them up to fail. Instead, make the activity increasingly harder as they develop the necessary skills.

Continuously Trying

To develop their skills, activities should be laid out in a manner that encourages perseverance. When children encounter activities that they find hard to master they may be inclined to give up. This is your opportunity to step in and encourage them to continuously try and remain motivated until they’ve accomplished it. To avoid frustration keep an activity simple enough for their specific stage and age, remembering that it’s about bringing out the best in a child and not pointing to faults or making them feel inferior. To do this you should focus on each child individually.

Enjoying Achieving What They Set Out To Do

This should be an important opportunity for a child to learn the benefits of perseverance. Once they’ve accomplished something allow them to take pleasure in that accomplishment. Focus on that moment. This feeling will form the foundation of their ability to persevere in future and should help them build resilience and confidence.

  1. Critical Thinking

 This Includes:

  • Developing Their own ideas
  • Make links and “connecting the dots”
  • Choosing a way to do things

Developing Their Own Ideas

For a child to excel they need to be given the space to develop their own ideas. Allow them to ask you questions and indulge their curiosity and imagination through the activities laid out. Crafts are an excellent way for them to start this learning process and as it fosters creativity and independence.

Making links and “connecting the dots”

The activities you’ve selected can help children develop an understanding of how the world functions. They’ll be able to see that by doing something in a certain way they’ll reap a specific outcome. On the way to this, however, there’ll be a lot of trial and error. But this allows them to discover what works, why it works and what doesn’t and use these skills in future.

Choosing A Way To Do Things

Once a child has learnt through “trial and error” you’ll find them learning quicker and initiating more challenging tasks. This is as a result of having the self-confidence and skills to put what they’ve learnt in the past into action.

  1. Observation

The final characteristic of effective learning is your observation of the children and how they’ve interacted with areas and elements laid out before them. As you notice them participating in any of the aforementioned you can tick the boxes and watch them progress. Your observation will also serve as a guideline to any intervention you feel may be necessary.

Nursery Resources Characteristics Of Effective Learning poster is a simple resource you can display in your setting to remind you what to look out for when completing your children’s observations.

Additionally, Nursery Resources My Learning Journey is designed so that early years practitioners can record and organise observations, child development evidence, next-step plans, and track progress.

Effective learning is certainly effective at building self-assured, confident and intelligent young minds. At its core, it is about making learning more child-friendly.

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