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Effective support for children’s learning and development requires early practitioners to have an understanding that children develop quickly during their early years- physically, intellectually, emotionally and socially. Children have an entitlement to be provided with provision that will support them and extend their knowledge, skills, understanding and confidence that will help them overcome any disadvantage.
A child in their early year’s experiences should build upon what they already know and can do. The experience should encourage a positive attitude with learning and aims in order to prevent early failure.
A child’s learning environment needs to be stimulating and well planned and provide a structure for teaching within which children are able to explore experiment, plan and be able to make decisions for them, therefore enabling them to learn, develop and progress.
‘Children actively seek stimulation and need first hand experiences with real objects and occurrences and responsive adults or children who both support and model’ Bruce, 2001
The Early Years Foundation Stage statutory framework identifies three prime areas of learning: personal, social and emotional development; communication and language; and physical development. Clear identification of the three prime areas of learning and development. The framework states that these three areas are “particularly crucial for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, and for building their capacity to learn, form relationships and thrive.” practitioners working in early years are expected to focus strongly on the three prime areas, which are the basis for successful learning in the other four specific areas.” The specific areas include: Literacy, mathematics, understanding the world and expressive arts and design. Good.
Communication and language development this involves encouraging children to link sounds and letters and to begin to read and write. Practitioners must give children access to a wide range of reading materials (books, poems and other written materials) to ignite their interest. It is providing children to gain skills and become an effective speaker and listener.
A child’s learning and competence in communicating, speaking and listening, being read to and beginning to read and write must be supported. They must be provided with opportunity and encouragement to use their skills in a range of situations and for a range of purposes, and be supported in developing the confidence and disposition to do so. (Early Years Framework) Good use of reference.
Physical development involves providing opportunities for young children to be active and interactive in their play and learning; and to develop their co-ordination, control and movement. They will increase the control over their movements as they develop, involving both gross and fine motor skills. Fine motor skills such as tying shoes laces or drawing, gross are things such as performing actions like throwing and catching. Children must also be helped to understand the importance of physical activity, and to make healthy choices in relation to food. Good. Personal, social and emotional development helps children to develop a positive sense of themselves, and others; to form positive relationships and develop respect for others; to develop social skills and learn how to manage their feelings; to understand appropriate behaviours in groups; and to have confidence in their own abilities as well building up their sense of identity and independence. As a baby they will begin being totally reliant on those that care for them, as they progress they will become more independent. The child will develop social and cultural perspectives and control of their emotions; together they begin to gain and understanding of acceptable way to express their opinions and feelings.
The first of the specific areas to highlight is literacy development. Language is vital to a child’s development it is the key for learning, communicating and building positive relationships. A practitioner’s role of encouraging their language acquisition is very important and that it should also concern parents, carers and even policymakers. They need to have knowledge about how the children in early years acquire their language and be able to develop into competent thinkers and language users which reflects good practice. The EYFS has pointed out the vitality of early year’s practitioners providing opportunities where children can communicate thoughts, ideas and feelings with those around them.
Children retain language through daily interaction in their immediate environment. They respond to sounds, sentences and experiences expressed by those around them. Listening and attention, understanding and speaking are the three aspects of communication and language development. Communication and language development, from birth children are tuning in to the world around them. Without verbal language by observing babies attentively we are able to see how they are able to communicate with those around them. They hear sounds and will try and establish where the sounds come from. As they get older they will learn to identify and know the difference between various voices and start to understand the meaning of words.
Babies cry to attract attention –in this way they communicate with the adults around them to get what they need. They have different cries for different purposes and parents soon get to know which cry means ‘I’m hungry’, ‘I’m in pain’, ‘I’m damp’ or, ‘Come and play with me now!’ Adults respond by meeting these needs and by talking to their baby.
Language is important because it forms the foundations for interacting with other people – for communicating our needs, our thoughts and our experiences. From the moment of birth, babies are ready to communicate: they listen to and look at people and things in their environment, and respond to what they hear and see. Babies need a stimulating environment in which those who care for them respond sensitively to the different meanings of their cries, coos and gestures. Having the early ability to communicate verbally and non-verbally is the basis on which language is developed. A child’s ability to develop language depends on being immersed in a rich environment of words, sounds, rhythm, and verbal and non-verbal expression from birth.
Children will progress through all language stages as they age, but may have different rates and milestones of achievement according to their own personal development.
Early years practitioners play an active role in both language and literacy development. They will help introduce children to words, sounds, letters, and books and will highlight the relationships among them. They can promote literacy in early years by simply reading stories aloud to children on a frequent basis in setting is one of the most effective ways to promote early literacy development among young children. However, young children will tend to focus on the pictures during shared reading. The practitioner should draw children’s attention to print by pointing to the words when they say them or by asking questions about the words in the book for example “Where is the title?” or “We know this letter – it’s a C . this can help improve word awareness and alphabet knowledge. By helping children focus on the words and letter this makes shared reading more successful. For young children it would be recommended to use ‘big story books’ so that all children can see it with its larger print.
Mathematics: Children’s earliest interactions are with mathematics as they are exploring patterns, shapes and spaces of the world around them. It will provide children with opportunities to develop and improve their skills in counting, understanding and using numbers, calculating simple addition and subtraction problems.
We are, all of us, at all ages, already highly skilled mathematicians. We just haven’t often learned it in our mathematics lessons. Lewis, 1996
Mathematics is an important part of everyday life. We use numbers for counting, ordering and measurements:
Learning math in the early years involves more than practitioners providing children with manipulatives, such as pattern blocks or peg boards to explore, because mathematics is about thinking,. In order for children to mathematize what they are doing From ages 3 through 6 children move from an intuitive to a more organized/formal mathematical thinking. “children need many experiences that call on them to relate their knowledge to the vocabulary and conceptual framework of mathematics — in other words to ‘mathematize’ what they intuitively grasp” (Joint position statement of NAEYC and NCTM, 2002).Practitioners need to provide the appropriate vocabulary and further their thinking “what will happen if you cut the smaller pieces in half?” “Which one comes first, second, third?” “Why” “Which one is the longest, shortest, and heaviest?” “How can you tell?” by asking mathematical aimed questions, in turn encourages the child think mathematical. They need to help children have confidence in their calculations, estimations and develop a keen sense of curiosity. From birth babies will work hard at making sense of the world around them. They learn about quantity for example a baby eagerly wanting an object; they will want one for both hands. Then they will realise they can’t hold anymore
Understanding the world will involve guiding children to make sense of their physical world and their community through opportunities to explore, observe and find out about people, places, technology and the environment. They are developing the necessary knowledge; skills and understanding that help them make sense of the world around them. This will then provide a foundation for later educational learning of science, design and technology, history, I.C.T and geography. Finding out about the world around them is what babies and young children do very effectively when they investigate by touching, holding or pressing things and by climbing on and jumping off things. Older children love to explore and investigate how and why things work and to test out their ideas of what will happen if they do a particular thing like Practitioners need to provide activities based on first hand experiences, the children need to be in an environment where there is a wide range of activities indoors and outdoors that will stimulate the child’s interest and curiosity.
“Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.” Mead.M
Expressive arts and design is enabling children to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials, encompasses messy play, music, dance, design and technology and imaginative play such as role play and small world play. The children within an early years setting should have daily opportunities for creative play, both inside and outside. As well as providing opportunities and encouragement for sharing their thoughts, ideas and feelings through a variety of activities.
There various developmental benefits of expressive arts in including motor skills, the motions involved in making art, such as holding a paintbrush or scribbling with a crayon, practitioners should encourage the use of these as they are essential to aid the growth of fine motor skills in young children
“Art is a way to encourage the process and the experience of thinking and making things better!” Khol
Visual Learning: sculpting with clay and threading beads on a string all develop visual-spatial skills, which are important. nowadays toddlers know how to operate a smart phone or tablet, which means that even before they can read, kids are taking in visual information. tools and materials practitioners can use to encourage more complex exploration can include: tea bag painting, chalk pictures, splatter painting, printing with different objects such as potatoes, veg or shaped sponges. Using recycled materials for junk modelling/ structuring. They can encourage music by using: Nursery rhymes, action songs, using Sounds to help tell stories Sound pictures and making instruments. These are a few of many other tools and techniques to encourage expressive arts and design in early years. It can benefit young children as hey can help develop intrinsic human qualities, such as creativity, expression, identity, culture and imagination it can impact positively on confidence, self-esteem, personal, social, emotional development and behavioral health, breaking down language barriers, cultural prejudices or societal differences, and leading to decreased social problems, reduced inequality and increased creativity.
The ways in which a child engages with other people and the environment – playing and exploring, active learning and creating and thinking critically – underpin learning and development across all areas of learning and support the child to remain an effective and motivated learner. Practitioners need to when planning they need to plan to cover all seven areas of learning and development. Each child will develop at their own rate through each developmental milestone. They need to keep a balance of child initiated and adult led play it their planned activities. Play has a big role of importance in early years, a great aid for learning.
“The path of development is a journey of discovery that is clear only in retrospect, and it’s rarely a straight line.” Kennedy-Moore, E
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