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Supporting Children’s Learning and Development
Children are developing all the time and their learning reflects this, so, for example, when a child can pull themselves up they can suddenly reach things they couldn’t before or when they learn new words they begin to label objects such as ball or drink. The revised EYFS uses the term Learning and Development to describe seven areas of learning. These are all related to each other however, they are divided into prime and specific areas.
- Personal, Social and Emotional Development
- Communication and Language
- Physical Development
- Understanding the World
- Expressive Arts and Design
In addition the revised EYFS refers to the different ways that children learn as the characteristics of learning: playing and exploring – children investigate and experience things and ‘have a go’. Active learning – children concentrate and keep on trying if they encounter difficulties and enjoy achievements. Creating and thinking critically – children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas and develop strategies for doing things. Together with the prime and specific areas these comprise the knowledge, skills and experiences that are developmentally appropriate for children from birth to 5 years.
Personal, Social and Emotional Development – Involves helping children to form positive relationships, to develop social skills and learn how to manage their feelings and develop respect for others. Personal, Social and Emotional Development is made up of these aspects:
- Self Confidence and Self Awareness – Children are confident to try new activities and say why they like some activities more than others. They are confident to speak in a familiar group, talk about their ideas and say when they do or don’t need help.
- Managing Feelings and Behaviour – Children talk about how they and others show feelings, talk about their own and others behaviour and that some behaviour is unacceptable. They work part of a group and understand to follow rules.
- Making Relationships – Children play co-operatively, taking turns with others. They take account of one another’s ideas about how to organise their activity. They show sensitivity and form positive relationships with adults and other children.
Communication and Language – Involves giving children the opportunity to develop their confidence and skills. To give children the best opportunity for developing communication and language. Communication and Language is made up of these aspects:
- Listening and Attention – Children listen attentively in a range of situations. They listen to stories and respond to what they hear with relevant comments or questions. They give their attention to what others say and respond appropriately while engaged in another activity.
- Understanding – Children follow instructions involving several ideas or actions. They answer ‘how’ or ‘why’ questions about their experiences and in response to stories and events.
- Speaking – Children express themselves effectively. They use past, present and future forms accurately when talking about events that have happened or are to happen in the future. They develop their own narratives and explanations by connecting ideas or events.
Physical Development – Involves providing opportunities for young children to be active and interactive, and to develop their co-ordination, control and movement. Children must also be helped to understand the importance of physical activity and to make healthy choices to food. Physical Development is made up of these aspects:
- Moving and Handling – Children show good control and co-ordination. They move confidently in a range of ways. They handle equipment and tools effectively, for example, pencils for writing and climbing equipment.
- Health and Self Care – Children know the importance for good health of physical exercise and a healthy diet and talk about ways to keep healthy and safe. They manage their own basic hygiene and personal needs including dressing and going to the toilet independently.
The Specific Areas
Literacy – Literacy development involves encouraging children to link sounds and letters and to begin to read and write. Children must be given access to a wide range of reading materials such as books to ignite their interests. Literacy Development is made up of these aspects:
- Reading – Children read and understand simple sentences. They use phonic knowledge to decode regular words and read them aloud accurately. They demonstrate understanding when talking with others about what they have read.
- Writing – Children use their phonic knowledge to write words in ways which match their spoken sounds. They write simple sentences which can be read by themselves and others. Practitioners could support writing skills by providing sand to promote writing.
Mathematics – Involves providing children with opportunities to develop and improve their skills in counting, understanding and using numbers, calculating simple addition and subtraction problems and to describe shapes, spaces and measures. Mathematics is made up of these aspects:
- Numbers – Children count reliably from 1-20 place them in order and say which number is one more or one less than a given number. Using quantities and objects, they add and subtract two single digit numbers and count on or back to find the answer. Practitioners could supply building blocks and numbered jigsaws to help support this.
- Shape, Space and measures – Children use everyday language to talk about size, weight, distance, time and money to compare quantities and objects and to solve problems. They recognise, create and describe patterns. They explore characteristics of everyday objects and use mathematical language to describe them. Different sizes and shapes of building bricks and blocks could be used to promote this.
Understanding the World – Involves 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. Understanding the World is made up of these aspects:
- People and Communities – Children talk about past and present events in their own lives and family members. They know about similarities and differences between themselves and others and among families, communities and traditions. Practitioners could use pictures and photographs to display different cultures.
- The World – Children know about similarities and differences in relation to places, objects, material and living things. They talk about their own environment and how environments might vary from one another. Children will also develop an understanding to care for their environment. Practitioners should support this by getting children to care for plants or a small vegetable patch.
- Technology – Children recognise that a range of technology is used in places such as homes and schools. They select and use technology for particular purposes. Younger children use mechanical toys while older children could take, in turn, using a computer.
Expressive Arts and Design – Involves enabling children to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials. This area supports children’s curiosity and play. They explore and share their thinking, ideas and feelings in music, in art, movement and dance, role play and technology. Expressive Arts and Design is made up of these aspects:
- Exploring and using Media and Materials – Children sing songs, make music and dance. They safely use and explore a variety of materials, tools and techniques experimenting with colour, design, texture, form and function. Practitioners could use tape recorders, cd players and musical instruments.
- Being imaginative – Children use what they have learnt about media and materials in original ways thinking about uses and purposes. They represent their own ideas, thoughts and feelings through design and technology, art, music, dance, role play and stories. Practitioners should provide a variety of role play materials and support children’s imaginative ideas.
Children develop and learn in different ways. Practitioners need to look at what skills and knowledge the children are demonstrating and consider ways to support the child to strengthen and deepen their current learning and development skills. This will ensure that the individual needs of the child are met.
There are 3 characteristics of effective learning to help us focus on and understand how children learn.
Playing and Exploring
- Finding out and Exploring
- Using what they know in their play
- Being willing to have a go
This characteristic of learning focuses on a children’s engagement with the resources they use, the environment they are in and the people around them. Children should have opportunities to be involved in open ended, hands on experiences prompted by their own curiosity. Children’s play experiences should enable them to seek things out that interest them, initiate activities, seek challenges, develop a ‘can do’ attitude, and be willing to take a risk in trying out new experiences and begin to see ‘failures’ as a learning opportunity. Play also provides the link to the areas of learning and development and gives the opportunity for children to explore their own feelings, views and ideas.
- Being involved and Concentrating
- Keep Trying
- Enjoying and Achieving which they set out to do
Active Learning focuses on the role of intrinsic motivation which supports long term success. Children need to be able to follow their interests for long periods of time, fully engaged in what they are doing and concentrating deeply. In their activities, children should be encouraged to face challenges and keep on trying if they encounter difficulties. Practitioners should help children to value the rewards of their own success.
Creating and Thinking Critically
- Having their own ideas
- Using what they already know to learn new things
- Choosing ways to do things and finding new ways
Creating and thinking critically highlights the importance of observing how children are thinking. Children have and develop their own ideas. Children should have many opportunities to be creative, generating new ideas, being inventive, finding problems and challenges and figuring out their own ways to solve them. By respecting children’s ideas will give them confidence to try out new experiences. Children from a very young age enjoy organising and processing information, creating patterns and making predictions based on what they already know.
Children develop and learn in different ways. There is a great deal of overlap between the ages and stages because all children develop at different rates and at their own pace. This should be remembered when planning activities.
Birth to 11 months – babies enjoy being held and cuddled. They enjoy the company of others. Practitioners should ensure that all staff are aware of the importance of attachment and to get staff to say ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ as this develops a secure and trusting relationship. Practitioners should plan to have one to one contact with babies and provide toys/objects to be sucked and squeezed and provide space to roll around and explore.
8 – 20 months – babies and young children will now start to build relationships with special people. They start to show an interest in activities so practitioners could provide push along toys and trikes for outdoor play.
16-26 months – children start to play alongside others and play co-operatively with a familiar adult. Practitioners could then play name games to get everyone to know each other. Plan play activities to get children to explore new toys and environments such as trikes, pushchairs for dolls, dough, sand and cd’s and story books.
22-36 months – children now show an interest with others and want to join in. Many form special friendships with others. Practitioners can provide resources that promote co-operation between two children like a bat and ball. Provide safe spaces so children can run around safely, kick a ball and use A frames. Practitioners can discuss with other staff how each child responds to activities and build on this to plan future activities.
30-50 months – children now play within a group and initiate play. Practitioners need to provide space and materials for group play, for example, lego.
40-60 months – Practitioners need to ensure that children have opportunities to play with everyone in the group and to provide activities that involve taking turns and sharing. Practitioners need to plan time and space for energetic play and plan activities where children can practice moving, throwing, climbing and kicking. Experiment different ways of moving.
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