S2 & 5 – How do children learn best?

Observation of children within EYFS

My morning in reception was incredibly insightful looking at how children learn in EYFS. The learning I observed was a mixture of teacher led group activities and learning through free exploratory play.  Each session was short and simple and teachers adapted to the children choice of activity using the experiences to promote learning. The morning started with a Active8 session to bring the children together, wake up their bodies and get brains ready to learn. This process seemed really effective as the children started and completed the session independently as the class arrived, leaving teachers to welcome parents, children and assist children who required help. TS5 – have a secure understanding of how a range of factors can inhibit pupils’ ability to learn, and how best to overcome these

Full class and group lessons were really short to cater to the short attention spans of the children while still being highly effective. Children were engaged and excited to be in school to “exercise their minds”. As each session came to an end you could see the children start to fidget more and It was obvious the opportunity for learning had ended, a change was required. The class day took the children throughout the school, with sessions in the classroom, outside and in the school hall. Even playtimes offered equipment and new areas to explore and play. Both reception classes were able to learn together during free play, giving more opportunities for social skill development and friendships to form. TS5 – demonstrate an awareness of the physical, social and intellectual development of children, and know how to adapt teaching to support pupils’ education at different stages of development.

The most interesting aspect of my visit to reception was the use of both an outdoor and indoor classroom where children were told it was time to learn, not play. Children were free to play inside and out, most preferring outside. The learning was very child led, teachers looked for opportunities within the children’s play for learning. I.e. writing on the whiteboard outside, asking questions encouraging deeper thought, caring for plants, building and imaginative play. It was amazing to see how much learning and life skills the children were learning from this setup and strategy. Children were engaged, excited to learn and were building social skills, life skills, motor skills as well as learning, numeracy, literacy, science, PE and enjoying exploration. A lot of time was spent teaching the children how to line up, collect their own resources, changing for PE, making good choices and recognising achievement as their independence increased.

The school setup and equipment available gave equal opportunities for all children, regardless of gender, age or developmental level. Opportunities to learn and explore without the stereotypical or social restrictions some children may face at home resulted in boys and girls playing together in various play areas. This ensured all children could gain the skills and opportunities for development each experience presented. i.e. boys in the home area, girls playing pirates. Allowing the Children to rotate freely between activities, allows for each child’s particular mood at that time offering social and non-social opportunities ensuring everyone is engaged and learning. Opportunities to sit, jump, play in groups, large or small as well as quieter activities were all present. I believe this setup led to a lack of behaviour issues and the full class engagement I witnessed. TS7 – manage classes effectively, using approaches which are appropriate to pupils’ needs in order to involve and motivate them.

Teacher led class sessions were carefully spread throughout the day, ensuring the children were not asked to sit still for too long. It was obvious from the sessions that children learn from exploration and manipulation. Being active and given the opportunity to try new experiences with support from staff. TS2 – demonstrate knowledge and understanding of how pupils learn and how this impacts on teaching. The children’s achievements and behaviour was recognised and shown in a visual way. House points for good work and a behaviour chart where children had to physically move their name peg from rain clouds through to the stars, seemed highly effective as teachers praised and used it as incentive for good learning. TS7 – manage classes effectively, using approaches which are appropriate to pupils’ needs in order to involve and motivate them.

The classroom environment was open, stimulating, inviting and highly effective in the reception class. Working walls and bright age appropriate displays supported the children’s learning and celebrated work done well.

This experience helped me recognise the importance of a classroom set up, child driven learning and exploration. This setting was very effective as it catered to the needs of the children but most importantly encouraged a love for learning and a crucial positive introduction to the school, and the child’s development. It is now clear that teachers must recognise unplanned opportunities for learning which could be developed throughout lessons. The importance of recognising physical exploration can promote learning and engagement with children during lessons can be highly effective and adapted to suit particular learners.

I look forward to planning some explorative lessons using concrete resources and opportunities to try experiments, take part in role plays and explore the lesson topics. I hope this will encourage a love for learning and will give opportunities for greater depth for all children. TS1 – establish a safe and stimulating environment for pupils, rooted in mutual respect.

Focused next steps:

Arrange regular visits into the Infant school to further my knowledge on phonics and EYFS.Look at opportunities for exploration which could be used in the year 3 curriculum this year.