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Putting Theory into Practice

Following on from the Early Years conference that Mrs Meg and Mrs Jo went to in the summer, we would like to show you some of the ways that we have implemented what we learnt in order to make the children’s learning experience more engaging and relevant to them.

In Reception we now follow an ‘In the moment planning’ model, which means that we do not pre plan any of the activities taking place each day, except for short phonics and maths sessions. This is to enable the children to completely follow their own interests and to be able to have the time to become fully engaged in a self chosen activity for long periods of time if they so wish. Research shows us that when a child is immersed in play their brain is at it’s most productive, with new connections being made all the time. This is the perfect moment for an adult to support the child to move their learning forward and build on what they know already. Because the activity was initiated by the child, they set the agenda and there is a more natural flow to what follows next and no pressure to get ‘the right answer’. There is of course still place for adult led tasks, but these should only take up a proportion of the day.

As Mrs Meg says in her article "Keeping Early Years Unique", there are on average 1000 interactions each day between the adults in the setting and the children. Here are a few of them to illustrate the varied learning experiences that have been initiated by the children and then supported by the adults.

Putting Theory Into Practice

It was raining and the children noticed the rain pouring off the end of the guttering. The water tray was looking a bit empty so I wondered if they could use the rain to fill the tray. What followed was several children using all the different pots and bottles they could find to fill and transport water. They learnt which receptacles filled more quickly because they had wide tops, which held the most water, how heavy water is and how strong it can be when gushing fast. They also leant to take turns with the best place to fill their cup or bottle. After my initial suggestion, I did not need to intervene further, as the children led their own learning and helped each other.

Putting Theory Into Practice

One of the children arrived in the morning and asked if he could make a robot. The teacher showed him where he could select materials from and supported him to find the best way to fix them together. He then chose his paint and decorated it. 2 other children noticed what he was doing and joined in the activity, making their own robots.

Putting Theory Into Practice

The children wanted to get water from the water tray to the tuff tray on the grass. They were using cups to transport the water. I suggested that they use the pipes and showed them how to fix them together and use the stands to hold them up. They then extended the series of pipes so that the water filled the tuff tray and stretched to the banana tree. A lot of problem solving a teamwork went into this activity and the children were deeply engaged for a long time.

Putting Theory Into Practice

One of the children was using a magnet outside and noticed that it stuck to the pole holding the roof up. I wondered what else it might stick to and he proceeded to investigate this. He also asked me to test the roof as he couldn’t reach. He even discovered that although the door was made of metal, only some parts attracted the magnet.