Have you ever walked into an Early Years classroom and seen the kids down on the ground painting?
Or perhaps they were wearing hard hats and building an intricate structure with the blocks?
Or they had puppets and were cosy on the couch telling a story with them?
Did you ever question or doubt what learning was taking place as you observed? Or perhaps ask yourself why they weren’t sitting at their desks, in rows with their books and pencils out, listening quietly and attentively as the teacher stood up the front and asked them to regurgitate a heap of facts?
I know I once did! And now I’m here to help you see what I see after years of study, research and working in Early Years Classrooms.
Children are natural born scientists, inventors & researchers..
Think back to when your child was first on the move. Perhaps it wasn’t too long ago, or perhaps you are still living this season of your life. Remember how they would choose an object and test what it could do by shaking, bashing, throwing and eventually sucking it? Remember when they were first learning to walk, and they fell what felt like over one million times, but they continued to get back up, time and time again? And how they were never discouraged or gave up, they just did it? All with that cheeky grin on their gorgeous face!
Our children are born knowing so little about the world around them and they have a natural curiosity to explore and interact with it. They need to be given the agency and independence to go out and explore on their own, to fall, to take risks, to make mistakes and to test things through trial and error. I feel that we understand this and are more willing to let this happen when our children are babies but interacting with and learning about the world doesn’t stop here.
Right through to the early years of schooling and beyond, children are still learning with and interacting with the world and they still need to be given the agency and independence to do so, rather than sitting quietly at their desks being told about it. Think about how much more joyful, invigorating and satisfying an experience is when you have lived it rather than just been told about it. Think about how much more you remembered, understood, and engaged with the experience when you were given the chance to see for yourself. It is the same for our kids.
Being involved makes children more motivated to learn..
When children are involved and they are learning about something of interest to them or working on a problem that needs to be solved, they are more excited and motivated to learn. When this learning is happening in a way that is age-appropriate and meaningful to them, such as through play and hands on activities, they are not only naturally going to be more curious and intrigued, they are also going to build a deep understanding of the topic and be able to apply their newfound knowledge to real life, rather than writing down regurgitated facts for an assessment and never thinking about it again.
So, don’t be alarmed when you read the activities on the cards sent out with your Educational Products and you see that they involve foraging for loose parts, using paint and play dough or singing nursery rhymes. Trust that they have been carefully thought out to involve your little love in their learning and to spark their curiosity and motivation.
And next time, please don’t be alarmed if you see your older babes in their classrooms playing. Take solace in the fact that their teacher understands and values those little people and is respecting their innate way of learning.
Perhaps they are painting a sign for their class bake sale and are learning about letters, spelling and the value of money. Perhaps those little people wearing the hardhats and building intricate structures with the blocks are building a model of a bird’s eye view of their school, learning about spatial awareness and mapping as well as communicating with their peers. And perhaps those little people cosy on the couch with the puppets are rehearsing for their puppet show and building oral language skills whilst experimenting with pace, intonation and expression when talking in front of a crowd.
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