Characteristics of Effective Learning – What is it?
- 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; and
- Creating and thinking critically – children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas, and develop strategies for doing things.
Characteristics of Effective Learning (CoEL) is commonly used alongside EYFS and supports practitioners in planning and guiding children’s activities, based on the different ways that children learn, and reflect these in their practice, through their planning and guiding of children’s activities.
The foundation of CoEL is built on ways children learn rather than “what” they are learning, focusing on the quality of the process and reinforcing that during their children’s earliest years, they will form a mindset towards learning that will last a lifetime.
It is paramount that without forgetting that children are individuals who bring their own needs, talents and histories to the learning environment, that a supportive practitioner, and the environment they provide, need to nurture these CoELs to occur.
On eyLog you can link your observations to additional frameworks. Select ‘CoEL’ from the framework bar at the top of the observation screen. Select one or more statements from any of the three areas by clicking on the checkbox at the end.
So how can you ensure you are providing these opportunities for children?
Playing and Exploring
A stimulating environment is vital to ensure that this area of learning is maximised to its full potential. To practice skills learnt and be allowed to play with things they enjoy and time and freedom to repeat these actions.
Small World play and Role play are beneficial play areas. Children will play with toys and activities familiar to them, whilst becoming intrigued by new experiences and toys they see their peers enjoying.
Activities should be challenging yet appropriate and relevant to the children’s stage of development and age, whilst also providing a safe space to explore and build their confidence in trying new things.
Encourage children’s natural curiosity, offer support and encouragement and show them how things work and model how to do things. Provide opportunities to repeat activities and new skills, so children have the chance to practice and become better at mastering these skills once they try over and over.
Observing children in the setting will allow you to find out what it is that they like and what they need to help them to progress towards their next steps. eyLog enables “Next Steps” as part of your observation reporting, providing documentation for the practitioner in how to support and develop this child’s learning journey and enables you to plan and provide fun activities and experiences that will make this happen more easily as the child will be enjoying the experience.
Support children to complete age and developmentally appropriate tasks, encouraging and championing them as they preserve and provide positive reinforcement. Provide a range of resources and activities that provide the same learning opportunities to allow children to express themselves by selecting the item(s) or activity of interest to them and ultimately makes learning more tailored to the child’s needs
When providing a learning environment, be mindful of children’s attention spans, sometimes they may need guidance and help to remain focused, whilst also allowing the child’s imagination and creativity to be explored.
Incorporate into your routine and planning a balance of child initiated and adult led activities. Also encourage children to develop their attention and concentration skills in all areas of the routine and activities not just the sections that interest them, as sitting during circle time and listening to instructions whilst playing outside as well as using equipment safely and responsibly are key skills in any child’s development.
Creating and thinking critically
There are some areas of a child’s development that can not be taught, and it is important to allow children the freedom to express themselves, have a voice and be listened to. Provide a variety of resources so that they may self-select and use their imagination, and encourage activities where you can question the child on what they believe the outcome will be and why.
Use explorative language, rather than say “What is it” when a child presents you with their artwork or construction, say “Explain your picture/building to me” allowing them to express their imagination, independence and their own ideas.
Children will start to make links and connections and this can be supported within all areas of the curriculum to embed the learning objectives, when planning topics and themes. Provide opportunities to reinforce links and connections between “Setting Life” and “Home Life”, and this is why the function to allow parents to upload observations ensures Parents are Partners with their child’s learning and development.
Children need to be given choices and encouragement to try new things and the opportunities to execute these. Children like familiarity and will often head towards the same activities or zone within a setting, they feel safe and comforted with their choice and are aware of their skills and capabilities. Try to be spontaneous at times and encourage children to join in new activities or provide a new environment for them to encourage their favourite activities. Stay out in the rain. Create an outdoor kitchen. Bring the tikes and scooters inside.