How We Learn

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The Characteristics of Effective Learning (CoEL)

During these important early years when pathways in the brain are made and strengthened, it is important to focus on how children learn as well as on what they are learning. Determination, resilience, motivation, reflection and independent thinking are characteristics that we encourage. They are part of the essential toolkit for survival in the 21st century, although in some ways children have fewer opportunities to develop them out of school. However, children are active learners with a real need to play, explore and think for themselves. At Griffin House School, we support children to fulfil this need and to develop the characteristics that enable them to become effective, lifelong learners.

Playing and exploring: engagement

Finding out and exploring: We provide endless opportunities for children to explore through their senses; cookery, sand and water play inside and the vast expanse of space that they access every day in our gardens, giving first-hand experience of weather, the changing seasons and the power of nature. We also use open ended resources and teach children about possibilities – if they need something that we don’t have we encourage them to make their own or to try a different way. Our staff model curiosity as they play alongside the children: ‘I wonder what would happen if…’ and ‘I don’t know…what do you think?’ This approach supports the children to be curious and test their ideas.

Playing with what they know: children pretend that objects are things from their experience, a wooden block becomes a mobile phone or a book doubles up as a laptop. A child’s view of the world can be quite different to an adult perspective so we let the children lead the play, based on their own experiences so that their pretending is something that they know and understand. Because the children share these experiences, they learn from each other and before long, their play brings in themes from the wider world including books, films, holidays and celebrations.

Being willing to have a go: children bring their own ideas to their play and they quickly develop the confidence to voice them. They naturally seek challenge, perhaps by making their own props or by finding a different way to put their ideas into action. Staff are always available to help and advise but not to interfere. When the children find something difficult, we provide support that encourages them to have a go and keep trying, stepping in when they are becoming frustrated or defeated. Our children learn to take measured risks because they know that in most cases, if it goes wrong, they can learn from the experience and have another try.

Previous
Next

The Characteristics of Effective Learning (CoEL)

During these important early years when pathways in the brain are made and strengthened, it is important to focus on how children learn as well as on what they are learning. Determination, resilience, motivation, reflection and independent thinking are characteristics that we encourage. They are part of the essential toolkit for survival in the 21st century, although in some ways children have fewer opportunities to develop them out of school. However, children are active learners with a real need to play, explore and think for themselves. At Griffin House School, we support children to fulfil this need and to develop the characteristics that enable them to become effective, lifelong learners.

Playing and exploring: engagement

Finding out and exploring: We provide endless opportunities for children to explore through their senses; cookery, sand and water play inside and the vast expanse of space that they access every day in our gardens, giving first-hand experience of weather, the changing seasons and the power of nature. We also use open ended resources and teach children about possibilities – if they need something that we don’t have we encourage them to make their own or to try a different way. Our staff model curiosity as they play alongside the children: ‘I wonder what would happen if…’ and ‘I don’t know…what do you think?’ This approach supports the children to be curious and test their ideas.

Playing with what they know: children pretend that objects are things from their experience, a wooden block becomes a mobile phone or a book doubles up as a laptop. A child’s view of the world can be quite different to an adult perspective so we let the children lead the play, based on their own experiences so that their pretending is something that they know and understand. Because the children share these experiences, they learn from each other and before long, their play brings in themes from the wider world including books, films, holidays and celebrations.

Being willing to have a go: children bring their own ideas to their play and they quickly develop the confidence to voice them. They naturally seek challenge, perhaps by making their own props or by finding a different way to put their ideas into action. Staff are always available to help and advise but not to interfere. When the children find something difficult, we provide support that encourages them to have a go and keep trying, stepping in when they are becoming frustrated or defeated. Our children learn to take measured risks because they know that in most cases, if it goes wrong, they can learn from the experience and have another try.

Active learning: motivation

Being involved and concentrating: the headlines constantly bring our attention to the fact that children today seem less able to concentrate but at Griffin House School, we know that when children are truly interested and engaged, concentration comes naturally. This is why we take our lead from the children, finding their interests and fascinations and responding by providing opportunities where they can become really involved in their learning. This is empowering for them. The support that we give reinforces and extends their learning and helps them to see themselves as learners.

Keeping on trying: When children are involved in their own learning, they set themselves challenges and because the motivation comes from within, they become determined to achieve their own aim. They quickly learn that more effort or a different approach might be needed and with support, they begin to understand that even if it goes wrong, they can bounce back and succeed. Persistence and resilience are important skills for now and for the future.

Enjoying achieving what they set out to do: we all know how good it feels to be praised for something, perhaps gaining others’ approval in the form of a ‘well done’ or a tangible reward that reflects our achievement. However, there can be no greater reward than knowing that we have tried hard, done our best, improved on our past performance and achieved what we set out to do. The feelings that come from achieving your own goals, from overcoming barriers and solving problems and from feeling proud of yourself can be hugely motivating – children at Griffin House School are encouraged to develop this attitude to all aspects of their learning.

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Previous
Next

Active learning: motivation

Being involved and concentrating: the headlines constantly bring our attention to the fact that children today seem less able to concentrate but at Griffin House School, we know that when children are truly interested and engaged, concentration comes naturally. This is why we take our lead from the children, finding their interests and fascinations and responding by providing opportunities where they can become really involved in their learning. This is empowering for them. The support that we give reinforces and extends their learning and helps them to see themselves as learners.

Keeping on trying: When children are involved in their own learning, they set themselves challenges and because the motivation comes from within, they become determined to achieve their own aim. They quickly learn that more effort or a different approach might be needed and with support, they begin to understand that even if it goes wrong, they can bounce back and succeed. Persistence and resilience are important skills for now and for the future.

Enjoying achieving what they set out to do: we all know how good it feels to be praised for something, perhaps gaining others’ approval in the form of a ‘well done’ or a tangible reward that reflects our achievement. However, there can be no greater reward than knowing that we have tried hard, done our best, improved on our past performance and achieved what we set out to do. The feelings that come from achieving your own goals, from overcoming barriers and solving problems and from feeling proud of yourself can be hugely motivating – children at Griffin House School are encouraged to develop this attitude to all aspects of their learning.

“The goal of early childhood education should be to activate the child’s own natural desire to learn.”  

Maria Montessori

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Creating and thinking critically

Having their own ideas: once children realise that learning is an active process, they start to have their own ideas, looking for and finding ways to solve problems and for new ways to do things. This type of possibility thinking in young children is nurtured and encouraged at Griffin House School because it takes children’s learning to new heights – they never cease to amaze us!

Making links: as children learn make sense of the world, they draw on past experiences, making links in their learning and noticing patterns. They learn to use this growing understanding to make predictions when faced with new situations and to test their ideas in different contexts. This builds their knowledge about grouping, sequences and cause and effect and equips them to learn more.

Choosing ways to do things: knowledge is power and children who develop their higher level thinking skills are able to make choices, develop strategies to identify when they need to try a different approach and review what they have done, identifying what they might do to become even better next time.

In a world where technology is changing our lives at a rapid pace, we are planning for an unknown future. Critical and creative thinking skills help us to adapt to new situations and as well as making life more interesting, they may well be key skills for the workforce of the future.

Previous
Next

Creating and thinking critically

Having their own ideas: once children realise that learning is an active process, they start to have their own ideas, looking for and finding ways to solve problems and for new ways to do things. This type of possibility thinking in young children is nurtured and encouraged at Griffin House because it takes children’s learning to new heights – they never cease to amaze us!

Making links: as children learn make sense of the world, they draw on past experiences, making links in their learning and noticing patterns. They learn to use this growing understanding to make predictions when faced with new situations and to test their ideas in different contexts. This builds their knowledge about grouping, sequences and cause and effect and equips them to learn more.

Choosing ways to do things: knowledge is power and children who develop their higher level thinking skills are able to make choices, develop strategies to identify when they need to try a different approach and review what they have done, identifying what they might do to become even better next time.

In a world where technology is changing our lives at a rapid pace, we are planning for an unknown future. Critical and creative thinking skills help us to adapt to new situations and as well as making life more interesting, they may well be key skills for the workforce of the future.