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Strategies needed to encourage 'explanation'


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Does anyone have any good, tried and tested strategies to encourage individuals to talk about or explain what they know? I have a very bright little boy at nursery (54m) who has many interests; however, if I ask him to tell me about something his reply is usually 'I don't know' - yet I know that he does, but he doesn't seem able to expand on a topic (which he has usually instigated). I don't 'put him on the spot' and I try to keep the conversation 'light' without him feeling pressured - often saying 'What do you think, James?' or 'I wonder ...' without showing that I would like him to contribute to the conversation.

Any tips?

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Does he do it with his peers? Have you observed the same behaviour with his peers too? Do you need to hear him explain what he knows in order to assess his knowledge about a subject? Sorry this is probably not helpful, just curious.....

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Yes, I suppose he does - but giving as much information as he feels is needed and of course it would be centred around what they are doing NOW e.g. building a run using the drainpipes and small balls; but of course his peers are not going to ask questions or make comments in the same way e.g. 'What did you do/I wonder what you did at stage school this week?' or 'Tell me about/what did you see at the 'daredevil stunt show'?

I guess I'm trying to encourage him to 'use talk to organise, sequence and clarify thinking, ideas, feelings and events'! I know he can do it - I just want him to prove it to me instead of taking the easy option with "I don't know".

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Hi! This is a bit wierd as I have never replied to any forum issues in the past - I have simply enjoyed reading and learning from them!

I am really interested in 'your litle man' and have had several of the same in my setting! One who springs to mind was SO curiois and a real 'hands on' explorer - but whenever the discussions got going would 'blend into the wallpaper' (even though his expressive language was superb). Having tried most tactics the only one which really worked for him was to 'act as if I was stupid' and pose a conundrum - "Oh Max (or whoever!!) - I have a real problem here - I would really like to build a water pipe like yours but just can't seem to make it work - could you come and help me build it and show me how you did it, please?" Sounds corny I know - but it worked for my little man. I think he felt as if some of his peers always 'got there first' and although he knew what to say - just didn't have that boundless confidence to say it before his peers. Another thing that really worked was introducing new tools (real ones) which I knew he used at home with his Dad. He was a real kinaesthetic learner and could show me exactly what a hand wood drill was for and explain exactly how to use it. He, of course, was the only one who could actually get it to work and he simply blossomed into the wonderful woodwork teacher he was then known as!

Hope your little man finds a way to show you his true knowledge in a way he kows he can. Apologies if this has bored you to tears - but I am a real kinaesthetic learner too - no wonder I run our Forest School!!

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Hello Ladybirdclass - thank you SO much for your reply (and I hope it won't be your last!!). Sounds like we have the same little boy! :P Your ideas sound great and I'll certainly give them a try - sometimes I just can't see the wood for the trees so your different perspective may be just the answer I need! I will let you know how I get on after the Easter break.

Thanks again - and keep posting :rolleyes:

PS - I haven't done anything on Forest Schools since teacher training in 2004; unfortunately I have only the school playing field and an almost barren area of playground :(. However, we do have a line of mature trees separating two playing fields - hardly a forest - but any ideas would be most welcome. :1b

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hello again!

 

Apologies for delay - I had forgotten to look to see if you had read my last message! Porbably best not to get me started on Forest School as I could type and type and just not stop - it is that brilliant! Since I began the training journey a year ago I have found it to be the most amazing way of bringing learning to life for all my children. I actually run Forest School sessions for all the year groups from Nursery to Yr 2 and take them weekly oin a rota basis - having them for 6 weeks at a time.

 

As for activities - it's simple - just look around at the most amazing natural materials we can use - and it doesn't need a forest or woodland to be able to run these sessions - just imagination! If you only have a bit if grass - that's enough. Simply collect an array of natural materials and bring them to your setting for the children to use. We are very lucky - we have a small area of woodland (which was redundant until I began Forest School) on the school site which is just perfect. Today, for example, I took the Reception Class out and we made picture frames. The children were given a task - collect 4 sticks the same lenght as their arm to make the frame on the floor. This then provided much maths talk and exploration - measuring each otehr's arms afgainst sticks and then breaking them so that they were the right length. Then - make a squre shape on the floor - again, much talk - does yours make a square or a rectangle - or do you want it to be a kite shape instead? Endless opportunities for discovery! Then the fu continues with teh children searching an area and collecting all the natural materials they want to use to make a picture - moss, leaves (old and crunchy or freshly green??), sticks stoines, mud, fallen blossom, feathers, catkins or more mud??! The children's creations were simply amazing - all in very different ways with different stories behind them. We had one 3D picture with the child pushing sticks into the ground and then weaving grass through them to make a wall with a house behind it (amazing!!), we had 2 volcanoes - but both very different, we had a face, we had one house, we had a tent - oh - the list of ideas is endless! Then when we are finished the plenary begins where we go and visit each other's pictures. This is almost the best bit as those children who sometimes don't get heard enough suddenly blossom and shine with theri true potential. The comments from peers is lovely - their praise and astonishment is lovely to hear towards a peers work - quite humbling.

 

Anyhow - I take my Nursery children tomorrow and we will be den building no doubt!! If you ever look for training I did the most inspirational Level 3 Advanced Forest School leader training with Bridgwater College (yes- those Forest School pioneers) in Kent. Quite life changing.

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Oh, I want to do forest schools! Some lovely ideas ... I'd really like you to 'get started on forest schools' - I am inspired! :1b

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