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Challenge


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Hi

Just wondered how people approach challenge within reception. The way I've always worked is believing that challenge comes from the next steps in children's learning. And as these are always being addressed and revised I thought this was enough challenge, I keep seeing pictures of classes with separate challenge areas or challenge cards, what do you think of these? Should I be going down this route or is planning next steps and working towards them enough? Any thoughts, advice or examples would really help thank you xx

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I always thought of challenge as the independent application of skills that had previously been modelled and taught. This would include an element of next steps but could also be consolidation or extension tasks as appropriate. It might include more formal tasks or playing a game, building a model, painting a picture etc.

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I am just about to introduce challenge books after going on some training in the summer term.

(They are just A5 card folded in half with the child's picture on and I will treasury tag sheets in with challenges for the children!)

 

At the beginning of the year I aim to use it to make sure they visit different areas and explore different things e.g. can you put a CD on in the listening area?, draw something you find in the sand tray, build a tower etc. lots of easy things to get them used to using them and help them settle in and find their way round the classroom. I will set the whole class the same challenge and explain it to them altogether.

 

Later in the term I will group the children and introduce differentiated challenges. I will ask them to take photos or record in their books to prove they have completed them. Its just another way to collect evidence and get the children to complete things independently.

 

I tried a few with my last class in the summer term and they loved it. They enjoyed having the responsibility and the freedom to record their achievements in different ways. They would often go and check the basket to see if I had put any new challenges in. Its another way to ensure they are practising skills and pushing themselves. They particularly loved the art ones - I would list/picture some resources and challenge them to make something and take a picture.

 

I have heard of people using this and it alleviating a lot of planning as the challenges are evidence of coverage of different areas, giving children next steps and independence!

 

I hope this helps, it's my first post!!

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Mrs Walklet - welcome to the Forum and congratulations on making your first post! This sounds really interesting and similar - in a larger way, to activity cards I had set up in preschool for things that children who wanted independent learning could do by themselves. There were lacing cards that asked for threading in particular sequence, size bears with a set of cards for children to recreate patterns and size, pictures of things starting with the initial sounds S A T P I N for them to sort into baskets of the same initial letter. That type of thing, and during the course of their pre-school year more of them would challenge themselves to have a go at these, until by the summer term they were all doing it, and thoroughly enjoying photographing and recording.

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I would suggest that there is a difference between peoples interpretation of this "challenge" we all seek. There seem to be two camps, one looking at setting specific challenges (having a challenge book, activities, tasks etc...) and the other group ensuring that the environment and experiences children have are challenging as opposed to low level repetitive play.

 

I am sure there is a place for both, I am in the second group. I believe that ensuring challenge is not about setting each child a task to do and then saying "you met your challenge" but instead it is about having accurately assessed their current skill levels and pitching activities and resourcing so they have many opportunities to develop and enhance their skills. This is not to say we never set specific challenges but my overall interpretation of "ensuring challenge" is more about an approach rather than a series of challenges.

 

Mel

x

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I completely agree Mel.

 

I have introduced the challenge books to develop independence and encourage children to use a range of different resources. It worked well in the summer term for children that always chose the same toys/equipment/artist materials.

 

I think the environment as a whole and the experiences and questions you pose to challenge and move on children's thinking is even more important. I think that is more about your ethos as a setting, knowing your children, using your resources in different and exciting ways and giving children a hook/idea to explore.

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