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Characteristics of Effective Learning

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Let’s give a shout out for the Characteristics of Effective Learning!

They are the foundation, the glue that holds all other learning together; they are the how rather than the what children learn; and they are absolutely central to young children’s learning now, and for the rest of their lives.

Development Matters says the Characteristics of effective Learning ‘underpin learning and development across all areas and support the child to remain an effective and motivated learner.’ I've highlighted 'underpin', 'across all areas' and 'remain'  - the key factors of CoEL are all in this sentence. 

Helen Moylett relates the Characteristics of Effective Learning to the ‘skill, will and thrill’ of learning: image.png

·       playing and exploring – the skill to get engaged

·       active learning – the will to keep going

·       creating and thinking critically - the thrill of discovery

She is referring to the development of new ways to get stuck in to learning, the resilience and motivation to learn more, and the excitement and wonder of finding something new.

At the Nursery World Show Masterclass in February this year, Dr Sara Baker focused on ‘Flexible thinking in the early years’. She began by talking about the qualities employers looked for in their employees - resilience, initiative, adaptability, problem solving to name a few. Of course, these are all aspects of Characteristics of Effective Learning. It was a reminder that CoEL is about supporting children to become lifelong learners. ‘Knowledge’ isn’t everything, far from it in fact! The qualities we see and nurture in babies and young children – curiosity, problem solving, decision making, observing, exploring, trying, and trying again – these are the qualities we want them to build on and grow old with.

The role of the educator is key to CoEL. Both Dr Sara Baker and Helen Moylett write about how the Characteristics of Effective Learning are developed and embedded when the adult and child learn together. The adult acts as a guide, learning and observing and exploring with the child. Most importantly, the child needs to feel loved, surrounded by positive interactions and developing secure attachments (Helen Moylett).

Then learning how to learn, together, can happen.



Characteristics of Effective Learning: Helping young children become learners for life, edited by Helen Moylett, Open University Press, 2014


Development Matters: https://www.foundationyears.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Development-Matters-FINAL-PRINT-AMENDED.pdf

Nursery World Show Materclass, Dr Sara Baker (Cambridge University Faculty of Education, PEDAL), ‘Flexible thinking in the Early Years’, February 2019.

Edited by Jules

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