27th January 2022 Insights Expert Advice

Characteristics of Effective Learning

Chloe Webster, Early Years Practitioner at Pebbles Childcare, talks about why the Characteristics of Effective Learning are such an important part of Early Years practice…

As practitioners in the Early Years sector, we spend so much of our time focusing on what the children are doing, learning and the goals they are working towards in their play and learning, that it can be easy to forget how important it is to focus on how and why – the how and why of children’s learning and development is just as important, if not more than what they are doing. 

The Characteristics of Effective Learning are a crucial part of Early Years practice. It is essential for all practitioners to have an up to date, sound knowledge of these characteristics in the same way as they do the EYFS curriculum.

A sound and expert knowledge of both of these components should not be viewed as separate entities, but the vA sound and expert knowledge of both of these components should not be viewed as separate entities. Rather, the value of these aspects of our practice and pedagogy should be viewed and applied in unison. This allows us to fully understand and apply this knowledge to the benefit of children’s learning and development.

By focusing on the how and why of children’s behaviours, play, and development we are able to gain a better understanding of children as individuals. In turn, we can get a deeper understanding of their learning styles as well as their rate of development.

Characteristics of Effective Learning

By using and applying the characteristics of effective learning, we are able to gain a more holistic view of each child and as a result, better support their overall learning and development. 

The characteristics of effective learning are not only useful markers to use when observing children’s play and learning, but they also tell us a significant amount about a child’s personality and approach to learning. Rather than just noting that a child continues to try again when tackling a new piece of physical apparatus, the Characteristics of Effective Learning allow us to not only notice and observe the child’s physical abilities but their levels of perseverance, resilience and the way in which they approach and respond to difficulties when faced with them. This tells us considerably more about the whole child than it would if we were just to merely focus on the physical act and skills of observing a child without using this alternative tool. 

The characteristics of effective learning have revolutionised Early Years observations, planning, assessments and practitioners’ knowledge and confidence of children and their play, learning and development. 

It is essential that as Early Years leaders and managers, we ensure that even the youngest, least-experienced members of our team know about and understand the importance of using and applying the characteristics of effective learning in their practice. By applying this to observations and assessments, they will be able to use them collaboratively rather than as a ‘stand alone’ tool. Using this alongside day to day observation statements allow them to understand, observe, and support children in their development. A more holistic approach to learning and development give insight into the child as a whole, allowing us to delve deeper into the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of their behaviour.

Utilising the principles of the Characteristics of Effective Learning gives us a better understanding of how and why children learn in the way they do. It also gives us something more valuable – a clearer picture of a child’s character and how this impacts their rate of development and learning. In short, it allows us to better support the child holistically through well-informed, open-ended observations and assessments of the child as a whole.

The three characteristics of effective teaching and learning are:

  •  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
  • creating and thinking critically – children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas, and develop strategies for doing things

Did you know that you can enable the Characteristics of Effective Teaching And Learning from Development Matters 2021 within your frameworks settings on iConnect?

Once enabled you will be able to use the guidance identify the CoEL within your Snapshots or Learning Stories. You can then use the records to further enhance your provision for each child.
See which other frameworks and guidance can be used with Spotlight on iConnect here.

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