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Characteristics of Effective Teaching and Learning

The Characteristics of Effective Learning and the Prime and Specific Areas of Learning and Development are all inter-connected. 

Different elements of learning are identified in the EYFS, to make the complex picture of learning clearer. Children’s learning is not compartmentalised and many or all of these elements are in action at the same time as children interact with people and things. They can develop strong habits of mind and behaviours that will continue to support them to discover, think, create, solve problems and self-regulate their learning. 

Children need time, space and freedom to play and follow their intentions, sustained shared thinking, and experiencing the satisfaction of meeting their own challenges and become resilient learners.

The characteristics are split into three categories:

  • Playing and Exploring – engagement
  • Active Learning – motivation
  • Creating and Thinking Critically – thinking

Playing and Exploring

Playing and Exploring is all about how the child engages in learning. It can be broken down into three further areas:

  • Finding out and exploring
  • Playing with what they know
  • Being willing to ‘have a go’

Active Learning

The characteristic Active Learning should not be mistaken for physical activity. Active learning centres on how the child is motivated in their learning. It covers three main areas:

  • Being involved and concentrating
  • Keeping on trying
  • Enjoying achieving what they set out to do

Creating and Thinking Critically

This characteristic is all about children thinking, making choices, seeing connections between different skills and making sense of their experiences and interactions. It looks at how children are able to adapt their approaches when they cross stumbling blocks and how they link ideas and previous experiences. It covers three main areas:

  • Having their own ideas
  • Using what they know to learn new things
  • Choosing ways to do things and finding new ways

Staff will look for those teachable moments to encourage, support and model all of the positive learning habits involved in each characteristic, which in turn will help the children develop into effective learners and equip them throughout their educational journey.

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