How can we teach, support and work with young children if we don’t understand their development and how they learn best?
Those who work with young children in their formative years need to understand how a child grows, develops and learns in order to teach effectively. The process of observation, assessment and planning is fundamental to good teaching and learning and is literally about Watching Children Grow physically, cognitively, linguistically, emotionally and socially during the most sensitive period of their lives (0-7).
As parents, practitioners and teachers it is important to step back and take the time to watch our children and listen to their thoughts, ideas and interests as they play, talk and engage with others. This is our window into their world, their thinking and learning. We can learn a lot from watching children and use this to be more effective teachers, tuning into their thinking and extending their understanding.
Observation is also a Statutory Duty for all those who work in the Early Years Foundation Stage…..
It involves practitioners observing children to understand their level of achievement, interests and learning styles, and to then shape learning experiences for each child reflecting those observations. In their interactions with children, practitioners should respond to their own day-to-day observations about children’s progress and observations that parents and carers share. EYFS, 2017, p.13, 2.1
Observation is not a new process in the world of teaching young children. In 1929 Susan Isaacs, teacher, psychoanalyst, psychologist, prolific observer of children said of the child’s world;
It cannot, of course, be very easy for us to gain a clear idea of what the world is like to a very young child, just because it must be so different from our own. But by patient listening to the talk of children, and watching what they do, with the one purpose of understanding them, we can imaginatively feel their fears and angers, their bewilderments and triumphs; we can wish their wishes, see their pictures and think their thoughts. Susan Isaacs, 1929 p. 15
WatchMeGrow believes in specific principles of pedagogical practice as fundamental to the process of learning and teaching for children from birth to 7 years old:-
- OBSERVATION– understanding children’s development and HOW young children learn (0-7)
- PLAY – particularly imaginative and creative play
- COMPETENT AND CAPABLE – Seeing children as competent and capable thinkers and learners who can regulate their own learning – the Reggio view of the child
- UNDERSTANDING – Understanding the Characteristics of Effective Learning to develop and enrich ‘learnacy skills’ so that children have a repertoire of ‘tools’ (dispositions) to approach new learning with confidence and enthusiasm
- THINKING – Understanding the fundamental role of Sustained Shared Thinking in children’s development and how to support this
- MASTERY – Following children’s interests and fascinations and using these to develop deeper levels of understanding, thinking and learning
- KNOWLEDGE – Knowing why and how children become involved, engaged and absorbed in their play and learning and what we can do to support them in this process
- ENABLING – Enabling creative and critical thinking so children can articulate their ideas, thoughts and questions through talk, play, drawing, painting, reading, writing, construction and imaginative materials – The One Hundred Languages
- PROGRESS – Understanding how to recognise, evaluate and map children’s progress, observation, assessment and planning for progress
- TALKING – Knowing that talk and language development is crucial. Listening to children’s conversations, with each other and adults and how this develops confidence, self-esteem, thinking and learning.
- FIRM FOUNDATIONS – Understanding the importance of laying firm ‘authentic’ foundations for reading, writing and mathematics
Please see Services for all the related training, conference, initiatives, projects, consultancy and advice to support you with the development of these critical aspects of pedagogical practice