Thursday, December 9, 2021

Laying the foundations for lifelong learning

Last month I led an online Early Years workshop, and shortly after that I started work with another workshop leader to plan a workshop focused on 3-6 year olds.  I've long been fascinated by this age group, though I've worked with them mostly as a single subject teacher and not a homeroom teacher.  As the IB has come out with a new publication entitled The Early Years in the PYP just two months ago, I decided it would be great to dig deep into this and write a series of blog posts focused specifically on these learners.

As many of my readers will know, my first 6 years as a teacher were in secondary school.  It was only after I moved to the International School of Amsterdam, where there were students from aged 3 - 18, that I really experienced Early Years classes.  From my secondary perspective my first reaction was that it was chaos, with students all doing different things and I wondered how the teachers could be monitoring the learning.  However it didn't take me long to realise that designing the learning environment for students was very intentional and that all these experiences strengthened the children's emotional, physical, social and cognitive development.  The children I encountered were all curious and were actively involved in exploring the world around them in order to make meaning of it.  They were wondering and asking questions, trying things out to see what would happen, and building their own theories of the world.  And of course they didn't slot all this learning into "subjects".  The more I looked at students playing, the more I realised how vital this was for all learning, and the more I realised that this was supporting differentiation, as the children all learnt at their own pace.  The children had agency, they were naturally inquisitive and creative, and all this contributed to their development in many areas: language and communication, social skills, thinking skills and self regulation.

Watch this space for further thinking about learning in the Early Years.

Photo Credit: Dana Tentis on Pixabay

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