Early Years Concepts
- adult-led learning: this is led and managed by the adult and is typically planned to meet the specific learning needs of the child(ren)
- adult-guided learning: this is where adults might support a child by guiding them (for example, by questioning and prompting, or by providing specific resources in an area of the classroom) and the child(ren) can independently practise or explore
- child-initiated learning: this is when the child chooses where to go and what to do in the learning environment – it might look like play, but a lot of incidental learning can happen
Research shows that the best outcomes for children’s learning occur where most of the activity within a child’s day is a mixture of child-initiated play (actively supported by adults) and focused learning (with adults guiding the learning through playful, rich experiential activities). As the Reception year progresses, and the children become more mature and ready for Year 1, the balance will gradually shift to more adult-led and adult-guided learning.
A key aspect of the Early Years Foundation Stage is to move the learning from what children already know to what children want to know and what children need to know (and there’s often an overlap between the two). Staff in Reception find out what children want to know – what interests them, sparks their natural curiosity, engages them to be effective learners – by making lots of observations of the children and having discussions with children and parents to inform the direction of learning. This will usually influence future topics in the class. What children need to know also derives from observations but staff make sure they use Early Years and Key Stage 1 curriculum documents to make sure we are aware of expectations so children are challenged appropriately.