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Shipham Church of England First School

What are the key ways that young children learn?

Enjoyment and having fun 

For most of the children in Skylark class, it is their first experience of being in a group setting. We are committed to making this first experience positive and memorable. Laughter, fun, and enjoyment, sometimes being whimsical and nonsensical, can be the best contexts for learning. Activities can be playful even when they are not actually play. We believe that creating positive attitudes towards learning in the EYFS develops children into resilient learners.  



Playing – indoors and out, alone and with others, quietly or boisterously – allows children to find out about things, try out and practise ideas and skills, take risks, explore their feelings, learn from mistakes, be in control and think imaginatively. Playing is important for young children. 


Being with other people 

As well as developing emotional security and social skills, being with other people – other children and adults – stimulates ideas and involvement that move learning forward. 


Being active 

Young children need to move, and learn and remember things by taking experiences in through the senses as they move. Sitting still for too long can disrupt learning. 


Communicating with someone who responds to their ideas 

Even before they can talk in words, children are keen to share their ideas through sounds, gesture and body language. Talk helps children to understand what they experience. It is important that they have a chance to express their own ideas, as well as have conversations to hear other people’s ideas, extend their thinking, and use language about learning. 


Representing ideas and experiences 

Children deepen their understanding as they recreate experiences or communicate their thinking in many different ways – in role-play or small world play, pictures, movements, models, and talk. 


Meeting challenges 

Working out what to do, trying hard, persevering with problems, finding out and thinking for themselves are opportunities for developing real understanding. These challenges may occur in play, or in real-life or planned activities. 


Being shown how to do new things 

Children learn skills by watching others or being shown how to do something. Adults or other children may directly instruct, model, guide or demonstrate. 


Practising, repeating, applying skills 

Rehearsing skills in similar tasks or new contexts helps children to build mastery, to enjoy their own expertise, and to consolidate what they can do.