For the purpose of this study an activity has been planned by the author and introduced within the authors own work setting. Any learning intentions will be evaluated and consideration given to any learning opportunities offered to establish the successfulness of implementation of the activity. All planning will be developed using the guidance of the Early Years Foundation Stage (DCFS, 2008), consideration given to the differentiation of children`s needs and variety of pedagogical approaches required. Research will be undertaken to establish the considerations given in planning to the Early Years Foundation Stage Principles, themes and commitments supported by relevant theory and research findings . Research will be undertaken into different theorists and how their findings may influence current practice within the workplace.
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A video recording will be made to capture all interactions and opportunities utilised for shared, sustained thinking. Opportunities for the development of language, and diversity of learning will be evaluated and assessed with the help and guidance of the settings manager.
The Early Years Setting
The area used for the planned activity is within the main room of a Foundation Unit which caters for children who are aged three to five years old. The area chosen is within the creative part of the setting allowing access to all materials and equipment available. The area has been prepared for the activity, all resources have been prepared and organised adhering to the health and safety guidance of the setting.
The aim of the activity is to establish a child`s ability to handle tools and objects safely and effectively, this has been achieved through the provision of a variety of equipment and materials supported through the interaction of the early years practitioner.
Planning has been differentiated allowing for children of lower abilities to be included within the activity, and different strategies implemented in order to cater for individual developmental needs. This is in line with the aims and principles of the EYFS approach to learning. Good planning is important for effective practice in order to give a varied and progressive approach to learning. It enables practitioners to build on their own personal skills and knowledge and enhance development within practice. The EYFS (DCSF, 2008) recognises the significance of planning and observation as a method to inform practitioners, building on experiences of children and enhancement of any learning opportunities.
`Bubble Balloons’ (Appendix a)
Planning implemented to develop an activity that would support the existing theme of work within the setting ` Transport; In the Air ‘, and previous week`s observations was developed . Consideration was given to the development of different levels of learning ,with the inclusion of a lesson plan to support the original theme. A copy of the lesson plan was then given to the manager who will observe the activity and make notes which will evaluate the success of implementation, development of language and any other relevant information .
This activity was planned for implementation within the main room of the setting. A mixture of six children aged three to five years old were invited to participate. The children were given aprons to protect their clothes and the activity introduced by the practitioner. Different techniques, materials and processes were modelled, and encouragement given to make independent choices. The purpose of the activity was explained, describing any learning intentions and relevance of the activity to the settings main theme. An example of a finished product was shown to aid visual awareness of children present. Opportunities to discuss the activity allowed the children to establish clarity of the adult`s expectations.
Following safety guidelines a cup and jug of water were placed on top of the table and each child given a straw. Children were asked to initially blow through a straw into a cup of water to establish their ability to blow and not suck. Following this assessment the practitioner was able to ascertain which children required the alternative strategies for the activity. The differentiation of planning enabled less able children to access finger paints and decorate balloon templates instead of bubble painting. It is the responsibility of early years providers to focus on each child`s individually learning development through the differentiation of planning and ensuring positive attitudes to diversity, as stated in the EYFS Statutory Framework (DCSF, 2008).
The children were encouraged to experiment by individually blowing through the straws into pots of coloured paints, pressing a blank paper balloon template onto the pot observing the various patterns created. This process was then repeated building up the density of paint onto the paper. This is an activity that is supported by the EYFS Early Learning goals for Knowledge and Understanding (DCSF, 2008), which encourage children to explore and investigate materials using all their senses as appropriate. Opportunities for the practitioner to observe the children’s reactions to the stimuli and note any `wow’ moments enabled evidence to be collected and reflect on the outcome of the activity. Throughout the activity encouragement was given to talk about changes of textures, colours and different techniques used.
When finished, children offered ideas and suggestions to what they could do next to improve or extend the activity. Guidance and support of the practitioner was offered when required, enabling children to input their own ideas encouraging independent thinking, confidence and development of cognitive skills. Following this discussion the children began to independently decorate square pieces of card using a variety of materials of their own choice. With support from the adult the children attached the balloon template to the `basket’ with a variety of methods of their choice.
Opportunities at the end of the activity were given to discuss as a whole the different methods used, and opportunities given for the children to share their finished `balloon’. This allowed the children to share in their own creativity, thoughts, feelings and ideas with their peer group.
This activity was observed, recorded and assessed throughout by the manager of the setting. Notes were made of actual interactions for accurate study. Use of appropriate language and expansion of language was recorded and suggestions made to alter or support the pedagogical approaches used. An opportunity to discuss the findings with the manager at a later date allowed a collaboration of ideas to be shared, and any advice given to be built upon and implemented in future practice.
Throughout the activity consideration was given to the language used and opportunities for children to interact freely through exploration and experimentation. An introduction to the activity giving clear, positive instructions and expectations helped the children to follow a clear guideline of the task ahead. This` modelling’ is identified in the Effective Early Learning (EEL) Project (Pascal and Bertram, 2001) in the three key parts of adult interaction which impact directly in a child`s learning; effective interactions, sensitivity and freedom to learn and explore independently.
The introduction of a finished product gave the children a visual aid to illustrate what was required. Visual aids illustrates a different approach that will support communication together with the spoken word. Bruner(1983) describes the relationship between adult scaffolding, learning and a child`s level of language development. However Trevarthan (1998) describes that without a child`s own desire to learn or participate, progress will be impaired requiring practitioners to develop an awareness into supporting these needs, giving opportunities for children to freely express their individual intentions. Visual aids, body language, sharing and communication all illustrate a holistic approach to learning and is encouraged within the main principles of the EYFS Framework (DCFS, 2008). This is shown in the differentiating of planning for the activity for children who have identified barriers to learning and whom may require more adult support .
Through utilising a mixed and multi-sensory approach to learning, various pedagogical approaches have been illustrated. Using visual, auditory and tactile resources allow the children to fully participate in the activity in a calm, safe and structured environment. This can be shown through the child`s enthusiasm and interest illustrated. This process is described as `VAK’; Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic aids. (DfES , 2004)
Evaluation Of Manager (Appendix b)
As shown in appendix b, the manager has bullet pointed many positive aspects for competent teaching and an ability to deliver a clear, precise but informative lesson was identified. The delivery of the lesson was highlighted and described as fun and exciting, with children eager to learn and participate. The use of this type of communication is described as `conversational scaffolding’, the importance of the practitioners role in supporting and motivating the children is reinforced through stimulating the children`s interests and empathy shown to their feelings and interactions. A belief illustrated in the Effective Early Learning (EEL) project (2001).
The manager was able to identify that a deep understanding into the methods and resources for the activity had been achieved through the introduction of the lesson plan, resources and ability to deliver a clear, but informative introduction to the activity.
The use of different techniques and skills introduced to the children were identified allowing the children to explore freely within their own creativity. Language was used to expand the children`s ideas and children given encouragement to experiment at their own level of learning through adult scaffolding, and open- ended questions.
The targets identified to improve pedagogical approaches within practice were to give the children more freedom to answer, using their peers to discuss their work and during this discussion to focus more on the questions given to the children in order to allow more child led learning.
Following this activity I was able to stand back and reflect on my professional capabilities and approach to the pedagogical methods used. I feel that I had successfully researched data, implementing my own learning skills and knowledge into the lesson plan. The EYFS guidelines (DCFS, 2008) were followed during the planning process, and developmental guidance taken into the provision of age related targets for planning. A deep understanding of any learning intentions was acquired in order to plan accordingly for a child`s individual developmental needs by following the EYFS framework. Through discussion with colleagues the effectiveness of the activity was evaluated and different pedagogical approaches discussed in order to develop professionally with the workplace.
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Throughout the activity an holistic approach to learning ensured that all the children could freely communicate, think about their intentions and enhance any physical skills through their own creativity. Support and guidance was given when required encouraging the children`s own experimentation. This is a theory supported by Erikson (1963) whom believed that children would reach their full physical and intellectual potential allowing a balance of learning opportunities and adult intervention. Whereas Bruce (1991) identifies the importance of free play to enable a child to be in control without restrictions. I feel that through the provision of adult support and opportunities for experimentation, a happy, safe and secure medium has been achieved within this activity.
The aims and objectives intended for the activity were reached effectively, the children competently handled all the necessary tools and materials safely. A diversity of learning was achieved through the differentiation of planning, complying with the principles identified in the National Curriculum (DFEE,1989) overcoming potential barriers to learning by responding and planning according to a child`s individual learning with the inclusion of suitable but achievable learning challenges.
I found that the activity was successful, all health and safety issues were taken into consideration, children were individually assessed to ascertain developmental capabilities, and differentiation in planning enabled all children to participate in the activity according to individual levels of development. The activity seemed to flow along without any major alterations and I was able to respond and support all language and skills required.
I have established that the process of planning, ability to identify certain developmental areas in need of focus, observation within practice, group collaboration and reflection vital to my own professional development. This method of reflection is described by Schon (1983) as reflection- in- action.
Pedagogical approaches in the Early Years are essential in the provision of effective practice. In order to promote pedagogy, a practitioner must be able to demonstrate a good knowledge and understanding into the principles, aims and content of the EYFS framework and successfully implement them within practice. Planning, observations and assessments are all influenced through the ability to adapt intentions according to the holistic approach encouraged by the EYFS. An ability to understand a child`s individual developmental needs and focus on appropriate learning objectives aid in the provision of appropriate pedagogical resources, activities and interaction within the setting .
Different theorists and government legislations have influenced the delivery of the EYFS; the Effective Early Learning (EEL) Project (Pascal and Bertram, 2001), National Curriculum (DCFS, 1989) have impacted on the role of an early years practitioner through their different approaches to a child`s learning and development. A need for on- going development ensures that all early year practitioners need to be aware of current policies and procedures that may impact on practice within the workplace.
It has been established that through collaboration with colleagues a better understanding into different strategies would improve practice within the workplace and steps to improve these factors will enhance any further professional development.
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Department for Children, Schools and Families (2008) Practice Guidance for the Early Years Foundation Stage. Nottingham : DCFS Publications.
Department for Children, Schools and Families (2008) Statutory Guidance for the Early Years Foundation Stage. Nottingham: DCFS Publications.
Bruner,(1983) in Pound, L (2005) How Children Learn. London: Step Forward Publishing Ltd.
Department for Education and Employment (1989) The National Curriculum. London: HMSO.
Department for Education and Science (2004) Primary National Strategy Excellence and Enjoyment: Learning and Teaching in the Primary Years: Section 3- Diverse Learning Needs. London: DfES.
Erikson, E (1963) Childhood and Society. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Pascal, C and Bertram, A (2001) The Effective Early Learning ( EEL) Project: Achievements and Reflections. London: House of Commons.
Schon, DA(1983) The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think In Action. New York: Basic Books.
Trevarthan, C. (1998) The Child`s need to learn a culture in, Woodhead, M., Faulkner, D. And Littleton, K. Cultural Worlds of Early Childhood. London: Routledge/ Open University Press.