Philosophy of Leaning - Early Years
Bethania Lutheran School is a Christ-centred community supporting the educational journey by providing dynamic, innovative teaching and learning, within a nurturing environment.
Philosophy of Learning
We believe that every student is a unique individual created by God with their own special gifts, strengths and needs. In order for students to build their own positive image of themselves as learners and contributors to their communities they are provided with relevant, purposeful and appropriate learning experiences. These learning experiences are structured and presented in a variety of ways with opportunities for both success and personal challenge. Students are encouraged to take ownership of and contribute direction to the learning experience. The school facilitates this learning by providing timely and purposeful feedback and learning environments which promote a positive atmosphere of trust and safe risk taking.
Early Years Core Values and Beliefs
Children require hands-on experiential learning.
Children learn best when they are engaged in active tasks that are interesting, make sense to them, connect with and value their experiences and encourage active mastery of their world. Hands on tasks with purpose engage thinking and problem solving skills and encourage children to discover their own learning.
- Concrete materials and equipment to enable children to plan, design, create and experiment
- Learning challenges embedded in familiar real life experiences and contexts
Children should be active participants in learning.
Children are creative individuals with their own ideas, interests and wonderings. Child directed tasks encourage children to have ownership of their learning, feel valued as individuals and provide the freedom to express their creativity and perceptions. Curriculum and timetables need to be flexible to suit children’s dynamic and individual learning needs.
- Agile learning spaces encourage students to make choices about how and where they learn best
- Project Based Learning with links to realistic problems and challenges that require deeper thinking, understanding, questioning and reflecting
- Flexibility of planning to allow investigations of children’s areas of interest.
- Opportunities for children to make individual and collaborative decisions about learning directions, goals, assessment criteria and demonstrations of learning.
Self-esteem and self-image are important factors which facilitate or inhibit learning in the early years
A holistic approach to education in the early years which focuses on both the emotional and behavioural aspects of each child builds self esteem and a positive self view of learning abilities. The building of emotional security and identity through positive relationships are vital to a successful early childhood programme.
- Targeting questions, or responding to answers in a way that acknowledges individual needs and contributions
- Providing opportunities for all children to share about their lives, opinions and interest
- Incorporating character building experiences into daily practice e.g. Chapel, devotions, ‘Play is the Way’
Children learn through both structured and unstructured play experiences.
Play is an important learning experience for early childhood years. Both guided and undirected play experiences help children make sense of their world, develop and practice social skills, become co-contributors to each other’s learning, experiment with new ideas, explore new concepts and develop their sense of self and identity.
- Timetables and equipment which allow for unstructured, child directed play.
- Student-centred exploration supported with structured learning times.
Families are an important part of the early childhood team
Learning within the school is maximised when home and school work in partnership. Early childhood education is a joint endeavour with children’s families that is facilitated by positive links of communication that flow in both directions
- Allowing for participation of parents to provide support, expertise and insight
- Frequent communication with caregivers in different formats both formal and informal.
- Parent information and training opportunities to support home and school programmes.
Children have individual learning styles and needs.
Children in the early years need varied, multiple and multisensory opportunities and experiences to gain knowledge and understanding. Individual learning styles require a variety of teaching approaches and opportunities to learn. Movement and change keep children interested and involved.
- Use of online learning platforms and digital applications to present and share content and idea
- Utilization of a range of teaching strategies that support different ways of thinking and learning e.g. Bloom’s Taxonomy & Multiple Intelligences
- Use of independent learning contracts, multimodal communications and variations on tasks to allow for choices
Children bring with them their own beliefs and knowledge that we value and build upon.
Early learning occurs from birth. Progress in the early years occurs by building on prior knowledge and experiences and making links to new concepts and skills. Basic skills provide the basis upon which all other learning is based. Transitions from home to school and through school should be seamless.
- Actively seeking to establish children’s’ knowledge, beliefs and skills as part of planning
- Explicitly linking new ideas with the language and perspectives the children bring to the classroom
- Creating an environment of encouragement for students to contribute personal stories to class discussion
A supportive and positive learning environment encourages risk taking and resilience.
A positive learning environment provides routine, structure and stability, this helps children feel secure and confident to take risks and be supported in their choices. The early years learning environment is vibrant, flexible and child-centred. Asking questions is encouraged and open-ended questions are asked and appreciated. Mistakes are valued for the learning they provide as natural parts of the inquiry and discovery process.
- Individual strengths and weaknesses are explored and built upon
- Providing stimulus materials and programmes that challenge children’s ideas, raise questions, encourage discussion and ongoing exploration
Assessment and feedback are a part of learning to facilitate growth and learning.
Respect for each other is valued and consistent and purposeful feedback, praise and direction are employed constructively to guide and monitor student growth. Multiple assessment opportunities are planned for as part of the everyday learning experience and foster the child’s development.
- Effort, perceptions and attitude are valued and commented upon
- Evidence from assessment is used to inform planning
- Learning and achievements are displayed and celebrated
The Teaching and Learning Cycle
The planning phase involves the development and preparation of learning experiences and units of work in order to maximise student learning opportunities to meet curriculum guidelines. Teaching strategies, classroom organization, the learning environment, available resources, prior knowledge and experience of students, opportunities for student direction and the learning styles/needs of the children must all be considered during this phase. Consideration of student demonstrations of learning and expectations of student performance are also to be planned for at this time. In this phase teachers consider the types of student assessment data they will collect and analyse to inform the direction of their teaching programme to best cater for their students' needs. Good teaching starts with evaluating what the student knows and determining what the student needs to know next. Careful planning creates the most appropriate teaching and learning experiences to lift the student to the next level of understanding.
Implementation & Instruction
Implementation in the early childhood setting occurs in four stages that grow in complexity and demand on the child. All four stages of instruction must be given equal value. These stages are; modelling, shared experiences, guided learning and independent exploration. In the modelling, or becoming aware phase, teachers provide explicit support to engage with new learning and make links to prior knowledge and skills. Students are clearly made aware of new ideas or skills through the intentional design, delivery and modelling of these by the teacher to the students. In the shared experiences, or exploring phase students are encouraged to use their learning in familiar contexts through interactions that promote children’s personal understandings. Children are encouraged to explore new objects, representations and social practices through the provision of shared experiences that all students can process and reflect on. During the guided learning, or making connections phase children are assisted to begin representing their ideas and understandings. Students are encouraged to transfer their learning across familiar contexts and prompted to engage with and talk about the new learning. The final stage is the independent exploration, or applying phase. In this phase students are provided with activities that enable them to demonstrate confident and independent application and recall of new skills or knowledge across familiar contexts. Children should be given opportunity to plan, explain and reflect on their learning and activities should provide for varied levels of thinking and understanding.
Analysing student assessment data tells teachers what their students already know, understand and can do. It also informs the teacher of learning progress and student attainment. Authentic assessment should incorporate open ended rich tasks that engage students and allow them to demonstrate varying degrees of achievement and progress in relation to learning statements and their learning journey. Assessment is gathered in order to inform future planning, build a picture of a child’s learning and development and record point-in-time judgements. It is important that assessment is streamed through the learning cycle with multiple and varied opportunities to measure students' progress as learning occurs and should be moderated with teaching partners.
Recording & Reporting
Teachers monitor and assess by gathering information and evidence over time to build a dynamic, organized picture of learning. Recording can take the form of checklists, annotated work samples, photographs, standardized testing results, written observations, recorded conversations, paintings & drawings, interview notes, learning logs, concept maps, marked criteria sheets, anecdotal records and objects or artefacts that the children make. This evidence is then reported to parents formally via parent/teacher interviews, portfolios and report cards. Information may also be reported to parents informally via meetings, letter, email, ad hoc interviews and student communication books. Information and evidence of each child’s learning journey should travel with them to the next year level.
Documents Informing Curriculum Planning in the Early Primary Years
Christian Studies Curriculum Framework
A Vision for Learners and Learning in Lutheran Schools
Philosophy of Learning - Early Years (280 KB)