Most ‘lessons’ within the EYFS rarely contain a finite ‘ending’. In fact, beginnings and middles are often also absent. The definition of ‘lesson’, in the traditional sense, also needs redefining with ‘experiences’ becoming the trade term. We ‘offer’ or provide ‘experiences’ and engage/teach/learn with the child as they interact with them.
My approach, and the approach of most EYFS professionals would be to plan a continuous provision that stimulates a response to particular strands of the curriculum; to meet the children at their point of engagement, and interact with their learning to enable ‘critical learning’ to take place. The overarching pedagogical principal of this is that the learning is unanimously child centered, child led and personal; that planning takes place ‘in the moment’ and that the process is ‘learning driven’ rather than ‘outcome driven’. You become quickly used to plans being ditched and thinking on the spot. This process requires that you are able to develop an environment that stimulates every unique way of learning and it becomes self differentiating. Lesson endings are never linear and are invariably never predictable or the same. There often isn’t ‘closure’ because very young childrens learning is cyclical and they will need to return to a concept again and again within different contexts before the schema becomes learned and established.
The easiest way to illustrate this is to provide an example.
Teacher-Planned Activity: mark making with cars and paint
Child Initiated Outcome: a role play car wash.
The children’s dialogue…..
-I have a blue track,
-My car has blue paint.
-Mine is green it’s going round,
-It’s going over here.
-My car is going round and round.
-It’s made a big splodge.
-Look at my hands they are so messy,
-Look at my hands they are so messy too.
-Let’s paint our hands,
-Let’s make hand prints.
-We are all making hand prints, our hands are all painty.
-Our hands are so yucky.
-I am going to paint the cars,
-Are you painting cars?
-We are all painting cars.
-Look, the cars are all painty,
-They are covered in paint.
-Oh no, they are all really messy now
-They need to be cleaned.
-We need to wash the cars,
-We need to wash our hands as well.
-How can we make the cars clean?
-We need a car wash!”
(They had a car wash!)
What could have been, had I chosen to intervene with the child initiated enquiry, a very closed ended activity with a fixed outcome, became an explosion of assessment opportunity throughout the whole of the EYFS framework. The learning outcome for each child was unique and their personal engagement was age and developmentally appropriate. There was no fixed ‘end point’- there was different engagement with it over a whole day. Children aged 3 and 4 years old spotted an opportunity and led it themselves. I stepped back, observed, facilitated and engaged.
What a buzz!