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Research School Network: What does the successful teaching of Learning Behaviours look like in the Early Years classroom? Considering how the successful teaching of learning behaviours in early years classrooms can be influenced by evidence.

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What does the successful teaching of Learning Behaviours look like in the Early Years classroom?

Considering how the successful teaching of learning behaviours in early years classrooms can be influenced by evidence.

Highfield Nursery is based in Ipswich and is in an area of high deprivation. Despite this the staff there strive to provide a very high quality education for all the children. This has resulted in the OFSTED grade of Outstanding’ in the 4 previous inspections. Here is a quote from the latest inspection report:

‘The way you and your staff help children develop their sense of identity, self-confidence and self-esteem is a significant strength. Children, including the two-year-olds, develop a strong sense of belonging, so that, whatever their background, they fit in and learn to get on with one another exceedingly well’

OFSTED, March 2017

How has this been achieved?

The Improving Behaviour Guidance Report, Recommendation 2 says we should:

‘ Teach learning behaviours alongside managing misbehaviour’

Education Endowment Foundation

This is very much a part of the day-to-day practice in Highfield. The explicit teaching and modelling of learning behaviours through quality interactions by the staff has resulted in the children engaging in the curriculum and being self-regulated, resilient learners.

What is a learning behaviour?

‘A learning behaviour can be thought of as a behaviour that is necessary in order for a person to learn effectively in the group setting of the classroom’

Ellis. S and Tod, J. 2018

At Highfield the staff really focus on the 3 main learning behaviours, which are:

  • Emotional learning behaviours – inner voice, mental well-being, dealing with set backs; and self-esteem, self-worth, and self-competence.
  • Social learning behaviours - pupil relationship with practitioner, pupil relationship with peers, collaborative learning and bullying.
  • Cognitive learning behaviours – motivation, growth mindset, working memory/​cognitive load, and communication – improving through effective practitioner-pupil dialogue, modelling.

Within the classroom I have observed how the staff use quality interactions to model and promote the learning behaviours which the children need to engage successfully in the curriculum and build their skills to be self-regulated and resilient learners.

What behaviours are regularly modelled?

  • They listen carefully to the child, taking note of body language and what the child is doing.
  • They show interest; giving eye contact, smiling and nodding.
  • They show respect to the children’s choices and decisions.
  • They model thinking out loud.

If a child has a setback the staff will give them time to calmly recover and then talk through alternative ways of dealing with the situation in the future. For example;

I can see you are cross because you didn’t have a chance to get on your favourite bicycle. Next time if you find another activity then you will be able to take your turn without trying to grab it. Then you will feel calm and enjoy your ride better’.

‘The learning that takes place during the first five years of life lays the foundation of all future learning’

Asmussen, K , 2019, EIF

As you can see, the experiences in early education have an important impact on learning throughout life, so it is important that explicit teaching of learning behaviours is a key component of Early Years practice. It has been key in the day-to-day work of the staff in Highfield. It has ensured the children attending receive an excellent start to their education.

Eileen Allpress, Director of Ipswich Associate Research School

Eileen.​allpress@​highfield.​suffolk.​sch.​uk

Further Reading:

https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/tools/guidance-reports/improving-behaviour-in-schools/

https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/tools/guidance-reports/social-and-emotional-learning/


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