Characteristics of Effective Learning

Characteristics of Effective Learning

We support children to develop their Characteristics of Effective Learning as we believe they play a central role in a child's learning and are essential in building an effective learner. We follow children's interests to ensure they are engaged and motivated to enable them to develop their creative and critical thinking. The characteristics of effective learning run through and underpin all the 7 areas of learning and development. They represent processes rather than outcomes.


Playing and exploring – engagement

‘Finding out and exploring’ is concerned with the child’s open-ended hands-on experiences which result from innate curiosity. These experiences provide raw sensory material from which the child builds concepts, tests ideas and finds out. ‘Using what they know in their play’ describes how children use play to bring together their current understandings, combining, refining and exploring their ideas in imaginative ways. Representing experiences through imaginative play supports the development of narrative thought, the ability to see from other perspectives, and symbolic thinking.

‘Being willing to have a go’ refers to the child:

  • finding an interest
  • initiating activities
  • seeking challenge
  • having a ‘can do’ attitude
  • being willing to take a risk in new experiences
  • developing the view that failures are opportunities to learn


Active learning – motivation

‘Being involved and concentrating’ describes the intensity of attention that arises from children engaged in following a line of interest in their activities.

'Keeping on trying’ refers to:

  • the importance of persistence even in the face of challenge or difficulties
  • an element of purposeful control which supports resilience

‘Enjoying achieving what they set out to do’ builds on the intrinsic motivation which supports long-term success. It refers to the reward of meeting one’s own goals, rather than relying on the approval of others.


Creating and thinking critically

‘Having their own ideas’ covers the critical area of creativity - generating new ideas and approaches in all areas of endeavour. Being inventive allows children to find new problems as they seek challenge, and to explore ways of solving these.

‘Using what they already know to learn new things’ refers to the way children use narrative and scientific modes of thought to:

  • develop and link concepts
  • find meaning in sequence, cause and effect
  • find meaning in the intentions of others

‘Choosing ways to do things and finding new ways’ involves children in:

  • approaching goal-directed activity in organised ways
  • making choices and decisions about how to approach tasks
  • planning and monitoring what to do and being able to change strategies