Characteristics of Effective Learning

Children need motivation to learn. The Characteristics of Effective Learning are a way of instilling motivation to not only succeed in these early years, but to also become lifelong learners.
Integrating the Characteristics of Effective Learning in a setting is about how, we as practitioners, provide an environment which ensures these different types of learning occur. When the characteristics are present, solid learning is taking place. Without the characteristics of effective learning, the children will not develop in the areas of learning. Therefore, the Characteristics of Effective Learning are not only statutory, they are essential.

We meet these characteristics by providing the following:

An exciting and open-ended environment

The environment is often referred to as the ‘third teacher’. With the right environment, children can learn completely independently. Hence practitioners need to provide a rich, inquisitive environment to spark the children’s natural curiosity. The environment needs to be exciting to enable children to play and explore. This is a wonderful example of creating awe and wonder:

Open-ended and Natural Resources

We can do this by providing stimulating resources which are accessible and open-ended and relevant to children’s interests. The environment also needs to be calm and that is why many settings are using hessian displays and natural resources. The difference to a child in an environment like this with soft lighting compared to a loud colourful busy environment is dramatic. Real learning and engagement can take place when children are calm. Some settings are working towards having no toys and just using objects that are open-ended and real objects such as tea sets and old-fashioned phones. Some are even having no technology in order to not distract from the learning.

Challenging Resources

Resources need to be challenging according to the children’s skills, for example, starting off with resources which resemble something to start with like a garage. To then move onto more open-ended resources which can spark the imagination.

Learning and Development Requirements

We take care to provide resources appropriate to the age and stage of development of the children attending Pre-school which will stimulate their interests and encourage investigation, as well as enabling the children to practice existing skills and to build on these to acquire new ones.
We meet these learning and development requirements through "In the moment planning" where "teachable moments" are discovered in the child's play. This unique way allows us to develop each child at their own individual pace working with their interests.

The spontaneity of this type of planning also enables us to keep enriched by what the children "see" and are fascinated by . . . Who can say what a child wants to explore tomorrow or even in the next five minutes!

We are aware of, and able to explain the importance of reflecting all members of the society not just those who attend Pre-school, but also the local community and society in general. We do this in embracing each others differences, visiting lots of local amenities and having lots of visitors attend our setting also.

All children need to experience a programme of activities and experiences tailored to their stage of development and take account of their individual needs. The following headings, which are part of the EYFS, show how we provide such a programme:

Areas of learning and development

Personal, social and emotional development

Children will have experiences and support that will help them to develop a positive sense of themselves and of others, respect for each other, social skills and a positive disposition to learn. We provide support for children ‘s emotional well being to help them to know themselves and what they can do. In following the childrens’ lead, we are able to know their interests, and they are able to choose, to explore, to move around and challenge themselves. Children are able to access all resources at all times with our practitioners acting as facilitators.
This autonomy from adult direction increases their self confidence and is vital to their well being.

Communication and language

Children are given opportunities to talk about their experiences and to listen to others; they are encouraged to express their own ideas and introduced to new language as they do it. Our setting uses Makaton as a means of communicating with all children including those that are non verbal.
Speech and language specialists are brought in, with parental permission if a child is identified as needing additional help with communication.

Physical development

The physical development of children is encouraged with many opportunities for them to be active and interactive to improve their skills for coordination, control, manipulation and movement. They are supported in using their senses to learn about the world around them and to make connection between new information and what they already know.

Our setting has Outdoor Learning as well as an extensive woodwork area where they can challenge themselves in fine and gross motor skills, learn new skills and explore their creativity, in a natural environment. Our setting is a healthy eating setting and hence children are supported in understanding the importance of physical activity and making healthy choices in relation to food. This is explained further in our Healthy Eating Policy. We also have toothbrushing facilities for children who attend all day, they are supervised brushing their teeth after lunch.


Mark making facilities are available at all times for children to express themselves. They also hear stories, rhymes, poems and songs, at circle time as well as during session time. Books are always readily available for children for looking at, reading stories and recognising how printed word and pictures can convey meaning. Children are encouraged to tell their own stories through an adult “Story Scribing”, helping them to understand the significance of the written word and these “Stories” are often then acted out at circle time with other children.


Children will be supported in understanding problem solving, reasoning and numeracy within a broad range of contexts which they can explore, enjoy and learn. Opportunities for mathematical concepts are everywhere and practitioners are trained to recognise these moments and to scaffold on them where appropriate. Children are provided with opportunities to practice and extend their skills in these areas and to gain confidence and competence in their use.

Expressive art and design

Supporting their curiosity, exploration and play will extend children’s creativity. They will be provided with opportunities to explore and share their thoughts, ideas and feelings through a variety of art, craft, music, movement, dance, imagination, and role-play activities. This is particularly reflected in our method of teaching “In the moment planning” as children can follow their interests immediately upon arrival!

Understanding the world

Children are supported in developing their knowledge; skill and understanding that help them make sense of the world. As well as regular setting materials and resources including our woodwork area, we have many visits from our local community as well as the opportunity to attend other sites such as the local old peoples home and local library. Our Outdoor Learning is an outstanding resource and every child is given the opportunity to attend Outdoor Learning sessions at least once a week. Their learning is then supported through offering opportunities to use a range of tools safely, encounter creatures, people, plants and objects in their natural environment and in real life situations.