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Mapledean Nursery School

‘Learn to Play… Play to Learn.’

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Characteristics of Effective Learning

As well as considering what opportunities we are providing for children we also observe the skills and qualities that children need to support them to become successful learners throughout life. We follow the Early Years Foundation Stage guidance which looks at the overall development of the children. There are three characteristics of effective learning which are:


  • Playing and exploring – children investigate and experience things and ‘have a go’
  • Active learning – children concentrate and keep on trying if they encounter difficulty, and enjoy achievements
  • Creating and thinking critically – children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas and develop strategies for doing things.


At Mapledean, we believe that like adults, children learn best when they are self motivated and interested. For young children, play is their work.

"Adults who encourage children’s dispositions to learn establish warm, trusting relationships with children.  These adults are able to enter the child’s world, recognise his or her interests, dilemmas and concerns and have a conversation that encourages further thinking."


- Adapted from Marion Dowling, Supporting Young Children's Sustained Shared Thinking: An exploration (DVD training materials).