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E2BN Early Years Maths

Notes on the learning environment


The Learning Environment

  • The way in which we set up the learning environment gives strong messages to children about the sorts of experiences that will be encouraged and valued there.
  • It can also communicate to children ideas about the learning and behaviours that will not be valued, or even allowed. For example, if resources are at child level, clearly labelled and accessible, children are likely to feel confident in exploring independently and finding out for themselves. If resources are difficult to reach or children are prevented from accessing the things they need spontaneously to develop their own thinking and ideas, the opposite is true.
  • Independent learners are confident learners.
  • We provide a rich and challenging learning environment that encourages all children to develop independence. The photographs in the gallery area of this website help to show how this is done. All aspects of learning are reflected and provided for throughout, inside and out.
  • Through initiating their own experiences, children become far more deeply engaged in their play. They will persevere to find out what it is they really want to know or be.
  • For children to be able to respond fully to this type of environment, time must be spent enabling them to find their way around, to locate and return tools and resources and to experiment with them until they are confident. The adult's role is to support the child through this process, helping them to negotiate use of the environment with others.
  • Children are encouraged to select and combine resources from different areas so that they become creative in their use and begin to make vital connections to support their learning.
  • Adults need to show that they trust children to be able to do challenging things for themselves; to try, fail and try again as they test out skills, ideas, thoughts and feelings in play.
  • The use of the learning environment is carefully balanced. Children will be supported in developing ideas and learning from each other, and will also have opportunities to choose to engage in more focused adult led activities.
  • Observation of children's play is a vital part of the adult's role and enables them to plan for next steps in learning.
  • Above all, the learning environment is set up to enable children to engage in play for its own sake and for the sheer pleasure it can bring.


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