What is it? What does it mean? Is there a true definition? There are many contradictory definitions and I am not claiming that I know the answer. In fact, I have no idea what it means but that’s ok isn’t it?…. I do believe that it can mean different things to different people at different times! I think that it can look different in different settings – and I think that that’s ok. What IS important is that children are thriving in an environment that is conducive to learning. Not just any learning – but active, practical, exciting, genuine, explicit and worthwhile learning that makes both teacher and child smile with delight and gets those cogs turning – and, most importantly I suppose – moves their learning along in order that they are making good progress against national standards….. (Maybe that’s second?!?)
Some people say that it is the learning that continues after new concepts are taught. Some people state that it is the learning opportunities that are always available for children. Some people say – does it matter?
Highly effective, ‘goosebump’ (oooo just made that up) learning encourages children to persevere, to self-regulate, to persist and to be responsible in their actions within a safe environment where they are able to take risks. As well as this, effect learning can develop a mastery linked to the concepts and objectives that children are learning at any one time. The teacher’s role is to ensure that the tasks and activities have a clear learning purpose, that they provide sufficient challenge and that they offer problems to be solved.
Giving the children autonomy over their own learning within a thriving environment can give all staff more time to provide groups of learners with more focussed tailor-made teaching opportunities. Children need to know how to learn as well as what to learn.
Tasks that are on offer must be relevant to the learning that is occurring in class and must extend this learning on beyond the teacher talk session. Can the children consolidate what they have learnt? Can they then extend this to demonstrate a mastery approach with new concepts and questions being asked along the way. These varied tasks can sometimes be clear for the pupils with self-explanatory outcomes where results and products are recorded by the children as evidence of their understanding. Then, sometimes activities can be open ended – these are often the favourites!
Continuous provision can encompass all areas of learning – not simply for EYFS. Each area must provide appropriate resources that encourage children to explore and learn in a variety of ways. These resources must be of a high-quality – they must be proud of their environment – this includes a positive ‘tidy up’ understanding! It is SO important too that they children are given take up time – time to revisit time and time again what they did this morning, yesterday, last week, or even a few weeks ago.