The Learner in the Early Years (3–6 years old)
Early Years: Summary
In the Early Years:
Children are capable to construct their own learning.
Play is the primary driver for inquiry is valued by all stakeholders.
Children are collaborators and learn through interaction within their communities
Children are natural communicators and should be encouraged to express themselves however they feel they can.
The classroom environment acts as the third teacher
Teachers are partners, nurturers, and guides who help facilitate the exploration of children’s interests as they work on short and long-term projects.
Documentation is a critical component of communication.
Parents are partners in education.
Play involves choice, promotes agency and provides opportunities to inquire into important concepts and personal interests.
The early years should include as a minimum: play, relationships, learning spaces, symbolic exploration and expression which are central to learning.
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Principles of Ideal Learning Environments
Decision-making reflects a commitment to equity
Children construct knowledge from diverse experiences to make meaning of the world
Play is an essential element of young children’s learning
Instruction is personalized to acknowledge each child’s development and abilities
The teacher is a guide, nurturing presence, and co-constructor of knowledge
Young children and adults learn through relationships
The environment is intentionally designed to facilitate children’s exploration, independence, and interaction
The time of childhood is valued
Continuous learning environments support adult development
Source: ibo.org | The Compass School | Trust For Learning
Nine Principles of Ideal Learning - Early Years
This brief summarizes scientific research aligned with the principles of ideal learning environments. The brief is a unifying framework of nine principles underlying equitable, developmental, relational models of early childhood education, but can/should be applied to all learning environments. Rather than prescribing a uniform vision of “quality,” these nine principles allow educators to adopt a comprehensive early learning approach that serves their children and communities.
Drawing from the strength of world-renowned early childhood approaches including Montessori, Reggio Emilia, Friends Center for Children, Tools of the Mind, Bank Street College of Education, and Waldorf, these nine principles outline core concepts that create ideal learning environments for young children across settings. They allow for multiple approaches, models, and traditions, and take into account the varied contexts within which early educators and care providers work.
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Several essential beliefs weave throughout, including a commitment to play, relationship-based interactions, an ecologically-focused, child-centered perspective; equity; and a strength-based and inquiry-based approach with children, adults and families. Together, they balance principles of attachment and independence that are meaningful for young children’s development.
Children Are Born Learning, Exploring and Growing
How children develop depends on us. We know that during the first few years of life, more than 1 million neural connections are formed every second. Young children develop through rich, daily interactions with nurturing caregivers and educators, building brains and shaping physical, socioemotional and cognitive development for life. These early years represent a unique, flexible period of human development and a finite window for high-impact investment.
Early learning environments shape children’s present and future through mechanisms scientists continue to discover — from statistical learning to nervous system attunement to epigenetics. Because children are born learning, any environment can become an ideal learning environment — whether at home, in family- or center-based child care, or at school. While every child should have access to ideal learning environments from birth, far too many do not. With growing public investment, we now have the opportunity to create equitable ideal learning environments serving children, families and educators in any setting.
Source: Trust For Learning and Trust For learning Resources
PYP Learner Profile Booklist - Early Years
Engaging Learners By Following Their Interests
When students show genuine curiosity about a topic, the emergent curriculum approach lets teachers build upon that excitement to reach learning objectives.
Fostering a Feeling of Security for Younge Students
Create a Clam Preschool Learning Environment
Podcast: Play, Assessment and Accountability in the Early Years
A Podcast by Anne van Dam who is an international educator who has worked in schools in the Netherlands, China, Singapore and Switzerland in a variety of roles; as a teacher, PYP coordinator, assistant principal and school Director.
In the first part of her episode with Angeline Aow, they discuss Early Years education, including the role of play, documentation, assessment and the rise of accountability around the world.
Anne is experienced with the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (IB PYP), is a workshop leader and developer.
Early Years Blogs and Videos
Blog: Tales of La Tortugita
Blog: Opal School Online
Early Years ResourcesClick/Tap to View
Breaking Free: Reimagining the Constraints of Classroom Spaces | Stenhouse Blog | Apr 21, 2022 | Haeny Yoon writes about finding freedom in classroom spaces and reimagining what it truly means to think outside of the box in school.
3 Ways to Guide Early Elementary Students to Talk About Their Learning | Edutopia | January 7, 2022 | Young students love to talk, but harnessing that enthusiasm for learning requires some structure.
Creating Fascinating Talking Tubs to Support Child-Led Learning | Mind Teachers Academy Blog | July 16, 2021 | A Talking Tub is a box filled with a variety of objects about a specific subject. A practitioner will then allow children to take each item out one at a time and fully examine the objects, giving them time to investigate and discuss each object.
How to Ask Questions That Engage Young Students | Edutopia | Dec 6, 2021 | Learn about three questioning techniques that prompt all students to come up with a response that can raise their spirits and make learning more joyful.
Creating a Culturally Responsive Early Childhood Classroom | Edutopia | Feb 26, 2021 | Ensuring that all students see their culture reflected in the curriculum and classroom materials is crucial. Learn more about Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT).
Supporting Children’s Agentic Identities through the Approaches to Learning | The Sharing PYP Blog - agency, approaches to teaching, early years | 6 January 2021.
How Every Child Can Thrive By Five
Want to be blown away...then watch this TED Talk by Molly Wright, a Grade 2 student from Queensland, Australia, who is a passionate advocate for early childhood development. At just seven years old, she's one of the youngest people ever to give a TED Talk. Here's a young girl who demonstrates agency, self-efficacy, wonderful oracy and bundles of confidence. One has to wonder how this came to be!
PBL in the Early Elementary Grades
Setting up project-based learning with young students can be a challenge, but it’s worth the work, according to first-grade teachers from across the U.S.
For more information about Problem-Based Learning (PBL) go HERE
Insight on Inquiry: Starting the Year in Kindergarten
Kindergarten teacher Carol Stephenson brings us inside her classroom to share how she fosters inquiry-based learning at the very beginning of the school year. Carol teaches at the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study, the lab school at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (University of Toronto).
To see how Carol concluded this inquiry, please watch this video
Learning is a Team Sport: Kindergartners Study the Boston Marathon
Ben Mardell's documentary about teachers' and students' learning while engaging in an MLV-inspired study of the Boston Marathon. This video shares the strategies the teachers employed and what the children learned along the way.
The Best Kindergarten You've Ever Seen
At this school in Tokyo, five-year-olds cause traffic jams and windows are for Santa to climb into. Meet: the world's cutest kindergarten, designed by architect Takaharu Tezuka. In this charming talk, he walks us through a design process that really lets kids be kids.