Characteristics of Effective Learning in Early Years!

Characteristics of Effective Learning (CoEL) are a revived element in the current Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum (EYFS). CoEL advocate that in planning and guiding children’s activities, practitioners must reflect on the different ways that children learn, and then reflect these in their practice. A child’s individual learning characteristic will determine the way they respond to both the teaching and learning taking place in the environment.  Three characteristics of effective teaching and learning identified by the EYFS are:

  • playing and exploring – children investigate and experience things, and ‘have a go’;
  • active learning – children concentrate and keep on trying if they encounter difficulties, and enjoy achievements; and
  • creating and thinking critically – children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas, and develop strategies for doing things

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Finding out and exploring

This is when children use open-ended, hands on experiences which arise from curiosity. These provide the basis on which the child builds concepts, tests ideas and finds out how things work:

• Showing curiosity about objects, events and people

• Using senses to explore the world around them

• Engaging in open-ended activity

• Showing particular interests

Playing with what they know

This refers to how a child uses imaginative play to understand, explore and embed ideas. Children use imaginative play to re-create experiences:

• Pretending objects are things from their experience

• Representing their experiences in play

• Taking on a role in their play

• Acting out experiences with other people

Being willing to have a go

This is when children use their particular interests to initiate activity ideas, look for challenges and opportunities within new experiences and to take risks. Children demonstrate a ‘have a go’ attitude and use new opportunities to learn:

• Initiating activities

• Seeking challenge

• Showing a ‘can do’ attitude

• Taking a risk, engaging in new experiences, and learning by trial and error


For more information on COEL see these website below


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