Learning Blog by Miss Evans, Reception Teacher
I went back to the classroom last week for two whole days! I was so lucky to do a refresher for my Level 2 Paediatric First Aid training with Millie’s Trust and spend quality time in the presence of others doing the same. As well as brushing up on my First Aid, the time there gave me the opportunity to reflect on what it means to be a learner. This is always powerful.
Learning is supposed to be difficult. As cognitive scientist Robert Bjork states from his research into memory and learning: a learning task that requires a considerable, but desirable, amount of difficulty is one that leads to the most improvement in long-term performance. We were learning about some difficult things in that classroom but what helped us a great deal was the repetition of the material, along with quizzes to help us recall things from our memories.
This is a technique I employ in my teaching every day and is particularly noticeable in the teaching of Number and Phonics. Repetition is key and, in Phonics, children are asked to recall the same letter sounds daily in a ‘Speed Sounds’ session. They also practise reading the same high frequency words that we have already met as well as the formation of letters that they have already practised over and over. This quizzing and repetition leads to secure, long-term learning for all children. In daily Maths sessions, children are quizzed to recall the names of numbers out of sequence and they are challenged to write their numbers in order, an activity that is repeated daily. We have even practised the names of our 2D shapes daily with great results.
The children in Reception know that ‘practice makes perfect’ and this daily practice has enabled them to become very reflective and active participants in their learning. For example, learning the new letter ‘X’ in Phonics last week was challenging for many children. As well as watching those who were able to draw it support those who were not, when I tried to move on with the session it was met with cries of, “Can I just do a few more? I need some more practice. Can we do this again tomorrow?” I was amazed to hear such young voices really engaging with the learning process to see just how much this reflected the adult learning process in the First Aid training, “Can we just do that bandage again? I’m not sure I’ve got it quite right.” I shouldn’t be surprised, we are all learners after all.