The below article has been written by Busy Bees Area Manager, Steve Watts
“Learning is experience. Everything else is just information” – Albert Einstein
Before they even open their eyes, a child is learning from the world around them. Everything is new, and they are taking it all in. In those early moments, a child cannot understand this world, so they take cues and build their understanding of the world from the things that are happening around them. This time in a child’s life is about connection, nurturing a Circle of Security and establishing bonds.
As children grow, they continue to learn through experience. From touching something hot, quickly recoiling and experiencing the sensation of pain, to being unstable on their feet as they cruise between the couch and coffee table to make their first steps, every moment is a chance to learn something new.
Throughout the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) the word “experience” is mentioned 91 times. The Framework outlines how important experiential, play-based learning, communication and language (including early literacy and numeracy) and social and emotional development are within the first 5 years: “The Framework draws on conclusive international evidence that Early Childhood is a vital period in children’s learning and development” (Belonging, Being, Becoming).
Early Childhood Educators are guided by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states that “all children have the right to an education that lays a foundation for the rest of their lives, maximises their ability, and respects their family, cultural and other identities and languages”. The Convention recognises the right to play and be active participants in all matters that affect their lives.
In our Early Education Services, we deliver high quality and exciting learning opportunities. The experiences provided are part of a play-based learning approach to allow children to explore and develop their knowledge of the world around them. Children must be involved learners, and provided the opportunity to grow and learn through participating in a range of experiences based on their interests. We offer uninterrupted time for play, to allow each child the opportunity to grow through their interests and develop vital social skills and independence.
An Interest-based Curriculum is essential for the success of the learning and development of children. It allows for a child’s individual learning plan to be created reflecting the child’s needs, interests, and abilities. Interest-based Curriculum focuses on the child’s voice, to inform the learning strategies and goals required for that child. A child who is interested in what they are learning and actively involved is going to not just remember, but learn from the experience. Learning is not about being able to remember something, but being able to embed skills and attributes to build on further in the future.
Any child can learn to count by rote learning, but it takes time and experience to embed that knowledge to be able to count forwards, backwards, skip numbers and then begin to use those numbers for real life applications such as addition or division. John Dewey, who was a psychologist, philosopher and educational reformer, famously stated “The interaction of knowledge and skills with experience is key to learning.”
Children are constantly and consistently growing, learning and evolving from their experiences. The experiences that are provided to children must be designed to enhance and support their learning, with the goal to instil a lifelong love of learning in every child. Early Education and effective play-work is essential to providing the experiences needed to give every child the best start in life.