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How children learn

Young children learn best when they are actively engaged with the world around them, enabled by supportive adults who know them well and have a good knowledge about child development.

Children learn effectively when they are encouraged to be inquisitive, take risks and where their opinions, thoughts and ideas about their world are valued.


Play is essential for children; through play they are able to develop the positive dispositions and attitudes which underpin all future learning.

“Once children are helped to perceive themselves as authors or inventors, once they are helped to discover the pleasure of inquiry, their motivation and interest explode"

Loris Malaguzzi (Reggio Emilia)

Adults need to be aware of the impact that every experience can have on children, they learn everywhere and all of the time; they try out their learning in different contexts practising, repeating, experimenting, making sense of their world.


Relationships with other children and significant adults become crucially important. All children are included and have equal access to a broad and balanced curriculum based on play.


Each child has a spark in him or her; it is the responsibility of the people and institutions around each child to find what would ignite that spark

Howard Gardner

The learning environment

To be active learners, children need to have access to materials and resources, they need to try things out, create, deconstruct and recreate. They need to be to begin to sort, order, classify materials by one or more attributes. They need space to dance, sing, shout, run and climb. They need places to be quiet, still and to listen and watch what is going on in the world around them.


The learning environment both inside and outside is organised in such a way that children are able to find, use and return equipment, decide what is best for the purpose they have in mind and make connections. The learning environments are spacious, well equipped and contain real things, materials and equipment. There are opportunities to play alone, in pairs or in groups and children learn to share and take turns.

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