David Wright’s collection

“Active Learning – Introduction” video clip features several children mastering various tasks including a girl with a real hammer, a block of wood and a nail which she proceeds to drive into the wood. There are no adults in shot physically guiding her hands, cautioning her to take care or controlling her actions. Despite a slight injury to her hand, she perseveres and succeeds on her own. This might be her first solo attempt at hammering. Imagine the sense of achievement. How different this might have felt had someone not trusted her to carry it out on her own. By standing back and allowing her to do this on her own, the adult has enabled her to practice and develop this skill (gross and fine motor, hand-eye coordination) and importantly, her sense of self-worth. There is no need for adult intervention.

Again in “Active Learning – Keeping on Trying” we are reminded of the importance of adult scaffolding being withdrawn as soon as possible. We see a boy playing on his own, talking to himself as he persists in balancing blocks to create a tall structure. He repeatedly tries, observes the blocks fall off, picks them up again, reflects and adapts his technique until he succeeds in building a structure he is pleased with and invites the adult to see what he has done and share his achievement. What would have happened to his concentration had he been called to lunch right at that moment? Sometimes it is helpful to reflect on whose needs take priority.

“How do children learn from each other?” contains several wonderful examples of powerful interactions between children with no adult intervention. We witness children using their agency, choice and emergent social skills to negotiate shared physical play with others. We see them developing their ability to cooperate, to analyse and verbalise their own learning (metacognition) and how to relate to friends and the effect that their actions and words can have on others’ feelings.

What did David Whitebread think?
In my opinion, one of the most insightful videos in the Siren video clips collection, is a talk from the late David Whitebread – “How can you support the development of self-regulation?” In it, David summarises 4 key aspects of research findings into what makes teaching effective.

4 key aspects of research findings into what makes teaching effective:

  • Provision of an environment of emotional warmth (attachment)
  • Based on relationships of trust or mutual regard
  • Opportunities for appropriate cognitive challenge
  • Children who are confident to challenge themselves
  • Giving a sense of autonomy and feelings of control
  • Support to reflect and plan – metacognition

I would highly recommend watching this talk. It speaks to the key aspects of Early Years practice that support children in their overall development. We know that self-regulation is fundamental to children’s development. David confirms this from the research.

Watch these four videos here: