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Keith's Corner: Entry 2: Working with tiny tots

Type: Article

In his second diary entry, Keith discusses the importance of communicating with young learners and the need to think on your feet when things don’t go to plan!

Getting through the door

The youngest visitor we’ve had at Anglia School this year was just one year and nine months and the oldest was eight years old. The first question is often the same: will they come through the door? Some children are drawn to the hive of activity they see through the classroom windows - our best advertisement! - and mum or dad will knock and come in to ask what we do and who we are.

Some children stand by the door and scream until they are reassured that they aren’t going to be left behind and that mum or dad isn’t going to disappear and leave them at school while they go and do some shopping. Other children come back again and again but don’t come inside; they just like to stand and stare through the window. Some of these children do become Anglia School children, eventually plucking up the courage to meet some busy children doing art or science and sit down and join in.

The relationships that our teachers build with such small children are the most important factor in the children’s learning experience, with curriculum coming a distant second. Everything that our young children learn is as a result of how they interact with our teachers. We are so fortunate to have teachers who are naturally curious about the education of very young children and who are also very good at communicating with them, not just in English but in general. Now, we look for this skill or characteristic in our meetings with potential new teachers at Anglia School. If you want to teach with us, you have to be able to communicate with tiny tots!

A flexible curriculum

The curriculum at Anglia School is topic-based and we develop a cycle of skills through these topics. We follow the same principle with the tiny toddlers but rather than maths or science, although they do these too, we focus more on social activities, motor skills and interactive play.

One thing we have learned about working with toddlers is that they are in charge most of the time. We’ve also learned that, in order to get a two year old to do what you want them to do, you have to have a carrot to entice them with, a treat or game to cajole them with or the novelty, speed and duration of an activity can win them over too. This has meant that our learning plans have had to be flexible with this age group. We plan, yes, but we have to be ready to move away from what we had prepared and follow our instincts and the reactions, interests and energy levels of the very young children who come to us.

Now, our toddler group has a clear slot in the day and we have regulars who are growing up quickly at Anglia School. It’s a joy to watch as they move from running around wildly or feeling lost to being used to a routine. Sometimes they even tell us the right way to do things!

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