When we consider what constitutes ‘quality’, my mind immediately goes to the question, ‘what difference do we make to the lives of children?’
We know education makes a difference, and it is through this intervention we know as ‘early childhood education’ that children encounter new ideas, theories and knowledge. However, not all teaching leads to learning because it is the quality of teaching that makes a difference. Knowing individual children and how they learn best means a teacher of young children will consider differentiated approaches as the key to a child’s success. Differentiated approaches to teaching and learning is the practice of developing an understanding of how each child learns best and then tailoring our pedagogical approach to meet the child’s individual needs. Consider this direct quote from the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework ‘The rate of children’s individual progress is not always the same, nor is progress always easy or straightforward.’ (VEYLDF, p.17)
When planning for learning, teachers and educators need to ask multiple questions – not limit their exploration of children’s learning to what children should learn or what children want to learn…but perhaps take some time to reflect on these questions:
- What knowledge and skills does the child already have that I need to consider?
- How have we previously assessed the child’s learning that has been effective and insightful, and which approaches to assessment have not been effective?
- How might we engage young children in identifying how they prefer to learn?
- How can the classroom environment support the child to learn more effectively?
- What professional learning will support us in improving our pedagogical practice?
A reflection on learning of this nature can lead to pedagogical transformation and reminds us that although the children we teach might all be the same age, the ways they learn will not be the same.