Next week’s World Early Years Summit will bring together dozens of global experts on early childhood and elementary education, sharing perspectives on pedagogy, social-emotional learning (SEL), mindfulness, leadership, technology, and more. To prepare for the summit, read these valuable early childhood teaching strategies shared by three of our exciting presenters.

3 Early Childhood Teaching Strategies from our presenters

Audrey O’Clair

Education Specialist for Soundtrap at Spotify

Presenting the session, “Bridging Home & School: Teachers, Parents, and Technology in Partnership.”

An activity I recommend, beginning in the earliest years, is to capture the “small moments” using audio. The audio element creates such a valuable family artifact, as a way to remember how our child progressed in their skill development and also to teach listening comprehension. As an example of how this may work, you can record yourself reading to your child, and then in subsequent days play the recording while your child goes through the book. As children get older and begin to participate in reading, they will then hear the recording and recognize their own voice, which adds to the excitement of what they’re learning.

As children enter the elementary years, we may begin to get more creative with audio recording, whether at home or school. For example, you can use Soundtrap in the classroom (or at home) to creatively produce audio, add sounds and effects, and even turn it into a podcast. Academically, listening comprehension is truly the ceiling for reading comprehension, and we must learn to listen the same way we learn close reading. Implementing intentional, thoughtful strategies for improving listening skills and making this an exciting exercise will help children learn all language skills much better. And, it’s also simply a great keepsake for children and families! 

Emma Turner

Research and CPD lead for Discovery Schools Academy Trust and author of two books, including Be More Toddler: A Leadership Education from our Little Learners

Presenting the session, “Be More Toddler: Leadership Education from Little Learners”

When teaching the four operations, we often use worded problems such as, “If I have three teddies and then I fetch two more, how many teddies do I have now?” This is great for developing language and illustrating what is happening within the calculation, but it doesn’t help to fully illustrate whether the children completely understand the concept of the operation being used. 

An additional way to do this is to ask children to tell you their own “number story” about a calculation. For example, “Can you tell me an addition number story with a 3 and a 2?” or “Can you think of a number story for subtraction?” By doing this, we ask the children to not only demonstrate their understanding of the concept of the operation being explored but also give them a chance to rehearse the associated mathematical vocabulary in context. This is also much more open-ended than simply asking children to solve the worded problem posed by the adult. It, therefore, is an opportunity to use a wider range of vocabulary as well as providing an assessment opportunity for the teacher to see how well the child has conceptualized the operation. The children will obviously need to have heard lots of teacher-modeled examples prior to this but adding “tell your own number story” is another assessment tool for use within exploring the four operations.

Sue Cowley

Early Educator and Best-Selling Author of Over 25 Books for Educators, including Learning Behaviours: A Practical Guide to Self-Regulation in the Early Years

Presenting the session “A Needs-Based Approach to Managing Behaviour”

One of the most important things educators can do is to think carefully about how we frame instructions and remember that children are literal beings. For instance, it is instinctive to ask rhetorical questions. We see a child who is not behaving as we had asked and we say, “Why aren’t you listening/helping/working?” The child takes this as an actual question, rather than a rhetorical one, and gives an answer like, “Because I don’t want to.”

Before you know it, the educator is upset because the child ‘answered back’, and there is a tit for tat exchange of frustrations, when all the child did was answer the question. So, as a key goal, phrase what you say clearly and without ambiguity. Remember that children hear and process language as children, not as adults. Give children the chance to do what you need them to do by being as clear as possible about it.

To hear from these great presenters and many more, be sure to register for the 2021 World Early Years Summit