What is student-led learning and how can it benefit your child?

What is student-led learning and how can it benefit your child?

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The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) at La Côte International School is an exciting way for children to transition into the school environment. A core principle of their Early Years education is to engage with a child in the moment, when they first show curiosity, and to join them in naturally expanding their learning through play, as EYFS teacher Ashley Moisdon explains.

When children are put at the centre of learning, teachers never know what the day ahead will offer. What they do know is that the students will lead the way. By seizing the children’s attention at the right moments, and asking the right open-ended questions, the lesson plan for the day unfolds. 

Children set the learning agenda!

Every child is at a different place in their learning and development – and by knowing the children well, teachers know which questions to ask to propel each child forward with this child-led approach to learning. This is called Planning in the Moment – and such planning ensures that teachers identify what has captured the children’s attention and join them in that moment to learn together.

The children might be role-playing that they are driving a bus: “Oh, we are travelling!  – where are we going? How much is the bus ticket? Where are you from?” Asking the children those questions stimulates their dialogue, language and play forward in relatable and teachable learning opportunities. 

Learning through experience counts

It is so important to take the time to observe the children and know, as the adult, when to speak to provide quality interactions with the children. Teachers have to join their world and work together, child and adult, to take the conversations or actions to the next step for effective in-the-moment learning.

To the untrained eye, it could look just like simple playing, but by tuning into and following the students’ curiosity, interests and imagination, joining them in their moment, and guiding opportunities to teach something in that context, new skills and discoveries are made. It is important to allow students to see the world creatively and not just the world inside the classroom. 

Taking learning outdoors

Equally as important as what happens inside the classroom is what happens when children are given the opportunity to explore the outdoors, perhaps by enjoying trips to a local playground or to the lake or forest. This approach gives different contexts and scope for new learning opportunities.

An example from my own experience; on a recent trip to the lake, the class read the story Not A Stick by Antoinette Portis. This sparked the idea for the children to find their own sticks on the ground and act out with their imaginations while finishing the sentence "This is not a stick, it's ...

  • ...a blast laser" answered Milan, 
  • ...a cane" hobbled Nilda, 
  • ...un épee!" shouted Shayan, 
  • ...a curling iron" said Emilia as she curled her teacher’s hair, 
  • ...a horse" added Vivian as she galloped away on top. 

We suggested the stick could be a pencil and each child searched for a handheld stick to use as a writing utensil to form letter symbols in the sand and dirt. This is an example of the White Rose Maths method, which introduces the students slowly to a few numbers, comparing weights and lengths and other basic principles.

Back at the lake, the children lined up their sticks in order of length and while carrying them compared “heavy” vs. “light”. With only a stick at the lake, the class covered Phonics, Maths and Imaginative Storytelling.

Through this student-led learning, young pupils are given the freedom and security to explore, learn and thrive. This is exactly the kind of teaching offered at La Côte International School. Want to see how your child could benefit from their teaching? Contact the school today!

Ashley Moisdon


Ashley Moisdon

Ashley grew up in the Rocky Mountains of Western Canada where she originally studied Music and Psychology in University. As a little girl, she would take attendance of her stuffed...

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