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Seeing the good in others: reward for positive praise

Published on 13/03/18

Keri Lennon, Year 2 Teacher at the City Pre-Prep, shares her thoughts on developing positive learning cycles in Early Years education.

At SPF Pre-Prep it is recognised that every child is an individual; with individual strengths, weaknesses and personalities. Children learn at different rates and respond differently to environments and stimuli. The experiences they have shape the people they will become. As such, it is crucial to see, reward and model the positive learning styles and behaviours we want our children to embrace as they grow.

Identifying and recognising the day to day achievements of children, no matter how great or small, can encourage a deeper sense of self worth. By praising a child that finds writing paragraphs challenging, when they do so successfully, it encourages them to be pleased with the work they complete. This piece of writing could then be placed on display on a ‘Golden Work’ or ‘Pride Wall’ for others to view, further highlighting that the personal achievement is valued and significant within the community environment. These small daily acts of praise encourage children to be proud of their accomplishments, as well as promoting engagement within all aspects of learning, regardless of how complex the task may be.

Providing children with generalised examples of desired positive behaviours or learning outcomes supplies pupils with realistic goals to aim for. Demonstrating to the whole class how to write a paragraph, prior to asking them to do so independently, makes the expectations clear without questioning or ridiculing any current writing styles. Identifying the different components of a paragraph, how one is formed and how it flows into the next, equips children with the skills required to then confidently create their own. By providing children with a generalised reference of comparison to their current ability it allows them to self assess their work whilst feeling in control of the direction they want their learning to progress.

It is valuable for a practitioner to model the positive reactions they expect pupils to exhibit. As the children grow in their confidence of paragraphing, the teacher may model forming a paragraph incorrectly, or act not knowing how to create one at all. In this situation it is important for the children to see that the teacher can make mistakes, and react to them by being resilient and remaining positive towards oneself in the face of a learning set back. Through this modelling, children will gain the understanding that it is not necessary to achieve perfection first time, rather more important to have the perseverance and good humour to continue learning and progressing in the face of adversity.

All children have the right to feel valued, safe and happy; to be viewed as good. Recognising personal achievements, respecting individual learning challenges, and valuing life learning skills are key ways SPF practitioners strive to achieve this in the Pre-Prep.

" is not necessary to achieve perfection first time, rather more important to have the perseverance and good humour to continue learning and progressing in the face of adversity"

Keri Lennon, Year 2 Teacher at the Stephen Perse Pre-Prep (City)

Find out more about learning and fun at the Pre-Prep on Twitter @SPFPreprep or through the Pre-Prep blog.