Rich Learning Opportunities


First hand experience: what matters to children

First hand experience: what matters to children

The publication
  • promotes first hand experience for all children
  • offers an alphabet of real experiences and enquiries underpinned by what matters to children
  • is aimed at all those who work with children aged 3-8

Why has it been written?

The authors were moved to take part in this project by their observation that many children today from 3-8 are starved of first hand experience. This was reinforced by a recent small scale study of reception classes (Adams et al 2004) which found that both child initiated and adult led activities offered children little opportunity for intellectual challenge, emotional engagement, or acts of personal meaning making.

There is no shortage of advice and guidance for educators working with children from three to eight years old. The authors’ intention in adding to the pile is to support educators in thinking more deeply about one particular aspect of children’s learning in those years: their active learning, which is stimulated by high quality first hand experiences.

What is this book?

This book is an alphabet of real experiences. The text for each letter has been designed as a springboard from which children and educators can launch themselves into the beautiful, mysterious, physical world in which we all live, looking and listening, tasting, touching and breathing it in.

Our analysis of what matters to children is at the heart of everything we have written. We are convinced that simply providing "things for children to do" is an inadequate description of what needs to be done to improve children’s opportunities to experience the world at first hand. Our position is that the things children do, while they are 3–8 years old, should be the things that really matter to them, not the things that matter to their educators, or to the authors of helpful advice on provision and resources. Our own thinking about what matters to children is described in full on the page for the letter ‘I’ which we have used to stand for the active learner, the child at the centre of the whole process of education. ‘What matters to children’ is also represented on every page of this alphabet: we have used these ideas as strict criteria for the suggestions we make for each area of enquiry.

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Click here for First hand experience: what matters to children
      What matters to children
      The publication
      The authors
      What Matters to Children
      Trialing the book
      What did trialists say?
      2008 conference - Snape
      'What Matters to Children'
      2010 Conference - WMtC
      'Making a difference'
      To host a conference
      Conference at Eden
         Project 2006
      Order book
      National book reviews
      Origins of the book
      Press releases
      Team principles
      Book dedication
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