Every year seems to bring many changes in the education system and 2017 was no different.
Learning through play in the early years? - The early years are always a source of much debate. Should our under-fives be learning through play or sitting at school desks getting to grips with reading and writing? Well the debate on play versus academic work in pre-school, reception class and nursery continues. The consensus in 2017 is that all youngsters should have access to pre-school education. Research this year showed that under-fives with a classroom-based early education were more likely to go on to higher education. Yes, playtime is important, but the new study proved that academic work is also important - if not crucial.
Finger counting is vital - Continuing with the early years, 2017 was the year in which a study of six and seven-year-old youngsters showed that it was a huge mistake to discourage children from using their fingers when counting. It used to be the case that children would be told to stop counting on their fingers after their first year in school, but new research has shown that using our fingers actually stimulates the parts of our brain associated with counting. So finger-counting actually boosts the learning of maths, ultimately making it easier for us to do maths in our head.
Social and emotional learning - In 2017, 28 scientists from all over the world called on schools to consider improving their students’ emotional skills. They said that success in later life is not only linked to academic ability but also to a student’s emotional and interpersonal skills. Yes, children need to be able to sit at a school desk and get on with their schoolwork but they also need to be able to engage with others and understand their own emotions!
The importance of reflective writing - Encouraging students to write about themselves and their own experiences can improve their feelings of self-worth and help them to understand themselves better. Children who had experienced racism, when encouraged to write reflectively, were able to deal with their situation more effectively and improve their results.
Best studying strategies - Practice tests are particularly good at helping students to remember facts and concepts. In addition, spending time with students encouraging them to plan out in advance what they need to do to pass a test can result in higher grades.
New teachers need their mentors - Research this year has shown that not only teachers, but also students, benefit when a new teacher has a mentor. Those first years of being a teacher are crucial and a good mentor means the world. Students of mentored teachers gain around three and a half months of additional learning and teaching when their new teacher is mentored.
Clickers - A study in 2017 concluded that weekly texts to parents about their children’s progress, attendance and ‘forgotten’ homework encouraged mums and dads to be more engaged in their child’s learning and attendance. Attendance is improved by around 17% when parents are sent automated texts every week!
All in all, 2017 has been an interesting year. Let's hope healthy debate in all areas of education will continue through 2018, resulting in happier students and teachers.