Lead a learning experience which supports the development of sustained shared thinking in children aged: 0-1 year 11 months, 2-2 years 11 months, 3-5 years

Qualification: NCFE CACHE Level 3 Diploma for the Early Years Educator
Unit: Unit 3.9: Facilitate the cognitive development of children
Learning outcome: Be able to implement a learning experience which supports the development of sustained shared thinking in children
Assessment criteria: Lead a learning experience which supports the development of sustained shared thinking in children aged: 0-1 year 11 months, 2-2 years 11 months, 3-5 years


Leading a learning experience to support the development of sustained shared thinking in children of different age groups requires a practitioner to adapt their approach based on the children’s developmental stages, interests, and abilities. The goal is to engage the children in meaningful interactions and thought processes. Here’s how an Early Years practitioner might lead these experiences:

1. Ages 0-1 Year 11 Months

  • Approach: For infants, the focus is on fostering engagement through sensory experiences and interactive play.
  • Activities:
  • Sensory Exploration: Use tactile materials like soft toys, textured balls, or cloth books, and describe the sensations as the infant explores.
  • Responsive Interactions: Engage in back-and-forth interactions, such as making a sound and pausing for the infant to respond, then responding back to maintain a ‘conversation’.
  • Simple Cause and Effect Toys: Introduce toys where actions lead to responses, like a toy that makes a sound when pressed, and encourage the infant to anticipate the effect.
  • Practitioner’s Role:
  • Be observant and responsive to the child’s cues, adapting the play to maintain engagement.
  • Use a variety of sounds, facial expressions, and gestures to communicate and interact.

2. Ages 2-2 Years 11 Months

  • Approach: At this stage, children are developing language skills and can engage in more interactive and imaginative play.
  • Activities:
  • Interactive Storytelling: Read stories and pause to ask predictive questions or for the child to name objects and actions.
  • Problem Solving with Toys: Use puzzles or building blocks, encouraging the child to think about how pieces fit together or what to build.
  • Role-Play Scenarios: Engage in role-play, such as pretending to be in a shop, and encourage decision-making and simple dialogues.
  • Practitioner’s Role:
  • Facilitate conversations and encourage children to express their thoughts.
  • Introduce challenges within activities and guide the child to find solutions, using open-ended questions.

3. Ages 3-5 Years

  • Approach: Children in this age group can engage in more complex and collaborative activities, fostering deeper levels of thinking and interaction.
  • Activities:
  • Group Projects: Lead activities that require collaboration, like building a large structure or creating a mural, encouraging group decision-making and problem-solving.
  • Science Experiments: Conduct simple experiments, asking questions to stimulate prediction and reasoning.
  • Interactive Story Creation: Encourage children to create a story together, discussing characters, settings, and plot, and then act it out or draw it.
  • Practitioner’s Role:
  • Facilitate group discussions, ensuring each child has the opportunity to contribute and extending their thinking through probing questions.
  • Encourage children to listen to each other, acknowledge different viewpoints, and build upon ideas.

General Guidelines for All Age Groups

  • Active Engagement: Be actively involved in the experiences, guiding and participating in the activities.
  • Encourage Exploration and Curiosity: Create an environment where children feel comfortable exploring ideas and asking questions.
  • Use of Open-Ended Questions: Ask questions that encourage children to think deeply and elaborate on their responses.
  • Reflective Listening: Listen attentively to the children’s ideas and reflect back to extend their thinking.
  • Positive Reinforcement: Acknowledge and praise the children’s efforts and ideas to build their confidence and encourage further exploration.

In leading these experiences, the practitioner should create a dynamic, interactive, and responsive environment that encourages children to engage in deeper levels of thinking and collaborative problem-solving. The aim is to guide and facilitate rather than direct, allowing children to explore ideas and develop their cognitive and social skills in a supportive setting.

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