Characteristics of Effective Learning Wheel

As Early Years practitioners we are all very aware of the importance of establishing and embedding positive attitudes to learning in our young children.

The Characteristics of Effective Learning section in Development Matters, helps us enormously as it describes those very important attributes our children need to help them become life long learners.

However, our work with different settings and EYFS practitioners has shown that the Characteristics of Effective Learning section in the EYFS is often underestimated. So much emphasis is placed on achievement and progress in Maths and Literacy that the Characteristics often take a back seat and become an add-on when planning and observing, instead of being an integral part of practice and provision.

We firmly believe that you should start with the Characteristics as they are vital in helping children become a better learner. Without these attributes children are going to struggle to overcome many of the challenges they will face as they move through the education system.

If we can support children in understanding HOW they learn as well as WHAT they are learning then we are providing them with an invaluable set of tools that they can draw upon every time they are presented with different learning experiences, opportunities and challenges.


  • How do we as very busy practitioners with 101 things in our heads, make sure that we keep Characteristics of Effective Learning at the forefront of our minds?
  • How do we ensure that our learning environment and delivery is purposeful, engaging for our children?
  • How do we demonstrate the progress that children make in developing the important attributes as they practice, consolidate and embed them in different situations?

Through our work as trainers and consultants we visit a variety of settings and work alongside many creative and open-minded practitioners. We have listened to their concerns and developed our resources to help them overcome some of the challenges they face.

Our latest resource Characteristics of Effective Learning Wheel has been produced to help practitioners plan for, observe and integrate Characteristics of Effective Learning more easily into their early years environments.

The Wheel is very simple to use and comes in A2 poster size. It is easily displayed in the environment as a prompt for the adults and visitors. It is divided into 3 sections, Motivation, Thinking and Engagement. Within each section there are key words and phrases taken from Development Matters. The Wheel also comes with an arrow that you can use to indicate which area of the Characteristics you are currently focussing on.

The Wheel has been developed as an open-ended resource and can be used in lots of different ways. These are just a few ideas.

  • Point the arrow at a particular characteristic that you want to work on so that all adults are clear about the targeted learning.
  • Add children’s initials so that you can pinpoint the characteristics that you need to focus on with particular children.
  • Use the wheel during a period of assessment so that all adults are clear about the characteristics that you are looking for.
  • Use the wheel as a planning tool to ensure that your provision is promoting the characteristics that are currently barriers to children’s learning.

We will be launching this new resource at Nursery World London, Friday 2nd February and Saturday 3rd February. Following this the Wheel will be available to purchase on our website.