Teaching at IQBar is truly an amazing experience. Seeing our Breadies exceed their goals and reach their full potential is as rewarding for us as it is for them. In order to make the Breadies’ learning journey at IQBar a success, we must ensure that we provide them with the most effective resources. When entering a classroom with a Bready, we need to consider the type of content that we use throughout the lesson. It should be engaging, fun, and most of all, age appropriate. Therefore, this week’s blog will discuss the type of content that is appropriate depending upon the age of our Breadies.

Basic Child Development and Teaching Strategies

From preschool to adolescent age, children’s cognitive development changes vastly. Therefore, we need to identify these age-specific learning characteristics so that we can plan and formulate the appropriate materials in line with our Breadies ages and learning abilities.

  • According to Susan Bastable’s ‘Nurse as Educator’, Pre-schoolers from ages 3-6 have active imaginations and animalistic thinking; meaning that inanimate objects can ‘possess life or human characteristics’. Additionally, children this age are motivated by curiosity. Therefore, teaching strategies should include simple drawings and stories, perhaps with dolls and puppets. Buddies should stimulate the Breadies’ senses in whichever way possible: visual, auditory, tactile, motor. 
  • School-aged children aged 7-11 think in more realistic terms. They are objective and desire concrete information. Children this age possess more mature language and social skills, and are eager to practise and refine them by challenging themselves. Therefore, Buddies should be honest and use logical explanations, whilst also encouraging independence and active participation.
  • Adolescence aged 12—18 are capable of more abstract, hypothetical thinking. They can build on previous learning, and like school-aged children, they desire logical explanations and understand some scientific principles. Therefore, Buddies should establish trust with their adolescent Breadies. They should also make information meaningful and link it to real life situations so that it becomes relatable. Breadies may also find that children this age can make effective use of audio-visuals, role play and reading materials.
  • Young adults (18+) are often able to work independently; they use personal experiences to enhance learning. Therefore, Buddies should draw on meaningful experiences within their lessons, and encourage active participation through role-play and methodical practice.

Why do we need Age Appropriate Content?

Age appropriate content is imperative as it ensures our Breadies are properly engaged with their learning. Therefore, it is important to also know the many ways children change as they mature.

  1. Thinking Skills – How our questioning techniques have to change

As children mature, their thinking skills also develop. As highlighted in the previous section: pre-schoolers have animalistic thinking, school-aged children are realistic and objective, adolescences possess more abstract and hypothetical thinking, and young adults often draw on personal experiences to further their learning. Because of this, our questioning techniques will have to change depending on the age of the Bready. Therefore, in order to make our questioning as effective as possible, it needs to be well thought out and planned. You can read more about effective questioning in a previous blog: http://blog.iqbar.co.uk/index.php/2019/10/18/questioning-our-questioning/.

  • Interests – What Breadies might be into at their age

The personal interests of Buddies will also change depending on age. Therefore, we must adapt to these changes so that we can provide the best support for them.

Despite their low-level language abilities, a 19-year-old with very little English will not necessarily share the same interests with a 5-year-old. Therefore, they might not be too keen on seeing a puppet or cuddly toy in the classroom, as toys are generally used to engage our younger Breadies. Similarly, a 5-year-old Bready is unlikely to relate to conversation dealing with love, freedom or consciousness, as these are abstract concepts which younger children have not yet grasped. This of course, is much more appropriate for an older Bready. 

Ways in which you can make lessons more enjoyable for your Bready is to get talking! Find out about their hobbies and interests – they’ll be keen to tell you! You can then integrate this into the lesson, thus engaging your Bready that little bit more.

  • Emotional Maturity – What information Breadies can handle

You may often find that you have a young learner whose linguistic abilities are well beyond the materials you’ve provided. Therefore, adapting the resources to your Buddies emotional maturity level is imperative. Expanding on your materials can add depth to a session. When planning this, make sure to consider how your resources can help you introduce the topic, and whether your Buddy is likely to personally engage with them.

What are you going to do?

  • Do you plan your resources in advance depending on your Breadies’ age?
  • How do you ensure your materials will engage your Bready?
  • Do you prepare your questions so that they are effective and age appropriate?
  • Do you have props at hand for your younger Breadies?
  • What further support can you provide to enhance your Breadies’ learning?

We’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas on social media.

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Further Reading:

https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/adapting-materials-different-age-groups

http://www.localwin.com/julie/appropriate-curriculum/

https://library.med.utah.edu/Patient_Ed/workshop/handouts/age_specific.pdf

https://study.com/academy/lesson/how-to-select-developmentally-appropriate-curriculum.html