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BA (Hons) Children’s Learning and Development course preparation

To help you make sure you are ready for your BA (Hons) Children’s Learning and Development studies, we’ve gathered together a range of course related activities including some suggested reading. We’ve also included information and tasks that will give you an introduction to what university work will be like. It will highlight some of the important skills you will be developing throughout your time at university.

Some of these tasks will be used in the sessions in your Induction Week and throughout the first semester. It’s therefore very important that you engage with these tasks to give yourself the very best start to your university degree programme. We’ve highlighted the sections that have mandatory tasks and we suggest that you keep your responses and notes together in a portfolio of pre-course work and bring them with you when you start the programme.

Please note, all other tasks are optional, however we’d encourage you to try and do as many as possible so that you are as ready as you can be to start your programme.

Explore key areas

We strongly advise you to prepare for your course by doing some reading and by taking opportunities to think about the key aspects and challenges of working with children and young people. Try to explore some key theories that underpin current practice, such as:

  • Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
  • Dewey’s, Vygotsky’s and Bruner’s theories of learning.

Start to think about the role of the adults working with children and the skills required to be an effective practitioner and a teacher.

Suggested reading

You’ll be given lots of information about which textbooks to read and introduced to the University Library, as well as the many ebooks we have for you to access, when you begin your studies in September.

In the meantime, you might like to begin your reading before starting your degree if you can. We don’t recommend rushing out to buy texts before you arrive. But if you can pick some up second hand, borrow from a library or access online, we suggest:

  • How Children Learn: From Montessori to Vygotsky, by L. Pound. 2006London, MA Education Ltd

Within the Children’s Developing Identity module, you’ll be exploring Children’s Rights. You can begin to explore this area prior to the module using the UNICEF website.

Additional texts to support you with starting your course and developing your academic skills

What’s expected from you at university?

Studying at university is very different from studying at school or college. You’ll receive a lot of support from your tutors, but you ‘ll also be expected to work independently as well. You’ll need to be good at adapting to new people and environments, working in larger groups and also be flexible in your learning style. Listed below at the key expectations:

Ability to work with others
Goal setting

Teaching styles – mandatory task included

There are many different ways that you’ll learn at university, some of which may be different to the ways you’ve previously worked at school or college. We all have different ways that we learn best, however, it’s important that you adapt to the different teaching theory methods in order to get the most from your programme. Below are the main ways that you will learn:

Independent study

Your task – Identify which teaching method will most suit your learning styles and which ones you’ll find most challenging. What steps can you take to ensure that you get the most out of all of the teaching methods?

Adapted from The Study Skills Handbook, by S. Cottrell. 2013 4th ed. New York, Palgrave McMillan

INSPIRE strategy for learning

To be the best student that you can be on this programme, and to prepare you for your future career, we aim to INSPIRE:

  • Innovative
  • Nurturing
  • Studious
  • Pro-active
  • Imaginative
  • Reflective
  • Energised

Your task – Consider each of the key aspects of INSPIRE and think about how you already portray that quality.

Assessments – mandatory task included

An assessment will take place at the end of each module to assess your ability to meet the required learning outcomes. Academic support sessions will be timetabled as part of each module to support you with meeting the learning outcomes. This is where your Student Academic Mentor will be able to support your learning too.

A range of different assessment styles take place throughout the course to allow you to demonstrate a range of different skills. Whilst you’ll write academic assignments, you’ll also undertake work-based learning placements, presentations, skills audits, lesson plans and picture analysis assignments.

Your task – reflect upon each of the activities list below which you’ll undertake as part of your assessment. How do you feel about each one? Have you any experience with that type of assessment or will it be new to you?

  • Academic assignments
  • Work based placements
  • Presentations
  • Skills audit
  • Lesson planning

The role of independent study

This course includes a large proportion of independent study. This is where you complete any set tasks and readings, but also where you take control of your own learning and work towards achieving the learning outcomes for the module.

Your task – What does independent study meant to you?

  • List all the words that you associate with independent study for yourself.
  • List words which you would like to associate with yourself and independent study.
  • What steps can you take to work towards your identified goals for working independently?

Adapted from The Study Skills Handbook, by S. Cottrell. 2013 4th ed. New York, Palgrave McMillan

Work based learning – mandatory task included

Work based learning is designed to enable you to develop a range of appropriate skills and strategies and reflect on your experiences and observations to enhance your understanding.

Work based learning placement

Your task – Each student will start the course with a wide range of experience. Make a list of the experience you already have in relation to working with children. Then reflect upon each experience, what did this experience teach you? How will it help you with the course?

Student Academic Mentors (SAMs)

Our Student Academic Mentors will provide you with support during your first year of study. They’re there to:

  • Answer any questions via email such as: how to reference a book or journal, where to find the best texts for an assignment, how to plan and write an introduction to an assignment, how to plan for an effective lesson in preparation for school-based placement.
  • Our mentors will also be available for face to face meetings either on an individual basis or with small groups for additional support
  • Our mentors engage in a support programme with whole groups of students and the tutor in Academic Support Sessions, giving you additional, individual support with your studies.
Hear from our Student Academic Mentors

Self-management – Mandatory task included

Self-management is an essential study skill at university that will enable you to cope with the responsibility of taking charge of your studies and to fully engage in your learning.

Your Task – download the self-management task document and reflect on your own self-management skills.

People skills – Collaborative learning – Mandatory task included

Working alongside others
Group discussions

Your task – The value of collaborative working.

Note down the following aspects of collaborative working. Which ones do you value? Highlight the ones that apply.

  • Enjoying a sense of group solidarity
  • Sharing ideas and stimulating each other’s thinking so everyone gains more ideas
  • Gaining new and diverse perspectives
  • Tapping into a wider pool of experience
  • Learning to stay on task even when working with people whose company I enjoy
  • Achieving greater outcomes than I could alone
  • Learning ‘give and take’, rather than dominating a group or being dominated by others in the group
  • Gaining confidence in asserting my viewpoint
  • Learning to deal with challenge and criticism
  • Helping and supporting others

Employability skills

Employers will be interested in your broader development and not just your specialism in your subject. You need to plan ahead towards your career whilst you’re studying your degree.

Your task – typically a well-rounded students might be able to offer something in at least 3 of this list.

In which of these areas have you already invested?

Realistically, what else could you do in the next six months to develop your personal portfolio?

  • The degree subject
  • Complementary subjects
  • Unusual technical experience
  • Work experience
  • Volunteer activity
  • Contributing to the community
  • A position of responsibility
  • A broad set of skills that can be transferred to the workplace

Time management

Successful people tend to have the ability to focus on the right task at the right time. Time management is a skill that can be developed. As a student you’ll need to balance the time you devote to study, family, work and social activities.

Your task Take this quiz and make a note of your score and check your score interpretation. You should then use the quick summary of the main areas of time management that were explored in the quiz and the guide to the specific tools you can use for each.

Answer the following questions:

  • What are my time management strengths?
  • What are the areas I need to develop?
  • How do you think you can improve your time management skills to help you best use your study time? Make a list of your top 5 skills to improve.

Meet your programme lead: