MASTERCLASS: The brain, learning and the early years

09:30 - 12:30

Play research and neuroscience are providing ever greater insights into young children’s learning and development – with important implications for early years practice.

This masterclass brings together leading academics from within the UK to explain the latest thinking on:

  • how learning occurs in the brain, and what this means for early years pedagogy
  • the importance of executive functioning in early learning, and
  • the impact of peer play on social development.

Our speakers are:

Paul Howard-Jones, Professor of Neuroscience and Education at the University of Bristol and regular contributor to Channel Four’s 'Secret Life of Four Year Olds', and

Dr Sara Baker and Dr Jenny Gibson, principal investigators at the Centre for Research on Play in Education, Development and Learning (PEDAL), which was established by the LEGO Foundation and is located at the University of Cambridge.

9.30-9.45 Coffee

9.45-10.45 The brain: what happens when children learn

This opening session will provide an overview of:

  • current understanding of the learning processes in the brain, and
  • how a scientific understanding of the brain can help implement the early years curriculum

Topics to be covered include: emotional regulation, embodied learning (the links between action and cognition), mathematics and literacy.

Professor Paul Howard-Jones, University of Bristol

10.45-11.00 Coffee

11.00-11.40 Flexible thinking

Dr Sara Baker’s research centres on how children acquire some of the essential skills for learning – in particular executive functioning – and how to encourage that development. Here, she looks specifically at:

  • the importance of cognitive flexibility in early learning, and
  • improving and supporting children’s strategies for executive function and problem-solving

Dr Sara Baker, senior lecturer at the University of Cambridge Faculty of Education and principal investigator at PEDAL

11.40-12.20 Children’s play with their peers

Gain an insight into:

  • the links between children’s role play and their social development
  • the wider benefits of peer play
  • the impact of transitions on social development, and
  • the implications for early years practice in promoting friendships and role play within the early years

Dr Jenny Gibson, lecturer at the University of Cambridge Faculty of Education and principal investigator PEDAL

12.20-12.30 Questions from the floor

Full rate: £150 (+VAT) / early bird rate £125 (+VAT) for bookings made by 7th December

Paul Howard-Jones, Professor of Neuroscience and Education, University of Bristol

Dr Sara Baker, Principal investigator, Centre for Research on Play in Education, Development and Learning (PEDAL), established by the LEGO Foundation

Dr Jenny Gibson, Principal investigator, Centre for Research on Play in Education, Development and Learning (PEDAL, established by the LEGO Foundation