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How I use... Retrieval Practice in EYFS

Originally posted on the Norfolk Research School blog.

What is Retrieval Practice?
Retrieval practice is the active process of recalling information from memory, breaking away from traditional review methods. It prompts learners to actively retrieve knowledge without external cues.

How Does Retrieval Practice Work?
Retrieval practice operates on the principle that active recall strengthens memory. By engaging in the act of retrieval, we not only solidify our grasp on the material but also enhance the transfer of learning to long-term memory.

What Does the Evidence Say?
Classroom studies across various subjects and age groups consistently demonstrate the positive impact of retrieval practice on learning outcomes. These studies span diverse subjects and age groups, from primary to secondary education, across subjects ranging from mathematics to language arts.

Case Study:

How I use a song to help EYFS children remember days of the week - Louise Wood, Recreation Road Infant School

What we do: We use a song to help children remember the days of the week. We begin doing this about a term after children start in Reception, as they’ve begun to settle into their daily routines by then.

We sing the song daily, usually first thing after we’ve taken the register. Everyone sings it together, and then that day’s special helper completes the daily calendar and says which day it is today.

Why we do it: We started doing this after it became apparent, from a speech and language assessment, that lots of children didn’t know the days of the week. It’s important to reinforce the names of the days, and how they relate to each other, because adults refer to them all the time, and expect children to know what they mean. For example, I might say ‚Äč“We’ll have PE on Thursday” – but unless you know the days of the week, this doesn’t mean anything. It’s also a really nice way to start the day!

Reflection: We find that children don’t really relate the names of days to the time they’re experiencing at first – they don’t automatically label each day with a name. However, they begin to make connections after a while. For example, it’s Friday, so that means we’re having fish for lunch! It’s fishy Friday!

It’s important to help children make these connections, so they can relate the names of the days to their everyday experience, and begin to see how one day follows another.