Breakthrough Learning pilot programme demonstrates benefits of learning how to learn at a young age

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Reading, UK, 12 March 2019 – Breakthrough Learning, a charity working with children to help develop their thinking skills, has just completed a pilot of its Smart Thinkers programme in partnership with Rainbows Montessori nursery in Burghfield. The Breakthrough Learning team worked closely with nursery staff to share strategies developed specifically to develop children’s cognition through play using mediated learning.

Mediated learning uses human intervention (e.g. a teacher, parent, carer, peer - a mediator) to select, focus and organise information and stimuli for the benefit of a student. The approach enables students to learn new behaviour patterns and strategies that increase their ability to learn.

Vanessa Nichols, director, Breakthrough Learning explained, “Simply put, the brain is like a muscle and can be modified if 'exercised' and trained regularly and appropriately. By training the brain to use well-structured thought processes, students become more effective learners. Working with children at an early age helps to develop the core skills they need to support learning throughout their life. Skills include working systematically, problem solving, having clear understanding of a problem, understanding emotions and moderating behaviour. These are all essential skills to enable learning but are often overlooked in today’s results-driven educational environment.”

Rainbows Nursery staff involved in The Smart Thinkers trial were introduced to mediated learning techniques that will help the children develop key cognitive skills to accelerate their cognitive development and their ability to learn now and in the future.

Gillian Butler, owner of Rainbows Montessori Nursery said, “The Breakthrough Learning team asked us to think about why we do things and how we can extend the children’s learning experiences every day. We found that we already used some mediated learning without really thinking about it. But when challenged by the team to think about set activities we were able to identify some important, new strategies that can really extend the children’s learning. We really found the trial useful and I can honestly say, every parent and practitioner could benefit from the approach.”

Joanne Jones, special needs co-ordinator, Rainbow’s Montessori Nursery added, “Using the mediated learning technique has helped us to develop the children’s learning experiences much more broadly. For example, learning to count is hugely important for children and an essential life skill. But learning to count can become easier for a child when they understand why it is important and how it can help them personally now and in the future. The mediation is very logical but takes some practice. I think it is easy to become focused on teaching children how count without the child really understanding why and where counting is useful.”

After the success of The Smart Thinkers pilot programme, Breakthrough Learning is offering the Smart Thinkers training to parents and early years settings in West Berkshire. Anyone interested in the programme is invited to contact Breakthrough Learning at or to visit their website for more information


Image caption: (left to right) - Joanne Jones Special Needs Co-ordinator, Rainbows; Vanessa Nichols, Director, Breakthrough Learning; Jill Butler, Owner, Rainbows

About Breakthrough Learning

Breakthrough Learning is a charity based in Berkshire/North Hampshire. Established in 2015, Breakthrough Learning teaches the vitally important, and often overlooked, skill of learning how to learn. The unique educational technique combines mediated learning and specially designed instruments in order to identify and enhance an individual's learning potential. As a result, the learner gains the knowledge and tools required to reach beyond their abilities.

Through mediated learning, students learn new behaviour patterns and strategies which improve their ability to think independently; process information; learn effectively and manage their emotions.

Global research projects demonstrate that mediated learning is an effective and powerful learning technique. Breakthrough Learning has undertaken its own trials to demonstrate the impact of Mediated Learn in partnership with Reading and Kingston Universities. The results will be published later in 2019.

For more information:

About Rainbows Montessori Nursery

Rainbows Montessori Nursey is a privately-owned nursery which was established in September 1993. Located in the village of Burghfield Common on the outskirts of Reading, the nursery team believe children should be encouraged to become independent by learning how to choose their own activities and co-operate with others.

For more information:

Richard Boud