‘Sustained Shared Thinking’ – why is that so important?


Sustained Shared Thinking (SST) was first identified in research associated with the Effective Provision of Pre-School Education (EPPE) project in 1992. The research showed that it was a form of playful interaction closely associated with effective early years practice. A good deal has now been written about the subject but as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words and a video is probably worth a million – so this is what SST looks like in practice! Apologies for the slightly poor quality – I think the video compensates for that in terms of the qualityof the pedagogy demonstrated in this High Scope video.

In practice, SST may also be considered, more obviously to be about simply talking with children, and it may be considered to be all about supporting them in developing their oral literacy and communication skills. In the early years we know that this has real implications for their cognitive development and research continues to provide evidence of the importance of early cognitive stimulation and the quality of the language learning environment at home and in pre-schools.

The EPPE statistical analyses showed that the mother’s education and the economic circumstances of the family were both strong predictors of children’s future success in school. But the study also showed that children benefited substantially when parents supported the child’s early learning in the home. Crucially, the research showed that these educational benefits were sometimes being achieved even in impovershed households where the parents had limited educational achievement themselves.  

What parents did was more important than…Who they were.

Previous US studies associated with Head Start have found that young children perform better in pre-school when their parents are actively involved with their home computer use. But the benefits of parental involvement were not observed among children whose parents were passively involved (e.g., watched the child use the computer). Computers provide a means by which young children may be supported in their manipulation of symbols and representations on the screen allow them to distance themselves from objects and this supports the processes of verbal reflection and abstraction and provides a rich context for sustained shared thinking.  A major objective in the development of The Land of Me software was therefore to maximise the software’s potential in these terms.

Siraj-Blatchford, I. (2010) ‘Learning in the home and in school: how working class children succeed against the odds’, British Educational Research Journal 36 (3), 463-482.
Siraj-Blatchford, I., and Manni, L. (2008) “Would you like to tidy up now?” An analysis of Adult Questioning in the English Foundation Stage’, Early Years, Volume 28, 1, pp 5 – 22
McCarrick K, Li X., Fish A et al (2007) Parental Involvement in Young Children’s Computer Use and Cognitive Development. NHSA Dialog vol 10 (2): pp 67 -82
Siraj-Blatchford, I., Sylva, K.,   Muttock. S., Gilden, R., and Bell, D.  (2002) Researching Effective Pedagogy in the Early Years DfES Research Report 365 Queen’s Printer. HMSO London


One Response to “‘Sustained Shared Thinking’ – why is that so important?”

  1. this guy Says:

    Very energetic article, I loved that bit. Will there
    be a part 2?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: