Elmore Row, Walsall, West Midlands, WS3 2HR

01922 710 132



Sandbank Nursery School

A special place to play and learn


                                              A little bit about Sustained Shared Thinking......                       

How do we support children’s sustained shared thinking?                       


Sustained shared thinking is strongly associated with high-quality teaching and learning for young children. Children who engage in sustained shared conversations are more likely to do well in school and life. Sustained shared conversation is about engaging in extra talk, rather than just responding to directions such as ‘put your jacket on’, ‘pick up’, ‘clean up’, ‘do this’, ‘don’t do that’ etc. Professor Iram Siraj-Blatchford defines it as an episode in which two or more individuals (children together, or adults and children) ‘work together’ in an intellectual way to solve a problem, clarify a concept, evaluate activities or extend a narrative etc. Both parties must contribute to the thinking, and it must develop and extend. Some strategies staff in services could use when they are engaging in sustained shared conversations with children include:


Tuning in: listening carefully to what is being said, observing body language and what the child is doing.

Showing genuine interest: giving their whole attention to the child, maintaining eye contact, affirming, smiling, nodding.

Respecting children’s own decisions and choices by inviting children to elaborate: saying things like ‘I really want to know more about this’ and listening and engaging in the response.

Re-capping: ‘So you think that … ’

Offering the adult’s own experience: ‘I like to listen to music when I cook at home.’

Clarifying ideas: ‘Right Darren, so you think that this stone will melt if I boil it in water?’

Suggesting: ‘You might like to try doing it this way.’

Reminding: ‘Don’t forget that you said that this stone will melt if I boil it.’

Using encouragement to further thinking: ‘You have really thought hard about where to put this door in the palace – where will you put the windows?’

Offering an alternative viewpoint: ‘Maybe Goldilocks wasn’t naughty when she ate the porridge?’

Speculating: ‘Do you think the three bears would have liked Goldilocks to come to live with them as their friend?’

Reciprocating: ‘Thank goodness that you were wearing wellington boots when you jumped in those puddles George. Look at my feet, they are soaking wet!’

Asking open questions: ‘How did you … ?’ ‘Why does this ... ?’ ‘What happens next?’ ‘What do you think?’ ‘I wonder what would happen if … ?’

Modelling thinking: ‘I have to think hard about what I do this evening. I need take my library books back to the library and stop off at the supermarket to get some food for tomorrow, but I just won’t have time to do all of these things.’