Play is central to the development of children which helps them make sense of the world they live in and they learn by playing, exploring and trying things out.
From 2008, child minders, nurseries, pre-schools and reception classes are required to pursue the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), and will be checked under this framework by OfSTED. The EYFS has been planned to provide support and direction to all those working with children up to the age of 5 in how best to enable children to feel safe and supported and to extend their learning and development.
In EYFS, stress is placed upon understanding that each child and their family are unique, with different needs and concerns. Effective practitioners should be asking themselves 'What sort of child is this and how am I going to support their development and learning?' The EYFS has rightly set the relationship between practitioner and child at its core because we have a very special, influential and vitally important role as we support, facilitate, model, reflect, evaluate and engage with children along their learning journey. www.foundation-stage.info
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Children's learning and development is from 6 areas
- personal social & emotional development;
- communication, language and literacy;
- problem solving, reasoning and numeracy;
- knowledge and understanding of the world;
- creative development;
- physical development
They bring together the skills, understanding and experiences appropriate for babies and children as they grow up, learn thing and develop.
Children's development happens generally in six overlapping phases
- birth - 11 months,
- 8 - 20 months,
- 16 - 26 months,
- 22 - 36 months,
- 30 - 50 months
- and 40 - 60 months.
The overlap is planned to emphasise the fact that are differences between the development of children in different varying of learning, and between children of similar ages.
It strengthens the principle that children learn and develop in different ways and at different rates but also that all areas of learning and development are equally important and are interconnected.
There are a number of current influences on play and a couple are highlighted below.
Their are a number of points where Forest Schools encourage and inspire children of any age through positive outdoor experiences.
Forest Schools aim to develop:
- The personal development of the children so that there personal confidence, self esteem, self awareness, and social skills improve
- A wider range of physical skills
- Understanding of natural and man made environments
- Understanding of environmental issues
- Self Regulation, Intrinsic Motivation, Empathy, Good social communication skills, Independence and a positive mental attitude.
Forest School create a unique learning environment they are used to support a range of individuals, community groups and larger organisations to use their local open space for play, health, activity and personal development uses. The children would be encouraged to learn through play in the forests and develop their imagination through play
Forest Schools originated in Sweden in the 1950s when children were taught outside. They learnt about the world and nature and the environment through stories, songs and activities with woodland materials. The first Forest School in Britain was initiated by Bridgwater College 10 years ago.
Forest Schools use the open space to help children learn practical and social skills as well as freedom. From as young as 5 years old, children can sit around a fire and learn how important it is to treat fire respectfully.
Child Care and Education - pg 289
Started in Italy in the late 1940's after the war. The aim is based on the ideas that a child is creative competent learner who discover in collaboration with adults and other children so they develop social learning. The basic idea of Reggio is believing in the importance of discovery, both indoor and outdoor, learning environments are stimulating and that children should reflect on their learning and document their own learning.
There are seven points that Reggio is based on
- Creative thinking / using their imagination
- Exploring and discovery / finding things out on their own
- Free play
- Following childrens interests / doing what they enjoy
- Valuing, encouraging all ways children express themselves
- Asking children to talk about ideas and to expand on them
- Asking children to re-visit their ideas
Always on Time
Marked to Standard
There are also some central approaches to the Reggio Emelia approach
- Low adult to children ratios
- Teachers as learners and reflective practioners.
Child Care and Education - pg 289
Child Development - pg 155
What is child development theories? There are many theories and research , national and local initiatives as well as policies, physical, intellectural, emotion and social as well as psychological reasons such as security and safety,lifestyle,play .
Technological reasons also affect child development
Child development theories are sets of principles that are designed to predict and explain something. Over the years, psychologists and scientists had devised many theories which help explain observations and discoveries about child development.
Also, providing a broader framework of understanding, a good theory allows educated guesses about aspects of development that are not yet clearly understood.
These ideas provide the basis for research. A theory also has practical value. When a parent, educator, therapist, or policymaker makes decisions that affect the lives of children, a well-founded theory can guide them in responsible ways.
Child development theories can also limit understanding, such as when a poor theory misleadingly emphasizes unimportant influences on development and underestimates the significance of other factors.
The regulation states that "Play underpins the delivery of all the EYFS" and has many constant reminders throughout the guidance for practitioners to aid child initiated learning through play.
The effective practitioner is tuning into children's interests and thoughts so that you can tap into what they love and know which stimulate and inspire.
Play is also at the forefront of the EYFS's delivery and can be the start for everyone involved. You can enrich young childrens' lives by being reflective and be a well equipped facilitators enjoying the learning journey with them!
The EYFS programme is about improving chances for life for all children, by giving them all an opportunity to have the best possible start, regardless of their family status or circumstances or where they attend. The EYFS delivers improved outcomes for all children, across all areas of development and learning.
The Childcare Bill seeks to establish a single standard phase of development for all children, as it set the 10 year strategy for childcare 'Choice for parents, the best start for children'. Its provides a flexible system that helps and supports childrens development from birth, when they will interact with adults that are trained and experienced; in environments that are safe, caring and loving.
The Early Years Foundation Stage - is a central part of the ten year childcare strategy:
- Ensuring a consistent approach to care and learning from birth to the end of the Foundation Stage.
- Incorporating elements of the National Standards.
- Has a play-based approach
- Focuses on stages of development rather than chronological, age based teaching and learning
The overarching aim of the EYFS is to help children achieve the Every Child Matters five outcomes:
- Staying safe
- Being healthy
- Enjoying and achieving
- Making a positive contribution
- Achieving economic wellbeing
The EYFS principles are grouped into 4 themes
- A unique child.
- Positive Relationships
- Enabling Environments
- Learning and Development
Principle - Every child is a competent learner from birth who can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured
Principle - Children learn to be strong and independent from a base of loving and secure relationships with parents and/or a key person
Principle - The environment plays a key role in supporting and extending children's development and learning
Principle - Children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates and all areas of learning and development are equally important and inter-connected.
The theorists, Piaget, and Vygotsky, both viewed the significance about the role of play and learning in the early years. Both found it to be a vital part of a child's development.
Piaget's idea of self discovery suggested that children needed minimal adult interactions to help them learn through life. He believed that the children tried, without adult help, to make sense of the world and understand what was going on around them. He also had similar thoughts on his theory of child language acquisition. He had a idea notion that play was a window that reflected the goings on in the life of a child.
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Vygotsky saw it differently. He suggested that children are social learners, and liked to explore and discover new things with the help of adults and not without. This was his 'scaffolding theory' and the 'zone of proximal development'.
Bruner said that when the children get older they stop learning new things.They start to build on what they already know. If children were left to teach themselves, as Piaget said, the child may not learn all they need to know, eg Maths. The subject of Maths needs adult help and teachings ensure that the children understand correctly, and that the necessary information is being learnt. Also some children, even in a play situation, will continually return to the same area and objects because it is their comfort zone. Evidently this way the child will fail to benefit from the learning
Bandura's Social Learning Theory modified traditional learning theory which was based on stimulus-response relationships. It considered learning to be no different among infants, children, adults, or even animals. Bandura's approach is influential in the treatment of problem behaviors and disorders.
Learning can be based on a spiral approach (Janet Moyles 1989)which starts with free-play.It allows children to explore e.g. To explore water using equipment provided. e.g. To explore how to change the size of a splash. Can they make a small splash, can you make a big splash? It is vital to allow children the chance to practise the skill they have learnt through lone and peer supported play.
"Children's play reflects their wide ranging and varied interests and pre-occupations. In their play children learn at their highest level. Play with peers is important for children's development."
Through play children learn experiences by exploring and developing, which help them make sense of the world. They practice and build up ideas, and learn how to control themselves and understand the need for rules. They have the opportunity to think creatively alongside other children as well as on their own. They communicate with others as they investigate and solve problems. They express fears or re-live anxious experiences in controlled and safe situations.
Observing children is different from being alert and noticing what is happening around you. Observations have to be focused and carried out in an order to plan for and assess children in a purposeful manner
The information below gives advice on the following on some principles for observational assessment, and how they can be put them into practice:
- Assessment must have a reason and a purpose.
- Continuous observation of children participating in every day activities is the most suitable way of building up an accurate picture of what the children know, understand and feel, what they are interested in and what they can do.
- Practitioners should plan observations and also be ready to capture the spontaneous but important moments.
- Judgement of children's development and learning must be based on skills, knowledge, understanding and behaviour that are demonstrated consistently and independently.
- Effective assessment takes equal account of all aspects of the child's development and learning.
- Accurate assessments are reliant upon taking account of contributions from a range of perspectives.
- Assessments must actively engage parents in developing an accurate picture of the child's development.
- Children must be fully involved in their own assessment.
- Record keeping is important and are an important tool to help practitioners and children's attainment and progress.
A multi professional approach when working with children and parents is important as it helps children not 'to slip through the net'.
Communication is the biggest part of the multi - professional team, as everyone needs to know what is going on.
The multi professional approach team is made up of a lot of different agencies, they are agencies including Schools and teachers, Hospitals and doctors, Social workers, Police and many more. They all work together to help parents and children to stop tragic cases such as death, child abuse, etc.
Multi professional approach allows professionals share knowledge about a family needs so that the parents don't have to ask the same questions over and over again.
The professionals are aware of each others roles in supporting the family so that conflicting advice can be minimise. It is essential that each agency communicates well and understands not only there role and responsibilities but the others agencies as well.
Parents/guardians are the most important people in a child's life, and recognise the importance of this. We have a responsible role that involves sharing care of the child with parents/guardians; listen to parents/guardians, as they are the 'expert' on their child.
Every Child Matters is a important part of the curriculum. Its aims as agreed by leaders, teachers and other education professionals and is about promoting childrens wellbeing and enabling them to develop their potential as healthy, enterprising and responsible citizens.
Every Child Matters states that every child, whatever their social upbringing or circumstances, should have the help they need to be healthy, stay safe, enjoy and achieve, make a positive contribution, achieve economic wellbeing
These five outcomes need to be at the centre of everything a nursery or school does and reinforced through every aspect of its curriculum- lessons, events, routines, the environment in which children learn and what they do out of school.
Providers involved in the care and education of young children from birth to five follows rules from the Department for Children, Schools and Families. These rules are intended to support practitioners to meet the diverse needs of all children, enabling them to enjoy and achieve.
Children birth to three years
Care, learning and development for babies and children up to three is available at a variety of settings including day nurseries, registered pre schools and childminders. Practitioners use the Birth to Three Matters Framework to support the young children in their care. The Framework:
- values and celebrates babies and children
- recognises their individuality, efforts and achievements
- recognises that all children from birth develop and learning though interaction with people and exploration of the world around them
- recognises the 'holistic' nature of development and learning
The child is at the centre of the Birth to Three Matters Framework. It highlights four Areas which mark the skill and competence of babies and young children and shows the links between growth, learning, development and the importance of the environment in which they are cared for and educated.
These four areas are
- A Strong Child
- A Skilful Communicator
- A Competent Learner
- A Healthy Child
All children, whichever provision they attend, will experience a play based curriculum of planned, independent and adult led activities. These experiences may take place indoors and/or outdoors and will aim to develop knowledge, skills and understanding in the following areas:
Personal, Social and Emotional Development
Helps children to mix and form relationships with individuals and groups, playing and learning co-operatively. Children are supported to develop a positive sense of themselves and an awareness of the needs and feelings of others
Communication, Language and Literacy
Children are supported to develop skills in talking and listening, reading and writing. They are introduced to a rich learning environment where these skills are valued.
Mathematical understanding is developed through a variety of practical activities based on every day situations. Children are supported to develop mathematical ideas and use related vocabulary while taking part in sorting, matching, ordering, counting, pattern making and working with numbers, shapes and measures.
Knowledge and Understanding of the World
Children are encouraged to be curious, to ask questions, to experiment and solve problems to help them make sense of the world they live in. A variety of practical experiences build the foundation for later learning about science, design and technology, information and communication technology, history, geography and religious education.
Young children are supported to develop physical control, co- ordination and manipulation, confidence and ability to move in different ways and handle large and small equipment. Children learn how their bodies work and how to stay active, safe and healthy.
Children have opportunities to take part in a range of creative experiences. As their imagination develops they have opportunities to communicate and express their ideas and feelings in a number of ways through artwork, music, dance and role play.
These six areas of learning are of equal importance and through activities and experiences children learn and develop in a holistic manner.
Parents are children's first educators and are highly valued in the contribution that they make.
The role that parents have played, and their future role, in educating the children do this through:
- before their child starts in our school talk to parents about their child;
- children have the chance to spend time with their teacher before starting at a nursery school by having "Induction Session".
- Giving parents regular opportunities to talk about their child's progress
- Giving free access to their children's "Learning Journey" record books .
- Encouraging parents to talk to their child's teachers about any concerns they may have.
- A range of activities throughout the year that will encourage collaboration between child, nursery school and parents. Ie.fund raising days, themed activity days, concerts like Harvest Festival, nativity, Easter and leavers concert.
- Have 2 formal meetings per year (Autumn and Summer term) with parents to discuss the child's progress and development.
All staff who are involved with EYFS should aim to develop good relationships with children and interact with them and take time to listen to the children.
Recognising diversity is about recognising that children can come from lots of different backgrounds and family structures and this could be from the language they speak, culture and beliefs.
Diversity means responding in a positive manner to differences, valuing all people.
- All children are citizens and have rights and entitlements.
- Children should be treated fairly regardless of race, religion or abilities. This applies no matter:
- what they think or say
- what type of family they come from
- what language(s) they speak
- what their parents do
- whether they are girls or boys
- whether they have a disability or whether they are rich or poor.
- All children have an equal right to be listened to and valued in the setting.
Improving the physical environment - physical aids to access education such as ICT equipment and portable aids for children with motor co-ordination and poor hand/eye skills. New buildings should be physically accessible to disabled pupils and will involve improving access to existing buildings including ramps, wider doors, low sinks, etc
Improving the delivery of information to disabled children at nurserys or schools - The information should take account of pupils' disabilities and parents' preferred formats and be made available
All children should be treated in the same way regardless of race, religion or abilities. Nno matter what they think or say, what type of family they come from, what language(s) they speak, what their parents do, whether they are girls or boys or whether they have a disability or whether they are rich or poor.
All children have an equal right to be listened to and valued in the setting and all children have a need to develop, which is helped by exploring and discovering the people and things around them.
Some children's development may be at risk, for example children who are disabled and those with special educational needs , those from socially excluded families, such as the homeless or those who live with a parent who is disabled or has a mental illness, children from traveller communities, refugees or asylum seekers and those from diverse linguistic backgrounds.
All children are entitled to enjoy a full life in conditions which will help them take part in society and develop as an individual, with their own cultural and spiritual beliefs. Practitioners ensure that their own knowledge about different cultural groups is up-to-date and consider their own attitudes to people who are different from themselves.
In the UK, children are being raised in a society with many sources of enriching diversity. Good early years practice needs to sustain this from the earliest months of babyhood. Practitioners need to work to create a encouraging learning environment. Play materials, books and other resources can be on hand in a helpful way by reflecting on how young children learn about culture and cultural uniqueness.
Diversity and inclusion is also linked to legislation such the Childrens Act 1989, SEN act 2001, Rights of Children 1989 and the Race Relations Act 1976. Also included is the Disability Act 2004.
Children like experiencing food, music or dance forms that reflect their own family and neighbourhood experiences. Early childhood is a good time to offer opportunities that enable children to stretch beyond the familiar. Children can learn to appreciate cultural diversity in styles of art, craft, music and dance. All opportunities need to be well grounded in positive pride for the styles common in every child's own background.
Learning about identity and cultural diversity can help young people to live and work together in diverse communities, both in this country and the wider world. It can also help them develop their identity and sense of belonging which are fundamental to personal well-being and the achievements of a flourishing and cohesive society.
The United Kingdom already has of a large range of ethnicities, cultures, languages, beliefs and religions. These are not staying still but are constantly changing and interacting, so that everyone can identify with different aspects of their heritage in different situations. Diversity also cover, social class, regional differences, gender, sexual orientation, religious and non-religious beliefs and values.
Young people need to develop the ability to see themselves as part of this diversity, and to reflect on who they are. Schools can give them the opportunity to explore their identities in a safe and positive environment, and to discuss what is important to them and their families. This develops a sense of belonging to a community that values them and improves their understanding of what binds people in communities together. When individuals recognise and value their own culture, beliefs and traditions, they can better understand how others develop their identities.
The identity and cultural diversity curriculum dimension helps learners to gain a broad understanding of the country they are growing up in: its past, its present and its future. They learn about its range of cultures and traditions, its political system, values and human rights, how it has evolved to be as it is, and in particular, how they are able to contribute through democratic participation to its future development.
- Child Care and Education - Tassoni. P. (2007). Heinemann (Harcourt Education Limited). Oxford , England
- Child Development - Meggitt. C. (2006). Heinemann (Pearson Education Limited). Harlow, England
- Department of education and Skills (DFES) 2007 -
- Early Childhood Studies, Willan, Parker-Rees, Savage: (2004) :Learning Matters ltd