Play and learning blog

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A creative approach to behaviour management

Four-year-old Jedekai was profoundly deaf and had limited mobility when he joined his nursery group. “What could I bring to the session that would really include him?” asked Anni McTavish, his teacher.

Within any group of children, there will always be a great range of different needs and behaviours. McTavish lists factors to consider in day-to-day management for all children, and offers pointers specifically around inclusion. “By injecting a sense of fun and a positive attitude into a situation,” she writes, “the learning is likely to be richer” and both the child and teacher end up winners.

Read more.

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Play prepares children for life – taking a second look at Froebel’s ideas

In 1880, Froebel, who started the first Kindergarten, wrote: “Play is the highest level of human development in childhood…It gives joy, freedom, contentment, inner and outer rest, peace with the world.”

In early education today, it’s easy for an emphasis on academic standards and meeting requirements to crowd out time to play.

“Now is an opportune time to familiarise ourselves with Froebel’s original ideas, and to use them to challenge inappropriate practices used with our youngest children,” writes Francis Wardle. Read more.

Robin with bread crumbs

Robin eggs hatch in Outlast blocks

Sometimes the best children’s learning takes place unexpectedly and in the most unlikely places. Being flexible with your plans and spaces allows children the chance to make the most of those spontaneous moments that will form lifetime memories and experiences. Last spring, Guildford Nursery School did just this as they cared for children during the first lockdown of the Covid pandemic. Robins nested in their set of Outlast blocks and this turned into a fun and amazing learning experience. “Such a joyful experience during these strange times,” wrote Anna Allen, Early Years Educator at the school.

See her letter and photos of this event here.

Have a beautiful Easter weekend!

Boy watering plant

Keeping it simple

Early years rooms can be busy, and sometimes even a little chaotic—how can we create peaceful places where focussed play and learning are inevitable? The Japanese tradition of Wabi Sabi talks about the importance of simplicity and the appreciation of natural objects. In an early years setting this could be perhaps setting out fewer resources, creating clear space and decorating it in neutral colours, and bringing nature indoors.

“Using ‘simplicity’ as one of the key principles for organising the early years setting can be surprisingly straightforward to put into practice, and it also brings many benefits to children’s well-being and development.”

Read Hilary White’s informative article to see how you can create a calmer environment and spark new interest among your children.

Nature items frozen into a disk of ice

Art and science discovery in one

Explore the concept of freezing and melting, liquids and solids with this winter-themed project. Best done in frosty cold weather, here is an activity that can take place entirely outdoors. Children will enjoy creating these ice ornaments and be intrigued with the magical end result. Find instructions and accompanying photos here.

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