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.

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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!

girl decorating grass garden

Growing grass from seeds

There’s no better time than spring to introduce the concept of planting seeds and the growth of plants. Growing grass is a hands-on project, and will be easy for young children to carry out with minimal adult support. Look at the dry grass seed first with your group of children. How will these tiny dry grains grow into the lush green grass that covers the ground in your outdoor area? Taking a step back and thinking about this is mind-boggling even for adults, and is a great way to inspire children’s interest in nature.

Once you have grown grass in containers, you can take it a step further and create small grass gardens with the children by adding a few finishing touches. The grass gardens can be taken home as a gift for Easter or simply a spring surprise!

You can find photos that demonstrate the project along with simple instructions here.

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.

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