Learning through play is a great way to encourage independence and exploration as part of early years learning. Discover our 3 favourite activities.
Though sometimes parents may not see the method to the madness, play is a vital part of early years development. Children are fully involved in play and use their bodies, minds and emotions; they learn to be in control and confident about themselves while interacting with others. Here are a few ideas for stimulating activities which get children exploring and encourage independence.
1. Dressing up
Children love to dress up and to pretend to be other people, animals and superheroes in different settings.
Tip: Section off a role play area with curtains to make it more theatrical, and provide for all the senses with special lighting and sound effects.
2. Building a den
Outdoor environments allow for plenty of different types of play with wide spaces for movement, den building, climbing, running, and messy play.
Tip: Provide a box of den building materials such as old sheets and blankets, bamboo canes and ropes, bendy sticks and pipes.
3. Building blocks
Blocks are an open-ended resource and can take many different forms from empty food packets and boxes, to big wooden crates, and traditional wooden building blocks.
Tip: Add small world, people, animals and vehicles to a collection of different types of blocks to help children create situations and stories.
No one knows a child better than their parents, and harnessing a strong working relationship with those parents is key, especially in early years education.
Partnering with parents is key to being an Outstanding school or nursery: Parental involvement needs to be identified as highly valued by the school or nursery and should be promoted through parents’ involvement in the planning and assessment arrangements, regular review meetings, workshops and stay and play sessions.
A two-way flow of information
The key to building a good relationship is communication and that’s especially important when you’re dealing with something as fundamental as a child’s early years education. Gather examples of ways in which you enable a two-way flow of information with parents. Look at them and explore how these might be improved. Communication channels might include:
1. Send out a regular newsletter
Parents often have a lot of information to process. Keep it short and to the point with important dates highlighted. Can it be done more visually? Maybe try a video message or include lots of photos.
2. Face-to-face meetings
Do these take place at times that suit parents? Do parents feel that you have time for them; that you’re not rushing to get on to the next one?
3. Informal chats at drop off or collection times
Is there one member of staff available to talk to parents while others are settling in the children? Do you have information, photos or displays on what the children have been learning?
4. Surveys, forms and requests for evidence of home learning
Can these be made easier for parents? Can they be done online? Do you offer guidelines or examples on what you’re looking for, particularly when asking for home observations?
5. Reading records or home learning diaries
Do you offer examples of how to fill these in to get the information you need to support the learning and development of the children?