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Play and Learning in the Early Years

In English preschools, play can be an integral part of the curriculum, founded on the fact that children learn through self-initiated free play within an exploratory environment (Hurst, 1997; cited in Curtis, 1998). It had been only in the first 1920s that play was connected directly to children's development. The writings of such early on educationists, as Froebel, the Macmillan sisters, Montessori, Steiner, and Susan and Nathan Isaacs, sowed the seeds for play being the basis for early child years curricula.

According to Froebel, play is "the work of the kid" and an integral part of "the educational process" (ref). The Plowden Record (CACE, 1967) suggests that play is the main means of learning in early on youth. "In play, children steadily develop ideas of causal associations, the energy to discriminate, to make judgements, to analyze and synthesize, to assume and formulate" (The Plowden Record (CACE, 1967 (p. 193).

In our world, play serves countless important purposes. It is a means where children develop their physical, intellectual, psychological and sociable skills. Much has been discussed the definitions, functions and characteristics of play, for example Janet Moyles (1989) writes that "Play is without a doubt a means by which humans and animals explore a variety of experiences in various situations for diverse purposes. " (Moyles 1989, p i).

There are two conflicting ideas on the worthiness of play, Early on Years practitioners and some parents consider that play is the simplest way for young children to obtain a concrete basis for later school and life success. While other parents, practitioners and politicians believe play is a throw away of their time. (quote). Like a practitioner it's important to understand the true value of play and advocate children's right to play.

This article analyses the elements of an early years setting up that support and encourage learning, contrasting it with an alternative solution early year's options, while evaluating the value of effective communication with babies and young children. It will debate the value of differentiation and addition in planning the early year's curriculum. In addition the essay includes compare different configurations to see how they relate with known ideas of child development. Furthermore strategies of play-based activities will be included showing support of the curriculum in the setting up.

Profile of environment.

The university where I am currently in placement is situated inside a woodland area surrounded by houses in Colchester, Essex. The school happens to be providing education for 4-11 calendar year olds and has about one hundred and sixty children on role. The institution was originally created in 1890, but was changed to its current site in the 1970s after a flames broke out. The school is a Cathedral of England college and encourages the children to have a Christian view, with assembles and indications around the school. The feel of the school is a friendly, supportive, family originated environment, which is child centered. The sort of child who attends the institution is on average a child who will always do their best no matter what their history. The classes community is mixed race but has a high percentage of mainly white British families, the school has 38% free university meals, in August '09 experienced the best jobseeker allowance attendance and has a higher percentage of families on property and benefits. The region that the institution can be found is a renovation area that the Local Council are trying to regenerate. Within the two wards Essex State council and Colchester Borough Council the community have 2. 3% rented property and 10. 5% housing. The Local Power average is 11. 85% which has almost double over the years. The school is above Local expert avenge and above countrywide avenge which clarifies the ratio of free college meals. Many of the house holds in the community have no formal education and there is a raised percentage of children that are involved in social care. There are 4 children on the kid safeguard register, 3 children that are 'viewed after' and 1 child on the kid in need plan. The institution has an equivalent amount of children in each course but there are one or two classes that have slightly more children than young girls which can inflict on learning styles and requirements.

The vision of the school is:

"We live a inviting, happy and caring chapel school, where imagination is inspired and everyone has assurance in their own ability. We promote good interpersonal skills and involvement in the Religious ethos of our school. We value others whatever their backdrop or values and respect the environment. We always aim high and do our best, treasure our friendships and value everyone's right to learn. We ensure that the key skills, vital for a successful future are educated to all or any of our children. We shoot for a shiny and wonderful future!" (Ref)

The school works together with a number of organisations in the community. The first is Child First, which is the collaborative name for the three Local Delivery Teams (LDG) of the universities in Colchester. The group first emerged out of the desire of Mind Instructors in East Colchester, who wished to improve the life chances for the kids in their institutions. With the introduction of the Prolonged Schools Agenda, it was a natural progression to extend the group to include all academic institutions in Colchester.

Also lying in the centre of the community is the chapel, which has a congregation of around 100 people. With differing age ranges, a variety of backgrounds and Christian experiences, the institution finds itself highly united to the church as a reverend from the parish visits the school regularly.

Also the Ormiston Children and Families Trust works together with the school to market the wellbeing of children and teenagers through projects founded round the Eastern Region. The Ormiston Centres work together with Essex Region Council, voluntary and statutory organisations, households and communities they are controlling the seven Children's Centres in Colchester.

LO1 - Compare setting with an alternative - analyse the components of a chosen early on years setting that support and encourage learning, comparing it with alternate early year adjustments.

What does the setting up do to aid and encourage learning?

Current setting up:

The Early on Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) pertains to children from labor and birth to the end of the reception 12 months. In our institution all children become a member of us at the start of the institution year in which they are simply five. At present we have an consumption of 28 children. Most have been to settings that exist in our community and many have attended the pre-school located on the school campus.

At the school we recognise that each child is a competent learner that can be resilient, capable, assured and self promised. We recognise that children develop in individual ways, at varying rates. Children's behaviour and dispositions to learning are inspired by reviews from others; we use reward and encouragement, as well as special event/ sharing assemblies and rewards, to encourage children to develop a good attitude to learning.

In the Foundation Stage we place genuine and challenging objectives that meet up with the needs of our children. We accomplish that by likely to meet up with the needs of children, children with special educational needs, children who tend to be able, children with disabilities, children from all cultural and ethnical backgrounds, children of different ethnic groups and those from diverse linguistic backgrounds.

We meet up with the needs of all our kids through:

Planning opportunities that build upon and extend children's knowledge, experience and pursuits, and develop their self-esteem and self-confidence;

Using a variety of teaching strategies based on children's learning needs;

Providing an array of opportunities to inspire and support children also to help them to learn effectively;

Providing a safe and supportive learning environment where the contribution of all children is valued;

Using resources which reflect variety and are clear of discrimination and stereotyping;

Planning challenging activities for children whose ability and understanding are in advance of their vocabulary and communication skills;

Monitoring children's improvement and taking action to provide support as necessary.

At the school we recognize that the environment performs an integral role in supporting and stretching the children's development. This begins by observing the kids and evaluating their hobbies, development and learning, before planning challenging but achievable activities and activities to extend the children's learning.

We make regular assessments of children's learning and we utilize this information to ensure that future planning shows identified needs. Diagnosis in the EYFS needs several different forms. These provide information which is then mixed to inform comprehensive pictures of whole individuals.

The classrooms are structured to permit children to explore and find out securely and carefully. A couple of areas where in fact the children can be dynamic, be tranquil and rest. The school has excellent back yard provision. This has a positive influence on the children's development. Being outside offers opportunities for doing things in different ways and on different scales than when indoors. It provides the children to explore use their senses and be physically productive and exuberant. We plan activities and resources for the kids to access outside the house that help the kids to develop in all 6 areas of learning.

At the institution we notice that children learn and develop in various ways and at different rates. We believe all our children matter and we give them every opportunity to achieve their finest. We do that by taking accounts of your children's range of life experience when planning for their learning.

Active learning occurs when children are determined and interested. Children have to have some self-reliance and control over their learning. As children develop their assurance they learn to make decisions. It offers children with a feeling of satisfactions as they take possession of the learning.

Children should be given opportunity to be creative through all areas of learning, not only through the arts. Individuals can support children's thinking and help these to make contacts by demonstrating genuine interest, offering encouragement, clarifying ideas and asking open questions. Children can gain access to resources easily and are allowed to move them across the classroom to increase their learning.

Different setting up:

The Montessori's' basic principle understanding was that children are not merely 'small parents' they may have distinct and different thought operations and dreams. What we might call play is a child's work. The role of the educator is to supply the child with the opportunity to fulfil their prefer to learn, both academically and socially. To utilize the latest educational capture phrases, Montessori education is "multi-modality, differentiated training. " (Ref).

The Montessori method is put into five 'areas'. 'Practical Life', 'Sensorial', 'Mathematics', 'Words', and 'Cultural'. The Practical Life area improves the child's coordination and electric motor control, producing the pincer grip which really is a requirement of writing. The Sensorial area refines the child's senses of the world around them, again finding your way through vocabulary, and also for maths, serializing period and other physical characteristics. The Mathematics area provides numerical concepts in concrete form, using beads, cards, and spindles. The Terminology area teaches letters, then their phonetic noises, and then develops words. The Cultural area extends the child's understanding beyond the class room, teaching research, geography, botany, zoology and record.

The teachers at a Montessori university observe their children in great fine detail requesting the questions, what does this child understand? What is the next principle this child must learn?

Obviously, a Montessori class will not resemble a normal classroom. Rarely, if, do you want to find the whole class sitting with the books out looking at the teacher show them how to fill in a worksheet. Instead you will notice children, some in communities, some independently, working on different ideas, and the teacher sitting with a small band of children, usually on the floor around a mat.

Some people speak about the lack of "structure" in a Montessori School room. They hear the word "freedom" and think "chaos" or "free for all". They seem to be to think that if all children are not doing the same thing at the same time that they can't possibly be working or that they will be working only on the things that they need and their education will be lopsided. Children will be given a work plan or a agreement and will need to complete a range of educational activities exactly like in a more traditional classroom. The primary difference being that the activities will be at each child's "maximum airplane of development", will be provided and practiced in a manner that the child recognizes, and the child will possess the liberty to choose which he/she does first.

LO2 - Communication - Evaluate the value of effective communication with infants and young children.

Communication is a complex and important skill that is fundamental to human associations, because humans appear primed to converse from delivery and we often underestimate the abilities that must be developed if babies and children are to be sociable and effective communicators. The play encounters children need in order to become skilful communicators are those that cause them to become want to talk to others you need to include not only verbal but also non-verbal responses such as activity of their entire body.

LO3 - Differentiation

Differentiation is the popularity of and dedication to arrange for student differences. A differentiated class room provides different strategies to obtain content, to process or make sense of information and ideas, also to develop products.

Differentiation can be referred to as an educational idea that requires instructors to modify their learning, educating and analysis whilst adjusting the curriculum to the needs of children with SEN rather than anticipating pupils to fit the existing curriculum (Cole 2008 cited in Rogers, 2007).

The background of differentiation in education can be linked to two influential psychologists. Vygotsky suggested that learning can be mediated through the treatment of others. This recognises that insurance agencies knowledge of just what a child already has learned should inform the next stage of learning and what interventions are essential to enable successful learning. Gardner (1993) proposed a 'theory of multiple intelligences' where folks have different intelligences and learn in many various ways. Gardner conceived that colleges should therefore offer 'individual-centred education' (Florian et al, 2006 cited in Humphreys and Lewis 2008b) where learning is personalized to the child's specific needs.

Lo4 - 2 different early yr curricula.

The idea behind Forest Classes is that it's a long term sustainable method of outdoor play and learning. It's about providing children with all natural development; it talks about all areas in terms of these physical development, intellectual development and cognitive skills, also looking at their linguistic and terms, both verbal and non-verbal. Forest Universities also looks at their emotional, cultural development and religious development.

What's interesting about the culture in a few Scandinavian countries is being in and outside are an integral part of the way the family and culture works. However in Britain children are getting increasingly more isolated from the natural world. Forest Schools is very much about providing children the possibility to learn in and from character.

Forest Academic institutions is also about free play, it's about self applied directed learning but it's also about allowing the children to develop freedom and choice in order to be in a position to become skilled and effective adults.

In Every Chid Issues it claims that 'every child should make an equal contribution'. (Ref). The only way that children can do this is if they have sensible self-esteem and reasonable psychological well-being and sound social skills and function in as many sociable situations as they choose. Forest Schools is about allowing children given their developmental dependant time the capability to be able to achieve cultural comfort.

Forest Schools can be an inspirational process which allows children to gain access to the yard to be able to increase and develop into successful, happy round individuals. There is a misunderstanding that Forest Universities is for Early Years; a few of the most successful assignments have been with aged young people, adults with mental health problems and children in supplementary education. (Ref). The. . . . . . . . . . about allowing children and young people to increase with a feeling of value of who they are and giving a positive contribution. It's about using characteristics as the tutor as opposed to being adult business lead.

LO5 - Activity Programs and Evaluation.

Plan - (see appendix. . . . . . . ), Rationale behind choice of activity and Learning Purpose.

This activity was chosen as the reception school were taking a look at the Handa Surprise book and focusing on healthy foods. Your day the activity was completed a new pupil was present along with his mother which added extra pressure for all your professionals. The training environment offered opportunities for the kids to experience tasting different fruits as your kitchen area was adjacent to the table in which the activity was completed. It placing also had a sizable copy of the story so all the kids could actually see the storyline (for Communication, Dialect and Literacy) and experienced the provisions to build the masks (Creative Development).

I thought the topic would lend itself to another day's subject of healthy lunchboxes, that your whole institution were concentrating on. I thought we would give attention to any existing knowledge the kids may have of different fruits and try and extend their understanding of way fruits are best for us. This leads into Early Learning Goal (. . . ) of '. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . '(QCA, 2000).

My main learning target, therefore, was to add the kids to new fruits and preferences, using words and listening to each other to determine what each child thought, within an accessible and gratifying environment, so to encourage respect for each and every other's views and transform taking.

What took place?

The week before undertaking the activity, i prepared the resources needed in institution and discussed the other activities that my fellow professionals would perform. This engaged printing, reducing and laminating the required pictures and masks. Also finding all the several fruits which were in the story. One fruit specifically i was unable to find but i improvised with a berries drink that was made from the fruit so at least the children were able to flavor the favour.

I completed this activity with a mixed ability group of 9 children. I started out by asking the kids to wash their hands as these were going to be eating berry. When all the children were back in their car seats, i gave all of them a bowl and a cup. I asked the kids if indeed they could bear in mind the fruits in the storyline of Hands Delight which was read earlier. The kids seemed to have a positive attitude about being able to remember. With a small copy of the booklet i asked the kids which was the first berries that the monkey required out of Handa's basket. When solved in slice the banana in portions and gave each young one a bit and asked questions such as 'what does the banana taste like?' 'How does it feel?' 'Do you like the banana?' The kids gave mostly good information of the berry and used appropriate vocabulary such as 'creamy', 'slippery' and 'lovely'. I completed the same workout of lowering the fruit into areas and transferring a section to each young one and requesting them to spell it out what it tasted like and exactly how it believed and if they enjoyed it. Together with the Guava fruit that was the fruit i possibly could not purchase i prepared the children of the problem and demonstrated them the picture of the fruit on the carton of juice. I gave each child a flavour and asked their option, the entire option was that the berry tasted 'delicious' but one child said that they 'didn't like it'. The best interesting discussion emerged once i asked the kids what they thought the enthusiasm fruit would look like inside, one young child said that 'it might look like an orange', the same child having said that the banana was creamy (expansion). Overall the majority of the children savored the super fruit tasting apart from one (standard) child who placed supplying negative reactions to the fruits declaring that he 'doesn't eat fruits at home'. I got happy a least he attempted some that i offered great encouragement to.

While the super fruit was being consumed i transferred around picture cards of the berry and asked each child in turn to pronounce the name of the berry after me, most children had no problems with the pronunciations but one young child battled with 'avocado'.

I encouraged each young one to truly have a little taste of every fruit and if they didn't like it they didn't have to eat it and 'well done for seeking' was always motivated. The extension child suggested that 'trying different fruits was good for us', 'as berry was best for us'. Which in turn lead a kid that was refusing to get one of these certain fruit, tried out it? At one point the dismissive child asked if we were completed and could go and play.

Once all the kids had attempted all the fruit and we'd reviewed them and i asked the ultimate question that was everyone favourite and their least favourite, the overall final result being orange best, avocado worst. I discussed that the children could go put their bowls in the sinks and clean their hands and then go and play.


I imagine this activity resulted in all the children achieving the main learning goal of introducing the kids to new fruits and preferences, using words and hearing each other to learn what each young one thought and also to encourage respect for each and every other's views and change taking. The theory that the children's peer could affect the decision of another child. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

An effective learning environment will not leave children totally with their own devices, but develops on what they can already do and troubles them to try new things. The role of the specialist is vital in this technique and rests within the interpersonal constructivist approach to learning. This theory was popularised by Vygotsky (1978, in Smith, 1999), who recognized the 'zone of proximal development', (ZPD) to be a reason children's learning can be helped by others. Smith (1999) explained:

'The ZPD is the length between your child's developmental level and his / her potential degree of development under the guidance of adults or more skilled peers' (Smith, 1999: 429).

As this is a 'hands on' activity, the kids were taking a dynamic part in their own learning improvement. It had been Piaget (1966, in Smith, 1999) who first postulated that the kid is a 'lone scientist', control information and constructing meaning through encounters with their world. A lot of the children focused their focus on the fruits they savored using positive vocabulary and engaging in the capability to use words to spell it out what something tasted like or noticed. One child tried to extend the activity to see who the berries sounded when bounced up for grabs stating ' the orange sounded just like a ball', this then encouraged the children to continue testing the does sound of fruit by knocking on them. The (extension) child asked 'if there was nothing in the super fruit would it appear the same'?

The relative success of this activity outlined that children of this age group learn best through concrete experience. Whenever using children of this generation it is preferable to adopt teaching strategies which enable plenty of sensible activities and exploration.

The fact that one child lost fascination with the activity, means that I might need to develop this activity in some way to keep the attention of the less able or enthusiastic children. This was particularly notice when requesting some children to work with descriptive words to describe the fruit, as some children just repeated the term that their peer before them used. The language of one child had not been as developed as the other children in the group, and this excluded them from full involvement.

On reflection, another type of teaching strategy might have been employed to require them more completely in to the activity. Maybe these were more of a kinaesthetic learner than others, as he keep taking a look at the children playing, so maybe using an activity that involved movements may have kept his attention.

Also the activity was extended much longer than anticipated as i had the lower each individual berries into segments. If this activity was done again in the foreseeable future maybe trimming the berries into segments prior to the activity occurred will be a more successful methodology.

As a result of this evaluation, i would have improved my intend to include more opportunities for the children to be involved in the experience in a far more physical way, perhaps by using protection acceptable knives the children could help me cut the fruit. This might help some of the children with their fine motor unit skills as well. Also one other way of engaging less able children might include requesting them to participate in the planning of the resources, maybe by asking these to bring their preferred fruit from the storyplot in so they feel they have got a far more 'personal' involvement. Finally, the only thing I would change would be to ask the kids to put on aprons, as it got very messy, including me, as i too received very messy.


In conclusion recently there has begun to be always a realization in the united kingdom that play is important. There has been a surge of initiatives funded by administration, such as Arts Council jobs on creative imagination in classes and neighborhoods, the publication of Excellence and Fun by the National Primary Strategy (DfES, 2003). This is putting a significant emphasis on the value of embedding the Foundation Level and the Delivery to Three Concerns Framework in the task of local specialists across the maintained, voluntary and private sectors.

Increasingly, research studies indicate the value of the first many years of education. Children's potential to work with spoken and written terms fluently and with confidence and for a range of purposes permits them to access at an early age what education provides. The adults employed in early year's configurations and classrooms have both the ability and responsibility to have an impact on the near future learning of the pupils in a far reaching and powerful way.

Play is, it seems, about the universe and everything. It often has to function in a hostile environment, but when it is encouraged, supported and extended, it makes a significant contribution to, and sophisticated impact on the development of individuals and humanity as a whole.

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