The Importance of Play
Play underpins the EYFS. It also underpins learning and all aspects of children’s development. Through play, children develop language skills, their emotions and creativity, social and intellectual skills. For most children their play is natural and spontaneous although some children may need extra help from adults. Play takes place indoors and outdoors and it is in these different environments that children explore and discover their immediate world. It is here they practise new ideas and skills, they take risks, show imagination and solve problems on their own or with others. The role that adults have is crucial. Adults provide time and space and appropriate resources. These might include clothes, boxes, buckets, old blankets that will inspire play and fire children’s imaginations. They observe play and join in when invited, watching and listening before intervening. They value play and provide safe but challenging environments that support and extend learning and development.
Learning Through Play: Pre-Birth to Three
Learning through Play: Three to Five
Providing high quality planned experiences for children’s play is an important way for adults to support children’s learning that is both enjoyable and challenging. When children play, they are learning at the highest level. Play can extend certain areas of their learning – for example, developing language skills by promoting talk between children or introducing new vocabulary that they use and act out in their play. One example of a planned experience for older children in the EYFS would be setting up a health centre in a classroom. Children enjoy finding out about stethoscopes and Xrays, role playing different jobs, diagnosing a sore throat and even bandaging a pretend broken arm. Such a playful approach to learning builds on children’s interests and responds to their ideas for play and also allows scope for structured activities to teach specific skills and knowledge.
“An interesting and excellent resource which is both engaging and powerful. The DVD really enables the audience to review and critique, following chapter viewings and discussions. Wonderful!”
Estelle Morris, Programme Director for Early Childhood Studies, Canterbury Christ Church University, UK
Playing to Learn exemplifies what babies’ and young children’s play and learning is like in the first three years. A DVD, case studies and examples support parents and practitioners, working in a wide range of settings, to learn more about the conditions and contexts for play and learning.
Developed as the result of a project undertaken in five early years centres in the UK, focusing on high quality experiences for children from birth to three, the resource materials are highly relevant for training and professional development, addressing significant issues relating to childcare practice.
The underlying message is that when children play they also learn, and the authors explore this in further detail by examining the following questions:
- How can we gain a better understanding of young children’s learning and development?
- How are play and learning connected for young children?
- What kinds of provision and interactions do babies and young children need?
The DVD and accompanying book are organised in such a way that it can be studied by individuals or groups led by a trainer. The sequences involved reflect everyday experiences and interactions between children and their parents or practitioners, and additional support is provided by the inclusion of selected readings, questions and challenges for consideration. The importance of observing children in order to identify and respond to their interests is emphasised throughout.
Playing to Learn is an essential resource for practitioners working with babies and toddlers in out-of-home settings; and is useful and informative for parents of young children.