Our approach to learning and development reflects on the findings within the EPPE report (Sylva et al. 2004). The report reinforced that effective settings were those who placed equal value on the participation of both adults and children and that children’s cognitive outcomes appeared to be connected to planned adult initiated activities. There was also the consideration that the freely chosen play of children provided the most successful opportunities for adults to extend children’s thinking. Siraj Blatchford (2002) reinforced the importance of the adult’s role in play stating that ‘it is not good enough to leave learning to chance’.

Play is structured in our early years setting to promote development and it is central to the foundations of learning and development in early childhood education. The Statutory Guidance highlights that for the children to progress, they need the opportunity for:

  • Playing and Exploring (Engagement)
  • Active Learning (Motivation)
  • Creating and Thinking Critically (Thinking)

“Research on successful outcomes of Early Years Provision” – both in the short term and for later success in school and as adults – has pointed to some general guidelines. The best outcomes for children’s learning occur where most of the activity within a child’s day is a mixture of:

  • Child-Initiated Play, actively supported by adults
  • Focused learning, with adults guiding the learning through playful, rich experimental activities.” (The National Strategies, 2009).

The practitioners support this process through a combination of; adult-led, guided play and child-initiated play:

  • Adult Led: The adult plans an activity and has a clear focus for the child and what they need to do, this helps the child to be involved in higher risk activities, enables children to learn new skills and concepts, supports language development.
  • Guided Play: Practitioners structure the environment around a general curricular goal that is designed to stimulate children’s natural curiosity, exploration, and play with learning orientated objects and materials.
  • Child-Directed Play: The child leads this play and the adult follows; this builds a sense of self-direction and self-confidence in the child, it fosters child language, strengthens relationships and bonds.

Information Taken From: Growing & Developing at Sleaford Day Nursery by Lia Ruddlesdin, Early Years Manager (2019).

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