1.1 Within a setting practitioners have to follow and refer to all relevant early years framework. This framework is relevant to all children aged 0-5 who attend a playgroup, preschool or a nursery/ reception class at school. The framework clearly sets out all the legal requirements that the practitioners must meet. In section 2 of the framework the legal requirements relating to a child’s learning and development are explained and set out. This section explains the early learning goals, educational programmes and assessment arrangements. Section 3 of the EYFS framework explains the legal requirements regarding a child’s welfare.
This section sets out principles and requirements about safeguarding and promoting a child’s welfare, what suitable environment, setting and equipment would consist of and the organisation/ documentation regarding the child and their education. This framework provides guidance for practitioners which allows them access to useful advice and detailed information when supporting a child’s learning, development and welfare. This help them to improve their practice which helps give children a better start to their life in education as the practitioner will understand how to help them move forward with their learning and development yet still be safe and comfortable within the setting.
Practitioners would be able to refer to national guidelines such as Ofsted. Guidelines are used by practitioners to help them bring out the best and care for the children in their care. The guidelines such as the EYFS framework set out clear information and cover all aspects of a child’s safety, health, development, welfare and so on. They help to point practitioners to success and efficient practice when working with children.
1.2 There are different approaches that can be taken by a practitioner when they are working with children in the early years. There are theories that were carried out by educational pioneers that stood up for what children need. These theories are still referred to and used in practice today. One of the educational pioneers is Maria Montessori and she worked with children who had learning difficulties. She spent a lot of her time observing children. Her theory was that every child is unique, in comparison to adults and other children, and that their individuality must be respected throughout the education process.
She believed that if a child was placed in the correct environment they children would ‘normalize’. This means that they will develop into whole, peaceful adults with love of learning. She devised a structured teaching programme based on her observations. By doing this she designed, what she called, didactic materials. These encouraged children to use their hand and help them move onto more complex exercises. Maria thought it was important that children learnt how to work independently when they were young so that they can maintain that skill throughout their lives. Maria Montessori theory is used more in private schools. A way that schools use her theory is by teaching the children to become independent and learn to do things for themselves and by themselves at a young age. They send children home with homework so that they work independently at home away from the teachers or other children’s help and are encouraged to only seek the help of their parents when they need help to understand the homework. This then helps the practitioner assess the child’s knowledge and helps them become aware of the areas they need more help with.
Observations are used within a school regularly to determine what stages a child is at. Practitioners will then evaluate these observations to come up with teaching programmes and ways in which they can promote certain areas of development and learning. The high scope approach encourages children to make their own decisions when it comes to activities within a setting. This helps to encourage independent and active learning getting the children involved when practitioners are planning, carrying out and reviewing activities. The key features of the high scope approach are active learning- children learn best by being involved and being active; personal initiative- children have a desire to learn and develop; consistency- this helps children to become confident, independent learners; Relationships- children need to feel happy, comfortable and secure; Partnership- practitioners need to be able to build a strong relationship which children parents and to achieve and the appropriate curriculum- children need to be guided by a curriculum that suits their development and learning.
All of these features are used within a setting every day. My setting follows all the key features of the high scope approach. For example the practitioners are always vibrant, enthusiastic and warming allowing them to build effective relationships with children and their parents. They carry out all sorts of activities and follow a curriculum that promotes all areas of development and learning. They have a range of different toys, materials and resources to help them make fun but educational ways of encouraging a child’s development and learning. This helps a child to blossom and grow the best way they can yet still be excited about continuing their learning.
1.3 Every child within a setting has individual needs and between children these needs will vary. A child’s individuality, ideas and feelings need to be valued and respected by practitioners as well as other children. This is an important aspect of developing a personal and individual approach to a child’s learning and development. There are needs that apply to all children within in a setting. Some of these are physical needs such as food, drink and shelter so that they are healthy, warm and safe. They also have psychological needs such as affection, comfort and love as these feelings will allow the children to build stable relationships and friendships.
This will help the child develop a personality and will allow them to let their individuality shine and develop and share their own ideas and feelings. Intellectual, stimulation and independence are all needs that need to be full filled by every child. However, children have independent needs. For example, a child that has got a cough may have been to the doctors and been prescribed some medicine to help them recover. This child would then have to rely on the practitioner to remember when they need to take the medicine and how much they need to take.
When practitioners are recognising and attempting to meet a child’s needs they have to take into consideration the child’s age, gender, maturity, their emotional development, intellectual abilities, social skills, past experiences and the relationships they have built with others. Practitioners should experiment different activities and ways to full fill children’s needs; this will help them to decide what they enjoy. It will also give them the chance to be imaginative and develop in different areas in several ways.