Although these areas seem separate, they are not planned for individually. One activity may cover three or four areas of learning. In my opinion the Guidance Document is very repetitive. This can be due to the fact that one focused activity can cover many areas of the six areas of learning. Children are developing at different rates and in many different ways.
Some children will be better in certain areas whereas some children may excel in other areas, and “the Curriculum Guidance for the Foundation Stage (DfEE/QCA, 2000) recognises this, and therefore identifies a number of developmental stepping stones which identify the relevant knowledge, understanding, skills and attitudes needed to achieve each goal.
” (ibid, pg. 5) In reference to my research, I have found that the Foundation Guidance document is inspired by the work of Jean Piaget and his four stages of child development.
Piaget believed that children are born with the ability to think and must successfully pass through each stage of cognitive development before beginning the next stage.
(Daly, M, etal, 2004, pg. 73-74) In my school and nursery experience, I found that all learning and planning begins at building from previous experiences/learning. I agree with Piaget’s theory that in order for children to develop their thinking they must be able to draw upon prior experiences first.
Nursery settings allow children to explore and build upon a variety of different experiences through play and adult initiated activities, which provide a basis for learning when they reach school. My 3-5 placement was based in a nursery which allowed for children aged between 3-4. The nursery has two sessions, one in the morning from 9. 00am to 11. 30am, and one in the afternoon from 12. 30pm to 3. 00pm. Each session catered for a different group of children. The children are not grouped according to ability; they tend to follow friendship groups. The staff invites children to join in focused activities.
The children are never forced to do anything they don’t want to. Continuous provision is the principle set up that the nursery follow and the children are free to explore all areas. These include the water area, sand, dough, home, book and construction areas. A painting area is also positioned in a child friendly location set up with primary and secondary colours. The mathematics table, writing table and work shop table is set with different activities on a daily basis. Children are learning through experimentation most of the time. I was surprised to observe just how much the children were learning without even realizing.
Learning through play is a simple yet extremely effective way of learning for young children. Staff promotes learning by being well organized, each member of staff has a set responsibility and work on a rota system. All the equipment and resources are at child level and nearly everything has label or has a picture for where things belong. They follow a self tidy up rule which the parents are asked to implement at home also. The teacher ensures in her planning that all six areas of learning are covered throughout all activities which I will discuss in more depth; this includes outdoor play which is also specially planned for.
“Well-planned play, both indoors and outdoors, is a key way in which young children learn with enjoyment and challenge. ” (DfEE/QCA, 2000:25) Resources are brightly coloured and are in interesting, familiar shapes. The home corner is quite realistic and the children role play ‘families’ thus developing communication, sharing and turn-taking skills. I also observed that each area for learning e. g. the sand area, are set separately, with at least 100cm between them. I believe this is a good strategy as the children are less distracted when working/playing and finished what they were doing instead of leaving things half done.