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Promoting Children's Play, Learning and Development Essay

Paper type: Essay
Pages: 20 (4753 words)
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In this TMA I have met the ethical requirements of the E105. I complied with the ethical guidance published by BERA, 2011 under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) by informing parents and giving them the option to withdraw their child from participating; as some children were of an age where they had a limited understanding of the purpose of the investigation (BERA, Guidelines 16 – 21, 2011). I explained to parents and colleagues why I was carrying out the observations, and that I would comply with the Data Protection Act 1998 by making my findings anonymous and it will only read by my tutor.

I reassured parents that the welfare of the children was paramount and would not be affected by my investigation. If for any reason their child refused to participate or became distressed, then I would immediately terminate my observation. I gained consent from children in a sensitive way and ensured that my investigation was not a hindrance in their care, learning & development.

Activity 3. 13 (Block 3, pg 57) helped me in planning my method to approach children to gain their consent.


This assignment is based on an investigation I carried at my setting on the play and learning experiences provided for four year olds. My key question on which I based my investigation was: How I could make children’s play and learning experiences fun and enjoyable? The United Convention on the Rights of a Child (UNCRC) says that ‘Every child and young person has the right to rest, play and leisure’. (UNCRC, Article 31, 1989) Play can be interpreted in various ways however in the context of a setting; I understand play as an experience in which children have fun, enjoy and learn at the same time.

Being the manager and room leader I have a major influence on the learning experiences provided for the children. I therefore decided to investigate the impact of my current planning and provision on children’s play experiences. In my observations I looked at children’s ‘disposition’ to the play experiences I had provided (Katz, 1993) cited in E100. I used the Leaven Involvement Scale for Young Children (Leavers, 1994) which highlights signals that help measure how involved a child is in the activity. A child would be involved and engaged with an activity if it was enjoyable and stimulating.

In my discussion I analyse my practice based on the investigation and then discuss my changing values and beliefs and the impact it has had on my practice in relation to promoting children’s play, learning and development. [241 Words] Analysing my practice: In my setting I was finding it difficult to balance between focused and free play activities for four year olds in order to meet the ‘early learning goals’ set out by the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS, 2008), therefore I decided to investigate this area of my practice.

I carried out ‘tracking observations’ (Block 3, pg: 52) on three children aged four, two boys and a girl, as there are more boys than girls at my setting. I observed each child using the suggestions made by Devereux J, Observing children (Reader 2, chapter 8) over a period of three days. I was a ‘complete observer’ during the first day of my observations so that maximum information could be attained. I was a ‘participant observer’ on the second and third day (Block 3, pg: 46).

I wrote field notes during the observations, then added detail later using recommendations by Lofland and Lofland (1995) (Block 3, pg: 52). The emerging pattern in my observations on Day 1 was that all three children enjoyed undirected play, and were more involved in the experiences when it was self chosen. However on Day 2 and 3 they were equally involved in adult-led play experiences, when they were planned based on their interests seen on Day 1 and at the edge of their capabilities, ‘zone of proximal development’ (Vygotsky, 1962) (Block 3, pg: 24).

(Appendix 2). Adam and Sara were often seen in the home corner. It seemed as though they had created their own play world, where they would not be disturbed. They were seen taking various resources to explore in the home corner. In observation1 (Appendix 1a, lines 8-13) the practitioner is seen demonstrating the socio cultural theory in the way she extends Adam and Sara’s learning by ‘scaffolding’ and ‘guided participation’ (Rogoff, 2003), She is being ‘sensitive to their zone of proximal development’ (Woodhead, 2008, pg: 162) (Block 3, pg: 24).

John was seen engaging in imaginative play in the ‘mini world’ where he was imitating the sounds of the different animals as he was playing with them. (Appendix: 1h, lines 61-66). His play fits into the constructivist view where he is ‘actively engaged in testing and refining’ his understanding (mental mode). A similar view can be seen my observation (Appendix: 1f, lines 42-51), where John demonstrates what Piaget (1951) would call ‘discovery learning’ in the way he innovates a new painting technique.

My organisation of the activity provided an experience for children where peer-peer interaction was encouraged (symmetrical relationship). There was scope for ‘cognitive conflict’. (Block 3. Pg 23), which was demonstrated by the way Sara and Adam learnt a new skill of painting from John (Appendix 1b& 1e). The ‘change of routine song’ sang by the practitioner (Appendix 1i, lines 68) demonstrated the behaviourist theory, ‘stimuli and response’ (Block 3, pg: 20). Hearing and watching the practitioner, John immediately knew that it was snack time. [483 Words] Changing values and beliefs:

I used the ‘three-layer model’ and the RP cycle in Block 3, activity 3. 23 to help me unfold my underlying beliefs and practices with regards to how children learn. In ‘stage 1’ I believed that play is important for children in the early years and that children learnt best through play, however when exploring my practice, in ‘stage 2’ I found out that at my setting I lay great emphasis on adult let activities for 4 and 5 year olds. I saw their play as time passing in between the focused activities and disregarded this as an active opportunity for learning.

When taking the role of a ‘complete observer’ during my investigation I realised how much children were learning during self chosen play experiences. During ‘stage 3’ of the RP cycle I found that the regular group sessions that I was arranging for the 4 and 5 year olds were far from play. In fact it mainly consisted of direct teaching with EYFS goals in mind. Children achieved some of the goals set; however they did not enjoy the activity (Appendix 2). It seemed as if the children were eager to complete the task so that they could go back to playing (Appendix 1c & 1g).

At the end of the each session, I asked Adam, John and Sara what they liked most about their nursery day (Appendix 5). On the first day all three participants chose an activity that was self chosen; however on the second day, two of the participants chose focus activities and on the third day all the participants chose focus activities. This made me realise that planned focused activities were equally enjoyable if they were based on the interests of the children involved. This investigation gave me a better understanding of the EYFS principle: a ‘unique child’ (DCSF, 2008a).

It made me realise how important it was to plan play experiences based on children’s interests; rather than on the ‘goals’ set by the EYFS. When I planned adult led play experiences on the second and third day based on my observations of each child’s interests; they were more involved in the activity and also achieved many of the EYSF goals. (See plan in appendix 3) My practice is similar to that described by Sexton L, 2012 on the tutor group forum, where I use a combination of all three theories in my practice but in different contexts. Gilchrist J.

2012, posting made me think about my practice in how she uses ‘children who are more able in our setting to support others who are more reluctant to take part and encourage them to learn from each other’. I currently use a constructivist view when planning focus activities for children based on their ages and abilities, ‘stages of development’ (Block 3. Pg 23); however if I was to use the Socio constructivist approach and mix group them, then there would be scope for ‘peer-to-peer learning’, where children would learn from the ‘more able other’ in a more social way. [507 Words] Changing practice:

Using the ‘continuum of pedagogical approaches (DCSFa, 2009)’ (Block 3, pg: 27) I found that the play experiences I currently provided for 4 and 5 year olds were a mixture of ‘child-initiated’, ‘focused learning’ and ‘highly structured’ approaches however my main approach was ‘focused learning’ for 4 and 5 year olds. Observing children during my investigation made me see a wealth of knowledge and learning emerging from each other; which I previously overlooked. An example of this can be seen in appendix 1, where Adam and Sarah made the home corner into a shop and defined their roles as ‘shop keepers’.

I underestimated children’s capabilities and their ability for independent learning. From my investigation, I saw the positive impact of focus activities when they were innovative and planned on children’s interests. This is also a requirement of the EYFS, ‘physical and mental challenges…active learning’ (Principle 4. 2, DCFS, 2008) I particularly liked the ‘painting outside’ that I saw on the DVD and set up a similar activity in the outdoor area. This encouraged participation of many children including some who generally did not take an interest in painting or ‘mark-making’.

(Refer to Appendix 4, feedback from a colleague). I discussed some of the play experiences provided by other practitioners that I came across during my Block 3 reading with my staff during our weekly planning meeting; some of my staff acknowledged the enjoyment of children during the innovative play experiences that I had provided as I was ‘exploring my practice’. They shared positive feedback from parents of some of their key children who also noticed a change in their child’s learning experience. I used this as an opportunity to motivate my staff to research innovative play experiences for children.

I recommended them to use the internet; particularly the ‘tes’ (teacher’s site for education resources) to access a range of creative play experiences for the foundation stage. During the meeting staff raised concerns that, having 35 children in the setting, it is not practical to plan play experiences based on each child’s interests; therefore we agreed on setting up a rota system, where two of each key person’s children are observed each week and their observed interests are used to plan play experiences for the following week, during which a second set of children would be observed

I realised how important it was to observe children; yet it can be quite difficult for practitioners to do so regularly with other responsibilities; I therefore set up a rota system where they have observation days on which the staff member in only observing and does not get involved directly with the children unless required. Influenced by Anning A. and Edwards A. (2010) ‘Creating contexts for professional development’ in reader 2, chapter 24, I shared my findings with an Early Years Consultant from the local authority and arranged a staff training session to help us incorporate a more play based curriculum for children.

[490 Words] Conclusion From my investigation and data analysis, I concluded that careful planning of play experiences, using innovative styles and taking children’s interests into consideration proved to be effective in providing an enjoyable learning experience for the children. I strongly believe that the planning cycle should start from observations of children rather than based on adult decided themes as was my practice previously. A balance of free play and focused activities is important to ensure that children enjoy their learning experience.

Practitioners should take the lead from children and extend their learning by joining in their play, rather than direct teaching. Focus activities that were hands-on proved to be effective in providing an enjoyable learning experience for children and achieving the EYFS ‘early learning goals’ (DCSF, 2008) (refer to appendix 3) The physical organisation of the setting can give strong messages to children. It is important to give children the ‘free use of space’. ‘To be structured so they (the children) can be unstructured’ and ‘the freedom to control themselves’ (Hartley 1993:63) cited in Reader 2, pg 220.

This can be seen in observation 1a where Sara and Adam were able to move the furniture to make their ‘shop’. [198 word] Self-reflection I found this assignment very interesting as it gave me an opportunity to step away from my role as a manager and look deep into the actual learning of individual children. I found it difficult deciding on which evidence to submit as I was limited to three pieces. [49 words] References: Anning A and Edwards A, (2010) Creating contexts for professional development in Miller, L. , Cable, C.

, and Goodliff, G (eds) Supporting Children’s Learning in the Early Years, Abington, David Fulton in association with The Open University. British Educational Research Association (BERA, 2011) Ethical guidance for Educational Research, London, 2011 Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) (2008) Practice Guidance for the Early Years Foundation Stage, Nottingham, DCSF Draper L and Duffy B, (2010) Working with parents in Cable, C. , Miller, L. and Goodliff, G (eds) Working with children in the Early Years, Abington, David Fulton in association with The Open University.

Gilchrist J. (2012) ‘Blue group-week1 activity’, E105 11J Tutor group forums, 30th of January 2012 (online), http://learn. open. ac. uk/mod/forumng/discuss. php? d=836298 (Accessed 1st February 2012) Laevers F (1994) Effective Early Learning Programme: Child Involvement Scale, in Bertram T and Pascal C, Centre for Research in Early Childhood, Birmingham (online) http://www. decd. sa. gov. au/farnorthandaboriginallands/files/links/link_104984. pdf cited on 20th January 2012. Moss P, (2010) The democratic and reflective professional in Miller, L. , Cable, C.

, and Goodliff, G (eds) Supporting Children’s Learning in the Early Years, Abington, David Fulton in association with The Open University. Paige-smith A and Craft A, (2010) Reflection and developing a community of practice in Miller, L. , Cable, C. , and Goodliff, G (eds) Supporting Children’s Learning in the Early Years, Abington, David Fulton in association with The Open University. Read M and Rees M, (2010) Working in teams in early years settings in Cable, C. , Miller, L. and Goodliff, G (eds) Working with children in the Early Years, Abington, David Fulton in association with The Open University.

Robson S (2010) The physical environment in Miller, L. , Cable, C. , and Goodliff, G (eds) Supporting Children’s Learning in the Early Years, Abington, David Fulton in association with The Open University. Sexton L. (2012) ‘Blue group-week1 activity’, E105 11J Tutor group forums, 16th February 2012 (online), http://learn. open. ac. uk/mod/forumng/discuss. php? d=836298 (Accessed 18th February 2012) The TES-Education jobs, Teaching resources and magazine & forums. Website: www. tes. co. uk/ The Open University (2010), E105 Assessment Guide 2010, Milton Keynes, The Open University

The Open University, E100 Early years practice: Practitioners and children 2010, Study Topic 3, Milton Keynes, The Open University. The Open University, E105 Developing reflective practice: key themes, 2010, Block 3, Milton Keynes, The Open University. The Open University (2010) E105 The early years: developing practice, ‘DVD 2: Painting outside, Milton Keynes, The Open University. Appendix1 Observation on Day 1: Adam 1a) 12:50 pm Home cornerEngagement according to Leuven scale (LS): 5 Adam gets some magnets from the resource cupboard and takes it to the home corner… He then gets behind the drawer and says, ‘lets make a shop Sara.

Come here’. He indicated to Sara to come next to him. A practitioner comes up to him and says, ‘why did you move the furniture? Put it back the way it was please. ’ He looks at Sara as he wants her to answer. When the practitioner physically starts to move the drawer back Adam speaks up saying: ‘we’re making a shop’. ‘Wow really! What kind of shop? ’ she asks. ‘Toy shop’ he replies. ‘Where is your till? ’ she asks. Adam quickly climbs over the drawer and gets the till from the outdoor area. He places the till on the drawer and gets behind it again. ‘We’re the shop keepers’ he says pointing to Sara.

Practitioner gets some money and plays the role of a customer. ‘What are you selling in your shop? ’ she asks. ‘this’ says Adam pointing to a rectangular magnet block. ‘How much is it? ’ she asks counting some coins in her hands. ‘? 2’ says Adam, holding up two fingers. 1b) 1:15 pm: Creative/Paint area LS: 4 Adam watches Sara painting with the string. He asks practitioner for another sheet of paper. He takes the string and takes the string that was in the burgundy paint tray. He dips it in the yellow paint and holds it with both hands at the ends and makes straight line prints on his paper.

1c) 1:30 pm: Focus activity-adult led. LS: 3 Practitioner calls Adam and two other children for a literacy session. They go to the quiet room next door. She holds up a picture card and tells them to say what they see and sound out the letters that make the word and write it on their paper. Adam is able to correctly write the names of some of the objects. After the writing activity, the children had to group the cards according to the first letters. Each child was given a stack of cards and they had to place them correctly in each alphabet group.

Adam was able to sort some of the cards in the correct group. When he heard John say ‘Finish’, he threw his cards down and ran for the door. 1d) 2:00 pm: Home corner/role-play LS: 5 Adam returns to the home corner with Sara. He takes play dough and two rolling pins. ‘Let make biscuits’ he tells Sara as he gives her a rolling pin. ‘He rolls out the play dough and goes to the resource cupboard and gets animal cutters. He cuts the rolled play dough and places them in the oven tray that I placed next to his table. He holds the oven tray, and tells ‘Sara to go and put the biscuits in the oven’.

Observation on Day 1: Sara 1e) 1:15 pm: Creative/Paint area LS: 4 Sara leads Adam to the creative area. ‘lets go and paint’ she tells him. She gets an apron and sits opposite John. She watches him paint using string and follows his hand with her eyes as he continues making patterns. She then picks up another string and dips it in the red paint and making similar patterns on her paper. Observation on Day 1: John 1f) 1:10 pm: Creative/Paint area LS: 5 John dips the paint brush in the blue paint. Mixes the paint, and then pours some red paint into the blue and continues mixing.

He then gets up and goes towards the resource drawers. He pulls open the ‘paint’ drawer. Looks inside, and then closes it again. He moves up and opens the animal drawer. Picks out an elephant, and then puts it back again. He then opens the beading drawer. He picks out two strings; one yellow and the other red. He goes back to the paint table and sits down on the chair. Pulls the chair closer to the table and puts the strings down next to the paint trays. He looks at Sarah, then at Adam. He then picks up the yellow string and dips it into the burgundy (paint he mixed earlier).

He slowly pulls out the string, holding it at one end, and takes it over to the blank white sheet of paper next to him and moves the string in circular motion, forming a pattern. He dips the string again, holding onto one end and brings it back to his picture and continues making circular patterns. 1g) 1:30 pm: Focus activity-adult led. LS:2 John attempts to make marks and is able to correctly write the first letter of the objects. After 3 pictures he starts looking towards the door. Practitioner notices that he was not focusing on the activity so she directs a question at him. ‘John what is this?

’ she asks holding the picture card. ‘Car’ he says. ‘That’s absolutely right, now will you write car on your paper? ’ she asks. He correctly forms the ‘c’ and ‘a’. After the writing activity, the children had to group the cards according to the first letters… John started placing his cards randomly in each group. He placed the ‘duck’ in the ‘a’ group, ‘pig’ in the ‘b’ group etc. ‘I am finished’ he said when he distributed the cards. It seemed as if he was rushing to get over the activity so that he could go back to the hall. 1h) 2:00 pmLS: 4 John plays with the animals that I had set up in the mini world.

He holds up a cow and makes ‘moo…moo’ sounds as he moves it back and forth. He rearranges the blocks separating the animals. He places the sheep on the grassy area and the horses next to them divided by wooden blocks. He moves the pigs next to cow and makes the cow eat it, licking his lips and smiling as he does that. When a practitioner comes up and sits down next to him, he walks away. 1i) 2:30 pm- Snack time Practitioner starts to sing aloud: Everyone do this, everyone do this, just like me…. John stops and copies the practitioner placing his hands where she instructs.

She then leads the children to the bathroom to wash their hands. John follows. He returns back to the hall and sits around the snack table, waiting for his plate. Appendix 2: Graph showing the engagement of children in adult directed/focused activities: Involvement Measured using Leaven Scale (Leavers, 1994) Appendix 3 Plan for focused/adult led activities that I conducted on Day 2 & 3 based on my observations on the first day. Adam, Sara and two other children sharing their interests: Day 2: Visit to the local toy shop, with clip boards, pen and paper.

They were instructed to write a list of 10 items they would like to sell in their own toy shop. EYFS (DCSF, 2008) learning goals intended to achieve: ‘Attempt writing for different purposes, using features of different forms such as lists, stories and instructions’ ‘Use a pencil and hold it effectively to form recognisable letters, most of which are correctly formed’ (CLL) ‘Count reliably up to ten everyday objects’ (PRSN) ‘Find out about, and identify, some features of living things, objects and events they observe’ ‘Handle tools, objects, construction and malleable materials safely and with increasing control’ (KUW)

Day 3: A biscuit baking activity. EYFS learning goals achieved: PRSN, KUW, CLL, PSE, PD and CD John and two other children sharing his interest: Day 2: Large animal jigsaw Once complete, they were asked to write the names of the animals that were in the puzzle. They were then asked to write how many of each animal they could see. EYFS learning goals intended to achieve: PSE, PD, CLL, KUW and PRSN Day 3: Animal sound recognition Game that involved playing an animal sounds CD and guessing which animal it was for each sound. EYFS learning goals intended to achieve: KUW, CLL and PSE

Key for symbols used: CLL: Communication, language and literacy, KUW: Knowledge and understanding of the world, PRSN: Problem solving, reasoning and numeracy, PD: Physical development, PSE: Personal, social and emotional development, CD: Creative development Appendix 4: Feedback from colleague: ‘The painting activity was so wonderful. I couldn’t believe Cameron actually got involved. I have been trying to get him to paint and make marks but he’s always refusing. ’ Appendix 5: Carpet time: I asked children which activity they enjoyed the most at the end of each session. Their responses were: Day 1-Adam: ‘playing with Sarah and making my shop’.

Sara: ‘painting’. John: ‘painting’ Day 2-Adam: ‘Going to the toy shop’. Sara: ‘writing my shopping list’. John: ‘goldilocks story’ Day 3-Adam: ‘making biscuits’. Sara: ‘cooking biscuits’. John: ‘the animal game’ ———————– [pic] View as multi-pages TOPICS IN THIS DOCUMENT Active learning, Childhood, Plays RELATED DOCUMENTS Theories of Play, Development and Learning … Theories of Play, Development and Learning Child development was previously largely ignored, and there was little attention to the progress which occurs during childhood and adolescence in terms of cognitive abilities, physical growth and language usage.

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