The moment we stand still in our practice is the moment that we stop seeing it as a journey. I'm a firm believer in continually trying to improve what my team and I do within our setting, Certain principles remain steadfast at the heart of what we do: our image of the child as someone who is full of magic and language, the necessity for adult-led learning to be engaging and skill-driven and underpinning all of this the 3Ms which seek to enable children to meet the demands of the adult world whilst retaining play and playfulness across each day. These root ideas give us the platform to put layers over the top so that we can explore new paths with our children. In the future I'm going to investigate how we can implement Trisha Lee's Helicopter Story model to bring stories and children's inner stories to life. I can do this in the knowledge that the approach embraces play and puts children at the centre of their learning, valuing their dialogues and imaginations.
Currently, as I have begun to lay out in previous blogs, I'm exploring the potential of 'projects' - mini inputs that expand the fascinations that I see around me within the children's play and enable me to offer additional signposts for children to run with if they so wish. The content of the project input is always skills-based so that even if certain children don't choose to explore the project they at least come into contact with modelled writing, shared thinking and an experience where children's thoughts are valued and heard.
Whenever we put children at the centre of their own learning, the potential for exciting things to happen grows exponentially...
In last week's blog post we began to explore the potential drawbacks of Pinterest Provision; the compulsion to search Pinterest and other 'lifestyle' sites to harvest attractive and often theme-based ideas for our continuous provision.
The main problem with making Pinterest boards your go-to, although great for adult world ideas of what looks engaging, is that this unwittingly imposes limits for the children who you are setting up the provision for. By introducing Pinterest Provision you not only steal the opportunity from children to openly interpret resources and bring their magic to them, but you are also setting yourself up to 'plan' their learning outcomes through a narrow focus, e.g. 'children will make CVC words from the magnetic letters in the sand tray.' No, they won't unless you are there on top of them! They will be more likely to remove the letters from the tray and then play what they want to play. By setting up Pinterest Provision you are investing valuable time in something that is arguably ineffective because it cannot sustain your 'learning' outcome.
I've always been bookish and, as is the case for so many teachers, the holidays are the perfect time to get absorbed in reading. ‘Start With Why’ by the brilliant Simon Sinek is my current read and every page is reminding me of the reasons I embarked on a journey towards change. Why am I teaching? Why am I leading a team? Why has ‘Can I Go And Play Now?’ come about? Why am I sharing my vision?
And that challenge extends to you - why are you teaching? Why are you advocating a pedagogy? Why do you do what you do?
For me I keep coming back to the idea of ‘positive change’. As a teacher I want to be a force for positive change in my immediate surroundings by showing parents and colleagues that play is a powerful tool and by forming real and meaningful connections with others, so that my Foundation Unit can have an impact not just on children but within families and a community.
I want to give children Early Years experiences that immerse them in richness and wonder and, in turn, emotionally engage them in learning so that they can shape themselves to take on the world and one day change it even further and for the better. I want them to have a powerful voice that is heard and I want them to be at the centre of their learning adventure. In turn - and my ultimate 'Why' - I do this because I want to challenge the ‘accepted’.
Can I Go Play Now..? is committed to widening the understanding of the magic of children's play as an educational tool. Child-centred, play-based learning is where it's truly at....