Previous blogs have explored the necessity of recognising that children have a magic within them that all too often the adult world chooses to ignore for its own ends or through its unwavering appetite to stick with the known, the ‘what we’ve always done’.
For me it’s critical to embrace the idea that children have to be put right at the centre of our educational thinking. Unless we do that we will be continually shackled to topic-based planning, Pinterest Provision and activity-centric experiences which not only plan ‘over the top’ of children but also steer a course for them rather than allowing them the space to navigate for themselves.
As soon as we re-imagine our thinking through the consideration of a clear and passionate ‘why’ then we begin to see a seismic shift in how children might engage with their learning, turning it from something that is done to them and towards something that they are actively rooted in with purpose and meaning.
The path to this lies in ensuring that play is at the heart of our practice and that the balance between play and the Not-Play of direct teaching is struck effectively. Both have a critical importance within Early Years. Whether Play or Not-Play, children’s next steps and skills should be at the forefront of our thinking whether it be for a carpet time, for continuous provision or shared reading for example. Skills not topics, next steps not nice-ness will move your children forward whilst at the same time enriching their learning experiences beyond that of activity carousels, red and green group or maths tables.
To achieve this, to open up a new door to a fresh approach isn’t an overnight job. It isn’t as easy as asking Early Years Facebook forums for ideas for a Three Little Pigs display or planning suggestions for a topic. It takes time and that is where it comes back to the idea of ‘why’ - what is it that you truly believe children are and should be?
If you have no clear thoughts on this then embracing the magic of children will be more challenging. But if deep down you know that children need adults around them that aren’t benevolent dictators but are rather facilitators alongside them and that they need a space in which they can bring their own interpretations and ‘language’ then a child-centred approach will be the most wonderful and empowering thing you will probably ever do.
So here’s the First 5 along the path towards embracing the magic of children:
1. Decide what your ‘why’ is
2. Let this ‘why’ be your passion
3. Take this passion to the adults around you - your team, parents, leadership team, governors. Get ‘worked-up’
4. Be so worked up that your EY team get on board - light the fire
5. Use the fire to ignite your children
Without the First 5 you’ll find it hard to swim against the tide of topics, of pressure, of what education is perceived to be. The process of change is about adventure - your children can definitely go on one once you embrace their magic.
It all comes down to a choice - to stick with the known, the what’s-gone-before or to seek a new way, a new path that enables children and gives their learning joy and purpose. If the magic of children is something that you feel your setting needs then it’s time to kickstart the First 5 - it’s not necessarily easy but change needs to start somewhere and maybe it can start with you :)
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....