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.
Pinterest Provision isn't next steps based or reflective of your children's needs/interests and it is a product of thinking 'what will fit into my theme?' or 'what looks nice?' For children to truly move forward, continuous provision should not be about what the adult world thinks looks nice. Adult ideas limit the possibilities of learning. If you put magnetic letters directly in an area of continuous provision with a distinct learning intention, then how can children be mathematical in there? If you set up a small world area with a lovely Three Little Pigs scene then how can children play with dinosaurs if dinosaurs are what they would choose to play with?
Because continuous provision is the heart of your children's experience, it needs to be skills-centric and wherever possible open-ended enough to allow children to interpret. Rather than thinking about what looks nice or what focus we want, start considering how each area of continuous provision supports children's next steps. What skills can children develop when you are not directing the learning? How does the continuous provision draw children in so that they want to apply their skills, and how can the opportunities to do this be unlimited?
Continuous Provision should enable children. It should give you the ability to exploit it for children's next steps. And the best way to do this?
Decide not to 'set up' your continuous provision
Begin by reflecting on the magic that children bring with them every day to your setting. Do you believe that children have an inherent magic and a song within them that adults should listen to and use as a tool for child development? If so, how can you create the conditions for children to express their magic? Can you do this by limiting them to your Pinterest Provision? Or would it be better to offer them provision that they can translate in their own way which in turn can enable you to enter their world and, by utilising the power of play, begin to address their next steps with an unlimited scope?
If you accept that children have a magic within them, then don't 'set up', Each area is more open to the children if it offers multiplicity: baskets of objects that develop physical skills; provocative, out-of -the-everyday items that intrigue and can be interpreted; boxes of play things that children can choose from in whatever way they choose. All surrounding the area of provision but not 'set up', thereby enabling children independent choice. By doing so you create an index of possibilities for them, and you give yourself more valuable time to consider children's next steps instead - the thing that really will move them forward!
Future blogs will explore how you can use the continuous provision once you've decided not to set-up. In the meantime why not make the commitment to keep Pinterest for what to wear, what food to eat or where to go on holiday only and not for continuous provision ideas? The children in your setting will thank you for it...
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....