Early years practitioners provide opportunities to children to explore and choose their play by providing and setting the environment before children come. They create the environment in such a way that is safe and reachable for all children. This is called free flow play. For example, in my setting practitioners set 1 table for messy play, some cars and vehicle toys on the carpet, sensory area, drawing and colouring table and 1 table for building and construction with Legos and blocks. When children come, they go on a table that they want to go.
All the play resources and toys are designed to promote children’s development and learning. For example, construction blocks help to develop children’s cognitive and physical skills (fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination) and sensory area helps to promote their sensory development because children use all their senses to explore different objects and materials in the sensory area. Practitioners supervise children and make sure that they are safe. They interact with children to promote their learning and development and join in with them on their request. Practitioners organise activities and provide equipment to the children.
They make sure that all the children are included and resources are safe for all children. They provide resources which are appropriate for the age and stage of the development. They always take care of the health and safety of children. For example, a practitioner sets up a painting activity. All children have pictures of a bear and some paint in different colours. Practitioner gives instructions to children on how to use the paint brush to paint their pictures. The learning opportunities include fine motor skills, recognition of different colours, skills of painting and using brushes.
Practitioners provide different sizes of paint brushes for different age ranges. Practitioners differentiate resources and support in planning of the activity. This includes different sized resources, right or left-hand resources(scissors) or the support needed for a disable child or for a child with additional needs. This is an example of inclusive play practice which meets the needs of all children. In the dressing up area, costumes and dresses of different cultures are provided. Children wear the traditional dresses of each other’s culture and enjoy.
In the settings, different cultures and religious festivals are celebrated. This shows the inclusive practice and respect for all the children who come from different backgrounds. How play supports the interests and abilities of children. (EYFS and practice)(5. 2) Early years practitioners observe children while free flow play and planned activities. They observe children to find out about children’s interests and abilities. For example, when a child is playing at free flow time, they observe and record the areas where the child spends most of his time and the toys with which he plays most frequently.
They plan activities according to the interests of all the children. This helps to provide resources and equipment which are of children’s interest and can enhance children’s learning and promote their development. When practitioners carry out activities, they use activity plans to write down the actions, development milestones and interests of the children. For example, when they do the hockey cokey activity with children, they write down the names of children who participated in the activity, who did not participate, who was able to perform the actions, who was singing the song etc.
They also ask children whether or not they enjoyed the activity. They plan the next activity according to children’s interests and abilities. Abilities mean whether or not a child can do a particular thing. For example, a child can use scissors, he can jump, he can hop on one foot, he can ride a bike or not. When practitioners find out that children have got ability to carry out a particular task, they plan play opportunities and activities by considering the abilities of children.
Children’s interests and abilities change according to their age and stage of development. When a child is crawling and cannot walk yet, he likes to play with push trolleys. When he starts walking he likes sit and ride cars and in preschool age he enjoys riding bikes and scooters. Practitioners provide resources and toys which are suitable for the age and stage of children’s development. When children are provided with the appropriate resources ,they enjoy their favourite play and learn and develop at the same time. They sharpen their skills and abilities through play.
When children are provided with a wide range of play equipment and resources, they develop interest and make choices to choose a play which meets their interests and abilities. Parents know about their children’s interests and abilities more than anybody else. Practitioners can discuss about the home-environment of the child. This will help them to know about what the child likes to do at home. Parents can tell practitioners about their child’s favourite toys and play. This will help practitioners to provide an enabling environment, which is easily accessible, stimulating and beneficial for the development and learning of the children
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