If you have ever been lucky enough to have watched children play (I mean REALLY play) and become totally engrossed in what they are doing, you will know the great value of them being deeply immersed within their own spontaneous activities, how much of their own precious understanding they bring to each session and how they exude enjoyment and genuine pleasure alongside like-minded peers. Pulling children away from this play to ‘perform’ an adult led activity may have its place for those that are ready but for some children, this may have the potential to create despondency towards learning and school in general.
It’s up to us as professional EYFS practitioners to let go of the fact that if they are not at a desk, then they are not learning. I am an advocate for play and for providing children with the opportunities to play (which, at its simplest, means providing them TIME to play).
Yes, we can steer this play down new and exciting avenues by tactfully placing new resources and stimuli around the setting, by asking timely questions or making exciting suggestions of how to take their ideas further. As practitioners, we must also model the learning and rejoice and smile as the children become our mimics (we all know how children love to copy us). In my eyes, play leads to learning 100% of the time. By changing the contexts and resources and allowing them the freedom to explore and discover, imaginations will certainly thrive.
“Let them play… follow children’s interests… encourage them to LOVE learning…..”
The opportunities that we provide for play in our settings are integral for children’s next steps. Quality and timely interventions involving purposeful questions and our ‘wide eyed’ comments are crucial for allowing children to feel unique and important; For them to get lost in play, we must understand the true value of play.