We are often asked in the Early Years “When are the children going to stop paying and start learning?”. The truth is that they don’t! Learning is fun and the children enjoy playing. In Foundation Stage, the two go hand in hand, explicitly and implicitly. Whether the children are playing games, building, talking, riding bikes or imagining they are dinosaurs, they are learning.
In the beginning, whether they are two or five years old, it is about cooperation, sharing, taking turns, speaking, listening and developing physical skills. But not only that, it is about the characteristics of effective learning, which they will continue to use and develop as they grow, not only through school but into life.
Just last week the children had a great time building with the bricks, seeing if they could make it ‘taller’. Of course, they were not just playing, they were learning key skills of sharing, cooperation, turn-taking, listening and problem-solving. ‘Would it build higher if it was straight?’ “What if we used the bricks the other way?’ Then the questions linking to other areas ‘How tall is the tower?’ “Can you build a tower with 10 bricks?’
On Thursday we went to the soft play area, the children had great fun playing and it was wonderful to see the cooperation, turn taking, patience, talking, listening, attention that was happening as the children played together. Not only that but they faced challenges and had to problem solve issues such as how to run on the roller with others and how to swing across the bars where they learned from each other by changing and adapting ideas. They were able to persevere when things did not work the first time. All these skills are important to the children’s development as they begin their life of learning.
When you ask your child what they did at school they may just say “I played”. Please rest assured that they did so much more.
Head of Foundation Stage