Deslynne Roberts, Managing Director of Areté Consultancy, enlightened childcare professionals with her seminar ‘Share my World/ It’s not just child’s play’ last week at the Childcare Expo.

Following on from her success, she has kindly decided to provide Parenta readers with an insight into the seminar topics for this week.

Exploring the complexity of learning through play in everyday practice, there is a clear emphasis on the importance of purposeful engagement with children. This needs to be implemented by Early Years practitioners to reinforce the benefits for children’s learning and development. I’m sure you’re aware that children love to learn, but they can only do so when practitioners spare the time to engage with children, share their world and support play-based learning.

Adults play an important role in the learning process and should consider the child’s interest and where possible their particular way of doing things, otherwise referred to as their learning style. In addition, being receptive towards children’s individual needs is an essential ingredient that will support practitioners in considering how best to provide support during play, especially with boys!

Three steps:

Positive Interaction If we are to see play ‘through the eyes of the child’ we should be open to a whole new aspect of children’s learning that provide scope for autonomy, flexibility and ingenuity! An environment with skilful and thoughtful adults can support a child’s playful approaches to learning.

Purposeful engagement Practitioners should attempt to play more with children. This level of involvement with children needs to be consistent. A confident practitioner can support, enhance and in most cases scaffold their learning to another level. This is particularly important for boys and their different dimensions of play. An awareness of the needs of boys continues to be a topic of constant discussion.

Sustained Thinking Practitioners should build a trusting relationship with the child, where a genuine interest in children’s play is fostered. The use of open ended question is an important factor that ensures you are critically challenging children’s thoughts.

So, how do children learn...they give it a try, they push boundaries, they try over and over again, they seek pattern. They think learning is fun. From the time they are very young, the brain is willing to learn by filling in the blanks. Surely we can take advantage of that and stretch their minds a little bit more.

Areté Consultancy offer consultancy support to nurseries to improve quality care and education for children. For further details, email Deslynne at droberts@areteconsultancy.com or visit their website.

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