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We have reflected on how we are overcomplicating our practice and approaches to children’s learning and development as a result of new pedagogies and concepts within the early years education system and how this is impacting upon the learning and development opportunities we provide for children.

However, when we do something for so long and get caught up in the everyday routines and demands of the setting, it can be difficult to know how to adapt our practice and approach and successfully take our practice back to basics for the benefit of the children in our care, and so we are even at risk of over-complicating the shift in our practice.

All children actually need in order to learn and thrive within our settings is knowledgeable, attentive and attuned adults with a knowledge and understanding of child development who plan and facilitate opportunities for exploration, play and learning.
Play always has and always will remain fundamental to children’s learning and development and the best type of play is child-led play that is facilitated and supported by responsive and attuned adults who extend and develop opportunities and experiences to enrich the learning experience and environment for the children in their care.

As adults, we quickly lose the magic of play and our own self-consciousness and inhibitions can impact and impede our ability to strip our practice back to basics and just play, which is essentially what children need and want from us most.

Often the most popular and engaging practitioners are the ones who aren’t afraid to be silly and get down on the floor and immerse themselves in the children’s play (when invited of course!) which not only supports play and learning but also builds relationships, develops communication and enriches the play opportunity as a result.

As previously identified and discussed, children do not need high-end and expensive resources in order to achieve their full potential, the real value is in the opportunities, experiences and relationships they are exposed to and these provide the basis for their relationships and approach to play and learning thereafter.

We need to shift the focus of our practice and understand the importance of ensuring that we are present in every sense for the children in our settings, not just providing and facilitating opportunities and experiences, instead ensuring we are engaged and present.

For many of us, taking practice back to basics will require a level of self-reflection and needs us to critically reflect on our practice in order to identify what more we can do to be fully present and not allow everyday routines, stresses and pressures to impact our interactions with children.

Let’s think back to when we first started our careers in early years; how simple it was for us to get down on the floor and play and engage with children on their level as we focused primarily on building relationships, getting to know the children as individuals and applying what we were learning about child development to our developing practice as we studied.

As we gained more knowledge, we invariably gained more responsibility within our roles and settings and subsequently began to feel the demands and pressures of the daily routines and paperwork which then impacted on how present we were and are able to be with the children and where we perhaps began to overcomplicate our daily practice and pedagogies.

Just noticing this fact and acknowledging that we have allowed daily admin and pressures to overcomplicate our practice and potentially impact the way in which we provide care and support children’s learning and development, is already a step in the right direction to taking play and practice back to a more basic, but present and beneficial place for all involved.

Changing the way we approach play and pedagogy isn’t an overnight change and of course we all have daily demands and things we need to achieve in a day as part of our role and the routines of the setting but we must ensure we do not allow these to consistently lead and dominate our days, instead focusing on the children’s needs, interests and direction of play and making ourselves present and available to fully engage in the magic, simplicity and power of play.

We will achieve and observe significantly more valuable learning and development from engaging, interacting and following the children’s needs and interests and observing their play either from within, if they invite us to participate, or just from playing alongside them when fully present and in the moment rather than pre-occupied with admin or other daily pressures.

Children’s play and learning is built on freedom, innocence and simplicity and as adults we are guilty of interfering, over-complicating and often dominating their play and learning opportunities, not intentionally, but often subconsciously. We were all children once and sometimes it is useful to remember that and take ourselves back to our own childhood in order to truly allow ourselves to be immersed in the children’s world and take our practice back to basics.

As stressful and high-pressured as a day in the life of an early years educator can be, the beauty of what we do is that our days can often be filled with fun, spontaneity and laughter, and instead of allowing ourselves to be engulfed by the challenging parts of our day, if we take our practice back to basics and the practitioners we were at the start of our early years journeys, we can once again allow ourselves and our days to be led by the spontaneity and innocence of the children we care for, and subsequently provide high-value, engaging, supportive and interactive play and learning opportunities which will enrich the experiences and lives of these children.

Simple, fun and spontaneous moments with the support, love and engagement of a knowledgeable, nurturing and fully present practitioner, are the moments that these children will remember into their later years, and are often the ones that take the least time, effort and thought to engage in, but have the biggest impacts on their learning, lives and memories, and are often far from basic through the eyes of our children.

About the author:

Chloe Webster is an OFSTED Outstanding childminder at Pebbles Childcare, Worthing West Sussex. With over 10 years experience in the sector, Chloe has written for a number of Early Years magazines and journals.

Chloe works for Bridgit Brown at Pebbles Childcare and together they were awarded Nursery World’s ‘Childminding Business of The Year’ in 2018 and pride themselves on their child-led, natural, outdoor pedagogy and are advocates of the home-based childcare profession and work tirelessly to champion HBC across the sector.

chloelouisewebster@hotmail.com 

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