Keeping the EYFS ethos while learning at home
by Ben on February 23
The pandemic has thrown up challenges for those involved in teaching in a way that has never been experienced before. The ‘schooling of the future’ that was shown in the 80s on Tomorrow’s World, became the reality for many, and new skills were learnt by staff and students around the world to ensure that learning could continue away from the school buildings. Live lessons, recorded lessons, shared documents – they are all proving their worth. But learning in the early years is not about sitting at a screen or completing something on paper. It’s about learning through play.
The EYFS Framework has four guiding principles which should shape practice in early years settings. These are:
- every child is a unique child, who is constantly learning and can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured
- children learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships
- children learn and develop well in enabling environments, in which their experiences respond to their individual needs and there is a strong partnership between practitioners and parents and/or carers
- children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates. The framework covers the education and care of all children in early years provision, including children with special educational needs and disabilities
Play is vital in achieving these principles, and during the day in a setting, it is relatively easy to allow children to play and provide adult support as necessary. Whilst play may seem chaotic at times, there is so much learning going on which applies to all areas of the early years curriculum and the importance of this in the development of a child’s brain cannot be undervalued. The video below from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University shows how play and experiences help develop the strong pathways within a child’s brain, and here you can see the importance of play for a child’s development in general.
Many teachers and settings are finding that whilst they are open to children of key workers and vulnerable children only, those who are at home may be missing out on areas of learning that rely on a play-based approach. So educators are thinking of ways to ensure that play is being valued and supported at home. The pressures on parents to sit children down and ‘learn’ is immense, and it is because of this pressure that, sometimes, play is not valued. Allowing a child to play helps them to act out experiences, something they may really need to do during this pandemic to ease any worries they may have.
Whilst setting a task around maths or literacy, it is important to ensure that, when appropriate, it includes an aspect of play. This will help direct the adults supporting the children so that there are those interactions that help build up strength in the brain.
When thinking about the activities you are sending home, one thing to consider is how much time you spend with each child on an average day in school. Do you realistically spend several hours working with each child? Or is most of the time in school spent with the child exploring through play and the adults supporting that play, with the occasional direct teaching input? Are you asking the same of the supporting adult at home, or are you expecting them to spend much longer doing that direct teaching part which may not be age-appropriate for the children: Ensuring that the adults at home know it is okay to value and give time to play in the same way as you do in your setting is vital to the development of the child.
The question is: How is this achieved?
Setting activities through Tapestry can help support the adults at home, using the notes section to give ideas on questions they could ask or follow up play. Our Education Team have added over a hundred activities so far to the “Tapestry Activities Catalogue” which can be adapted as needed and used for the children at your setting through a “Planned Activity”. From role-playing hairdressers (much needed during a lockdown!) to creating collages from things you find, a good selection of the activities available encourage play, mostly with things that can be found at home. You can also add your own activities easily, and if they are ones that you are likely to want to set again in the future, adding them to “Our Activities Collection” means they can be quickly referred back to later and used for other cohorts.
The Infographics page on Tapestry.info, especially the prime and specific areas for early years, have some ideas for play activities that support child development and can be done with whatever families may have around their home.
Examples of some of the activities you will find are:
Mystery Parcel, where the adult wraps an item up (in paper, a sheet, a jumper) and the child has to guess what is wrapped up by feeling, listening and asking questions.
Warmer/Colder, a firm favourite where children have to find an item by searching and the only thing they’re told is whether they’re getting closer (warmer) or further (colder) from it.
Do you remember when? Talk to your child about something that has already happened, helping them sequence their ideas. Ask questions about the event and whether they would like to do it again.
Blindfold Walk – where a blindfold is placed on the child and they are asked to follow instructions to move across a room or outside.
We hope that the ideas in these activities will help support the children whilst they might not be attending school to ensure that they are still enjoying all areas of the early years curriculum which is key for their development.