It is important to ensure that all children regardless of age, ability, special education needs, physical challenges are included in the settings activities and have access to equal opportunity play.
The British Heart Foundation: Early Movers, Getting Children involved, explain that to ensure all children are included it is usually necessary to adapt, and modify activities and their setup, thus focussing on what the children can do rather than what they can’t.
In my setting we will implement the STEP method as recommended by The British Heart Foundation to make it easier for children who are having difficulties and harder to extend and challenge children who are finding them too easy.
Space (adjust the space):
– Reduce or increase the size of the playing area.
– Mark the boundaries of the play area clearly with brightly coloured cones or tape.
– Encourage older children to control the play area and devise their own boundaries if they’re making up a game.
– Use hoops, poly spots or cones as floor markers for children who have difficulty maintaining personal space.
– Children can ‘wear’ a hoop at waist level during travelling games to help define their personal space if they regularly bump into others or objects.
Task (make changes to the task/activity);
Distance and/or height
– Increase or decrease the distance a child has to travel during an activity, eg, to collect objects and return.
– Increase or decrease the height a child has to stretch to retrieve an object, eg, step/chair or table height.
– Lengthen the time allowed to do an activity or remove time limits altogether.
Equipment (change or modify the equipment)
– Slow down or speed up the pace an object moves through the air by changing the objects or equipment, eg, to slow down throwing and catching activities, use a balloon, then a beanbag before moving onto a ball.
Props or cues to aid understanding
– Using visual or audio cues such as pictures, photos or music can help some children understand an activity better if explaining verbally doesn’t work.
Important considerations when you’re selecting age appropriate equipment for children under five years are: size, weight, colour and texture.
– Size: Large targets and large striking implements are helpful. Some young children find very large balls difficult to handle (size 4) and smaller balls can be better for small hands. Let children experiment with lots of different sizes and types.
– Weight: Lightweight equipment such as plastic bats, lollipop racquets, and nerf balls are easier for young children to handle.
– Colour: Brightly coloured equipment promotes visual tracking skills. Selecting colours that contrast with the play environment can be helpful.
– Texture: Using equipment with a variety of textures encourages young children to grasp, experiment and play with objects, eg, balls (foam, koosh, beach), balloons, streamers and ribbons, in new ways.
People (children) (be flexible about the way the children interact with each other)
– Raise or lower targets and move them nearer or further away.
– Allow options to send and receive equipment in different ways, eg, a hitting tee, sending chute or catching mitt.
– Alter the way children interact in a group activity depending on how it’s evolving, eg, allow a game to be child-led but then intervene to encourage a shy child to have a go – “Shall we let Jill see if she can kick the ball too?”