Children have a natural need to play that cannot be halted. It is how they make sense of the world around them. Play enables children to learn and practice skills and to create bonds.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)Article 31 states that child have the right to play and relax:
1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.
2. States Parties shall respect and promote the right of the child to participate fully in cultural and artistic life and shall encourage the provision of appropriate and equal opportunities for cultural, artistic, recreational and leisure activity.
The Early Years Foundation Stage (2017) Statutory frame work requires all childcare providers to consider the individual needs, interests, and stage of development of each child in their care, and must use this information to plan a challenging and enjoyable experience for each child in all of the areas of learning and development.
“Play is an essential part of every child’s life and vital to their development. It is the way children explore the world around them and develop and practise motor skills. It is essential for physical, emotional and spiritual growth, for intellectual and educational development, and for acquiring social and behavioural skills. Play is a generic term applied to a wide range of activities and behaviours that are satisfying to the child, creative for the child and freely chosen by the child. Children’s play may or may not involve equipment or have an end product. Children play on their own and with others. Their play may be boisterous and energetic or quiet and contemplative, light-hearted or very serious”.
(Ref: The New Charter for Children’s Play 1998)
We recognise that:-
- Play is fundamental to every child’s development.
- All children have a right to play and that play is important for children.
- Children’s play needs should be continually considered and catered for.
- Children need access to safe quality play both indoors and outdoors in a child centred environment.
- Children need choice.
- Play opportunities enable children to develop as individuals and play activities must be specific to the age and stage of development for all children.
- Children’s views are listened to, valued and taken into account
- Play should enable children to develop confidence and empower them.
- Good practice should be celebrated and shared.
- An adequate amount of well-equipped space should be allocated for children’s own directed play.
- There needs to be adequate resources of good quality for children’s play.
In order to achieve this we ensure children have opportunities to play which enables them to:
- Explore and use all their senses
- Practise motor skills
- Be creative
- Experience new things
- Act out
- Have fun
- Observe and copy
- Explore and take risks
- Practise activities and situations
We provide the space, time, activities and resources for the children to play with e.g. dressing up clothes, games, sticks, stones, mud, water, boxes, balls and bikes.
Child and adult led play:
We use a mixture of child led and adult led play to provide a balanced learning experience. Both adult and child led learning supports the seven areas of the learning and development of the EYFS, some activities will be more child led and other adult led.
We provide opportunities for Physical, Creative, Imaginary, Sensory and Heuristic play.
We support the children to play themselves to enable the children to explore their world and their place within it and to develop at their own pace.We do this by:
- Providing a child centred play area:
- Make sure it is childproof and clean
- Avoid over-stimulation
- Allow children to leave constructions up for awhile so they come back and engage in new adventures in the world they created
- Store play items safely but make them easily accessible
- Providing toys with play value that:
- Can be used in many ways
- Allow children to determine the play
- Appeal to children at more than one age or level of development
- Can be used with other toys for new and more complete play
- Will stand the test of time and continue to be part of play as develop new interest and skills
- Help children develop skills important for further learning and a sense of mastery
- Encouraging a balance in play activities:
- Encourage outdoor play that uses large muscles – running, jumping, climbing and playing games is cool
- Curtail time spent in adult-organized activities – child directed play is important
- Do not allow the children to become over-scheduled – self-directed play should be encouraged
- Encourage new activities such as art, music, building or science – I make the introduction then leave the children to play and explore on their own
We meet the rights for the children to play by implementing the EYFS (2017) principle that 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.
We provide an enabling environment which promotes play by:
- providing a safe environment for the child to explore and test out their ideas.
- We may use the child’s interests or next steps to develop play through offering a breadth of opportunities or resources for the child to use in a variety of ways.
- We understand the needs of the child and work towards providing opportunities for child-initiated play. This can be achieved through observations and building a solid relationship with the child, in order to learn about their likes and dislikes.
- We create play areas to meet the different needs of play to enable children to participate in child initiated activities and use the space to build on their ideas and experiences. For example quiet areas to allow children to observe others and gives them time and space to reflect on their learning, an outdoor environment to help nurture the minds of children and encourage child led play. The large open spaces and the breadth of natural resources enable children to use their imagination and problem-solving skills to develop their play.
- We provide children with a variety of play equipment and toys to allow the children to choose what that play with and for how long.
- We provide the parents with information on the importance of play and ideas to support and encourage it (The importance of play parents guide)
We provide inclusive play by ensuring all children have the same access to play opportunities, regardless of their specific abilities, needs and backgrounds. Inclusive play bridges the divide between mainstream and special needs children. Both groups can benefit from these play methods and learn a lot from mixing with those different to themselves. Children at all ages learn in all aspects of development through play: emotional, social, physical and mental.
Inclusive play offers children a richer play environment and evolves according to their changing needs and interests. It offers a sense of place and is supported through observation-led planning.
Inclusive play provides respect for the culture of children’s play and recognises that all individuals are welcomed and valued.
We support inclusive play by
- Ensure the layout of the room is not too cluttered.
- there is a clear pathway from one activity to another and to the toilet etc,
- Make sure that each child has the adult support they require whilst promoting independence
- make sure the activities are presented in a way that promotes the child’s independence, for example accessible to all children.
- All toy boxes are labelled with works and pictures so that all children can decided what to play with.
- work in partnership with the parents and other professionals to understand the best way to provide inclusive play to each child.
- Observe the children and how they interact with the toys, environment and determine if their needs are being met to enable them to develop, I adapt as necessary.
- Provide a wide range of activities, both child led and adult led based on children’s learning needs
- Provide a wide range of opportunities to motivate, support and develop children and help them to be involved, concentrate and learn effectively
- Plan for each child’s individual care and learning requirements including additional or different provision required to meet particular individual needs
- Enable children to be consulted effectively to ensure they are gaining the most benefit from the setting.