As we head back to school, everyone’s looking for new ways to inspire children. At iOi, it’s something we think about all year round, so that’s why we found this piece from TES so crucial. It seems simple to increase interest by letting children decide for themselves and keeping it focused on wellbeing by removing quotas. Why aren’t we all practicing play-based learning then?
On a drizzly day with howling winds, a group of children have made the decision to take their learning outside. Donning their waterproofs and wellies, they venture out.
Within minutes, the rain has inspired conversations about the weather and, as they busy themselves erecting a suitable den to keep out the elements, an adult recognises their interest. By lunchtime, the children have spent more than two hours transforming the den into a fully equipped weather station complete with rain catcher, cloud-spotting book, windsock and observation platform.
This is what education looks like when provision is set up for learning through play, when skilled staff spot a child’s fascination ‘in the moment’, and when the teacher is free to follow the children’s inquisitions and bring the learning to their playful context. To learn in this way is recognised, and expected, in early years settings, but the children described above are not 4 or 5. They are in Year 2.
When a child reaches the age of 5, the value of play ever-diminishes in their daily experiences. In its place, tables, whole-class teaching and the perceived expectations of the key stage 1 curriculum.