Last week’s #EYshare was all about Play (20/02/2019). It was a fantastic chat with lots of thought-provoking discussion, and I’m going to summarise some of the key ideas here.
N.B. I would usually collate the tweets BUT my trusty storify is no more and twitter moments decided not to work for me at all! If anyone can recommend a good way to collect a large number of tweets together, I’d love to hear about it!
Q1. We all agreed that play and learning are inextricably linked. There can, however, be a wide variety of terms and synonyms which can cause confusion – such as playful learning, play based learning, pure play, free play etc. For some people, playful learning could be play which is more controlled by the adult, whereas play is perhaps more organic. In whatever way that play occurs, it is essential that teachers/practitioners are flexible and are able to follow children’s interests and needs. They must also take relevant observations and scaffold learning where appropriate. Adults may also be responsible for creating play environments which are conducive to learning.
There was also some talk about various terminology being perhaps used to try to justify play when it occurs in our educational settings. Many people agreed that we still feel that we need to justify play, particularly perhaps to parents and families.
Q2. One of the major problems when it comes to play in schools is time. Time is a huge issue for many reasons, but with teachers already having a crowded curriculum and short school days, play can often be pushed to the bottom of the priority pile. It is often squeezed in to ‘golden time’ or used as a reward after other work has been completed, rather than being embraced for its own sake. It was suggested that there is a place for play in schools, as long as it is planned and purposeful, and note used as an excuse for teachers to take a bit of time off.
Q3 and 4. These 2 questions are linked, as were the answers and discussions. Some people felt that written logs and annotations are a great way to observe play. Other suggestions were using photos or a sequence of photos and annotating the learning. I loved the phrase “Listen, Note, Quote” as it emphasises the importance of listening first, taking down your notes, and then including the children’s voice. One tweeter commented that they keep their observations and next steps in their head, and that this is great for being able to plan responsively and in the moment. It was also recognised that pupils should be involved, as much as possible, in the planning and next steps for their learning.
Q5. Whilst it may be slightly frustrating for an adult to set up lovely activities, and have some children ignore them in favour of playing the same game day-in and day-out, many tweeters argued that we should recognise the value of what these children are doing and what they are getting from it. The child may be learning new and different things through playing in a way that is familiar and comfortable to them. They will likely move on from this when they are ready to do so. It was suggested that a teacher/ practitioner could use the interest to cover many different aspects of learning. It may also be possible to introduce new resources into that play, or to bring the favoured toys into new areas to try to encourage the child. It was also suggested that the particular toy/ activity might not be on offer for a while to allow the child to explore other options.
Q6. Many of us used to feel that it was right for children to share, but on reflection many of us now feel that sharing depends on context. Turn taking and social skills are important but children need to know that they don’t necessarily need to hand over the toy that they’re playing with, or equally they might not get a toy right away. Adults should also be helping the children to understand rather than just being told to share.
This is a very brief round up of some of the wonderful ideas and points that were shared during the chat. I really enjoyed the discussion and it reminded me yet again of the importance of play in our children’s lives. Working with my EYP hat on, I know and live this, but with my teacher hat I need to work a bit harder to see how play can be utilised and embraced.
I’d like to give a huge thank you to:
@JamesEYFS @early_miss @edublether @LyndseyJF @StacyBenge @earlyyearsMrs_R @Eyfs4M @SuzanneAxelsson @Primaryteachks @signoramac @DavidN_Cahn @foresta54 @kenadams777 @sarahmay_90 @MisterTeachYT @blueybaloo @CiarnaC @airasams @AndreaDPowe @TeresaAslanian @MsNursery
(apologies if I missed anyone!)
If this post has peaked your interest and you have anything to add to the discussion about play, please tweet using the hashtag #EYshare. Alternatively, you could add a comment below.
#EYshare takes place every Wednesday at 8pm. This week we will be chatting about literacy in the early years and I’m sure it will be another great chat with lots of ideas being shared. We’re a friendly group and always welcome new-comers, so please do come and join in!
Finally, I’m looking for guest hosts to cover #EYshare sessions while I am on teaching placement. If you are interested, please pop me a message @EarlyYearsIdeas.