12 01

Eyfs essay

eyfs essay

The EYFS proposes that flexible plans are used by practitioners to adapt ideas and that carers use observations to link play situations to learning outcomes. The main premise of the EYFS is that play is the central aspect and can support each of the six areas of learning (Canning and Read, 2010). For example, Pimentel (2007) suggests that to develop problem solving reasoning and numeracy in young children, practitioners should be providing mathematical opportunities through play based, open ended and challenging activities like imaginative play, songs and stories. Current research from Bergen (2002) agrees concluding there is a relationship between problem solving and pretend play and that social play has a great influence on problem solving of all kinds. Worthington and Caruthers (2010) continue by suggesting that parents should been shown how children explore mathematical meaning through play, to fully understand the concept. Riley (2003) suggests that play opportunities offer children the chance to acquire knowledge and understanding of the world in which they live and that play has the potential to be the major approach to children's learning.

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eyfs essay

What is play?

An early definition of play comes from Isaacs (1999) who viewed play as the work of children. Montessori (2005) believed that children preferred to work whilst playing. Her teaching focused on children developing basic skills, skills could include button and fastening equipment to promote independence in dressing. Though Montessori did not promote learning through play, she did value individual effort as well as working as part of a group. (Lindon, 2001).

Lindon (2001) believes play is a range of activities which are undertaken for their own enjoyment, satisfaction and interest. Play is not essential for survival although these activities support psychological wellbeing, learning physical skills and intellectual stimulation.

Whereas Moyles (1989) comments on how play is valuable as an excellent learning tool, he also notes the difficulties in finding a definite, precise and conclusive definition of play. He continues by saying there is a need for a different terminology to be used, as the idea of play can be interpreted as something trivial, instead of being seen as play being serious and important to learning.

Parents at interview did not seem to realise that the EYFS continued from nursery into the school environment, and the data suggests that the largest proportion of parents gathered their information about the EYFS from a setting their child attended previous to beginning school.

One parent's main knowledge of the EYFS came from media alone. Steve Alexander, chief executive of the Preschool Learning Alliance as cited in Watson (2008) states that ill evidence and sensation style reporting is causing parents to question and make complex decisions about the benefits of the EYFS, whilst Beverly Hughes as cited in Watson (2008) continues by saying that the critics are spreading uncertainty and misconceptions amongst parents causing concern and uncertainty.

Child development ideas continue to be discussed and challenged with innovative and profound ideas having a large impact on how childhood has been conceptualized and children treated in society.

Whilst others asked 'what do children know' Piaget as cited in Garhart Mooney, (2000) suggests that Piaget's work was about how children arrived on what they know? Piaget claimed that children construct their own comprehension by giving meaning to their surroundings and the people they meet. Piaget (1967) noted how all children of the same age appeared to think in similar ways, and how they would also make similar mistakes. From the observations Piaget noted the changes in the children's thinking; this led him to believe that the child was an isolated individual, who adapts to the environment they are in (Smith et el, 1998).

  • ^ "Doubts over progress in early learning", The Guardian, 28 August 2007.
  • ^ "UK children 'reading too early'", BBC News, 22 November 2007.
  • ^ "Under-sevens 'too young to learn to read'", The Guardian, 22 November 2007.
  • ^ "Problem caused by pushing them too much, too young", The Times, 23 January 2008.
  • ^ "Playing with their minds", TES, 1 February 2008.
  • ^ "England falls in reading league", BBC News, 28 November 2007.
  • ^ "Toddler curriculum criticised by European education expert", The Guardian, 15 November 2005.
  • Whitebread and Whitebread (2008) agree by continuing that although concerns over the expanse of the curriculum are minimal, there are serious concerns that in some areas the capabilities of the children are under estimated. Brock et el suggests that practitioners must be fully aware of the breadth and depth of play and a play based curriculum to be able to implement the EYFS effectively and with worthwhile outcomes.

    Key points

    As far back as 1929 Isaac defined play as children's work, now over eighty years later the EYFS is based upon children learning through play. The EYFS principles are based on research and theory of the early year's pioneers of education, although it is argued that parents are critical and confused by it. Policy and early year's initiatives are encouraging parents to become involved in their child's care, but it is unlikely they will become involved and embrace the EYFS if they do not understand the ideas and concepts which it is built around.

    According to Mosaic approach (Clarke and Moss, 2001) and participatory rural appraisal techniques (O'Kane, 2000), a verity of participative activities with children were designed to correlate with each of these 4 broad themes and to address the 4 commitments within each one.

    A sample of 15 case study settings selected from across 4 Local Authorities drawn from 2 government regions in north England. It comprise of 2 children's centres, 2 reception classes, 3 maintained nursery classes, 2 private nurseries, 1 voluntary sector setting, 1 independent school, one out-of-school setting, 4 childminders and 1 Steiner kindergarten. The sample was selected to include children growing up in urban and rural areas of social advantage and deprivation, and ethnical different communities.

    Though it was apparent that most of the participants believed children learn through play, nearly all parents interviewed and through the questionnaires still focused upon the social skills which could be enhanced during most activities.

    Parents were asked whether they felt that children learnt more from spontaneous play or through the use of educational toys. Eleven parents saw the benefits of both types of play/toys for healthy development of their child, whilst three parents believed spontaneous play to be more beneficial and only two parents believed that educational toys were more beneficial to spontaneous play.

    One parent at interview discussed the differences in children and explained that his eldest child had been very interested at five in educational toys especially jigsaw puzzles and Lego blocks, where the younger child at five enjoyed nothing more than running around in the garden and pretending to be different people in different situations.

    It could then be argued that parents also need to acquire this view, if they want their child to fully benefit from the EYFS.

    50% of parents still believe that the real learning happens later when children are introduced to a more traditional curriculum. Wardle (1987) suggests that more and more parents expect their young children to be learning academic skills and there is no room left for child centred play. Petrie and Hollaway, (2006) also suggest some parents may not be aware of the opportunities for learning that are embedded in a play-oriented curriculum.

    Limitations of the study

    As with many research studies, this study also had its limitations. The research was not testing a hypothesis and the results from the data are only relevant to the specific setting in which I collected them from.

    Lindon (2001) continues by suggesting that it is through Piaget's beliefs that children create their own understanding of the world, which led him to highlight that adults should create environments which children can discover and learn by themselves. Cadwell (2003) suggests an example of this is the preschools of northern Italy, Reggio Emilia which are strongly influenced by the theories of Piaget.

    Vygotsky as cited in Garhart Mooney (2000) agreed with Piaget that children's knowledge was created from personal experiences; although Vygotsky suggests that personal and social experiences can not be separated and that children learn from each other every day, their language develops and they grasp new ideas as they speak to each other, listen to each other and play together.

    To as not to assume anything, I asked the parents if they knew about the six areas of learning. 69% of the parents who completed the questionnaire were not aware of the six areas of learning. The parents were then given the headings of the six areas of learning and asked to score the areas one to six with one being the area in which they felt play would be the most beneficial and six being the least.

    Parents felt that play would be the least beneficial in supporting learning in the area of Problem solving, reasoning and numeracy. This trend was continued through the discussions with the participants in the interviews, with participants saying:

    "I can see how play helps teach the children social skills and communication, and physical development, I think the least beneficial would be the maths things" (Parent 1)

    "I think the most beneficial would be the social and emotional things and knowledge of the world and least probably the maths" (Parent 2)

    Play based curriculum

    The last theme centred around parent's views on a play based curriculum for their child in the EYFS.


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