by Laura Milner, Lead Teacher
Here at Sunshines we believe that children learn best through their play. Play can be seen as such a frivolous term, but for a child it is the way they experience and interpret the world around them, and as such we place a big emphasis on play. Through different types of play, young children learn all the social, physical, and communicative skills they need to develop into successful life long learners and well-rounded individuals. Alongside this, play can also teach children specific skills such as literacy and numeracy.
The most important thing about play is that it needs to be self-chosen and self-directed. What one individual enjoys and sees as play, another may find a chore. As a result, our practitioners (all of whom have CACHE Level 3 in childcare or higher) set up our play space to be as inviting and thought-provoking as possible, encouraging children to explore the resources in whatever way they choose. Some resources are available to the children all the time, and we show the children how to access these toys and put them back when they have finished with them. Other resources, due to space constraints, must be carefully chosen by the practitioners to enhance the toys and equipment that have been made available to the children, and often link to our topic of the week. At the end of each day, our practitioners reflect on what the children have enjoyed playing with and where they took their own learning, and then we set and plan for the following day based on the children’s interests, ensuring that we inspire and extend their learning.
During our sessions, children have the opportunity to play alongside an adult – being shown how to play in a particular way and then they have the opportunity to play and explore the activities by themselves. This mix of adult supported and child initiated play helps move the child’s development on, the child gets some extra ideas of how to play with something, then ample time to practise their new found skill, all under the guise of playing. Who knew that learning could be so much fun?!