Both curiosity and creativity are held in an extremely high regard when it comes to education in the early years. As I read and reflect upon the values and principles core to the CFE, it makes me happy to see the very strong similarities between these and those of my own. Children will do their best learning when these qualities are nurtured; the natural curiosity and creativity of children will be their greatest asset in developing socially, physically, emotionally and cognitively.
For these qualities to be developed effectively, children must be given the opportunity to investigate and explore, to respond to their natural instincts and follow their own line of enquiry: all of which being well supported by the role of play. Play supports the individual instincts of the child; they will likely follow through with whatever is interesting them in that moment. It allows them to solve problems for themselves, develop new skills, and work collectively with other children and with adults. It is an incredibly advantageous way of encouraging language development and helps to promote self-regulation, contributing to the holistic well-being of the child. The environment in which these experiences take place are also of the utmost importance: both indoor and outdoor play are essential to fully support and enhance learning and skill development. An environment which is stimulating and full of open-ended possibilities should encourage children to explore and take risks, allowing them to make and learn from mistakes, assisting the development of resilience.
The way in which play is implemented in practice is reflective of its weighted importance, the importance of what is relevant to the child at any given time and the importance of placing the child at the centre of the learning. The teacher or practitioner must be able to step back and allow the children to follow their natural curiosity and creativity, knowing when to step in to support the children and enhance their experience; the children must be able to explore a variety of environments (both indoor and outdoor); and the adults must learn from the children to inform their practice. The adult must observe, interpret and document the learning, using the child’s actions, emotions and words to inform them. This interpretation must then be used to respond appropriately and for intentional planning. It must then be decided collectively by the teachers and practitioners what needs to change and what must remain the same in order to best support the children’s skill development and learning.