Our lovely Fiona is expecting a baby in December, and is currently working from home. She has been looking closely at the newest document from the Scottish Government on best Early Years practice – Realising the Ambition.
Our staff really like this document as it focuses on, and fully endorses the child centred approach that we have always had at Milngavie EYC, and gives us the confidence to fully embrace the new Planning in the Moment approach we began to implement in August. It emphasises the importance of well being to a child’s ability to learn, and promotes child-initiated independent learning.
Here is Fiona’s summary of the document.
Realising the Ambition: Being Me
National practice guidance for Early years in Scotland. (Education Scotland 2020)
Shaping the ELC sector this new document has been creatively designed to guide and support all those who work with babies and children in early years and beyond into the start of Primary school.
This guidance seeks to improve children’s futures and emphasises the importance of everyone playing their part in empowering all of Scotland’s children to
It provides information and good practice for all working within the ELC sector, into the early stages of primary stages, and beyond.
“Ideas of ‘school readiness’ or what children ‘should’ be doing, place too much emphasis on concerns about the future.”
(Carlton and Winsler, 1999).
“When working with children, it is essential that we start from what a child can do rather than what they can’t do. A skilled practitioner will use their knowledge of the individual child’s strengths appropriately, to build on small steps of progress.”
Below are some relevant points from the new document.
Being me from my earliest days
“It is important to consider the life-stories of children in our settings from their earliest days. Practitioners seek to learn from parents and carers the significant information about a child’s previous experiences.”
Me and my environment
“A key part of the environment for children is the human, social environment of positive nurturing interactions. Experiences are also part of the environment.”
Being a baby, a toddler and a young child
It is important for Early year practitioners to know:
- How children develop and learn from the beginning
- How they are developing at any point in time
- How they might develop and learn in the future.
However, age alone is not the predetermining factor in children’s development. Each child will progress in their own way and at their own rate as there are no set rules.
Considering the interactions, experiences and spaces on offer we, as practitioners, add value to what children already know and can do.
Children need to learn things for themselves, but this does not mean they should always do so by themselves.
- Follow and build on children’s motivations and interests.
- Support young children to make the most of the environment for learning and development.
Building a secure sense of self does not come quickly.
We can see development happening most clearly in
- Very young babies, through the first few months, begin to interact more obviously with their caregivers, exchanging smiles and expressions.
- Toddlers will play with us, and often they will play “alongside” each other in what is sometimes called parallel play.
- As children develop, they become more social, taking part in longer play sequences with different roles and rules.
Different aspects of development are interlinked.
Babies take a while to work out how to smile, not because they don’t want to, but because the muscle movements are complicated and new!
Co-operative play is just as complicated!
For a young child following instructions, staying focused and using self-control are important skills that are learned and built from an early age.
What I need from the adults that look after me
When children repeat patterns of behaviour this is known as schematic play. Early years practitioners are able to recognise that these distinct patterns of behaviour (Schemas) are meaningful and accommodate opportunities for individual children.
For example, children carrying all the bricks from one place to another in a bag. This repeated behaviour could be described as ‘transporting’, one of the examples of schematic play.
It is important to understand that a child is not being disruptive when engaged in schematic play but to recognise this as early learning. Help can be given to support the child by offering opportunities to test out their thinking.
The importance of play.
Play is not simple!
- Play can mean many different things to children and adults.
- We may describe activities we plan as ‘play’ whereas a child may not see these as play at all.
- ‘Play’ is therefore both a tricky word and concept to describe. It can be fun and joyful or difficult and complicated.
- We know that this is challenging as the act can be misinterpreted as ‘just play’.
Another challenge is to go beyond the word ’play’ and consider how play and learning are associated.
Through play, a child can:
- learn to answer their own questions
- learn new skills
- learn to work collaboratively with other children or adults.
When playing a child:
- tries out ideas and comes to a better understanding of thoughts and concepts.
- Is learning to cope with reality through using their imagination.
- Is practising new skills.
Curriculum for Excellence gives prominence to play, particularly across the early level and the transition between ELC and primary school.
This transition will likely be smoother for the child if play remains and continues as the main vehicle for their early learning in P1 and beyond.
As practitioners across ELC settings and schools we work together to plan for progression in learning and for continuity across a child-centred play curriculum.
The role of the adult is a balance of supporting, enriching and proposing on the one hand, and keeping back on the other to give the children space and time to build their own ideas.
Child-centred play (pedagogy) requires Early years practitioners to take the lead from the children. This approach actively responds to the individual and constantly changing needs of a young child.
A young child’s voice is interpreted by observations of their actions, emotions and words. These observations are central to assessment and inform us what children need.
As previously mentioned, designing learning environments requires consideration of the interactions, experiences and spaces on offer.
At Milngavie, physical spaces, both outside and indoors, are constantly reviewed to incorporate a wide range of responsive, familiar, and exciting new play opportunities.
Staff observe how the children interact with their environment and respond to their interests and use of their spaces.
Observation can be noticing what it is that the children are finding interesting; noticing what they do and seeing how this might be changing over time.
“Learning is a co-operative process between children and adults, where children ‘borrow’ adult knowledge and skills, and at any given moment the lead and responsibility passes back and forth.
From the adult’s point of view, one can imagine this as a ‘ladder’ that they can go up and down, always aware of the child’s interest and initiative.” Barbara Rogoff (2003)
As adults, think about how we can make something even ‘more interesting’.
This new guidance, Realising the Ambition: Being Me, reflects the original principles of Building the Ambition and complements the current policy direction of ELC and early Primary education. It aspires to support practitioners in delivering what babies and young children need most and how we can most effectively deliver this to give children the best start in life.