I haven’t done a blog post for ages because firstly, I have been so very busy and secondly, I have not really had anything great to blog about. However, in the final week of the last half-term, I went on an amazing course at Early Excellence in Huddersfield. Now if you work in Early Years I’m sure you will have heard of this place and I hope you have been there. It’s a lovely place for courses specialising in Early Years and they have rooms set out with provision areas for inspiration, a shop full of lovely resources (but are rather pricey) and a yummy café. The course I attended was all about developing learning through a child initiated approach.
The course was led by Anna Ephgrave, an EYFS leader and Ruth Moore, Early Years Manager at Enfield’s School Improvement Service. It was based on the way Anna runs her Early Years unit without any forward planning or focus activities. The adults are free to interact with the children in their play and move their learning on appropriately. This spontaneous way of working sounded great and was exactly what we were taught at university but you rarely see it in practice. At university they were always going on about how children learn best when they are doing something they are interested in, young children are curious, children should be learning independently, ‘hands on’ learning… and the list goes on. Yet when we step into an average Early Years classroom we have children coming to sit on the carpet for a 10 minute input on something most of the class might be interested in and then we follow this up with a small group activity and we try to get through as many groups as possible before lunch time.
Anna and Ruth showed how things can be different; you can follow children’s interests and still get results. I feel awful interrupting a child’s play to ask them to come and do a focus activity with me and I hear this voice at the back of my head saying ‘why are you stopping them from learning independently? You could play with them and scaffold their learning’. I don’t always have the time to play and scaffold because I’m doing focus activities or observing. This course definitely gave some food for thought and I would like to aim to adapt my practice to follow children’s interests and spend more time playing and interacting. I got a copy of Anna’s book on this course which I would thoroughly recommend if you would like to follow children’s interests.