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How children learn

How children learn

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The importance of play

Play underpins the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). It also underpins learning and all aspects of children’s development. Through play, children develop language skills, their emotions and creativity, social and intellectual skills. For most children their play is natural and spontaneous although some children may need extra help from adults. 

Play takes place indoors and outdoors and it is in these different environments that children explore and discover their immediate world. It is here they practice new ideas and skills, they take risks, show imagination and solve problems on their own or with others. 

The role that adults have is crucial. Adults provide time and space and appropriate resources. These might include clothes, boxes, buckets, old blankets that will inspire play and fire children’s imaginations. They observe play and join in when invited, watching and listening before intervening. They value play and provide safe but challenging environments that support and extend learning and development. 

(Source: Early Years Matters 2018)

Just Playing - a poem by Anita Wadley

When I'm building in the block area,
Please don't say I'm "just playing."
For you see, I'm learning as I play,
About balances and shapes.
Who knows, I may be an architect someday.
    
When I'm getting all dressed up,
Setting the table, caring for the babies,
Don't get the idea I'm "just playing."
For you see, I'm learning as I play;
I may be a mother or father someday.
   
When you see me up to my elbows in paint
Or standing at an easel,
Or moulding and shaping clay,
Please don't let me hear you say, "He is just playing."
For you see, I'm learning as I play.
I'm expressing myself and being creative.
I may be an artist or an inventor someday.
    
When you see me sitting in a chair
"Reading" to an imaginary audience,
Please don't laugh and think I'm 'just playing.'
For you see, I'm learning as I play.
I may be a teacher someday.

When you see me combing the bushes for bugs,
Or packing my pockets with choice things I find,
Don't pass it off as 'just play.'
For you see, I'm learning as I play.
I may be a scientist someday.

When you see me engrossed in a puzzle
Or some 'plaything' at my school,
Please don't feel the time is wasted in 'play.'
For you see, I'm learning as I play.
I'm learning to solve problems and concentrate.
I may be in business someday.

When you see me cooking or tasting foods,
Please don't think that because I enjoy it,
It is 'just play.'
I'm learning to follow direction and see differences.
I may be a cook someday.

When you see me learning to skip, hop,
Run and move my body,
Please don't say I'm "just playing."
For you see, I'm learning as I play.
I'm learning how my body works.
I may be a doctor, nurse or athlete someday.

When you ask me what I've done at school today,
And I say, "I just played',
Please don't misunderstand me.
For you see, I'm learning as I play.
I'm learning to enjoy and be successful in my work.
I'm preparing for tomorrow.
Today, I am a child and my work is play.  

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