Annalisa Rabotti, an educator in Reggio Emilia wrote: –

‘Children are always throwing out sparks of knowledge, curiosity, and inquiry and adults must be ready to catch those sparks……You have to be ready to catch them as a teacher and blow on them to encourage them to grow bigger and ignite them further.’

This quote sums up clearly the importance of the role of the adult. There are many things to consider when providing experiences for your children to help them at the start of their educational journey. Firstly, know your ‘why?’ – ask yourself why you are providing this experience and what will your child/children gain from it? This will make it purposeful to your child. Secondly, are you following your child’s/children’s interests? Children learn best when they are interested and engaged. Using children’s interests as a basis for your choice of experience ensures that learning is not only interesting but also meaning and relevant.

Young children want to learn how things work and they learn best through play. Spending time playing with your child as a parent / carer or as a member of staff in a Cylch Meithrin/Day Nursery is good for your children’s all-round development. While they are playing, children are thinking, learning, problem-solving and creating. They may also be running, climbing, skipping, lifting, throwing, pulling and pushing and developing fine motor skills. Engaging children in these activities also help to develop self-care skills such as dressing / undressing, eating and toileting and develop their independence. (For further information on play and play-based learning, see Play and play based learning – Meithrin)

By providing invitations to learn/play we are sending out discreet messages to children to come and play here (look out for our explanation on invitations to play/learn coming soon.) You can do this at home or in your setting, indoors and outdoors. How do we do this? As a parent / carer or member of staff we can display a range of carefully selected materials and loose parts based on the interests of the child that will draw their curiosity and attention. This will engage them in a world of wonder and awe and develop their learning across the five developmental pathways – communication, exploration, physical development, belonging and well-being.

Mudiad Meithrin believes in valuing books and nurturing children’s love of books. Children from a young age need to experience handling books, listen to stories, and see the beauty of reading. All you need to do this is a selection of books, loose parts, and some peg dolls/animals etc. Children can then enter a world where there are no limits to their imagination. Books need to be available in all areas of the setting, not just the book corner. Carefully selected books need to be placed within easy access when setting up provocations and invitations to play/learn. Consider using low windowsills, shelves, display cabinets and tuff trays to display books, loose parts and peg dolls. The book is just the starting point, and the resources can be used to act out the story following the children’s thoughts, imagination and creativity. (For further information see Mudiad Meithrin’s training on Story time.)

Outdoor play should be offered to young children as much as possible. There are so many benefits to this and now more than ever we need to recognise its importance of its impact on early years development. Being outdoors has a positive impact on children’s physical and mental health. Mental health issues among young children are on the increase so it is important we find ways to tackle this by ensuring that we place children’s well-being at the forefront of children’s learning. Children best learn when they are happy and free from stress and anxiety. The physical exercise that being outdoors provides, helps to combat issues around increasing obesity in young children. Children naturally have the opportunity to develop their gross and fine motor skills by being outdoors. Time in nature provides children with a break from the demands of everyday life. Not all children are able to conform to the restrictions of being indoors, so being outdoors allows them to burn off excess energy resulting in keeping challenging behaviour at bay. Whatever you provide for children indoors can be replicated outdoors on a bigger, louder scale!

 

For further information on well-being and outdoor learning, click on the following links:-

meithrin.cymru/wp-content/uploads/2023/07/Astudiaeth_Achos_Bro_Alun_S.pdf

Baby Steps into the Curriculum – Meithrin

View – Hwb (gov.wales)

Cylch Meithrin Sarnau a Llandderfel – Outdoor Learning – YouTube

Ysgol Feithrin Pontypwl Case study (meithrin.cymru)

 

The benefits of nature play

If you want to provide interesting, relevant experiences to your child/children based on their interests and are not sure where to start, use the following as a guide: –

  • Observe how they play
  • Write it down
  • Listen and talk to them
  • Be open to their ideas
  • Give them plenty of opportunities

By doing this you will be providing them with positive, authentic experiences around and beyond that interest. Parents, carers and practitioners have an essential role to play here.

We have provided some ideas on engaging experiences that complement our planning resource based on our calendar of events. We follow the seasons and nature. These ideas can be used on their own or with the planning resource.

 

For further information contact:-

Judith Grigg BEd (Hons) MAEd, Lead Officer Foundation Learning.

judith.grigg@meithrin.cymru

 

Click below to see a booklet on things to do with your children during Autumn;

 

Click below to read about the benefits of Nature Play;

 

Click below to see a booklet on things to do with your children during Winter;