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Introduction to Play and learning

This course session covers:

  • The importance of the key person for supporting their key children's learning
  • The theory of sustained shared thinking

Length of session:

The session should take between 30 to 40 minutes

You will need:

Each participant will need a pen and a note book or a printed copy of the Session 2.5 Play and learning task sheet - Available in the further reading section
00:09
As a key person, you have a really important role
00:11
in terms of play and learning.
00:13
Children love to have the attention
00:15
of an adult watching what they're doing
00:17
as they explore and play.
00:19
The key person has the added advantage
00:21
of having particular knowledge and understanding
00:24
through careful observations
00:26
of their key child's interests and concerns.
00:29
And so, we're in the ideal position
00:30
to encourage and support play and learning.
00:33
Let's hear what Peter Elfer has to say about this.
00:36
One of the most striking things
00:37
about watching children playing in nursery
00:40
is how much they'd love to have the attention
00:43
of an adult watching what they're doing,
00:45
or initiating some play activity.
00:49
And a key person, any adult in a nursery, can do that.
00:53
But the key person for a child
00:55
may have a particular knowledge
00:57
around the standing of that child's interests
01:01
or concerns.
01:05
I've seen many times the key person just sit with the child
01:10
and be interested in what they're doing,
01:12
And you can see the child's interests almost visibly expand,
01:17
and their engagement with the activity increase.
01:20
It's really quite remarkable.
01:22
It's not that the key person does anything,
01:25
or certainly not that they take the lead,
01:27
it's very important that the child is taking the lead,
01:30
but just the presence and quiet interest
01:32
of the key person seems to make such a difference
01:36
to children's thinking and engagement with activities.
01:40
Being tuned into your key children means being available
01:43
and recognizing when to interact sensitively
01:46
to support their explorations and play.
01:49
Often, it's better just to be interested
01:52
in what the child's doing.
01:55
Practitioners and parents alike may often find themselves
01:58
focusing on the next transition,
02:00
activity or skill to be mastered,
02:02
possibly believing that the sooner a child acquires a skill,
02:05
the better, which research shows isn't the case.
02:10
They feel they must be constantly moving a child on,
02:13
without allowing them time to experiment,
02:16
consolidate and lead their own learning.
02:19
As a key person, you'll be getting to know what interests
02:22
and motivates your key children,
02:24
and how they show you what they really want to explore.
02:27
You'll also have a good knowledge
02:29
of what they can do already,
02:30
and what skills they are developing.
02:34
Using your existing knowledge of the child
02:36
and observing carefully,
02:38
you're able to recognize those special moments and times
02:41
when you can really move with the child's lead
02:44
in their explorations
02:45
and extend their thinking and learning,
02:47
by exploring and sharing together.
02:49
Is it wet?
02:52
Is it wet?
02:54
You've got bubbles on the car, look,
02:55
can you see the bubbles on the car?
02:57
The bubbles, there.
03:02
The bubbles.
03:02
This is often referred to
03:03
as sustained, shared thinking.
03:05
Vroom, look, it makes tracks, doesn't it?
03:08
Look at the tracks.
03:13
Wow!
03:16
That's good.
03:19
Sustained, shared thinking is an important concept
03:21
when looking at how children learn.
03:23
It has the following features.
03:26
There needs to be a positive, trusting relationship
03:31
in place between the adult and the child.
03:33
The adult is aware of the child's interests
03:37
and level of understanding.
03:39
The adult works together with the child
03:42
to develop ideas or a skill.
03:46
The adult shows genuine interest, offers encouragement,
03:49
clarifies ideas and asks open-ended questions
03:53
to support and extend the child's thinking.
03:56
The adult is involved in the process with the child,
04:01
by supporting and challenging the child's thinking.
04:04
The key person is in a great position
04:05
to support sustained, shared thinking
04:07
with their key children,
04:10
by recognizing when those special moments are happening
04:11
that are ideal for supporting
04:15
and extending the experiences further.
04:18
So the key person is able to tune in,
04:21
observing carefully, allowing the child time
04:24
to develop their ideas and thinking.
04:27
This involves resisting rushing through experiences
04:28
that the child is absorbed in,
04:30
just to move on to other activities
04:33
that may be seen as more purposeful
04:36
by those who are not so familiar with the child.
04:39
I wonder why we haven't gotta take the lid off?
04:41
Why?
04:44
What do you think would happen if we took the lid off?
04:47
Might fall off.
04:49
You might fall inside, mightn't ye?
04:49
And that would be no good,
04:51
would it?
04:55
Is it going down here?
04:57
Can you hear it going down?
05:02
It's not going down yet.

Downloads

Facilitators guide - The role of the key person - Play & learning Download
Task sheet - The role of the key person - Play & learning Download