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Evaluate the benefits of an integrated, play based approach to young children’s learning. Refer to relevant reading and use examples from preschool, foundation stage or key stage one.\t

Evaluate the benefits of an integrated, play based approach to young children’s learning. Refer to relevant reading and use examples from preschool, foundation stage or key stage one.\t

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An essay for the 2011 Undergraduate Awards (Ireland) Competition by Janine McCluskey. Originally submitted for BA Hons Early Childhood Studies at Stranmills University College, with lecturer Dorothy McMillan in the category of Teacher Education
An essay for the 2011 Undergraduate Awards (Ireland) Competition by Janine McCluskey. Originally submitted for BA Hons Early Childhood Studies at Stranmills University College, with lecturer Dorothy McMillan in the category of Teacher Education

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 31, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/13/2014

 
Janine McCluskeyEarly Years Curriculum1
Evaluate the benefits of an integrated, play based approach to young children’s
learning. Refer to relevant reading and use examples from preschool, foundationstage or key stage one.Play in early childhood education is vital for the development of children and itprovides a good starting block for their future education. Play based learning benefitschildren in many ways and provides opportunities for them to develop holistically.Learning through play allows children to progress at their own rate and can helpthem to achieve their fullest potential. DENI, DHSSPS and CCEA (2006) look atimportant areas in which young children can develop skills that will be useful to themthroughout their lives. This essay will look at how exploring through play can benefitchildren and help them deal with situations they may be unfamiliar with and will alsodiscuss how play allows young children to develop at their own rate with the help of others and how
progression can build a child’s confidence and motivation.
Playbased learning also provides children with the opportunity to develop language skillsand create meaningful relationshipsThroughout the 19
th
Century many people saw children as blank vessels which couldbe filled with knowledge from the influential adults around them. However, Froebel(1782-1802) and Rousseau (1712-1778) disagreed with this view and believed thatchildren where born with knowledge which could be nurtured and developed throughthe use of appropriate education (cited in Wood and Attfield,2006) Froebel sawchildren as individuals and believed that development occurred best through play,first hand experiences and self- chosen activities. Many of Froebels ideas can beseen in todays early years settings. During placement in a nursery setting Froebelsideas where observed as the children developed an interest in bugs. Their interestbegan when the teacher put books about bugs on display in the classroom. As the
 
Janine McCluskeyEarly Years Curriculum2
children’s interest developed they where given the opportunity to explore their 
outdoor environment and gain first-hand experiences of collecting and observingbugs. This experience provided many learning opportunities for the children includingsocial, physical and sensory development. A play based curriculum has many learning purposes for young children. Play allowschildren to progress at their own rate and develop an understanding of situationsthey may be unfamiliar with. Weininger states,
“Play helps to clear up cognitive confusions which all growing childrenmeet during the day.” 
(1980:51)This can help children to make sense of the world around them and receivereassurance from adults about situations they may not have experienced. Using playwith young children can also provide them with the opportunity to express their worries and concerns through role-play without having to formally tell an adult. Playcan help early years practitioners highlight areas in which children are havingdifficulty understanding and through observing children at play, a more appropriatecurriculum can be delivered.When delivering a play based curriculum to young children it is important that theadult supports the child in their learning and helps model any new skills the childmay be developing. Vygotsky (1896-1934) believed that young children learn bestfrom socialising with adults and peers who are more skilled than themselves.Vygotsky focused on the zone of proximal development (ZPD) which he defined as,
 
Janine McCluskeyEarly Years Curriculum3
“the difference between what the child can do alone and the potential 
for what can be achieved with assistance from a more skilled adult or 
 peer.” 
(Daly, Byers and Taylor, 2004: 75)Within early years settings this can often be observed in practice, for example a childwho appears to be struggling with a jigsaw can be guided by a capable adult. Thiscould be done by the adult advising the child on how to use the picture on the box asa guide and reminding them of how the pieces fit together. Providing constantencouragement and praise throughout the
child’s
learning experience can also helpthem to achieve their fullest potential as well as boosting their confidence.Through play-based learning young children become motivated and develop theconfidence to try new experiences. Bruce (1997) Moyles (1994) and Siraji-Blatchford(1999) state,
“play and practical acti 
vity are a source of motivation for young 
children, providing a context for exploration and experimentation,” 
(cited in Walsh, 2006:4)Many children feel anxious about the texture of objects and fear the unknown of whatthe object can do. This can often be seen in nursery settings at the art and crafttable, when during the autumn months early years settings carry out activities wherechildren use their hand prints to create autumn leaves falling off the trees. Manychildren become worried when they are asked to paint their hands, this may bebecause they do not like the texture of the paint or they are unsure of how adultsmay react. According to DENI et al (2006:20),

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