Mon 20 May 2019
Although the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) aims to encourage ‘school readiness’, from 0 – 2 years the focus is on three prime areas of learning: communication and learning, physical development and personal, social and emotional development.
Communication and learning
The role of a nursery practitioner is to provide resources, toys, music and sounds which invite responses from babies e.g. touching, smiling, smelling, feeling, exploring and listening. Communication and the development of language is encouraged in nursery settings, through the use of books, stories, songs and rhymes.
Create a cosy area where children are able to access a range of books. From a very early age babies will show an interest in books, so it’s important to engage with them about what they are ‘reading’. Simple questions about what they can see in the images or just hearing books read aloud (particularly those with a repetitive rhythm and lots of rhyme) will be hugely beneficial to any infant or young child.
Story baskets with a book and related toys or resources (such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar plus some fake food from the story) will capture young imaginations.
Use repetitive songs to help children’s understanding of the world around them – a lunchtime/naptime/tidy up time tune will help them to piece together different parts of the day and generate an understanding of what is going to happen next.
Play counting games throughout the day, as the plates are put for lunch, as toys are tidied away, as children are counted etc.
Commentate on what the children are doing e.g. ‘Max is pushing the red ball along the floor.’ This will expose them to new vocabulary and model the language we want them to learn.
And, of course, developing a child’s communication and language skills should be a part of everything they do. The more you speak to a child and model language skills, the more they will learn.
Well planned areas should be provided to give babies and young children maximum space to move and explore in safety, both indoors and outdoors.
Provide objects to allow infants and young children to practise grasping and letting go, as well as turning objects in their hands e.g. blocks, rattles, blankets and stuffed toys. Introducing new and novel toys will encourage more play and exploration.
Stacking blocks (or anything that could make a tower!) is a great activity for young children. You can expect a tower of between 2-6 blocks to be made before it being knocked down, ready to start over again.
Drawing with crayons, or chalks outside, encourage early mark making and development of fine motor skills.
Water play is a fun-filled activity that will be loved by infants and young children. Add anything into a bowl or tray of water and let them explore. Sponges, spaghetti, strainers, cups, plastic toys… pretty much anything goes, so get creative!
Blowing bubbles, and letting older babies catch or pop them, will encourage younger children to use both of their hands.
Smaller infants should have tummy time encouraged as it is a great way to develop the use of their hands. Stacking blocks, pushing blocks through holes and using rattles and noisy toys will encourage them to pick up and hold things in their hands.
Mirrors of varying sizes allow for children to gain a new perspective on their surroundings. It helps them to concentrate on their own movements and, eventually, coordinate them.
Personal, social and emotional development
Children at this age learn by exploring with their hands and mouths. They bang, throw, drop, shake and put items in their mouths so encourage, and provide opportunities for exploration.
Encourage them to learn about the world through their senses by using music, rattles and other noisy toys to explore sound.
Treasure baskets are a great resource to stimulate babies, as they will want to handle and manipulate everything. Treasure baskets (a box or basket filled with objects that are not usually accessible) can be themed (around a story book or season, for example) or could be a random selection of items that make interesting sounds and are of different shapes and textures. This is also a brilliant opportunity to commentate on what the child is doing and touching, to expose them to new vocabulary.
Learning how to use everyday objects is an important development, such as using a spoon and drinking from a cup for older babies. These should be encouraged through a mixture of individually planned activities and daily routines.
Encourage and model social interaction with other babies and adults.