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Child Initiated Play Help!


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What a day :( I need some help and advise! I am becoming more reliant on the fsf to get all my information about current UK practice and being new to this year group I need your expertise to resolve a few issues.


I am in a different situation, I work in an International school in Bangok and there are 5 nursery classes, all of us 5 teachers have different backgrounds and come from different places in the world. I am team leader and have muddled through the past few weeks with lots to deal with of lack of outside space, new resources held in an airport warehouse for 8 months, etc. and I still haven’t got to my point yet!



Ok - for 90% of our children English is their second language. My colleagues feel that for language acquisition they need to do most of their teaching in a whole class situation. The current model is to have a new topic every week and an A4 planning sheet for each key learning area with up to 10 (or more) learning objectives a week. I have tried to introduce the idea of child initiated tasks and providing lots of learning experiences but the others just don’t get it. They want formal structure and feel that good teaching is through whole class circle time and worksheets. I just feel there is so much to do and now I don’t know where to start. I have shown the team a few planning examples that I found on the site but they are still fixed with the idea of “it’s spiders week” what can we do, then they think about what the children will learn. We do have the new EYFS document and CD which is useful, but as its all not relevant to our situation the others aren’t enthused rather confused! How can I explain the concept of child initiated play and explain how we plan for this?


Can I ask too about record keeping / assessment for nursery. How does the new EYFS fit into early learning goals in nursery? Our Reception classes are still using it but we haven’t worked out if it should be a 2 year profile with evidence available to parents every term. We were heading along the line of keeping assessment material for the first 3 points on the scale but now they have all been reworded and split up it’s confused me!


I apologise for the rant, there is no external support here at all just 5 teachers in 5 separate classrooms, 8 TAs and 70 children!

The freezing UK seems a long way from 30degree Bangkok right now (we’re having problems with air-con let alone heaters)!



Thanks Fiona xD

Edited by Guest
To remove double post!
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Hi Fiona, what a difficult situation to be in and I'm not sure there are any easy answers.

How long have you been in post and what about your colleagues? Are you struggling with the but we do it this way attitude too?


There is a new publication which might help about teaching children with EAL, which you will be able to download. Some of the DVDs might also help you to illustrate/ show what you want to achieve---there is one called "seeing steps in childrens learning" for example.


The EYFS hasnt changed the curriculum expectations for 3-5 yr olds particularly although it is set out differently. Nor has the profile changed, except for one CLL statement due to current thinking about phonetical development. Your assessment should be much the same.


I would have thought small group teaching and activities rather than worksheets were the way to develop the children. I cant imagine worksheets help much at all.


You can find publications here.


Hope someone else will have some oher ideas to help you.

Good luck.

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Hi fiona I know I said I would get back to you but it's been a bit manic at school. Tomorrow I'm on a course at Early Excellence with Margaret Edgington on the subject of Child Initiated Learning so hopefully will have some answers.

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I had a fantastic day Margaret Edgington was wonderful as was the course.


First message about EYFS was throw away the thick book with the scary children grids as it isn't statutory so we don't need worry about it just read the thin statutory guidance.

Second message was most FS settings are over planning

Third message was too many learning objectives.


Be back later with more details.

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Right ~ from the course


EYFS Statutory Framework states "Providers MUST ensure that there is a balance of ault-led and freely-chosen or child- initiated activities, delivered through indoor and outdoor play."


A definition of Child Initiated Learning

"A self-initiated activity is an activity wholly decided on by the child itself and is the result of an intrinsic motivation to explore a project, or express an idea. In doing this they may make use of a variety of resources and demonstrate a complex range of knowledge, skills and understanding." NAA 2007

When children are initiating their own learning they decide

where to go

what to do (within set boundaries)

who to collaborate with (if anyone)

how long to be there (within the boundaries of the day)


It is NOT CI when adults

set the agenda or suggest what children are to do

send children to a particular area

limit what they can use

organise groups

limit time



Quality CIL depends on

well planned /organised/meaningful continuous provision

a consistent maintenance programme

a fluid daily routine

clear expectations for behaviour

adults who value CIL

adults who know how to enhance CIL through resources and sensitive participation


CIL encourages important life skills including



concentration and deep involvement

creativity and resourcefulness

problem - solving

use of imagination


collaboration and negotiation



supporting and extending CIL

the child must retain the lead (adult must not take over)

you know when you've got it wrong when the children leave you!

adult roles might be


interested acknowledger

play partner



expert helper


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Margaret Edgington said that topics were ok in her opinion as long as they weren't part of a rolling programme that was followed year after year after year. She said that if topics were used they should reflect a deep interest (either child or adult) that would inspire others to be interested.


any assessment should be in the child's first/main language was another clear message.


sorry it's "bitty" but I'm adding things as I remember them

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just to say that the messages from your training day with Margaret Edgington are very inspiring and reassuring as what I had understood was coming from EYFS.

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