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How much child initiated play?


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Hi , am just wondering how much child initiated play you allow your Year 1 children , particularly children in mixed eyfs/ yr 1 classes. Somebody has mentioned to me today that they should have 25% but I have not heard this before! Would really love to hear all your views please.

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There is no stipulation in EYFS about the child initiated/adult led split, it simply says that practitioners have to use their professional judgement to get the balance right. For children entering Y1 it will very much depend on their individual needs - for example a class of children where a high percentage are still 'emerging' into the ELGs will need different provision from a class where children have generally achieved expected/exceeding across the board. That's a wide brush stroke though.

By now there should have been some in depth conversations with the YR teacher to discuss the needs of children coming up to Y1 and that should give some insight into how the provision needs to be prepared. You might also want to have a look in school to see if there is a folder called 'Continuing the Learning Journey' sitting gathering dust on a bookshelf somewhere. This was a set of resources to support transition into Y1 and included training materials and DVDs. You can still download the booklet from http://www.foundationyears.org.uk/2011/11/continuing-the-learning-journey/ , it's a really useful publication.

There's also this book, by Sally Featherstone, called 'Making it work in Year One', which again is useful. It's a little out of date now since EYFS changed last year but the principles are still good.

There's another thread on here relating to mixed YR/Y1 planning http://eyfs.info/forums/topic/33187-mixed-reception-year-one-class-help/ and if you google 'mixed reception and year one planning' you'll get pages of links.

It's been a while since I worked in Y1 and even longer since I had mixed YR/Y1 but for the first few weeks, or even the first half term, my classroom would look and feel fairly similar to a YR classroom, as you want the children to feel safe and secure and to settle quickly. Then when you get to know the children (and their parents) more, you can start to adapt as you see fit. The sand/water/role play etc would be there all year round though, and these days I'd be able to argue my case for child initiated learning a lot better than I could ten years ago.

In amongst all of that however you have the expectations of SLT/HT to accommodate, so it also depends on the prevailing ethos is in your school. Some schools want Y1 to be pretty formal from the start, others are happy for children to continue with more play based learning. We seem to be heading towards more formal learning under this current government so who knows .......

These are just my own opinions though, and I'm sure before long there'll be other posters with more recent experience and more resources. Generally I'd say trust your instincts - if you can see something isn't working then just change it. If you can see things are working wonderfully, pat yourself on the back and carry on. :D

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