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Tapestry

'Learning through play' How do you get parents to understand?


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Sometimes it can be difficult to encourage parents to see the significance of play in the early years - often parents don't understand the important life skills being learnt by the under 5s.

I have personally had to have the 'No, they're not just messing about with sand' conversation at nursery several times. When we first opened our nursery nearly 13 years ago we had a parents' evening where we set up activities throughout the nursery for everyone to try out. It was very interesting to see the adults playing in a very similar way to the children we see everyday - there were those that jumped straight in and made big sweeping movements in shaving foam "To see what it did" - there were those who carefully watched others using balance scales to test out comparative weights of small toys before coming over quietly, once everyone had gone and making a (very accurate) estimate about which toys should go together to make things balance.

How do you help parents to understand that these first crucial play experiences are important learning steps?

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my answer to this as of September would be tapestry! we have tried to carefully word obs to include learning so "E and E have been playing in the mud kitchen making cakes this afternoon they were chatting to each other and talking about their birthdays"...Linked then to the eyfs. This is definitely having an effect on the understanding of the parents. I would also say that even on the look round I introduce these concepts talking about our planning and explaining that I can teach counting or colour with anything in the setting...like duplo or the sand pit. The children are engaged in their play and I assist by adding further information or consolidating what they might know. Parents can see the learning in action and know what I mean. I also reiterate that we don't do worksheets and group work tends to be very carefully targeted to ensure it helps all the children in the group.

I also spend lots of time on inductions chatting about activities that I feel might benefit that family (gross motor skills/mark making/sal etc )

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"...we have tried to carefully word obs to include learning" I agree Finleysmaid

I think the more that we can do to link the play activities to the EYFS the better the parents will understand. Of course this is a two way street - the more that we can 'seed' the play environment to provide opportunities for the play to contribute to the EYFS the more convincing we will be. But in this context I'm more worried about the large numbers of disadvantaged parents who don't send the children to the preschool in the first place. Often they are ambitious for their children, they want them to be successful in education but their previous experience of education has led them to believe play is an alternative to that. When we emphasise the value of play to these parents they often say 'But my child plays at home, he has his brothers and sisters and cousins to play with, why do they need to come to preschool for that?' In these cases it is really important for us to emphasise the educational impact and effectiveness of the preschool and not just the social and emotional benefits.

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  • 2 weeks later...

"...we have tried to carefully word obs to include learning" I agree Finleysmaid

 

I think the more that we can do to link the play activities to the EYFS the better the parents will understand. Of course this is a two way street - the more that we can 'seed' the play environment to provide opportunities for the play to contribute to the EYFS the more convincing we will be. But in this context I'm more worried about the large numbers of disadvantaged parents who don't send the children to the preschool in the first place. Often they are ambitious for their children, they want them to be successful in education but their previous experience of education has led them to believe play is an alternative to that. When we emphasise the value of play to these parents they often say 'But my child plays at home, he has his brothers and sisters and cousins to play with, why do they need to come to preschool for that?' In these cases it is really important for us to emphasise the educational impact and effectiveness of the preschool and not just the social and emotional benefits.

It's interesting that you say large numbers of disadvantaged children don't go to pre-school/nursery. Over 95% of children now attend some sort of setting and obviously the government have set up free funding for these families from the age of 2. There is always more to do but we have gone a long way down this line already.

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I don't have the statistics but if 5% are not attending that must be close to half a million children - and as I see it this is a social justice/rights issue. Its a problem to be solved even if it were only one child disadvantaged through an accident of birth.

 

On the issue of free places I was just reading the Jo Blanden et al's Impact study..." only 1 in every 4 newly funded places between 2002 and 2007 providing a genuine new place. The other 3 simply switched funding from private to public provision".

Edited by JohnSB
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The issue of getting parents to understand the importance and value of early years education is something of a minefield. In my nursery, my experience is that the ones that take up the full 15 hours are the ones that understand the benefit and talk to me a lot about 'getting him/her ready for school' so there is a sense that they 'get it'. However, there are also those that take up the 15 hours for free and then don't attend regularly or they attend according to their own time frames (i.e arriving late and picking up early) because 'you don't have to come, it's not like school'. They're the ones we struggle with as their children don't get the full benefit of what we are offering.

I think that the 'word of mouth' advertising that children who attend early years give out to their families and friends by demonstrating what they can do and what they know as a result of their early years experience will gradually help those 'hard to reach families' understand that although they do have many cousins and friends that they play with the input that an experienced, knowledgeable early years practitioner can provide is not matched at home.

On another note - in terms of the report stating that 'only 1 in every 4 newly funded places between 2002 and 2007 (was) providing a genuine new place' hasn't taken into account the level of funding given to settings to support those new places. I lose, on average £1.50 per hour, per child who is taking up a completely free place. Consequently I have to limit the number of places I offer for fully funded children - otherwise I would go bust. It may not only be about the reluctance of 'hard to reach parents to take up the place - it may also be the reluctance of the PVI sector to put themselves out of business. This might explain why the places went from private settings to public settings - where the subsidies are so much higher.

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I don't have the statistics but if 5% are not attending that must be close to half a million children - and as I see it this is a social justice/rights issue. Its a problem to be solved even if it were only one child disadvantaged through an accident of birth.

 

On the issue of free places I was just reading the Jo Blanden et al's Impact study..." only 1 in every 4 newly funded places between 2002 and 2007 providing a genuine new place. The other 3 simply switched funding from private to public provision".

here are the stats from 2016

 

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/education-provision-children-under-5-years-of-age-january-2016

 

so around 67,000 3 and 4 year olds don't attend a setting. I find it interesting that you suggest these are mostly from disadvantaged backgrounds....why do you feel this? is this significant in your area? certainly we attach to an area of deprivation and our neighbour county is an area of some serious poverty with the biggest food bank operation yet it appears that the majority of children access provision. Children with SEND are more unlikely to access EY provision however.

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I didn't say that those not attending are mostly from disadvantaged backgrounds. I am more concerned about the lower attendance of children from some disadvantaged groups. These are well documented although some of the evidence is dated.

 

There is a lot of evidence that disadvantaged groups more generally have in the past been less likely to attend preschool. There have certainly been improvements but I don't know if this overall problem has been solved in the past decade or not. It would also be interesting to know about any research that looks at the over-representation of particularly advantaged children in the highest budget/quality preschools. While I wouldn't put a lot of faith in some of the individual Ofsted quality ratings that I have come across, the overall picture in England is apparently showing a clear pattern of progressively lower ratings according to each level of community deprivation.

 

The majority (96%) of disadvantaged two-year-olds in 2014 were also in PVI settings:
http://www.nurseryworld.co.uk/nursery-world/news/1145056/majority-disadvantaged-olds-pvi-settings

Edited by JohnSB
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. But in this context I'm more worried about the large numbers of disadvantaged parents who don't send the children to the preschool in the first place.

Which disadvantaged groups do you have concerns about ?

 

 

 

. It would also be interesting to know about any research that looks at the over-representation of particularly advantaged children in the highest budget/quality preschools.

I'm afraid i'm a little offended by this statement! Our charity's mission is to provide the highest quality provision at the most affordable price..your statement appears to suggest that only if you pay do you get good quality.....I am sure you didn't mean this of course!! ;)

 

 

 

The majority (96%) of disadvantaged two-year-olds in 2014 were also in PVI settings:

http://www.nurseryworld.co.uk/nursery-world/news/1145056/majority-disadvantaged-olds-pvi-settings

Humm not sure where you are going with this? could you qualify why you have quoted this report?

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"Which disadvantaged groups" - Hmm not sure where you are going with this either...

 

Don't be offended. We all know that young children deserve the best and to recruit and retain the best, salaries must rise substantially. We also have quite enough problems without arguing among ourselves - here is the gov response to the 30 hours of free childcare entitlement:

 

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/30-hour-free-childcare-entitlement

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