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The benifits and draw backs to free flow play

Discussion in 'Early Years' started by emilyarnold38, Mar 14, 2013.

  1. doctorinthetardis

    doctorinthetardis New commenter

    I have taught in the early years for several years and have many opinions on play/ free play etc but since you don't think I should be teaching any kind of student, presumably you aren't interested in my views?
     
  2. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    Surely the OP must be a wind up.
     
  3. I agree!!!!

    manor/manner is/are it/they ?????
     
  4. I would greatly appreciate your views on play doctorinthetardis
     
  5. doctorinthetardis

    doctorinthetardis New commenter

    'Im looking for some teachers insights to free flow play and

    how it works in there classrooms?
    what you feel the benifits are?
    what the draw backs are?
    do you think its important?
    also would love to no what parents from your schools view is on play?
    wether they understand it?
    do they know why it is included in the eyfs?
    do you have any problems with parents who think it is a waste of time?'



    In Nursery and Reception, Play IS how children learn. It is fundamentally the way their 3, 4 and 5 year old minds take things in. Young children are natural explorers and curious with it. Free flow allows them the opportunity to play freely, explore their own ideas and understandings in their own way and develop it without limitations in order to consolidate . deepen or create new knowledge and understanding.

    It works in classrooms pretty much as you'd expect. Schools may approach it differently but in my school after a short focused letters and sounds activity or maths, the children 'get busy'. Some people call it 'choosing time'. People seem to be afraid to call it 'play' as if the word is dirty. Even some teachers. Play is hugely important both in Nursery and Reception although most schools will gradually add more structure in Reception over the course of the year so children are ready for the structure of Year 1. At my school though, because of the needs of our children, we also have a play based approach in Year 1 and it becomes more structured in Year 2.

    It can be difficult for some children to move from the play based approach in the EY to a more formal structure in Year 1. This might be something you might want to explore further.

    Only huge drawback I can think of is the mess! Everyday I have to remind the children that we need to put our toys away when we finish playing with them since toys on the floor is a safety hazard. I actually did a whole focused session with my class about WHY we need to tidy up. They hadn't a clue bless them! Also resources in the EY although durable are often put through stresses they just aren't made for in free play like being dunked in the water tray to play with even though they may not be waterproof.

    A big consideration as a teacher working in a play based curriculum is how to make the play more focused at times and how to follow the children's interests. Purposeful play is key. Adult observation and interaction is vital as well as planning and creating further opportunities for the children to deepen their understandings.

    I have had some issues with parents and understanding the importance and value of a play based approach but again, key to that is practitioners reflecting upon parental understanding and involvement and planning to help parents understand more. This could be through setting up a session or sending out leaflets.

    I have a ton of articles and reading materials if you want them. Just PM me your email address and I'll send you it.

    Good luck.
     
  6. doctorinthetardis

    doctorinthetardis New commenter

    'Im looking for some teachers insights to free flow play and

    how it works in there classrooms?
    what you feel the benifits are?
    what the draw backs are?
    do you think its important?
    also would love to no what parents from your schools view is on play?
    wether they understand it?
    do they know why it is included in the eyfs?
    do you have any problems with parents who think it is a waste of time?'



    In Nursery and Reception, Play IS how children learn. It is fundamentally the way their 3, 4 and 5 year old minds take things in. Young children are natural explorers and curious with it. Free flow allows them the opportunity to play freely, explore their own ideas and understandings in their own way and develop it without limitations in order to consolidate . deepen or create new knowledge and understanding.



    It works in classrooms pretty much as you'd expect. Schools may approach it differently but in my school after a short focused letters and sounds activity or maths, the children 'get busy'. Some people call it 'choosing time'. People seem to be afraid to call it 'play' as if the word is dirty. Even some teachers. Play is hugely important both in Nursery and Reception although most schools will gradually add more structure in Reception over the course of the year so children are ready for the structure of Year 1. At my school though, because of the needs of our children, we also have a play based approach in Year 1 and it becomes more structured in Year 2.



    It can be difficult for some children to move from the play based approach in the EY to a more formal structure in Year 1. This might be something you might want to explore further.



    Only huge drawback I can think of is the mess! Everyday I have to remind the children that we need to put our toys away when we finish playing with them since toys on the floor is a safety hazard. I actually did a whole focused session with my class about WHY we need to tidy up. They hadn't a clue bless them! Also resources in the EY although durable are often put through stresses they just aren't made for in free play like being dunked in the water tray to play with even though they may not be waterproof.



    A big consideration as a teacher working in a play based curriculum is how to make the play more focused at times and how to follow the children's interests. Purposeful play is key. Adult observation and interaction is vital as well as planning and creating further opportunities for the children to deepen their understandings.



    I have had some issues with parents and understanding the importance and value of a play based approach but again, key to that is practitioners reflecting upon parental understanding and involvement and planning to help parents understand more. This could be through setting up a session or sending out leaflets.



    I have a ton of articles and reading materials if you want them. Just PM me your email address and I'll send you it.

    Good luck.
     
  7. I am new to this Free Flow environment

    We one large space which is six classes- each set up as an area of the curriculum and children have uninterupted access to outdoors. This is 8 spaces to manage (inc tlunch snack areas- not including toilet areas)

    At present we have under 90 children but could go up to 110.

    We also allow children from the under 3 building to free flow into our area which sometimes causes some problems.

    The children get to move around a lot but as a teacher I feel I am not able to as am covering areas for breaks, absences etc...

    Problems: the area does look like a bomb site a the end of the day- hard to find who made the mess, such a range of children at different levels, I am concerned group sizes are too big for some chidlren, impossible to know what a child in your colour group has been doing all day, difficult to actually find a quiet space to work with children. Any routine to the day seems to go out the door.

    Any tips for managing a large area?

    How big is too big too free flow environment and numbers wise?

    How do I manintain interactions with all children?

    Much of the day seems even more so about managing routines raher than children's learning...
     
  8. lisama

    lisama New commenter

    Free Flow is good if scaffolded in the right way eg chn. Know rules of certain areas eg wear aprons in water etc, they are taught to use things like tools safely and correctly, are taught to tidy up (adults should not be tidying for them!).
    The only thing I miss is doing topics, I may be wrong but these seem to be lost when in Free Flow but have only come across it supplying in the last six months. I have not seen any topic style activities set up to enhance/move on the learning which I find frustrating as how can they be inventive, /creative if they have limited knowledge? Some kids do the same all day every day from what I can see which is a worry as they are supposed to have a broad curriculum! Also observations must be hard, I am never given a specific child or target so I end up writing everything or nothing up which leaves gaps.
    Ps: have 27 years teaching experience half of which is in early years so not coming at this from no knowledge.
     
  9. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Topics are only useful to those children interested in said topic. I could set up the most incredible activity to enhance learning about dinosaurs, but will only be used by about 3 of my class because the rest aren't interested in dinosaurs at the moment.

    If you read development matters, there is no topic knowledge needed. It is all about developing the skills to be able to learn and to get along with other people. Play is the best way to achieve these things. Topic teaching only gives knowledge, not skills.
     
  10. May2

    May2 Established commenter

    I know this is an old thread but @caterpillartobutterfly I don't see why doing any topic only gives knowledge and not skills. If for instance you decided to do a topic on growing, if the children are included in the planning and talk about their ideas and what they would like do and learn about, generally most children will be interested. Growing can include planting seeds, counting seeds, pouring skills watering, role play in garden centre. They can help set it up, use cutting skills to cut out flowers from gardening catalogues to decorate the area. Children can practise writing skills with signs, use money to buy, lots of language and speaking skills in their play. There can be digging and transporting with wheel barrows. Measure growth of plants can lead on to measuring all sorts of things, finding things shorter, taller etc. Sorry this is just one example of using a background topic but I cannot agree that they will not learn any skills. There can still be plenty of opportunities to follow their own interests and with flexibility topics can often head off in a completely different direction and can last a week or two or as long as the children want it to.
     
  11. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    My class have grown things from seeds, and from smaller plants. They have then tasted the tomatoes and strawberries grown. They have been responsible for watering the plants outside. We had lots of talk about bigger, smaller, taller, shorter, etc. They drew pictures and I wrote the words for the signs.
    However their role play area was a playdough bakery because that's what they'd wanted it to be. And sometimes it changed into a supermarket if they were playing with the dolls. Or a coffee shop if they wanted to invite adults. Yes I could have set up a beautiful garden centre role play area, but they'd not have used it half as much.
    Practising cutting skills was done when making a decorating superhero shields and swords and when making butterflies. Yes, they probably could have cut out flowers, but they'd not have been half as engrossed and wouldn't have learnt anything different to their choice of cutting.
    They spent a lot of time digging and transporting sand and soil in the messy outdoor area, usually to make various tracks for cars.

    All of the above have been done by all the children at some point over the last term. However, not all at the same time, nor even in the same week. I see no need to insist everything revolves round the same topic for a period of time. Putting out a few invitations to play, or having some short whole class sessions is usually enough to pique their interest.

    I don't think having topics is necessarily wrong, but I was responding to the idea that not having them is somehow less good.
     
  12. May2

    May2 Established commenter

    I am not doubting that your class have had all sorts of opportunities to practise skills. I was merely disagreeing with your statement 'Topic teaching only gives knowledge, not skills.' and showing examples. Just as some may not have been interested in cutting out flowers some of yours might not have been interested in cutting butterflies. I would aim to offer as wide a range of opportunites and experiences as possible and follow their interests as well as sometimes capture their interest at times and extend it.
     
  13. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Within the narrow band of your chosen topic one!
    Maybe I phrased it poorly. Teaching about a topic, ie an adult set up activity or a ppt to watch or some worksheet on the chosen topic are what I think of when I think about topic teaching. Or, as you mention, everyone cutting flowers because 'we're doing growing at the moment'. Or everyone making a shield because 'it's Spring 2 and so we are doing superheroes'. This is the kind of adult controlled learning that I took as 'topic teaching'.
    Maybe they can teach some skills, but the skills are better taught in the child's choice of topic.
    This is the comment I was responding to and disagreeing with.
     
  14. May2

    May2 Established commenter

    I think you are thinking more of the old style topic teaching maybe more in Key Stage 1. I believe in EYFS it is possible to have mini topics going on alongside plenty of freedom to follow their own interests and certainly not having everyone 'cutting out flowers or making shields' .Anyway as long as they are able to have plenty of happy free play (or child initiated learning!) inside and outside and learn some social skills, that's what it should be mainly about at 3 and 4 years old.
     

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