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Blog

Child led learning: the perfect way to spend a day......

June 5, 2018 11:03 am

Our stunning nurseries provides wonderful environments for all the children who attend the Mulberry Bush Nurseries but they are not there just to look pretty! These environments are a vital tool that our team can use to enable the children to learn and grow. We believe that the children's imaginations are the richest resource that we have and that they should be enabled to follow their own interests through play assisted by capable, knowledgeable professionals who can expand and extend their learning. This means that we provide the children with open ended resources, items that are not prescriptive to play but that children can adapt to perform any number of functions depending on their area of interest at that time. A box can become a treasure chest, add some treasure, bury it in the sand, make a map, sing a song about adventure, discuss the desert island your treasure chest is buried on; what’s the weather like there? what type of animals might live there? Suddenly, from a simple box mixed with the rich imagination of a small child, you have a whole adventure, learning about the natural world, mark making and creative arts, role play and singing.

In Early Years we often talk about extending children's learning. As adults we want to help, support and guide children's play not to dictate it. We want to show the children how far they can take an idea, to open up the world of possibilities that their own investigation can reveal to them. In order to do this we use a very reactive form of planning - in plain English this means that we use the children's own ideas and interests to guide the day. A lovely example of this happened just a few days ago.

A little boy who has just moved up to our Elderberries Room arrived with his mum one morning. She told his key person that her son had been talking about ambulances all morning. The key person had noticed that not only this child, but a number of children in the preschool, had been showing an interest in ambulances and generally with doctors, hospitals etc over a few days. We have a selection of resource boxes on different themes that we have developed following the children's interests. We add to and adapt these as we go along. The key person brought out the medical box in response to the children's interests on this day. The box contains bandages, stethoscopes, thermometers and other medical equipment, child sizes hospital scrubs etc. The children loved it and were fully immersed in their play. Inspired by their excitement the preschool put out a call to our wonderful parents "does anyone know of a paramedic team who would be willing to come and speak to the children and bring an ambulance with them?!" The Mulberry Bush parents are a powerful force and by the end of the day we had a duo of paramedics ready to bring an ambulance a few days later.

The Elderberries team were inspired by the children's enthusiasm and interest and wanted to find a way to extend and support it further. So they made a hospital in the role play area, complete with x-rays, surgery and waiting room. It was a source of huge excitement over the next couple of days and went on to inspire all sorts of activities. The children were fascinated by x-rays and had lots of questions to ask about our skeletons and how they work and move. They used black paint to make hand prints on paper and used cotton buds - cut to a variety of lengths - to stick skeletons onto the prints. Everyone was examined, bandaged and generally 'treated' in a variety of ways! The day that the ambulance came in all the children, and the adults, were full of questions for the paramedics Rachel and Holly. The children wanted to know all about the paramedic uniform. They asked why they had high visibility clothing and helmets and why the paramedics had various pieces of kit actually attached to their clothing. But mostly they wanted to learn about the ambulance! The children counted the number of lights on the ambulance - 18 in case you were wondering! They asked why there are bars on the ceiling of the ambulance - for paramedics to hold on to when they are treating a patient in a moving vehicle. They asked who the chair is for in the ambulance - who comes along with the patient to hospital? And many, many more! I am sure that the conversations and questions will continue for some time to come!

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