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Can someone please explain a play-based curriculum to me?

(23 Posts)
MyUnderAmourIsLard Fri 19-Aug-16 18:31:11

DD has just started school in P1.

There are 25 children in the class and there is no classroom assistant.

I understand that there are a variety of activities set up and there is a free flow of the children.

- Isn't this terribly loud?

- The teacher specifically said that they don't force the children to go anywhere they don't want to. Is my DD not missing out if she doesn't want to leave the building station that day?

- If the teacher is working with 1 group at a time, who is keeping an eye on the other children and making sure that they are doing something productive?

Thanks. I don't want to mark myself down as a nightmare parent.

Witchend Fri 19-Aug-16 18:39:27

Yes it is loud at times, and also quite distracting if they want a child to concentrate.

For ds play based was terrible as he couldn't cope with the noise and the distractions around. Interestingly he's probably one of the children they would say would benefit from it. He's short on concentration and definitely not wanting to do anything that might possibly be work. The less play based the better for him.

MyUnderAmourIsLard Fri 19-Aug-16 19:01:00

Hmmm. DD is quite placid but can get over-sensitive when she's tired (can't we all).

I just don't understand the management of the whole thing.

isittimeforcoffee Fri 19-Aug-16 19:14:25

I'm not sure what P1 is in but I'm guessing it's like reception year in England (4-5 yo). We do have teaching assistants in there but it is free flow. Yes, t is quite noisy (20 4 and 5 yos generally will be!) but not horrendous. The teacher usually works with a small group and then the rest of the class choose from activities. Whatever they are doing, it will be productive. Even if they are 'just' playing with Happyland on the floor - language development, social skills etc. Most activities are set up around some sort of theme. For example, we did 3 Little Pigs. I worked with a group doing a structured writing activity, my TA was outdoors with the ones who chose to be out. Activities were set up - building the houses out of various materials, making masks, painting pigs, 3 little pigs games set up on computer, role play area etc.

dementedpixie Fri 19-Aug-16 19:17:53

P1 wasn't like that at our dc's school. It was much more structured with work being done as well as a bit of play.

MyUnderAmourIsLard Fri 19-Aug-16 19:20:01

How can they concentrate among the noise? Surely you get more out of them without a 4 year old trying to ignore their best friend getting to play with Happyland.

The staff mentioned its the new trend in Scotland/P1 demented. Bit worried that DD is going to be a guinea pig!

MiaowTheCat Fri 19-Aug-16 19:28:49

Generally you think it would be noisier than it usually is... if there's the option to go outside that tends to reduce the noise level a lot - or you just ask them to bring the noise level down if you need to. The kids are fairly good at coming to do an adult-led activity - you tend to get them hanging around asking if it's their turn yet to be honest which you often wouldn't expect!

The skill is in how an adult can plan it for learning opportunities and develop and extend what the kids are doing in their play - thinking of my own kids, if they're playing with Duplo and it inevitably degenerates into who can build the highest tower - then you can bring out all kinds of mathematical language comparing heights, counting, pattern work... you can discuss how you could make a more stable tower with a wider base... you can make pattern towers.... make predictions about which type of tower is going to end up taller - lots of stuff like that that can develop from the play you set up for the kids (I'm typing after the day from hell and a couple of glasses of wine so hopefully you get the idea).

The average teacher is pretty damned good at working with one group of kids while seeing what the rest of the room are up to anyway so I don't tend to worry at all about that!

It tends to balance out as they develop what they get involved with - looking at my eldest's nursery report she didn't really get into any of the outdoor play for the first period of time she was there - but by the end she was using everything pretty much equally apart from the creative table which she made a point of creating something to bring home every session she was in there!

MyUnderAmourIsLard Fri 19-Aug-16 19:37:37

No, no outdoor area. Just a regular sized classroom.

how an adult can plan it for learning opportunities and develop and extend what the kids are doing in their play

But there's no adult there for the kids in their play, that's what I'm puzzled about. No one is there to encourage all that mathematical language and things...

Is my DD really getting more quality learning time when her teacher is scanning the room constantly for Ava bashing Rory with the Duplo, Bella's making a racket in the home corner etc?! What's wrong with having them all in front of the board?!

ninnypoo Fri 19-Aug-16 19:39:08

I'm a Reception teacher in England so it's quite similar. I spend a lot of the time at the beginning of the year playing with children and modelling what is expected of them- 'productive play'. The activities the children work on with adults try and fit with their normal play as much as possible and are usually no longer than 5 minutes each, which is explained to the children before they start, so complaints about having to miss play are minimal once they realise they can return as soon as they try their best at an activity. In terms of classroom management, during my teacher training I was taught the 'teacher sweep' which is being able to work on something with one child while maintaining a 360 view of the classroom and all children! It takes practice but it's not like the teacher will be ignoring all the children who are playing while she works with someone.

Balletgirlmum Fri 19-Aug-16 19:47:33

It sounds like it would not have suited Ds at all.

He couldn't cope with the noisy,unstructured environment of playgroup & toddler groups. It was sensory overload & sent him into meltdown.

Even now in secondary he finds I hard to concentrate in large noisy classrooms. His favourite week at school was exam week where hecwas in a separate room with only the other children who get extra time.

MonsterZinc Fri 19-Aug-16 20:15:46

She doesn't want to leave the building station? That's fine. Immersive play. She will do what she does there until she figures out what she needs from it. Is she practicing which shapes build best? What materials build best? She will play there until her interest wanes, until she concretes her ideas in her head as to what she thinks builds best, and then move on. She can build and develop her ideas for as long as she wants.

There is nothing worse than being immersed in an activity and being drawn away five minutes later to do something they may or may not want to do. Then the activity swaps fifteen minutes or half an hour later again. There is no time when switching subjects for an interested to deepen and be fully explored, just move along now. Maths next. Now literacy, now science. They need time to explore and play and develop their ideas to the depth they want to take it to. Switching just feels like skimming the subjects, ticking off the requirements of the curriculum.

Tiggles Fri 19-Aug-16 23:17:38

I love play based learning - we have it until the end of yr 2 (p3?) here in Wales. However, we do have a lot of classroom assistants. Activities are set up in lots of different ways so that a child can learn in the way they learn best - whether that be inside or outside, in the 'house' area or in the water tray. In our school however, it is not completely free flow in reception children were taken in small groups by the teacher to do specific activities during the day. At the end of an outdoor 'free play' session they would have to fill in their daily diaries - that might start as a picture at the beginning of reception, but be sentences of writing by the end. By Yr1/2 children are given a list of challenges they must complete by the end of the week, but they choose when they do them. Children are given the chance to decide what topics they want to investigate for the term - what do they want to know about it, how would they go about finding out about it - whether that be books, internet, science experiments, building models, writing stories etc.
My boys have thrived on it.

Autumnsky Mon 22-Aug-16 13:47:07

We had this in reception. I think it is a good transfer period for DC from the nursery to formal learning in primary school. I think DC do learn more once they all can sit down and concentrate on learning. But it is too early for most 4-5 years old children to do that. Both my DS1 and DS2 had a good time in reception, loved school and learned something.

But we always have a teacher assistant till Y3. 1 teacher is hard.

situatedknowledge Mon 22-Aug-16 13:54:58

Is there only one P1 class? DDs had this, but there were 3 classes and an open plan area, and very specific activities were set up in each, with a teacher managing the flow through, and each specific activity. It was really well managed though, and the DC had sheet they ticked off every day to say what activities they'd done. They could choose across the week, but there were certain activities they had to make sure they'd covered by the end of the week. It always worked brilliantly for our DC, but I know some parents were wary.

drspouse Wed 24-Aug-16 10:53:51

Our Reception class is more or less set up like this but the teachers reassured us that they would move children on if they were spending all their time on, say, building. It is probably true also that doing the interesting thing with the adult will appeal to our DS and I can also see him queuing up for that!

If there's no free access to an outdoor area (ours has this) when/how do they play outside?

mrz Wed 24-Aug-16 12:19:17

YouMakeMyDreams Wed 24-Aug-16 12:29:20

You would be amazed at what skills immersed play can build. Ds1 had speech delay and as a result is very logical and very good at working things out for himself. He couldn't ask so he spent a lot of time and patience figuring things out for himself. To do this he would immerse himself in something for hours until he got it doing what he wanted it to do.
There may not be a full time psa in the class because so many Scottish schools lost a lot this term but there will be one in and out at various times to support this type of learning. It's always been like this to a certain extent in p1 it's just becoming a much bigger deal and promoted far more. It is also a great way for the teacher to be able to support all the different abilities in the class which can be harder if you have got them all sitting down looking at a board. She can split them into groups more easily and while the others are engaged in play based learning work with small groups of children at a similar ability stage.

MyUnderAmourIsLard Wed 24-Aug-16 18:07:54

Thanks everyone.

* Switching just feels like skimming the subjects, ticking off the requirements of the curriculum*
Surely the curriculum is there for a reason? Bearing in mind the difference between English mega-prescibed curriculum and Scottish vague-ness.

Is there only one P1 class?
Two, but two completely different classrooms and not much of an open area. She has only talked about her own classroom, so there doesn't seem to be free-flow between rooms.

If there's no free access to an outdoor area (ours has this) when/how do they play outside?
Playtime and lunchtime with the rest of the school.

DD keeps mentioning the noise and I think she's finding it a bit overwhelming. I went in to look for her cardi today and it was a total bomb site. The school didn't even mention it to us until we started which I feel is a bit unfair.

user1469543571 Fri 02-Sep-16 23:16:04

The Early Years Curriculum is a play based curriculum. It should involve both child initiated and adult led activities. When children play they are learning at a high level. The play should be planned and purposeful, allowing children to explore, problem solve and be active learners. Sitting on a carpet listening (or not listening) is not learning!

The curriculum is not just about reading, writing and maths, but knowledge and understanding of the world, managing relationships and feelings, and creativity. If children do not play, they will not have the chance to build on this. Teachers observe the children and plan play and experiences to help children reach their next steps in all areas.

Speak to the teachers if concerned, but children are children - play is so so important!!

user1469543571 Fri 02-Sep-16 23:16:55

Strange they don't have free flow access to outside though....

blinkowl Fri 02-Sep-16 23:23:41

Play based learning is fantastic. DS thrived in his play-based reception class.

It's the norm in most schools near us (SE England) and I'd consider a school that didn't do it old fashioned and not up with the latest thinking on child development. I'd think twice before sending DD to a schillings that didn't do play-based in the first year. (Got to pick a school for her this year).

It's a shame they don't have free access to an outdoor play area though, that's great for play based although I do appreciate there is a considerable difference in temperature between SE England and Scotland!

blinkowl Fri 02-Sep-16 23:24:45

School not schillings! Stupid phone!!

thatone Sat 03-Sep-16 19:55:39

I agree that the Early Years play-based curriculum is one of the things that we have really got right in this country. It was devised by development psychologists and covers everything IMO. When planned correctly, children develop hugely in terms of confidence, social skills, understanding, communication and also reading and writing. But creativity, exploration and role-play which allow children to develop in thoses areas are all as crucial I believe. It is only when children start to independently apply their skills that we can say the learning is really embedded.

If the activities and resources are appropriate there need not always be an adult there to support the learning. I would agree though that noise can be a problem - but again the class teacher should be able to keep it under control through reward and reminder systems.

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