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our active curiculum
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Learning Through Play

The theories behind our child-centred approach and play-based, active curriculum
Play is powerful tool, which promotes children’s development and learning. It allows children to make important connections about what they know, and helps them to celebrate what they can do, building confidence and self-esteem

Play is:

  • Central to children’s learning
  • An integral part of children’s development and learning
  • A purposeful experience
  • The right of all children

Sue Palmer, literacy specialist, author of Toxic Childhood and 21st Century Boys, and former Chair of Scottish Play Policy Forum invites us to recall our own childhood when addressing audiences on the subject of children’s play:

“Do you remember playing when you were a child? Dressing up, making dens, collecting conkers or caterpillars, splashing about in puddles? You probably made a mess, got dirty and drove your mum mad.”

Sue explains these early childhood experiences, that were as natural and vital to us as eating and sleeping, are the foundations for physical, emotional and social well being.

“From an adult point of view, children’s play often looks like messing about. But scientists now reckon it’s as important for their overall development as sleep or food. Apart from the obvious advantages of playful activity for physical health and fitness, it’s during their play that children learn the ropes of social interaction - making friends, following rules, sorting out misunderstandings, and so on. It's also where they develop their own identity and self-confidence - thinking for themselves, solving problems, making judgements and taking responsibility for their actions. And it’s where, through real-life experience, they acquire the basic common-sense understanding of the world and how it works, understanding that underpins everything they’ll learn in the classroom”.

Because of its vital role as a developmental trigger for learning and brain development, Sue advocates that play requires our utmost attention:

“Play is the inbuilt human learning drive. And during the first seven years of a child’s life, when the overwhelming majority of brain growth takes place, providing plenty of opportunities for ‘real’ play (in the real world, with other children) is the best way to encourage healthy physical, emotional, social and cognitive development. It may look like messing about but, in terms of turning out bright, balanced, resilient children, play is a very serious business.”

At Bonnington House Nursery, our child-centred and play-based, active curriculum is founded upon the work of the early educational theorists and recent research on the importance of quality play provision in children’s development and learning.

We see each child as an individual who has unlimited potential to be a competent and confident learner if allowed to indulge their natural inquisitiveness and given the love of caring and responsive adults, and a carefully planned environment. In this way we can ensure we meet each child’s needs and passion for learning. We know that children achieve best when they are enjoying themselves; therefore we promote the importance of learning through play, initiated by the individual child.

Although some activities for children in the Nursery are pre-planned, we recognise that children will learn most from free play and self-initiated games. Therefore we allocate the majority of the Nursery day for this and make observations of the children’s play and interests at each stage of their development, and evaluate what learning is taking place. These evaluations inform future planning which is responsive to the children’s interests and experiences.

To read more about the history and theory behind our play-based curriculum, download our information sheet here-

> Download 'Learning Through Play' (pdf).

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