Early Years Play and Learning: Developing Social Skills and Cooperation

By Pat Broadhead | Go to book overview

Chapter 4

Scaffolding the growth of sociability and cooperation

Children as co-constructors of the early years curriculum

This chapter draws together reflections on the role of the adult in assisting children's progress within and across the four domains of the Social Play Continuum. The previous chapters have illustrated the degree of sensitivity required by educators in responding to the nuances of children's language and action so as to understand fully the purposes, the flow, and the complexity of children's play. These chapters have also illustrated how interacting peers need time in the classroom and access to flexible resources to build momentum into their play, to develop reciprocity as they play, and to explore and develop together their emerging play themes as they draw upon their own experiences and interests. If we can give class-based and settings-based time, flexible resources and broad access to resources to young children, they take every advantage to co-construct their curricular experiences alongside the structuring provided by the educator. We begin to see how children's self-selected and self-directed activities take them quite naturally into the Areas of Learning of the Foundation Stage Curriculum in ways that are meaningful and challenging for them. As well as being meaningful and challenging, these experiences can consolidate and expand the children's growing understanding of the world around them-an essential condition for learning to occur.

None of this happens in a void; educators are there to assist children's progress. They do this in accordance with their own knowledge and understanding of what children need and in accordance with their expectations of children's capabilities-collectively and individually. As we have seen in Chapter 1, educators are also significantly and inevitably influenced by the prevailing climate surrounding curriculum development and by key messages that are emerging from related curriculum initiatives at any given point in time. Early years practitioners have a lot to think about and a lot to do.


Links with planning in early years settings

Chapter 1 has illustrated how these Areas of Provision (which now include the 'whatever you want it to be place') can connect with the Areas of Learning which comprise the Foundation Stage Curriculum. In part, this has been done so as to reassure educators that they are complying with current curriculum requirements while making these Areas of Provision available. These links can support their ongoing work in making more detailed connections during their own planning for play and learning in the early years. Fisher (2002) draws a useful distinction for educators in relation to planning. She advocates that:

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