More than just play

One of the most rewarding parts of my role of education consultant, is chatting with educators about how they might document different aspects of their program in EarlyWorks.   

A service might be introducing yoga, mindfulness, or pottery, and want to talk through how to best document their planning. During these conversations we often chat about how to best communicate to families what we are doing, and importantly why we are doing it. At the same time, we may also want to provide enough detail for families to follow up at home.

We want to ensure families understand that there is more to our program than spontaneous play!

EarlyWorks makes it very easy to clearly showcase what we are doing and why.

Let’s say your service was introducing heuristic play.

If a parent was to walk into the babies room during a heuristic play session, it may appear as though the babies are playing with a basket of random objects while the educator sits back and ‘supervises’. For those familiar with heuristic baskets, you will know that heuristic baskets don’t just happen. The contents are based on a thorough understanding of the child’s development, and the ‘random’ selection involves searching for the most potential laden objects that can be rolled, balanced, squeezed, or grasped. They may also be chosen for their interesting texture or even smell.

Our ‘supervision’ actually involves close observation of how children are exploring and manipulating objects. Are they using their senses? Are children stacking objects? Rolling objects? Putting little objects into bigger ones? What does this tell us about their development? How do these observations inform what we do next?

So how do we communicate this to families?

In EarlyWorks it’s a simple process:

  • Heuristic Play would be added as an experience to the room’s program.
  • In the narrative of the experience, links to reading material can be added that provide some insight. So, if we are introducing Heuristic Play, we might include an article that outlines what heuristic play is all about, and why heuristic play is important to a child’s development.
  • Educators would include enough detail in the narrative of the experience, to make it clear that this is much more than a spontaneous play session. This can even be presented as a home activity in which parents can share observations and images of their child engaged in the experience at home. 
  • Images can also be included when adding experiences to EarlyWorks. So, in this instance we might include images of different heuristic baskets, to give families ideas as to what they might include if they follow up at home.
  • If educators create a home activity, families can add observations and even images of their child engaged in heuristic play. These observations can then be used by educators to inform future planning.

The Heuristic Play Experience can then be used as evidence for the service’s QIP:

  • 1.1.3 Information for families
  • 6.1 Supportive relationships with families
  • 6.1.1 Engagement with the service
  • 6.1.2 Parent views are respected
  • 6.2 Collaborative partnerships
  • 6.2.2 Access and participation

Making programs meaningful for families

Experiences can be presented as home activities

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