More natural playing for children

Childcare practitioners want children to be free to learn through play and a greater emphasis placed on natural playing as opposed to structured learning.

The findings come as Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY) reveal the results of its biggest ever survey of childcare professionals which showed that over half of the 2,442 respondents believe a natural, play-led approach to childcare is the most important issue in the sector, ranking higher than concerns about Ofsted ratings, childcare ratios and funding.

Many childcare providers think more emphasis should be placed on making children life-ready rather than school ready. Child’s natural curiosity is always interesting and this curiosity can be developed.

As well as nursery owners and managers, the survey took the thoughts and opinions of childminders and nannies into account. PACEY’s chief executive Liz Bayram described the baseline assessment, testing children on communication and literacy skills, as part of a focus on adult-led activities that is preventing children from being free to learn naturally through playing.

Liz Bayram, said: “PACEY supports childcare professionals to deliver the very highest standards of care and learning for the children they care for and we recognise that high quality relies on putting what’s best for children at its heart. PACEY believes that only through play can children develop the skills they need to be resilient and confident; and the creativity and curiosity they need for the future. And that demands small staff-to-child ratios and qualified, motivated and well-rewarded professionals confident to let young children develop in their own unique way.

“The right to play is written into the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child as a fundamental, universal right; and yet in this country we have historically scored poorly in UNICEF’s surveys on children’s sense of well-being compared to other European countries – something which has been attributed by childcare experts to be in part due to a lack of opportunities to play.

“The message we are getting loud and clear from our members is that a conscious move is now needed away from assessments and form-filling, and a return to a more child-led play-based approach for pre-school children.”

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