In most cases, sound early years principles and practices are already in place in settings. The EYPP funding allows settings to review and refine what these principles mean to them. It may be useful to consider your understanding of what these principles are through discussions, professional reading and observation of your practice.
What does sound early years practice look like?
Key aspects include:
- supportive interactions with adults
- adults who follow the child’s interest
- adults who provide interesting, motivating and challenging experiences for the children
- adults and routines that encourage independence
- strategies that support families to understand how young children learn best and their vital role in it
- environments which reflect the life of the child and where they can make genuine choices with open-ended materials
- opportunities to be challenged as well as to consolidate ideas and refine skills
- experiences that are meaningful and motivating to the child
- staff have high expectations of the children
- staff have a sound knowledge of child development
- there are opportunities for children, families and staff to reflect and refine their knowledge
- practice will be individualised to the context of the child as well as the setting.
Supportive interactions with adults
These will include a mixture of the following:
- commenting on what the child is doing
- extending the child’s language
- asking open-ended questions
- allowing the child enough processing time
- following the child’s lead
- based on what the child is interested in or something that they are likely to be interested in
- allows the adult to understand how the child thinks
- provides challenge for the child(ren)
- are balanced and not dominated by any party
- are enjoyable.
This list is not exhaustive and could be added to by your staff team and used as a way of monitoring the quality of interactions in your setting. It is important to know the quality of these interactions as it is the quality that makes a difference to the progress children make. We know this from the EPPE research.
The EYFS Statutory Framework obliges practitioners to provide experiences which are based on children’s interests. Sometimes the children have interests that we feel uncomfortable with. As professionals we need to be able to identify what this is for each of us and then find ways of feeling more comfortable with it. Islington Council’s Engaging Boys leaflet may be helpful to read. The Vivienne Gussin Paley quote below is a timely reminder.
If I have not yet learned to love Darth Vader, I have at least made some useful discoveries while watching him play. As I interrupt less, it becomes clear that boys play is serious drama, not morbid mischief. Its rhythms and images are often discordant to me but I must try to make sense of a style that, after all, belongs to half the population of the classroom.
Boys and girls in the doll corner, Gussin-Paley, 1984
Interests are useful for motivating the children and providing them with meaningful opportunities for learning.