Guest Blog Post by Stacey Richard, Founder of Super Sitters
As a childcare professional, we are trained to incorporate these seven areas of learning and development into each and every one of our activities for children in Early Years. Early years refers to children between birth and 5 years old. There are some activities which are focused on one learning area at a time. Whereas, there are other activities which encourage learning across many or all of these areas. But that’s for us professionals – as a mum, can these areas of learning help me with my child’s development, learning and attention on home activities.
1. Communication and Language (C&L)
2. Physical Development (PD)
3. Personal, Social and Emotional Development (PSED)
4. Literacy (L)
5. Mathematics (Maths)
6. Understanding the World (U)
7. Expressive arts and Design (EAD)
When your child goes to nursery / school, these areas of learning will be mentioned in their reports and in photos of their activities, so hopefully you now know a little bit more about them.
What does that mean as a parent?
How can it help us to set up activities for our little ones (or buy toys) for our little ones?
Well it’s really easy actually!
When buying or playing with a toy, think to yourself: What area of learning does this focus on?
A bicycle may be very physical, so it encourages physical development.
A paint set may be very creative, so it’s arts and design focused.
Play Doh may be a number of these areas, especially if we are communicating with the child and asking them: what are you creating? It’s Physical, it’s Communication & Language, it’s Expressive Arts & Design by nature. But if we incorporate some letters, numbers and people, we easily take it to an activity which incorporates much more: Mathematics, Literacy, and Personal, Social and Emotional Development.
But why is this important?
Let’s break it down per area.
C&L: When a child can speak and express themselves and listen to a range of situations this allows them to develop their language and vocabulary, but also be clearer in their communication. Clearer communication, means less frustration in their expressing themselves. (this means fewer tantrums!)
PD: Children love being active, and most guidelines for Early Years children say they should be physically active for a minimum of 5 hours a day! But it’s not for nothing: they learn to balance and expand their gross motor skills, as well as their fine motor skills – all which expands to learning about healthy food choices and exercise.
PSED: This really ensures that a child’s social skills are encouraged and they develop a respect for others and empathy for others feelings. As well as their own! (think mental health here for long term, but also fewer tantrums for younger ones!)
Literacy: It’s important for children to discover phonemic awareness – the ability to hear sounds and identify different words and sounds within words. This is essential for early reading and writing. Will this make them the best reader in the class – no! But it will cement their foundations of words and language, and the benefits may only be seen in secondary school or tertiary education.
Maths: Mathematics as a concept is not only number recognition. It’s calculations, reasoning, problem solving. They need to be able to weigh and measure, identify shapes and colours, describe spaces and learn cause and effects and relationships between objects. Does it mean they’re going to be a great mathematician? NO, but it could mean that they excel in IT software development as they are wonderful problem solvers!
U: Boundaries are brilliant for children. They give them safety and security. Understanding the world around them gives them the same sense of security. They make sense of things around them by observing and exploring everything to see how they work. Technology is an important aspect here too – I’m not saying they need to become square-eyed, but they need to understand how a specific piece of technology contributes to their life on a daily basis. (time on clocks, speed of cars, seasons, etc)
EAD: Drawing, painting, colouring, building, music. These all provide a chance for a child to express themselves freely. They learn new things by learning what colours to mix together and how they feel about it. Every child is expressive in art and design: a child who spends hours building Lego is just as creative as they child who sings all day, or the child who loves to paint. Perhaps your child wont be the next Picasso, but they become a Dance Choreographer, or a famous Architect?
Developing their learning, by finding out exactly what peaks their interest, holds their attention and build on their learning of all of these aspects wont necessarily be evident immediately, but the benefits will definitely be seen later on in life. And in the interim, you’ll have a more focused, engaged, emotionally stable, healthy child who perhaps communicates well and doesn’t feel the need for tantrums… (I know right!?)
Now that you know these areas of learning, how can you really ensure that you’re getting the most out of your child. Well, you don’t- but these 4 principles will help to guide a child’s learning:
1 – Every child is unique
2 - Every child can learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships
3 – Children learn and develop best in enabling environments
4 – Children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates
As a parent – encourage the areas of learning and development of your child for their interests and ways of learning and development by discovering their uniqueness. Buy toys which cover many areas of learning. Set up invitations to play rather than leaving all toys in a box to be turned out onto the floor all at once. Then watch as your child flourishes!
Wishing you all the best with this.
About the author:
Stacey is the owner of Super Sitters, a team of over 100 childcare professionals who work on a flexible basis providing last minute childcare and babysitting across Surrey and South West London. She and her team are all qualified in childcare, with DBS checks, First Aid training and personally vetted. Stacey lives in Surbiton with her husband Cam and her 6 year old daughter Maxine.
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Wishing you a wonderful week ahead,