Happy New Year! I know it’s nearly February but with the lergy over Christmas and my book manuscript finally submitted, this weekend was definitely a time for celebration! It’s been a journey which I have thoroughly enjoyed as I’ve probed and discovered more about the world of objects and sensory-rich play. Like the exploratory hand positions that we instinctively use as adults to find out more about objects which may have their origin in children’s explorative play, young children’s hands and mouths are critical to their exploration and understanding of the world around them. From time to time we get a glimpse of this deeply rooted connection. If you’ve ever seen a child or adult poke out their tongue whilst concentrating on writing or doing something challenging then you will have witnessed this in action. Having researched and written about children’s full-bodied play and learning I saw this first hand when I sat reading with my nearly six year old. As he carefully decoded the writing on the page, he wriggled and squirmed, rolled and stretched, bent and twisted his body into any number of positions and shapes. As he contorted he literally spelt out the words with his body on the floor.

With the final consultation on the EYFS over and the new framework expected in the Spring, it is hard to see how the emphasis upon school readiness and educational programmes will make learning more accessible for those, like my little boy, who thrive on full-bodied learning. Children are quick to pick up cues about what constitutes work and play and like it or not, sat still reading at a table with an adult present, invariably points to work rather than play.  Whitebread et al (2011) suggest that the question shouldn’t be’ is the child ready for school?’ but ‘is the school environment [and that includes our own attitudes], ready for children?’ Sat watching his own unique approach to reading, the answer I fear is ‘no’.

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