The importance of play in the ELC

‘Nothing without Joy’ – Loris Malaguzzi (Reggio Emilia)

As the doors opened last week, the rooms were ready, the playgrounds were calling, and the children and parents joyfully began the school year. It was a delight to welcome back familiar faces: children who have grown taller, gained or lost a tooth, become toilet trained, walking when once crawling, speaking in English, calling to friends, including others and farewelling parents. As we begin to welcome new children and their families the groups will grow, and the children will develop new relationships. For some, the transition back to school is harder than others. Missing siblings and parents with whom they have spent a lot of time over the holiday break is quite normal. All staff are here to support you and your child in their separation.

Play has often been termed young children’s ‘work’. There is so much that they learn through play. The play children engage with at home and with their friends and family members is very important. Their play in the ELC is equally important, often more structured than their home play, in a curriculum developed though observation, knowledge, and reflection by experienced educators. This play which enables young children to be actively involved using their bodies, equally enables their brain to grow. The research is clear: children need to spend significant time outdoors in nature. They need to engage in calculated risks, climbing and balancing and swinging, kicking balls, using their imagination in exploring different characters through role play and dressing up. They discover STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) through block building, making potions in the mud kitchen, lifting rocks and finding mini beasts and building with Lego. They need lots of opportunities to create with art materials to understand life’s possibilities, from the youngest children mark making to the more intricate observational skills and drawings of the older children. They need to create using technology making short videos of their stories. All these opportunities with others develop the attributes of wise and independent learners – imagination, collaboration, resilience, curiosity, courage, reflection, communication, knowledge and connectedness – and begins the journey of a lifelong learner.

We look forward to sharing the journey and the year with you.

Wendy Seidler
Director of ELC Kew