Communication and language

It is the theories of both Froebel and Montessori that have been translated into today’s ideas of play related learning and can still be witnessed in current early years settings. When a subject based curriculum was introduced in England it meant that teachers had to think more clearly about how specific subject knowledge could be represented through play. After some consideration the Desirable Outcomes document was introduced which in turn led to the release of the Early Learning Goals and stepping-stones guidance in 1999. Within this document play is regarded as a way in which young children learn with enjoyment and challenge.

(QCA 2000, p25) and this guidance is followed in most government funded nursery and reception classes throughout England. As part of this guidance, practitioners are asked to focus on six areas of learning. Personal, social and emotional development (Froebel’s notion of developing the spirit and feelings) physical (one of Froebel’s key areas) mathematical development, knowledge and understanding of the world, creative development and communication, language and literacy (all make up the intellectual development of the child).

Like Froebel’s philosophy it is thought that through play children will, amongst other things, make sense of the world by exploring and developing learning experiences, think creatively and imaginatively, and learn to communicate with others. (Ibid) The same document also highlights that children should be allowed to work and play alone if they wish, and be allowed to take risks and make mistakes.

(QCA, 2000, p25) much like Montessori’s theory that a child’s natural instinct was to function independently so as to acquire autonomy (Hainstock, G.E. 1978) and her assumption that a child’s natural instinct to correct themselves would compel them to repeat an activity until they realised their mistake. (Ibid) As well as the foundation stage curriculum, the High Scope Curriculum bears certain links to Maria Montessori’s theories. The High Scope Curriculum is a method of education that originated in America and bases its practice on theories principles and specific curriculum guidelines concerning content, planning and routines.

(Wood & Attfield, 1996, p79) Amongst the curriculum’s eight key experiences for learning is ‘active learning’ which like the Montessori method is based around a plan to do review system (ibid, p80), in which children are able to plan and chose their own activities and carry them out within a structured environment. From the evidence outlined above, it is clear that the importance of play in today’s early years environment derive from the theories of both philosophers.

Froebel believed that the nature of childhood was to question, examine, observe and compare in order to understand and flourish into adulthood. Montessori maintained that children need hands on practical experience of real life in order prepare for maturity. Both of these methods have been adapted and integrated into today’s learning environment. Yet today’s learning environment also takes many of its aspects from the theories of the two philosophers’.

Both Froebel and Montessori outlined the importance of carrying out their method of education in a specially prepared setting. As Froebel believed that children need to be self-active and creative he designed his kindergarten to house a variety of toys and other apparatus, which he believed could aid the child with their sense, perception and understanding of nature and life (Murray, E. R. 1914, p148) these he labelled his gifts and occupations.

The objects that made up Froebel’s gifts were cubes, cylinders wooden balls and small wooden blocks or cubes that could be built up into one large one (Bruce, T. 1997 p21). These gifts were purposely made so as to contrast and contradict, and in Froebel’s view allow children to begin to understand both the inner and outer properties of things. Aside from size and shape, each gift differed in texture, colour, number of possible divisions or fractions, and the science of movement. (Anonymous, 2002p1)

The occupations that Froebel provided were activities in which children could display their fine motor skills such as drawing, modelling, and plasticine making, playing with sticks and threading tiny beads. Personal experience would suggest that these aspects can still be found in today’s early years classrooms. Modern day construction areas allow the child to develop both their fine and gross motor skills whilst building on their mathematical development by experiment with different sizes and shapes.

Communication and language is also practiced through the giving and taking of orders or directions. According to Etheredge, J. (2002) the right learning environment is essential for the development of children’s motor skills. Much like Froebel’s theory the pre-school supervisor believes that, in order to acquire good motor skills practicing teachers should provide their children with a selection of boxes, different textures and materials, a selection of balls with differing shapes and sizes, and blocks to build towers.

Children in early years care have two main needs, care and education. This is called a combined holistic approach to children’s care and educational needs. Many theorists have influenced the way young children are educated today. The three most influential …

Children should have the opportunity to learn from when they are born, from their parent/carers or other siblings at home. Development is helped by parent/siblings talking to the child, playing, providing toys which the child can handle, investigate with to …

Motor skills learning is usually an active process interrelated with cognition (Derri & Pachta, 2007, p. 38). This means that the skill concept is one perspective of cognitive concept learning particularly in physical education; where the concern is the way …

Questions & Answers: 1. How is it evident that the planning reflects the pre-operational child’s needs? •Plan – it is important to have goals and objectives reflecting an understanding of child development. Planning involves the design of a DAILY SCHEDULE …

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