Back in March I attended the #playmovelearn conference organised by @GMUnder5s @GreaterSport and @Quality4EY. I was working with Reception children at the time and have always been interested in Early Years’ experiences and how they impact on a child’s journey through school. It’s only by understanding child development that we can help children who are far behind to catch up.
I was especially interested in the idea of moving to learn because this is something I am very aware of with the children I support, regardless of age. They generally need to move to attend and to learn; if the movement is connected to learning e.g. walking around a letter ‘b’, then it’s even better!
Dr Lala Manners
In her key note, Dr Manners had us all up and moving! She then spoke eloquently about the worrying issue of childhood obesity and questioned the current framework for EYFS, including the definitions of ‘exceeding’.
‘we know DfE have recently asked for a thorough review – at least let us give teachers/practitioners criteria that are purposeful and relevant – that support the physical skills linked to ‘school-readiness’ – balance, strength, co ordination, agility – that properly informs children’s overall health and wellbeing and that gives professionals some incentive to engage more proactively with this ‘prime area.’
Physical Prowess is exceedingly important to children:
‘If you really want to know what physical skills mean to young children ask them the following three questions – what are you good at – what are your friends good at – what are you not so good at? (Running/jumping/hiding – sitting still/concentrating/doing my work/tidying up).’
You don’t have to be a wood school, beach school or have the best environment – make the most of what you have and observe your children closely:
‘Spend as much time as possible observing them as they move around your setting – inside and outside. Where do they gravitate to – and why? Who do they choose to be with – and why? What materials do they like to play with – and why? How much adult engagement do they like or allow?’
She closed in talking about how schools might harness both performance and inclusivity; at present, the two seem to be in conflict. She suggested that this be achieved through:
‘a leadership team committed to a shared vision of inclusion to which they get staff, parents and pupils to buy in.’
Furhermore, a committment to mixed-ability groupings and extra planning time for teachers, access to performance data and research to inform decisions are all essential in providing an inclusive setting with achievement for all. Inclusion and achievement are both possible, not one at the expense of the other.
Trish Maude spoke at the event to raise the profile of the IPLS:
The International Physical Literacy Association (IPLA) is constituted as a registered charitable incorporated organisation (CIO) with the Charity Commission UK that aims to promote the profile, and preserve the integrity of physical literacy, engaging with and sharing research worldwide.
The current definition is as follows:
“Physical literacy can be described as the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding to value and take responsibility for engagement in physical activities for life,”
It is imperative that we acknowledge the importance of physical wellbeing and links to mental health and learning. Children typically experience the world through their bodies/senses and not their minds. How do we integrate the two?
Dr Lala Manners – Bag of ideas.
This workshop centred around a paper bag and its multitude of uses! The bag was he kind you might find in a sweetshop. We did so many activities that I can’t remember them all.
- I know there was interaction – we worked as groups to organise the bags.
- There was movement – we moved around the room sliding the bag away with one foot.
- There was maths – we had to make a circle out of the bag!
- There was much more – how many things can you think of??
The workshop showed that you don’t have to be limited by resources, only your imagination. The more open-ended a resource, the more uses it can have!
Sheron Kantor – Journey to Mark Making.
Sheron talked about the vestibular (balance) and proproceptive senses (where the body is in space), both so important in the classroom – especially for handwriting. What I was particularly excited about, was the idea of active phonics, as I’ve so often seen children sitting passively on the carpet whilst phonics is being delivered.
- We were split into 2 teams and given the task of representing a /b/ ‘b’ shape through the use of different props. How could you do this?
Motor Pathway (Tameside Children’s Centre)
The focus was a move and play project which is delivered to four areas in Tameside in a bid to improve fine and gross motor skills in pre-school children. I did not attend this session but was very interested in it as I believe earlt intervention and support leads to the most positive outcomes!
Why did the project come about?
- The delivery model was piloted in Ridge Hill and Hattersley in 2014/15
- An evaluation was completed after 2 years.
- The findings highlighted that across the pilot areas Fine and Gross Motor skills ASQ results were very low.
- This was then looked at in other areas within Tameside the same results were found.
Who is chosen?
- Health teams complete development checks at 2 months, 9 months and 24 months with an age appropriate ASQ
- If it is highlighted there is a need, they will make a referral into the children’s centre for Move and Play
- Children’s centre staff send relative information to Parents and carers about the upcoming sessions.
Elaine Wyllie – Daily Mile.
I loved the way the “Daily Mile’ began: by looking at the issue – lack of fitness and using the resources the school had – a field. This echoed Dr Lala Manners’ earlier message, that schools should be looking to the environments they have and utlising them.
As a family, we started a weekly run a few months ago. I have one very active child and a sleepy one! The active child has learnt how to better pace himself, the younger one has learnt to be resilient, not to focus on the discomfort and not to give up. He has noticed his improvements as the weeks have passed.
The Daily Mile is fully inclusive, children all across school access it and do so at their own pace and level. It has led to improvements in health, well being and behaviour. Research on the benefits is due out soon, watch this space!
Stacy Copeland raised awareness around gender equality duing her talk, which began by referencing Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run in a marathon (illegally).
What overt and implicit messages do we give boys and girls about what is possible and how might we limit their horizons? An inspiring and moving talk about gender, ambition and achieving your goals.
What an amazing end to the day!