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The Organisation of Opportunities

Kathleen Tuite

By: KATHLEEN TUITE

Tuesday 18 July 2017

This time of year sees many changes in early years’ settings, from children moving on to primary school, running summer programmes, holding special activity camps to perhaps settings closing altogether for the summer months. With all this ebbing and flowing in settings, summer time is a good time to give some thought to how the setting might look later on in the year.  September is traditionally the busiest month, with new intakes of pre-school children, settling-in, meeting and greeting new children and parents and maybe introducing new staff. So, as we move steadily toward September, it is a good time to think about how our early years’ environments might look and what opportunities they will provide for children. Ideally these spaces should be comfortable, safe, ready to provoke children’s thinking, stimulate their ideas, and be planned in such a way that the materials and equipment can be used in multi-ways.  We need to give thought to the type of materials/equipment (both indoor and outdoor) in all our spaces, to ensure that they are available, accessible and stimulating for all age groups. We must consider whether they contain enough materials which are open-ended, offer complexity in order to allow children to invent and come up with their own constructions. Contain enough ‘loose parts’ to support an emergent, inquiry based curriculum. And be well planned to move with the child/children as they grown in confidence and competence throughout the year.

We need to think about the ‘environment’ as a powerful teacher and the ‘environment’ as a communicator and shaper of values. We want to create environments which are beautiful, intriguing, soothing, sparking children’s curiosity and igniting learning. Places where children are eager to spend their days, pursuing wonder and finding joy!

Early Years Educators must go deeper than what is merely seen at eye level and develop a deep understanding of the underlying principles and of children’s thinking, questions, and curiosities.

 

Growing a Culture of Inquiry through Art.  Ann Pelo, reminds us of the ‘Language of Art’ – children use the Language of art to construct meaning and understanding. Consider how your art materials are organised, what time is available for children to explore on their own and with an early years’
Educator’s guidance.

 

Include items that reflect children’s home life and invite discussion.

 

“What children learn does not follow as an automatic result from what is taught, rather, it is in large part due to the children’s own doing, as a consequence of their activities and our resources”. Loris Malaguzzi, The Hundred Languages of Children.

 

Promoting scientific inquiry.

 

Stimulate thinking and develop meaning making alongside interested and motivated early years educators.

 

Think about arrangement and organisation of resources.

 

 You could also take a look at our webpage Inspiring Practice  for more ideas and keep an eye on our Facebook page, and previous blog posts ‘Wonderful Loose Parts’, ‘Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder’ and ‘Early Years Educators supporting scientific enquiry with young children’.

The Aistear/Síolta Practice Guide provides resources for reflecting on pre-school environments, in the Environment pillar and the Play pillar.

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