When I was sent a link to a Guardian article called ‘let children play!’ 25.4.2021 my heart sank. Call me an old cynic, but articles about how fantastic and effective Early Years education is in Europe and how there is not the desire to start formal education until children are much older; as it allows children time to develop their physical and emotional intelligence as well as their wellbeing, the end result being creating happy children. Reading these articles is like telling this Early Years practitioner how to take coal to Newcastle!!
Those of us who work in the Early Years sector know this, it’s those who work in the ‘virtual’ corridors of power in Whitehall who need to be reading these articles, reflecting on them and making changes.
However, this article is different – yes it reminds the reader about the superb educational ethos in Finland as well as Germany, but is also highlights the impact lockdowns have had on children in the UK and across Europe.
The article makes the excellent point that children, which ever country they live in, need, now more than ever access to the outside; and the playground is the place where children will be surrounded by their peers, have the space to move about, explore, interact with others, talk, negotiate and take delight in chasing after a football or giant bubble.
As I write this blog I am sitting in a room next to our playground. The sun is shining, the apple blossom frames the blue sky and of course all the children are outside. Easy listening jazz is playing from the speaker and some of the children elect to pick up a tambourine and tap out a rhythm or gentle sway to the slow beat. Others are working together constructing a bridge and train track which would impress Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Whilst one child takes immense pleasure in holding a purple ball high in the air and watching the purple hues dance in the spring light. Most importantly I hear peals of laughter meaning joy and delight.
This is what is needed in order for children to be ‘school ready’ rather than sitting at a desk being shown a picture of a bridge. Maybe the children I am watching, as they grow older, will be working in the corridors of power in Whitehall and will be able to make these much needed changes in our education system and allow children to play for longer.