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Wednesday 30 October 2019

A child-led playroom for open ended learning through play

Within this post, I am going to be telling you a little bit more about child-led learning spaces - what is a child-led learning space? Why is child-led learning so important? and, how we can make a start to setting up a child-led playroom, using simple but effective provision? I will be demonstrating how this can still be achieved in smaller spaces – such as our playroom at home - with open ended resources for learning through play.

a child led playroom for open ended learning through play

***You can find many of the resources pictures and mentioned throughout this post over in my Arthurwears Amazon Associate storefront, (click here for the USA version) or on the 'shop' tab on the main menu (please see my work with me page for a full disclosure) *** 

It’s taken me a while to write this post, mainly because I keep changing everything around SO often, and its always well used, so always a mess!

You can see my previous posts about the actual building of the playroom extension, and then how we came to decorate and choose the right type of flooring for the playroom before finally adding in the furniture and resources. (Although I do use the term ‘finally’ very loosely here as this space changes and evolves constantly!)

My regular readers will know how passionate I am about good quality continuous provision, and although I did choose a primary school for Arthur, where I felt the ethos leant itself well to learning through play, I know that the current pressures within schools and increasing formalisation of learning meant that I would have to make sure I was providing him with additional opportunities for open ended play at home. My aim with this playroom has always been to create a space which lends itself to child led learning, through play, and I will try to explain a little within this post as to why this is so important…

(you can scroll down to the bottom for a video tour of the playroom if you would prefer to watch this first)

A child-led playroom for open ended learning through play

What is a child-led learning environment?

ikea flisat desk with skadis pegbaord and trofast trays

(Want to know more about this desk?  see more in my post: Ikea Flisat Skadis pegboard hack here)

natural wooden tuff tray with small world resources for child led play
Want to learn how to make these emotions dolls yourself, and how they can help? pop over to my post all about setting up an emotions area here

Firstly, a child-led learning environment is not a learning space that has been set up by an adult with a single topic in mind, with every area linking to that topic with the intention of only teaching the children within that one idea. Every child is different, has varied interests (perhaps not in line with a particular ‘topic’) and has the ability to take their own learning in any direction that they choose - as an educator, or a parent, we do not want to be limiting a child’s learning by expecting them to stick within the parameters and ideas that we have given to them.

Rather than expecting a child to learn within a topic, within a box, we want to create children who are freethinkers... who are able to think outside the box and are able to make connections with the things that we have taught them with their own ideas… and test those ideas using freely available resources within the learning environment.

child-led playroom layout with tuff tray and open shelving

Achieving a child led learning space is really important when trying to foster an independence in young children, giving them the tools to think freely to enquire about things for themselves, question how things work and answer their own ‘what if’ questions by trying things out for themselves.

We want children to be able to take the lead in their own learning to choose and select the resources that they need to take an idea forward without always asking an adult how they can achieve a desired outcome.

tuff spot tray activity with vintage weighing scales

How can effective learning through play take place within a child-led space?

numicon and corresponding peg pot people with numbers

In order for effective learning through play to take place, children need to be able to own the space and we should be entering THEIR environment, rather than the other way around. A Child led learning environment will not only contain open ended resources available for the children to choose and use wherever in the learning space that they desire, it will also have those resources available at child height making sure they are accessible and that the children are able to gain access to them freely without having to ask an adult for help.
open ikea kallax shelving with learning through play resources
Ikea Kallax shelving with some of our 'play shelves' resources as seen on instagram.

In order for a child to take control of their learning they need to be able to use the learning environment independently.

Want to know how to make this ikea flisat desk hack? Pop over to my blog post here: Ikea Flisat Skadis Pegboard Desk Hack
ikea flisat desk hack with pegboard and accessories
(You can find more information about this ikea flisat table and the accesories within this post, over on my instagram post here: https://www.instagram.com/p/B03ErbWFHPx/)

Click on the images below for pricing and more info:

A child led learning environment can also change frequently depending on the interests of the children who use the learning space, as educators we should be observing what our children are doing, what they’re interested in what kind of questions they’re asking:

What do they want to do more of?

How we can extend what they already doing?

Then we can start offering resources, provocations and fascinations that will enable them to build upon those ideas that they already have.

open ended play shelves independent learning through play
(Examples of these and other 'play shelves' can be found over on my instagram 'play shelves' highlight reel on my main page: http://www.instagram.com/arthurwears )

By creating a learning environment that follows the child, we will be giving them the best possible chance of having a fulfilling learning experience that they will actually remember because they will enjoy it, so they will be having fun - and when this happens, this is when the connections and the memories are made.

frog pond tuff tray slime
(Our frog pond tuff tray)

A child who is excited to come and learn within a space or an environment (which feels like THIER environment) is a child who is open to gaining knowledge to the best of their potential. An intelligently resourced learning environment does not have a queue of children waiting to be told what to do next.

child led playroom furniture, resources and tuff tray ideas
(More tuff tray ideas here)

You don’t have to have a huge classroom filled with expensive resources in order to achieve a successful child led learning environment. In this video I am going to take you through some of the provision and the resources I have set up in our play room at home for my children so that you can see how you can make the most of the space that you have. It is by no means ‘perfect’, and as always, it is a work in progress – as are our children…

Playroom video  tour:

***You can find many of the resources pictures and mentioned throughout this post over in my Arthurwears Amazon Associate storefront, (USA followers click here)  or on the 'shop' tab on the main menu (please see my work with me page for a full disclosure) *** 

shaving foam tuff tray activity

shaving foam messy play

Would you like to watch my online conference session on creating a child-led learning environment? 

What about the outside learning area?

You can see some examples in the video link above, and also over on instagram on my mud kitchen post here. 

Want to buy the mud kitchen yourself? Click on the image below....

Want to know why outdoor learning is important? Have a read of my post on learning through play outside. 

Want to know how to make your painting area more child led? click on the Facebook post below for more info and links to resources...

Sarah x 

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child led playroom for open ended learning through play

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