We started our Curiosity Approach in January 2018 with a close look at our environment, looking at what we provide for the children’s learning inside and outside. As our Ofsted inspection in 2016 recommended that we needed to review the provision of learning experiences outside, we decided to concentrate on looking at improving what we had done already and adding to it.
The Curiosity Approach-what is it and why are we following it?
We started off in 2015 with ‘Planning in the moment’ following the child’s ideas and interests. By interests we do not mean the popular culture of the day such as Peppa Pig or Thomas the Tank Engine but what the child is really interested in. For example how they are learning and with what. What type of schema is the child using in their play to explore the world around them? A schema is a repetitive pattern that the child uses in their play- throwing (trajectory) a toy or lying on the floor watching as the wheels of the car go round (rotational); covering toys or themselves- making dens under the table (enclosing); are they building (construction)- using many different forms of equipment- wooden bricks, tubes, cars- yes cars-did you know you can balance cars on tops of each other? Children know how to do that- the learning that happens- the what if I do this? Will it work? How can I make it better? Will it do what I want it to or will I have to adapt it as I go along?
So much happening when we as adults stand back, giving them time and space to formulate their ideas, plans and creativity. The adults at woodentops- the teachers- as that’s what we are, are there to support, guide and facilitate their learning. Ofsted’s definitions of teaching is:-
‘Teaching should not be taken to imply a ‘top down’ or formal way of working. It is a broad term which covers the many different ways in which adults help young children learn. It includes their interactions with children during planned and child-initiated play and activities: communicating and modelling language, showing, explaining, demonstrating, exploring ideas, encouraging, questioning, recalling, providing a narrative for what they are doing, facilitating and setting challenges. It takes account of the equipment they provide and the attention to the physical environment as well as the structure and routines of the day that establish expectations.’
Early years inspection handbook, Ofsted, June 2015; www.gov.uk/government/publications/early-years-inspection-handbook-from-september-2015.
Our planning is based on what our environment can offer. So there may not be ‘toys’ as such at woodentops instead there is a variety of equipment which will give children many differing experiences such smells, textures, sounds, visual cues and a way to adapt their play. We try to provide equipment (Authentic materials) that is natural, calming and with no specific intention so the children can explore it, use it in their play how they want to, with us as adults, encouraging, supporting and providing a narrative of their play. The children really enjoy us writing their stories down and making it into a book for them using their pictures and then acting the story out to their friends. The delight they have when they tell their friends their story- so awe inspiring.
So the Curiosity Approach is where we provide an environment for the children that gives them ‘Curiosity, Awe and Wonder’, enabling the children to continue to explore the magical world around them, allowing them to be adventurous without the fear of getting it wrong, discovering and experimenting as they play and learn.
Play is the child’s job and work and we as adults should not devalue the importance of play.