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Role of the adult

Value all children

Practitioners must respond to each child's emerging needs and interests, guiding their development through warm, positive interaction and ensuring that the provision reflects and supports all children. Inclusion is a fundamental principle in valuing all children.

Support every child

Practitioners must consider the individual needs, interests and stage of development of each child in their care and must use this information to plan a challenging and enjoyable experience for each child in all of the areas of learning and development.

Knowledge of child development

It is vital that adults have a secure, in depth knowledge of child development. Understanding the stages of development and how children learn should underpin all effective, high quality early years foundation stage (EYFS) practice.

Support and facilitate learning

It is important for adults to manage the pace of activities, planning varied and interesting new experiences to stimulate learning. The key things to remember are:

  • Always consider the way individual children learn, play and interact. Read more in this Learning, playing and interacting publication by National Strategies.
  • That transition and the continuity of learning for children as they move from home to setting, room to room, setting to school and into year 1 needs to be supported by practitioners who also use information from parents and other professionals to match approaches to learning appropriate for the needs of each child.
  • To respect children as independent learners who need opportunities to revisit, practice, make choices and have a sense of ownership of their learning.

"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. Integral to teaching is how practitioners assess what children know, understand and can do as well as take account of their interests and dispositions to learning (characteristics of effective learning), and use this information to plan children’s next steps in learning and monitor their progress." Page 11, paragraph 10: Teaching and play in the early years - a balancing act? Ofsted 2015.

Relevant resources

Learning, playing and interacting - by National Strategies (Foundation Years website)