Activities like drawing, playing with paint, instruments or technology all give children the chance to express themselves and learn new things. This blog is intended to give you ideas about supporting your child’s creativity through expressive arts and design.
There are three prime areas of learning in the early years and four specific areas. All areas of learning are important and interconnected. Check out some of the other Starline blogs which have ideas about how to support your early years child in the prime areas of learning, such as early communication, physical development and personal and social development.
What is the specific area of learning called Knowledge and Understanding of the world about?
This is one of the specific areas of learning. Children in the early years should be encouraged to explore the world around them, particularly through play. Children can then make sense of things by observing and exploring everything from the places they spend time to the technology and other things that they use. Observing how the world works, talking about it and exploring ideas can all help your child’s preparation for formal schooling.
What can I do at home?
No one is expecting parents to become teachers when supporting their children at home. However, there are still a lot of things you can do that can be helpful. Encouraging your child to play and explore in a range of ways is a good start. Try putting different toys out in different places in your home. It can be surprising how seeing the same toys in different places can make them seem different and worth playing with again. It can also help reveal those toys that are at the back of any storage that can easily be forgotten about. You can also make sure that popular toys are occasionally put away and out of sight to encourage more varied play. When your child initiates play, sit with them and play along and talk with them. Help them to make sense of how the toys relate to real life.
If you have a garden, patio or balcony, put the toys in those spaces. If you can, allow water play – filling a cleaned sink or washing up bowl work well. Playing with water really helps understand the properties of liquids. And some toys take on a different life when played with in water! Similarly, if you are in the kitchen, cook together. There really isn’t any better way to begin stimulating a scientific mind than baking cakes, biscuits or bread. Especially if you talk about what you are doing, how it changes the results and enjoy your time together. Check out another of Starline’s blogs about learning in the kitchen.
What can I do further afield?
If you really want to understand the world better, there is no better way than getting out and about. Wherever you live, you will surprised what plants and animals share your location with you. One great way to make getting out exciting is to challenge your child to become a ‘nature detective’. This can be done in a lot of different ways. For example, creating a simple nature treasure hunt which challenges your child to collect 10 different natural treasures is an old favourite. Simple, yet fun. When you get home, you can use what you have collected to create a ‘nature collage’, or an information leaflet.
Even in the centre of London, it is possible to collect an array of tree species. Remember, the important thing is the discussions you have with your child about what you are finding and why. At this time of year, there will be squirrels busy collecting their winter stash. They leave all sorts of deluge behind them. Check out the Woodland Trust’s website, where there are many more ideas like this to make getting out and about fun: https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/blog/2020/03/nature-detectives/ .
Many of your children will have experienced ‘Forest Schools’ in school time. Of course, this doesn’t happen in every school, so there will also be many who know nothing about this venture. Either way, Forest School activities are often things you can do in woodland, on the beach, in a park and even in your garden if you have one. Activities that are common include, making bug hotels, building cairns (stone towers), creating dens and whittling sticks (potato peelers are great for this). There are many great ideas to make the most of the outdoors on the internet. There is also a useful blog about outdoor learning on the Starline website.
Learning about technology and the world around you
For some children, lockdown has given more than enough time to explore technology. There are so many useful things that can be accessed on the internet. Thinking about screen time and how to stay safe online is crucial. Check out a useful film about using the internet safely on the Starlive YouTube channel. It is episode 8. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ky1e7GJV1kY
However, the internet can also be great for exploring the world around us. For example, there are some great resources available online to share with your child from museums, art galleries and zoos.
You could watch a live stream of animals at Edinburgh Zoo where they have Koalas, pandas and tigers. www.edinburghzoo.org.uk
The Tate museum has a 30 minute online colour walk you can go on with your child. The website also has a range of activities you might like to try after your walk. https://www.tate.org.uk/kids
You could also go on a virtual tour of a ship wreck or a coral reef on the website of the National Marine Sanctuaries at: https://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/vr/