Play Policy statement 2018

The Sam Morris Nursery are committed to supporting the importance of play, both indoors and outdoors, and the value of risk taking. The nurseries practitioners support children’s play throughout the session taking into account the age, interests and individual needs of the child. We provide provision in which children can play in a safe and secure environment and adjust schedule of play activities throughout the day to meet individual needs of the children.

We operate an open plan area where children can access all the 7 areas of the EYFS between daily activities, the daily routine does not affect or interrupt the children’s individual routines. Children are encouraged to make choices and think critically through independent play in on a one to one, small group or in large group. Play experiences should also promote understanding and acceptance of diversity and practitioners are to encourage children to experience spontaneous/ unplanned activities like snowfall.   We use the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework (2012) as guidance. Play is children’s work. Free play, including outdoors as this is integral part of the curriculum, is a fundamental part of a child’s day in our nursery. Through play children can explore, investigate, discover, create, practice, rehearse, repeat, revise and consolidate knowledge already gained to help develop new skills for now and in the future. It is essential for keeping children healthy and reaching important social, emotional, and cognitive developmental milestones. It also helps children to manage anxiety and become resilient.

The nursery is fully committed to improving the play experiences of those children in our care and use tools, such as Early Childhood Environmental Scales (ECERS) as well as regular observations of the children to identify resources needed and environmental developments, both indoors and outdoors. The types of play that are promoted and are incorporated in our nursery include water play, sand play, messy play, malleable play, physical play, role and dramatic play and heuristic play. These play opportunities can be structured, spontaneous, adult led or child initiated. All experiences of play/ activities will be made accessible to children with learning difficulties and disabilities to ensure all children are able to freely and independently use the different areas (indoor and outdoor) and physical play opportunities. 

A variety of resources are provided in both rooms in order to promote play. The practitioners are encouraged to be creative and use household materials and natural resources to enhance learning and play experiences, such as cornflour, leaves and mud. Guidance on supporting high quality play with resources and activities includes: 

  • Access to materials is based on children’s abilities

  • Props provided to represent diversity

  • Props for dramatic play - pictures, stories and trips can used to enrich dramatic play

  • Music is available as free choice and group activity daily. Although music provided is for a purpose e.g. soft music for relaxing and activities to encourage creativity

  • Promote cultural awareness when offering activities

  • Provide planned activities for children not sleeping as well as offering free choice

  • Plan and allow the children to mix different resources together and from different areas, where appropriate.

The open plan area is sectioned into 4 main areas which have the relevant resources in the area for the children to access their own learning offering an enabling environment to all.   All boxes are clearly labelled for all the children to see what’s in them.  We understand the importance and emphasise child –initiated activities and free play, practitioners are encouraged to interact and support the children in their experiences, whether adult led or guided.

Guidance for practitioners supporting high quality play in the nursery includes:

  • Practitioners are involved in using books with children periodically throughout the day

  • Practitioners to join in and encourage clapping, singing along

  • Practitioners pretend with children

  • Practitioners vary their involvement with activities

  • Practitioners are to encourage and explain social interaction in play

  • Practitioners are encouraged to add materials to stimulate interest during free play

  • Concepts are introduced in response to children’s interests or needs to solve problems

  • Children are asked opened ended questions

  • Some art activities are related to other experiences

Children should have opportunity to experience the 7 areas of learning throughout all play opportunities. Children are given the opportunity to experience and explore three dimensional materials appropriate to the age and ability of the child. The enabling environment provides space for children to explore and play in, and have displays which are changed regularly. Guidance on supporting high quality play within the environment includes:

  • A suitable space to be provided for different kind of experiences – large space, small cosy space, quiet space, art, messy and a communication friendly space

  • Areas to  provide construction play, mark making, role play etc. providing a holistic approach to the curriculum

  • Variety of areas for children to access privacy

  • Provision to offer adequate resources for children to play and explore at a high standard

  • Sand and water play provided daily and for different resources to be available to use in the trays. This is both outdoors and indoors

  • Materials rotated to maintain interest.

    Outdoor play is an integral part of the curriculum and play. It offers opportunities for children to develop their large and small muscles, experience an environment that is different to the inside of the nursery and more importantly access sunlight in order to absorb vitamin D more effectively. Guidance on supporting high quality play within the environment includes:

  • The children have access to physical equipment such as, bikes, slides, ramps, climbing equipment, rope swings etc alongside open ended natural resources

  • The space outside should be structured so the children can access resources independently

  • Practitioners will ensure children are dressed appropriately for the climate and encourage older children to develop an understanding about dressing themselves appropriately

  • Like the inside space, it should offer areas that reflect, not imitate the indoor space, so children are able to work alone or in groups

  • The outdoor space presents opportunities to do things on a much larger scale

  • Materials used daily stimulate a variety of large muscle skills and stimulates skills on different levels

  • Provide both stationary and portable gross motor equipment

  • Block play available outside

  • Props provided for outdoor dramatic play

  • Sand and water to be available with a variety of resources to use with them

    Practitioners will complete the necessary risk assessments and follow correct health and safety procedure for outdoor play. Risk taking we endeavour to create an atmosphere where children can learn to take risks in a controlled environment. Risky play is encouraged at the nursery as children who take risks learn negotiating skills, understanding, judging and can make judgements about their own capabilities. Children who learn in their early years to make their own reasoned decisions, rather than simply doing what they are told to by others, will be in a stronger position to resist the pressures and make informed decisions. Practitioners make it safe by:

  • Supporting children to develop a sense of their own boundaries and manage personal risks

  • Discussion with children about how to keep themselves safe

  • Establish and display expectations for behaviour

  • Observe the children and identify those who need greater challenge or specific support

  • Talk to the children and support decisions

  • Carry out health and safety checks

  • Distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable risks and remove any hazards

    Practitioners will be offered training, if necessary, to develop their knowledge and understanding of risky play. The points stated above are an example of the points within the ECERS book (copies available at the nursery).