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Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play, children learn how to learn.


 O. Fred Donaldson



Play Based Learning

Effective Early Childhood Programs have a combination of play-based, playful and explicit teaching and learning opportunities planned carefully throughout the day

Play-based learning is described as experiences and opportunities where children select what and how they would like to do things in carefully designed learning spaces that aim to build on children’s interests and experiences, as well as concepts learnt through explicit teaching at other times throughout the day. They use the resources provided to direct their own learning whilst being given time to explore, practise and improve their skills. 

During play-based learning time the teacher and education assistant skillfully guide and support the students to extend their thinking and skills, whilst acknowledging and supporting students’ learning through teachable moments related to the curriculum. Our job as early childhood educators is to provide children with rich resources, environments that foster their interests and plenty of time to explore and repeat play experiences.

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Child-Initiated Learning

At Nedlands Primary School we provide a balance of child-initiated and adult-led learning in our Kindergarten and Pre Primary classrooms.   

Child-initiated learning is when children choose what activity they would like to be in and for how long they engage with the activities. The educator facilitates the experience when appropriate.

As children develop a greater sense of independence (agency) they realise that they have the ability to make their own decisions and to control their own lives.  A sense of agency is an important part of developing a strong sense of identity, as defined by the Early Years Learning Framework – belonging, being and becoming.

Adult Led-Learning

In adult-led learning, the purpose of the learning is intentionally chosen to assist children to discuss and learn about a particular topic or a curriculum area. During this time, the teacher leads the learning to build and reinforce what students know and to further extend them.

The teacher:

  • Uses assessment and observation to identify the needs of the children

  • Plans using a curriculum framework

  • Decides on outcomes and teaching strategies

  • Implements strategies provides opportunities for a gradual release

  • Reflects (why is this experience important? What can I do to extend them further?)

Education Assistants have a very important role in Kindergarten and Pre Primary at Nedlands Primary School.  They prioritise activities that contribute to and increase student outcomes.   This means that they play an active role in working shoulder to shoulder with the teacher during all teaching and learning experiences; including mat time, child-initiated and adult-led learning.  Together with the teacher, they also work towards building independence, responsibility and resilience.  This means that they encourage students to take responsibility for their own belongings and be actively involved in the preparation, storage and cleaning of school equipment.

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Further Reading

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