Play and Learning in the Early Years: An Inclusive Approach (Tried and Tested Strategies)


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3.2 Building partnerships: Learning and working together

Empower parents by creating a parent-teacher group.

Effectiveness of a Danish early year preschool program: A randomized trial - ScienceDirect

This will promote open communication and understanding between parents and school staff. Ask the group for their feedback about classroom activities, school programs, field trips, and events. Organize parents-teacher workshops where you can discuss homework, tests, and study skills. Passionate about connecting the world through languages, she holds a master from Sciences Po in Paris. Sponsored Program. For teachers, involving parents boosts positive self-perception and job satisfaction.

The challenge is to help them understand how they can help their child succeed. Positive Study Environments Help parents find a balance that works for their child.

Play and Learning in the Early Years: An Inclusive Approach (Tried and Tested Strategies)

Set up clear homework policies. Suggest enrichment activities. Start by introducing yourself at the beginning of the school year. Talk with parents, not at them. Ask families about their communication preferences.

Start a blog. Teachers of young children must re-evaluate their teaching styles to avoid the types of direct instruction usually reserved for older students. Although the play may appear to be free and random, in actuality, the materials available for exploration are chosen to develop particular skills and meet certain standards of learning.


  1. Play-based learning | EY Toolkit Strand | Education Endowment Foundation | EEF.
  2. Learning Decks?
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Teachers, whether ECE teachers or higher education teachers, always need to meet children where they are. In other words, teachers must be attuned to the skills or lack thereof that children bring with them to school and begin building from there. With an ever-increasing population of students whose first language is not English, teachers must include multicultural units and materials in their classrooms to ensure that all children feel safe, connected, and valued in the classroom.

Savvy ECE teachers often use matchmaking techniques in which they pair up a fluent English-speaking child with a nonfluent speaker in a play situation. The fluent speaker would then serve as a nonthreatening model for the English language learner, perhaps teaching the student some vocabulary necessary for a particular activity.

With some planning, teachers can create a classroom environment where learning occurs in a playful manner. Learning centers are a very effective way for children to learn specific skills that align to standards.

Beginning Teacher Study: Development of Inclusive Practice

This managing role of the staff might be elicited by children's negative behavior to peers rather than low engagement in learning or positive social interaction with peers. The focus might be more on adult management of learning than on promoting peer interaction. Support provided to children with externalizing behavior difficulties is probably at least partly based on staff concerns for other children.

The majority of children receiving SiS displayed externalizing behavior difficulties, such as conduct problems or hyperactivity. The staff indicated that teacher responsiveness to children's needs, as a support strategy, was less common when the child was perceived as a burden to the group or preschool staff.

Staying close to children displaying externalizing behavior difficulties could be a means to prevent negative impact on classroom functioning and to maintain balance in the group, rather than a support strategy with the goal to promote positive engagement Drugli, Such preventive strategies do not require extensive planning and could be adjusted to fit the current group context. Especially for children receiving SiS, the most common support content was to pay attention to the child's negative behavior or stay close to the child to prevent conflicts, thus confirming the initial hypothesis. Attendance to positive behaviors, such as engagement in activities, was not mentioned as a way of supporting children for behavior difficulties, despite evidence showing that approving behavior in the classroom is related to increased cognitive self-regulation skills and decreased levels of behavior difficulties Fuhs et al.

How preschool staff define children in need of special support varies dependent on how behavior difficulties are managed, which in turn is dependent on how staff perceive the origin of the difficulties Lebeer et al. If the staff perceive difficulties as mainly linked to child characteristics they might use more individualized support strategies, for example staying close to the child and attend to behavior that is not contextually adaptive Drugli, This focus may actually reinforce negative behavior as a means for gaining and maintaining attention from staff. On the other hand, if staff perceive difficulties as mainly context-based they might implement support strategies that emphasize functioning in the preschool group, for example adapt the physical or psychosocial environment Sandberg et al.

The support content may then be more dependent on the staff's perceptions of and ability to manage children with behavior difficulties than the children's needs per se. SiS seems to be an internal affair that does not involve collaboration with parents. It is likely that the staff will discuss strategies for supporting children with behavior difficulties extensively before involving the parents. Several studies in early intervention, for example Dunst et al.

Both earlier studies and the results from this study show that reasons for receiving support or not vary extensively Sandberg et al. In this study, the likelihood of receiving SiS was larger if children were not entitled EL2 in Swedish. This may reflect a structural mechanism in Swedish preschools, in that preschools in certain neighborhoods have a high proportion of children with ethnicity other than Swedish, while those in other neighborhoods have mainly children with Swedish ethnicity Bjurek et al.

If the majority of the children are of another ethnicity, staff may not focus on individual children's needs but rather perceive behavior difficulties as temporal, based on language difficulties or adjustment problems due to their background Gillberg, ; Andrade and Tannock, ; Swedish Schools Inspectorate, a. The initial difficulties are perceived to decrease over time Campbell et al. The majority of children with behavior difficulties in this study did not receive additional support above what is provided to all children. Our initial hypothesis that being entitled to EL2 in Swedish is a significant predictor for no support for behavior difficulties in preschool was not confirmed, albeit a high odds ratio value.

The largest probabilities of not receiving special support for behavior difficulties was not to be perceived as a burden to the staff or preschool group and to display high ratings in prosocial behavior. This indicates a staff perception of children's behavior difficulties as a contextual problem Drugli, Thus, if children with behavior difficulties otherwise are not perceived as a burden, for example by requiring a high amount of staff time and resources, and are nice to peers and staff, the likelihood of receiving special support decreases.

The study has several limitations that need to be considered. The sample size was modest, especially concerning children who receive SuS, which limited our possibilities to conduct appropriate statistical tests for this group. The children receiving SuS were also a heterogeneous group in terms of difficulties and support needs.

This limits our ability to draw conclusions as to the rationale for teacher assessments of the support format and support content provided to these children. It is especially important to notice that there may be considerable variability in assessments of special support needs and in interpretation of curriculum goals among preschool staff, not fully captured in this study. Whereas a child with behavior difficulties could be perceived as a burden by one group or staff, in other contexts or by other staff they may not.

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This may reflect that the staff's assessments of the children's behavior difficulties were not entirely coherent. Some of the children were rated as having behavior difficulties according to one or several subdimension in the SDQ scale, but as not even having minor difficulties in any of the areas listed in the SDQ impact supplement. Children rated as having difficulties in several areas according to the SDQ impact supplement were not always rated as having behavior difficulties according to the SDQ scale. This can question how useful SDQ is to capture behavior difficulties of young children.

However, concurrent validity and reliability of SDQ has been tested for 1—3-year-olds as well as for 3—5-year-olds Gustafsson et al. More knowledge is needed in how behavior difficulties are related to how teachers perceive the impact on everyday functioning in preschool and special support. Despite these limitations, important implications can be derived from our findings. The majority of children in preschool are not supported for behavior difficulties, especially when they do not disturb group functioning. This study showed a tendency that children entitled to EL2 less frequently receive additional support for behavior difficulties on top of what is provided to all children.

This result, however, has to be confirmed in a larger-scale study, preferably investigating reasons for special support exclusion.

The Big Picture

Only children formally identified as in need of special support receive SuS. Children who do disturb group functioning and are very engaged more commonly receive SiS. The most common way of supporting children is by paying special attention to prevent them getting into trouble. Higher levels of engagement in developmentally appropriate activities are rarely mentioned as a goal for support.

More child-focused strategies concerning how to promote engagement in everyday activities are needed. This need indicates that preschool staff need to be more involved in providing SuS Nutbrown and Clough, as well as receiving continuing professional development in providing SiS, as suggested by Poulou and Norwich It is also important to consider how parents can be involved to a larger extent when SiS is provided Nutbrown and Clough, This study was carried out in accordance with the recommendations of the Swedish Research Council , with written informed consent from all parents to the children participating in the study.

All authors in this paper made substantial and significant contributions to this work. MatG obtained the grant to fund the research efforts, and together with LA designed the study. MS took a large part in implementing the study. LA analyzed the quantitative data, and chiefly wrote these parts of the Method and Results sections of the manuscript. MatG and LA sketched out the Introduction and Discussion sections and MS and MarG substantially contributed to these sections, and with revising the rest of the manuscript.

Play and Learning in the Early Years: An Inclusive Approach (Tried and Tested Strategies) Play and Learning in the Early Years: An Inclusive Approach (Tried and Tested Strategies)
Play and Learning in the Early Years: An Inclusive Approach (Tried and Tested Strategies) Play and Learning in the Early Years: An Inclusive Approach (Tried and Tested Strategies)
Play and Learning in the Early Years: An Inclusive Approach (Tried and Tested Strategies) Play and Learning in the Early Years: An Inclusive Approach (Tried and Tested Strategies)
Play and Learning in the Early Years: An Inclusive Approach (Tried and Tested Strategies) Play and Learning in the Early Years: An Inclusive Approach (Tried and Tested Strategies)
Play and Learning in the Early Years: An Inclusive Approach (Tried and Tested Strategies) Play and Learning in the Early Years: An Inclusive Approach (Tried and Tested Strategies)
Play and Learning in the Early Years: An Inclusive Approach (Tried and Tested Strategies) Play and Learning in the Early Years: An Inclusive Approach (Tried and Tested Strategies)
Play and Learning in the Early Years: An Inclusive Approach (Tried and Tested Strategies) Play and Learning in the Early Years: An Inclusive Approach (Tried and Tested Strategies)
Play and Learning in the Early Years: An Inclusive Approach (Tried and Tested Strategies) Play and Learning in the Early Years: An Inclusive Approach (Tried and Tested Strategies)
Play and Learning in the Early Years: An Inclusive Approach (Tried and Tested Strategies)

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