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Learning in the Early Years

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Samantha Stanley Unit 4 - Learning in the Early Years! Task 2 This assignment identifies they key ideas and work of Margaret McMillan, Maria Montession, Rudolph Steiner and Fredrich Froebel. To discuss how those early educators have influenced current early years practice and to identify to ways in which current provision and practice is influenced by the work of the early educators. Margaret McMillan (1860 - 1931) Margaret McMillan believed in active learning through first-hand experiences and emphasised feelings and relationships aswel as physical aspects of movement and learning. She believed that children become whole people through play. She thought play helps them to apply what they know and understand. Margaret McMillan emphasised the importance of a close partnership with parents: she encouraged parents to develop alongside their children. Her most important achievement is to have been described as the 'godmother' of school meals and the school medical services. She believed that children are unable to learn if they are undernourished, poorly clothed, sick etc. To be described as the 'godmother' Margaret McMillan began a campaign to improve the health of children by arguing that local authorities should install bathrooms, improve ventilation and supply free school meals, eventually the House of Commons became convinced that hungry children cannot learn and passed the 1906 Provision of School Meals Act. ...read more.


Her approach moved children through simple to complex exercises. For her, the highest moment in a child's learning was what she called 'the polarisation of the attention'. This is when the child is completely silent and absorbed in what they are doing. Mainstream provision sees the child as an active learner and some of Maria Montessori's ideas and materials are used, such as particular shapes, e.g. small, medium and large shapes. Although Maria Montessori believed that children should work alone and that this would help the children to become independent learners, the mainstream practice would not usually leave children to work through activities alone but encourages group work and intervention by adults to scaffold the learning process. Rudolph Steiner (1861 - 1925) Steiner believed in childhood as being a special phase of life and that the children need a protected environment where all-round development can take place. Rudolph Steiner emphasised the spiritual, moral, social, artistic and creative and the need to care for each other. He did not emphasise what is taught but how and when. He believed that young children need to be protected from formal learning and learn through imaginative and creative play using simple tasks and activities with natural materials. ...read more.


He thought that children's best thinking is done when they are playing. Froebel placed great emphasis on ideas, feelings and relationships. Relationships with other children were as important as relationships with adults. Current mainstream settings encourage learning through first-hand experiences and play remains central to provision for children's learning, including language development through rhymes and finger plays. He emphasised the expressive arts, mathematics, literature, the natural sciences, creativity and aesthetic (beautiful) things. Current mainstream provision places emphasise on positive relationships and social development and values parent and carer partnerships. The early educator which has had the most extensive influence and affect on current practice is Friedrich Froebel. Most mainstream early year's provision in the UK is based on Froebelian principles. Children's development is encouraged through provision of a wide range of materials and activities tailored to the needs of the individual child. The current best practice emphasises Friedrich Froebel's beliefs that creativity, science and the humanities are important, these are now integrated across curriculum areas. Friedrich Froebel allowed children to use the 'Gifts' and 'Occupations' as they wished, with out having to do set tasks of the kind that adults usually asked of them. In the current practice this is known as free-flow play, this occurs for an average of 80% of a child's day at nursery. ...read more.

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