The role of the practitioner in meeting childrens learning needs Current influences on play and on the planning and provision of learning opportunities Different theoretical models of how children learn and play Assessm

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Unit 7: Play and Learning in children’s education

For this unit, I need to collate a portfolio of research into certain topics. The topics are:

  • The role of the practitioner in meeting children’s learning needs
  • Current influences on play and on the planning and provision of learning opportunities
  • Different theoretical models of how children learn and play
  • Assessment through observation to inform planning and respond to individual learning needs
  • The use of information from other agencies to contribute to assessment of learning needs
  • Planning and providing curriculum activities to promote learning
  • Different approaches to planning learning opportunities
  • Planning and providing learning opportunities for children of different ages in consultation with parents and others
  • Key issues in recording assessments


The role of the practitioner in meeting children’s learning needs can be described in many ways. One way could be meeting needs and supporting rights of children. This links in with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Every child and young person has a comprehensive set of rights. The convention gives children and young people over 40 substantive rights. These include the right to:

  • Special protection measures and assistance
  • Access to services such as education and health care
  • Develop their personalities, abilities and talents to the fullest potential
  • Grow up in an environment of happiness, love and understanding
  • Be informed about and participate in achieving their rights in an accessible and active manner

All of the rights in the convention apply to all children and young people without discrimination.

Supporting rights of children helps to meet the children’s learning needs by giving the children access to their rights and making sure that all settings implement their rights and needs so that all children regardless of their age, gender, ability and religion have a right to a quality life.

Another way would be compliance with legal requirements. The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) brings together: Curriculum Guidance for the Foundation Stage (2000), the Birth to Three Matters (2002) framework and the National Standards for Under 8s Daycare and Childminding (2003), building a coherent and flexible approach to care and learning. All providers are required to use the EYFS to ensure that whatever setting parents choose, they can be confident that their child will receive a quality experience that supports their development and learning. The EYFS is split into four principles, which help to guide the work of all early years’ practitioners. There are:

  • A Unique Child – every child is a competent learner from birth who can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured
  • Positive relationships – children learn to be strong and independent from a base of loving and secure relationships with parents and/or a key person
  • Enabling Environments – the environment play a key role in supporting and extending children’s development and learning.
  • Learning and Development – children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates and all areas of Learning and Development are equally important and inter-connected

These four principles work together to underpin effective practice in the delivery of the EYFS. They put legal requirements into context, and describe how practitioners should support the development, learning and care of young children.

The EYFS states that the role of the practitioner is crucial in:

  • Observing and reflecting on children’s spontaneous play;
  • Building on this by planning and resourcing a challenging environment which:
  • Supports and extends specific areas of children’s learning;
  • Extends and develops children’s language and communication in their play

Another way would be having inclusive practice in the setting. The EYFS state that the practice will be inclusive, where:

  • Children are valued as unique individuals and diversity is respected;
  • Provision is personalised – offering support tailored according to individual needs, taking into account children having English as an additional language, special educational needs or disability and the gifted and talented.


One theorist which currently influences children’s play is Jean Piaget. Piaget’s theory was a theory on cognitive development. Piaget believed that children develop in stages and that they must progress through these stages in chronological order. Piaget also stated that there were 4 stages of development from birth to adulthood. These were:

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  • Sensori-motor: birth – 2 years
  • Pre-operational: 2 – 7 years
  • Concrete operations: 7 – 11/12 years
  • Formal operations: 11/12 – 16 years

Piaget was influenced by his reading by the ideas of Immanuel Kant, whose concept of categories was a precedent for late psychological theories using terms such as “constructs” and “schemes”. Piaget did a study called the mountain study. He did this to investigate further into his theory. The mountain study consisted of a group of children being arranged in front of a simple plaster mountain range. He would seat himself to the side and ...

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