"Being able to use students work in an academic text, was a real delight"

Claire Pescott

Claire Pescott is a senior lecturer on the course. Prior to her move to Higher Education, she spent thirteen years as a teacher, mainly within the early years.

In her book chapter ‘Children’s agency and negotiation of space for enabling environments’ in ‘Inclusive pedagogies for early childhood education’ edited by Carmel Conn and Alison Murphy, enabling environments and provisions for play are explored. Children learn by experimenting and an enabling environment is a way to ensure that young children have the opportunity for rich, open-ended play prospects that support their development in a holistic way. This chapter, presents practical examples, in the form of Tuff Spots (large, heavy duty receptacles) to illustrate how the environment is an integral element of children’s learning. Students had the opportunity to design and implement their own Tuff spots during a module on the course and three examples are provided within the chapter. In this example, the Tuff spot was designed to be multisensory and different textures were provided (soil, fake grass, leaves, sticks and wood shavings) as a replica of the environment where minibeasts might be found. A picture book was used as an initial context for learning and would have been read to the children prior to them playing in the Tuff spot. The students provided many open-ended opportunities for literacy, numeracy, and social development. The children were encouraged to locate specific minibeasts using the tweezers and magnifying glasses provided (which also promotes fine motor skills). Mathematical development was promoted through classification, touch counting and basic addition and subtraction of the minibeasts. Whilst the students provided intentional learning opportunities, their Tuff spot also allowed child-led learning and open-ended play opportunities and meaning-making for individual children. As there would be no time limit to explore the area, the child is free to respond imaginatively to the stimulus in their own way. Carefully planned spaces and the materials in the environment are continually claimed and re-claimed by children and adults as they seek to make meaningful experiences.

“Being able to use students work in an academic text, was a real delight. Showcasing their excellent work and understanding of early years pedagogy was a privilege. Theory to practice is at the heart of our degree and making these connections is essential for an early year’s practitioner,” said Claire.