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The Value of Play, In Praise of Nurseries and Their Staff
Sep 8, 2020

The earlier lockdown this year has been both a gift and joy for many families as they experienced more time together. For the majority of children this time was a pleasurable experience where they discovered the enhanced pleasures of family life when work and school were no longer constraints and those factors which had previously dominated their lives were completely altered.

Many parents were able to enjoy time and discover shared interests with their children. They enjoyed cooking, baking, and gardening along with a daily walk and exercise. As time went on parents appreciated the value of sharing these experiences at the same time as expressing new respect for the work of nursery staff and teachers, their profession and vocation, as parents took on roles they may not normally have had time for. They had an insight into the long and intense days with young children, particularly as most families lost childcare almost immediately and many had to keep working whilst keeping children entertained. As the length of time continued through lockdown parents began to feel a little frustrated by trying to home school children who were well aware of the limited powers and success of their parents in these roles. Research conducted by Montessori has revealed that of those surveyed 77% of parents have increased respect for nursery staff and teachers. Many parents had no idea of what staff experience on a daily basis.

Why are nurseries so important for the development of the young child?

Play and learning naturally takes place within nursery settings all day every day and staff skilfully manage activities, experiences and play to ensure that all children are experiencing the best they can.

Nurseries offer a breadth of different experiences which parents may not choose or be able to facilitate themselves. They range from Forest Schools activities to messy play – sand and water, arts and crafts, French, Spanish and German lessons to yoga, music and movement and singing. These activities help children to enjoy a range of activities, expressing themselves through play, discovering what they enjoy, totally relaxing, feeling proud and having ownership over their play.

Nurseries facilitate activities without the normal time constraints of a busy household. Time is so important in order that children can be allowed to develop their play.

Their play is their work and apart from routines, such as, mealtimes, their play can be allowed to develop and be uninterrupted. Construction models or paintings can be a work in progress and can be allowed to be completed at the child’s own pace and displayed over several days rather than needing to be tidied away. Play can be skilfully enhanced by practitioners through extension activities.    

Children learn about negotiation, turn taking and sharing whilst also learning resilience which will equip them for life readiness. Nurseries enable young children to make friends and to become socially more confident. They thrive in good and excellent nurseries in terms of social and language and communication development.

The focus on play at nurseries is important for healthy development. Campaigners stress the importance of reform of the EYFS in order that play can be extended throughout the early years with less academic pressure on young children just starting school.

Nurseries provide opportunities to unlock passions in children. They may encounter activities which inspire them and ignite their curiosity of the world around them. “Inside every child there are a million passions waiting to be unlocked.” 

So what can we conclude from all of this?

An important outcome from lockdown has taught us all that children need less stress in their lives. With parents who were furloughed or working from home, schools closed and lockdown in place there were unforeseen benefits in which parents experienced the positive effects of being at home with their children. Parents stated that their children were generally happier and less stressed. 

One child stated that, when discussing birthday plans during lockdown, “I just really want the family to be together and to go into the forest for a picnic.” Even young children were able to be reflective and appreciate the simple pleasures previously taken more for granted.

The sometimes lack of structure at home as contrasted with the highly structured timetables of school can result in children becoming bored which is important as it actually helps them to focus on the  things that they really do like to play with and become more resourceful. These are skills for life.

One parent commented, “The last paragraph is so true. Nate has been good at this since he was very little. It made me sad he was happy to play alone but he absolutely loves being with Amelia and I think it is now very important that he goes to Nursery and gets the social interaction.”

Another parent commented, “I especially agree with the thing about kids being bored being a good thing. It’s definitely helped Jude learn to play more independently.”


#StandUpForEarlyYears:Lockdown has boosted parents’ respect for Early Years Staff

Nursery World A. Rawstrone 12/5/20


Isabella Griffiths aged 11 years

Holly Taylor  Forest School Leader First Friends Day Nursery, Salisbury

C. Ralph parent of a 2 year old  and a 4 year old child during lockdown and working from home

H. Freegard  parent of a 1 year old

Categories: nursery

Tags: Lockdown, Nurture, Play