The Value of Child-Centred Learning for your Early Years Setting


Small children learn through play.

When you’re in an early years setting, it’s clear to see the discoveries and the breakthroughs children make when they’re having fun.

As such, a child-centred approach can work extremely well for under-fives. This style of learning involves putting the child at the centre of their learning. In practice, this means staff should facilitate learning instead of showing a child what to do.

This unstructured style encourages a child’s natural curiosity. By allowing a child to move freely around a setting, children can engage in the activities that interest them most. And when children are allowed to make their own decisions and choices, this can boost their self-esteem and confidence too.

Child-centred play can motivate young learners

Unstructured play can be incredibly motivating for early years children. When children are allowed to follow their own interests relatively unchecked, they can feel more energised and engaged within their environment. In comparison, if they are ‘forced‘, to take part in an activity that doesn’t interest them, this can lead to children disengaging.

That said, a careful balance needs to be found – and this is where the role of the early years practitioner is so key. Some children will be naturally more reserved than others. Some children need a lot more direction and instruction. If that’s the case, the child shouldn’t be left wandering aimlessly. Instead, a practitioner can intervene and help a child get started with an activity.

The role of room layout in child-centred learning

The layout of your setting can have a huge impact on the learning and discoveries that children make.

Ideally, under-fives should be given lots of choice. Spontaneous play should be encouraged. You’ll find zoning will work best, simply because segregated areas allow children to concentrate on the activity of the moment – instead of being distracted by everything else that’s happening around them.

That said the best room layouts encourage easy and unrestricted flow between different play areas. By encouraging children to explore different activities – both inside and outside – you facilitate that child to develop a wide range of skills.

Can we help?

If you’re interested in developing a child-centred approach in your setting we’d love to help. We have a passion for helping early years settings create learning environments that help children flourish. Having worked in the education sector for over 14 years, we understand layout and equipment from an educational perspective – as well as an aesthetic and practical one. As a result, we’re happy to make suggestions as to how you can arrange your setting for optimum space and play potential. We’re also very happy to advise on equipment choices – to help maximise your budget and ensure your setting gets the resources it needs.

You can find out more about our complimentary room planning service and what you can expect HERE.

In the meantime, please share your thoughts on child-centred learning. Do you integrate this style into your setting? If so, what results have you enjoyed?

See also: Classroom Design and Child Development

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