The Importance Of Play In Early Years

‘Play’ plays a huge role in children’s development and underpins the EYFS. Through play, children develop language skills, emotions and creativity, and social and intellectual skills.

Play comes naturally to children, much like when you see a baby bobbing to music, it is a natural instinct to play and be curious about the world around them.

Here at The Oak-Tree Group of Schools, we pride ourselves on providing our younger children with quality experiences to expand their minds and have fun whilst learning. A great deal of time and care is taken to make sure the classrooms are filled with toys and activities that engage the children and encourage ‘learning through play’.

Role-play areas, such as a doctor’s surgery, veterinary clinic, restaurant, and police station allow the children to act out scenarios and also to make sense of situations they come across in real life. This role-playing aids children in building social skills and helps them become the kind of adults who are able to thrive in a range of personal and professional environments. This kind of play is an excellent way of helping the children learn a language as they engage with each other and are encouraged to have conversations.

For young children, play is often a full-body activity that helps them develop skills they will need later in life. Running, dancing, climbing, and rolling – these activities all foster muscle development and help fine-tune motor skills. PE lessons with specialist teachers at the Oak-Tree Schools build on these experiences, whether that is learning how to catch and kick, or playing games with the parachute, our PE teachers nurture the children and create a fun environment where they learn to use their bodies and hone their skills.

It is important to allow children to explore new environments, indoors and outdoors, as It is here they foster new ideas and skills, take risks, show imagination and problem-solve.

During outdoor play they will learn about the everchanging environment and the natural world. Here at the Oak-Tree Group of Schools, each one of our Early Years departments have a dedicated outdoor space for the children to enjoy. These areas allow for messy play, role play, water play and physical activities such as riding on the trikes and ball games. This is the perfect opportunity for the children to develop a wide range of skills while having fun.

Braeside School in Buckhurst Hill have been using its outdoor space to create a garden growing corner. Here the children are encouraged to play with the gardening equipment and get their hands dirty in the soil. They can role play being a farmer and plant seeds and harvest the things they grow.

The children in Early Years at Coopersale Hall School in Epping, love investigating the seasons. The extensive grounds allow the children to get out and explore, building nests like they see in the trees, crunching through icy puddles and looking at different weather. Inside the classroom they play with different media during art sessions, creating beautiful spring displays for the walls.

Normanhurst School in North Chingford Early Years children head out every Friday for their forest walk. The children explore the forest, feeling different textures, playing hide and seek with their friends, listening to the sounds of the woods and playing on the fallen trees. When the weather is bad, the children enjoy indoor adventure, gathering around the paper ‘campfire’, enjoying hot chocolate and pretending they are out in the wild.

Oaklands School in Loughton Early Years department love celebrating different occasions and cultural celebrations. On pancake day they listened to the story of the ‘Runaway Pancake’. They then pretended to make their own pancakes in the sensory tray ‘Pancake station’, practising their mixing, rolling and pancake flipping skills. They worked together to make Chinese New Year decorations, playing with different textures and mediums, building up their communication skills and learning about colours and shapes.