The Christmas period leads to practitioners falling in to old methods of practice
Christmas is always an exciting time of years in the early years with many young children besotted by the magic and wonder created around Christmas time. Not only is this time of year well loved by children, practitioners and parents are also often very fond of the festive period and cannot wait to begin Christmas activities.
As it is a very popular celebration and seems to be everywhere you go, it is only natural that children will show an interest in Christmas, this of course then leads to early years settings focusing a large portion of December on Christmas based activities. As it is also the season of gifts and giving, practitioners often like to send home large amounts of Christmas artwork and crafts for parents to keep and give out. This is a great way to build parent partnerships, share what has been going on in the setting and also create some wonderful keepsakes and memories for parents. But it is a concern that it is this that leads to many practitioners falling in to bad practice.
What is bad practice?
Depending on the setting you work in and the philosophies your setting likes to follow this may be many different things. However in terms of this article, bad practice brought on by the Christmas period may be things such as:
- Too many adult led activities – Around this time of year, early years settings seem to become increasingly busy with a large list of activities that need to be done. This may mean that for some children the session they attend becomes mostly adult led with activities such as practicing for the Christmas play or sing along, completing and adult led Christmas activity such as making a card or calendar and then along with following typical routine aspects such as essential letters and sounds this may mean children are left with very little time to just play and explore.
- Tick lists – Often over the Christmas period activity tick lists make an appearance with children being forced to complete activities A,B,C and D. Regardless of whether it supports a next step, follows an interest or means pulling them away from an active learning experience they are engaged in. To read more about the tick list debate click here.
- Hand and foot print art – This always causes a lot of debate with many practitioners loosing sight over the main point. Hand and footprint art that involves exploration, independence and active learning is wonderful. Hand and foot print art that involves a child being taken away from their play, for an adult to paint, print and wash a hand or foot to once again tell them to go play holds few benefits. Christmas can often bring out a conveyor belt like system where things need to be done and there is little time for that important free exploration during such activities.
- Process vs Product – Again theres always huge debate over this, however sometimes when practitioners become to focused on the end product being perfect such as with a hand print craft, the whole learning process such as the exploration and creative thinking can be forgotten. This links closely with the above the point.
- Outdoor play can take a back seat – With all the wonderful Christmas crafts and activities that are on offer, and with the cold dreary weather that we get in the UK going outside to explore and learn can often take a backseat. Children gain so much from being outdoors and freely explolring and critically thinking that it is essential that even in bad weather and with a million Christmas crafts to be completed children are still given that valuable time to be outdoors.