Sue has a big bag of dressing up clothes, bags, hats and jewellery from all over the world, always on the floor in her playroom and she loves nothing more than watching children delightedly rummaging through the items to find something they want to wear.
Jane has carefully laid out clothes sets, with a dress, shoes, jewellery, bag etc for that particular culture or style of dress. She sits with the children when they are choosing and gets the items out, one by one, so they can appreciate the cut and beauty of the fabric, learn about the country from which the clothes originate and talk about how the clothes might be worn. She will then read them a book which complements the clothes set they have chosen or model a role play scenario they might want to follow, giving them ideas for their play.
I have been thinking about both approaches in relation to the EYFS. Is one right and the other wrong? Both are encouraging play, which is key to the ethos of the EYFS. Both are allowing children’s free choice. Both are providing a range of clothes from different religions and cultures, to extend children’s knowledge of the world in which they live.
Perhaps the biggest difference is that Sue’s clothes are out all the time for children to choose from, while Jane’s are on a high shelf, immediately accessible when she has the time to sit with the children and support their learning. Some might also say that Jane is promoting respect for the clothes, while Sue’s free-for-all is encouraging imagination and free-flowing play.
I think, having read the EYFS, that both approaches have their merits. That is the beauty of the EYFS – it is not prescriptive and it does not set barriers to learning. It encourages each practitioner to work in their own way... so long as each can show they are supporting children in working towards meeting the learning and development goals for each child’s age and stage of development.
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