Playing and Exploring (Engagement)

Finding out and exploring
• Showing curiosity about objects, events and people
• Using senses to explore the world around them
• Engaging in open-ended activity
• Showing particular interests
Playing with what they know
• Pretending objects are things from their experience
• Representing their experiences in play
• Taking on a role in their play
• Acting out experiences with other people
Being willing to “have a go”
• Initiating activities
• Seeking challenge
• Showing a “can do” attitude
• Taking a risk, engaging in new experiences, and learning by trial and error

• Play with children. Encourage them to explore and show your own interest in discovering new things.
• Help children as needed to do what they are trying to do, without taking over or directing.
• Encourage children to make decisions and choose their activities – what they want to do and how they will do it.
• Join in play sensitively, fitting in with children’s ideas.
• Model pretending an object is something else. Help develop roles and stories.
• Encourage children to try new activities and to judge risks for themselves. Be sure to support children’s confidence with words and body language, and by introducing tools so that children can think about how to use them safely.
• Pay attention to how children engage in activities – the challenges faced, the effort, thought, learning and enjoyment. Talk more about the process than products.
• Model responding positively when things go wrong, and talk about learning from failure.
• Always respect children’s efforts and ideas, so they feel safe to take a risk with a new idea and feel comfortable with mistakes.
• Encourage laughter and have fun. Happiness deepens learning.

• Provide stimulating resources which are accessible and open-ended so they can be used, moved and combined in a variety of ways.
• Make sure resources are relevant to children’s interests and abilities.
• Arrange flexible indoor and outdoor space and resources where children can explore, transform, build, move and role play.
• Help children concentrate by considering levels of noise, and visual distraction.
• Plan first-hand experiences and challenges appropriate to the development of the children.
• Ensure children have uninterrupted time to play and explore.
• Setting leaders give staff time to reflect on how they support children to play and explore through their interactions, and planning of the environment.

Statutory ELG: Managing Self

Children at the expected level of development will:

– Be confident to try new activities and show independence, resilience and perseverance in the face of challenge

Previous page: Characteristics of Effective Learning | Next page: Active Learning