The most frequent question I’m asked by other teachers is usually a paraphrased version of: I like the idea of continuous provision, but where do I begin? The prospect of migrating an entire new approach into your Key Stage One is certainly a daunting one. There is so much to consider: how to deliver the approach, how formal/informal it will be, curriculum coverage, setting up the environment and a biggie … resourcing the environment! When I first saw a Key Stage One play-based environment in another setting, I wanted to jump straight in and get it all done pronto! However, the staff made it very clear it was a journey to embark upon and to work on getting your ducks in a row first.
So, to the ducks …
🦆 Read up!
Read up as much as you can about how others are delivering the approach; get your hands on as many books as you can, follow inspiring Facebook pages and Instagram accounts, get involved in groups so you can see what other schools are doing, or even better go and visit another school who already has it in place! This takes time. But accessing all of these different pieces of information will help you to shape the approach in your mind and you will learn so much!
Begin by hunting around the school to see what kind of play-based resources you have available to you. It’s tempting to turn your nose up at that old box of Lego when you’ve been fully submerged in an online world of Pinterest worthy environments but we all have to start somewhere. So grab the dusty box of Lego with both hands and stash it away in your classroom! You’ve just worked out that you’re starting with a construction area! Plus, remember that you can build your collection of resources over time.
Have a look at what furniture you have available for storing your resources. Ask around other teachers. Have they got pieces that they hate? Can you trade? Or do they want rid of pieces taking up valuable space in their classrooms? Does the Year 6 teacher really want that low table in their reading corner? Something as simple as a rug and a box on the floor is a good way to start out.
Don’t forget to consider your most valuable resource . . . staff! Which members of staff do you have available to deliver the continuous provision? Do some members of Key Stage One require training? This will be important when considering the next hurdle . . .
🦆 Your approach
Are you going all in, head first, into a fully immersive play-based approach? Or are small groups of children going to access provision at a time, whilst others are completing table tasks? This is down to you and your setting but if you want to know what I do have a read of my previous blog post (after you’ve finished reading this one of course!)
What I will advise about your approach is to start off slowly. The chances are that you don’t have all the right resources or staff for a full play-based approach from the get go. So, if you do try to go all in, your new approach could fall flat on its face and scare you away from trying it ever again.
Take. It. Slow. When I first began provision in Year One it was simply something for the children to do for 10 minutes at the end of their ‘learning’. (Little did I know, this was when the real learning was happening!) This way you can increase the access to the provision in a more comfortable way, it gives you time to work out which resources you require to expand the provision further and it allows you the time to see the potential! You will start to witness snippets of the magic and you will quickly know how you want to capitalise on them!
🦆 Get everyone on board
For this approach to work well everyone needs to be on board. That’s everyone from parent helpers to Headteachers and everyone in between! Putting a continuous provision approach in place in Key Stage One is so worth the benefits you reap but it takes WORK! The last thing you need is colleagues putting hurdles and obstacles in your way. However, it’s easier said than done in some cases. So, make sure that you share what you’ve learned from all of your research and consistently model the approach. When the benefits inevitably begin to show; shout about them from the rooftops and when someone tells you to stop going on, shout a little louder! Make the rewards and amazing learning undeniable! Because at the end of the day isn’t that what everyone wants to achieve?
Taking on a play-based approach in Key Stage One can feel very overwhelming, particularly for those who have never taught in this way. If you need a little more faith in the approach go and spend some time with your Early Years colleagues and look at the magic that is happening in their rooms. You might not completely mirror their approach in the end but understanding the potential you are unlocking will give you the determination you need. Look at each of these ‘ducks’ carefully, put them in a row and give it a try!