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Balancing play & learning


Lockdown has prompted a resurgence of an often hotly debated topic about what the balance should be between play and learning, the balance between a child or an adult taking the lead and even the balance between care and education.

Our perspective

The easy answer is to say that play and learning are inextricably linked, but within the overarching banner of play and learning, there are two ends of a spectrum. On one end of the spectrum, there is complete free play and at the other end, you have highly structured learning. The question of how to find a balance between these two ends of the spectrum is one that is now being explored in households up and down the country.

We have tackled this question head-on in the development of our approach and curriculum at N. We’ve spent the last six months rethinking how we continue to stay at the forefront of early education and we are really excited about our new curriculum, which we’ll be launching to you when we reopen fully.

Our approach is based on the principle of finding that balance between freedom and structure. Based on the principle of giving children the freedom to play and to follow their interests but also to be inspired into discovering and developing new knowledge, skills and interests. A child can never develop an interest in something they’ve never been introduced to; they can’t hone a skill they’ve never experienced – that’s where we come in, to help find that balance. Whilst this is sometimes easier to achieve in a nursery setting, the same principle applies at home.

How this applies in the home

  • Balance time between following your child’s interest, playing alongside them, and letting them take the lead with times where you are the one suggesting new things. This could be introducing your child to something new, new knowledge, a new experience, or a new skill – but doing this in a playful, fun and exciting manner.
  • Making learning fun, exciting and ‘curiosity catching’ draws children into broadening their interests into new concepts and supports them to develop different knowledge and understanding.
  • Finding a balance between their knowledge and ours, their skills and ours, following their lead, and inspiring them to go in different directions is at the very heart of how play and learning intertwine and the way we can find that happy balance.