Continuing my look at theorists who may have influence my practice   Leave a comment

In my last blog about theorists I considered if I was a social constructivist or a behaviourist, and came to the conclusion that I am a social constructivist.

I also decided that the work of John Dewey is very much inline with my own thoughts – however as I had not read John’s work  before, I feel I  had not been influenced in my practice by his work – but I did question if my childhood was as a result of adults in my life (both direct and indirect)  had been influenced by his work .

Reading posts by my fellow students, on the universities online environment, I see they have been influenced by other theorists – and so I am now going to take a look at some of the other well know theorists and see if I agree with them or feel I have been influenced by them.

It should be remembered that I did not do any study into early years and childcare, until I was in my 40’s  – and by then I had had 4 children, and been a child minder for about 20 years – so my practice was well establish. Further it was not until 2006 that I actually read anything much about theorists (when I first started my university studies) – and by them I was grandmother and  had around 30 years experience as a practitioner and other related roles.

So dipping in and out of  my copy of How Children Learn, the next theorist that I am going to look at is Fredrick Froebel

There are certainly aspect of Froebel’s work that I like and indeed that I agree with – particularly the belief that teaching should not be by rote;but that children should learn  through play and self expression;  that   play fosters enjoyment and emotional well being; that  outside play  is important.

I think a point made by Froebel that has been ‘forgotten’ or ‘overlooked’ in this country, is that he talked about children  from age one to age seven using and enjoying the ‘garden’ experience. When I was a children children went to school the term after they were 5 and into ‘infants’ which was very much play based with stories and creative activities – and the very basics of reading and writing – once it was felt you were ‘ready’. It was only when you moved into juniors at 7 that more formal teaching started. Other countries have retained an element of this – in that formal schooling does not start until children are 7. I personally think that Froebel was right – children should learn through their play until they are 7.

However, I do not personally like Froebel’s  idea of ‘Gifts’ that were presented in structured ways. The ‘Gifts’ themselves I consider to be beneficial play materials -such as the soft ball, cubes, and wooden blocks; and certainly I provide wooden blocks and in various shapes and sizes within the environment that I provide in my setting – but I do not like the idea of adults directing how children should explore and use these items.

I think there is conflict between what Froebel said about play and the nature of how the ‘Gifts’ should be used, and I struggle to see how the two fit together. However I think that block play has developed into play that is in line with what Froebel said about play and not in line with the design and purpose of the ‘Gifts’ – and that perhaps we should value the actual ‘Gifts’ and the benefits using for free play brings to children’s play and development.

I love the work of Community Playthings – especially their wooden blocks (which I can not afford but have some similar ones) If you have not seen it before this is a lovely film about block play from Community Playthings Community Playthings film about block play and you may also be interested to take a look at a couple of blogs that I wrote in 2013 about block play in my setting Block play at Penny’s Place – one and Block play at Penny’s Place – two – the second contains more than just block play – in fact in contains another of Froebel’s ideas – that of ‘occupations’ which included cutting skills.

So, do I think my practice has been influenced by Freobel? – well from reading about his work – no – because as stated before I did not read about his work until after my practice was establish.

However I do think my childhood was influenced by his work (and therefore my views about play) – I had blocks to play with – in fact I had one of those wooden push a long trucks with blocks in it. I also  would have benefited from my mothers ideas about play and from the early Pre school Playgroup Association ethos which was based on Froebelian traditions,and which my mother was involved with in the early days of the Playgroup movement. ( And of course Froebel championed the work of mothers in educating children – which is exactly what the Playgroup movement did).

In fact you could say that Froebel’s work has influence and impacted on me all through my life because of my childhood that was influenced by his work – and as I am now a volunteer for the Pre school Learning Alliance which was formally the Pre – school learning Alliance, that involvement and influence is continuing.

If any one is interested in reading about the history of the Pre school learning Alliance, I can recommend this book which talks about their history and the influence of not just Froebel but also many other theorists. I am attempting to reference (I still struggle with this – and especially as this book is a joint effort of many and is a in house publication – so please bear with me while I work out how to reference)

Pre-School Learning Alliance 2011, Changing lives, Changing life, Pre school Learning Alliance Publications:London

As I am not at all sure that I have referenced it correctly here is the ISBN number – ISBN 978 1 873743 93 5


In my next blog about theorists, I am going to look at the work of John Bowlby whose work about attachments has influence my life, my practice through my childhood experience, and now through reading about his work my understanding about attachments in my professional work as a childminder and a foster carer.


Posted October 29, 2014 by psw260259 in My university studies

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