The government programme to provide funded childcare places for disadvantaged two year olds will be fully implemented in 2013 and will be extended to 40 per cent of all two year olds by September 2014.
In addition, The Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage places even more emphasis on assessment at this age with the two-year-old progress check. This clearly states that
“practitioners must review (children’s) progress and provide parents with a short written summary of their child’s development in the prime areas. This progress check must identify the child’s strengths, and any areas where the child’s progress is less than expected”.
Your learners need to be prepared for these new developments, which highlight more than ever the importance of observing the specific needs, interests and development of two-year-olds in early years settings.
Knowledge of children’s development and learning forms a significant part of both the Level 2 Certificate and Level 3 Diploma for the Children and Young People’s Workforce, particularly:
L2: Unit TDA 2.1 Child and young person development
Unit CCLDMU 2.2 Contribute to the support of child and young person development
L3: Unit CYP 3.1 Understand child and young person development
Unit CYP 3.2 Promote child and young person development
Unit EYMP 2 Promote learning and development in the early years
In addition, Observation, Assessment and Planning for Play and Development also form a whole unit (Unit 9) of the new Edexcel BTEC Level 3 National Diploma in Children’s Play, Learning and Development (supported by the forthcoming Collins student textbook). This unit also emphasises the importance of involving parents in observations of children’s development and using information from observations to plan activities for children.
This is a good time to review your learners’ knowledge of the specific needs and interests of two year olds.
DVD clips are always a good place to start. Siren Films (http://www.sirenfilms.co.uk have a good selection, or you may have your own.) Invite your learners to observe and make notes about the all-round development of two year olds, such as:
- what can they do physically?
- how do they communicate and express themselves?
- how do they play and interact socially?
Follow this up with learners working in pairs to investigate more about development at two years old. The NHS choices website (http://www.nhs.uk) provides an interactive birth-to-five development timeline, with developmental milestones at specific ages and a selection of short video clips.
Ask learners to complete the chart “Now I Am Two” (attached), summarising developmental milestones in the prime areas of the EYFS and encourage them to share examples from their placements.
This is also a good time to review the benefits of Heuristic Play for two year olds. Use a DVD clip (or one of several examples available on You Tube) at:
Ask your learners to observe and make notes about how children are using the heuristic play materials to:
- explore and experiment
- use problem solving to figure things out
- be creative and imaginative, use materials in original ways and represent their ideas
Learners could then work in pairs or small groups to devise lists of objects to use in a Heuristic Play session and complete the chart (attached) to outline how Heuristic Play supports the all-round development and learning of two year olds.
The Pre-School Learning Alliance (https://www.pre-school.org.uk ) also has a wide variety of support materials, including ideas for play activities and a downloadable information document about learning through play.
As early years settings prepare for the influx of vulnerable two-year-olds, many local authorities are responding by developing training packages and support materials for early years practitioners. Cheshire East Council (http://www.cheshireeast.gov.uk) have produced a best practice toolkit entitled “Are You Ready for Me-Now I’m 2?” This guide provides a scaffolded approach for evaluating and improving current provision for 2 year olds, to meet the requirements of the revised EYFS and also has some useful material to use in your classroom.
Janet Stearns, Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies, former Lead Examiner for CACHE