Learning through fun and play

Last updated 30 September, 2019

Principle & statement of intent

At Bumbles Day Care we believe that children, as individuals, learn through play that is well-planned and pleasurable. Play is a vital part of childhood and is necessary for every child’s healthy development. Play supports children to move through each stage of their development naturally, allowing them to make friends, come to terms with difficulties, follow their instincts, think and learn from others

This policy has been formed following the guidelines and principles in the:

  • Department of Health & Social Services NI – Childminding & Day Care for children under age 12 Minimum Standards published July 2012. – Quality of Care, states that:-
  • Children’s wellbeing is promoted and their care, developmental and play needs are met. A broad range of play and other activities is provided to develop children’s physical, social, emotional & intellectual abilities.
  • Observations of what children do and say, are used to meet their individual needs, promote their wellbeing and guide the work with them.

In the nursery we follow the Early Years Organisation guidance on the nature of an appropriate curriculum for pre-school children and the PPA Guide to the Curriculum, 1991 which states that “The essential basis for all future learning is established through children’s early play and learning and through the attitudes to learning which are acquired during the pre-school years.” Most importantly therefore, during their time at Bumbles, we hope that children will be learning that learning is fun.

In planning the curriculum, staff will be looking at the following key areas of development.

Personal, Social and Emotional Development

To provide children with experiences and support which will help them to develop a positive sense of themselves and of others; respect for others; social skills; and a positive disposition to learn

Communication Language and Literacy

Learning and competence in communicating, speaking and listening, being read to and beginning to read and write. Provided with opportunity and encouragement to use their skills in a range of situations and for a range of purposes, and be supported in developing the confidence and disposition to do so.

Physical Development

The physical development of babies and young children must be encouraged through the provision of opportunities for them to be active and interactive and to improve their skills of coordination, control, manipulation and movement. They must be supported in using all of their senses to learn about the world around them and to make connections between new information and what they already know. They must be supported in developing an understanding of the importance of physical activity and making healthy choices in relation to food.

Cognitive Development

(Problem Solving, Reasoning and Numeracy, Creative Development & Knowledge & Understanding of the World)

Children must be supported in developing their understanding of Problem Solving, Reasoning and Numeracy in a broad range of contexts in which they can explore, enjoy, learn, practise and talk about their developing understanding. They must be provided with opportunities to practise and extend their skills in these areas and to gain confidence and competence in their use.

Children must be supported in developing the knowledge, skills and understanding that help them to make sense of the world. Their learning must be supported through offering opportunities for them to use a range of tools safely; encounter creatures, people, plants and objects in their natural environments and in real-life situations; undertake practical ‘experiments’; and work with a range of materials.

Children’s creativity must be extended by the provision of support for their curiosity, exploration and play. They must be provided with opportunities to explore and share their thoughts, ideas and feelings, for example, through a variety of art, music, movement, dance, imaginative and role-play activities, mathematics, and design and technology.

Play in all its aspects, is the principal means of learning for the young child and, as such, is fundamental to successful education at this stage, therefore the curriculum will be experienced through a variety of broadly based play activities – many of which will relate to several aspects of learning and all of which will be a source of pleasure and fun.

The activities offered fall into the following main areas:

  • Imaginative Play – e.g. house, hospital, shop, café, clinic, hairdressing salon.
  • Natural Materials – e.g. water, sand, clay, wood, dough.
  • Creative Materials – e.g. art/ craft using a wide range of media, music.
  • Physical (indoor and outdoor) – e.g. climbing, balancing equipment, bat/ball, mobile toys.
  • Construction Materials – e.g. large and small blocks and bricks; smaller construction toys.
  • Table-top Toys – i.e. a large variety of smaller materials which require matching, sorting, grading and encourage pattern making.
  • Picture, Story Books, and Story Telling – on an individual and group basis.

At least one, but usually several examples from each of these seven areas are constantly available to the children throughout each session. Some activities which require increased organisation and supervision – e.g. planting seeds, cooking, music and drama, – are also provided on a regular basis.

The main emphasis at Bumbles will be on providing small group and individual activities for children, as it is inappropriate to expect young children to all do or want to do the same things for any significant amount of time. Whole group and adult directed activities, therefore, are kept to a minimum and children will be offered plenty of opportunities during the day to make their own choice about what they want to do and follow their own interests.

Through Effective Early Learning observations recorded by all staff, our team regularly evaluate and assess the suitability, effectiveness and content of the activities they provide for the children in their care. Staff, consequently change the provision they offer in response to the changing needs and interests, not only of the children, but also as a result of any additional knowledge and insights they gain themselves through staff training. As well as assessing the appropriateness of the activities they provide, staff also assess each child’s individual progress against those developmental milestones he / she would be expected to attain by certain ages.

In the nursery the adult’s role is one of facilitator rather than instructor and our staff are constantly engaged in:

  • responding to children’s comments, questions and requests
  • talking with children, offering views, suggestions and observations
  • sensitive and informed involvement and, when necessary, intervention in the play
  • careful observation, planning and preparing curriculum details – on the basis of observed interests, abilities and needs

At all times staff:

  • are aware of their influence as a role model
  • value each child as a unique individual
  • hold high, but realistic expectations of all children
  • collaborate and co-operate with parents, and any others who may be involved in the child’s development
  • recognise their own need for continual professional development
  • recognise the need for ongoing curriculum review


At the start of each year the Manager with the staff team will plan for each group what they hope to achieve that year in terms of the child’s development and learning. We will take into account seasonal events and festivities and how these will be incorporated into the curriculum.

At the end of each term, Christmas, Easter and June we will reflect and report on that terms learning and development for each child that will have been recorded in their Learning Diary. The team will then review the plans for the next term against the long term plan for that year.

Observations captured in each child’s Learning Diary are analysed, assessed and reviewed weekly and monthly by staff. We encourage flexibility which allows the team to respond and react to children’s progress to ensure we are meeting individual needs and that all children have opportunities to make progress.

Playstation and Kids Club

Whilst for children in the nursery setting, there is a need for an educational curriculum, for those children coming to Playstation and Kids Club, it is deemed that those needs will be met in their respective schools. Therefore the emphasis here will be on play. Play takes many forms, doing nothing in particular, doing lots, being boisterous, showing off, being contemplative, overcoming difficulties etc. Through play children explore the world and learn to take responsibility for their own choices. Play can be sociable or solitary, play can help children to climb, swing, gallop and chase. It can help them to try things out, test boundaries, develop confidence, explore and experiment in the world around them.

In PlayStation and Kids Club we aim to get the balance right between play and relaxation whilst still being focused on our care ethos of helping children to grow in confidence, independence and self-esteem. Here the rooms are designed to have quiet areas, where children can relax, read, do homework as well as having a broad range of both creative and practical materials and resources to challenge and interest the children.