Chelsea Gaffney’s Play Project

Using shared resources to put play at the heart of family learning.

Chelsea Gaffney
Working Party Member
Primary Teacher

Shared Resources

Communication and relationships are a fundamental part of the successful learning which takes place in our Primary 1 classroom. Engaging with parents and carers, daily via a chosen online portal allows us to share the experiences and opportunities children have had during the school day and stimulate conversation at home. My aim this year, is to offer examples of play activities and resources which can be used at home by children and their families to extend children’s learning and play experiences, helping to highlight to families the importance and purpose of play pedagogy in practice.

Family learning is a powerful method of engagement and learning which can foster positive attitudes towards life-long learning, promote socio-economic resilience and challenge educational disadvantage.

family learning network, 2016

Daily, we share pictures and information about the learning which has taken place in the classroom, lots of which is play based and child-led, alongside the teacher led learning. Parents engage with this by commenting and stimulating conversations at home about their child’s day. All parent’s highly rate this method of communication and say that they feel involved with their child’s learning.

For my professional enquiry project, I aim to broaden the opportunities between home and school by sharing resources and play provocations that can be used at home. I aim for the opportunities to not be seen or regarded as homework, but to be exciting, engaging, broad and balanced and most importantly, be centred around the family. By doing so, I hope that parents see the quality and purpose of play in practice and value it as an essential part of their child’s learning journey.

What format will your communication take?

Weekly, ideas for family learning activities and resources will be shared via an online communication tool used by my school setting. These activities will offer children and families the opportunity to go as far or as deeply as they choose.

What content will your communication have?

  • Ideas for activities which can widen the experiences of the children and their families.
  • A mixture of activities, some that are simple; some more ambitious. Some which require resources, others that just require talking and listening.
  • Shared resources and learning will be celebrated to cement positive relationships at home and in school.
  • Give the children and families autonomy in how they play together.

Project Progress

The aims and objectives of the process were shared with colleagues and parents. There was an identified link between an ongoing project with Play Scotland and Educational Psychologists which I am currently piloting in my classroom. I am awaiting permission to link both enquiries together.

Next Steps

The project’s next steps are to:

  • Begin to share weekly activities and resources
  • Model these in the classroom, and share via online portal with families
  • Create a bank of resources which can be used between home and school to support play opportunities
  • Gather feedback and views from parents about how they value play and learning
  • Encourage families to share their learning and play to allow children to recognise links between home and school

Parents are teachers and home is a child’s first and most important classroom.

Hillary Clinton

Covid-19 Caveat

Although somewhat expected, the sudden announcement of school closure prior to the Christmas break up meant that there was little thinking time for organisation of resources.

However, alongside wonderful colleagues we ensured that learning parks were ready to go for our children for the beginning of the new term. Our main mantra and aim for this was to ensure that play filled a huge part of the home learning timetable. This was an excellent opportunity to share the family learning zone sway, direct parents to Play Scotland and other links.

Furthermore, it was an ideal opportunity for the remainder of our play bags to be sent home. Parent collected home learning packs and play bags within the first few days. All 21 children from my own class, along with 43 other Primary 1s, now had the same shared resources at home.

The benefits of this were:

  • Planning could be done around these resources, knowing that all children had the same equal access.
  • Children could use these resources during our live TEAMS calls and lessons, seeing that their peers all had the same.
  • Keyworker and identified children could access the resources in school.
  • All parents had copies of activity card which were also shared by Play Scotland on Twitter too.
  • Parents facilitated the resources at home and became involved in the games ·Families shared pictures of pupils and siblings via online portal which can be used as evidence for research.
  • Parents were able to give feed back on how the resources were supporting Health and Wellbeing and family learning at home.
  • Some children used the teddy bears as a transitional object between home and school whilst they are attending during lockdown.

Project Progress

Fortunately, the impact of lockdown and the small numbers of children in school have not hindered my research at present.

Excellent communication online with parents and supporting resource mean that research can be carried out as normal.

Currently, I am carrying out research in two different formats.

“We want parents, carers and families to feel more confident and able to facilitate play opportunities in and around their homes, so that children will have more satisfying and wide-ranging play experiences.  We want to support staff that work with families to have the skills, knowledge and confidence to promote play as an essential part of family life.”

play Scotland

Pupil Voice

“These special comforts are called transitional objects, because they help children make the emotional transition from dependence to independence. They work, in part, because they f eel good: They’re soft, cuddly, and nice to touch. They’re also effective because of their familiarity.”

healthy children organisation

“I was worried about coming to hub but teddy makes me happy.”

Family Feedback

Feedback from parents so far is very positive and the resources and activities have been very well received.

“Child really enjoys the activities using the teddy and bubbles.  He has used these in his own time as a calming resource when he’s been feeling a little unsettled.”

“They are really good things in the bag, they have been used well in the activities.”

“Both child and sibling have enjoyed doing the activities together.  I have enjoyed playing with them too.”

“Child has become attached to teddy, he enjoys taking it to various places and uses it in his games.” 

Next Steps

  • Collect and analyse all data from parent survey – collecting views on parent’s perceptions of family learning and how shared resources enhance family learning at home.
  • Continue to record children’s voice and evidence of resources in use.
  • Share family flyers and ask families how these have supported them in their family learning.
  • Look at ways to drive family learning forward further.

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