Child research psychologist Dr. Amanda Gummer calls for an immediate review of the government’s home schooling approach to liberate parents and teachers from National Curriculum constraints which are ‘not fit for purpose’ in the lockdown. She is pioneering a project- based play approach to EYFS and Key Stage 1 and 2 learning during these exceptional times, which she says will ease parental anxieties and frustrations, relieve teacher stress levels and inject happiness and motivation to the home learning environment. She is also calling on councils to encourage parents to make use of outdoor play spaces to support children’s physical and mental well-being.
Dr. Gummer comments; “I question the appropriateness of curriculum-based learning at this time. It’s unreasonable to expect that parents can do it all. Teachers have not been trained to teach a class remotely without the dynamics and learning aids a class setting can bring and many are trying to do that whilst also teaching the children who are in school. Ditching the curriculum in favour of a play-based project approach to learning will have a palpable effect on stress levels of families and teachers and importantly fuel the natural curiosity and imagination of our little ones, therefore fostering important skills such as self-directed learning, confidence building and problem solving.”
She confirms, ‘anecdotal evidence shows difficulties of the current system, so I’m calling for a complete overhaul of our enforced learning models which, during these times, aren’t supporting teacher’s objectives to deliver the best for the children in their care and are certainly not conducive to a happy balance at home, with parents juggling technology or trying to hold down their own work obligations. Moving to a more flexible, play based project model, offers both a powerful and immediate solution to a very real problem.”
Dr. Gummer’s recommendations include championing key skills and addressing the issues of a technology shortfall where laptops and devices may be being shared family members, or not be readily available.
With parents increasing worried about their own patience levels and teaching capabilities, and whether they are providing the right tools and guidance for their children, incorporating tasks such as menu planning, recipe creation, game design, letter writing and cooking can all be easily integrated with other great initiatives such as BBC Bitesize or Joe Wicks online PE, immediately unlocking parents and teachers from curriculum constraints but delivering core skills based learning on a very practical level.
Dr. Gummer is available for comment and interview around this important topic in pioneering a shift change in delivering a solid approach to play based learning which meets the developmental needs of youngsters and supports educational development.