child looking to camera with his paint covered hands in the air. Text on image reads BLOG POST Your Child has been busy learning

21 December 2023


Written by Mel Braden, Executive Head of Nurseries & Quality

Here at YMCA Black Country Group we all absolutely loves Christmas. I’m worse than the children when it comes to getting excited. However, just because it’s the festive season that doesn’t mean we forget our child-led principles. Child-led learning is when a child is offered the opportunity to choose their own learning, whether that’s building with blocks, playing in the sand, or painting, for example. The idea is to observe how that child approaches the activity and how they adapt the task to their own direction.

Child-led learning also encourages children to think critically. If they’re deciding on their own activity to participate in, they are the ones creating the plan, finding their next steps, deciding what to do next. If they’ve chosen to do this activity with another child or a group of children, they need to effectively build relationships and work through problems they encounter together. Learning how to read and write is something than can be taught over time and children will eventually learn at their own pace. Skills such as conflict resolution, finding solutions and building friendships are not easily taught and need to be led by the child

So before you feel let down by not receiving your perfectly manicured card, please think, what part of this card did my child make?

“Let’s consider what happens when this military (cute Christmas card operation) commences and the wheels of the ‘human printing press’ are fired up. How are these foot print crafts really created? and are they really worth it?

The adults choose the design, outdoing the cuteness from last year.

The adults tick list is printed off, to ensure every child is accounted for.

List prepared, children are systematically called to the adult’s ‘Christmas card work station.’

Perhaps sadly called from their play, their engagement interrupted at a time where deep learning, laughter and connections were taking place? Carefully and precisely the adult’s painting begins!
Either a child will sit quietly conforming as their wrist is held and paint is applied to palm and fingers. Or they engage with us, chat with us as WE the adults paint”

The Curiosity Approach

Our nurseries are proud to value the process over the product, and here are some of the learning opportunities your children have participated in to celebrate the festive season.

Lots of different scents have been integrated into many aspects of our provision. Adding Christmas spices such as cinnamon, pine, nutmeg, cloves and cranberry to paint as a multisensory creative experience. We have been painting with ground spices mixed with water; you get a lovely array of autumnal colours.

We have been making Christmas scented playdough. Cinnamon playdough smells great and is good for making pretend gingerbread men; red cranberry-scented playdough and peppermint- or pine-scented green give lots more festive play options. We have added bows, tinsel, jingle bells and decorations for added sensory interest.

We have added Christmas spices to the mud kitchens for lots of multisensory outdoor play – you can even add cranberries and pine needles.

Home corner role play is reflective of what children see in their everyday lives. So we’ve added trees and a boxes of decorations and let the children play at decorating and un-decorating the tree. Remember, this is a play tree, so don’t get precious about how it looks.

We have introduced boxes and Christmas paper. Using different sizes and shapes, and fill with building blocks and other objects to create different weights and sounds. We encourage the children to explore, talk about and sort the parcels.

The Children have been wrapping strange-shaped objects such as teddy bears, cars and toys to see if they can guess what they are. We offer the children supplies of wrapping paper, scissors and cellotape to encourage their own wrapping – again, great for physical development.

Remaining authentic to our Christian roots, we opened a door on a Christmas calendar, sharing the true meaning of Christmas with the children – singing songs and rhymes in abundance!

We put the children at the centre of every choice we make. We allow the children to have the freedom to create their own creations and artwork. We allow our children time to follow their own learning style, and to create artwork which is beautiful and expressive, and most importantly created by themselves.

So please don’t be upset if you don’t get a Christmas card this year, your children have been too busy learning!

Find out more about our approach and our bespoke curriculum