EYFS – Personal, Social and Emotional Development

This is the 2nd blog in a series of seven that will look at how we support children’s Personal, Social and Emotional development.

Well being” relates to a child’s physical, mental health and emotional well-being and is central to how we feel about ourselves.  When our well-being is high, we are at ease with our surroundings, our self- confidence increases as well as our self esteem and we are able to engage in activities at a higher level which in turn meets our basic needs . Loomis and Martin (2007) recognise the importance of basic needs and suggest that unless they are met, then there is no motivation to learn. It is this motivation that drives the child to engage in deep level involvement  and it is suggested “the most economic and conclusive way to assess the quality of any educational setting is to focus on two dimensions: the degree of ‘emotional well-being’ and the level of ‘involvement” (Laevers, 2003:1).
It is through play that children are stimulated to learn, which, in-turn, strengthens their well-being and most importantly is essential for children to do out of doors (Warden, 2007). Research suggests that children need opportunities to be outside and that the outdoors is where children like to be the most. By allowing children the freedom to be outside we reinforce their emotional well-being, which in turn enables them to embrace the natural world independently
Outdoor provision can offer “high quality experiences [and will] have a significant positive impact on children’s social and emotional and cognitive development” (DCSF, 2008:9) “International research shows clear links between access to outdoors – and the natural environment,  in particular,  mental health and well-being…and exposure to nature has physical, mental, emotional and cognitive benefits that not only buffer the symptoms of these disorders but also positively affect children’s overall development” (Playnotes, 2010: 1).
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Active learning is one of the areas of the characteristics of effective learning and practitioners are required to observe how involved children are in their play. We know that when children persevere with tasks and maintain focus on a specific activity for a period of time, that they are motivated and deeply involved in what they are doing. By sharing these moments with their peers, they are able to extend and elaborate play ideas, especially with regards to role play. They begin to play cooperatively, share and take turns and think critically about how to do things together to solve problems.

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Our setting intertwines the Forest School approach to ensure that we develop resilient and emotionally intelligent children. The five key points of emotional intelligence are Self Awareness, Self Regulation, Self Motivation, Social Skills and Empathy and when your programmes focus on these specific areas then ultimately you will improve well-being. We do this by allowing the children the freedom to lead their own learning and we ensure that children are given opportunities for risk and challenge. Risky play enables children to become aware of their fears and we give them the emotional language to be able to tell us how they are feeling. Initially we hear children saying that they can’t do something, but we help them to regulate their thoughts and then we motivate them through praise and encouragement. Over time they develop the skills to be able to do things by themselves and it is this can do attitude that allows children to persist with challenges and bounce back after difficulties.
Once children have mastered this for themselves, you will hear them encouraging their peers, especially the younger ones. We have found that buddying the younger children up with the older ones, helps them overcome challenges a lot easier.
Social skills play an important part in a child’s life, it’s about “how we come to understand ourselves in relation to others, how we make friends, understand the rules of society and behave towards others”. (DFE, 2008) The majority of the day is child led, but we feel it’s important that children are brought together for social times, like stories, show and tell and to reflect and evaluate how the session has gone. By bringing children together they become confident to speak in a group and share their ideas with others.
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As we are outside all the time it is important that the children understand that they are surrounded by living things. We highlight that trees are living things and that we are interconnected with them, we breathe in what the trees breathe out and trees breathe in what we breathe out. This understanding is very important if we want children to look after our natural world when they get older. During our risk assessments we look for things like litter and broken glass and we talk about the impact this may have on the animals that live in the forest. We want the children to have empathy for the things that surround them on a daily basis and to care and look after them. We use minibeasts to highlight how to be kind and gentle and we use these examples when it comes to their peers.
We feel truly blessed to be able to educate children in an environment that is as rich and diverse as it is. It is one of the most calming and natural environments we have ever worked in and we feel this calmness impacts positively, not only on the children, but ourselves too. We can be in the woods and at times hear nothing but the wind in the canopy and the birds singing because children are so engrossed in play. We feel that the environment and the positive relationships that we develop with children, covers a vast amount of the PSED outcomes with the EYFS.




  • HI Julie

    I hope you are well. I run a social enterprise which puts on family sessions for children and parents. We have a yurt for shelter and a geodesic dome. We are looking to extend our activities to include some preschool sessions for children. We have been visited by the LA who have informed us that in order to get registration we would need another indoor area on top of our yurt and dome. We are planning on spending all the sessions outside whatever the weather – apart from high winds. Please could you let me know if you have an indoor area at all please and how you managed to get registration if that wasn’t the case please.
    I love the things you do!!! The children all look so happy and engaged.
    Thanks very much

    January 21, 2016
    • naturetonurture

      Hi Emma,
      Your LA is wrong, we have no indoor space at all, the yurt and geodesic dome is more than we have. Why don’t you ring me. 07815976241 xx

      January 24, 2016

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