Play and Language in Transition – Helen Moylett and Nancy Stewart


Following the success of our recent Hybrid Pedagogy webinar, we will be holding a second special Virtual Learning Circle event on Wednesday 8th July.

This FREE online event will be hosted via Zoom Webinar and led by two fantastic voices in the Early Years, Helen Moylett and Nancy Stewart, who will be discussing 'Play and Language in Transition'.


Play and Learning in Transition - Helen Moylett and Nancy Stewart 

There is a lot of ‘noise in the system’ at the moment about children ‘returning’ to settings and schools. This over-simplifies what is happening. Many children have never left, many have been connected virtually to their setting and their special people, and some have been in lockdown at home with little or no contact. All of them, and their families, will be involved in transitions as settings and schools open to more children and work towards welcoming them all.

These transitions are not mere administrative events or opportunities for children ‘to hit the ground running’ to catch up with what they have missed. Transitions are always an emotional process and take time. Even very positive emotions like excitement at re-connecting with friends and favourite practitioners may be mixed with other feelings and hard for children to process.

After living through lockdown, all children are going to find some aspects of re-adjustment challenging. Some will have to get used to sharing staff again, others will be disappointed if friends are in a different ‘bubble’, others will be fearful and hyper-vigilant. If children have lived through family stress, possibly bereavement or domestic violence, inadequate housing and/or insufficient food, they may be overwhelmed. We cannot be sure how all the members of any group of children may feel in July, August or September but we can be certain of one thing – they all deserve to be given time and space to adjust in a nurturing environment.

A nurturing environment is one that recognises that from birth, children are primed to encounter their environment through relating to and communicating with others and engaging physically in their experiences. When practitioners are able to tune into their needs and interests, children feel emotionally secure and confident to play and move with others, within relationships which support their developing communication and language skills.

This session will reflect on the role of play in supporting language and how adults can make the most of their role as communication partners to support all children through transition and beyond. We contend that adults’ patient support combined with thoughtful provision and interaction can ensure that ‘catching up’ happens effectively and appropriately.

We will draw on some of the research cited in ‘Getting it Right in the Early Years Foundation Stage’ notably Dockrell et al’s (2010-12) work on the Better Communication Research Programme and Broadhead (2009).


Better Communication Research Programme for reports see

Broadhead, P. (2009) Conflict resolution and children’s behaviour: observing and understanding social and co-operative play in early years educational settings, Early Years, 29, 2, 105-18

Dockrell J. et al (2012) Developing a communication supporting classrooms observation tool, DFE-RR247-BCRP8 available to download at

Pascal, C., Bertram, T. & Rouse, L. (2019) Getting it right in the Early Years Foundation Stage: a review of the evidence available to download at

The CREC Learning Circle is a ‘community of practice’ (Wenger 2002) that has met regularly since 2003 for presentations or discussions on early childhood.

Learning Circle is FREE to attend, supportive and open to all with an interest in early childhood studies. Meetings usually begin with an agreed input from a participant on a specified topic, followed by informal group discussion.

You can find out more information about the CREC Learning Circle, including a list of all the upcoming meeting dates for 2019/20, here

You can also request to join the CREC Learning Circle Facebook group, here (please note: you must answer the questions to access the group. Those that do not will not be admitted)


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