Catherine Lawrence, Windhill21, Hertfordshire
As a reception class teacher, I have been using P4C to enhance children’s communication and social skills, which are areas in need of support in our setting. On top of whole class sessions, I have developed a P4C area in my classroom which is designed to encourage such skill development during Child Initiated Play (CIP). It is equipped with an audio-recorded question, a linked stimulus displayed, and voice recorders / sticky notes to encourage children to record their thoughts and develop their literacy as well. Children can then peg their written thoughts or voice recordings on an umbrella displayed above.
The children use ‘talking point recordable buttons’ which is a simple technology for young children to use. ‘Talk-time recordable postcards’ are used by some children to record their first thoughts, if they do not feel confident to write. I like using these, as an adult can scribe on the front of the card using a dry wipe pen, to encourage peers and visitors to press the button to hear what the children have to say.
The umbrella display is not only visually inviting for the children, but at child height, it encourages children to be independent in displaying their thoughts. Being suspended above an island unit also allows children to face one another and access the area from many sides, further encouraging communication and social development.
Since developing this area in June of 2016, it has proven to be a very valuable tool to allow children to carry on philosophical discussions into their choosing time. It has also helped me to collect CIP evidence of speaking, listening, writing and peer interactions. Most importantly, the children enjoy using the area, as it seems to provide as alternative ‘way in’ to philosophical discussions. Group discussions with a teacher may be intimidating for some children but this provision allows individuals, pairs and small groups to have their say. One child, when asked why he enjoys using the P4C area, replied
I like pressing the button, and I like telling my answer because then you can press it and hear it – and it can be different but that’s ok.