In 2018, discussions with a wide range of early years practitioners in Ipswich indicated that settings were keen to develop their skills to support children’s resilience and their ability to learn. It was particularly apparent that early years providers were interested in the link between physical development and the other ‘prime areas’ of Communication and Language and Personal, Social and Emotional Development. Extensive discussion with the early years sector in Ipswich demonstrated that many settings were looking for ways to improve the physical opportunities that they offer children. One practitioner commented that sometimes physical development is overlooked when planning the curriculum because it is seen as ‘just running around’. Additionally, research tells us that there are emerging links associating physical play of various kinds with academic progress and cognitive self-regulation, and with social competence. The Opportunity Area Early Years working group were keen to find a programme to bring together knowledge of physical development with children’ Personal, Social and Emotional development.
Developmental Movement Play (DMP) was the obvious choice. It was developed by Penny Greenland MBE in 1989 and it is a contemporary approach to supporting babies’ and children’s physical development – aiming for confident, expressive, skilled and happy bodies. The programme is recognised nationwide and has been linked to a variety of early years research. The response was extremely positive, and one practitioner from every early years setting within the Ipswich Opportunity Area was invited to a fully funded two day course with Penny Greenland in 2019.
A total of 48 practitioners in Ipswich have attended the course, and each participant was asked to complete a training feedback questionnaire. The response rate was 90% and the feedback could not have been more positive: 100% positive feedback! Every single respondent rated the tutor’s style of delivery as ‘outstanding’. In addition to this, 86% of respondents rated their confidence level following the training as ‘much higher’ and 14% rated it as ‘higher’.
Sunflowers Pre-School in Ipswich have noticed the significant impact that the DMP training has had on their provision. The manager, Kylie Ryley said:
‘The Developmental Movement Play training has transformed children’s behaviour and speech and language within the setting.’ She explained that staff now have a much greater understanding on how to ‘give children the opportunity to use the physical environment safely and communicate in a different way’. She said that they have seen an impact on children’s progress in communication and Personal, Social and Emotional development, and she has attributed this to children having more opportunities to ‘express themselves through movement, work together to help each other and explore the way their bodies move’.
Heathlands Pre-School have also embraced what they have learnt, and are keen to develop their physical development curriculum as a result of the positive impact they have seen across the setting. Marie, the manager, explained that they have noticed that the setting is calmer and children are more independent and confident. She explained that the movement play area enables children to interact differently and with different groups of children. She also talked about specific children, such as a child with Special Educational Needs, who have made significant progress which she attributes partly to the development movement play provision that they have put in place. The pre-school made the decision to use some of their training grant from the Ipswich Opportunity Area to continue to work with Penny Greenland and expand their developmental movement play provision even further. We were particularly proud to learn that recently the pre-school have appeared in a series of video clips created by Penny about the impact of her developmental movement play training.