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Child Initiated Activity

A child initiated activity is something that your child chooses to do independently. Please note; an adult saying go and play in the garden, or, let’s do some painting, is adult initiated!

It is during child initiated activities that we get to see in the windows of our children’s brains, because concepts and knowledge that they have understood from all subjects gets acted out in their play. It is also a chance for your child to demonstrate and practice the Characteristics of Effective Learning. These are the crucial learning behaviours and attitudes people need to be successful learners.

As there imagination and creativity develops they will be able to construct more complex situations and stories, requiring more resources to be combined.

Listen to the story they are narrating as they play. Does it make sense? Are they mispronouncing words? Do they have all the necessary vocabulary in their repertoire? This is where you need to join in with their play to model what it should look like.

If your child is laying down pushing a train or car around with just noises or very little language, or always making you a cup of tea, playing the same scenario with a doll, this can probably be deemed as low level playing. Until your child is mobile and engaged, narrating a story they have created (not repeating a story they have watched), they will not be able to write it in an English lesson.

Each day your child can create a new story with different resources or they can build and extend what they did the day before.

This week:

With your child have a quick recap on the activities they chose to do last week. In an ideal world we like our children to participate in a varied choice of activities. This ensures balanced learning as children then apply their knowledge and skills in a variety of situations, more closely imitating real life.

If they had a narrow choice of activity, for example; if they did lots of drawing, painting, craft pictures, or if they tend to work only in 2D, they may use vehicles a lot, only complete predetermined activities (puzzles, board games, Lego kits, playdough cutters) actively encourage them to try something else, aiming to create new stories and scenarios.

Did they tend to create stories inside? This week go out in the garden if you are able to create one. Do they tend to only play with a ball, bike, trampoline outside but don’t think of building a car wash or garden centre or obstacle course or combine toys and resources? Do they make dens with props, or treasure hunts with written clues?

This type of play takes self-confidence, imagination, problem solving, initiative and creativity. All essential skills for traditional subjects such as English, Maths, Science and Art.


As your child becomes more accomplished at narrating a story as they play you can write down exactly what they say in the order that they say it. You can then read it aloud to them while they act it out. This approach highlights to both of you anything that doesn’t make sense, repetitions etc which you can then address.

Extend the play and the story over 2 or 3 days. Please note this is not the same as repeating the play from the day before. You’re looking for your child to be improving, adding props / resources or describing what happens next.