For some disabled children, it may be harder to learn through play and interaction with others. You can overcome these barriers and promote learning with planned activities that incorporate these elements:

Playing indoors and out, alone and with others, quietly or boisterously. Children who are engaging in play are finding things out, practising ideas and skills, taking risks, learning from their mistakes and thinking imaginatively.

Interacting with other people helps a child to develop emotional security and practise social skills. Through talking and sharing the child experiments with new ideas.

Active learning - young children need to move and explore using their senses. Sitting still in one place for too long can disrupt learning. Changing the child’s view and outlook will stimulate their imagination and thinking.

Communication with someone who listens and responds: Children will share their ideas through sounds, gestures and body language. A running commentary or talk with a friend helps a child to understand what they are experiencing.

Representing ideas and experiences - children deepen their understanding as they recreate experiences in different ways – in role play, pictures, or small world play with toys.

Problem solving - working out what to do, trying hard and persevering with problems may occur in play, real life or planned activities. The challenge is to decide when to stand back to encourage problem solving and when to step in and offer support.

Modelling - children learn skills by watching others or being shown how to do something. This might include tasks modelled by another adult or by other children.

Repetition - rehearsing or repeating similar activities helps a child consolidating new skills and gain confidence.

Read more about learning, playing and interacting

Learning Together

A guide for teachers and special educational needs co-ordinators

Send us your best practice examples.

Learning Together

Department for Education logo

Times Educational Supplement

Scope is a content partner of the Times Educational Supplement.