A primary school is letting its four-year-old pupils play with real kitchen knives, hammers and saws – to enhance their “real world experiences”.
Rockland St Mary Primary School, in Norwich Norfolk is taking on the ‘curiosity approach’ innovative which involves letting its youngest pupils play with ‘real’ objects.
The school, which teaches pupils between the ages of four and 11, is allowing pupils to use items including knives and china teapots compared to the generic plastic toys.
Teacher Zoe Marsden, 31, said the school, which has been trialling it for the past four weeks, has “so far found it a success” – despite “only one incident with a child”.
Zoe, who has been working at the school for the past five years, said: “It is anti-pretend things.
“We want them to use their own innovative and manage the risks that will come with them. They will learn to be resourceful, knowing if they drop the teapot, it will smash.
“But to also know that there are no consequences, that if it smashes on the floor we can sort it – but to know there is now danger and to be careful.
“We respect the children to be trusted with these objects, and the children respect us back more.”
Zoe continued: “We have had only one incident with a child. A little boy was trying to open a jar and he was pulling and pulling and ended up hurting his elbow because he couldn’t open the jar.
“But again, that is another lesson for him.”
The school’s sponsor, Sapientia Education Trust, has supported the new approach.
Its promise is to give children more real world experience compared, while encouraging them to be more creative in how they use the objects to play.
Zoe said: “As children are exploring they are making links that pretend things don’t give them. If you give a child a plastic house or plastic kitchen, you are directing the play for them.
“Whereas with the curiosity approach, they can learn how to measure, they can use real items with real fruit. They can use real ceramic items, so they know what happens if they drop it.
“We want the environment to be the third teacher – so they can make links to home experiences and enhance real world experiences.
“Even our dressing up clothes are adults’ clothes and shoes, not princess outfits.
“Some of our children have just turned four and want to clomp about in mummy’s shoes so why not give them real ones rather than plastic ones? They can reenact what they see in real life.”
Zoe said since the initiative the children have been more focused and that the new approach was having a positive impact on other areas of their development.
She added: “They enjoy it more because they fill like they are doing something that is in the real world. They have been very very fascinated by it all.
“The parents have been very supportive of it all, they have really loved it.
“We support the children to be the best they can be, they know how to manage a risk“.