P1170150An independent Montrose Nursery is leading the way in introducing an important new form of educational play for babies and young children.

“Heuristic play” is a form of play created by a child psychologist Elinor Goldschmeid in the early 1980’s. According to the Oxford Dictionary, ‘heuristic’ means “helping to find out or discover; proceeding by trial and error.” It stems from the same root as “Eureka –meaning “’I found it!’

The methodology has been adopted by Busy Bees Nursery in Montrose, part of a six nursery strong group of independent Nurseries in Fife and Angus which has its Head Office in Cupar. The Nursery Group is soon to become Little Beehives Nursery in a re-branding programme, which will implement in September.

Montrose Lead Practitioner Rebekah Jack said: “ Heuristic play sessions allow children to play and explore different objects from the real world, using a combination of different senses. These sessions give babies and young children opportunities to experiment spontaneously with a wide range of non-commercial objects. We are really excited to be introducing this and it’s actually very simple to set up as the whole point of it is not to use complicated or expensive toys and objects – it’s everyday items that most parents or grandparents will have in their homes, or can very easily lay their hands on.”

Rebekah explained that heuristic play practitioners collect natural materials, for example, pine cones, seashells and ribbons. These are then placed into a wide space on the floor, with the items grouped together.

“If you want to simulate this at home, those observing should remain seated and be very quiet, “she said. They should only intervene when necessary, as this supports children in making their own choices and discoveries. A clear space should be used, with all other toys and distractions put away. It is estimated that children will spend around thirty minutes or more concentrating on seemingly random play.”

Continued Rebekah: “We have found that the children like to post, hide, slide, pour, fill, put on, in and under… it’s fascinating to watch. At the end of the session, the children help pick up the objects and put them away to the bags. Using heuristic play with babies and young children helps develop all the senses, creating a rich learning experience.”
Busy Bees Montrose is holding two special sessions for local families to try out Heuristic Play. They will be held on Sunday October 4th and 11th, two sessions daily from 10am – 11am and 11.30am- 12.30pm.

“To see this in action is really a great way of understanding what it is all about,” said Rebekah. “There is a lot of debate as Christmas approaches about how much it costs to provide children with the correct educational toys and what parents should be spending on toys at certain ages. Well, to do this is not at all expensive and you are contributing enormously to a learning process. It is a bit like going back to basics.”

Further details www.busy.bees.co.uk.

Busy Bees Nurseries, established in 1997, are privately run nurseries in Fife and Angus with nurseries in Cupar, Newport, Tannage Close, Cupar, Elmwood College, Cupar, Kirkcaldy and Montrose. A new Nursery at Strathkinness near St Andrews will open shortly. The Nursery Group is also rebranding with a fresh new name – Little Beehive Nurseries – and corporate look.