Play Pathways Matrix

The Play Pathways

Click below to download the Play Pathways Matrix to see the links between the Early Years Learning Framework and the Australian Early Development Census Domains. For more information on each of the Play Pathways click the tabs below.

The Five Play Pathways

Physical Skills

A child’s ability to acquire physical skills involves mastering balance and movement, and fine and gross motor skills. Play Steps Playgroups help develop physical attributes in pre-prep children by providing opportunities for them to explore, experiment and problem solve in a safe and nurturing environment.

When a child runs, jumps, climbs and kicks (or catches) a ball during a Play Steps Playgroup session they are getting ready for school by:

  • strengthening the muscles that help them sit still
  • learning how to control their body so they can concentrate
  • discovering how to take turns and share
  • learning about spatial awareness.

When a child plays with play dough, blocks and puzzles, or uses scissors in a craft activity during a Play Steps Playgroup, they are becoming school ready by:

  • strengthening muscles in their hands that will help them write
  • developing hand-eye coordination
  • improving on their problem-solving skills
  • learning how to manipulate objects with control.

Social Skills

Verbal and non-verbal social skills enable a child to communicate effectively, fit in with their peers, become confident learners, reduce anxiety and work independently in the classroom. Play Steps Playgroups create an environment that helps young children develop social skills by providing opportunities for them to talk about their feelings with others, verbalise problems and begin to understand the rules of their environment.

When a child plays with another child doing dress ups, building with blocks, digging in the sand, discovering in the playground, playing with dolls in home corner, they are getting ready for school by:

  • developing language skills that help them express their feelings
  • progressing their problem-solving skills
  • increasing concentration levels and decision-making skills
  • learning how to regulate emotions
  • cultivating skills that help them make friends and resolve conflict
  • learning how to take turns and share.

Emotional Skills

Children develop emotional skills through their interactions and relationships with others. As these skills progress, they become more able to engage productively and cope with setbacks and frustrations. Play Steps Playgroups help develop emotional skills in pre-prep children by providing opportunities for them to learn to manage their own feelings, use language to verbalise their emotions, and to understand how other people feel.

When a child lines up and waits their turn, plays a game of hide-and-go-seek, and works on a craft activity with another child, they are getting ready for school by:

  • showing patience
  • being motivated to solve a problem and follow directions
  • cooperating, recalling events, expressing ideas and concentrating
  • developing a sense of autonomy and an emerging sense of self
  • responding appropriately to someone else’s feelings
  • managing their own feelings and behaviour in socially acceptable ways.

Cognitive Skills 

Play provides a learning platform for children to understand the world around them. It supports a child’s ability to think, understand, remember, imagine and problem solve in any given situation. Play supplies the ingredients needed for cognitive development. Play Steps Playgroups help foster cognitive skills in pre-prep children by providing opportunities for them to use play-based learning to develop literacy and numeracy concepts, including numbers, sounds, shapes, patterns and time.

When a child plays with sand, water and building blocks with other children, and sings songs like Five Little Ducks, they are getting ready for school by:

  • learning rules of behaviour and the reasons behind them
  • understanding opposites (e.g., big/little) and positional words (e.g., middle/end)
  • learning how to measure as they pour and fill containers
  • discovering what ‘more, less, big, little, heavy and light’ mean
  • starting to understand how things can be different or the same
  • recognising the concepts of sorting, grouping and matching.

Communication Skills

The development of communication skills supports a child’s ability to express and understand their emotions. When a child understands, uses and enjoys communicating, they are taking the first crucial step in their life-long literacy journey. Play Steps Playgroups help develop communication skills in pre-prep children by providing opportunities for them to listen and respond, enjoying conversational reading with a facilitator or parent, and singing songs that use rhyme and repetition.

When a child paints, draws, listens to stories, dresses up and sings, they are getting ready for school by:

  • acquiring the ability to concentrate
  • learning to communicate their ideas in different ways
  • building their vocabulary and the ability to express themselves
  • developing listening skills and the ability to follow instructions
  • strengthening muscles in their hands that will help them write
  • developing hand-eye coordination
  • learning to identify and read letters and words.