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Men In Childcare Podcast

Men in Childcare – Interview with Greg Lane

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GregLaneGreg Lane has worked at several different settings, working his way up to manager at Colville Nursery Centre, Notting Hill, a LEYF nursery.

In this podcast he discusses the next stage in his career – an MA in Applied Theatre, which sounds amazing!

During the podcast we touch on the current recruitment crisis in Early Years, the different ways that theatre can be brought to Early Years and how he started in the Early Years sector himself.

When there are more details to share about Greg’s Early Years theatre projects, I will post them on here for you.

Enjoy!

Find out more about Colville Nursery centre here: www.leyf.org.uk/nursery/colville-nursery-centre

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Playing in the Forest

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The Stockport Early Years Network had the great pleasure of visiting the ‘Wacky Woods’ near Bollington in Cheshire last week, with Alex. This is part the Schola Foris curriculum – ‘a fun, challenging but safe outdoor environment where creative play and learning can take place naturally’.

We went ostensibly to find out about the way that being in a forest environment can enhance, encourage, stretch, challenge, reinforce, invigorate children’s learning.

I went because I love the forest and Alex does a great cup of coffee (with water boiled over the camp fire in a blackened kettle).

It has been raining hard here, so the first thing we experienced was walking through the mud puddles, squelching and squealing as the mud pulled at our boots. And the delight as we spotted tiny boot prints from the children who had visited that afternoon (or was it tiny forest folk?).

Gathered around the fire, watching the water boil, we started to talk about risky play and how to explain to practitioners and parents that climbing trees has many benefits. In fact, Alex suggested that your risk analysis should start off with the benefits, which I thought was an excellent idea.

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Guest post

Seeing your classroom from the autistic child’s perspective

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Mrs M continues her blog series with advice on working in a classroom with a child who has autism. She has enormous personal experience, which you will see shining through in the post, as well as very practical advice. Please do share any top tips that you have as well! – Kathy

Mrs M. writes:

Before I dive straight in with the practical tips in this month’s blog. I want to talk a little bit about my past experience, as it has shaped my whole ethos in relation to autism within the classroom.

I am a mum to a 12 year old boy who was diagnosed on the autism spectrum several years ago now. And my background as far back as I can remember is in nursery management. But as my kids became older I made the move into a primary school setting, and I soon discovered my calling as an Autism HLTA in a resourced provision.

My career path hasn’t always been plain sailing let me tell you.

I can remember like it was yesterday my first job supporting an autistic child in reception. Because despite all my training nothing could prepare me for the rollercoaster of emotions I was about to experience working alongside him.

He had almost no language and huge sensory needs. He found the transition from home to school very difficult, which would lead him to become very upset every day.

So for a while I felt totally out of my depth.

I remember feeling so worried about getting it wrong, that it stopped me being innovative and thinking outside the box. I had an awful feeling that I just wasn’t up to the job. I couldn’t seem to ‘connect’ with him.

The worry and feeling of inadequacy would keep me awake at night sometimes.

On days when he had particularly struggled, I would feel mentally and physically drained. I saw it as my fault. I felt like a failure as I didn’t feel like I was actually ‘teaching’ him anything.

But slowly, day by day I quickly learnt that this little boy was actually the one teaching me, as much as I was there to teach him. In order to enable him to learn, I had to get into his world and see things from his viewpoint.

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Viewpoint

Valuing children’s abilities

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I was reminded last week just how clever, adaptive and creative children actually are.

Let me start at the beginning. In schools all over England, young children (and some VERY young children) are being given words to remember, spell and write. They are then tested on these and measured against a set of standards.

Now, in my experience, having a set of pre-determined scales poses a number of problems.

First of all, where do you pitch it? So low that everyone passes with flying colours – a little bit pointless, if great for self-esteem.

So high that most children will be set up to fail, which has to be morally, ethically and in terms of PSED wrong.

Therefore, it has to be a middling average, in terms of reading ability. There has not been any account made for children’s unique life experiences, their culture or their existing knowledge.

Even if we, as adults, have been there with the children, their experiences of the same event may be very different indeed. I’ll never forget the big trip to Chester Zoo, on the coach, great adventure, picnic lunch and the only memory my son has of the whole day is seeing the elephant weeing! So how can we possibly extrapolate their experiences and put them into a standard test?

On top of all that, children are exceptionally good problem-solvers, adapters and makers of meaning, even if something seems non-sensical to us.

For example, one of the measures, or tests, of their reading ability is to de-code ‘nonsense’ words. These are phonetically possible, but are not encountered as regular English words. The activity in this particular classroom last week was to identify the nonsense words, and then say them.

However, there is one little lad in the class who had early life experiences in Hong Kong, and also supports Everton football team. So when he came to the word ‘Chang’ he didn’t identify it as a nonsense word.

Why?

Because it is a common Chinese surname, a brand of beer common in Hong Kong and sponsors of Everton. So he has seen and used the word often and it makes perfect sense to him, in a number of different contexts.

As a test of identifying ‘nonsense’ words, this is clearly not working. As a test of de-coding the word, again, not working – he could read it on sight (at a hundred yards on a football shirt!). But as an example of his cultural, community and knowledge of the world – excellent!

But he got the test ‘wrong’ because he didn’t identify it as a nonsense word.

So before we try to show how we, as adults, are more intelligent than children, let’s just take a moment and remind ourselves how clever, inventive, creative and knowledgeable our children are first.

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Men In Childcare Podcast

Men in Childcare – Interview with Nige Graven

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Nige Graven v2Nige Graven is an Outstanding Childminder, based in Knutsford, Cheshire with his wife Sarah Neville.

In this podcast Nige explains how he came into childminding and some of his experiences whilst looking after children. We discuss the increasing lack of support for childminders and Nige tells one of his trade-mark jokes!

Find the Knutsford Childminding blog here. and their company site here.
Their Twitter account, @knutsfordchildm, is here.

The Childminding Forum, which is mentioned in the podcast, is here.

Enjoy!

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If you enjoy the podcast, please leave a review on iTunes too – it helps to promote the podcast and get it to reach a wider audience.

 

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Get Packing!

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For some reason in the last few weeks I have either been doing lots of work with, or talking to, practitioners working in ‘packaway’ settings. These are settings that have to be packed into boxes and cupboards at the end of each day or each session, usually so the room or space can be used by someone else.

Although some of these are small settings, such as pre-schools, some are much larger, consisting of several rooms and outdoor areas. This can turn ‘tidy-up’ time from a quick check for any lego left out or toys in the garden into a huge logistical job where everyone needs to know their role inside out.

However, I do think that there are some great benefits that only those who DON’T have to heave boxes in and out every day can appreciate.

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On Your Marks!

Michael Jones Mark MakingI was very excited to hear that Michael Jones (well-known for his prowess in the speech and language world, via his blog Talk4Meaning) had a new book out about mark making and early writing – called On Your Marks!

This is a very different book to his other writing, as it is an activity filled, practical ideas based book. The first notable feature is that each page (the ‘ideas’) are all photocopiable, which is made easier as the book is spiral bound, with a landscape layout. Next you will notice how the chapters are organised in a very logical fashion – even starting with the types of paper you may use – moving onto big movements, fine motor skills and ‘handedness’.

Much is made of mark making as a process rather than product, so there is plenty of advice about taking photos during the activities, as well as displaying the final product.

Some of the less common good ideas are discussed too, such as how moving to music improves gross motor skills (essential for producing body movements for writing later on) and how the way we visually scan a page depends on cultural writing norms, affecting the way that we teach children.

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Guest post

Supporting children with Autism

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I’m delighted to announce that Mrs M (author of A Slice of Autism: What’s normal anyway?) is starting a new series of blogs for me here. The first one focuses on behaviour, particularly with respect to school and parent partnership. You’ll find plenty of sensible, reliable advice, written in Mrs M’s very enjoyable style.

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I have been privileged to spend many years of my career working within the primary education sector and early years settings to support staff who work with children on the autism spectrum. It can be one of the most rewarding jobs and yet also one of the most challenging too, as each individual child on the spectrum is unique, and therefore they all have such different needs.

Add to this the fact that many children’s challenges are hidden from the outside world and it becomes easy to see why people can focus on the things children with autism can’t do, their deficits if you like. Instead of us looking at the child behind the behaviour, we can find ourselves stuck in a cycle of negative reaction strategies that actually serve to aggravate the child even further.

boy's fascinatedMany approaches I have seen over the years tend to ‘treat the behaviour’ and focus on the child’s problems. But we should be taking the time to find out what makes these very special children tick, what their strengths are, how they learn, and how we can make reasonable adjustments to the environment in order to meet their needs.

So often children on the spectrum are treated like round pegs in square holes. Our environment and demands to conform to our view of the world can chip away at them and doesn’t take into account their individual needs.

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Men In Childcare Podcast

Interview with Jose Cortinas

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JoseCortinas Jose Cortinas has worked for a number of childcare settings and this experience means he has lots of good advice for those of you who are thinking of joining the Early Years sector.

Hear about Jose’s college experience, some of his challenges and the benefits of working for a large organisation such as London Early Years Foundation (LEYF).

For more information about LEYF: https://www.leyf.org.uk/ and LEYF at Earls Court: https://www.leyf.org.uk/find-a-nursery/kensington-and-chelsea/earls-court-community-nursery/

 

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The Ultimate Guide to Sustained Shared Thinking

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My new online course on Sustained Shared Thinking is now available. You can get it at a special price here…
>> The Sustained Shared Thinking Online Course < <

 
I’m currently getting a lot of interest around Sustained Shared Thinking, which is very encouraging as I am a massive fan of this proven method of quality practice.

This guide will consider the what, why, how, when, where and who of Sustained Shared Thinking.

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