For Early Years Practitioners
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Take Care of Yourself

It is now well and truly autumn in the UK.

The nights are drawing in and there is a definite chill to the air. Over the weekend I started to ‘put the garden to bed’ – clearing up the leaves, cutting back the raspberry canes and picking the last of the dahlia.

By the time I came indoors it was beginning to go dark and the solar lights had winked on.

I felt tired and ached, but also felt incredibly peaceful and calm, satisfied with a good day’s work shared with an inquisitive robin.

Coincidentally, I have had cause to think about mindfulness and calm over the last week, and how critically important this is if you are a practitioner or educator in the Early Years.

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Recommended Resources

Is it a bird, is it a plane – no, it’s a book!

Superhero play is ever present in most settings, but it can be difficult to accommodate or ensure that learning is taking place.

However, this new book from Nicky Simmons and Ginny Morris, can really help to identify learning. Usefully linked to the EYFS, ‘Enhancing Provision Through Superheroes‘ is arranged into the areas of provision, from outside, maths, literacy to investigation and creative areas. This makes it very easy to use for planning and organising superhero play in the setting.

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Articles

Continuing your Professional Development

The Autumn Summit 2017 is now over but that is no reason to stop your professional development!

So, I’d like to share some of the great content that our Autumn 2017 Summit speakers have created, from viral blogs to fascinating and fun videos, they are all here, for free, so you can continue your professional development journey before next year’s Summit.

Rae Pica’s blog on barefootedness went viral, and you can still find it here:
http://www.raepica.com/2017/09/12/barefoot-benefits-brain-development/

and Jan White extends this theme (along with some fantastic photos):
https://janwhitenaturalplay.wordpress.com/2012/04/09/its-spring-now-why-not-think-about-going-barefoot/

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Viewpoint

Do we need Men in The Early Years?

One of the workshops that I attended at the Men in The Early Years (MITEY) Conference in Bradford was run by Jeremy Davies from the Fatherhood Institute and centred around recruiting men into the early years’ sector.

Early on in the workshop, Jeremy asked a very interesting question, which set the pace for the workshop – Why does it matter to children if we have men in the early years? Where is the evidence coming from? Bearing in mind that this was a ‘Men in the Early Years’ conference, I thought this was a fascinating place to start and I started to guess that this was going to be more than your average workshop!

Sure enough, after a series of group discussions, we had covered some very stimulating questions, with some excellent contributions from both Jeremy and his audience. A few things gave me particular pause for thought:

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Articles

What can neuroscience teach practitioners?

child and sunflower

I was delighted to be able to catch up with Mine Conkbayir at the Childcare Expo in Manchester. It was the first time we had met in person, although I had previously interviewed Mine for the Spring 2017 Summit. On the Summit, Mine had explained to me how neuroscience can support children’s personal, social and emotional development.

However, in this latest interview, I wanted to examine neuroscience as a broader topic – and why we need to know about this as Early Years Practitioners. So, I was thrilled when Mine agreed to record this interview with me, where she talks about Love, self-regulation and finding out more about neuroscience.

Enjoy!

You can also read more about this fascinating topic in Mine’s book Early Childhood and Neuroscience: Theory, Research and Implications for Practice available from Amazon here.

Some of the links that Mine mentions are:
Lighting up Young Brains: http://www.kathybrodie.com/viewpoint/lighting-young-brains/
and original report at: http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/sites/default/files/docs/Lighting_Up_Young_Brains.pdf
Neuroscience for Kids: http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/neurok.html

You can still buy the video interview with Mine Conkbayir on the Spring 2017 Summit here: Early Years Summit Online Store

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Articles

Men in The Early Years 2017 (MITEY17) Conference

I had the great pleasure of attending the second Men in The Early Years (MiTEY) Conference in Bradford this week.

There were so many great people – the first two people I met when I arrived were the amazing dynamo who is Nathan Archer and the man who started the Men in The Early Years Conference last year in Southampton, David Wright (aka Mr Paint Pots), a brilliant start to the day! And the content of the day turned out to be just as impressive.

Dr Jo Warin, along with Yuwei Xu, spoke about the gender flexible Early Years practitioner. In this fascinating keynote, Dr Warin talked about a number of interesting facets of being a man in a female dominated environment but the one area that grabbed my attention was the discussion about our understanding of ‘gender’.

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Guest post

Sensory processing and children with autism

In today’s guest post, Mrs M. explores the world of sensory processing. For many of us, we assume that others experience the world in the same way that we do – lavender is a calming smell, it is pleasant to have soft music playing in the background and the smell of bacon frying makes your mouth water. However, this is not always the case.
Mrs M. takes us through some of the different experiences that children with autism have and, most importantly, how we can support children to make sense of the world around them and thrive in it.

*****

Imagine living in a world that bombarded you from every angle with sensory information that you couldn’t process…

Imagine desperately wanting to open your morning snack, but being unable to as your fingers feel as if you are wearing a thick pair of gloves.

Imagine walking into your classroom every morning only to be hit by the smell of your teacher’s perfume which is so strong that it makes you feel sick just to be near her.

Imagine the labels in your uniform scratching against your skin like a cactus, making your skin sore and irritated.

Imagine the flickering of the light in the classroom flashing so brightly that it was like a strobe light in a disco.

Imagine the smell of lunch wafting down the corridor which is so overpowering that you simply can’t focus on anything else.

Imagine not being able to feel your seat underneath you, almost as if you had been numbed. No matter how hard you wriggled around you just can’t get comfortable.

Imagine snapping your pencil in half every time you tried to write as you can’t judge the amount of pressure you are applying on the paper.

Imagine the sound of the chairs scraping along the floor as if it was fingernails being scratched down a blackboard.

Imagine being surrounded by beautiful bright displays that make your eyes go funny and your head spin around like you’re on a fairground ride.

Imagine having to filter out all the noises, visual distractions and smells from around the classroom every second of every day.

Imagine having to hold all this in.

Having to concentrate.

Trying to focus.

Attempting to follow instructions from your teacher. 

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Guest post

Education for Sustainable Citizenship in Early Childhood

Dr John Siraj-Blatchford is a well-known name in Early Childhood research and a staunch advocate for improving the outcomes for young children. I have read a lot of his writing, but one article caught my eye when preparing the Early Years Summit – Wellbeing and Sustainable Development. Co-authored with Lynette Brock – a passionate supporter of play for children – the article explores how sustainability and integrated cross-generational initiatives are essential to improving children’s wellbeing and welfare.

This was a fresh perspective on children’s wellbeing that I’d not come across before, but which made a lot of sense. So I was delighted when Dr Siraj-Blatchford and Lynette Brock submitted the guest blog post below, linked to this very subject!

At the end of the blog post, you will find a link to the original article, along with links to other, free articles, and details of training sessions and conferences. 

Education for Sustainable Citizenship in Early Childhood

by Dr John Siraj-Blatchford and Lynnette Brock.

Education for Sustainable Development is about Environmental Education, it is about Global and Intercultural education, and it is about the Economics of wellbeing and the virtue of thrift. Most important of all, Education for Sustainable Development is also about improving the learning outcomes of children who are currently underachieving. Inequality and underachievement provide a significant barrier to sustainable development and this has been identified as a major priority in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. References are provided at the end of this posting to free to download resources that provide more detailed explanations and rationale.

Education for Sustainable Citizenship in Early Childhood (ESCEC) draws upon the logic of the Convention on the Rights of the Child which requires us to consult the child on all matters that affect them. In fact their future is the central concern of Sustainable Development, and we therefore believe they should be given a voice in determining this future. From the ESCEC perspective it is important for children to learn about the interdependency of humanity and nature, and about their interdependency with other people near and far. But it isn’t enough just to learn about the efforts being made in achieving a more peaceful and sustainable world, in adopting a ‘rights’ perspective it is clear that children also need to be involved in contributing to these efforts.

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