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Anthology of Educational Thinkers – perfect for all practitioners!

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I love reading about the different perspectives and pedagogical approaches to young children’s play, learning and development. It is fascinating to me that different people can view the same scene of children playing, but be able to analyse this in many, many different ways.

The more you reflect on different types of pedagogy, the greater your understanding of how children learn, play, grow and develop. It is vital that practitioners don’t fall into the (very easy) trap of ‘We’ve always done it like this’ and forget to reflect on their own practice.

There are some great opportunities for self-reflection and professional development, such as attending conferences, having professional discussions with others in networks or sharing on social media sites. But for quiet, personal reflection there is nothing to beat a great book, especially if it challenges some of your existing thinking.

So, when I received my copy of ‘An Anthology of Educational Thinkers’ written by Sally Featherstone, I was a little nervous that this would just reinforce all my current thinking, giving few opportunities for reflection.

How wrong can you be!

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Guest post

Reflections on family diversity

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Kim Benham is an incredibly reflective practitioner, as evidenced by her Twitter feed and attendances at events. I can also personally attest to this as we have corresponded often on prevailing Early Years issues or thoughts arising from a blog post.

During one of these exchanges, Kim mentioned her past as a paediatric nurse – and I knew immediately there was a story that I’d like to hear!

So, she has very generously written this blog about some of her experiences and how they have influenced her over the years. It is a fascinating insight into a totally different Early Years. I think it is a sensitive reminder that every family is different and that assumptions may be dangerous. An excellent piece of reflection! Enjoy!

I’d like to thank Kathy Brodie for inviting me to write this blog for a website. I have loved listening to the Online Early Years Web Summit. One of the recurring themes was to interfere less and make interactions meaningful by using powers of observation more. kimbenham

Not a lot of my Early Years friends know that after initially training as a Nursery Nurse, I then re-trained, and spent fifteen years as a paediatric nurse. Then my own children came along, and I returned to Early Years, as they became Pre-Schoolers.

I recalled a story to Kathy about when I went back into Early Years; I definitely had a case of verbal Tourette’s that Alistair Bryce-Clegg talked about in his Summit interview. I remember the manager saying “Let them eat!” As I quizzed them over how many sandwiches they had, what shape they were, why was cheese good for you? Poor children couldn’t answer, they were eating!

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Articles

My three revelations about young children’s maths

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I’ve been doing research this week on mathematical development in the Early Years, which has produced three very interesting revelations for me and how I’ve always perceived mathematical development.

First of all, let me say that I was a little sad when the EYFS moved away from ‘Problem Solving, reasoning and numeracy (PSRN)’ back to ‘mathematical development’ as a descriptor for this area of learning and development. PSRN really explained that this area is not just about numbers, but how we use maths, its benefits and how children learn about maths.

Let me give you an example. Probability is the mathematical term of how likely something will occur. If you have 10 balls, nine yellow and one pink, and you randomly choose a ball it is more likely (more probable) to be yellow than pink. As adults, this is fairly intuitive – obvious even.

However – it turns out that babies as young as six months old show surprise when there is an improbable colour ball drawn out – i.e. if you drew out the only pink ball in the box in the example here (Denison et al., 2013).

The inference is that babies start to reason mathematically about their world at around six months old – they are logical.

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Guest post

Physical Development Stars at Bertram Group

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Guest Post By Ursula Krystek-Walton Regional Early Years Manager

At Bertram Nursery Group, we have always known how important it is to promote physical development as a way of supporting children’s healthy growth; both physically and mentally, and the need for regular movement as an obvious means to keep fit, support children’s wellbeing, build their confidence and alleviate frustration. As such, we were delighted when Physical Development became a prime area within the Early Years Foundation Stage.

BertramGroupIt was not, however, until we became associated with Sharon Skade of GreaterSport, that we really began to consider just how vital physical development is in promoting all the other areas of learning right from birth.

Following Sharon’s training at individual settings, managers and their teams began to consider ways to incorporate more and more gross and fine motor physical development in their routines, activities and environments and we began to see some really positive results. Improvements in behaviours were noted in some settings, as well as children concentrating for longer periods of time.

Practitioners became conscious of letting children persevere with tasks rather than jumping in to help too soon, which allowed children to strengthen different muscles and of course, supported children’s independence. PDStars

We began to observe the effectiveness of placing a high priority on Physical Development.

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Viewpoint

“She needs a story….”

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It’s been a busy weekend.

On Saturday morning, I had the great pleasure of attending the North West ‘Ofsted Big Conversation’ (or obc), along with 499 other people. This is an opportunity for Ofsted to present their latest priorities and also for Ofsted to listen to the concerns and priorities of the Early Years sector. It is an amazing forum and the only place I know where, as a practitioner, you can actually talk directly to a senior HMI.

The focus for this meeting was literacy, with Sarah Hubbard, HMI and National Lead for English.

One of her main messages was that sharing books, talking about their content and use of suitable questioning about books is an excellent way of narrowing the gap in the attainment of children.

On Saturday afternoon I went to the cinema with my 6 year old nephew, to see Storks. During the film, two of the main characters are trying to get a baby to sleep, but she will not go to sleep, whatever they do. My nephew turned to me and, in a voice of exasperation, said “She needs a story!”

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Men In Childcare Podcast

Men in Childcare – Interview with Kris Nimbley

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Kris Nimbley Kris Nimbley is studying for his BA (Hons) in Childhood Studies in Scotland and we started corresponding when he downloaded his free copy of the observation guidelines. We then ‘bumped into’ each other on Twitter – and the conversations haven’t stopped since!

Kris has a very clear vision of how he would like to see the Early Years sector develop, with a mountain of sensible ideas. Hear about how Kris got onto his course ‘almost by mistake’, his ethos and philosophy for Early Years Education and how his own early childhood experiences have influenced these.

You too can follow Kris on Twitter: @KrisNimbley

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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Guest post

Early childhood development – it’s not rocket science, it’s neuroscience!

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MineI was introduced to Mine Conkbayir when she contacted me about neuroscience informing early years practice, which I think is such an exciting, and growing, area of study. So I was very enthusiastic when she offered to do a guest post on this subject. Here she discusses how neuroscience can add another dimension to our understanding of child development:

Like many individuals in this increasingly frantic world, I’m often busy juggling my responsibilities as a parent while I work and continue my studies – a very exciting journey as I try to achieve my PhD in early childhood education and neuroscience.

Having been a lecturer across a range of child care and education qualifications for the past 14 years, I continue to be bewildered by the lack of consistently embedded teaching of neuroscience and early brain development across these qualifications.

Early years students and practitioners are continually being encouraged and supported by lecturers and training professionals to use theoretical knowledge from the likes of Piaget, Vygotsky and Bowlby to help inform their planning of early childhood curricula, learning environments and their interactions with very young children.

However, this is not the case when it comes to using neuroscience, which can also be used to inform their understanding of early brain development in relation to their practice.

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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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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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Articles

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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