Category : Articles

Articles

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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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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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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My three revelations about young children’s maths

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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Playing in the Forest

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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Get Packing!

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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The Ultimate Guide to Sustained Shared Thinking

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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