Category : Articles

Articles

The Joy of Winter

Here in the UK, it is now turning cold and the first snows are falling. It’s tantalisingly close to our house – I’ve seen cars going by with snow on the roof – but so far we’ve only had frost.

I love the snow for the way that it transforms the whole landscape, deadening noise and turning the black branches of trees into sparkling sculptures.

Of course, one of the most magical moments is when children experience snow for the first time. It is worth all the time getting on hats and coats and gloves and boots just to go out to feel this strange substance floating down from the sky.

I was waiting to collect my son one day from Reception class, just as it started to snow. Without exception, every child came out of the door, looked up and stuck out their tongue to catch a snowflake. It was such an instinctive thing for the children to do!

Even if it doesn’t snow this week, there are so many wonderful things to do outdoors in the winter:

  • collecting sticks, fir cones, evergreen branches
  • jumping in puddles, squishing in mud and finding frozen puddles
  • ‘painting’ by dripping liquid paint onto the wet paving stones and watching the paint spread and move
  • having boat races in angled pieces of guttering
  • spotting different berries, hips and haws on the bushes and trees
  • lighting a fire and cooking over it
  • looking out for bats and owls at dusk
  • using strings of lights, torches and lamps to light up the area after dark

Because it gets dark so early, there are plenty more opportunities to explore light and dark indoors, for example:

  • have a shadow puppet show using a sheet and backlit with a strong torch
    project stars, planets or shapes onto the ceiling
  • create a magical land by lighting the room just with strings of lights and draped fabric
  • paint using glow in the dark paints and then view the paintings with the lights off
  • for the more adventurous, use a black light torch that makes colours and white gleam out in the dark

Stories such as ‘Owl Babies’ by Martin Waddell and ‘Whatever Next!’ by Jill Murphy can start conversations about being afraid of the dark and the types of adventures that can be had once the moon is out.

For older children, there are opportunities to discuss the planets and stars. In the UK at this time, you may be able to see Saturn from dusk in the Southwest sky and possibly Mercury low in the sky after sunset.

Even if it isn’t winter in your part of the world – what are your favourite winter activities?

Read More
Articles

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.

Read More
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/

Read More
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

Read More
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’.

Read More
Articles

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.

Read More
Articles

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.

Read More
Articles

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.

Read More
1 2 3 6