Category : Articles

Articles

Leading Practitioners, Leading Practice – Early Years Summit

I’m very excited to announce that the Early Years Summit has had a bit of a make-over.

The Early Years Summits are free, regular, online conferences. Twice yearly a group of experts and specialists share their knowledge, research, expertise, and enthusiasm with the world. These have had themes such as  Quality Interactions; Personal, Social and Emotional Development; Physical Development; Outdoor Play and Learning.

As usual, these video interviews are available for free during the broadcast week – 22nd to 28th of October 2018.

But this Autumn Summit 2018 has something a bit extra.

You’ll still hear from leading Early Years experts from around the world, such as Alistair Bryce-Clegg, Christopher Phoenix, Professor Jan White, Rachel Buckler and Sandi Phoenix.

There’s still tons of great advice, thought-provoking discussion and lots of top tips to support your Early Years practice.

BUT – in addition to all this is a full programme of leading practitioners and educators from around the world, who are doing exceptional things for their children, from unusual environments to reflective safeguarding practices to children’s and practitioner’s wellbeing.

These outstanding practitioners and educators explain how they have implemented, grown and reflected on their own practice. They offer real-life solutions to challenges you may be having right now. You can learn about their methods and processes. Find out how they are making it better for children and get lots of support and advice to help you do the same. Of course, there are always the ‘top tips’ as well!

I’m delighted to have the experience and knowledge of both experts AND practitioners on the Summit in this unique way.

To find out more details and to sign up for the Autumn 2018 Early Years Summit, simply click below:

www.earlyyearssummit.com

 

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Early Years TV is here!

I’m really pleased to be able to announce my exciting new venture: Early Years TV.

Over the last few months we’ve been beavering away behind the scenes to create what I hope will be a wonderful resource for professional development for all Early Years practitioners and educators. It’s a weekly “TV show” where I interview some of the leading experts in Early Years who share their top tips and ideas – all for free.

We cover topics like practitioner’s well-being, nurturing your staff, scheme & schema, safeguarding and workplace diversity, all the way through to leadership and management, health inequalities, news updates, and sometimes simply examples and stories to inspire you.

Each interview is posted at 6pm on Friday evening (UK time) and is available to watch completely free for a week, until the next episode is posted.

If you sign up to get updates, you will get an email to let you know which video is on now and what is coming up in the next episode. You can unsubscribe from this at any time.

In the very near future, we’ll be offering a monthly membership, where, for a small fee, you will be able to access the previous videos from the library back catalogue as well as watch the current videos for as long as you are a member. You can buy Lifetime Membership now, which is a one-off payment for all videos, forever – and there’s a FREE Early Years TV notebook and pen for the first 100 Lifetime Members!

We do hope you enjoy Early Years TV, find it inspirational and useful for your practice with the children.

For more information and sign up:
https://www.earlyyears.tv/

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What is an Enabling Environment?

An enabling environment is one that provides children with appropriate challenges, allows them to explore freely and has plenty of sensory stimulation. Getting the environment right for children will support their holistic development – their all-around, integrated learning and development.

How to Provide an Enabling EnvironmentIn this article, which was published in Teach Early Years, I’ve given you tips in a number of specific areas that will show you how to provide an enabling environment for your children.

Click here or on the image to download the article.

You can find more about Holistic Development in my book The Holistic Care and Development of Children from Birth to Three.

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Holistic development from Birth to Three

The age from birth to three is an explosion of development and learning for young children. From being totally dependent on parents and carers for their every need to becoming independent children, with unique personalities, complex language skills and physical abilities, children learn it all in an incredibly short time.

This does not happen in a vacuum, however. Babies need to hear language and see communication to be able to learn proficiency; a whole range of physical skills are required and need to be practised before crawling, cruising and walking can be mastered; attachment, bonding, episodes of joint attention and developing resilience are just a few of the social and emotional aspects that will help to develop personality.

Similarly, this development doesn’t happen according to a fixed timetable (although there are some general developmental norms) or in discrete pockets of development.

Babies and young children learn and develop holistically, meaning that many areas develop all at the same time and interdependently on each other. This is particularly pertinent in the birth to three age range, where there can be significant benefits to giving babies and young children experiences that are interconnected and consider all areas of learning and development.

For example, baby massage is physically soothing, and, in addition, it is beneficial for bonding and emotional soothing.

Physical development with respect to eye contact, pointing and babbling are all important beginnings of communication.

Of course, communication in the form of storytelling and narratives greatly supports young children’s sense of self, their sense of community and may also be a vehicle for exploring their own sense of morality at the basic level of ‘goodies’ vs ‘baddies’.

Superhero play (which may take the form of ‘goodies vs baddies’) can be used to encourage different forms of movement with older children such as leaping, spinning and creeping during their play.

As you can see, birth to three is all about the interactions, the interdependencies and the links between ALL areas of learning and development.

I have explored these concepts and ideas in my latest book – The Holistic Care and Development of children from birth to three which has just been published. The aim of the book is to illustrate just how vital it is that we consider children holistically, rather than arbitrarily sub-divide their accomplishments into pre-determined boxes, especially in the birth to three age range.

In the book, I have included lots more examples, as well as activity ideas to support them. There are also the underpinning theories about babies and young children’s development at the beginning of each chapter to set the context.

Babies and young children are amazing learners, capable and curious. It seems a shame not to acknowledge this and support them in their preferred way of learning – holistically.

You can purchase the book now from David Fulton Publishers here: https://www.routledge.com/The-Holistic-Care-and-Development-of-Children-from-Birth-to-Three-An-Essential/Brodie/p/book/9781138211056 or from Amazon here: http://amzn.to/2nOcDQK

 

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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?

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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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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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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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