Category : Articles

Articles

The Aquatic Classroom – 3 opportunities for transferable learning

When Jo Wilson from AquaSensory first contacted me, I was a little bemused as to how swimming lessons could be relevant to an Early Years setting. However, once I got talking to Jo, I realised there are lots of things we can transfer from the way AquaSensory is taught and the way we use resources in a setting.

I’ve chosen my 3 favourite ‘transferable learning’ moments, but there are plenty more!

  1. ‘Bubble of Joy’. This is the way that Jo explains to parents how to be ‘in the moment’ with their child in the pool. It is all about shutting out external distractions and really focusing on being together in the water.This has so many parallels with good Early Years practice. Being able to focus together with a child on something, whether that is an activity or a toy, is the bedrock for Sustained Shared Thinking (those lovely in-depth conversations you share with children).Describing this as a moment of ‘Joy’ explains the pleasure of spending time with children. I would suggest this may be a precursor to Professional Love, as described by Dr Jools Page.
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What is the best thing we can give teachers?

I had the great pleasure of interviewing Chanie Wilschanski again last week. This time we were discussing the sorts of things that headteachers, managers and administrators need to think about before the start of a new school year.

One of the many things that I love about talking with Chanie is that she has actually been in practice, so really understands the pressures and frustrations (and joys!) of working with young children, whilst also keeping an effective and motivated team.

She commented last time that, as leaders and managers, ‘the best thing we can give teachers is each other’.

I asked Chanie to expand on that in this interview, so she explained that by getting teachers to help each other, to acknowledge each other’s strengths and to set up a culture of mutual support and trust really pays dividends – for both the teachers and the children.

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Managing our own discomfort

Babies are fascinating.

They learn so much, so quickly and absorb their surrounding environment with all their senses.

As parents, practitioners or educators, one of our responsibilities is to ensure the environment is suitable, stimulating and accessible for children. However, this can mean very different things to different people.

For example, a stimulating environment may be considered to be somewhere full of toys, colour, noise and moving objects. Although this may stimulate all the senses, it may not necessarily be a suitable environment for babies or children. Deborah Carlisle Solomon reminds us of this during her Early Years TV interview, where she explains that a rattle may be over-stimulating for a baby because the baby can’t let go of the rattle.

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Mixed age grouping in Early Years settings

I really love the idea of family grouping or mixed age groups in a setting.

It happens naturally in settings where there is limited space for segregation, such as in a community centre or in a church hall. I have been lucky enough to see this in several settings and seen some great advantages.

For example, social interactions take on a whole new level, with more experienced (not necessarily older) children leading the way with organising games, sharing, turn-taking, ‘they learn to be both leaders and followers’.

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Quantity Time vs Quality Time with Kim Hunter

I first interviewed Kim Hunter for the Summit on Leading Practitioners. At her inspirational setting, children spend their time outdoors in mixed-age groups, enjoying a beautiful natural setting.

In this interview for Early Years TV, I wanted to explore some concepts that Kim has been researching since the Summit, namely the ‘Fear and Love Spectrum’. This is the idea that children’s contemporary childhood is changing and the world that children are growing up in has the increased potential to be fearful or isolating – from Stranger Danger to excessive screen time and violent games on smartphones.

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Explaining kindness to children

One of the things that young children need to learn as they grow up is the concept of ‘Theory of Mind’. This is understanding that other people or children will have different opinions, thoughts, experiences, beliefs, imagination and perceptions than our own. Robert Seyfarth explains a classic ‘Theory of Mind’ experiment in this Youtube video here.

By about 4 years old, children will start to realise that not everyone thinks the same way they do, or that they have the same ideas or motivations. They will be able to understand that they may be hungry, but their friend isn’t. Or that their friends all have different favourite colours.

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Challenge and Risk in the Early Years – 2019 Spring Summit

What do you think of when someone mentions ‘risky play’?

Maybe it’s “We used to go out to play by ourselves and had to be back by tea-time”.

Or maybe you think about the rope swing in the big tree or the time you went so fast down the slope on your bike that you landed in the stinging nettles at the bottom.

All of these types of play can be considered ‘risky’. Indeed, Professor Ellen Sandseter has researched this and identified 6 different types of risky play:

  1. Play at height
    2. Play at high speed
    3. Play with dangerous tools, including ropes
    4. Play near dangerous elements, such water or fire (or stinging nettles!)
    5. Rough and tumble play
    6. Play where you get ‘lost’ or out of adult’s sight

On the 2019 Spring Early Years Summit, I have 15 Early Years specialists and experts from around the world – including Professor Ellen Sandseter – sharing their expertise and knowledge about risky play. Everyone offers their top tips, advice and strategies for risky play, no matter where you are on the risky play spectrum.

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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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