Category : Articles

Articles Viewpoint

A View from the Other Side of the World

I am incredibly delighted and excited to have as my guest blogger this week Rebecca McIntosh, from Brisbane, Australia. We started comparing notes about childcare in England and Australia some time ago – and found some fascinating differences as well as some similarities.

Here Rebecca gives us a history of Australian childcare. It is a surprising story I was totally unaware of and really shows how much childcare philosophy varies around the globe. It is well worth a read and a BIG thank you to Rebecca for sharing this history with us.

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The Beauty of Dens

I love dens. Always have – as a child I would spend hours in the garden with my brother and sister, collecting large branches, reeds, planks of wood – anything to make a den with.

I think the joy was being able to create something from nothing. (I also suspect that I had an enclosure schema going on. Even now I like to sit in the corner of a café, tidy things into boxes and prefer grids to mind maps).

Of course, once you have an enclosed areas such as a den, you can invite others in – or shut them out. The element of self-choice can be very important to children. Sometimes even well meant adult intervention can be disruptive or even destructive to children’s play.

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How To Get Started With Observation, Assessment and Planning

Exclusive Bonus: Click here to download my Observations Guidelines covering the 12 Key Observation methods for Early Years Practitioners (click to download).

oapcycleObserving children is one of the great joys of being an Early Years practitioner.

For example, watching those first steps, hearing how the children are picking up vocabulary (and making up their own syntax) and putting all this together to make sense of their development is usually an exhilarating part of your job.

However, sometimes completing observations can become a chore and not enjoyable at all. This can be due to the way practitioners have been introduced to the observation, assessment and planning cycle and it can result in them doing a lot of unnecessary work.

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Role of the Key Person

In previous blogs, I have discussed two very useful techniques to support Sustained Shared Thinking – active listening and positive questioning.

Having discussed some of the skills needed to achieve successful Sustained Shared Thinking, I thought it would be beneficial to step back a little to view the whole of the Key Person role, with respect to Sustained Shared Thinking.

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How is Your Positive Questioning?

Sustained Shared Thinking is the extended conversations between children and adults, or children and their peers. This will be encouraged by using Active Listening (see the blog here) coupled with Positive Questioning.

Sometimes there is a great temptation to quiz children to find out what they know, how they are feeling and what they are thinking. However, just as with adults, this can be very off putting, and actually cause your child to stop sharing their thoughts.

So, how can we encourage Sustained Shared Thinking, without intimidating or scaring the children away?

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Improve your active listening skills

An essential part of Sustained Shared Thinking is active listening.

This important technique can be the difference between a brief conversation and an extremely valuable episode of Sustained Shared Thinking.

Active listening with children is more than just hearing their words. It is a skill that needs to be practiced.

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Could your setting learn from this “Circus”?

On Wednesday I had the enormous pleasure of visiting a fascinating company nestled in the skirts of Liverpool’s Catholic cathedral.

I had met Mark in London before Christmas and he had been telling me about his office, which has a circus theme. Intrigued, I asked more “Well, we have a big top, a giraffe and hold our meetings in front of the ball pit…would you like to come and have a look?” Would I?!

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The world of the newborn

The world of the newborn: An accelerated learning machine Development Milestones Pt 1

Part 1 of the Development Milestone Series

by David Williams and his team at First Discoverers

‘There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.’

William Wordsworth

Wordsworth’s wonderful perception of a child’s mind, captured in his ‘Ode: Intimations of Immortality From Recollections of Early Childhood’ – published in 1793 – correlates remarkably well with the findings of recent studies.

Though he and his sister Dorothy were, for a time, responsible for the care of a toddler, the poet’s observation and depiction of newborn experience is still exceptional for the period.

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The Sillier the Better

I am delighted to introduce Sharon, who is an energetic and dedicated advocate for children’s physical activity in all forms. She is great fun to be with, as you might guess from the title of her article here.

She has some great advice on involving children AND their families, as well as some tried and tested techniques. So do enjoy the article, and then get moving!

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Musicaliti with Frances Turnbull

Frances TurnbullFrances has been running sessions for preschool, nursery, toddler groups and primaries since 2006, and now brings this wealth of experience to adults through education consultancy.

Her fairly unique skillset includes a BSc in Psychology and specialist music training in the Kodály, Dalcroze and Orff approaches to music education.  As these approaches involve singing, movement and instrument play, sessions are very practical and hands-on.

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