Author Archives: Kathy


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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Guest post

The History of Physical Development Champions

In this blog post, I asked Sharon Skade what had motivated her to set up ‘Early Years Physical Development Champions’ and what the benefits for children are.

You can find out more on Sharon’s FB group: @EarlyYearsPhysicalDevelopmentChampions and you’ll find lots of interesting posts, articles, links and advice on her Twitter feed here: twitter.com/GMUnder5s

You can contact Sharon directly to ask about training and consultancy here: sharons7@hotmail.co.uk

Here is what Sharon had to say about young children’s physical development:

Physical activity specialists are often seen as the poor relations when matters of curriculum are discussed.

I experienced this first hand during my time working for a Local Authority, when having been asked to consult on local provision for families and attending some very productive meetings I was not invited back as I only had a Level 3 Childcare qualification. My various Coaching qualifications were not recognised, even though many of my ideas were implemented.

I was delivering a long-standing successful physical activity programme for children and their parents/carers and had developed a new programme which would encourage parents to interact and engage in physically active games with their children and be able to continue this in the home environment without the need for expensive specialist equipment or a large amount of space.

In some instances, the sessions involved providing time for the parents to learn how to play but more alarming was this knowledge had to be shared with the practitioners supporting the session.

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Children and food

The past few weeks seem to be dominated by food thoughts.

First of all, I had interviewed Deb Blakley, Australian Accredited Practising Dietitian, Nutritionist and mum – who created Kids Dig Food in 2012. We discussed food, children’s body image and the type of eating experiences that children have in our settings. It’s so important that we consider what food times are like for children because these early experiences will help to form children’s perspectives on food, eating and body image.

This really made me think about the different ways that we serve food – from rolling snack time to picnics outdoors to preparing food with the children. Are these chosen just for the convenience of the staff and the nursery/setting’s routines? Or do they change according to the cohort of children in the setting that day and time? How are children’s preferences met? How are the nutritional contents of a meal calculated?

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Guest post

Some of the benefits of homebased childcare

Pebbles Childcare was the first winner of the brand new category ‘Childminding Business of The Year’ at the Nursery World Awards 2018. Bridgit Brown has built up this childminding business, based in Worthing, West Sussex, over the last 3 years, drawing on her 20 years of childcare experience in a huge range of settings.

I was therefore delighted when Chloe Webster, who works at Pebbles Childcare, offered to write a guest blog, detailing some of the many benefits of home-based childcare. You can see how this good practice supports children’s holistic wellbeing and development.

Home-based childcare has countless benefits, despite a sad lack of understanding and recognition from society, other childcare professionals and parents alike, who still struggle to see home-based childcare as a viable career and childcare option.

Home-based childcare provides children and their families with a home-from-home childcare environment, which for the parents enables them to build up a friendly rapport with their child’s caregiver, and the process of walking into someone’s home, instantly puts you at ease, making the parent as well as the child feel comfortable.

For the children, home-based childcare provides an individual and holistic approach to childcare and with reduced ratios, provides them with a sense of ‘family’ amongst the flexible, real-life learning experiences that home-based childcare has the freedom to provide.

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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:



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Recommended Resources

Fantastic Nursery Garden ideas

Being outdoors with the children has a huge range of benefits, but sometimes thinking of a new activity or how to improve that small, disused corner can be a challenge.

Luckily, there is now a book that meets that challenge!

50 Fantastic ideas for nursery gardens is a full-colour book, with ideas that are presented clearly and are easy to follow. There is an activity per page (some go over 2 pages), with some of the classic ideas such as building a bug hotel and feeding the birds, to the more unusual, such as making elderflower cordial and a plastic bottle greenhouse.

As well as all the beautiful photography and colour co-ordination, each page is structured well, so you can instantly see what you need, what to do, the type of learning that may happen and some fantastic Top Tips. There are activities for all the seasons and ideas for large or small gardens.

The love of being outdoors and in the garden really shines through in this book, which makes it a joy to read and explore.

You can purchase this book from Featherstones here or Amazon here.
*Disclaimer: I was kindly given an advance copy of this book for review purposes

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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:

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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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Recommended Resources

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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