Author Archive

Yesterday I was at the NDNA conference in Coventry with all our managers and it was an excellent opportunity to hear updates on what is going on in the Early Years sector and to share best practice with many in our industry. One of the seminars was by Dr Sam Wass from Cambridge who is one of the experts on Channel 4’s very successful ‘Secret Life of a 4 year old’ series. He talked a lot about what our children now and in the future will have to cope with and interestingly after his talk one of the questions was, ‘will you give your baby access to a tablet?’. (His wife’s due date was yesterday, with their first child!). He was unequivocal, ‘Yes, but with restrictions’.

We cannot turn back time and technology is definitely here to stay, but our children need to have time ‘unplugged’ as well. This article discusses the research carried out on the subject recently; Anna Sosa in North Arizona University carried out an experiment which showed that where parents and small children were given a digital toy, rather than a traditional toy, the words that were used between them them were much fewer and they responded less to their children.

https://www.brookings.edu/blog/education-plus-development/2018/06/11/the-new-humanism-technology-should-enhance-not-replace-human-interactions/

The various research projects conclude that technology should augment teaching (in the traditional sense) and should not replace. We think there is a place for technology in our nurseries, but always alongside traditional activities and there will never be a substitute in early years for a real person. Do ask in more detail if you are interested in how we use technology with each age group and let’s continue to create environments at home and at nursery which give children the stimulation and conversation they deserve! 

I have just finished writing an article for the trade press about the issue of first aid, and this followed a lot of discussion amongst our managers about recruitment challenges. It is no news that recruitment in the early years sector is very difficult at the moment, following the GCSE debacle that the Government managed to engineer, and the pipeline of new recruits is slow. The expansion of some settings caused by the 30 hours funding has increased pressure on supply, and many nurseries are finding it hard to recruit and retain staff.

Many of us are turning to agencies to help us to fill the gap, but it does feel that some of the agencies are not pulling in the same direction. We are committed to achieving Millie’s Mark at all our nurseries, which demonstrates excellence in paediatric first aid. This kite mark requires us to have all of our staff who deal with children qualified in paediatric first aid, and in order for us to be compliant, we have to ensure that this includes agency staff as well.

Before Christmas our Ops Manager contacted all the local agencies whom we used, assuming that they would be aware of this and would be starting to ask all their agency staff to work towards this standard. Unfortunately we were largely met with a negative response and there was no suggestion from any of them that they would be requiring this in the future. Agency staff need a minimum of a 6 hour paediatric first aid certificate to meet the requirements of Millie’s Mark, and this is something that the whole sector is being encouraged to adopt. It is time for the expectations around first aid to be raised, and we would like to see agencies leading the way on this, so that nurseries are able to provide the safest possible environment for all children. 

Why water play is wonderful!

July 29th, 2017 by Sarah Steel

All children are fascinated by water and you only have to see how much time children spend ‘washing’ their hands given half the chance, to realise that flooding the bathroom is all part of the learning experience! We have water play experience both inside and outside at nursery and are always looking for new oppportunities to use water. One current favourite is with children using large paint brushes and a small container of water to ‘paint’ the fence in the garden. Hours of entertainment, but also a great way for children to develop their fine and gross motor skills and to collaborate with each other and solve problems.

This is a lovely article from Community Playthings, which reminds us all of the benefits of water play.  http://www.communityplaythings.co.uk/learning-library/articles/making-the-most-of-water-play?source=pal165#

Working towards Millie’s Mark

February 7th, 2017 by Sarah Steel

As a company, we recognise the enormous importance of ensuring that our staff are well trained to deal with emergencies. We are currently working with the NDNA to complete ‘Millie’s Mark’, which is a quality mark to recognise excellence in the provision of First Aid training to staff. At the moment our Filkins Nursery team are studying the requirements of the assessment process and are updating our policies and procedures, to share with all our nurseries, as well as getting all their staff fully trained in Paediatric First Aid.

Many parents ask about good First Aid training to raise their own awareness, and I recently found this website with some excellent advice on:

http://www.sja.org.uk/sja/first-aid-advice.aspx#first_aid_advice

We will keep you up to date as our work towards Millie’s Mark progresses, but if you’d like to read a bit more about it, then click here:

https://www.milliesmark.comScreen Shot 2017-02-07 at 12.44.45

Why your vocabulary is so important for children

January 8th, 2017 by Sarah Steel

We already know how important it is to talk to children and not just ‘park’ them in front of screens, but this article quotes expert Michael Jones and makes fascinating reading. He reminds us that it can take a child up to 500 times to learn a new word, so we need to surround them with a ‘language rich environment’.  The temptation to ‘dumb-down’ should be resisted – a ‘baby horse’ is a ‘foal’, and a ‘baby lion’ is a ‘lion cub’.

I remember hearing Penny Tassoni talking at a conference a couple of years ago. She recounted a story of seeing a child in pre-school being asked ‘what colour was the post box’. The child rolled her eyes and said ‘red’. She was reading the same story again, after nearly 2 years in pre-school, and had clearly heard the question many times. How much more exciting to describe the post-box as ‘scarlet’ or explain the term ‘letterbox red’?

I have heard many a 2 year old explaining that the ‘stegosauraus’ is fighting with the ‘diplodocus’. If they can manage to remember complex words when they interest them, surely we should supply with them with as many interesting words as we can?

Food for thought – for parents and practitioners alike!

http://www.daynurseries.co.uk/news/article.cfm/id/1580985/nursery-practitioners-urged-not-simplify-languagedsc_0319

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