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:
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:
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!
August 10th, 2016 by Sarah Steel
When it comes to under fives there are a lot of bad news stories – rising obesity, the effects of increased ‘screen time’ on social development, children reaching school age without basic skills required for learning. So you may think that serious early years educators don’t have time for fun stuff – like dancing around to silly songs!
Music is Fireworks for The Brain
Luckily for music-lovers like me, 20 years of neuroscience has shown that music is very good for us! More than virtually any other activity, active music making – music making that involves seeing, hearing, touching, moving – engages all of our senses providing one of the richest learning environments that there is. In fact cat scans show that music activates the whole brain, with each component of music affecting a different part of the brain. So here are my top 5 reasons for making music part of your everyday life.
- Music Is Fun Fun: Let’s be honest. This is why we actually love music. It’s so much fun! Whether you’re singing along to the radio, waving your arms at a festival or singing a lullaby to your toddler, music makes us feel good. Why? Research shows that dopamine, a “feel-good hormone” is released every time you listen to music you like. Music has actually been shown to alleviate depression. And we have probably all experienced a bad day that was made better by listening to a song we love.
- Music Creates Togetherness: Yes,release your inner hippy! I’m sure we all have lots of special music moments: My favourite is from when my youngest daughter was around 5 years old. She had learned to whistle and we used to spend car journeys whistling our favourite tunes in harmony. It was hysterical and we never did get to the end of a song without collapsing into giggles. You may have sung in a choir, as part of a football crowd or in the car like me and my daugheter. Wherever it was, we have all experienced the bonding that occurs when we share music. Scientists put it down to the release of prolactin, a hormone that bonds people together.
- Music Boosts Language Development: The very earliest exposure to music increases your baby’s mental age, communication skills and language development. A pioneering study in the benefits for babies was the first fully controlled study to assess the effects of music on babies (McMaster University Canada 2012). Within 4 months the babies in the music group were significantly more advanced in communication and social skills. In another study (Johanella Tafuri, Italy, 2008), babies that were sung to by their parents daily were compared to those who were not. It was found that the music babies developed vocalisations at a rate previously unimagined by developmental psychology researchers themselves.
- Music Helps Us Move: As soon we can move we respond physically to music: babies sway, toddlers march, pre teens work out their dance routines, some of us pretend to be Beyonce in the evening aerobics class…or is that just me! There are major international corporations making huge amounts of money out of the fact that music encourages us to move…and if it’s good enough for Zumba it’s good enough for us. Walking, marching, jumping, balancing, swaying: all of these physical skills can be developed through actions songs that focus on each particular movement.
- Music Develops Confidence One of the wonderful things about music is that it allows children to participate in their own way. One child may love to dance, another may focus on keeping the beat by clapping, another on singing. Children’s self-esteem is directly connected with their perception of themselves as competent. Music allows a child to be express herself in a way that is right for her, encouraging competence and confidence in her skills and providing a context in which those skills can be nurtured and celebrated.
If Music Is So Great, Why Aren’t We Doing It With Our Children Every Day?
I’ve only just scratched the surface of the many benefits that music making has for young children. If you want to know more, check out this video by researcher Anita Collins – it’s very entertaining as well as enlightening!
But here’s the problem…many of us just aren’t confident to do music, either at home or in the setting. We think that music is for just for musicians. This is wrong. Music is for humans. (And musicians are human too you know!)
So just to prove to you that YOU CAN DO IT here is a really fun music activity for you to try. There are 3 steps
- Watch the ‘How To Make A Shaker’ video here
(This is easy, cheap and fun to do together!)
- Watch the ‘Shakey Shakey’ video here
- Download your ‘Shakey Shakey’ song here and listen to it whenever you and your child want to boogie…which is everyday, right?!
Have fun and keep on boogie-ing!
December 2nd, 2015 by Sarah Steel
This is a lovely document for parents and carers explaining how we can all help children to benefit from the most secure attachments, which will help them to flourish right from the start. As a company we’ve had a real focus on attachments this year, with training carried out by Suzanne Zeedyk and a review of how we work with children and families, particularly during times of transition. Do let me know what you think…….AtoZofAttachmentandResilience2014SouthLan_tcm4-843853
September 23rd, 2015 by Sarah Steel
Today I was involved in a really interesting discussion around how children become effective learners and the need for them to direct their own learning and become independent thinkers. After all, isn’t this what is supposed to make us stand out from the Chinese, as our little free-thinkers can become really successful in adult life, despite a very different approach to learning? The discussion focused on ‘process vs product’ and how many of us, as parents, are guilty of wanting a nice picture or hand-made Mother’s Day card to take home and put on our fridge, rather than appreciating some of the experiences our children have had at nursery.
Many of the practitioners I was with were concerned that some times parents want tangible evidence of perceived learning, like pictures and models, which they could take home. Whilst it is fantastic to value work that children have produced and it can really enhance their self-esteem to see it recognised and displayed, not all children choose to learn in this way. At our nurseries we try and capture moments as well as ‘products’ by using photos and videos and sharing them via the child’s e-learning journey. However, perhaps we should all be asking children, ‘what have you had a go at today?’ rather than ‘what did you do/make today?’. This High Scope poem sums it up beautifully:
At quarter to three by the Nursery door
Having rushed round to finish the final chore,
How many times have you heard yourself say?
“Oh I do hope my child has done something today.
He just runs around and messes about
And never seems to notice the painting is out.
I wish I had a child who would make things too,
But the staff don’t make him sit down and glue.
My niece brings home cardboard box models each day,
While mine comes home messy, covered in clay.
Last week he’d played pirates, and hid in a den;
The model that day was a beautiful hen!”
But how does a child bring home in his hand
The pleasure he felt today in the sand?
Has he asked you to share the wonder he felt
As he watched some ice cubes gradually melt?
The excitement of sailing the climbing-frame boat?
The achievement of fastening the buttons on his coat?
Did he tell you he washed up after his tea –?
Expertly prepared by his friend, who is three?
He gave me a cuddle around story-time,
And was keen to join in when we learned a new rhyme.
He pummelled and prodded and pounded the dough,
Then he showed he could walk round the room on tip –toe.
He persevered to finish a puzzle, quite hard,
So he hasn’t had time to make you a card.
He came over and watched some children sew,
And thought perhaps next time he’d have a go.
His experiences gained were richer by far
Than tissue paper flowers in a yoghurt-pot jar.
A child can learn from cutting and sticking
(But not if all he does is the licking)
And if adults resist the temptation to say
“No! Not like that. Do it this way.”
When your child is cutting and gluing
It’s not the result that matters, but DOING.
So next time, don’t ask your child to explain
Why he’s not done a model or painting again;
And when you pick him up, please try not to say
“Haven’t you DONE anything in Nursery today?”
From “High Scope” Winter Issue 33