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!
January 31st, 2016 by Sarah Steel
As January draws to a close, many of us will have made some new year resolutions to eat and drink less, or exercise more. However, there has also been a lot in the media about sugar and how bad it is for us. We’ve been focussing on sugar in drinks with our pre-school children in nursery, showing them pictorially how much sugar is in some soft drinks, including those directly targeted at children. A small carton of Capri-sun, which some might think was ‘healthy’ as it is fruity, contains 10g of sugar in just one serving. A 471ml bottle of Friij toffee milkshake contains an amazing 12.9g of sugar.
At nursery we serve only milk and water and encouraging toothbrushing after lunch. There are some great public health resources for anyone interested in cutting down on sugar, do have a look at: http://www.nhs.uk/change4life/Pages/change-for-life.aspx
November 26th, 2015 by Sarah Steel
The key points which have emerged from yesterday’s spending review so far look like this:
- The average rate for 3 and 4 year olds will be £4.88. The small print is yet to be clarified, but this figure included the Early Years Pupil Premium, for disadvantaged children, which DfE say is worth 5p within this calculation. Whilst this sounds positive as a headline figure, it seems likely that this figure will be what is paid to local authorities, not what will actually be paid to providers. DfE have said that the average ‘uplift’ is more likely to be 30p an hour – really not so impressive. There is no detail about the money being index linked, so bearing in mind it doesn’t even come into action until September 2017, costs will have risen significantly by then. The NMW is due to reach £9 per hour by 2015 – how will the funding rate increase to match this?
- The average rate for 2 year olds will be £5.39. Concerns are as for the 3 year old rate.
- The rates for 2, 3 and 4 year olds are for PVIs, childminders, primary schools and maintained nurseries. It will be interesting to see what guidance is given to local authorities about whether rates should be uniform across sectors or whether maintained settings will continue to be paid a higher rate.
- There will be a consultation in January around how local authorities pass on funding and contract with providers.
- DfE will be introducing a national funding formula for early years, schools and high needs from 2017-18.
- DfE will clarify what extras providers can charge for (e.g. food, extra activities) and will look at flexibilities, efficiencies and cutting red tape. This is very welcome as it causes considerable confusion for settings and parents alike.
- The new 30 hour childcare offer is going to be restricted to single/both parents who work 16 hours per week and earn up to £100k each. When the policy was launched in the summer, it had been promoted as applying to anyone working from 8 hours, so this reduces the number of children who are eligible.
- The new funding rates will not come in until September 2017.
As usual, the devil will be in the detail. The initial figures sound promising for early years, but until there is clarity on how local authorities will pass on the funding, we are not really much further on. I will be continuing to work with the National Day Nurseries Association to represent the concerns of PVI nurseries.
July 7th, 2015 by Sarah Steel
July 21st, 2014 by Sarah Steel
Over the last week there was a lot of media coverage of the number of young children having to undergo anaesthesia to have milk teeth removed, due to severe decay. I was pretty shocked to read about the scale of the problem, even though we have been members of the ‘Stop the Rot’ campaign at all our nurseries for several years. If you missed the various articles, do have a look at this one:
As usual, juice and fizzy drinks seem to be the main culprits and this should strengthen our resolve to serve milk or water as the main choice for children under 5, offering watered down juice as a treat, followed by regular tooth brushing. What it does bring home is the need to say no to fizzy drinks entirely for pre-school children and hopefully this latest flurry of publicity will help parents to see how important this is.
At nursery, we will continue to promote good dental health with the children, keeping sugar intake to a minimum and offering milk or water at snack times. If you have a challenge with a child who still likes drinking from a bottle past the one year old point, do chat to our staff, who will support you in helping to move on to a ‘sippy’ cup and then a normal cup. The experts advise that juice is never given from a bottle, as this is particularly harmful to teeth and it is in the mouth for so long, causing real damage.
If you would like to know more about our approach, do have a look at http://www.stop-the-rot.co.uk and feel free to ask for more information in your nursery.