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!
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
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.
November 15th, 2015 by Sarah Steel
In my last blog I wrote about the challenges of ‘product’ over ‘process’, where we feel pressure in early years settings to produce pictures, cards, calendars and ‘stuff’ for children to take home to show parents, rather than allowing them to be fully engaged in all types of play, especially imaginative play, which doesn’t have a visible product. This lovely article, which is written by Judith Pack, was featured by Community Playthings this week in their e-newsletter. We use the beautiful furniture and resources made by Community Playthings in all our nurseries and I know that they are keen proponents of natural play resources and the chance for children to explore nature rather than be limited by expectations of producing something to take home.
Do read what Judith says about children’s love of mystery and I hope you will hear lots of our practitioners around the nurseries asking, ‘I wonder what would happen if…..’
March 9th, 2015 by Sarah Steel
Parent.Guide was launched in the spring of 2014 and has quickly become one of the go to parenting resources. Jess was a nany for 17 years prior to becoming a parent herself. She lives with her husband and young child in Australia but is native American. Here we share a blog from her on feeding your baby: Go Natural When It Comes to Baby Food