Posts Tagged ‘education’

Leadership Day 2018

November 4th, 2018 by Sarah Steel

Every year we have a whole company training day and invite a guest speaker in, with the brief that they need to entertain and inspire over 100 members of the team. Our whole company training day, or Leadership Day, is at the end of September and it is always a great chance for everyone to hear the same message together. Our practitioners all enjoy the chance to get together, to network with other nurseries in the group and to do something as a team.

This year we were really pleased to welcome Anna Ephgrave for the day and she ran a training session on ‘In the moment planning.’ This is really about focussing on the interests of the children, rather than spending a lot of time planning ahead and trying to fit the activities of the room around set topics and activities. Our team at Innsworth have been following Anna’s approach since Julie and I went on a training course at the end of last year and they were able to share how it is working for them.

The day prompted a lot of discussion and reflection and it was interesting to hear from all the nursery managers on Friday, to see how this more spontaneous method of planning is being adopted in the nurseries. Generally, it is a huge relief to move away from a lot of paperwork and ‘strip back’ what we are doing, focussing carefully on each child. Each nursery is doing it slightly differently and some have embraced it more than others, but it is a case of continually reviewing what we do everywhere and adapting as we see fit.

Our cooks also enjoyed a great training session with Yvonne Richards from the Early Years Nutrition Partnership and we are really glad to be taking part in their accreditation scheme, starting with our Innsworth nursery, so more to follow on that!

The day finished, as always, with our Rising Star awards, and it was great to celebrate another successful year with a truly special team.

If you want to find out more about Anna’s training, do have a look at: Anna Ephgrave’s training company

More information on the EYNP is also available at: Early Years Nutrition Partnership

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.

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! 

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.

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!

Shock horror – some childcarers have no GCSEs!

March 26th, 2012 by Sarah Steel

The papers on Saturday were full of the preview report from Professor Cathy Nutbrown, which raised concerns that some nursery staff have very low educational standards.
Read the rest of this entry »


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