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!
September 4th, 2016 by Sarah Steel
So many parents will have children either starting or returning to school this week, so I’d like to share an excellent newsletter from parenting expert, Sue Atkins, in my blog this month. Do have a look, she has some great tips which make a lot of sense.
February 1st, 2016 by Sarah Steel
The papers are full of stories of radicalism and terrorism on a daily basis and there have recently been articles regarding the failure of the authorities to prevent young children from being taken to Syria and becoming radicalised, as they pose in IS ‘uniforms’ and become part of the propaganda war. The Prevent Duty which was introduced to try and keep children and young people from being radicalised has taken some stick, with headlines about how we should be alert even with the youngest children.
Nurseries are now expected to explain to OFSTED inspectors how they are complying with the Prevent Duty, and this still causes some concern for practitioners. At a staff meeting last week we focussed on exactly what it means to us in early years and agreed that if we know our children, family and colleagues well and take time to listen, we are a long way to meeting our duty. We embrace a framework of tolerance and celebrating different cultures and since July 2015 the Early Years Foundation Stage has required us to promote British Values. This does not involve displaying pictures of the Royal Family (despite what some supplier catalogues would have us believe!) but does involve making decisions together, taking turns, being fair, respecting each other and understanding different cultures.
If any parents want to know more about how we promote British Values or how we fulfil our Prevent Duty, do ask your nursery manager or drop me a line. This article in Nursery World is also an interesting read. http://www.nurseryworld.co.uk/nursery-world/opinion/1155379/nurseries-uniquely-placed-to-spot-radicalisation
December 14th, 2015 by Sarah Steel
There was an interesting article in the Sunday Times yesterday about a research project at Oxford University, which follows on from previous research on pre-school provision. The study shows that children who are ‘turned-on’ to learning in their pre-school years will go on to achieve greater academic success. The Early Years Foundation Stage now has a real emphasis on practitioners looking at how children learn, as well as what they learn, which we describe as ‘characteristics of effective learning’. It’s always good to know we’re on the right track!
Have a read of the article for yourself:
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