Posts Tagged ‘nursery’

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.

https://www.brookings.edu/blog/education-plus-development/2018/06/11/the-new-humanism-technology-should-enhance-not-replace-human-interactions/

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! 

I have just finished writing an article for the trade press about the issue of first aid, and this followed a lot of discussion amongst our managers about recruitment challenges. It is no news that recruitment in the early years sector is very difficult at the moment, following the GCSE debacle that the Government managed to engineer, and the pipeline of new recruits is slow. The expansion of some settings caused by the 30 hours funding has increased pressure on supply, and many nurseries are finding it hard to recruit and retain staff.

Many of us are turning to agencies to help us to fill the gap, but it does feel that some of the agencies are not pulling in the same direction. We are committed to achieving Millie’s Mark at all our nurseries, which demonstrates excellence in paediatric first aid. This kite mark requires us to have all of our staff who deal with children qualified in paediatric first aid, and in order for us to be compliant, we have to ensure that this includes agency staff as well.

Before Christmas our Ops Manager contacted all the local agencies whom we used, assuming that they would be aware of this and would be starting to ask all their agency staff to work towards this standard. Unfortunately we were largely met with a negative response and there was no suggestion from any of them that they would be requiring this in the future. Agency staff need a minimum of a 6 hour paediatric first aid certificate to meet the requirements of Millie’s Mark, and this is something that the whole sector is being encouraged to adopt. It is time for the expectations around first aid to be raised, and we would like to see agencies leading the way on this, so that nurseries are able to provide the safest possible environment for all children. 

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!

http://www.daynurseries.co.uk/news/article.cfm/id/1580985/nursery-practitioners-urged-not-simplify-languagedsc_0319

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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.

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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

  1. Watch the ‘How To Make A Shaker’ video here

(This is easy, cheap and fun to do together!)

  1. Watch the ‘Shakey Shakey’ video here
  2. 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!

 

 

 

 

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