Posts Tagged ‘pre-school’

A sense of place…

March 25th, 2019 by Sarah Steel

Last week I had the pleasure of visiting Flo’s Place in Oxford, having last seen it several months ago, when it was just an idea. It is a former children’s centre in a very mixed part of Oxford, which has been transformed into a community centre by its Trustees, who wanted something that really served the local community. The ‘anchor tenant’ of this centre is a children’s nursery, which has been put together with a lot of support from Annie Davy, former Head of Early Years in Oxfordshire. It was fantastic to visit on a sunny day and see people using the nursery, cafe and midwives to give a vibrant and buzzing feeling of purpose. I wished I had something on my doorstep like it, when I was a new Mum. I hope it continues to thrive and becomes part of the community.

Annie also gave me a copy of her latest book, ‘A Sense of Place’, which is a lovely deep dive into ‘mindful practice outdoors’. I thoroughly recommend it to anyone with an interest in Early Years provision and think it should be on the reading list for all Early Years students. It will certainly be doing the rounds within our company! There are lots of ideas of activities included, but also it prompts you to reflect on why we do what we do. I particularly like the section on risk benefit, so that teams can think about the hazards of working outdoors and how they can manage these risks, as well as teaching children about risk taking and keeping safe. I hope that every OFSTED inspector who visits us has also read Annie’s book!

As Margaret MacMillan so famously said, ‘The best classroom and the richest store cupboard is roofed only by the sky.’ For more details of Annie’s book see: https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/a-sense-of-place-9781472953650/

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.  http://www.communityplaythings.co.uk/learning-library/articles/making-the-most-of-water-play?source=pal165#

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

Getting your child ready for school

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.

http://us1.campaign-archive1.com/?u=c797eaad2e19e02fa90e0b521&id=3127883b0d&e=736d4bb7f1

 

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-radicalisationScreen Shot 2016-02-01 at 15.56.40

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