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Respect the uniqueness of every child

My son’s final parents’ evening and my final one as a parent, was on Wednesday night. Fingers crossed for university next year. Ro didn’t attend and decided to go to a ‘drum & bass’ concert with his mates! Yes, on a school night! Ooh, to be young!

I fed back to Ro what the lecturers said. They also shorten his name – just like we do! Shows that they know him!!

“100% he’ll have a successful career in the creative industries. His thinking is unique… original ideas… lovely son… great student. Great sense of humour…witty… academic… no complaints… you should be proud… reflective student… his work is outstanding!”

Ro wants to work in interactive media, in the film industry.

However, since the age of four, it’s always been the same area for improvement from his teachers: “He needs to speak up more.”

Ro said to me. “Hmm, yes, but if I do that I’ll be the same as everyone else!”

“Indeed, […]


Little Green Fingers

It is my pleasure to have Francis Smith, the owner of Studio Cultivate, with us. I have already had the pleasure of seeing Francis at work in a nursery. Studio Cultivate’s key principle is to realise horticultural potential in people and places. This to me is awesome and connects children with nature and their local environment and provides so many learning opportunities within settings and extension activities for children to do at home.  Of course, I had to ask Francis to write a guest blog for me, to share his amazing work!

Francis writes:

“In my previous role working as a landscape contractor I came across many underused and underappreciated outdoor school spaces. In a city where green space is limited I felt it a real shame that their potential for learning, exploration and general fun was often being overlooked. Eighteen months ago I set up the educational wing of Studio Cultivate, with the ambition of revealing […]


#TwitteratiChallenge

It was an honour to be nominated for the #TwitteratiChallenge by @Sue_Cowley who is an inspiring and dedicated education professional. When I read Sue’s blog in full I noted that I also had to nominate five colleagues. How to choose? There are so many inspirational colleagues to choose from. Here are the five who I feel contribute, on different levels, to the wonderful land of Twitter.

1. @SueAtkins is a former Deputy Headteacher, a mother and a well-known international parenting expert. Sue also gives frequent parenting advice on television and radio. Sue’s tweets are on education and parenting, she also connects colleagues together, especially if she believes that they are like minded and have a degree of synergy.  When encouraging colleagues to join Twitter I […]


Let’s talk about it…

“Be Kind, for Everyone You Meet is Fighting a Hard Battle” ~ source unknown

This summer, like the majority of the world, I was both shocked and saddened to hear that Robin Williams, the outstanding actor and comedian, had taken his own life.

One of the discussions triggered by the news of Robin’s death was the wider issue of mental health. It was unfortunate, to say the least, to hear a few insensitive and ill-informed comments about Robin: ‘he had everything that he needed’, ‘he had all the money, why would he take his life?’

From what we know about mental health, it does not discriminate – it is an illness; it covers a wide spectrum, including anxiety/stress as well as severe depression.

The statistic from Mind UK is that, at any given time, one in six employees is suffering from a mental illness.

Therefore, even within a small Early Years setting, there could be a member of staff who […]


‘Continuous Provision’. Two words that can end up causing a great deal of confusion!

It is my pleasure to have my colleague Alistair Bryce-Clegg as a guest blogger.

Alistair enjoyed a successful 10 year career as the Head teacher of a three-form entry Infant school and Early Years unit in Cheshire. Alongside his headship he established a consultancy career specialising in the education of children in the Early Years.

Demand for his consultancy became so great that Alistair left his headship and established ABC Does… (abcdoes.com).

Most of his time is spent supporting practitioners in their settings or delivering keynotes and training, specialising in all aspects of Early Years practice and management, for both the maintained and non-maintained sectors nationally and internationally.

Alistair is also an award-winning author and product designer, whose work has been published in a number of books and magazines; he also sits on the advisory board for Early Years Educator (EYE). Alongside support and training for a range of settings […]


Learning from you, learning from me

“The real system of education is one where the children of rich and poor, of king and subject, receive education through crafts.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

It was a pleasure to be invited to Mumbai, India, by my friend Swati Popat Vats Director of Jumbo Kids, Podar Education Trust.

I have known Swati for many years from working together in our roles as National  representatives for the World Forum for Early Care and Education.

One of the values of Jumbo Kids is ‘the heart, hands and the head’ which I love; it links into the three characteristics of effective teaching and learning. The curriculum is also influenced by Reggio, Montessori and Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences.

I was also excited to hear that one of the first trustees of Podar […]


Ready to learn

“You can never be too curious. Pursue at least one new idea or learn one new thing every day!” Source unknown.

I have been a trainer and a facilitator – in some shape or form – for over twenty years; in that time I have encountered a wide range of individuals and situations. Recently, when delivering a course, a number of issues arose: these issues were not new to me, so I was able to handle them. As I am a solution-oriented person, I want to share these solutions with you.

Over the years, as we know, training budgets have been squeezed; this is a shame for educators and a travesty for the young children and families with whom they work.

It is vital educators make the most of the training courses available, that they come away feeling inspired, with a bucket load of ideas and suggestions that will help them grow – both personally and professionally […]


Money Matters for Children

As parents ‘tighten their belts’ in the current economic climate, they also want to know what are the best saving schemes available for their children.

It therefore gives me great pleasure to share an informative guest blog by Kalpana Fitzpatrick who is a leading UK financial journalist with over 12 years’ experience in consumer and personal finance. She is the founder of Mummy Money Matters, a family finance website. Kalpana regularly appears on TV, radio and in the press as an expert commentator on family finances as well as a consumer expert.

Her aim is to keep finance simple and accessible, as well as helping families make the most of their money. When not doing that, she is Mum to two boys: one aged four years and the other 9 months.

As a parent too, I believe it is important we sow the seeds of positive financial management with […]


Read Between The Lines

My first guest blog for 2014 is Dr. Jo Verrill, who is the Director at Ceeda. Dr. Jo started out life in academic research before founding an independent research agency in 1999; Jo has a passion for delivering research that makes a real difference for early years businesses. Ceeda specialises in customer and employee research for early years childcare providers, working with large national groups and small owner managed businesses across the country.

I passionately promote self-evaluation and reflective practice and, within this blog, Jo explains how carrying out parent and staff surveys can help you to continuously develop your provision.

 Jo writes:

 “Putting families at the heart of your provision

Staff build relationships with families on a day to day basis as a fundamental part of high quality care. Whether it’s feeding back on the day or sharing information about children’s progress and development at home and in the setting, staff working at the grass roots rightly […]


Parks, parents & settling in

 

It is always inspiring to hear of a setting delivering outstanding practice with their children and families. With this in mind I am pleased that Lotte Hunter, Operations Director of Building Blocks Nurseries in Wimbledon, has shared her setting’s stance on how to promote positive attachments between child and Educator during the settling-in period.

Lotte writes:

 

“A year and a half ago I attended a conference on attachment which inspired me to review our procedures. Forming secure attachments within the nursery is important for a variety of reasons:

 

When a child feels secure he or she is able to freely and openly engage both with activities and with others in the environment.

 

Strong attachments during childhood help form ‘attachment models’ in the brain that are called upon when children enter into relationships later in life. These models form the basis of a self-identity of someone who is loveable and worthy of care.

 

Our settling-in used to take place within the […]