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I was 2 busy listening 2 the grass grow

Prince, the creative genius, has sadly moved on and the world is in shock. Rightly so, his creativity was on another level.

On reading the many tributes to Prince, I read an article in the Independent, where he kindly replied to a fan’s letter.

A particular sentence in the letter stood out for me: “I was 2 busy listening 2 the grass grow.”

Some folks may wonder what on earth he meant by ‘listening 2 the grass grow’. We understand watching the grass grow, but listening to the grass grow? Are you for real, Prince?

I know exactly what Prince meant by this. He was too busy being creative. I wondered whether if he hadn’t had the time to ‘listen 2 the grass grow’ we would have had the opportunity to listen to the many inspiring musical creations over the years that Prince […]


Let’s G.O!

Last year I had the pleasure of visiting an awesome colleague, kindergarten teacher Heidi Echternacht, at her class in Princeton, New Jersey, USA. Heidi explained that kindergarten children in the US are aged five to six – equivalent to our Year One.

What was amazing about Heidi’s class was how much she valued play and allowed the children to be themselves. When I arrived, they had just come back in from a mid-morning break. Heidi introduced me to the class and I had a long conversation with the children about London and Paddington Bear!

They didn’t settle down to do maths or English.

Oh no, we went for a walk in the woods!

Heidi informed her class: “Right, time to go for a walk! Let’s go. G.O!” “Yes, Ms Echternacht!” they replied.

How wonderful it was to observe five and six-year-olds being able to be themselves through play, […]


We were told!

For a number of years, I have been perplexed by the amount of unnecessary paperwork that educators complete within their settings.

It’s important to remember what the EYFS states:

“Assessment should not entail prolonged breaks from interaction with children, nor require excessive paperwork. Paperwork should be limited to that which is absolutely necessary to promote children’s successful learning and development.” EYFS, 2014

On various social media platforms or when delivering training or speaking to clients, I hear comments such as:

“We were told to do this.”

 “Ofsted want to see this.”

 “The local authority advisor has given us a month to complete this.”

 “A consultant/trainer suggested this was the best way.”

As a consultant/trainer, I see myself as an advisor, which means that it is only advice.

In addition, in some settings the system is so complicated that educators are unable to fully vocalise why they do what they do.

“Less paperwork = more time with the children!”

In my opinion, […]


British Values

A colleague recently asked me my views on British Values.

This was my response:


Literacy Champions

I’m delighted to have Rebecca Marsh with us to discuss how she implemented literacy within her setting.

Rebecca is a manager at one of the Portico group of settings. Rebecca has been in Early Years for over 10 years, three of these as a manager.

Rebecca is currently completing a level 5 in management, and is passionate and driven about leading successful teams and ensuring the children in her care are given the best possible start in life.

Rebecca explains:

“Starting the literacy project was by far one of the best decisions I have made in management. We were able to participate in the NDNA Literacy Champions as we had an Early Years professional (EYP) in the setting. The project works so well for us and will do for any busy setting because apart from certain deadlines, you use the resources and webinars at your own pace […]


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 […]


Confident Talkers – Conversations for Early Years

“Why is this special to you?”

“How do you know when your friends are sad?”

Asking children open-ended questions helps them to think critically and expand their vocabulary. It also builds their confidence, aiding their personal, emotional and social development.

In these Confident Talkers cards, I’ve put together 48 such questions to engage and stimulate conversation with children from two to seven years.

Each card contains a thought-provoking question that can be adapted to any number of situations – inside or out and about, playing quietly, on the go, in the car or at the dinner table. You can use different scenarios and objects to set the scene, such as using something the child has created, describing what their lunch tastes like or discuss how they feel about a special event, such as their birthday or other celebration.

By encouraging conversation children learn new words and concepts, develop active listening skills, learn to problem solve and make connections, and most […]


Look through the window and what do you see?

“Windows mean light, wisdom means Windows!” ~ Mehmet Murat ildan

On a recent Twitter chat called #Kinderchat Geoff Billing, an Early Years colleague, wrote this tweet.

“I remember @LauraChildcare tweeting once about not being a fan of stuff covering windows..stuck with me and changed my practice! #kinderchat

I responded:

“I sure did! Even my sons point out settings that have painted windows. Blocks out natural light & looks tacky! #Kinderchat

Other colleagues also tweeted their thoughts on painted windows within settings.

My views are very clear that windows are there for one to see outside and connects the outside in! So I’m often surprised when I still see settings that have painted their windows with either tacky paintings and/or worse still, with the paint peeling off the window.

Some settings have said to me they paint their windows […]


Disqualification by association

It is with pleasure that I have Debbie Alcock, of Influential childcare as my guest blogger. Debbie has been in childcare for over 30 years, 19 of these spent in inspection and regulation, first with the London Borough of Barnet and then with Ofsted. She has held many positions in Ofsted: as a policy writer, inspector, team manager, area manager and lastly as a regulatory inspector dealing with serious concerns and safeguarding. She currently works as a freelance trainer, consultant and writer. In addition, Debbie plays a strong part in the Ofsted Big Conversation and is the London lead for NEYTCO.

Debbie writes:

“Disqualification by association is one of the 11 reasons that a person may be disqualified from working with children. Since the 1989 Children Act there has been legislation […]


A sense of self

On a recent holiday, whilst walking to the beach there was a mirror placed in the bend of the road so that traffic and pedestrians could clearly see others coming in the opposite direction.

 I observed a child of about three standing and pulling faces in this mirror and striking different poses. Her parents allowed her to do this and I was smiling!

Good for her, I thought, as she’s building a positive sense of self and thinking about how she fits into the world.

It’s essential that educators within Early Years support children to have a sense of self and to have a positive view of themselves. Many of the insecurities that adults have can, at times, stem from how they saw themselves within their formative years and the conscious and unconscious messages from the adults around them.

Reflective thoughts for practice:

How can the key person support children effectively to have a sense […]