I was at a friend’s family celebration at the weekend, sitting chatting away to her mother, who was full of words of wisdom, as ever.
I watched a child moving in and out of the kitchen and into the garden. I then observed her interacting with my friend’s cat, she was talking to him and stroking him.
Of course, I had to take a photograph! I showed her mum and asked for permission to use it in a blog and during my training. She told me that her daughter is three years and four months and that they have no pets at home. This made me reflect on how quickly she was able to connect with the cat, based on trust and natural instinct.
What an awesome observation of a child in her natural state of calmness. My message to educators would be to observe and assess children for who they are, rather than observe to […]
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 […]
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, […]
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, […]
A colleague recently asked me my views on British Values.
This was my response:
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.
“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 […]
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!
“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 […]
“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 […]
“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 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 […]
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.
“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 […]