Early Years Initial Teacher Training (EYITT) – Week 1

In the past year, I have encountered more politically passionate practitioners than I have in my entire career. Not just policy-makers and researchers, but practitioners working at grass-roots levels who are using social media and cluster forums to instigate change. I do not believe this is a negative development; to the contrary, the more experienced and knowledgeable practitioners’ voices we have, the more effective we shall be in shaping future policy and defending the rights and needs of children whom we are advocates for.

In January the “More Great Childcare” (Truss, 2013) document was published, inciting lively debate, discussions, changes and actions within the sector. Parents, professionals and policy-makers engaged over emotive issues such as ratios and professional recognition. The Early Years Professional Status (which you may remember I had campaigned to save at the University of East Anglia last year) was replaced as the “gold standard” in favour of Early Years Teachers. The new set of standards have also created discussion within the sector, due to the recent clarification that EYTS certificates will not be issued to existing Early Years Professionals due to the disparity between the standards.

Regardless of this, as my original professional development plan had detailed EYPS as a vital post-graduate step, I sent for an application to my nearest Early Years Initial Teacher Training (EYITT) provider.

I was interviewed, accepted and booked a hotel for my first two “Preparation Days”. At the beginning of September, I joined a colleague of mine on our first day as part of a mixed pathway group of practitioners from a wide variety of settings (both geographically and in terms of the provision itself). This was enjoyable as a networking event and by the second day I had set up a social networking forum to enable the EYT students within my groups to connect and support each other despite the distances between us. So far, I have uploaded key early years documents and a weekly news collection to encourage everyone to engage and to share information. I look forward to my third “Preparation Day” in January, in the meantime I’ll be reciting the standards in my sleep and documenting all of my “leadership” evidence.

If there are any fellow EYT students reading this, please do not hesitate to get in contact – whether by Twitter or email as I’d love to add you to our student network!
As always, comments are welcome in the box below.

Truss, L. (2013) “More great childcare: raising quality and giving parents more choice.” Accessible at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/219660/More_20Great_20Childcare_20v2.pdf

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Talk About, the project all Norfolk settings are talking about

The Talk About project provides early years speech, language and communication needs (SLCNs) support in Norfolk.

Following on from the success of the Norfolk based project Every Child A Talker (ECAT), Talk About is a collaborative project which is currently funded by Norfolk County Council. If the project is successful in its aim to raise the quality of speech and language practice within Norfolk’s early years settings, the council may decide to continue funding the scheme. It has been developed and managed by a team of experts at Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust’s Speech and Language Service and provides training for staff who work in a range of early years settings (nurseries, pre-schools, playgroups, reception classes) to assist practitioners in identifying and supporting children (aged 3-5 years old) who are experiencing difficulties in developing their speech, language and communication skills. As professionals we know that speaking, listening and interacting well with others are fundamental skills which are the building blocks to enjoying and achieving in both the early years and in later life. The early childhood years are a critical period for the development of these skills and the best time to implement interventions to support children who are experiencing difficulties.

Since pledging my setting to the project, I have taken on the role of Early Language Lead Practitioner (ELLP) alongside another practitioner from my setting. One of the benefits gained from joining is the abundance of free training offered by the 10 speech and language therapists who form the core group leading the project. Between myself and the deputy ELLP we have attended a range of courses including:

  • Hanen Teacher Talk
  • Every Child A Talker (ECAT) Monitoring
  • Signalong
  • Working with Selective Mutism
  • Early Language Development Programme
  • Expressive Language and Vocabulary Difficulties
  • Speech Sound Difficulties
  • Attention and Listening Difficulties
  • Difficulties Understanding Language
  • Working with Autism and Social Communication Difficulties
  • Working with Stammering
  • Working in Groups to Support Children’s Language
  • Elklan: Speech and Language Support for Under 5s (10 week, level 3 course)

All of these courses have ranged from 3 hours to a whole day or even 10 weeks. Needless to say, it has required some flexible working and attendance of courses outside operating hours. The Elklan course is the longest and most in-depth (completion of a Level 2 or 3 portfolio is recommended at the start of the programme), I intend to write a short review once the final session is complete. Next week will be the penultimate session and I dare say that I will be saddened to finish, despite the Monday evening session time!

Coming Soon: Eggciting Education in the Pre-school

Coming Soon: Eggciting Education in the Pre-school

I’m currently working on a blog post about the recent experience my pre-school children had raising chicks. I’ll resist the urge to write “I’ll tweet about it!” and instead say that it should be published as soon as I can pull myself away from the delightful balls of feathers.

Give a child a typewriter and they will create worlds

I had a wonderful conversation with my grandparents a few months ago, about the types of things I liked to play with as a child. We chatted about paint, paper, notebooks and huge canvases (plentiful in a house full of artists and teachers) before moving on to things children find in the garden and the beliefs children have (fairies, mythical creatures, etc…); as a professional the conversation gave me the opportunity to consider whether the resources within my setting instigated the sort of quality play I wanted children to experience. One of the items I remember very vividly from my childhood was an old typewriter. My grandfather had an electronic typewriter for his work and I remember watching it in absolute wonder (being a bookworm I adored the idea of creating a book as much as I enjoyed reading them). In response to my interest (and to save the electronic typewriter from the over-zealous toddler, I suspect) my grandmother found a typewriter complete with black and red ribbon and reams upon reams of computer paper for me. Upon recollection, my mother states that the typewriter hardly went a day without being used for creating stories, invitations, bills, menus, newspapers, lists, messages (at one stage my sister and I became preoccupied with telegraphs) and other written communications.

In the setting…
A few weeks ago, my grandmother informed me that she had bought an old typewriter (with black and red ribbons, no less!) for me, at auction for the princely sum of £3. Since installing the typewriter (after a grand unboxing) at a table with a variety of different types of paper and stationery items, I’ve been able to observe literary behaviours unseen in some children using the computer or normal mark making table/tools within the setting. Children who thus far had no interest in writing have spent upwards of ten minutes carefully tapping away (bearing in mind that they are 2-5 year olds!) and children who previously wrote their names and various letters upon hand-written notes have been writing stories and messages. With the help of a practitioner, children have been requesting assistance in typing such words as “crocodile” and “monster” alongside favourite nouns such as “mummy” and “daddy”. Practitioners and parents/carers alike have had a go at typing, providing excellent role models and illustrating the enjoyment that can be had from expressing yourself upon paper (even if it is just to say “cheese sausages milk” – child’s snack time wishlist!)
The typewriter has also reinforced mark-making with pens, pencils and chalks as children patiently wait for “the ding” to tell them it’s someone else’s turn (a fantastic built-in turn-taking mechanism!) and name recognition has improved dramatically as children search for their name on a “turn-taking” list and urge practitioners to cross names out as children take their turn.
Although it has only been a few weeks, interest hasn’t waned and the children’s enthusiasm for reading (and creating things to read) has spread across all the areas of provision. As a setting that focuses mainly upon child-initiated learning, this addition of a springboard item has set off an explosion of fantastic ideas that I cannot wait to follow up (and possibly blog about)!

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BOOK COMPETITION: Celebrating World Book Night 2013

To celebrate World Book Night UK 2013 (@worldbooknight) on the 23rd of April, I am running a competition for my Twitter and WordPress followers (based in the UK) to win some books!

The rules are quite simple: to enter you must currently reside in the UK (eligible for Royal Mail delivery), be a follower of newtonoakley on either Twitter or WordPress and you must tweet a favourite literary quote or a reason to be passionate about reading tagged @newtonoakley #book. For example:

@newtonoakley #book ‘It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.’

OR

@newtonoakley #book Escapism, I can always visit Narnia when my own wardrobe is boring.

(Of course, your reason will probably be less silly…)

Five (5) winners will be picked (see notes below) and their Twitter handles posted. Winners should then send a direct message to @newtonoakley via Twitter; with their full name and email address.

MULTIPLE ENTRIES PER PERSON WILL BE ACCEPTED FOR THIS COMPETITION REGARDLESS OF THE METHOD OF ENTRY, HOWEVER ONLY ONE PRIZE CAN BE WON PER ENTRANT. WINNING ENTRIES WILL BE CHOSEN FOR THE INTEREST IN A BOOK GENERATED BY THEIR TWEET (I.E. @newtonoakley READS BOOK AS A RESULT) OR BY THE POIGNANCY OF TWEET.

NOTES: Kate Oakley and affiliates are not responsible for: any incorrect or inaccurate entry information; human errors; technical malfunctions; failures, omissions, interruptions, deletions or defects of any telephone network, computer online systems, computer equipment, servers, providers, or software, including without limitation any injury or damage to participant’s or any other person’s computer relating to or resulting from participation in the competition; inability to access the Entry Sites (Twitter/Wordpress); By entering the competition, entrants confirm that they have read and accepted these rules.
WINNER SELECTION: Five (5) winners will be selected from among all eligible entries on or about 27/04/2013 by @newtonoakley. If a prize notification or prize is returned as undeliverable for any reason, the prize will be awarded to an alternate winner in a subsequent selection. Prize is not transferable or redeemable for cash. No substitution for the prize by the winner will be allowed.
PRIZES: Five (5 to be awarded) books – one per winning entrant – in either digital (Kindle/iBooks) or paper format.

Setting featured in Haylock & Cockburn’s new edition of “Understanding Mathematics for Young Children”

Last June, my setting was fortunate enough to play host to Derek Haylock (an education consultant and author; he worked for over 30 years in teacher education and was Co-Director of Primary Initial Teacher Training, responsible for the mathematics components of the primary programmes at the University of East Anglia in Norwich) whilst he collected observations for the new edition of the popular mathematical education book “Understanding Mathematics for Young Children”.

You can find Mr Haylock’s blog here and the edition that my pre-school is featured in here.

Review to follow.

Synopsis:

“In this indispensable book, the authors help teachers understand mathematical concepts and how children come to understand them, and show how to develop your own confidence with mathematical activities.

Each chapter of this book includes:

– real-life examples and illustrations from children and teachers;

– the research behind some of the concepts and teaching approaches discussed;

– pauses to reflect and discuss your own mathematical knowledge and experience;

– age-appropriate classroom activities to try with your class or group.

This is an essential student text and professional reference work for teachers of children aged 3 to 8 years.”

Derek’s blog post following the visit can be found here.

“On Tuesday I spent half a morning at the [PRE-SCHOOL], on the North Norfolk coast. The main reason for the visit was to talk to Kate Oakley who runs the pre-school and who had some interesting observations to share on the ways in which children in the age range 3 to 5 years engage with mathematics. It was a delight to spend some time with the children as well. It was particularly intriguing and exciting to see how much mathematics they were doing informally through play within a suitably prepared and relaxed environment. The staff let the the younger children take their play in whatever direction they choose but then ensure that opportunities for learning arise by the provision of resources and by focussed conversations and questions.

Here’s an example of one my observations. One 4-year-old girl was walking around on ‘stilts’ – standing on a couple of upturned buckets with strings that she could pull on to keep them in place under her feet. We were looking at the scale on the wall for measuring the children’s height, and she hobbled over to join us. Standing against the wall on her ‘stilts’ she was able to talk about the fact that her height had increased. In this way she was getting an early experience of the key idea of ‘increasing’, which later on she will learnt to connect with counting on and the concept of addition.”

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