Our summer online training webinars for early years and primary professionals have all finished and we are preparing our autumn offer in advance (very advance – the weather is sweltering and it is comforting to think of the chilly season ahead). Booking will go live for these sessions (and others, subject to tutor availability) soon, so please bookmark this page or subscribe to updates.
Pricing is per participant, invitations (Teams/Zoom) are sent to each participant for their sole use. All webinars include an additional 10-minute Q&A session at the end where the tutor can discuss specific queries relating to your setting or practice, relating to the topic covered.
We are also accepting suggestions for our online webinars, so please get in contact if you have any requests for us to consider – this is often the cheapest way for you to get bespoke training!
**FEEL FREE TO SHARE – LIST IN COMMENTS IS PUBLIC** And so the world has begun homeschooling/digitally educating children en masse. If you need assistance with understanding something that has been assigned for your child or if you need more resources, please let me know. I am a teacher and will be more than happy to help answer questions. We’ve already set up a high school study group for students in our family and I’ve got stacks of learning resources/activity ideas for children aged 0-8 – I’m sure we can find a way to make it digital! (I’m also a dab hand at turning Disney films and BBC documentaries into relevant learning 😉) #BetterTogether📚💛👩🏼🏫👩🏼💻
— Read on m.facebook.com/story.php
This accessible series combines lovely snapshots of real families in the first year of their babies’ life, with commentary and insights from researchers.
From familiar research on early language development and attachment, to more recent breakthroughs in early motor skills and nutrition; you’ll find something fascinating!
You can find it by searching for ‘Babies’ in Netflix or following this link.
If you are seeking highly tailored continuous professional development during a period of self-isolation or the temporary closure of your setting, we can help! We are offering reduced rates on online consultation, training and coaching during this difficult time. Find out more here.
It is so important to recognise parents as children’s first and most enduring teachers – we may be experts on child development but they are the experts on their own child! Together we have a far more profound impact than working in separate silos.
A recent example was a blog post I published for my nursery talking about a sunflower activity the children had been enjoying. It referenced the prior learning (investigating decay in the autumn term), encouraged families to watch a time lapse of a sunflower growing together and reminded them of a facility we offer to print photographs from home for children to share. As the children had planted two sets of seeds (one for home, one for nursery) it created a tangible link. Our children absolutely love sharing their home experiences with their friends and staff – they eagerly tell me how big their sunflower is (“it’s almost as tall as daddy..!”) and tell me how they’re helping it to grow (“water, but not too much – just right!”). Parents also join in these conversations – sharing their expertise (we have a few green-fingered carers who know far more about effective growing than we do!) and telling us funny tales about little people remembering at bedtime that they haven’t watered their sunflower so going out in their pyjamas and wellies with a watering can.
Learning and understanding: perspectives and experiences
This kind of continuity between home and setting has also been supported by our “What Does Your Day Look Like?” book. We created a sheet with prompts to enable our pre-school children and parents to share what their world looks like – from the special routines they have when they wake up to what mummy and daddy’s lunch times look like when they are at work (a tricky concept for little people that is sometimes tied up with anxiety – what does “going to work” mean? What does “work” look like – is it a place or an activity – or both!?).
The prompts are open-ended so parents and children can decide what is the most important for each section. Staff completed example ones to get the ball rolling – some chose to draw their day, some used photos, some used text. We made the examples diverse to showcase no one way is best or preferred. Completed pages go in to a special A3 book of experiences – children are able to return to review this book (similar to their “All About Me” photo albums) with their peers or Key Person.
This is also lovely if they’re having a tough day and are feeling a bit wobbly; being able to say “that’s mummy’s lunchbox, she’ll be having her lunch now too – just like you. After lunch, mummy will collect you because you’re going to the park – see, just like the photo?” is a lovely bit of reassurance and containment to help remind children of the day’s routine (now, next) and that mummy is doing similar things elsewhere, but will return.
By valuing children’s lived experiences – in all their wonderful diversity – we hope to celebrate and champion their perspectives and ways of being. This also links to the funds of knowledge research that I feel is vital for early years practitioners to empathise and make meaning for children within the educational setting.
I’ve recently been asked why I refer to our woods as the “woodland classroom” and why I insist on calling our infant unit a classroom too. The question had overtones of “let children be children” but actually, my reasoning for using the phrase “classroom” to describe the environments my pupils spend their time in is both full of reverence for the importance of early childhood experiences and an attempt to communicate that.
This is not about schoolification, this is about reclaiming the word ‘classroom’ to communicate in a way that is readily understood by laymen that children are learning in my setting. Babies, toddlers and older children are learning (through play!) all the time, in all environments (even when you don’t want them to!) – and the word classroom in its purest form is a place where you learn, gain experiences and engage in experiences. Yes, my pupils also benefit from warm, responsive staff in classroom who carefully scaffold their learning – but we also have the ethos that no child can grow and learn until they feel safe and secure first.
In the same way that Forest School uses the semantics of the word ‘school’ to communicate the important ‘work’ (Maria Montessori definition) children undertake within that space – so I use words to raise the profile of the incredible development, growth and tenacity my children exhibit every day in my classrooms. Until early childhood is universally understood to be vital and foundational to all other learning (tied up with early years profession’s perception, worth and value – I suspect!), I use the words that communicate this.
Let me know your thoughts on this – do you have particular words in your setting that you use for their wider meaning rather than their perceived restrictions?