The ‘Newton Oakley Education: Food for Thought’ series aims to provide you with learning sparks and talking points to share in staff meetings, training or in your professional library.
Today I attended a webinar held by the Centre for Mental Health about ‘Maternal Mental Health During a Pandemic’ which covered the centre’s new rapid evidence review. While many practitioners working within early years education may not work directly with parents during the perinatal period, it is useful to have a broad understanding of the implications of poor maternal (and paternal!) mental health support during children’s early life. Conversations about service cuts are rife within the early years field but often those conversations don’t extend to discussions about the root cause: how political and local board decisions directly impact your work.
We already know that the perinatal period is a time of significant risk to women’s mental health, with up to two in ten women suffering some form of mental health difficulty, without factoring in the new stresses and significant life changes brought about by a global pandemic (exacerbation of inequality, social isolation, job losses and insecurity, health anxiety, caring responsibilities, etc.).
Panorama is known for often hard-hitting documentaries on current affairs topics. Several of the available documentaries will link to the Prevent Duty, modern slavery, the politics of education funding, child protection (and serious case reviews) and issues of equality. If you are self-isolating or working from home, these provide some interesting discussion starters!
In 1999, the groundbreaking BBC series Child of Our Time began filming a group of babies from the moment they were born, to explore what would shape their lives in the new millennium. Twenty years on, these children are fully grown and can reflect in their own words on growing up during a time of extraordinary social change. Drawing on thousands of hours of archive footage, this special focuses on three of the children (Eve, Jamie and Rhianna) exploring childhood as the first generation of 21st-century UK.
All the world is a laboratory to the inquiring mind.
Martin H. Fischer
I was reminded of this quote on a trip to Canada in February. The enthusiasm of children out in the deep snow reflected my own (snow-deprived living in East Anglia) excitement to get outside and play! I especially wanted to try out frozen bubble blowing (with temperatures forecasted to be -11 or lower).
Later in the trip, we visited the Royal Ontario Museum where children were exploring a woodland scene (see photo) – noticing tiny details and making links with their previous real-life experiences in the woods.
As practitioners we can cultivate our own curiosity and inquiring nature, to role model those effective characteristics of learning and communicate (without sometimes jaded adult eyes) that the world is indeed fascinating! When I returned to work, I was able to show children a time-lapse of a bubble freezing beautifully in real-time. The awe and wonder (and subsequent conversations about how we could do it again) reaffirmed the notion that working in early years is a little bit magic.