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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Featured in Under 5 Magazine’s Training Special

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Recently, I was approached by the Pre-school Learning Alliance team for my opinions on the way that their EduCare CPD programmes had impacted my setting and staff practice. Later, we found that we had been featured as part of their training special issue.

Closure of the UEA Early Years Professional Status programme

The Early Years Professional Status training programme delivered by the University of East Anglia is scheduled to cease operation by 2013.

The University of East Anglia (UEA) confirmed that the EYPS course would shut as it is operating at a loss.The university states that running EYP training does not feature in its long-term plans for the School of Education and Lifelong Learning, describing a new focus solely on teacher training and research. UEA has shared £3.4m of East of England consortium funding over three years to provide fully-funded EYPS places with no tuition fees. In a statement UEA said, ‘In the current economic climate, it is important for the university to focus on activities that are viable and that embody the values and priorities outlined in our draft corporate plan for the next five years.Unfortunately, the EYPS course has not recruited enough students and is loss-making. In addition, while we recognise the importance of early years education, this course does not chime with the university’s long-term priorities and ambitions.’ The university said that three members of staff were affected by the closure decision and that 29 EYP students who enrolled in January will finish their 12-month course in January 2013 at UEA.

The University of East Anglia said, ‘In terms of alternative provisions in the future, we have told the consortium that we are very happy to liaise with other HE providers in the area to ensure they will have excellent input.’ The Eastern Leadership Centre is the lead organisation for the East of England consortium, with partners University Campus Suffolk, the University of Hertfordshire and Pen Green Research Centre. Emma Slaughter, service leader (EYPS) at ELC, told Nursery World magazine that fully-funded places for EYP training would continue to be provided in Norfolk and that she did not envisage a drop in the number of applications. Following UEA’s decision to withdraw from EYP training, she said, ‘We’ll work collectively to ensure that there is EYPS provision in Norfolk.We’re considering various options for venues, including using children’s centres, local authority offices and other education providers.’

The East of England region is recruiting now for places to start in September. The closing date for applications is the 4th of May.


Show your support for improving outcomes for Norfolk children by signing the petition urging chancellors to reconsider!