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New blog: Early Years Teaching News - Supporting Practice, Inspiring Pedagogy

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Tuesday, 17 September, 2019

Welcome! We have been writing issues of Early Years Teaching News for two years now and due to their popularity amongst members, we are starting this new term with a blog issue to share and encourage far and wide across the sector. Here are our five top tips for your Autumn Term whether you're starting out in EYFS or have been leading pedagogy for many years. We hope there is something here for everyone to inspire, change, reflect upon, support and share.

1. Being outside and active is crucial

Outside gives us freedom, space, nature, awe and wonder, opportunity to be physical and active. It enhances our wellbeing as well as being vital for children in the early years. Make sure that children have time for being outside and being active. Here are some links to support your practice and inspire your pedagogy

  • EYFS: in praise of the humble sandpit is a useful article by Helen Pinnington in the TES (12th September issue) to inspire and support your development and progression in the sand provision that you have on offer. The twitter thread from the article is in full praise of the sandpit for its endless open-ended play opportunities and limitless learning.
  • Is being barefoot in the early years catching on? by Professor Jan White encourages us to think about the benefits of being barefoot for young children. 
  • A great resource to inspire outside play ideas in all weathers is Kathryn Solly's Outside in all weathers blog and her Outside play and learning page. (We put this together last term.)
  • Remember that the UK Chief Medical Officer's infographic Physical activity for early years guidelines (2019) recommend that children move more - for at least 180 minutes of acivity per day. This is equal to 3 hours of being active every day. For further reference, you can read the full UK Physical activity guidelines for early years, inlcuding 30 minutes of tummy time for babies and under ones every day.
  • If, like me, you enjoyed time rockpooling this summer, have a look at Jack Perks Wildlife Media Cornish rockpool timelapse. This could be a great way to perhaps follow children's interests and bring the wonders of a rock pool to your children.

2. Creative inspiration promotes effective learning

Being creative will promote many of the characteristics of effective learning that are so important in the early years. Creative play and learning can cover many aspects and skills in the learning areas and stimulate critical thinking, new ideas and self confidence. Clay, paints, sand, water, outside play, imaginative play, role play, small world play, story telling, creative materials, fabrics, musical instruments, puppets, wooden blocks, loose parts and cardboard boxes all help to support creative experiences and learning. 

  • Clay has been featured in many provisions and enabling environments this term and it is great to hear about all your work with this beautiful, natural, multi-sensory, therapeutic material. Clay is such a rich, experiential resource and the Froebel Clay pamphlet by Lucy Parker is an excellent way to learn more about using it in practice. 
  • Using clay to nurture young children's minds is an informative blog by Ammie Flexen, for Early Arts, who also have a useful Resources section about clay modelling on their website. 
  • The Northern Ireland Curriculum document Learning through play covers sand, water, clay and much more for a useful guide to help develop practice and provision.
  • Heuristic play can help young children and babies to explore, discover and experience objects. The Heuristic play blog from Community Playthings shares more information about this type of play, referring to the work by Elinor Goldschmied and Sonia Jackson.

3. Relationships and connection are key - every child is UNIQUE

The first sentence in the Statutory framework for the early years foundation stage (2017) introduction states

Every child deserves the best possible start in life and the support that enables them to fulfil their potential. Chidlren develop quickly in the early years and a child's experiences beween birth and age five have a major impact on their future life chances. (page 5)

The first two overarching principles of the framework which should shape practice in early years are

  • every child is a unique child, who is constantly learning and can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured
  • children learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships

Our work in the early years is enriched and improved the more we understand and get to know every unique child and their uniqueness, and build trust and connection as they start, settle and get to know us. Here are some ways to reflect on your practice so that you can support and develop your connections for the best for every young child.

  • Many of you are probably familiar with the work around Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), early trauma and brain development, and how relationships and connection can make such a difference in our practice. Dr Bruce D Perry gives a useful summary of this in The impact of stress on the body (a 6 minute watch). 
  • In What can neuroscience teach practitioners? Mine Conkbayir talks with Kathy Brodie about children's brain development, self regulation, co-regulation and love. 
  • If you are considering a move from using behaviour and reward systems to a more relational approach to supporting behaviour, listening to this video from ACE-Aware Scotland: an interview with Mrs Susan McCafferty, Headteacher may well support your thinking (a 16 minute watch).
  • Elly Chapple presents her personal and powerful story about her daughter and what she has taught her in her TEDX NorwichEd talk Diversity is the key to our survival: the shoeness of a shoe. This is a powerful watch and might support your thinking about how we actually listen to children, and reflect on supporting diversity and inclusion. Elly states, "Everybody needs more connection, compassion, creativity and diverse ways of thinking: we need it." (an 11.5 minute watch).
  • As children settle, reflect on their experience and support their emotions, separations and transitions. Our blog Settling children, crying children? offers more pointers and links. 

4. Deepening your early years pedagogy

  • Radio 4's Great Lives series features Philippa Perry on the Italian educator, Maria Montessori and discusses the child-centred approach and philosophy behind Dr Maria Montessori's approach that revolutionalised education for young children and operates in over 170 countries today. 
  • The Routledge international handbook of Froebel and early childhood practice is a recently published book edited by Tina Bruce, Peter Elfer, Sacha Powell and Louie Worth and is a key text in examining the Froebel approach, and reading about Tina Bruce's journey in her discovery of Froebelian practice, starting in the early 1980s and examining practice that has much relevance for this time. The Contents page gives a glimpse of the richness and depth of content that could ignite and inspire us in thinking about early years pedagogy. 
  • Vivian Gussin Paley, author of many books, who inspired listening to young children's stories and wonderful, creative methods of storytelling - and responding to children - sadly passed away in July at the age of 90. You can see Vivian at work in the video clip Vivian Paley takes dictation which is a wonderful glimpse into how listening to children's stories and scribing them is such an important way to support children's storying, communication, language, imagination and writing. The Vivian Gussin Paley obituary (Aug 19) in the Guardian by Trisha Lee is a very fitting tribute, and shares how her work will live on through Make Believe Arts Helicopter Stories and to celebrate her life, Nursery World wrote Sector pays tribute to early years pioneer Vivian Gussin Paley. This article called Play ground gives us more insight into Vivian's life and work.
  • Getting it right in the early years foundation stage: a review of the evidence has just been released. It contains an extensive review of evidence and presents key findings on pedagogy in the Early Years Foundation Stage. You can read more in our news story about the launch
  • The Chartered College of Teaching's Impact journal for Autumn 2019 has just been published too. It is important to read EYFS features inside, and this month has an article by Manchester Metropolitan University called 2-Curious: the potential of performance based arts practice in dialiogue with early years practice. The article describes a work project to explore collaborative partnerships between performing artists and early years practitioners in two maintained nursery schools in Lancashire. The conclusion calls for the use of multimodal communication trhough performance arts which offers rich and more complex possibilities. 

5. Supporting your pedagogy and practice

We hope you have found our blog useful. Our next Early Years Teaching News with lots more pedagogical links will be out in October for Early Education members and contacts of our Early Years Teaching School partners. Until then, here are four ways you could continue to build your support and encourage or inspire your pedagogy

  1. Don't be alone - find like-minded peers, inspiring and supportive mentors and people you trust to challenge or help you. Our branch events offer great CPD at very low cost. Social media networks and communities can be a great support and source of information, connection and CPD. Try linking up on Twitter and Facebook. Find early years hashtags that help you to find the right information - there is so much going on!
  2. Tap in to local, regional and national events that will build your networks and support your practice and wellbeing. 
  3. Read and learn more from blogs and books, listen to podcasts, watch webinars and videos, join professional organisations. 
  4. Look after your wellbeing and keep filing yourself up with aspects of life that restore, give rest, support and encourage. Giving time to early childhood education and meeting the needs of young children is an incredible job with great rewards and needing full, supported and tuned in adults. For us to be like this we need to also give time to looking after our own wellbeing. 

Coming soon!

Early Education's PedPods: our series of podcasts chatting with stars of early years. First up will be Anni Mctavish all about creativity. Watch this space!

Inspiring pedagogy at your fingertips

We hope you enjoy this month's selection and you can become an Early Education member to receive these regularly into your inbox, either individually, as a student or as a school or setting. If you are part of an early years teaching school, or one of their partner or member schools, you automatically receive the Early Years Teaching News so do find out if you are included. The nursery school teaching schools support our teaching news and you can find a list of supporters below.

Wishing you the best for this Autumn Term. 

Cathy Gunning, Pedagogic Lead for Early Education

With thanks to our Nursery School Teaching School partners:

East London Early Years and Schools Partnership
Peter Pan Teaching School Alliance
Foundations Teaching School Alliance
OTSA Teaching School Alliance
North Liverpool Teaching School Partnership
The Bradford Birth to 19 TSA
Warwickshire Consortium Teaching School
Acorns Early Years Teaching School Alliance
Early Foundations Teaching School Alliance
West Ipswich (Early Years) Teaching School Alliance
The Birmingham Nursery Schools Teaching Alliance
East Barnet Early Years Alliance
South Thames Early Education Partnership
Alfreton Early Years Teaching School Alliance
Cornwall Early Years Teaching School
Pen Green Corby Teaching School Alliance
Teach Manchester
Bristol Early Years Teaching Consortium
Cambridge Early Years Teaching School Alliance
Scarborough Teaching Alliance
Foundations for Learning
Derby Early Years Teaching School