Understand the purposes and principles of early years frameworks
There are four nations which have different approaches to planning and delivery of education. England has the curriculum for children aged 0-5 years; this applies to child-minders as well as after-School clubs, as well of Nurseries, Pre-Schools, and Schools.
The areas of development are personal, social and emotional development, Communication language and literacy, problem solving reasoning and numeracy, knowledge and understanding of the world, physical development and creative development.
With the new changes in the EFYS. There are assessments when a child is aged between 2 and 3 years and at the end of the academic year when they turn 5. These are not tests for the child - the assessments are based on EYFS practitioners’ observations.
Information from these tests is used for parents, practitioners and teachers to support children’s learning and development.
The 7 areas that early years learning concentrates on are: communication and language physical development personal, social and emotional development literacy mathematics understanding of the world expressive arts and design
Teaching is often done through play, where the child learns about subjects and other people through games.
Early years foundation stage - GOV.UK
The overarching aim of the EYFS is to help young children achieve the five Every Child Matters outcomes of staying safe, being healthy, enjoying and achieving, making a positive contribution, and achieving economic well-being by setting the standards for the learning, development and care young children should experience when they are attending a setting outside their family home, ensuring that every child makes progress and that no child gets left behind; providing for equality of opportunity and anti-discriminatory practice and ensuring that every child is included and not disadvantaged because of ethnicity, culture or religion, home language, family background, learning difficulties or disabilities, gender or ability; creating the framework for partnership working between parents and professionals, and between all the settings that the child attends; improving the quality and consistency in the early years sector through a universal set of standards which apply to all settings, ending the distinction between care and learning in the existing frameworks, and providing the basis for the inspection and regulation regime; laying a secure foundation for future learning through learning and development that is planned around the individual needs and interests of the child, and informed by the use of ongoing observational assessment.
Different approaches on current provision are:
Reggio Emilia main features are children need some control over their own play and learning. Children learn through their senses and need a rich environment so that they can express themselves. Children learn from being with other children.
High/scope is where practitioners are encouraged to talk to children about their learning, also to provide opportunities for child-initiated play.
Montessori practitioners are to observe children individually in order to provide for their play and learning. Also to ensure that children are challenged in order to progress their learning.
Steiner, practitioners are meant to plan adult-directed play and provide for child-initiated play, play with natural objects are also encouraged for babies and toddlers.
A personal and individual approach to learning and development focuses on the needs of individual children, this is so that children can develop at different rates, and children have different needs and interests so require different opportunities in order to develop.
Partnership working is very important. To achieve the best outcomes for children it is best that parents/carers and practitioners work together. This forms the basis of the model of partnership working. This is so that ideas can be shared, and information and thoughts about the best way forward for the children.
Open door policy is a good way to achieve this so that drop in visits can be carried out to encourage relationships.
Observations and assessments are good to be shared with parents/carers so they can contribute. Child’s development can then be shared.
Planning and decision making can also be shared so ideas can be contributed and work as a team. Working alongside practitioners is a good way to all work together to think of activities and develop children.
There are some barriers to participation and these can be overcome. Time is a barrier as parents/carers don’t always have enough time, to exchange information this can be done through booked or drop in parent sessions, home-link books, phone calls and emails.
Language and needs can also be a barrier, so adapting communication methods is important so suit all needs and abilities.
Multi agency working Multi agency working is an effective way of supporting children and families with additional needs. It brings together practitioners and professionals from different sectors to provide an integrated way of working to support children, young people and families.
In England the early year’s sector was made in a different way to most other countries. The majority of countries early years sector was developed around the government and what they thought was needed whereas our sector was based on the needs of the population. ‘During the Second World War women were needed in greater numbers in the workforce to replace men serving in the armed forces, so nurseries were set up to care for the children whose mothers went out to work in factories and offices etc. However, when the war came to an end and the men came back for their jobs, the nurseries were closed.’ – Heinemann Textbook.
Over the years different types of provision have become available; personally I think that nurseries are the most popular choice. This may be because they are usually open all year round (excluding bank holidays) and can look after children for the first five years of life. Nurseries tend to be ran privately and therefore come at a cost but on the plus side they are always in the same premises. Childminders are very similar to a nursery as they offer the facilities to look after children of any age and are usually full time. Childminders tend to carry out their work in their own homes and their services come at a cost. Pre-schools or playgroups tend to only be part time and the age ranges may vary. These groups tend to take place in community settings and therefore may vary from venue to venue. Depending what a parent wants for their child would depend on which child care service they would choose, if they needed care for their child whilst they are at work a nursery or childminder would be the best option. If they were looking to meet parents in similar situations or want their child to interact with other children a playgroup would be a better option.
There are many different reasons for increasing demand for child care. Due to better education opportunities and rising career aspirations and expectations mothers may be going out to work instead of staying home with children and therefore require a form of child care. The number of single parent households has increased and due to only receiving one income the parent may need to work longer/more hours to provide for the family. The government is also promoting working parents rather than parents surviving on income from benefits. ‘The Head Start programme in the USA provides education and health care for young children in low-income families, with an emphasis on parental involvement. Research indicated long-term effects of this early intervention, with the children achieving better qualifications and employment prospects later in life, and less likely to be involved in addiction and criminality of to become teenage parents.’ – Heinemann Textbook.
Social inclusion policies have been created to ensure that everybody is given the same support and opportunities, not just those in difficult situations.
Evidence based practise is ‘practise which is influenced by objective evidence derived from research.’ Other factors may be the training provided to staff members, on the job learning, things learnt from reading or television and personal experience. As professionals we should ensure that we are up to date with studies that have been carried out as the results of these could improve our practise. It is important to remember that some of these studies may be superficial, may have been carried out poorly and that other evidence may contradict the results. ‘A example of how research has influenced work with children is The Effective Provision of Pre-School Education (EPPE) which is a comprehensive report investigated the effects of pre-school provision, its findings found that children who had attended early years provision were more likely to have better cognitive, social and behaviour skills when they started formal education than those who had no early years provision. EPPE also confirmed the value of early learning through ‘play’ especially from low-income families. Key Elements of effective practice (KEEP) is another example. This document emphasises that effective learning in children is dependent on secure relationships. Learning through play and forming secure relationships are both key elements to the EYFS.’ – silkysteps.com
Diversity means different, it is recognising difference in society it also must include valuing this difference in order for society to get on. Over time we have developed more information and knowledge about cultures, lifestyles and religions.
Inclusion is ‘a process of identifying, understanding and breaking down barriers to participation and belonging’ – Heinemann Textbook. Participation is getting involved, if a child didn’t want to join in with an activity they are not participating.
When in any setting anti-discriminatory practise should always be promoted and equal opportunities should always be given. It is crucial that as professionals we don’t judge or assume things as this would make us bias. It is important to be a good role model for children so if we act in the correct manner hopefully they will learn to do the same. I think it is important that children ask questions and are given an honest answer as that is how they learn. Some practitioners may feel awkward when answering certain questions but children are naturally very curious and may ask questions about others with differences. Children should also be taught to be diverse towards others, this can happen by watching and learning by example. If a child were to ask about the colour of someone’s skin it is important that they get an honest answer as that is how children learn. If a child were to ask why the old lady is in a big pushchair the practitioner should answer with no hesitation and explain that the lady may have trouble walking and that she isn’t in a pushchair it is called a wheelchair. In my setting we aim to ensure that children are open about differences and that they ask why people or things are the way they are. We aim to celebrate all religious holidays and learn about other religions than just our own. Whilst the Paralympics was on the children at my setting were able to watch certain bits of the coverage on a television, they could obviously see that certain athletes had disabilities and they would ask about them. The staff aimed to plan activities around disabilities so they could understand a bit more. One activity I remember was looking at a wheelchair, how it works and why or who may need them.
Children should always be given the option to make their own decisions about things. Obviously depending on the circumstance would depend on if a child could make the decision or if adult supervision is needed. For example, an adult would let a five year old girl choose her clothes and shoes for the day but they wouldn’t let them choose when to cross a busy road. If children are given the option to make decisions when they are younger it may help them with decision making in later life as they already have the foundations of the skill in their minds. Whilst at work I try to give the children an option to make their own choice about things. For example, if I was doing an activity with the pre-school children I would ask who wanted to join in rather than making everybody join in. I feel that this is an important thing to do as there might be a reason for a child not wanting to join in like feeling unwell. Practitioners should also keep an eye on children that never seem to participate in activities as there might be an underlying issue that may need to be investigated.
A reflective practitioner is ‘someone who takes a questioning approach to their work, taking time to think critically and assess the effectiveness of what they do at work’ – Heinemann Textbook.
I feel that it is important to review my own practise, although I only think about it in my head I like to think about what I have done. My main concern is that did the children enjoy the activity, if the answer is no why didn’t they?
I carried out an activity where the babies explored in paint then printed their handprints onto paper. Before I started the activity I had already got the paint, apron, paper and tray prepared-this was done beforehand to save time. I then put the art mat onto the table and immediately a child crawled over to see what I was doing, she seemed keen to participate so I picked her up and sat her at the table and put the apron on her-this was done to avoid getting paint on her clothes. I squeezed some paint onto the tray and encouraged the child to touch the paint and explore it with her hands. After a while I moved the tray out of reach and got a piece of paper and put it in front of the child and let her make marks using the paint on her hands. Whilst doing this the child was smiling and giggling-this shows me that she was enjoying herself whilst doing the activity. I then wiped the paint off her hands, took off her apron and let her continue playing. I think there was many good points to this activity:
- The child was enjoying herself
- I had previously prepared the equipment needed
- I allowed time for her to explore
There were also things that I could have improved on such as:
- When preparing the resources I had forgotten to get a flannel or wipes so had to do this during the activity
If I were to do this activity again I could:
- Add texture to the paint e.g. sand
- Give more time to explore the paint
- Take pictures of the child during the activity
- Make written observations on what the child particularly enjoyed
- Let the child explore the paint with a different part of their body e.g. feet.
My own role and personal development
My current job title is an apprenticeship nursery assistant; this is because I am currently working towards my NVQ Level 3 in Children’s and Young Peoples Workforce. In my current setting there are various other members of staff who are also working towards this qualification and others that have recently completed the course. Although we are apprentices, I feel that we have the same responsibilities as the qualified members of staff, give or take a few things. I would say the main points of my job role are:-
- To supervise children at all times.
- To ensure children are safe at all times.
- To engage and play with children.
- Ensure that children are stimulated.
- Plan daily activities, age related.
- Work alongside parents to ensure the best care is given.
- Work alongside other practitioners (inside and outside agencies) to ensure best care is given.
- Change childrens nappies/ assist with toileting.
- Ensure I am up to date with policies and procedures.
- Enforce relevant, age related rules.
- Follow the EYFS
In a child care setting it is crucial to reflect on own practise to ensure that the best care is given to each child. Staff should reflect on their practise as a practitioner regularly to see if there is anything they could be doing better or could be changed. I also feel that managers should reflect on the setting as a whole to ensure that they are reaching the best potential. I feel that both of these happen at my work place. I work in the baby room at my setting and I would say we reflect on our practise well. At one time our babies were very interested in ducks so we would plan activities around ducks such as visiting the ducks, making duck shaped things, singing duck songs ect. After a while we noticed that they weren’t as fond of the ducks anymore so we waited to see what else they liked then changed the topic to their new interest. In the toddler room the children took an interest in the ‘Maisie Mouse’ stories so the practitioners brought two mice for the children to look after and play with.
Whilst working with children I feel that it is important to leave personal beliefs etc. behind. I think that children shouldn’t be told what to believe, they should learn themselves and make their own minds up (obviously with some exceptions). Some people may find it wrong that boys play with babies and dolls or that girls enjoy rough play and football but why? Children have the right to make up their own mind so why not let them play with that they want to. I also felt that all children should be treated the same no matter of their gender or their religion. Religion can sometimes make things difficult as a child may not be able to participate in an activity or eat the same foods as their peers.
At my setting there are many people that could assist with reviewing my development. Firstly, my managers will tell me if they have any immediate concerns or queries that are personal to me. They are also very open with giving suggestions to me and all other members of staff, they do this in normal everyday conversations or may mention it in a staff meeting. They may also suggest any training opportunities that they feel may benefit us. Other colleagues are also very helpful in giving advice on other peoples practise. We also have a notice board in the kitchen which is used to pin up any useful information or articles found-these are available for staff to look at, at their own leisure. During staff meetings we are all given the opportunity to share any concerns or praise, this could be a time for someone to make a general comment about their peers whether it good or bad.