Our Latest Training Day Starring Action Amanda Featuring Juliette Davies (strongly)

The title reads like film credits because these two lovely people created the best training day we’ve had in a while. We planned it for our first day back after Christmas which turned out to be perfect! It brought all the staff from my two teams together for some learning, fun and action. 

To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure what we would be getting, but I know Amanda, and I know she has a passion for getting children moving and active so they may become confident healthy adults, so I knew we were in for a treat. Her latest venture is to help us as Early Years Practitioners develop fun music and movement programmes using her app (very reasonably priced!) and giving informative information of the impact this has on children’s all-round  development. With 10 bags of props we were all like littl’uns in a toy shop!

After a short presentation it was time for us to get lively. Using shakers, pom poms, masks, streamers and many more props we sang danced and laughed. We worked to different styles of songs, learnt how to compile a session to keep children active and interested. Amanda armed us with a few tricks of how to mix it up to make it work for us. A few staff activities involving a bit of choreography kept us all thinking, and it wasn’t the most likely staff that took the lead. Everyone had a chance to shine.

Amanda’s personal touch talking through how we could construct the sessions showed her true passion and how she genuinely had our teams needs in mind. You couldn’t help but be touched by her enthusiasm. If she could give me some of her energy, I would be most grateful!!

I’m not forgetting the wonderful Juliette Davies and her amazing organisation EY Matters that she formed to support the Early Years Sector last year as an aside to her Virtual Support business, Virtual Support UK Ltd. She helps trainers and practitioners with all those behind the scenes bits that are so important. For our training day I know she was helping Amanda launch her new venture and will continue to help it take off. For me as part time consultant and PVI owner she has helped me brand my consultancy, helped me with logos, power point presentations and all sorts! A bit like a magician! 

I thank you both for a fabulous day of learning and laughter for my lovely team. I hope to see you again soon.

Advertisements

A ((Short!) New Year Blog.

At the end of last term I was really tired, I mean really tired! Several reasons. I had one of those colds and coughs that just lasted weeks and weeks. There had been a few glitches in the year which always knocks me sideways. However, my faith in my own ability and my expertise from all of my experience in EY has been restored, and here’s the trick. Surround yourself with good people. People who know not only that you are a good EY practitioner/settings manager/ teacher/carer and employer, but you are helpful kind and supportive of others.

So I start 2019 with confidence and renewed energy. I hope to help more settings with my consultancy work. It went a little quiet, but is picking up again through word of mouth. I’m very content to mainly support and manage my two settings, both very special to me. Coaching and supervision helps to create the nurturing environment I value for the children and staff. I might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I can’t please everyone or be popular all of the time, something that doesn’t always sit right but I must accept. I know those who support me and make me stronger, in turn I hope not only to return the favour, but spread the love and support to others, both professionally and personally.

Happy New Year!

#Myfamilyweek…so far!

Life is always exciting when you work collaboratively with Laura Henry!  A call saying “I just want to run something by you”, or “I’ve got an idea” you know your going to be involved in something big! But this is amazing. Celebrating families in all shapes and forms. This is huge. Bereaved families, same-sex parents, extended families, blended families…ALL FAMILIES, count me in Laura!

So we have used some of the free resources. We have collected family photos which the children love explaining who’s who, what the occasion is and family personalities.

children have drawn pictures of their families. We have had some really emotional conversations with bereaved families. There’s a guardian angel in this picture who watches over tha family.

With everything we ask “ What’s the impact”, what are the children getting out of this. Well we’ve not finished yet. So far we have had lots of chatting about a subject children are really knowledgable about…themselves! Where they fit in their family and the role of others they live with. Talking emotions, a building a sense of self. Everyone’s included, everyone’s contributing, so we’re building relationships with our families, so good timing Laura at the beginning of the first term of the year! Getting to know our families well.

Weve started early, but it has so much depth and is such a brilliant concept. Can’t wait for the actual week. BBC are visiting us!

Please click the link below for more information. Join in, its great! …and FREE!

http://www.laurahenryconsultancy.com/my-family-week/

 

Switching off and Back on Again

For the first time since managing my settings I went on holiday in term time! It’s a long story how that happened, but the opportunity to visit New York with my daughter (who works in one of my Pre-Schools) came up, and I couldn’t resist. I have good managers in place, good teams that are dedicated….no Ofsted visits due. So switch off, ok?

A few emails with contact details, phone me if you need to, I’ll pay you back for the call, email me if there’s a problem, any worries here are some contacts that may help you. Yes I really trust you, but just in case. Sorry managers, couldn’t help myself!

So off we went. Despite a shaky start with a yellow cab reversing into another car and dropping us at the wrong hotel (we can laugh now!) we had a fabulous time. Did I completely forget about work? No.

One of our first visits was the Museum of Modern Art, where Van Gogh’s Starry Night lives. So many inspiring pictures using all sorts of shapes, patterns, materials. Hmmm, could we do a version of that? I must put some pics of famous artists as provocations for art. Great ideas for our little ones.

img_0205

img_0204

 

We visited Brooklyn bridge. We both named children who would love this structure! They would be so excited. It snowed as we walked across, an amazing atmospheric visit. Then there’s the Statton Island ferry, seeing the Statue of Liberty. Lots of policeman around, the lovely American fire engines. We agreed that American trucks looked more “truckie” in their 50’s style cabs. There was so much to see and do. Central Park, Empire State Building, Top of the Rock. New York really does buzz with excitement.

img_0219

img_0174

img_0215

As we looked for souvenirs for family, we still talked about what the children would like. I asked my daughter was it ok not to totally forget about work? She said it was ok. In Early Years we get to know our children well. It’s not that we don’t switch off, it doesn’t get in the way of enjoying a holiday, but it’s in our blood to think of our jobs and Early Years in general. We had many moments that weren’t thinking of children, but wherever we are, we can be reminded of our jobs and the children we care for, but in a good and positive way.

Thanks to my teams who, no surprises, coped very (almost too) well without me. You’re amazing!

 

After the staff training.

Well…following on from my previous post…it was brilliant! (Please read my previous post on Team Training.) The whole team (almost) went on the first National Early Years Safeguarding conference organised by Laura Henry. I’m not going to go into masses of detail, Penny Webb did an excellent blog about the whole day which you can read by following this link https://pennysplacechildminding.com/2016/11/11/safeguarding-and-protecting-every-child-conference-feedback/

Having said that, some of the team arrived early to help Laura prepare. We got frustratingly delayed by signal problems on the train, but once we got there we were excited to be involved in the setting up. Here we are organising the certificates.

img_0102

It looks a mess, but we knew exactly what we were doing! We were privaliged to welcome delegates and guide them into the conference room, giving them their goody bags on the way.

So we were already excited. Laura had organised some amazing speakers, including our home grown ( and well used) Safeguarding trainer Susan Taylor from Tailormade Training Solutions (http://www.tailormade-training.co.uk). We all had our favourites, but every speaker had important messages, with the common theme that Early Years is the most important time to get things right. We all have our part to play in this to ensure children have the best start to continue to be successful in future life. We are all advocates for our children too, and need to speak up for them. We are their champions, we mustn’t let them down.

I want to return to my team theme here. As we caught the train home, we had very active discussions. It was interesting that some of us had different interpretations of what was said, which led to scrutiny of some of our own practices. Jane Evans key note speech led to different interpretations to what she meant. We all agreed we could have listened to the speakers for longer, and would reflect on certain aspects of practice.

My 1-1 supervisions are in full flow at the moment, giving me the chance to see the impact the conference has had. For the workshops I spread my team out. There were workshops that some of them didn’t think pertained to them, such as safer recruitment, that must surely be for managers! But they were greatful for the insight and realise it goes beyond recruitment. What ever level your at in your career, we are all responsible for monitoring staff, speaking out about maltreatment or safeguarding issues. It was useful that they knew why I’m so nosey getting them to make declarations about the people they live with etc! I tell them, but now they really get it! It doesn’t end at recruitment, but is ongoing monitoring that those we have recruited are safe.

Another theme running through the feedback is the use of real examples by the speakers brought safeguarding to life. The outcome is they know more what they are looking for, observing for with our children and families. More alert to get Early Intervention if a family need it. More confident to make the call should it be necessary to protect children.

As manager of two settings I am very confident that all members of staff have extended their safeguarding knowledge, and feel empowered to truly safeguard our children.

A great team experience! If you missed it, no worries, next year another  National Safeguarding Confernce already being organised with fabulous speakers! Follow the link http://www.laurahenryconsultancy.com/safeguarding-and-protecting-every-child/

 

 

Staff training…all of us…EXCTED!!

Once a year I organise training for the whole team. Extravagant I hear you say! Well, I would say it’s a must! The reason I’m so excited this year is it’s a conference. Safeguarding and Protecting Every Child http://www.laurahenryconsultancy.com/safeguarding-and-protecting-every-child/ where we will be listening to fantastic speakers, some renown for their work all over the world! I almost feel like we’re famous ourselves. My team are buzzing, that are so happy to be part of what is going to be an inspirational day. I’m looking forward to seeing our home grown safeguarding trainer Susan Taylor who is amazing!

CPPD takes many forms, and in our settings we do use all types from online ( recently Kathy Brodie’s Early Years Summit) to sending individuals on courses, picking things up from EY twitter and FB groups, books and magazines. BUT the one thing that has the most impact is team training. Last year we had Laura Henry’s Keep it Simple Planning (KiSP). Amazing impact. It has not only made the whole system so much easier, but it means so much more. Less is definitely more! Less work and happier staff.

Here are some of the other reasons I believe team training is the best!

Team spirit

The team rarely get together all on one shift. On a staff inset day all staff are with you. It’s a chance to bring them all together and treat them to top class training. You are on the same page when you start, you are on the same page when you finish. “Together” is the word here. Together because we are dedicated practitioners, together because we will embrace changes from the training as a unit together.

Results

If you sift through my posts you will see that some of the great changes we have made in our settings have been as a direct result of team training. Laura Henry and Debbie Sawh have been our main contributors to changes and improvement. This is far more effective than sending one member of staff, who with the best will in the world has to disseminate the information, convince us it’s great, (and they do) and then try and action the plan. I’m not saying it’s not possible, but with the whole team the change is quick and seamless, together we have more power to make the changes.

Improvements

Some may see these as chores or hard work? Training should impact to make your life easier. The team uses new skills and with Laura armed with instantly usable templates, ready to go! We changed to KiSP in a week. Impact powerful and improvements could be seen on children’s outcomes.

Ofsted

We all know we shouldn’t do things for Ofsted, and I agree. Do this for your setting. It’s cost effective for the reasons above. Ofsted will love the impact of your team training, and you can show off the impact this has on your children. They will nod so loudly you hear the whoosh of air as their head goes up and down, well maybe not that much! Throughout the last inspection, many of our outstanding features were team training based. It also shows outstanding leadership, even if I say so myself!

So for you, for your team, for you children and families, please endulge in staff training days. Enjoy the day, and enjoy the results. Let me know how it goes!

Links

 http://www.earlyyearssummit.com/?ref=Laura

http://www.laurahenryconsultancy.com
http://www.tailormade-training.co.uk

http://www.futureworks.org.uk

The Cap and Gown thing.

I very rarely (honest!) get a bee in my bonnet about other peoples practice,  but this Cap and Gown graduation, I really don’t get it. I see endless posts on FB on how bored children get while they are asked to go up and get their scroll. Sometimes a line of 40+ children. Questions about how to speed things up ping back anf forth. Fine if you’re first! If you’re last and aged 3, it must be torture. Somebody has just posted that children’s behaviour deteriorates during this ceremony…..no suprise there then!

image

Who are the graduations for? I can’t see that they are for the children. They don’t understand the concept of graduation. Neither have they passed a test or done research (thank goodness)  to achieve cap and gown status. My daughter has just finished High school with an age appropriate Prom to mark the end of an era. So why do we give our youngest transition such an adult ceremony? Give them something age appropriate as we would always do and advocate in practice.

Our last day is fun, we have family craft, sports, play activities, and a family picnic. No waiting, no dressing up in gowns that the children don’t understand, the day is for all the family to have fun all the time, and celebrate their time with us. A thoroughly enjoyable day for all of us!

Early Years Podcast @EYpodcast

There are some people I know who are inspirational in Early Years. Richard Duddy and Heather Stallard have started to do great Early Years Podcasts, about all things good in Early years ranging from safeguarding, what to do when the manager goes sick, to musicality in the Early Years. When they asked me to do a podcast on our recent outstanding Ofsted inspection, I of course said YES! Just one problem Richard….how do we do this? “It’s easy” he said, ” you just need Skype,  headphones and Internet connection.” Well….one out of three isn’t bad!  A slight panic attack for a minute, but with Skype downloaded, a new set of head phones, I was ready. Thanks Richard and Heather, it was great to talk to you. Here it is:-

Kim Benham – Early Years Podcast 009

A Bit of DIY

Now your probably thinking I’m getting the children to decorate and make the furniture, but no! The DIY at the settings is in the form of making our own resources for their learning. We have done this in the past, but it has been a bit “token” so we are now inspired thanks to Alistair Bryce Clegg http://www.abcdoes.com to make this more the norm in our weekly plan.

The children coloured their own rice last week with food colouring. The joy of this is you get a whole lot of learning skills in  the making process. Armed with pipettes, food colouring, spoons, plastic trays (bit of recycling!) we set to work

.

So much to learn, from fine motor squeezing the pipettes , to discovering colour mixing, the children were engaged and challenged.

Weve also been making our own paints. The green accurately described as slime by one of our young learners!

image

image

Lots of descriptive vocabulary. That’s before you use it for play! You have double, treble the learning value if you have a hand in making the resources you use.

There’re a few “yikes!” moments, but best to bite your lip as the children soon get the hang of more water not making the paint thick enough. They are learning through experience, the best way. Although I may still need sunglasses for a few of the colours!

Phonic Advice for Parents

Early Years Phonics, advice for parents.

I wrote this blog post on our old PreSchool blog (now replaced with a FB page) for parents who were anxious about phonic development, not realising they were probably doing all the right things to build the foundations for learning phonics.

“Children start learning phonics really early. You may not realise how much they are taking in and you probably don’t know some of the basic skills you are already building by playing with your child. The clue to successful phonics is have fun, and don’t be pressured!

Listening is key to phonic awareness. Learning about different sounds. So when you’re out and about listen to different sounds. Are they quiet or noisy? Be sure to take time to keep quiet while you listen. Sounds obvious but it’s very easy in your enthusiasm to talk over sounds.

Having said that talking and listening to your child is very important to build confidence with words, demonstrate listening and enjoy conversation. Most children are very chatty at this age! Listening to what they have to say will also boost their self esteem.

Let me teach you a new phrase. ‘Beat Competency’ is being able to say or clap a simple rhythm. Nursery rhymes are great for beat competency. They’re fun and easy to join in with. Having beat competency is hugely helpful to future reading and writing, so make time for rhymes and songs. Its a proven fact that children who regularly sing or say rhymes do better with reading and writing when they go to school. This particularly shows when they get to juniors. See Sparkles songs on the blog and get singing!

Play with words that have the same sound at the beginning, eg. silly sausages, smelly socks, bonkas bananas, croaky caterpillar and any other words that have the same initial sound. Also rhyming phrases such as ‘the parrot ate a carrot’ ‘the snake ate a cake’ have fun making up silly rhymes.

Many children’s books follow these ideas. ‘Shark in the Park’ follows a rhyme the whole way through. ‘We’re Going on a bear Hunt’ helps with alliteration, rhymes and sounds. They are both fun to join in with. “The Naughty Bus” is one of my favourites showing fonts that reflected what is written.

image

Books are very important for future reading and writing skills. Having fun with familiar books is just as important as finding new ones. Favourite books are great for learning story content and structure and by reading regularly to your child you are having a very valuable time together enjoying literacy.

All the above suggestions are building the foundations of reading skills and research tells us the more time we spend building these foundations the more successful your child will be with literacy skills. So don’t feel pressured to push them onto letter sounds or writing letters. Enjoy the early stages of initiating enjoyment of words, rhymes and books.

Learning letter sounds will be a natural progression from this. When yo get there remember to use the letter sound, not its name. This will help your child build words later on. I don’t want to go into this too much as this is a skill for school age, but learning the sound a letter makes before learning its name. For example c-a-t, put these three sounds together to make the word cat. However the names of these letters ‘cee’ ‘aye’ ‘tee’ don’t sound like the word. I hope you get what I mean. Please ask if you don’t

As you see, children are learning about phonics constantly. The main points I would stress for early years is sing and say lots of rhymes on and off during the day. Read to your child every day, old favourites as well as new ones. spend time talking and listening. Do these and the rest will follow!”