Baby Project & The Wonder YearsSeveral members of staff from the Baby Unit have undertaken a project specific to the under 2’s age group. It takes place over 3 terms and involves training sessions, nursery visits by the Early Years Advisor and an ITERS (Infant Toddler Environmental Rating Scale) audit on the room. Staff have learnt about the senses, what works well to attract baby’s attention and the development of a baby’s brain. Practical sessions included making mood boards for the very young baby using only black and white and making a sensorial box out of an old tissue box to encourage a toddler with their sense of touch. Staff appreciated having time to hear other nursery’s experiences and learn from sharing practice and the ongoing observation of a specific child along with recording their progression against a specific set of questions.
Interact To CommunicateThroughout the last year we have been pleased to welcome part of the Surrey County Council Early Language Team in putting on a pilot project with the staff and children in Puddleducks. This focused on the practitioner’s knowledge and skills in their interactions with children and provided them with training and support to enhance them. Staff took turns to video each others interaction with a child before watching the clip back with the trainer to identify good interactions. The Early Language Advisor provided modelling and coaching along with training for staff. 12 sessions took place over the course of the year and the staff, despite reservations about being videoed (!) found the sessions very productive and positive. Changes were implemented in the room at the recommendation of the Advisors, we saw rolling snack introduced and labels placed all around the room to encourage early language recognition. We continue to see staff encouraging each other in their interactions with the children and in their personal reflective practice.
ECAT ProjectDuring 2012 the nursery took part in Surrey County Council’s ECAT project (Every Child A Talker) which focused on communication and language. The purpose was primarily to ensure that when a child starts school they are a confident and skilled communicator but it also worked to provide early intervention for children where communication and language was a struggle. As lead Communication & Language practitioner in the Nursery, Helen Payne explored the current practice and put steps in place to improve it. The whole nursery used the language audit tool which enabled staff to identify if any children needed additional help and Helen created activities and games to encourage good communication and language practice. Following the project the language audit tool is now included in every child’s learning journey and regularly updated providing an early recognition tool in the event of any communication or language delay. Language bags containing specific games and activities are used in the weekly planning for each age group and Helen updates these regularly with new activities.
Outside PlayWe have a wonderful outside play area at Footprints and try to make as much use of it as possible. Most children, especially boys, learn best outside where they have the freedom for large muscle movement and are able to make as much noise as they like. We are committed to spending lots of time in the fresh air and including all areas of learning in the outdoor environment. As well as the more obvious areas of Physical Development and Knowledge and Understanding of the World, Personal, Social and Emotional Development is evident as children share, take turns and interact with their friends, Language and Literacy as children talk to each other, make plans and make up stories during role play, Problem solving, Reasoning and Numeracy as they count circuits on the bicycle, look for numbers in the environment and problem solve, and Creative Development as they role play, paint outside and make pictures and designs with natural materials. Recent activities have included digging and planting, looking for mini beasts, a number hunt and wellie printing.
Mark Making MattersDuring the last few months all the rooms in the Nursery have been concentrating on improving mark making opportunities for children. Mark making helps to develop the muscles in the hand which will be used later for writing. The babies and toddlers in Flopsy Bunnies and Tiggywinkles have been given new chalk boards for their first attempts at mark making as well as using sand, cornflour and other messy play activities. Puddleducks and Nutkins have used chalk outside, sticks in sand and mud, finger painting, cornflour and foam play in addition to more traditional drawing and colouring.