A balancing act – teaching and play, no one way – overview introduction
This video shows examples of good practice in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS).
This video shows examples of good practice in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS).
Facebook is arguably the most popular and widely used social media platform with the majority of individuals holding an account and using it daily. It is a great way to share your thoughts, photos and opinions with the outside world and your friends and family. But should Early Years practitioners accept friend requests from parents at the setting?
Many Early Years settings will include the use of social media, including Facebook, in their policies and procedures. Each setting will have a different approach but most will contain similar principles such as not allowing practitioners to discuss work or the setting on their account. Some settings may not allow practitioners to disclose the name of the setting in their work history; whereas other settings will actively encourage practitioners to share posts from the nursery Facebook to spread the great practice they can offer.
One issue that is widely debated amongst Early Years professionals is the acceptance of parents on their Facebook. Some settings will stop this from happening, stating in their policy that practitioners are to not accept friend requests from any parent in the nursery. This can be difficult for those who were friends with a parent before the child started the setting, employees that have children in the nursery and in some instances even family members. Policies around this issue differ with some managers stating that these people must also be removed; and others dictating this as acceptable.
There are many reasons for this to be written into policies, here are some of these reasons;
Some Early Years setting do not stop practitioners from accepting parents on Facebook, but will usually have rules about doing so within the policy, such as not discussing anything work related with the parent on the platform.
Having parents on Facebook can be a great way to build a trusting relationship, enabling the parent to get to know the person who is looking after their child on a daily basis. This also works the other way round, as many parents will share what their child has been doing or their achievements; enabling the practitioner to gain a better understanding of the child’s home life. This can be beneficial for the parents in feeling that they can talk to the practitioner and gain support where needed.
Children will often spend a great deal of time in the care of Early Years professionals, especially if the child is full time or goes through the nursery from a baby room to preschool. Over this time the child and parents will build a bond with the practitoner. Once the child leaves the setting, or a particular room, they will often not see the practitioner again. Having parents on Facebook can be a lovely way to stay in contact once the child moves on, enabling the parent to share their child’s achievements as they grow and helps the parent to feel that they are continually supported. This will more often than not reflect well on the setting, showing that the practitioners have a genuine bond and care for the child and family.
Here are some ways to protect the setting if practitioners are friends with parents on Facebook;
Being friends with parents on Facebook has many pros and cons; however it is down to the setting to decide which path to take.
Many practitioners will have some experience of working with children who have English as an Additional Language and can offer strategies on how to support them; however there is much dispute on the value of support offered to bilingual children in the Early Years. The most common strategies are the use of multicultural resources such as ‘Welcome’ posters and using labels around the setting in a range of languages, yet it can be argued that these resources are ‘tokenistic’ and have no substantial benefit to a child’s language development.
English as an Additional Language is a term used for those who do not speak English as their first and home language. Children and families who have EAL may be bilingual and speaking two languages or multilingual and speaking more than two languages.
The number of children who have EAL and live in England is increasing each year and putting an added pressure onto those who work in the Early Years sector. Many Early Years practitioners find it difficult to communicate with children who have little or no English, causing a barrier between the setting and the child and their family. It is important to ensure every child has the opportunity to access the same resources, support and relationships; whilst supporting the child’s home language and building English speaking skills.
All Early Years settings must ensure their policies and procedures support every child and promote cultural diversity at all times. All children are entitled to celebrate their cultural background and use their home language freely in the setting, without discrimination. Many settings will promote a diverse learning environment by offering a range of resources from a number of countries and cultures. This may be different cultural dress in the role play area, food tasting sessions using food from different countries or having puppets or dolls with different ethnicity. Promoting children’s individual backgrounds will support their self image and confidence, whilst encouraging the British Values in accepting and celebrating the differences between one another.
Promoting cultural diversity within the setting will undoubtedly impact on the outcomes of all children however many practitioners may get confused about why they are offering particular resources. It is a good idea to think about the impact of each resources, how it will benefit the child and how this can be used to support development. Items that are used in an Early Years environment to promote the range of languages such as “Welcome” posters or labels on displays are a lovely way to ensure the environment can be accessed and understood by those who have EAL; however these will only be beneficial to children who are old enough to read and adults. The resources should also be specific to the linguistic needs of your setting as many of these are generic and will offer a large number of languages, yet you may find some children are not catered for.
Resources, such as the ones mentioned previously, can help a child to feel involved and part of the setting. This can of course impact positively on the relationships that are built between peers and practitioners; yet these do not effectively build directly on the communication abilities of a child with EAL. In order to positively build communication with children who have little or no English, strategies such as Makaton are far more effective. Visual communication allows a child with EAL to join in and communicate without the pressure of having to use language. It is vital that not only a child’s home language is encouraged and promoted at nursery through linguistic resources, but the child is also encouraged to learn English. Bilingual children with require the English speaking and writing skills in order to fully participate and learn in the community.
Some settings can put too much pressure on themselves to promote a culturally diverse environment, forgetting the impact that is had on children and families with EAL. It is important to ensure you find the right balance between promoting cultural diversity and effectively supporting EAL language skills in your setting.
All children will go through periods of disruptive behaviour, however the more often the behaviour occurs the more likely the child will be labelled as “naughty” or “disruptive.” It is important to remember that the child’s behaviour does not always reflect the child them self, but instead reflects their experiences, their emotional development and the relationships that they have.
There are many reasons for a child’s behaviour to become disruptive such as tiredness, hunger or lack of communication. It is the role of the practitioner to interpret and understand the behaviour and work with the child and their parents to move forward.
The best way to understand a child’s behaviour is to observe them. Practitioners are able to understand the child’s like and dislikes, routine and development stage through plenty of observations. It is a good idea to vary the type of observations carried out in order to gain lots of information on the child. A helpful tool to use when observing disruptive behaviour is an ABC behaviour chart. This enables the practitioner to think about and evidence the child’s behaviour and their surroundings before, during and after an incident or outburst. This will support the practitioner in recognising any familiar themes or patterns in the child’s behaviour and what may trigger the child to behaviour in that way.
As children get older they will begin to understand their feelings and make links between action and consequence. If the child is old enough it is worth talking to the child about their behaviour and finding out why they are acting in a particular way. Visual emotion cards are a great way to communicate with the child about their feelings and find out the different reactions that they have to certain situations. This can help the child to understand their emotions and begin to deal with them independently, building their emotional maturity.
Parents are crucial when tackling disruptive behaviour. As a child’s main caregivers, parents will understand their child best. Behaviour can be affected by a range of situations or experiences so it is a good idea to speak to parents to find out what the child’s home life is currently like. Small changes such as a later bedtime or big changes such as a new baby sibling will affect all children differently. Parents may be able to give the practitioner an insight into why the child’s behaviour may have changed, enabling the adults to work together in supporting the child through a transition.
Finding the root cause of a child’s disruptive behaviour is great, however you may not always be able to do so. behaviour can be erratic and simply be the child trying out different reactions to understand their emotional boundaries. It is a good idea to allow the child to express all of their feelings, even anger or frustration, in order for them to develop emotionally. The practitioner should look for common actions in the child’s behaviour, for example a child that gets upset or angry may react by emptying all of the boxes on the floor in a temper or may throw toys at the wall. The practitioner can support these reactions in a positive way by offering activities where the child is able to release these emotions in a safe and positive way. These activities may include filling and emptying balls into a large container or throwing beanbags into a tray.
It is important to look at the child’s behaviour and take into consideration all of the contributing factors. Working with parents can support the practitioner in dealing with the unwanted behaviour and teaching the child alternative ways to respond.
The strain of never ending paperwork is beginning to take its toll on Early Years practitioners. The introduction of the revised EYFS intended to minimise the load however it seems that this is yet to happen in practice. Practitioners are struggling to juggle the demand whilst in ratio, and with safeguarding rules prohibiting many settings from allowing the practitioners to complete paperwork at home. Many professionals feel that the high demand of paper work is taking precious interaction time away from the children and impacting on their outcomes.
Early Years practitioners across the country are some of the lowest paid workers nationally. This can be off putting for those who are looking to pursue a career in childcare, whilst also causing many to leave the profession. The National Living Wage was introduced in April this year; providing a slightly higher minimum wage for all those aged 25 and over. This may have slightly increased wages in childcare however it has been suggested that the National Living Wage is still too low for individuals to live above the poverty line. This can force many to leave childcare in order to gain a better wage and live more comfortably.
Many full time day nurseries are open for around ten hours a day, with some settings offering an earlier drop off or later collection time. The average day nursery is open from 8am until 6pm, Monday to Friday. Shift patterns will vary from setting to setting, with some practitioners working slightly shorter days across the week whilst others work 10 hour days but have a short day or day off once a week. Continuity of care is vital in childcare, suggesting that the same practitioner should be available at the begging and end of the day, however this can be difficult for those who have their own families. The majority of settings will also hold regular staff meetings or parent partnership events that are run out of hours. Many professionals are unable to work in the Early Years sector due to the inability to work around their own childcare needs.
Practitioners in the Early Years sector can often be left feeling underappreciated by parents, managers or other professionals. Practitioners will have a great deal of responsibility in their job role however others may see them as “glorified babysitters” or “playing all day.” This can leave Early Years professionals feeling worthless and want to leave the profession. If a practitioner is left feeling unappreciated for their hard work they can gain a low self esteem, impacting on the children and the workforce.
Low morale can be detrimental to a productive working environment. Staff members need to feel passionate and motivated in their roles in order to project a happy environment and ensure the highest ability of work. Many factors can contribute to a low morale in the workplace; it is important that managers oversee the settings morale in order to keep staff focused and working as a team. All the other factors that have previously been discussed can lead to a low morale amongst staff. This can often be the final straw for practitioners and convince them to change their career path away from childcare.