Last night I joined my fellow early years professionals for #debateED and a few things that were discussed included following the children’s interests, planning and topics. We all had the shared view that there is fear in the early years community to follow themes or rigid planning structures. One tweeter pointed out that this is due to the ease of seeing images on Pinterest and Facebook that people often attempt to replicate without the underlying pedagogical understanding.
This got me thinking about my own page, a haven for simple and cost-effective ideas that settings can easily replicate. One of my goals is to inspire people to be more creative and to use lots of loose parts or found materials. As an educator, I understand that many of us have little to no budget at all so by sharing these simple ideas I hope to encourage you to think outside of the box and create with collected and found materials.
On the other hand, I am an early year’s teacher and researcher, this is a huge part of who I am and I feel that I have not used this platform to its fullest; blog posts have been on the back burner for around 6 months whilst I have been writing my book and completing my MA dissertation. So, back to what I was saying.
Many of the ideas I share will add value to your continuous provision, they all involve varied areas of learning and their flexibility promotes children to learn in a number of ways. But, for them to truly be effective I need to interact and extend appropriately; the environment may be the third teacher, but it would be nothing without me, just as it would be nothing without the children.
I am a teacher, I might not teach in the sense that we are used to, but I am still a teacher. I create an environment based on my pedagogical stance, which happens to be highly child led, I teach through my environment and provocations; continually supporting, interacting and extending on what the children say and do. I am aware that this is becoming a little bit of a rambling post, but it is so important to me that people understand the ‘WHY’.
I might not agree with your ‘WHY’, I come across lots of early years practices I disagree with but as long as you know ‘WHY’ you are doing something, and you can justify ‘WHY’ you are doing it, then that’s what is important because without the ‘WHY’ it is all a little bit pointless!
Take my art shelves for example, some people have posted comments such as, ‘wonder how long that will last’ and ‘this is beautiful, but children cannot automatically do these things if you just copy from Pinterest’. And I agree, children cannot automatically do things if you just copy from Pinterest, but I don’t just copy from Pinterest, my children have had these materials available for over 12 months, me arranging them into colours doesn’t suddenly mean they will mess the shelves up. Furthermore, these shelves have allowed children more independence as they can easily tidy away after themselves, the colours show clearly where items go and works, in effect, as a sorting activity at the same time.
The message here is that I have been on a journey, if I had set this shelving up when I first started at the settings, chaos would have descended but over a two-year period I have slowly introduced more and more independence. ‘WHY’ have I chosen to have my craft materials available all the time and ‘WHY’ have I chosen to organise in colour – well that’s simple, I have high expectations of children, I believe that when given free access to resources children learn to use them purposefully, they choose to respect the items and look after them properly.
And for anyone who may be interested here is a time lapse of the area being freely accessed over a one hour period, look how the shelves look virtually the same at the end!