Risky Play in Early Years

All children should be able to experience risky play!

All activities within our settings have risk assessments completed to ensure they are safe for the children to do. However, as with most things in life, there are always risks. As Early Years Practitioners it is our job to eliminate the risks, where possible, and make them safe for our children.

Risk surrounds us in life. From learning to walk, jump, climb etc. There is always an element of risk around, but this is good for children to experience.
By experiencing it, children are able to learn what is safe, and what is not safe. This helps to make links into further experiences and learn about general safety, and what their body can and cant do.
For example, a child is learning to walk – the risk associated with this is falling, slipping, bumping. If we didn’t allow children to experience this, they would not learn to walk which is a huge part of their development.

Its important to look at whether the learning and development is worth more than the risk. This is called a risk benefit assessment. As the child’s development will benefit greatly from taking the risk. Although we say there is a risk, this is still minimized by having highly knowledgeable staff, ratios that are adhered to, and environments that are well suited for the children in our care.

Benefits to risky play:
-Challenging to encourage problem solving
-Develops motor control
-Develops balance and co ordination
-Gives children the ability to risk assess for themselves

Risky Play can be daunting for parents who may have a fear of their child getting hurt. But as long as you are there for support and to assess that the risk is not too great, then the benefits far outweigh it.

“The goal is not to eliminate risk, but to weigh up the risks and benefits. No child will learn about risk if they are wrapped in cotton wool”
– Children’s Play and Leisure – Promoting A Balance Approach, HSE

Curiosity Approach Accreditation @ Little Achievers Nurseries

So, you may have seen some new posters and logos around our nurseries and social media recently. That’s because we are now officially working towards achieving The Curiosity Approach Accreditation at all of our settings. It’s so exciting!

We have posters with QR codes for you to scan to find our more about them in our nurseries but i can also give you a little bit of information.

As a group of nurseries a few years ago we decided to embark on change! That was to follow the Reggio Emilia Approach to Early Years.
Gradually over a couple of years we developed each of the rooms in the nurseries to create a completely different learning experience. An experience that focused more on the child, and their natural curiosity, which in turn develops their learning.
We put the child at the centre of everything we do and plan and create our environments around them!

As time has gone on we have learned more about so many different approaches that feed into each other and because we want to provide the best early years experience for your children, we felt it was right to take aspects from different approaches that fit, and incorporate them into our settings. Its not a case of one shoe fits, but instead taking lots of different bits and tying them together to create the best for your children in our care.

Naturally our next step in our development would be to look towards the Curiosity Approach and when seeing their accreditation we knew we wanted to do it. Now is the time!

The Curiosity Approach take aspects from a number of approaches to provide curiosity, awe and wonder for children. It will help us to:
Review and Reflect on our provision
Improve inquisitive moments for children
Create a quality teaching environment
Create beautiful play spaces
Understand the benefit of open ended, natural and recyclable materials

This will then have a huge impact on the care, learning and development of the children in our care.

Early Years are so important to give children the best possible start in life.

What is Hygge?

With winter rapidly approach now is the perfect time to learn a little bit about Hygge.

Pronounced ‘Hue-gah’ its a Danish/ Norwegian word which has no single word translation in English.
The simplest translations are, ‘to hug’, ‘to console’, ‘to comfort’, ‘cosy’, ‘comfortable’, ‘warmth’.

Within Little Achievers Nurseries we incorporate aspects of Hygge into our rooms as they can promote well-being for our children. Having a calm, comforting environment for children, allows them to feel emotionally stable which leads to developing confidence. If a child is comfortable and secure in their environment then their learning and development will thrive.

After a tough year and a half, our mental health should be one of our main focuses and by bringing a little Hygge into your world it can have a positive impact on your mental health.

So where do we start??

We need to remember that Hygge means different things to different people.
For me, it means snuggling up on the sofa with a blanket, scented burners, soft lighting and a good feel good film. For others it may be a bubble bath and a book. Its different for everyone but i challenge you to find your perfect Hygge activity!

Back to Nursery

Welcome to September and to a new term at Little Achievers Nurseries!

We have welcomed back all our term time children this week at all our settings as well as welcomed some brand new children so to all of you……..Hello!

A lot of children will be coming back in to new rooms, with new friends and new practitioners working with them. One of our main focuses at this current time is settling in all our children to ensure they feel comfortable and safe within the environment.

Routine plays an important part of helping settle in.
Routines help children to feel stable and secure.
They are a huge part of nursery life allowing children to understand what is happening now and next in order to understand and anticipate changes that are going to happen.
It gives out expectations on how to behave depending on what is happening in the day.

As well as in nursery, routines can be a big help at home.
They benefit by helping parents feel more organised, less stressed and therefore able to enjoy the time they spend doing fun activities or tasks.

Top tips for establishing routines:
Plan – plan the times of the day and stick to it. A routine is defined as ‘a sequence of actions regularly followed’
Meal times and Sleep – don’t forget to add these in with plenty of time to complete
Flexible – yes the routine has to be stuck to but there can be flexibility, not everything goes to plan and that’s ok.
Fun – make it fun and exciting
Work together – work together with your child’s general routine and the nursery routine

Here is an article on top tips for establishing routine Establishing a Daily Routine

Transitions @ Little Achievers

As we come to the end of the academic year it means we prepare to say a huge farewell to some of our children starting school. As children complete their transitions from Nursery to School we tend to forget just how big a step in a child’s life it is.
Children are such natural adapters to situations, but we forget how much we actually do to help them to prepare for these milestones in life.
How we prepare a child to transition can impact their ideas of learning throughout their life.
If they do not adapt well, learning can be impacted in a negative way, if the transition is a positive one then children will have a positive attitude to learning.

It is our job as Early Years Practitioners to help support the child and the family through a positive transition.

Transitions to School

So What do we do at Little Achievers to support transitions?
– Strong links with local Primary schools enable us to build a relationship with the school and teachers
– Introduce school uniforms from local schools into the nursery environment so children will know what to expect
– Introduce photos of the schools for the children to explore
– ‘Ready for School’ books read to children so they know what to expect from a school day
– Walks in the local community to see the schools and what they look like
– Allowing teachers in for visits to meet the children they will be taking in to their class in September
– Completed transition documents to give teachers an understanding of where the child is at with their learning and development
– Letting children develop their independence by giving them more responsibility

What can parents do to support transitions?
– Talk to your child about what is going to happen and what to expect
– Allow your child to express their feelings as they may be worried or anxious
– Be available to be involved in the transition

Other Transitions

The transition to school is an important one, but remember, children transition all the time in life. The transition to starting nursery, moving age rooms, moving house etc.

Its important we support all of these and communicate effectively with children, keeping them informed, and being there for them emotionally.

Check out our Instagram posts for updates on our nurseries:
Little Achievers Urban Forest School
Little Achievers Nursery in the Park
Little Achievers Forest School Nursery
Little Achievers Day Nursery

Process over Product!

Recently i have been thinking about the times when we make pictures or cards for children to send home to their parents, or when i notice display boards full of pictures that all look similar and think to myself, there is no way children can do that without a lot of adult support. In fact, what do children actually learn from these products when the adult is taking over and leading? W need to focus on the process rather than the product.

At Little Achievers nurseries we provide child led learning. This doesn’t mean that the practitioners leave children to it and just watch over them. It means we let the child lead where their learning will be taken. It means we follow the children and support their learning in their chosen direction. Yes practitioners can intervene at times and provide new provocations for the child, but these are based on the child’s initial interest in a subject. The child can then learn from the provocation provided and new experiences and skills will be learned.

Thinking on from this, would a child choose to do a piece of artwork led by a practitioner and controlled by a practitioner…….probably not, even thought we do have some children who would love to, and that is fine because they have chosen it, but it doesn’t mean they are necessarily learning from it.

We need to look at it from a child’s view and remember that children are more interested in the doing, rather than the end result. The process, and not the product. And this doesn’t just apply to art work, but the process of learning in general through all areas and activities.

We allow children to choose what they want to create, we provide materials for children to use freely and if a child wants to make a card, they can, and instead of practitioner lead it is the child’s own creative piece of work lovingly made by them.

We let the children create what they want and choose, let them have freedom of expression!

Below is an example of the freedom we give children to learn and explore at Little Achievers.
The before picture is a beautiful set up created by our team for children to explore.
The after is what is left when children have finished. The in between is the most important because the children have used their imagination and developed mathematical skills, problem solving, social skills, sharing and language, as well as bringing in their own resources from different areas to enhance.

Child Mental Health Week

This week is Child Mental Health Week and now more than ever we need to be aware of our children’s mental health, and what good mental health looks like in our children, as well as how we can support it.

All our nurseries will be celebrating Child Mental Health Week with activities to allow children to express themselves. If children can express themselves in any way, this helps to promote good mental health.

Children need to find creative ways to express themselves and this can be done in so many ways, through dance, art, dress, music and just doing activities they love. By doing this they are able to feel good about themselves and who they are. So let your children express themselves and have good mental health.
It doesn’t have to cost alot, or any money.

Child Mental Health week website have lots of great ideas:
-Follow the link to explore some virtual sessions online – Children’s Mental Health Virtual Sessions
-A video activity to Draw your Feelings
Squiggle Game
-Have a go at some Yoga for children on Cosmic Kids Yoga

and dont forget to just get outside and play! Fresh air is amazing and just going for a walk,run or bike ride each day helps to promote both children’s and adults good mental health.

Keep an eye out on our Rosy Apple Childcare Facebook Page for more ideas and to see what we are up to at nursery!

By understanding your child and mental health, we can build their resilience which allows them to deal with changes in their life. Covid has been the biggest change to everyones lives so now is the time to act and support your child by listening, being their and being aware of their feelings.

Welcome to 2021 at Little Achievers Nurseries

Hello and Welcome to 2021!

This year has started off with Lockdown pt 3 but we continue as normal. We have practices in place to keep our environments, families and staff as safe as possible.

In early years we are constantly developing, reviewing and auditing to ensure we provide the best!
Covid will not stop us and at the end of last year we managed to develop our Bluebells room and Sunbeams room at Little Achievers Forest School Nursery.

Looking back at last year, it was definitely a challenging one for all!
We are proud to say we continued to provide childcare throughout the pandemic!

Being unable to do all the activities we love so much with our children makes things difficult. We want to keep things as normal as we can for children and continue to help them develop their learning. Personal, Social, Emotional skills are so important at this time to help children to understand their feelings.
We can support these by:
-Reading stories to children promoting discussions
-Getting outside each day for walks, bike rides etc
-Role playing with children
-Creative play where children can draw,paint,act,sing how they are feeling.

Remember – we will come out of this, and we will be stronger

Summer Term at Little Achievers

As we come to the end of our academic year at nursery its time to celebrate what we have achieved in the nurseries over the Summer Term.
When Covid-19 hit us we closed our nurseries for a short while. On re-opening, we were confident we could continue to provide the amazing quality childcare we always do. Yes things would be different but it wasn’t going to stop us.

Since being back we have a huge amount of health and safety procedures in place to ensure the safety of our children, families and staff. Whilst adhering to these the amazing teams have still managed to keep the children curious, fascinated and engaged in quality learning and for that we say Thank you!

Across our nurseries we have been busy this term with baking, creating, cleaning, painting, playing, cleaning, exploring, achieving and not to forget…. more cleaning.

Here are some photos of what we have been up to across our settings…..

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Little Achievers Post Pandemic

As we look to send our children back to nurseries this week there are a lot of questions, worries and thoughts about their welfare and their safety.
What will it be like when children return?
What about their development?
What will they be thinking?
How will they adapt?

After a long time away from the setting, its understandable to be nervous about sending children back in. All the hard work that was built before, relationships made, settling in, learning and development. What happens with that?
Do your children remember?
Are you as parents anxious?

Its important to understand what is going to happen and how these will be recovered over time, and that is definitely what it will take……..time.

No one could of planned for Covid 19 to affect us all the way it has, never would we have had a plan in place for it, so as we begin to plan to return to a normal state, how long will that be and what will normal be from now on.

Nurseries are aimed to be ‘an extension of the home’. A place children can feel safe and secure, with an environment they can learn and play in with their friends.
As human beings we are naturally social creatures, its how our brain develops through the interactions we have.

Photos going round social media of pictures of children in circles and not able to interact, is that what we want? Young children cannot naturally distance themselves. Part of their development is learning to interact with theirs friends, carers and family. This is such an important step in development, learning appropriate social skills, but without this for weeks, how will this have affected them?

So what are we going to do at Little Achievers
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