Hi, I’m Sam from Little Learners Childcare (The Little Learners Approach). My aim for setting up my own nursery was to provide something I would be proud to send my own children to. I have had some bad experiences over the many years of my childcare employment and I felt I learnt the ways not to do things - so how should we do it?
To cut a long story short, I ventured into the university world and began the BA Honours in Early Childhood Studies. My first assignment was a group research project looking into a chosen theorist and as a group we chose the Reggio Approach. I spent many evenings and weekends reading up about this fabulous approach and couldn’t get my head around why everybody was not already working in this way! The more and more research I did, the less and less enthused I was about Early Years in any other form! So it was only right that with the dream of opening up my own setting that I could be proud of, I took the inspiration from my research and educated my new team about what I had learnt. I knew it would be a journey into discovering ourselves but I had no idea just how amazing that journey would be! Each new child, family and staff member has contributed to our journey and helped us to create our own approach, which we say is inspired but not dictated by the Reggio approach.
Throughout the years since opening in January 2011 we have grown and flourished and become confident in what we do and why! 2014 was a big turning point for us where everything we had learnt over the years clicked together! But there was one thing we were continually striving to learn more about but found difficult to find good training for! And that was working with under twos! Quite often when we found great training - it was all relevant to preschool and 2 year olds and people found it difficult to answer our questions around challenging our youngest children and following an enquiry based learning approach with them! This led us to further research, lots more observation and deep learning alongside our little ones!
When you have an approach, it is something that you believe in and should ooze out of every practitioner, every room, every child - it should be evident within everything you do. Following lines of enquiry was working wonderfully with our older children and we just had to explore ways of working with our babies and one year olds in the same way. This can do attitude led us down an exciting path of becoming collaborative learners with our under twos and changed our way of thinking completely. We now feel our under twos practice is one of our strongest features and are in a good position to be able to provide that much needed training and advice for the sector.
For the purpose of this module we will assume that having worked towards the other modules, you are already on a journey to discovering a more child led, open ended approach to early years play and learning. We will assume you are offering more open-ended natural and reclaimed resources and loose parts. We don’t want to repeat other modules but I would like to confirm that the majority of our resources are natural, recycled or real life / household objects and tools. I believe if used correctly and with the right understanding from practitioners, that they are a crucial part of supporting deeper level learning and fostering children’s magical imaginations!
I am now going to hand you over to some of my wonderful educators who have a big part in developing our approach. We have so much we could talk to you about but for this module we will be looking at the respect we give to our youngest children and how that enhances their confidence and capabilities. The main focus of this module will be looking at risky play and what that means, but before we start, ask yourself these questions – how do you help children to become confident? How do you ensure they are valued and respected? How do you listen to your pre-verbal children? The answers to these questions will give you a better consideration of our little module.