I shared a post today on Instagram that was described by one commenter as ‘a damning post about what others use as their provision and pedagogy.’ The post was about how we need to step away from fairy lights, china teacups and cable reels; you can read the caption in full over there but I basically said that these resources have a place but we shouldn’t overlook health and safety in the name of aesthetics or what I like to call ‘Pinterest Pedagogy’.
And, I wish I could help myself but I honestly can’t, if that is slating someone’s provision and pedagogy I would look more closely at your pedagogy because, I hate to break it to you, fairy lights isn’t a pedagogy!
Anyway, I want to clarify my point in more detail because I hate to be misunderstood. I am a huge advocate for open-ended play, loose parts and scrap materials (I mean for crying out loud I wrote a bloody book about them!) and I am a huge advocate for reusing resources and collecting treasures from family, car boot sales and auctions. What I am not a fan of is using resources that are a health and safety nightmare or just plain crap. And by ‘just plain crap’ I am talking china dogs that your nan decorated her fireplace with and mass-produced wall art in the form of motivational quotes from shops such as B&M or The Range. These resources are not curious, I guarantee a child will look at that dog a couple of times and then they’re bored of it. What’s curious is the way the leaves fall from trees, the way the sun sets, the way clay can be formed into shapes, the way shadows are formed, the way water fills different spaces; what’s curious is nature and its free and its often overlooked by hoarding ‘crap’ and seeing the children enjoy it for a short period before it is replaced the following week by more crap.
So let’s address the three things I said to step away from. Firstly, fairy lights which seem to be used in conjunction with the word Hygge, which is a word that is creeping into early years. If by hygge we mean to create a cosy environment that promotes a feeling of contentment, then we have been doing this long before the word hygge was used in the context of the early years and we certainly don’t need fairy lights or poorly lit environments to create this feeling. Again, I am not saying we can’t use fairy lights, I have a lovely dream tent covered in them, but we can’t say we are creating a sense of contentment just because we have fairy lights like its something to check off. Feeling content is so much more than one resource!
Secondly, china teacups. So, I’m all for real life resources and genuinely believe that children are more engaged with authentic resources but come on, how many children see their parents using china cups, saucers and teapots in the year 2021??? If we’re being honest, it is more likely that they see their parents using a ‘girl boss’ mug or a mug with Tommy Shelby on it that was given as a novelty gift at Christmas. Furthermore, I see lots of people saying that children take more care and learn to look after breakables but to me its more about the aesthetics than the value. Pouring water from one vessel to another often requires concentration and care, we really don’t need to do it with breakables to create invitations for this sort of play.
Finally, cable reels. Cable reels are a great loose part and I have many in my outdoor area that the children can use to create obstacle courses or dens but filling the indoor environment with them and using them as a replacement to furniture just to create a ‘look’ on a budget doesn’t make sense to me. They have holes in them that the children use to slot resources into and are often covered in areas that are chipped or have nails sticking out, you are better off buying the basic coffee tables from IKEA, they look nicer and are safer!
So yea, there you go, they are my thoughts and feelings and as with everything (except china teacups) I do think everything has its place but some things do need containing to that space.