5 Tools Everyone In The Early Years Industry Should Be Using by Jo Baranek

7th February 2017

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Supported by Nicola Wardropper (EYA at NDNA) Jo Baranek | Early Years blog | Top resources

Within early years we are surrounded by a vast amount of resources, some plastic, some metal, some wooden, many natural. We also have lots of books for children and many for us telling us the best approaches to teach children, but what are the five tools every early years worker should be using? You may well be surprised with our answer as none of the tools we suggest are physical resources that you can buy, find or ask for donations, they are resources you all have naturally but may not be using to the full effect.

  1. Ears – for listening to children and giving them your full attention. Listening to what parents and staff have to say and paying attention. Listening to conversations between children that can not only tell you their current interests but also highlight their inner thinking and how they see the world around them.
  1. Mouths – for speech and language. Remember children learn to speak from the voices they hear around them. The more language you use as a practitioner the more rich an environment the children are experiencing. Talking to children from birth is essential as it sparks the synapses in the brain and grows and strengthens neural pathways.You will also be using your voice to talk to parents and staff to share what you know about each individual child and discussing how you can support them further. Finally it is important to use your voice to check knowledge and understanding of each child, explain ideas and instructions and more importantly giving children a voice so they can express their own ideas.
  1. Eyes– for making positive eye contact with children and giving visual attention to them to make them feel as important as they are. Use eye contact with parents when you are talking and listening to them to make them feel as important and part of their child’s education. Use your eyes fully observe children and how they are interacting with each other, the resources, the environment and the adults around them and finally observe your team member’s interactions with children and the parents to ensure quality of practice.
  1. Hands/Body language– to model, support and scaffold children’s learning. Children look to you to show them how to walk, talk and use equipment, so you must show them in the best possible way. Body language is vital in early years to make children feel comfortable and at ease with you and their surroundings. This is not only how you get the best outcomes for them but also enables children to feel comfortable telling you if something is bothering them. You use your hands to record observations which enables you to be able to collect evidence to help us plan for children’s next steps, support and challenge them. You use your whole bodies to interact and join in with children’s play which is vitally important to the children in your care. Finally you use your hands and body language to meet and greet parents and support your team members in their role and praise their achievements.
  1. Time – Time is essential to us all and often you may feel you do not have enough of it! For children, they need time to learn, develop and practice new skills and this is one of the best resources you can give them. You need time to listen to parents and to plan effectively for the children’s development and progress. Finally you need time to develop new skills, gel as a team and reflect on the wonderful work you do to enhance and support children’s development.

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