20th March 2023 All Posts

Why Knowledge-Sharing is Key for the Early Years Sector in 2023 and Beyond

The benefits of getting a great start in life are well documented. But with the early years sector enduring significant challenges, it’s more important than ever that our community of experts continues to unite if it is to thrive — in 2023 and beyond.

The issues dominating nurseries during recent times were confirmed in research by Connect Childcare and Cairneagle, in which the most prominent causes for concern amongst the settings surveyed were found to be the recruitment of qualified staff, increasing wages, and low funding. 

And while these worries will come as no surprise to those operating within the early years, in the current climate they aren’t easy problems to solve — owing, largely, to a complex economic landscape. But by working together, experienced specialists and practitioners can help to minimise the impact of the sector’s struggles and ensure that the industry continues to flourish longer term. 

Inspiring collaboration

Sharing best practice and supporting one another in developing the knowledge and skills necessary to nurture our future generations – to aid their progression through the crucial milestones of childhood, and on to develop into happy and healthy adults – is a responsibility that we all share. 

That’s why, at Connect Childcare, last year saw us engage with early years professionals from a variety of specialisms — inviting them to share a glimpse of their expertise to form the basis of our latest guide: The ABC of Early Years Education.

Set out in an alphabet-style format, the guide brings together 26 of the sector’s expert voices, sharing insight, top tips, activities, and resources with childcare professionals. With 26 letters to cover, the download features a vast array of early years topics – including big emotions, wellbeing, Ofsted, outdoor play, data security, inclusivity, sustainability, nutrition, and many more.

The ABC of Early Years Education

Almost 60 pages of free expert advice and guidance for your teams

A glimpse inside The ABC of Early Years Education

Offering insight into language and its importance in child development, founder, and presenter of Early Years TV, Kathy Brodie, shared:

“A language-rich environment offers a fantastic learning tool for children. As well as providing information about the world around them, regular language exposure encourages little ones to pick up on varied sentence structures, increase their vocabulary, as well as learning how words work in different contexts. 

“As a result, it also improves cognition, as well as speech and language abilities — with social and emotional development following suit. 

“But providing a language-rich environment is only one part of the equation, we need to ensure that a child is accessing it — but how?

  • Are children watching the teacher’s face too carefully? If they can’t hear correctly, they’ll instinctively try to lip read or pick up facial cues.
  • Is a child consistently sitting extremely close to the practitioner? This can provide a bodily clue that a child is struggling to hear. 
  • Do they turn to the sound of their own name? If not, it could be an indication that they don’t have clear hearing. 

“Ways to increase language access for children, include:

  • Ensuring that a practitioner is not backlit. With the glare of light, glasses wearers or those with eyesight issues can struggle to see faces, which takes away some of the signals that assist hearing. 
  • Minimise background noise. Unnecessary sound can prove detrimental, given that young children struggle to filter out irrelevant noise. 
  • Include soft furnishings within a setting to dampen additional sound.”

Meanwhile, tackling the wellbeing of practitioners — which is a vital part of the puzzle when promoting staff recruitment and retention June O’Sullivan MBE, CEO at the London Early Years Foundation, shared:

“Staff spend a great deal of time considering the wellbeing of the children in their care. But the health and happiness of children in a setting relies heavily on that of those looking after them – which is why it’s vitally important to prioritise the wellbeing of adults too. 

“So, what is wellbeing? It’s really the way a person connects their mind and body, which then informs how they feel about their place in the world. This determines their attitude to work and general life — how they navigate relationships, and their personal tactics for survival. 

“Many people mistakenly assume that wellbeing is attending the odd fitness class, read a mindfulness book or watch a yoga video going to bed but it’s not something to do before and after work — it’s a whole life approach that threads through each and every day.

“For those feeling well and strong, it’s much easier to support the children and colleagues. A positive mindset builds empathy and kindness, the basis for harmonious relationships – both to colleagues and children – which ultimately influences the happiness of each person within the environment. 

“The activities taking place in an early years setting naturally reinforce wellbeing. 

“Whether it’s taking the children for a walk, practicing yoga, serving healthy lunches or spending quiet time reading with the children. There are opportunities to be involved in kindness and empathy days, occasions which force people to think about themselves in relation to others — what they have versus what they can give. 

“People in the Early Years often undervalue how important they are to the children and each other. Wellbeing is about recognising and appreciating that unique value.”

The ABC of Early Years Education - FREE Download

We've brought together the sector's expert voices with insight, top tips, advice, activities, and resources. Access The ABC of Early Years Education for FREE on our website.
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