One piece of legislation that promotes the children’s rights in my setting is the Data Protection Act 1998. This legislation gives everyone the right to know what information is held about them and it provides a framework to ensure that personal information is handled properly. One of its purposes is to safeguard the fundamental rights of individuals.
The Act works in two ways, firstly it states that anyone who processes personal information must follow the eight principles below to make sure that the personal information is:
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Not transferred to other countries without adequate protection
Secondly, the Act provides everyone with important rights; these include the right to find out what personal information is held about them on computers and most paper records. It also gives the individual the right to complain if they are denied access to their personal information or feel that their information has not be handled according to the eight principles I have stated above.
The Data Protection Act 1998 affects the way I run my setting. I have to ensure that:
Any personal information I have is kept confidential and stored in a locked filing cabinet and I only can access it.
I am careful when discussing with parents anything confidential that no-one is around to overhear our conversation, including in person or on the telephone
All personal information I hold is relevant to my setting and is kept up to date
I do not keep any information longer than necessary
No data that I hold can be used or passed onto other parties without written consent from the parent
Parents have the right to request access to my records at any time, but they can only see the information held about themselves and their children
My confidentiality policy covers the above please see Appendix 1
Every organisation that processes personal information must notify the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) unless they are exempt; failure to notify is a criminal offence. I am exempt because no personal information I keep is stored on a computer. The only information I store on the computer is my accounts. If you had to notify they have now made changes to the notification fee structure that came into effect on 1st October 2009, it is now a tiered fee structure to reflect the costs of the ICO regulating data controllers of different sizes.
It is important that the practitioner meets the individual needs of all the children. To do this the practitioner first needs to know what the children’s individual needs are and this can be found out by talking to the parents and getting them to fill in ‘My Special Book’, any observations that you carry out, any other professionals involved with the child and liaising with any other settings that the child attends. If the child is old enough they may also be able to tell you.
It is important to speak to the parents regularly and keep updated in any changes to the children’s interests and needs or home life. The ways that I use are:
Email – an effective way to send a quick message, but some parents may not have access to a computer.
Newsletters – can be a great way to keep parents informed of some of the activities the children have been doing; events and festivals planned; holiday dates and any other information the practitioner wants to tell the parents.
Letters to the Parents – if there are things you need to inform them of privately a letter would be best. In addition, the parents may have a hearing impairment and may not be able to use another form of communication.
Telephone conversation – this is best done at the end of the day when the practitioner and the parents have uninterrupted time to discuss things. You will need to make sure who can overhear the conversation so that you can maintain confidentiality.
Face-to-Face – you can arrange a meeting on neutral territory to discuss any concerns but again you need to maintain confidentiality and make sure you are not overheard.
Daily diary – keeping the parents informed of the activities the child has done during the day, along with sleep times, healthy food, snacks and drinks, nappy changes and any other information the parents need to know. The parents can also add anything to the diary that has happened at home that you need to know e.g. any accidents, broken night’s sleep, teething, whether they have had breakfast etc.
Text – the quickest way to communicate, it can also be invaluable to someone with a hearing impairment. Most people nowadays have a mobile phone.
It is also important to find out and respect the views of all the children to make them feel valued and not ignored this in turn promotes their self-esteem. I talk to the children about what interests them and what they think of things. We often play games that allow the children to air their views and opinions and I use this knowledge to enhance their learning and development.
To be able to meet all the children’s needs you first need to understand what their rights are. There is a lot of legislation that promotes children rights but quite simply every child has a right to have their basic needs met for food, warmth and hygiene, but you also need to provide a nurturing environment where the children can rest, play and develop to their full potential.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs is one of the best-known descriptions of needs. It identifies five basic needs and shows how higher needs are not considered until the lower level needs have been met.
(Achieving individual potential)
(Self-esteem and esteem from others)
(Love, affection, being a part of groups)
(Shelter, removal from danger)
(Health, food, sleep)
Diagram copied from Maslow’s Hierarchy at Changingminds.org
It is important to know the difference between a want and a need. A Need is something that we cannot do without, like sleep, food and love. A Want is something that is desired at the time but is not essential and we can in fact do without.
To make sure I meet all the children’s individual needs I take into consideration the ages of the children, their stage of development and abilities and whether they need to sleep or have quiet time when planning my daily routine, I make sure that I incorporate all their needs into my daily routine. The children need a daily routine to help them feel secure and they get to know what is happening next and this promotes their development. I adapt my routines depending on which children I have in the setting at the time.
It is important that all the children are given a choice as much as possible, because this will help them as they grow and they need to be independent and make decisions for themselves. I give children a choice of snacks, they can choose from milk or water to drink and they can also decide for themselves what they would like to play with and with whom.
It is my professional responsibility to:
Organise my setting so that every child receives an enjoyable and challenging learning and development experience that is tailored to their individual needs
Maintain records, policies and procedures to ensure safe and efficient management of my setting and to meet the needs of the children
Practice Guidance for the Early Years Foundation Stage (2007, pg 6) states, “Practitioners should deliver personalised learning, development and care to help children to get the best possible start in life.
I have a basic daily routine that includes school runs, child-initiated play, adult-led activities, sleep/quiet time, snack and meal times and home time. The children begin to learn the structure of the day and what comes next. The times of the routine is never set in stone and it allows us to experience spontaneous events like playing in the snow, or taking your lunch to the park on a nice sunny day.
For example for snack time the children know that after the mornings child-initiated play we have snacks and they help to clear the table and lay out the plates and cups, which are kept in a low cupboard which the children can easily access independently and this promotes their self-esteem and confidence to help and do things for themselves and others. They know that they are to wash their hands before eating and I have a stool so they can reach the sink which enables their independence and they all sit at the table waiting for the snacks. They have a choice of drink – milk or water and they can choose what they want to eat from the choice of snacks on the table. There is always a selection of seasonal fruit, a carbohydrate toast, crumpet or muffin and dairy – hard or soft cheese. Allowing the children choice enables them to start the process of thinking for themselves and this gives them a skill that they will need in life.
I also need to consider individual children cultures and religions when providing food as some food is not allowed. We also try and incorporate food from around the world and learn about the food from different countries.
Snack time is also a social time where we all sit together including myself. We talk about anything and everything, they tell me about things at home or school, where they are going on holiday, what there siblings have been doing, their favourite toys etc. It is a great time to learn more about them and I can use this information to inform my planning according to their current interests. Afterwards the children help to tidy up and clear the table.
School drop off and collection times are also very social times. We talk as we walk to school; we often play games like eye spy, count how many red cars we see and look out for various different items along the way to use in our craft work. It is a time when the children learn about their environment and the world we live in. We also talk about stranger danger; how to cross the road safely and why we must all walk together and not run off.
Because we carry out the same basic routine everyday the children feel safe and secure in my setting and know what happens next. A good routine develops their self-esteem and promotes independence, allows them to learn about their health by knowing when they have to wash their hands and allows the children to socialise and make healthy choices. The Importance of Routines – Helping Children grow, feel secure and flourish states, “Children need and crave routine. Routine helps establish security and peace in a child’s life.”
My daily routines meet the developmental needs of all the children in my care because I adapt depending on the age and stage of development of the children in attendance each day.
The school-aged children are not here for morning snacks but we have snacks when we return from the afternoon school run. The older children know that when we get home to wash their hands and they help to set the table, the younger children see what the older children do and try to copy them. As I said before all the children plates, cups and cutlery are kept in a low cupboard which the children can easily access independently. The older children enjoy showing the younger ones what needs to be done to prepare for snacks and the older children gain self-esteem and self-confidence is being able to do things independtly for themselves and others. The younger children like to learn from the older children and this boots their self-confidence is learning to helkp others.
Snack time is a time where we all talk about our day and share what we have been doing and what we enjoyed or disliked.
School drop off and collection time can be a time of learning, as I said above we play different kinds of games. We also collect leaves and other items to use in our creative work later eg leaves, sticks, do some bark rubbings.
We often include a trip to the playground on the way home from school, the younger children benefit from getting fresh air and observing from the comfort of the pushchair and watching the older children. The older children benefit from having the opportunity to run around in a great big space and practice their gross motor skills on the large play equipment.
Promoting children’s safety is paramount. I ensure the children’s safety by providing a secure and welcoming environment and I take proper precautions to prevent accidents by carrying out daily risk assessments of my home and garden and any outings that we may go on. I also comply with my Local Safeguarding Children Boards procedures to ensure the safety and welfare of the children in my care. I have a thorough knowledge and understanding of the signs of possible abuse and neglect. Please see my Safeguarding Children Policy (Appendix ) and my Health and Safety Policy (Appendix ).
I hold a current Early Years First Aid for Children and Adults certificate and Emergency Life Support for Adults certificate and have completed Safeguarding Children and Health, Hygiene and Safety Awareness training courses. I ensure that I am up to date with my knowledge by attending regular training throughout the year.
I also have house rules, which the children know and follow – these include taking off their shoes when indoors, sitting at the table or in a highchair to eat and drink, respecting the furniture, toys and each other. The rules are basic but are there to protect the children. The house rules are displayed at all times in pictures and words for the children to refer to.
I make sure that all equipment and resources I provide are age and stage appropriate and that they are safe and clean. They are checked daily before and after use. Children are also taught how to safely use the equipment eg how to hold and use scissors.
I use activities to help the children to learn about safety and we talk about how accidents can happen and how to prevent them. If an accident does happen I keep full records including details of the child/children involved, the treatment I provide and parents are given a carbon copy of this information, they also sign to confirm they have been told what happened.
My premises are secure at all times: the front door is kept locked and the key is kept on a high shelf so only the adults can reach it. My back garden has a 6ft fence on three sides with no gate. The children are only collected by authorised adults or if it is necessary for someone else to collect them we use a password provided by the parents and they notify me in advance if this is going to happen.
All the children are taught about road safety according to their age and developmental stage. With the older children, we talk about stranger danger and how they can keep themselves safe from people they do not know. The children know what to do if there is a fire by regularly practising fire drills and they know why it is important to follow what they have learnt. Please see my Emergency Evacuation Procedure (Appendix )
The children know to tidy up their toys to keep the playroom safe and free from hazards and we do this in a fun way so to maintain the children’s interest and their continued participation in learning to how to keep safe.
I check the identify of visitors and keep accurate records of when and why visitors are here and I also record when my two assistants are on the premises. Myself and my assistants (Husband and Mother) have all had enhanced CRB checks, ensuring our suitability to look after the Children.
The Children feel safe whilst they are in my care because they know that I will listen to any concerns they may have and respond to them appropriately. The parents know that I operate clear child safety procedures and they have copies of all my policies and permission forms.
I make sure that I am a good role model for the Children at all times and I provide a good balance in promoting children’s freedom to explore and play whilst learning and developing and ensuring that they are safe. Children need to have the opportunity to take risks and to make mistakes but within safe limits, that way they learn to be alert to potential danger and how to keep themselves safe. Ofsted Early Years Safe and Sound (2006, pg 9) states, “Children should have the freedom to make discoveries and enjoy experiences within safe limits, while learning how to protect themselves from harm.”
There are many ways that you can communicate with children but it is important to remember that children are still learning and developing so you need to communicate with them on their own level according to their age and interests. It is imperative to use vocabulary that the children understand eg they may not understand ‘uncomfortable’ but may know what you mean when you say ‘feeling funny’. You also need to use a calm tone and body language that will not send mixed messages. You also need to be aware of children whose mother tongue is not English and that they will find it harder to communicate in English to begin with. Some children may have speech impairment or learning difficulties and this will make it harder for them to communicate effectively. It is also important to be patient and give the children time to respond to your questions. Communicating Effectively with Children states, “By paying attention to and communicating regularly with children, you can help children create a view of themselves and the world that is positive and healthy.”
Use the Childs name first – this will get their attention and they are more likely to listen to you.
Eye contact – shows respect and allows you to gauge how much of the conservation is being understood.
Calm tone – children are sensitive to anger and do not like raised voices because they can focus solely on the fact that your voice is raised and they may be in trouble, rather than what you are saying.
Thumbs up – is a simple and easy way of showing approval.
Body language – avoid all confusion and communicate your message consistently through both words and actions, be aware that different cultures use and interpret body language in different ways.
Listening and showing an interest – a very important part of communication because if you do not listen and appear interested then it is just a one-way conversation and the child will not feel valued.
Non-verbal communication – Be aware that some children do not communicate verbally, and that it is important to adapt styles of communication to their needs and abilities eg sign language, lip reading etc.
Questioning – use open-ended questions to check understanding and acknowledge that they have heard what is being said.
Speak slowly and clearly – the child may have a hearing impairment and will need you to speak slowly and clearly, so they can understand you, also be aware of the level of background noise.
Painting – This may seem a strange way but children can communicate their feelings through creativity and may talk to you whilst they are painting without thinking about it.
Picture books – I am in the process of taking pictures of all my resources and making books that the children can look through and decide what activities they want to do. This is a great way to communicate their needs without being able to speak.
Picture cards – Can be used for asking children basic things like milk or water to drink. If you have children who use English as a second language then you can make/use picture cards to ask them things in their own language but also have the English word along with the picture and their mother language so they learn new words as they progress.
There are many factors that can affect children’s behaviour but I am going to focus on divorce.
Any change in a Childs home life will have an effect on their behaviour but when one parent moves out it can be distressing for the child, as they may not know what has happened or when they will see that parent again. It is important for us as practitioners to listen to any concerns that the child has and respond to them according to their age and stage of development. You need to find a way to help them understand appropriate to their level of understanding.
A pre-school child may show regressive behaviour. This means that the child may return to an earlier stage of development and, for example, start to wet themselves again. A pre-school child may become confused, irritable or worried.
Children between six and nine are very vulnerable. At this age, a child is still not mature enough to understand what is going on, but is old enough to understand that something very unpleasant is taking place. They still depend very much on their parents and will have a hard time talking about their emotions. They may react with anger, or by not concentrating or making progress at school or by having learning difficulties.
Children between 9 and 13 may have started having important relationships with other people besides their parents and family. When their parents’ divorce, it will often be good for a child to talk to someone outside the family about their problems and feelings.
All Children can become very insecure. Insecurity can cause children to behave as if they are much younger and therefore bedwetting, ‘clinginess’, nightmares, worries or disobedience can all occur. This behaviour often happens before or after visits to the parent who is living apart from the family. Teenagers may show their distress by misbehaving or withdrawing into themselves. They may find it difficult to concentrate at school.
It is normal for a child to feel lost, upset, angry and grieve for the family they once were. A child who does not show any feelings or reactions needs help to express what is going on inside. Otherwise, they are very likely to suffer depression and other problems later. Helping Children adjust to Divorce states, “Children whose parents divorce are at greater risk for problems such as aggression, depression, lower self-esteem and poorer school performance.”
Children can express themselves in other ways than with words. Play is very important. You can play with the child and let them act out their feelings using role-play and puppets. Children may need to work off tension through energetic games; you can spend some time at the park or go to an indoor play centre.
Drawing may help some children as they often draw things that are important to them. You can ask about the drawings and this can be a good way to start the child talking about what is going on inside, especially if they are not the type of child to talk openly.
The child still needs to have established routines in their lives and whilst things are changing at home you can continue with your normal routine and this will give the child some stability and comfort during all the other changes, they feel more safe and secure when they know what to expect next.
I operate an inclusive Childminding setting, where all children are welcome regardless of their race, religion, culture, sex, ability or disability, social background etc. I encourage the children to value everyone as a unique individual, to respect each other’s differences, and to learn from each other. Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education states, “…inclusion is founded upon a moral position which values and respects every individual and which welcomes diversity as a rich learning resource.”
I always challenge any instances of prejudice, unfair discrimination and harassment whether it is a comment a child has made or a parent. I will explain to the child or parent why what they have said is wrong and how their words have hurt another person. I make sure that I am a good role model for the children. Please see my Equal Opportunities Policy (Appendix ).
I have toys and resources that show different cultures from around the world and people with different types of disabilities/impairments. We also recognize different festivals and religious occasions from a variety of religions worldwide to give the children a greater understanding of the World around them.
I invite the parents to come and take part in story/singing time to enable the children to hear different languages, and stories from around the World.
For example, if a Child called another person four-eyes because they wear glasses, I would explain to the Child how they have hurt that person’s feelings and that they have to wear glasses because they help then to see as their eyes don’t work as well as their eyes. I would also ask the Child how they would feel if someone had called them names. I would encourage the Child to say sorry (depending on their age and level of understanding).
Another example is a child is a wheelchair and another child telling them that they can’t join in and play with them at the sand and water table because they are in a wheelchair. I would explain to the child that yes they can join in we just need to adapt the position of the tray so that the wheelchair can fit around it and everyone can enjoy the same activity.
If I have any children with additional needs in my setting I always talk to all the children about their impairments or disabilities (using the correct medical name) as it provides me with an opportunity to teach basic information about our bodies, health and possible illnesses. It also helps to get rid of any fears about disabilities and helps to influence children’s attitudes in a positive way.
I make sure that I am a positive role model for the children and I update my knowledge regularly. I have just completed deaf awareness training and I am booked on other awareness courses.
I have explained in E2 my role in meeting the individual needs of the children and now I will explain how I implement the children’s rights in my setting.
I make sure that I keep my knowledge of children’s rights updated through regular training courses and research through the library or internet. Children’s rights are about the obligations of all adults to protect the best interests of children, and to create the conditions under which they can develop and thrive.
Children’s rights are embedded in my policies and I offer resources and activities to ensure that the children can learn about their rights for example we have an activity on diversity where the children look at pictures of children from around the world and we discuss our similarities and our differences and what they would like. Please see my Diversity Activity Planning sheet (Appendix )
I have used some of the Articles of the United Nations Convention on Rights of the Child to show how I implement children’s rights into my setting:
Article 1 – Everyone under 18 has these rights
I ensure that all children in my setting know what their rights are. I use age appropriate resources such as games that we play, books that we read and just talking to each other.
Article 2 – You have the right to protection against discrimination
All children are treated with equal concern and learn to treat each other with respect through the activities I provide eg. Learning about each others differences in a positive way, respecting each others cultures.
Article 3 – Adults should do what’s best for you
Everything that I do in my setting is always in the best interests of the child. I always take into consideration their views, feelings and rights when carrying out day to day activities.
Article 7 – You have the right to have a name and a nationality
On the wall in the playroom we have pictures of everyone that attends the setting with their name underneath, so that we can easily learn each others names. We learn about each others nationality through stories and visits to the library and in the food we eat.
Article 11 – You should not be kidnapped
I make sure that all the children are safe and secure in my care whether we are at home or out and about. The children know to stay close to me and not run off or talk to strangers. I never release a child into the care of someone that I don’t know unless a parent has authorized it in times of emergency and we always use a password system.
Article 12 – You have the right to an opinion and for it to be listened to and taken seriously
The children know that I will always listen to their opionions and take them seriously. We always discuss as a group and listen to each other.
Article 19 – You have the right to be protected from being hurt or badly treated
I know the signs and symptoms of abuse and what to do if I am concerened about one of the children. The children know that they can talk to me about anything at anytime.
Article 23 – If you are disabled, either mentally or physically, you have the right to special care and education
I run an inclusive setting and the children in my care am treated with equal concern with individual needs regardless of any disablilites. It is important to treat each child as an individual and not label them by their impairment or condition.
Article 24 – You have the right to the best health possible and to medical care and information
I provide home cooked healthy meals and snacks to all children, including healthy drinks (milk and water). If I feel a child needs medical care then I have their parents’ permission to take them to the doctors or hospital in an emergency or with their written permission I am able to take the children to routine appointments.
Article 29 – You have the right to education which develops your personality, respect for other’s rights and the environment
All children in my setting are taught appropriate to their age and stage of development. I use all the information I have gathered to provide a challenging and enjoyable experience across all the areas of learning and development, which allows each individual child to develop to their full potential.
Article 30 – If you come from a minority group you have the right to enjoy your own culture, practice your own religion and use your own language
We all learn about each others cultures, religion and languages by the games that we play, books that we read, resources that we play with. We find out about different festivals and celebrations during the year eg Halloween, Christmas, Easter, Hanukkah, World Religion Day, Chinese New Year and many others. By getting to know all the children and their families I can meet the cultural needs for everyone and make sure that all the children feel valued.
Article 31 – You have the right to play and relax by doings things like sport, music and drama
The children are encouraged to choose their activities whether it is playing in the garden, reading a book, drawing, painting or building it is their choice.
Article 34 – You have the right to be protected from sexual abuse
I am aware of protecting the children from sexual abuse by only allowing contact with suitable persons (enhanced crb checks). The children know that that they can talk to me about any concerns or problems they may have.
Article 37 – You have the right not to be punished in a cruel or hurtful way
Capital punishment is not allowed in my home. I promote positive behavior and help the children to understand my house rules which are available in picture and words. I also promote the children rights by setting a good example in respecting children and talking to their parents about any problems they may have. Please see my Managing Behaviour Policy (Appendix )
Article 42 – All Adults and Children should know about this convention
I make sure that all Adults working within my setting are aware of the UN Convention on Rights of the Child and I talk about it with the parents and Children.
The definitions of the Rights have been taken from SCCYP Children and Young People’s Rights, UN Convention on Rights of the Child.
The children are given lots of choices within my setting:
What they want to play with?
Who they want to play with?
Whether they want to be inside or outside?
Do they want to visit the playground on the way home from the school-run?
What they would like for their snack (within reason)?
What would they like for lunch or tea (within reason)?
Would they like milk or water?
What book would they like to read?
Letting the children make everyday choices helps them to develop their independence and give them important life-skills. It also promotes their self-esteem and self-confidence to have the ability to do things for themselves and others.
We have to be aware of our role in teaching children about their rights. We need to support children’s physical, intellectual, social and emotional development no matter what age they are. Children need to be equipped for coping in the rapidly changing world and being able to deal with the challenges life throws at them, whilst retaining their sense of values and cultural identity. We need to provide opportunities for learning, develop their compassion, give them a sense of self-worth and enhance their communication and problem-solving skills.
Participation and learning in home-based settings: A process model of participation states, “Articles 12 and 13 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) are related to children’s participation. Adults working with children play a key role in whether or not children are afforded these rights. As participation is a requisite to learning, it is crucial that educators firstly, understand what participation rights are; why it is important to afford these rights to children; and be aware of the role they play in affording these rights.”
It is important to promote children rights in the home-based setting because the children are not yet aware of their rights and need us as practitioners to teach them their rights and responsibilities.
Firstly, you need to understand what is meant as ‘rights’. These are not the same as ‘wants’. Rights are the basic human needs and values that apply or should apply to everyone. With rights comes responsibilities eg to respect the rights of others. The aim of teaching children their rights and responsibilities will hopefully help them to achieve their full potential and become responsible citizens and teach them respect for themselves and others, critical thinking skills and help them make informed decisions. Children who know their rights have a more positive attitude and better relationships with others, they also have higher self-esteem.
Practitioners have a professional responsibility to promote children’s rights. A child that knows its rights has a sense of control about their life and they know what they can do and what other people cannot do to them. For example, a child that knows it is wrong for someone to hit them knows that they can stop this happening and ask for help (depending on their age and stage of development). This promotes their self-esteem and self-confidence that they are able to help themselves and possibly others.
Children learn through play and daily routines. It is the things that we do and take for granted on a daily basis that the children learn through the most. For example:
Snack time – offering healthy snacks and drinks show the children how to be healthy.
Rest/sleep time – show the children they have a right to sleep when they need to.
Choices – helps to teach the children to choice things for themselves and not to always rely on others.
Toys – they can choose which toys to play with and what activities they do.
School-run – children learn about the environment they live in
In my setting we have the UNICEF little book of rights for children and the older children are able to look through it and ask any questions they may have. The younger children just like to look through the book, but it makes them familiar with it and in time with help, they will begin to understand what it contains and how it affects their lives.
The practitioners’ role in promoting children’s rights is very important, as we have to be seen as a good role model for the children, parents and carers. Many people will not know about children’s rights and it is our job to educate them as well as the children.
All children have a right to be safe, healthy, warmth, fed, educated etc and the children do not know what their rights are, so it is our job to teach them about how to keep safe, how to be healthy, their right to warmth and shelter and that they all deserve a decent education.
We also need to give children the chance to make choices, even if they make bad ones at the beginning. How will they ever learn which is good or bad if we don’t allow them to find out? Through choice comes responsibility and this is something that the children need to learn if they are to survive in the big wide world.
Some parents still smack their children and do not know any other way of dealing with their behaviour, it is important for us to be a good role model and discuss with the parents our methods of dealing with bad behaviour and that we need to respect the children’s right not to be punished in a cruel or hurtful way.
We need to take into account the children’s age and stage of development as that will impact on how we teach them about their rights. The practitioner needs to be able to easily adapt any activities so that all children can take part and be anti-discriminatory at all times. All learning needs to be delivered in an easy to understand way, but also it needs to be fun and keep the children interested or they will get bored and not want to continue.
It is important to respect the children’s and their family values and to be constantly aware of the children rights at all times as this can affect the way we plan and provide for the children.
The practitioner also needs to keep their knowledge up-to-date and this can be done through continued professional development courses and online information from reliable sources. I have signed up to the Teacherzone e-newsletter from UNICEF that keeps me informed of any changes and new ideas.
In conclusion, we have to be aware of the rights of the child at all times and in everything that we do and plan. The welfare of the child is paramount. We need to teach children about their rights to enable them to keep themselves safe and healthy etc.
There is a responsibility for education about children’s rights to be implemented in countries that have ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Article 42 obliges the state ‘to make the principles and provisions of the Convention widely known, by appropriate and active means, to adults and children alike’. Therefore, it is particularly important for early childhood teacher education and professional development programs to ensure that the principles of the Convention are understood and implemented in early childhood services.
The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is about improving the life chances of all children, by giving them the opportunity to have the best possible start, regardless of their family circumstances or the setting they attend.
The EYFS brought together three existing structures that affected early years providers who offered services to children from birth to five years old:
Birth to Three Matters, a framework to support the learning and development of the youngest children.
The Foundation Stage, which outlined the learning framework for three to five-year olds.
The National Standards for Under-Eights Daycare and Childminding, which established 14 standards for care and learning for settings.
The EYFS was launched on 13 March 2007 and came into effect September 2008, it has legal force through an Order and Regulations made under the Childcare Act 2006. The Welfare requirements apply to the whole of the UK, but the Learning and Development requirements apply only in England.
The EYFS is a comprehensive statutory framework introduced by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) for learning, development and care for children from birth until five. All practitioners are required by law to use the EYFS and to complete an EYFS profile for each child at the end of the academic year in which they are five.
The primary purpose of the EYFS profile is to provide the practitioners and parents with reliable and accurate information about each child’s level of development as they reach the end of the EYFS and start school, so that the teacher can plan an effective and appropriate curriculum that will meet all the children’s individual needs and further support their continued achievements.
The EYFS has four themes and these are broken down into 16 commitments:
The EYFS also has six areas of learning and development:
Assessment of the children’s stage of learning and development is based on observations on the six areas above; this enables practitioners to carryout effective planning for the children’s individual stages.
The EYFS ensures that:
Children learn through play – It is important that the children learn through play as they learn quicker when they are enjoying the activity. However, there must be a balance between child-initiated and adult-led activities.
Practitioners work closely with parents – It is essential to have a good relationship with parents as they know their children the best and can inform us of their current stage of learning and development.
The children’s learning at home is taken into account – It is important that the children continue to learn at home and what they do can be communicated to the practitioner by the parent.
Parents are kept up to date on their child’s progress – Parents need to know where their children are at with their learning and development and this can be done through daily diaries, talking to each other and regular meetings to discuss update of progress.
The welfare, learning and development of children with different backgrounds and levels of ability, including those with additional educational needs and disabilities – All children should be treated with equal concern and given the same opportunities to learn and develop regardless of their differences.
Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage (2007, p41) states, “The EYFS framework is designed to be fully inclusive of all children’s needs, recognising the need to respond to differences of ethnicity, culture, religion or belief, home language, family background, SEN, disability, gender or ability.”
I feel that the EYFS is a positive framework because it sets out what I need to do in my setting including my legal obligations. The EYFS Practice Guidance helps me to meet the requirements of the EYFS through providing useful advice and detailed information on supporting children’s learning, development and welfare. It also helps me to know the ‘normal’ stage of learning and development for their age, which are broken down into overlapping groups:
This is a very positive aspect of the EYFS because every child develops at their own pace and this allows us to see where they should roughly be for their age and whether any additional help may be required.
Another positive point is that regardless of what type of setting a parent decides to send their child they can be assured that essential standards of provisions are in place because the EYFS applies to everyone working with birth to five years old.
For some people the EYFS can be negative because it goes against their philosophy. For example, the Steiner philosophy is concerned with the development of the “whole child” with an emphasis on creative, social and spiritual values. They believe that reading, writing and arithmetic should not be formally taught until children are between six and seven. They also discourage the use of electronic media such as computers and television for young children. The EYFS has proved problematic for Steiner schools and some have decided to apply for exemption from some of the EYFS early learning goals relating to reading and writing, eg “write their own names”, “read a range of familiar words” and “use their phonic knowledge to write simple regular words”. Some are also applying for exemptions on aspects that relate to writing numbers and using ICT and electronic toys to support learning.
Children and Young People Now (27 August 2009) states, “North London Rudolf Steiner School in Haringey received confirmation from the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) last week. The school has been granted exemptions from all communication, literacy and language targets, and any goals related to the use of ICT. Exemptions from goals relating to number recognition were rejected on the grounds that the EYFS, which has been in operation for a year, will be able to incorporate the Steiner approach.”
Overall, I feel that the EYFS can be positive if it does not conflict with existing philosophies but even if it does, you can opt-out of certain early learning goals, which shows just how flexible the EYFS can be. I feel that the EYFS places the child at the heart of education through the importance of child-initiated play and enables us to plan the curriculum to suit the child rather than trying to fit the child to the curriculum.
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