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Document for Development Matters in Early Years

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  • Pages: 11
  • Word count: 2658
  • Category: Education

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Analyse how enabling environments can be influenced by pedagogical approaches

The document for Development matters in early years states, that learning and development occurs when there is a unique child, positive relationships and enabling environment. The role of the practitioner is especially important, as the practitioner is the one initiating the positive relationships and planning for the learning environment. In UK, we follow EYFS and there is lots of links between EYFS and Te Whariki, like for example they both recognise the role of social and cultural learning and positive relationships; they both recognise, that children should be encouraged to become competent learners and communicators; healthy and to have a sense of belonging. It is up to the practitioner’s knowledge, believes and experience on which approach would use when planning the environment for learning, however, as wide the knowledge of the practitioner of the different approaches is, as better. For me personally, I do like the Montessori approach and when I plan the environment, I include lots of natural objects, lots objects from the everyday world with which the children can play with their own ideas and imagination.

I include lots of sensory exploration, by using different types of materials, calm music, I put scent in the water or play dough, I encourage children to be independent by letting them try to put their own shoes and cloths, washing hands and help serving the tables and tidy up after. I use lots of toys, which I made myself, like empty boxes which I cut, paint, stick coloured paper and encourage children to either sort colours, fit other objects, observe how the bowl is moving, etc. Inspired by the Montessori approach I decluttered the room, by putting away lots of plastic toys in which children wasn’t interested playing.

Froebel first stresses the importance of play for children’s learning and development. Planned play activities are part of every childcare setting. It is important for us, the practitioners, that the children are fully focused and that is why, we let children to choose their activities. That is the influence of the Froebelian approach where play takes a significant place as well as the opportunities to talk, listen and communicate. It is important for the practitioners to know their children and to know what they can do, again we can see the influence of Froebel, who teaches to start with what the child can do rather than what the child cannot do.

Bandura’s influence on the role modelling would be seen in us aiming to be a good role models, as we know the children will copy us. As we know, lots of settings encourage their staff to eat with the children in order to role model them, talking through when we do something in front of children, all of these are influenced by Bandura.

In my setting, our manager is aiming to become Curiosity approach accredited nursery. This approach is taking ideas from Steiner, Reggio Emilia, Montessori and Te Whariki. This approach concentrates on using natural materials and background, so the children won’t become overstimulated. Using natural materials encourages imagination and curiosity. The approach aims the setting to represent home environment rather than school environment and that is why the children feel safe and confident as at home.

Steiner believes in a calm environment with predictable routine. Is it not what we want for our setting? We have regular daily tasks and activities in which children take active part. We encourage children to understand and take part of our daily routine, for example tidying up after play, washing hands, putting on coats when we go to the garden, etc. Steiner explains the benefits of homely environment, where children feel confident and happy and encourages using of natural resources for play.

Forest schools are getting very popular and lots of nurseries now include Forest school in their daily routine. That includes trips to the nearest forest or park, where the children can learn while exploring with the nature. Forest schools are also good for the physical development and children’s confidence and self-esteem. All of these benefits for the children make the managers to include Forest schools in their settings.

Children’s schemas of play have their role into planning learning environment too. We observe our children’s play to find out their interests and to find out how they choose to do things and then we implement these preferences into the environment. For example, I have observed, that one baby’s schema was rotating, as he was fascinated in everything that spins, so when we where planning for his next steps to keep balance, we would stack objects, which can rotate and spin at his level. Eventually he let go of any support just to spin those objects. Children’s schemas of play inevitably pay their role into the learning environment and we should incorporate those schemas into the learning environment in order to get the best outcome for the children.

Write an evaluation of a time when you successfully implemented recommendations for improved practice in your setting

When I joined the baby room, although I was really excited, I started observing some not particularly good practices. There were problems with sterilising bottles and toys, I was told, that babies do not eat the nursery food, one baby eats only the pudding; there was only 5 babies attending, as the parents were not happy and lots of babies were leaving the setting; the paperwork was not up to date, babies’ physical development under the expected levels for their age, parents commenting on the poor hygiene. I was told that this particular room has lots of staff turnover and the practitioners would not wait to finish their probation period but would leave soon after they have started. For 5 babies in roll there was one girl and I was the second member of staff. The babies had free access to the toys and resources, however, I have noticed, that the activities were not challenging enough for their stage of development.

For example, the tuff tray was positioned only on the floor, so the babies would sit there, but not really practice standing up and learn how to walk. I started positioning the tuff tray on different levels, so the babies to be able to pull themselves up and develop gross motor skills. I had to face the disapproval of the current practitioner, as she was concerned of the babies taking the risk to fall. Next challenge for me, was to demonstrate to her, that taking some measured risks would only encourage children’s resilience. The accident reports did not increase, and the parents were thrilled to see how their babies were becoming skilful in standing up, keeping their balance and eventually starting walking. Eventually my colleague started trusting me in implementing changes, which I was doing after having the approval of the management and discussing with her what the benefits for the children would be.

Another challenge, which I faced was how much babies were dependent on their milk bottles. If a baby starts crying, my colleague will make and offer a bottle instead of trying to engage the baby in an activity. There was no milk chart and the bottles were not recorded anywhere. When I asked where is the milk chart, I faced my colleague’s disproval again and I was told that this was the practice until then and I have no right to change it. The babies were reluctant at mealtimes, no wonder, as they were having milk even if they did not need it. It took me a while to persuade my colleague, that in order for babies to eat their solid food, we should try giving them bottles after meal if they still need it. I asked the parents and they said, that this is what they think should happen – offer a bottle after meal if the child did not eat enough. Not long after that, our babies were anticipating mealtimes with interest and a baby with a funny tummy showed significant improvement and his bowel movements have improved, leading to not taking medicine about that anymore. His parents were really happy, and they have recommended us to their friends. Not only the parents, but I had a positive feedback from the manager and deputy manager, and I was promoted as a room leader for the impact I made in improving the room.

There were more parents choosing our setting and in particular Baby room after show arounds and our room has expanded and the staff members has increased too.

With observations and discussions, we improved the physical environment – every baby has got their own box with their picture, where we keep their belongings. The resources are clean and easily reached by the babies. There are activities for the babies to be engaged and we reflect on how well the activity went in order to either change it, or improve it. The hygiene of the room has improved too. I have implemented Sterilising bottles charts, so daily we put the date and the initials after sterilising bottles and toys. We have made milk chart with the type of milk and the time the baby usually takes it. We focused on encouraging independency of the babies as much as possible for their age and stage of development. There was a practice, when if a baby starts crying, a practitioner will offer a bottle with milk as a comfort. That was leading to children to gain weight and not willing to eat the food at lunch and dinner time. As this was not a good practice, we stopped it and discussed with the parents how important is for a growing baby to learn to eat solid food and not to be dependant on a milk bottle. With planning exciting activities in which the babies to engage and enjoy, they would wait till mealtime and would eat the nursery food now. A bottle is offered after meal, if needed. The child, who was eating only pudding will have a pudding, if she eats her main meal first, again after discussing it with her parents and having their permission to do that.

At the moment, we have 12 babies and few on a waiting list, as the capacity of the room is 12 babies. Bottles are sterilised daily and toys weekly, records are kept. At snack time, babies are offered fruits and vegetables alongside with the finger food and babies over 12 months are offered a cup of cow’s milk. Babies are enjoying mealtimes and are weaning off their bottles. We encourage independency and most of our babies can feed themselves with a spoon. Parents are impressed of their children’s independency after starting nursery. The babies who were reluctant to practice their walking are now confident walkers and climbers. The outcomes for the children have improved and that is visible for their parents, for the management and for our colleagues and we are often complimented for our hard working.

Provide an analysis of the contribution of self and others to an enabling environment for babies and young children

The role of the adults is especially important to an enabling environment. First of all, the environment should feel calm and welcoming. We provide that as greeting and smiling at the children, getting to know them, their family and their culture. For example, we play Indian music in baby room to make our new settler to hear something familiar as at home. We observe our children to identify what their interests are and to implement these interests in our environment. We set up the room in different areas. We have eating area; quiet area, where the children can rest; active area with space for the children to be physically active; messy play area with two tuff trays, which we set up differently to keep children’s interest. For example, we set up the tuff trays with rice, dry pasta, cereals or sand for children to play and practice feeling up and emptying; mixing; making marks or for sensory exploration. We represent different topics, like farms and farm animals; digging in mud; wild world; dinosaurs; ocean, etc. We set up creative area with different boxes, glue, paper, etc for children’s imagination.

We have construction area, for children to practice gross and fine motor skills. It is the practitioner input to create and represent a topic to promote learning and keep the children interested. A practitioner’s contribution is to observe children; identify their interest and needs and use these observations, when planning the environment. It is a practitioner’s responsibility to encourage friendly interactions and calm atmosphere by encourage children to share, to respect themselves and the environment. With conducting risk assessments during the day, we make sure that the environment indoors and outdoors is safe for the children. It is a practitioner’s input to let children play independently and take measured risks in order to develop resilience. When we plan the environment, we should try to think of child’s prospective. We use displays to acknowledge children’s achievements and also to display some pictures from home, so the children to have the opportunity to see something familiar from home.

Especially important input of the adults, when we set up enabling environment is to observe the children. Observing children allows us to find out what are children’s interest and if there is an area where they like to play, or there is area, where they do not spend time to engage in activities. These observations can support us in setting up the environment. For example, if the boys do not play at the kitchen area, we can add something of their interest in there, for example pretend cooking with soil. Is a practitioner’s contribution to observe for children’s schemas of play and implement it into the environment.

Analyse the use of assessment in own practice

Observations of children is part of our everyday role, but even the most precise observation wouldn’t be as significant if we do not analyse it and reflect on it. For example, when a child starts nursery, we observe the child and with close relationship with parents we assess at which stage of development the child is. Once we have seen what the child can do, we plan the next steps to promote child’s learning. Sometimes, we might need the support of another professionals in order to provide the best outcomes for the children. For example, that could be health visitors, speech therapists, etc. and it could also be another colleague, when we want to make sure, that we are not missing out something. Together with the parents, with the outside professionals involved and with the child’s point we could assess if the child needs additional support and individual learning plan.

Once we have decided on the next steps, we observe our children to assess how they are meeting those next steps and what support and encouragement they need. We also track our children termly to find out how they are developing compared with their age group in order to provide early intervention if needed. We call that cohort tracking and we assess our children towards early years foundational stage goals by assessing if they are beginning, working towards or secure in particular area.

When a child riches curtain age, that child is ready for transition. In order the transition to happen smoothly, we provide the new key person with important information for the child. In my setting that happens with a Transitioning form, where the current key worker passes over the important information about the child, like routine, interests and strengths and also introduces the new key person to the child and the parents. That information is important for the transition not to be stressful for the child and their family and the new key person to assess and decide on the next steps of the child.

All of those observation and assessments are ongoing, formative observations, which happen daily. There are also summative assessments, like Two years progress check and Early years foundational stage profile at 5 years of age.

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