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Curiosity Approach


footsteps12
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Shall be following this with interest.  I am very interested in incorporating some of the ideas into our setting and have looked at the accreditation, but unless we can get grant funding to complete it, it is way too expensive for us.  I am desperate to see a setting in action that has fully embraced the approach.  We are starting small and beginning with a home corner!

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We are on our Curiosity Approach journey.  We started the accreditation in January and it is meant to take 12 months but for one reason and another, we are being very slow!  It is no problem though, they say it is "our journey" and we can take our time.  

I could not afford the fee outright so we are paying monthly.

It is proving to be a very positive experience but quite challenging.  It has been hard to get some staff to understand it is about much more than resources.  it is about a change of mindset, of taking time, letting learning unfold, watching, supporting, not rushing, over-planning, over-directing and having a conveyor belt of children to get through an activity or routine.

If you do  the accreditation, you become a member of the Curiosity Approach Academy facebook page where others doing the accreditation share practice, photos and ideas.  If not, there is still the open CA page.

The only negative I can think of is that it has become so popular it feels a bit like it is a "trend" or the latest fad.  But I think it goes much deeper than that if you really reflect and make positive changes to your practice.

Planning in the moment (highly recommended for CA settings) is our next challenge!

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The Curiosity Approach - My food for thought (plastic or otherwise) and the power of mime!

I am curious myself about this 'approach'. I look at photos on social media and websites etc. and often sit back in awe at the beauty of many of the images and of the creativity of some in the sector. However, I have a niggle.... sometimes the images/resources look too considered/ too 'staged' (if that is possible - and we definitely know that once the children have accessed them the photos will be completely different! No one is so delusional to think otherwise). Many are there to inspire us and help us to see things in a new light, often things that we have in our setting that have become tired and unloved - I, definately have these in the setting in which I work but cannot, sadly do everything at once in order to change them. Some images shout out 'Look at us, aren't we amazing!' - and yes, they are; but I will admit that I for one feel very envious then guilty that I cannot offer such wondrous environments. This is the pressure I put on myself and I want to stress that I am not 'blaming' anyone for wanting to celebrate their hard work and the journey they themselves are taking in order to make things better for the lives of the children in their care - and for themselves in creating a beautiful environment to work in. I respect anyone that does anything in this sector to improve the lives and educational experiences that our little ones will have.

I saw a post recently (among a myriad of others out there) where a stunningly beautiful dough area had been set up with natural objects for printing and mark making (great) and with fairy lights intertwined around the resources - this very beautiful area would not look amiss in a up market boutique craft gallery and did indeed look very inviting - so from that point of view, this approach is a delightful invitation to learn and be curious indeed and to be honest who doesn't feel calmed by subdued colours, natural objects and artistically strung fairy lights?

Another question I ask myself is are some of these environments too feminine? (Quite possibly yes because of the top heavy female workforce), and moreover, are they a reflection of 'real' life for our most impoverished children? Most definitely not, although for some children, these types of environment can offer a great sense of beauty, calm and safety amid the chaotic lives they live on a day to day basis. I also need to question are the curiously beautiful environments such as the ones developed by the Curiosity Approach the only type of environment needed in their lives in order to appreciate beauty in their world? I am positive that the CA creators and anyone who 'adopts' the philosophies behind the approach, would say not at all and I agree. So I need to keep being mindful (Mindfulness - that's another 'trend' ripe for a discussion but not here) that no one approach is the bee all and end all. We choose what will work best for our children but with a deep understanding of why we are doing/following it.

After carrying out Home Visits for the start of the new academic year, I continue to be struck by the poverty that so many of our children live in, as I am certain many of you do too. I know it is important for children to be exposed to beautiful things, to be engaged and to be provoked by unusual objects which promote awe and wonder - a carriage clock, for example, in the home corner, prompts a discussion which gets the children talking and using language and adopting vocabulary that will broaden their experiences, what is not to celebrate in that? 

But can plastic be fantastic too? (Apologies Mr Attenborough and Miss Thunberg!) 

For some children a plastic pepper (T&C's - other plastic food items are available) can be a curiosity in itself that can equally lead to interesting discussions around food/mealtimes etc. The role of the adult, therefore, as we all know, above even the environment (think Reggio, the environment taking only a bronze) is the crucial factor in enabling our children to become curious and confident learners.I know, I know... nothing replaces the joy of smelling, touching, tasting a real pepper but should I feel a sense of gloom and guilt that I can only afford to have plastic food in the home corner and not real? Yes, I would love that but simply cannot a) afford it and b) deal with the fact that children will be happily sucking, biting and shoving the left overs away behind the cooker to fester and mould until the caretaker comes in for the annual Summer clean and discovers a whole batch of mushrooms having spawned over the half chewed pepper - at least we could add those to the role play! So I seek to provide opportunities for children to experience real food during other activities where cost is a factor for upwards of 100 children.

I also question that I as an educator I may become driven down a path of, like Stargrower said, the latest trend or zeitgeist where I feel the need to hop on the bandwagon and pay someone else (mega bucks) to feel empowered to follow the philosophies that  may or may not match the needs of the children in my care. Do I maybe feel frustrated and begrudge the fact that some settings simply cannot adopt the approach perhaps due to financial constraints or the lack of support/understanding from SLT/other team members? Perhaps, yes.

But nothing in education is new,  educational ideas come and go, some staying longer than others. It is in our DNA as EY educators to take the best practice/ideas from all or none of these and create a philosophy and style of pedagogy that best meets the needs of our own unique environments, our own ethos and indeed the needs of our children. I will continue to admire the images that I see; I will continue to adopt elements of the approach where I see there is a need for it and I will continue to reflect and question why I do it. I bow my head to all of you who can do this regardless of budget and for all those who tirelessly strive to give the very best to our children. 

p.s.  

Disclaimer! We do have subdued colours on the wall, along with fairy lights; however, the real crockery we added to the home area was smashed to smithereens after just a few weeks in, despite of my best efforts to find the most robust cups at the car boot and the staff's best efforts to talk and model to the children about being gentle! One child experimented with the sound of cup being banged on plate - great sound exploration but not for the crockery, although I did use that as evidence for 22-36 months EAD 'Creates sounds by banging, tapping, shaking or blowing'. So some good came making an attempt to have more real objects in role play.

The Mime Approach (or MA for short) - a higher qualification.

And finally  - I cannot afford new crockery and rather than return to plastic I am going to create a new pedagogical style based on the work of the famous mime, Marcel Marceau - that way no money exchanges hands and the children learn the power of imagination through the medium of mime ;-)

I will be marketing my approach soon so get your wallets out :-) My tag line is 'Everyone will come away... with an MA'

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