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New Development Matters and the 7 areas of learning


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I'm pleased to see that the overlapping age-bands from the previous DM have been replaced by wider bands- notably the birth to 3 pathway. I'm really hoping this gives practitioners scope to think of birth to 3 in very much the way we used the old Birth to Three Matters document- as flexible periods of development not tied to a particular tight age-band, in which statements need to be ticked off before moving onto the next band. I always really liked the categories that featured in that document:

Heads up, lookers and communicators

Sitters, standers and explorers

Movers, shakers and players

Walkers, talkers and pretenders

We now have the opportunity, not to turn these new statements into another ticklist, but to approach observations and assessments in a narrative way- observing and writing about what the children can do, what they know, how they learn, and what they're interested in. For example, instead of ticking the statement, 'Use gestures like waving and pointing to communicate', we can write a narrative piece in answer to an open question such as 'How does the baby/child communicate their needs?' We all have an opportunity now to make observations truly unique to each child.

The 3 and 4 year old sections are great for preschool rooms in nurseries- of course, there's nothing to stop practitioners still looking at the birth to 3 sections, but I think separating this age-group from birth to 3 helps us to understand and appreciate just how much learning and development goes on during that year.

What are your views on having separate sections for 3s and 4s, and reception?

One really great thing about this document is the way it's dealt with the appalling programme for knowledge and understanding of the world! I was very concerned that the programme didn't emphasise science-based, investigative activities and favoured books over active learning. The new DM really does focus on children exploring the natural world and materials, using their senses, and talking about what they notice.

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I really like the birth to three section rather than the narrower bands of the old one too.

I also think that, because it IS so different from the last, it will hopefully make it easier to support staff stand firm against continuing the tick list approach which unfortunately has become a crutch for many...a great opportuniity to let that go for good and take a simpler, less prescriptive and enjoyable approach to observing.

Lets finally give staff permission (as this document does) to see the child for who they are and to celebrate what they do rather than stress over which statements they haven't perfomed yet!   


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