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FSF Newsletter: January 2014

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Happy New Year to you all! Hope you all had a great Christmas and holiday, and have come back re-energised for 2014.


There have been many discussions about the status of EYFS Development Matters versus Early Years Outcomes - and actually the guidance and advice from government has been sparse and unclear - so we thought it would be useful to point those who are worrying whether they need to be using one or the other (or neither!) in this direction. Briefly, neither are statutory and both are equally acceptable tools to use in assessing the progress of your children.

FSF News

We're very excited to let you know that we'll be attending the Childcare Expo event in London Olympia on 28th and 29th March. We'd love to meet any FSF members who are able to get there, so please come and say hello - you can check we're real people, not just avatars, and we can do the same!

Weavers (Tapestry users) please note that the new iOS7 app is now available in the app store. Don't forget to tell your parents! Also, we should have a new update available within the next month, with a substantially extended Analysis component.

Thanks for all the compliments on our new Christmas theme, which we've now taken down (12th Night, etc). You're welcome to continue contributing photographs on our front page carousel as with the Christmas theme, by uploading to the relevant Gallery album.

LA Scheme

We'd like to welcome back members from the following authorities, which have renewed their LA subscription. Members from these authorities need do nothing; their individual accounts will automatically be re-subscribed:

  • For their fourth year - West Sussex
  • For their eighth year - East Sussex
  • For their ninth year - Hampshire

Welcome back to you all!

New Content

A Reception Teacher's Blog (4)

I teach in the Reception class on Wednesdays. This Wednesday I am in the middle of the usual early morning chaos in my house (me, a husband, two teenagers and a 9 year old all attempting to leave at approximately the same time – need I say more?) when I receive a text from Mrs Swift, the teacher I cover for. She has remembered that this week is e-safety week at school. Please could I do a session on e-safety with the class this morning?

Emotion Coaching- a new approach to supporting children's behaviour

“Much of today’s popular advice about children’s behaviour ignores the world of emotions.  Instead, it relies on child-rearing theories that address the children’s behaviour, but disregard the feelings that underlie that behaviour” (John Gottman)

We are all familiar with ‘Supernanny’ and her common use of reward stickers and charts and ‘time-out’ as a means of teaching young children how to behave.  Although this might not be something you use in your work place, most behaviour management techniques in early years settings often rely on traditional, behaviourist approaches for modifying young children’s behaviour. ‘Behaviourism’ is based on the premise that behaviour can be controlled and modified via the reinforcement systems of rewards and/or sanctions.  Despite its critics and considerable psychological advances in the understanding of children’s motivation in relation to self-concept, self-esteem and self-regulation, behaviourist principles are still evident in many behaviour policies in settings, with rewards and sanctions used as key tools for controlling young children’s behaviour.  

The Behaviorist approach has been criticised for relying on external frameworks for moderating behaviour and ignoring the feelings which underlie the behaviour.  Although it can be a powerful way of manipulating children to behave, it means that children learn to rely on rewards or live in fear of punishment to make them behave.  Once the reward or fear has been removed, such children may not be able to self-regulate their behaviour.  Research has also shown that children soon ‘habituate’ to reward systems and so they begin to lose their effectiveness to motivate children to behave.

Emotion Coaching- Part 2

In Part 1 we saw how Emotion Coaching offers a relational model for supporting children’s behaviour.  We compared Emotion Coaching to traditional behaviourist approaches and also to other styles of managing children’s behavior, such as a disapproving or dismissing approach.  We saw how Emotion Coaching offers a powerful way to connect with young children’s emotional state and helps them to manage their own feelings and desires – to learn to self-regulate their behaviour internally rather than relying on extrinsic rewards or sanctions to modify their behaviour.

A key process involved in Emotion coaching is ‘co-regulation’.  By empathizing with a child’s emotional state, even when they are displaying inappropriate behaviour, we are providing a support structure for that child to learn to self-regulate.  We do this for all other aspects of their learning. For example, we help children learn to talk by talking to them – this narrative helps children to engage and respond and begin to articulate their own words.  With Emotion Coaching, we are providing a similar scaffold and narrative for them to learn about their own emotions and how they can be regulated.  Once again, we can turn to some recent neuroscientific evidence to help us understand how important co-regulation is in helping children to self-regulate and to develop what is known as ‘high vagal tone’.

A Reception Teacher's Blog (3)

The last time I was in fulltime employment as a teacher we used flip charts and marker pens. There was one chunky great box of a computer gathering dust in the corner of the room. I didn’t even have a whiteboard. Now I sit staring at the large white rectangle on the wall of the classroom that is apparently called a SMART Board. I have had a 2 minute tutorial from Mrs Finch (the class teacher) during which I frantically tried to scribble down the order in which she clicked on things on the laptop while marvelling at how this makes things happen on the big screen. She hurriedly shows me how to use something that looks like a pen to write with directly onto the SMART Board. She produces a neat letter ‘a’ then disappears as the children arrive.


From The Forum

On entry into Year 1- what are the levels?

If a child leaves reception at expected in the early learning goal, are they level 1c on entry in to year one or are they working towards level one?

Outdoor play and staff reluctance

I have ALWAYS stressed that we offer free flow between in and outdoors and stress this with every new parent and at interviews for staff, yet I have practically all my staff in a huff about my insistence that we let children play out in the rain or cold. The main barrier is that staff themselves don't come prepared to do so!

Discovery area

I am looking to set up a permanent discovery area. I wondered if you could share some ideas?

Change of status- timescales

For those settings that moved away from being committee-led, how long did it take and have you come across any negatives? Have you found parents are less interested and do less fundraising now?

Parents saying no photos of child

Our Christmas party is on Wednesday - lots of parents and family members coming.We have always allowed them to take photos at the party with the understanding that they are not put on Facebook etc. This year one parent has said that she doesn't want anyone to take any photos with her child in them. This is given as an option on admission forms but she is the only one to ever have said no photos. Has anyone had to deal with this before? While I respect this parent's wishes, how do I manage the situation without upsetting all the other parents? Do I have a blanket No Photos at all, or photos on playgroup camera only, although we're usually too busy to take many. Do I name the child and say no photos with this child? Do I keep this child and parent away from everyone else?

Nativity Play malfunction

The music failed, the member of staff supposed to do the music was ill, so another was drafted in at the last min and the computer that provides the music switched itself off twice during the performance, the wrong music was played, when any was played, and the micro phones (my development target of using more ICT) failed to work ... All of which I could accept- I laughed to myself signalled at the children and like troopers they continued to perform - if slightly out of kilter- not unexpectedly ( the angels stared at me instead of dancing until the bossiest one cottoned on to dancing to completely the wrong music - and grabbed the others giving them loud instructions that made the parents laugh) To be honest it was a Nativity performed by Reception - things go wrong! (We filmed it the day before to make sure we had a decent copy for parents). The problem is that my head doesn't like mediocrity and didn't see the funny side, and in fact was quite narky about it. Are we now to expect perfection?

Minimum a person can pick up from nursery

Does anyone know whether there is a legal minimum age a person can pick up a child from Nursery, we have recently had an older sibling who is 16 come to pick up her younger brother; this was a one-off and all the relevant checks were carried out. Any advice would be gratefully received as I don't seem to be able to find much information.

Lunch box/healthy eating policy

Do you all have a healthy eating policy? I am now thinking I need to introduce one?

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