How many times have you heard this cry? Children have a real sense of justice, injustice, fairness and rules, regardless of whether or not they keep the rules themselves!
The EYFS states that ‘Providers are responsible for managing children’s behaviour in an appropriate way’ (Statutory Framework, p. 26). However, we are not given any guidance about what this means, apart from not threatening corporal punishment or any punishment which could ‘adversely affect a child’s wellbeing.’
Thinking about punishment is a very negative way of approaching behaviour. I believe that we should actively promote positive behaviour in our settings through the way we interact, act, speak and through having developmentally appropriate expectations of children’s behaviour.
In order to respond appropriately, we need to do everything we can to understand the child and the context that they find themselves in. Therefore, observation is key. Get to know your children well, work out what motivates and fascinates them as well as what upsets and frustrates them. Use this information to plan engaging, exciting and developmentally appropriate activities and there will be less time for challenging behaviour. Work closely with parents and carers and try to establish some consistency between home and setting.
Positive responses to behaviour
There are many ways that our daily practice can help to promote positive behaviour. I have listed a few for you and I hope you will find it useful!
Responding positively to children
- Get down on child’s level or lower as this is less intimidating and more respectful for the child
- Use a calm voice, normal volume and tone, positive language and calm body language
- Gently remind children of rules or point out behaviour to give them a chance to stop
- If you would like a child to stop a particular behaviour, use a count down, not up i.e. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
- Use the child’s name first to gain attention and eye contact to maintain it
- Describe the action not the child i.e. “It is unkind to hit” rather than “You are unkind”
- Label the praise and be specific when praising children, e.g. “Fantastic sitting, George” rather than “Good boy”
- Model respectful ways of interacting with others and using materials
- Respect and acknowledge children’s ideas, concerns and feelings
- Accept behavioural differences – look out for schemas (schemas are not misbehaviour)
- Ensure that your expectations are developmentally appropriate i.e. do not expect all 2-year-olds to share
- If needed, allow the child time and space to calm down, away from the other children
Creating an enabling environment which promotes positive behaviour
- Provide enough space, variety of materials and warnings of closures i.e. “We’ll have to tidy soon…”
- Establish a consistent, balanced routine with clear, developmentally appropriate limits and expectations for children’s behaviour – consistency between staff and rooms
- Support children’s choices and interests
- Plan and allow extra time for transitions – change timetable or routine if needed so that time constraints are not a factor
- Have clear ground rules, reinforced regularly, which set limits and boundaries and are explained to the children in language they understand using pictures/symbols
- Minimise unnecessary periods of sitting still or waiting – ensure carpet times are interactive (puppets, songs, games, actions, story props, instruments etc.)
- Ensure that your behaviour policy is written positively, shared with all and adhered to
- Consider the way you lay out your room e.g. large open space inside will encourage children to run; smaller clustered areas will encourage sustained engagement
- Provide feelings areas and activities and resources to support emotional development.
When I used to cry, “It’s not fair!” my Dad used to respond, “Life’s not fair!” which sounds a little harsh, however true it may be. But we need to acknowledge that for some children, life really isn’t fair and we need to do everything in our power to change the world for these children. So let’s remain positive and ensure that our settings are as fair as they can be, as we keep calm and carry on!
About the author
Tamsin Grimmer is an experienced early years consultant and trainer and parent who is passionate about young children’s learning and development. She believes that all children deserve practitioners who are inspiring, dynamic, reflective and committed to improving on their current best. Tamsin particularly enjoys planning and delivering training and supporting early years practitioners and teachers to improve outcomes for young children.
You can contact Tamsin via Twitter @tamsingrimmer, her Facebook page, website or email email@example.com
Raul from Earthfairy.com.au has some top tips on how to bring a fairy garden to life, whether indoors or outdoors. Read on below to get some inspiration for your setting’s next project…
A fairy garden is a miniature piece of art. Such gardens are the product of numerous magical fantasies. Bedtime stories read to us during our early childhood by our parents or grandparents helped us to sleep peacefully and influenced our fairy-inspired dreams. But we were not content with that. We wished to visit that enchanted piece of land, most commonly wonderland from Peter Pan! But it is possible, by creating a magical fairy garden.
This gardening trend is very popular nowadays, especially in Australia. The most amazing feature of this garden is that it can be portable, thanks to its mini size. You can move this garden indoors or outdoors as per the weather conditions.
Creating a fairy garden at your setting is the perfect activity to engage children’s imaginations. This will help them to learn new things like taking care of the mini plants by watering them regularly and providing them proper sunlight. Such activity will bring them closer to nature. Now you must be thinking “How can I engage the children in this activity?” well, one of the ways to encourage this is by building a fairy garden around a fairytale fantasy. It can be Cinderella, Rapunzel or Snow White.
Such fairy gardening is not expensive and you would be surprised to see that there are a lot of ideas where the fairy garden is built mostly from recycled materials. Below is an example of how you can recycle broken terracotta pots. Check this out!
Accessories you will need:
- A pair of gloves and goggles
- Broken terracotta pots (if broken pots are unavailable, then you might need to willingly break some)
- Gravel and potting soil
- Minature plants
- Fairy accessories
Here is what you need to do:
- First of all, if you don’t have a broken terracotta pot available, you need to break one by drawing a zig-zag region on the outside with a pencil. Then, take a screwdriver and a hammer and slowly tap into the drawn lines. Be careful, as the broken edges are very sharp!
- Now, start working with the broken pieces. Don’t worry if the pieces don’t fit at first. You might need to break bits from the pieces in order to fit them
- Use the potting soil to stabilise the pieces
- Start adding the miniature plants
- Add a fairy house (place a mound of soil at the back to position it firmly)
- Place a mini staircase for the fairies to climb
- On top of the fairy house, you can place a fairy statue
- Place a saucer underneath the fairy house, before adding water into it
- Water the garden carefully (try to water at the base of the plants)
Some more fairy gardening ideas and tips
Seasonal fairy garden
This is a landscape fairy garden so, of course, it is not portable. This is a bigger project and the lush greenery looks amazing with the combination of coloured flowers. There is also a bird shower with little birds. The advantage of this garden is that you can change the season, as fairies also do have seasons like us.
If you want to make the season winter, then put some white sand on top of the roof. Then, place a chimney behind the house to represent the fireplace. Spread some of the white sand around the house to represent snow.
Fish-bowl fairy garden
Even this one is a simple, yet beautiful. All you need is some mosses, some miniature plants, some red mushroom ornaments and white pebbles.
You can use different animal statues.
Bonsai fairy garden
Bonsai trees also make the perfect addition to any fairy garden, as you can see in this image.
Festive fairy garden
You may have seen fairy gardens during the daytime, but why not consider what the fairy garden will look like during the night?
Use string lights to lighten up the garden and create a magical view.
Gnome door fairy garden
This fairy garden is quite simple to make. All you need is an old wood plank, a gnome door, a small bridge and some gravel.
Place the gnome door in a central position on the plank and secure it with an adhesive. Now, remove some mud from the front in a horizontal manner so that it may represent a dry stream of water. Fill the area with gravel and place the mini bridge over it. Put some ferns around the door and a small window above it.
Fairy gardens fire up the imagination of young children, which is a great recipe for learning. When it comes to creating these gardens, the very best resources can be provided by the natural environment. In addition to this, containers such as wheelbarrows, old plant pots or even vegetable troughs can become useful vessels upon which to build such a garden. So why not add a touch of fairytale magic to your childcare setting today?
As with any activity in a childcare setting, staff will need to carry out an appropriate risk assessment before creating a fairy garden.
Send images of the magical fairy gardens that you’ve created at your setting to firstname.lastname@example.org for your chance to feature in the next edition of the Parenta magazine.
Working in early education means you are no stranger to the importance of the outdoor environment. However, when society has been so focused on education taught in an indoor environment, practitioners can often be afraid of the unknown and how to become creative outdoors.
Fairy tales bring adventure, magic and imagination to young children – a great recipe for learning through play! Children become fascinated with make-believe, their innocence allows them to believe in every possibility whilst creating and engaging in play with their peers and teachers.
As early years practitioners, we usually feel the need to use many different resources to aid play and teaching, yet, more often than not, the best activities are minimalistic, or provided by the environment. The natural world has so much to give and when you look you will see that it is rich in resources, ready to be used in a creative manner. Step out of your comfort zone as this is where the magic happens… quite literally!
“Children need to be captivated and engaged to learn, or have a hands-on experience.” – Jamie Victoria
I often create small letters from fairies, pixies or other made-up mythical characters and I hide them in the woodlands, parks or nursery gardens for the children I am teaching to find. The joy and anticipation upon finding one of these letters is wonderful to watch, and the children become engaged, animated and excited to find out what the letter says…
“Dear Children, my name is Lily the Woodland Fairy. My friend Sneeze, who is a very friendly dragon, has had a terrible cold which has made him sneeze even more than normal! Yesterday he accidentally sneezed and blew away our fairy village! Do you think you could work together and help to rebuild it? Love Lily the Woodland Fairy”
This simple letter can be the start of a fantastic activity, full of exploration and learning. As teachers, I encourage you to get involved and build part of the fairy village with the children. It will support them with their ideas and confidence in how to use the natural resources around them; using sticks to create structures, moss/leaves to make carpets, stones for borders…the possibilities are endless.
Most importantly, allow the children to make their own creations. It helps to build their self-confidence and personal skills. I am never too worried about a session going exactly as I had planned because children are fluid and I want them to lead their own paths. Usually, the fairy villages end up far better than I could have ever imagined! No mind works the same, so it is crucial to be flexible and give the children the opportunity to express their ideas and designs – I would have never thought about the necessity for a village washing line!
Another example of how to incorporate fairy tales into the natural environment is to use the power of children’s books. For example, I will read the Gruffalo to the children in the woods, and then begin to extend the story by asking the children if they would like to help build the homes for all the characters in the book (snake, fox and owl), using natural resources. Once the children are engaged in the activity (and it is OK if some don’t want to participate, spontaneous play is hugely beneficial), it’s a great opportunity to ‘act out’ the whole story from start to finish as a group, moving around, using different voices and having fun!
I would argue that any outdoor activity can relate to most, if not all, areas of the EYFS. A simple yet effective activity like the Gruffalo story supports all of the EYFS areas, including the specific, and here’s how:
Personal Social & Emotional: The children are interacting socially and are learning how to share and to take turns with all the resources and their ideas. They have to use their empathy skills to support each other and build upon their emotional intelligences.
Communication & Language: The children are communicating with each other and the teacher to broadcast their ideas, using verbal and non-verbal means. The storytelling allows for rich language to be heard and understood.
Physical: The outdoor environment provides opportunity for a wealth of physical activity; the children are moving and handling resources, walking, running and navigating the space around them.
Mathematics: The children are building, making shapes and counting how many logs snake needs for his home.
Understanding of the world: The children are in the natural world to begin with. They are taking in their surroundings, finding insects as they move logs, noticing the changes of the seasons and the plants growing or decaying.
Literacy: Reading the story from start to finish and immersing themselves in it by acting it out, living the story through movement and voice.
Expressive Arts & Design: Being imaginative, this activity ignites that for the children for they are imagining the story and will incidentally evolve the story and continue to play after the main activity has ended.
About the author
The Childcare Guru, otherwise known as Jamie Victoria, has dedicated her career to the study of Early Years and is immensely passionate about childhood, education and development. Jamie is hugely passionate about inspiring professionals through her consultancy and training sessions, to ensure all children are supported in having an early years experience that is second to none.
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You can also contact Jamie on email at email@example.com or via her website.