Electronic devices & online safety in the early years

Electronic devices & online safety in the early years

Back in 2010, when iPads and other comparable tablets first appeared, their potential to change the way children were educated was revolutionary.

What made them so attractive was that they had three noticeable features which had the potential to make a positive difference to education: 


  • They are portable and lightweight
  • They eliminate the need for separate input devices (such as having an extra mouse or keyboard)
  • They are designed to house large numbers of applications, many of which are designed specifically for children.
Unlike previous technologies, electronic devices give the user the opportunity to create their own content, simultaneously using texts, pictures and sounds, to create dynamic and engaging learning environments.

It’s common practice now that schools and colleges are using the latest technology, to improve teaching and make lessons more interactive and engaging. That extends to the early years sector, too.


Victoria Short, managing director of Randstad Public Services, who have, over the years, conducted research into the use of technology in early years education, said:

“Teaching tools have come a long way since the days teachers used to write on chalkboards and present using an overhead projector”.

“The introduction of the use of electronic devices into early education has facilitated the social aspect of the classroom. An article found in The International Journal of Education in Mathematics, Science and Technology states

‘…using electronic devices like the iPad frequently becomes a social activity for young children as they often talk and work together while using the tool. It is possible that the mobility of the iPad contributes to the socialisation that takes place, because children can see the screens of other children easily and can manipulate the touchscreen in groups’.”


Clearly, electronic devices can be used as great learning tools in early years. But how can we ensure the safe use of such devices? Clearly, electronic devices can be used as great learning tools in early years. But how can we ensure the safe use of such devices?

  • In this case, prevention really is better than cure. It is important to talk to children about potential online dangers and how they can stay safe online.
  • Educating children so they feel comfortable alerting an adult when something unusual happens. For example, do they know how to deal with an unexpected pop-up? In this instance, the child should tell an adult who can remove it and should never click on it.
  • It is imperative these rules are reminded regularly and are in place to keep them safe, as children are naturally inquisitive.
  • Displaying posters around your setting about online safety can act as a visual reminder, but early years providers should ensure they verbally remind children on a regular basis.
  • Parents should always be aware of what children are doing/accessing online. Social networking, chat rooms and unsuitable websites should be off limits and specialist software should be installed to ensure children are blocked access to inappropriate sites. Start by setting boundaries around online use. For example, time limits on how long they can use an internet-enabled device each day. Download a child-friendly browser like Kiddle and ensure children only have access to apps or online games you have authorised.
  • Boundaries should be consistent, so share these with anyone, such as friends and family who look after or spend time with your child.
Learning through technology, although growing, is just one small part of a child’s early years education. When used alongside a varied curriculum, technology can complement a child’s development. Technology must be used safely; both early years providers and parents must protect children by educating them on potential online dangers.
Time to think about time

Time to think about time

It’s that time of year again when we move the clocks back and everyone gets an extra hour in bed! Forget the fact that we are only reclaiming the hour we’ lost’ in March, when we willingly put the clocks forward, and all is well - we pull the duvet snuggly over our heads and have a well-deserved lie-in!

But have you ever thought about why we meddle with time? Who started it and when? And how can we possibly explain it all to our children?

Einstein’s theory of relativity states that time is not as constant as our everyday experiences would have us believe, but when it comes to catching the bus for work, there’s no point in theorising about travelling close to the speed of light – if you get to the bus stop late, you miss the bus!

Learning to tell the time is incredibly important, as is understanding the concepts of past, present and future. It allows us to operate within common boundaries, to agree on the duration of events, and to organise ourselves around an agreed, time framework. It is also important for children to understand the organisation of the world, the natural life cycles that surround them, and the constant ebb and flow of their own lives.

Historically, we defined time by analysing the movement of the planets: it takes a year for the earth to orbit the sun and a day for the world to revolve on its axis. Since ancient Egyptian times, we have sub-divided days into 24 hours and we can thank the ancient Babylonians for sub-dividing hours into minutes and seconds, since they preferred counting in 60s!
Keeping and telling the time
The way we keep time has changed over the centuries - from stone circles, sundials, hourglasses and candles, to analogue and digital clocks, but even these are prone to inaccuracy. Nowadays, we no longer use astronomy as our reference, but atomic time defined by the vibration of atoms.

So how can we help our children understand time? Below are some tips and suggestions:

Start with the general concept of time
Most pre-school children are still learning to count, so tackling a clock face can be daunting. However, they will understand the idea that they do things at different points in the day – such as getting up in the morning; eating lunch at midday; having a nap after lunch; and then going to bed at night.

Help children by using visuals and charts to show these different times and activities and add clocks showing an appropriate time. Reinforce this by using time-defining vocabulary such as ‘morning’, ‘midday’, ‘evening’, ‘day’ and ‘night’, telling the children that: “In the morning, we get up and have breakfast” or “at night, we clean our teeth and go to bed.”
It’s also important to introduce the concept of things happening chronologically, or in a time order, by explaining that they do things in the present – i.e. ‘now’, but they will do something else ‘afterwards’ or ‘later’. This helps them understand the concept of time being split into different sections.

You can also talk about cyclical events such as seasons, birthdays, Christmas or other religious festivals to help them understand days, months and years. Talking to them about what they did on their last birthday, or what they want to do on their next birthday, gives them the idea that these things will come around again, in time.

Practice counting to 12, to 60, and in 5s
Children need to be able to recognise numbers to tell the time, so practice counting and general number recognition. Use different strategies to help children learn their numbers. Children will often learn to count by rote before they can recognise numbers, so help them by holding up a number card, and asking them to give you back the same number of counters that you have written on the card. For example, hold up the number ‘3’ and ask them to count out 3 counters.

Other ways to help include:

Counting regularly throughout the day
Sing number songs and nursery rhymes that include numbers, such as “Ten green bottles” or “The animals went in two-by-two”. There are some suitable counting songs at: bbc.co.uk/programmes/p065s47t
Use blocks with numbers and count using an abacus
Read number books together

Use a toy clock to practice saying the hour
It is generally expected that by the age of 5 or 6, children will be able to recognise time by hours and half-hours. At nursery school, it would be helpful to explain the concept of hours on the clock as a stepping-stone towards this goal. Explain what the 2 different hands on the clock mean, but then focus on the little hand which points to the hour. Use a toy clock to set the time to different hours (keeping the big hand on 12) and ask the children to tell you what time it is. There are many songs available to help you. Here are some of our favourite online ones:


British Summer Time

Benjamin Franklin is credited with first proposing the idea of changing the clocks when he visited Paris in 1784 and later, a builder called William Willett (great-great-grandfather of Coldplay singer, Chris Martin), campaigned on the subject. He was a keen golfer and was annoyed when it got too dark for him to play. The idea was discussed by the government in 1908, but wasn’t put into practice until 1916, during the first World War when Germany did it first. In WW2, the clocks were changed by 2 hours for a short while, but this didn’t last long. Many countries still don’t do it at all and there are moves within the European Parliament to end it altogether, but this is unlikely to happen until 2021 at the earliest. So, for now, in the UK, the clocks go forward an hour on the last Sunday in March, and back on the last Sunday in October. Enjoy your lie-in!

Fred The Friendly Halloween Spider Craft

Fred The Friendly Halloween Spider Craft

You will need:
  • Styrofoam baubles
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Black paint + paintbrush
  • Googly eyes

1.  Paint the bauble using black paint and then wait for it to dry.

2.  Fold the pipe cleaners in half and shape them to resemble spider’s legs (see the photos).

3.  Push the pipe cleaners into the sides of the bauble, doing two on each side.

4.  Glue the eyes on the top of the spider.

5.  You are done! Happy Halloween!

Settings fight back in the war against plastic

Settings fight back in the war against plastic

An increasing number of nurseries are signing up to a scheme to help them eliminate single-use plastics from their businesses.

The scheme, run by environmental charity Surfers Against Sewage, has been growing in popularity and already has 104 settings signed up to it. Participants are given 5 objectives which are designed to fit alongside the EYFS framework.

Tops Day Nursery in Havant was the first nursery to achieve ‘plastic-free’ status under the scheme.

A spokesperson from Surfers Against Sewage said: “We are delighted at the growing interest from nurseries making a commitment to eradicate single-use plastic from their settings. Through developing the programme to work alongside the EYFS framework, we are able to help nurseries across the country to introduce the issue of single-use plastic to nursery children and their families and encourage them to be a driving force for change.”

A nursery in Chester, Jigsaw Curzon House, has also achieved the coveted status.

Claire Taylor, owner and manager of Jigsaw Curzon House, said: “The decision to sign up this programme was taken on two levels. First, we believe that it is critical that we educate our children on the importance of caring for our environment and the steps we need to take in order to achieve this. We already had a number of internal initiatives under way and, thanks to one of our engaged parents who was aware of the work we had already undertaken, a recommendation led us to the programme.

“As a business with an ethical conscience, we want to ensure we are doing all we can to create a sustainable future for our children. Across our two nurseries we educate more than 250 young people a day and interact with around 500 parents weekly, which means our power to influence in a positive way is quite significant. This is a responsibility we have taken seriously and attempted to harness for a number of years.”

Ms Taylor added that the programme has been well received by everyone involved including children, staff and parents.

To achieve the plastic-free status across two settings in the group, Jigsaw Curzon House had to take part in several initiatives including:

  • Swapping out plastic milk cartons for glass bottles. This had a ‘significant’ impact on the amount of single-use plastic, as the group orders 120 pints a week for both sites.
  • Using washable aprons rather than single-use plastic ones.
  • Replacing cling film with resealable containers.
  • Not ordering single-use plastic materials for crafts, such as glitter.
  • Giving out hessian bags to parents to encourage them to stop using plastic ones.


To find out more, visit: https://www.sas.org.uk/plastic-free-schools




Hikes in national wage will force nursery closures, sector warns

Hikes in national wage will force nursery closures, sector warns

Early years organisations have warned that a proposed rise to national wages will cause significant damage across the sector.

These warnings have come following an announcement by Sajid Javid at the Conservative Party Conference that there would be an increase in the National Living Wage to £10.50 within the next 5 years.

Currently, the National Living Wage for workers aged 25 and over is £8.21.

The Chancellor also revealed that there are plans to lower the age at which workers become eligible for the NLW, from 25 to 21. Mr Javid said that the move would "reward the hard work of all millennials".

The proposed plans would be delivered in two stages, with 23-year-olds qualifying for the rise in 2021 and 21-year-olds by 2024.

However, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has expressed concerns that the Chancellor’s plan could make some small businesses unviable.

Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the FSB, said: “While it is welcome that the Chancellor is giving businesses five years to adapt, this increase will leave many small employers struggling and, without help, could make some small firms unviable.

“Those in sectors with tight margins and which are heavily labour-dependent, such as the care sector, retail or hospitality, will be particularly badly hit without support.”

These worries have been echoed by sector organisations such as the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) and PACEY, who fear that the proposed hike in wages would force settings to close their doors.

Chief executive of PACEY, Liz Bayram said: “The commitment to increase the national living wage has to be welcomed, as so many early years practitioners are on low-incomes and relying on in-work benefits to survive. But it must be accompanied by increased funding levels for providers delivering Government's early education entitlements. If not, the NLW increase will not be sustainable for these small businesses.

“It is a sorry state of affairs that so many talented practitioners are leaving the sector and the job they love to work in supermarkets or other jobs where they can earn more. Of equal concern would be the closure of more childcare settings, unable to manage the increase in wages and other overheads.”

The National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) said that continually raising the rate of pay will ‘sound alarm bells’ for many early years providers.





Expression of interest

Complete the form below if you are interested in joining our family. 

You have Successfully Subscribed!