CHILD DEVELOPMENT IN THE EARLY YEARS
with Anne Statham
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“Children are very alert to the emotional atmosphere of a space so our job is to make them feel safe and to be constant for them.”
In this episode we welcome childcare professional Anne Statham onto the show. She is a qualified teacher and consultant who has worked with children in their early years since 1995. Anne has an MA in early years studies and practices and a Forest School Leader Level 3. She has a creative ‘child-led’ approach to early childhood education and currently works at Back To The Garden Childcare in Broadheath. Anne has a 7-year-old son.
We discuss her experiences working in childcare and what led her to pursue this enriching career and the inspirational people and places that were key to her own development. How the seeds of the values she feels are important today were planted in the early 1900s, that the ideas of ‘Back To The Garden’ have deep roots.
Her warmth and true passion for her job shines through. It’s a fascinating episode which covers so many topics. Not to be missed!
“Children in this generation need to be creative in the widest sense. Creative not just in an artistic sense but creative in making links in all areas of learning.”
*Please note: This recording was made before the lockdown. The nursery is currently open for key workers and vulnerable children whilst offering online support to parents with children who are home learning.
In this episode we discuss:
1:11 Anne's earliest memories for her in her early years in the 70s with plenty of freedom through outdoor play, creativity and community. (3:10) How this differs for children today, Anne references her son’s childhood experiences and how there is more structure now.)
5:00 How we can navigate a perhaps ‘scarier’ world where children aren’t able to be as free due to potential threats and more traffic and what kind of effect this has had on parenting style.
5:42 Annes involvement with Back To The Garden Childcare and how she was part of the vision for the nursery. Anne was interested in their child-led approach which she believes is a strong foundation. At every step in the journey the team would refer back to the values laid down at the very start.
6:29 How a goal for children to be ‘independent’ filters through the choices made from the environment, to self-serving at mealtimes, to the curriculum. The nursery team are responsive to the child as individuals and construct the activities around them.
7:14 The environment and use of open-ended materials.
7:52 What led Anne to become an early years specialist.
9:12 Reggio Emilia, the 100 Languages of children and importance of the ‘art of listening’.
10:33 How we talk to children and how we approach them when they’re in a creative flow state.
13:36 Anne continues on from before to share her learning journey following her first initial role. She shares the final placement of her post graduate course, how the McMillan sisters inspired that school and how this was key to Anne discovering and cultivating her own values within the childcare she wanted to be part of.
17:50 The exploration of ‘power’ in early years and the school system in general. How creativity and is a vital skill to be nurtured in children today and what drives creativity.
20:22 The balance of allowing children some time with technology and brain development in children. How to build strong neural pathways and connections in children during their early years and why this gives them strong foundations.
23:51 The benefits of outdoor play and how Anne integrates outdoor play at home with her family.
25:00 Pressure of meeting a set of standards for children and the value of time and space for them to ‘just be’. How the outdoor space is useful in settling children into the nursery.
26:09 Taking risks outdoors.
28:28 Exploring further the Froebel philosophy. (Referenced Tina Bruce). How being in the moment and understanding that child development isn’t linear takes unnecessary pressure off parents and children. Discuss the example of writing (29:50). Scandinavian schools (30:08). Reading (32:02).
33:17 The power of the picture book and how enjoyment and pleasure needs to run alongside the mechanical part of reading.
34:34 Childrens mental health and support them with their emotions. The importance of adults caring for children taking care of themselves too. The need for natural moments of solitude and how children find ways to have quiet time to themselves and that ‘boredom’ is a good thing sometimes.
Rapid Fire Questions:
42:01 Who inspired Anne along the way/
43:50 The nursery team and values.
45:53 Finding a work / life balance between being a childcare professional and a mother.
48:17 If money time and logistics were no object what Anne would create for children.
48:48 What rights should children innately have.
49:22 Her favourite book on child development.
49:44 The feeling Anne has when working with children.
50:20 What she believes is the most important skill in early years education.
50:35 Her favourite quote on child development.
50:48 Annes advice to someone who was wanting to get involved in early years education.
51:56 Her advice for parents looking for a nursery.
Episode Resource Links:
Book: ’Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids’ Kim John Payne
Margaret McMillan - Early Years Pioneer: https://www.mdpi.com/2313-5778/3/3/43/htm
The 1906 Provision Of School Meals Act http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1906/57/enacted
Sure Start Childrens Centre: https://hsm.manchester.gov.uk/kb5/manchester/directory/service.page?id=ll0ZyWXVJSs&directorychannel=1-10
“Childhood is seen as valid in itself, as part of life and not simply as preparation for adulthood. Thus education is seen similarly as something of the present and not just preparation and training for later.” https://www.early-education.org.uk/about-froebel
Author, Michael Rosen: https://www.michaelrosen.co.uk/books/
Children’s Mental Health Week: https://www.royal.uk/duchess-cambridges-message-mark-place2be-children%E2%80%99s-mental-health-week-2020
Ranulph Fiennes quote: ‘There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing’
The Colour Monster Book: https://www.booktrust.org.uk/book/t/the-colour-monster/
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This episode is sponsored by Kit + Kin, award winning nappies - head to https://kitandkin.com/ and enter the code BABY20 specially created for our listeners to use on the first subscription.
Recorded at LBS, Stockport. https://lbs.co.uk/
Producer: Simon Galloway https://uk.linkedin.com/in/simongalloway
Original Music written by Sadie Pickering, performed by Sadie Pickering, Dan J Logan and Jay Ansill
Podcast hosting service - https://anchor.fm/backtothegarden