Dissertation Realness

Rather than sashay away, I’ll be more Shantay, you stay (Drag Race reference for you there folks!)

Now I’m about to start the final year of a degree I’ve got the mammoth (read gargantuan) task of choosing and then writing my dissertation. I roughly know my topic but will need to tidy it up to submit my proposal.

What’s that? You want to know what it is?

Oh, well ok! I’m looking at physical literacy in children and how we should focus on that to improve the children’s abilities for writing later.

As I said it is very much in the embryonic stage of development but I’m wondering if my lovely TMP Tribe can help me with useful reading, guidance, research or resources?

If you can then feel free to message me on my social media channels or drop me an email to hello@themalepractitioner.com as it would certainly help.

This is me!

It’s not often I talk about myself on here, I tend to leave my home life at home and talk about practice or sharing practice with other amazing individuals here on this website. However, with this strange new world we are now emerging, and particularly with the recent Black Lives Matter demonstrations it’s made me think about equality and diversity even more. In my setting we have a variety of cultural background and it’s just a wonderful, eclectic mix and provides the children and practitioners with the opportunity to learn about, and respect, different cultures.

If you remember all the way back to your training you will know that children are very much open and accepting to anything and this is why attitudes such as racism are a learnt behaviour and because of this we can understand some of the reason behind Black Lives Matter.

I can understand and empathise with this whole movement as I have faced discrimination in my lifetime simply because of who I choose to love. I’m gay.

If you’re wondering why I’m associating being gay with the very visible, current struggle that members of the BAME community are facing then it’s like this. Just recently, as it’s Pride Month, I’ve been watching some programmes that were made to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wolfenden report. This report was first published in 1957 and finally saw a change in the law 10 years later in 1967 which saw the decriminalisation of homosexuality. Yes, that’s right, it was illegal to be gay. That wasn’t the end of descrimination against gay men and women though and during the 70’s and 80’s you could still be sacked for being gay. It became against the law in the 80’s for schools to even talk about being gay because of Section 28. A gay relationship with termed to be “pretended” like it was just playing at being family. It took until the 90’s for some sense of equality to begin happening for gay men and women. However, there are still some countries where it’s still illegal to be gay and can be punished by prison, stoning or even death. So yes, I can relate to the BAME community.

Now, I’ve been married to my husband for almost 3 years and we’ve been together for 7 years and in that time he’s supported me wholeheartedly in my journey in Early Years. He shoots all the videos for my website and reads over articles I submit. He’s also been there to encourage me in furthering my qualifications from my SVQ Level 4 and my Level 5 diploma and not that I’ve applied to complete my degree. He’s even come in with me on several weekends to help me tidy and re-arrange play rooms at nursery. Why does he do this? Because he understands just how important this vocation is to me (it’s him who calls it a vocation).

However in my past I’ve been subject to discrimination because of my gender and questioning because of my sexuality. I’ve had a manager in a previous setting actually corner me in the kitchen to ask me if I was gay purely because she had overheard parents talking about whether I was or not. I wasn’t out at the time (I didn’t come out properly until I was 29). It was scary but I said yes, I was.

I’ve also had a parent ask my manager to stop me changing their child’s nappy because I’m male. This hasn’t just happened once but in three different settings and always before they’ve got to know me. Thankfully one parent who protested at a man changing nappies later came and apologised to me when she realised her child had such a good bond with me and talked about me positively at home. I’ve also had the backing, and support of my managers who have had to say to parents that I’m a qualified, experienced practitioner who has undergone all the same checks as my female counterparts.

In my current setting I made the decision before I started to be more myself and not hide who I am or who I live with. That’s not fair to my husband who has supported me in my journey as well as to the children who won’t have the chance to understand that there are lots of different families out there and we are all part of this one world. A world that is full of colour, vibrancy and life of all sorts. I’ve spoken about my husband with my preschool children when they asked who was with me on the postcard I sent from our holiday. They just accepted it and moved on to the next thing in their busy day.

It’s as important that my colleagues in the LGBTQ+ community are open and honest with who they are as my wonderful colleagues in the BAME community are. We have so many rich experiences to share with children, let’s not hide them.

Sustained Shared Conversation video

This isn’t a video I’ve created but one I’ve seen a few times and have found it a joyful inspiration to watch. This shows how, by being an unobtrusive practitioner, you can use carefully thought out questions and prompts to promote deeper learning and thinking from the children.

Facebook Live today!!

I’ll be talking early years things this morning over on my Facebook page. Join in the chat at www.facebook.com/themalepractitioner

Guest Blog: Optimum self-care and wellbeing in the Early Years

Is it time for Savasana yet?

How often do we focus on our teams ‘wellbeing’ during the week. Have we all now got the ‘wellbeing’ shelf . The thought of wellbeing has become placement in the lives of practitioners. A small selection of goodies or toiletries to temporarily lift the mood of others. But is this really helping wellbeing in the long-term. If we help our teams to focus more on their wellbeing and self-care then wellbeing areas become an enhancement to their lives not just a feature of the workplace.

There should never be a time ‘for’ savasana. It should be part of unconscious routine. The idea of savasana is to relax one body element at a time. Savasana is a type of yoga and relaxation that does not require ‘out’ time to be able to complete it. So instructors believe that savasana is the pose of stillness. The pose of the corpse. Where you lie as still as possible and maintain the pose of utter stillness as if you were dead. The art of Asana, yoga is a relaxation technique from northern India. If you begin to feel tense or stressed for any reason, focus on the area that has begun to feel tense. If you are struggling to take deep breath then focus on the action of breathing. Put the stress to one side and breathe in and out slowly. To begin with this art is very hard as focus is what people lack in times of stress. The more we maintain focus, breathe and move forward the more savasana will become part of your everyday life.

If we can begin to instil ideas such as these into our team’s lives then we can begin to eliminate the sources of stress in the workplace.
Self-care is the art of looking after yourself. Savasana is part of self-care. It’s the ability to be able to self-regulate feelings and be more balanced and relaxed. The more often we can promote self-care to our children in settings the more we encourage the future adults of our world to be able to understand not only their feelings and struggles. If young children are supported in learning about their bodies and minds in the correct way, they will strive to do more educationally as they will be more at ease with their own feelings and feel more confident to carry on and try new things.

This post was written by Lyndsey Slessor, a Nursery Manager at a 55 place private day nursery setting.

Characteristics of Effective Learning

On Saturday I attended a training session on Understanding the Characteristics of Effective Learning (COEL) hosted by the York branch of Early Education. The trainer was none other that Early Years legend Helen Moylett (the same co-author of the original Development Matters).

Helen spoke passionately about the current state of Early Years and about how we have the power to truly harness a child’s curiosity and really bring their learning to life. I came to a realisation whilst on this training, even making a solid connection to the #JigsawEPOP North Conference I attend just a couple of weeks back. The Characteristics should be our foundation when planning for the children and we grow from their natural ability to learn and become the scaffold/support on this exciting journey.

Too often we plan everything within an inch of its life that the opportunities for curiosity have been drained for the children, relax folks for goodness sake!

Fairly recently I gave the children the opportunity to explore something new, however I didn’t dictate what happened. Instead I just provided a commentary about what was happening with maybe a question said out loud. The activity was crushing cocoa beans in a pestle and mortar. The sensory experience was brilliant for the children and really fulfilled many of the COEL – Playing and Exploring, Active Learning and Creating and Thinking Critically.

After attending #JigsawEPOP North I wanted to start an #EYRevolution and now, after listening to Helen Moylett talking about COEL and how much it can impact our everyday work in such a positive way for the children, I now have that solid foundation to start the revolution!

If you would like a copy of Helen’s book then please do click on our affiliates link below:

Meanwhile, in Next!

Now, how exciting was this discovery whilst browsing round Next?

A solid wood dice, ok it’s meant to be a doorstop by that just means it should last!

I saw this on a shelf and instantly thought if maths games, counting activities and talking about numbers.

Wish I’d bought it now!


Fine Motor Threading

I was having a wander round Home Sense today and saw this pasta on the shelf. I think this would be amazing for threading, working on fine motor control and hand/eye co-ordination.

A bargain at £2.49 as well!