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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!

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!

#regretsinlife

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!

Self Care Sunday – Running

Ever Sunday I try to do something that boosts my own welbeing and recharges me for the week ahead, we all know it’s going to be busy so it’s worthwhile taking that time for yourself. I call this #selfcaresunday

I post about this on my instagram feed so that you can get some inspiration for your own version of #selfcaresunday. This week I took part in a running event called The Bloodaxe Challenge (not as brutal as it sounds!)

Running is well known to be a great source of emotional wellbeing and can help with depression and low mood as well as being brilliant for your physical health.

If you’re not sure where to start with running it’s worthwhile checking out the NHS Couch to 5k programme by clicking here

You can also download the app for your smartphone and this is available for Android and Apple.

Don’t forget Parkrun which is a free, timed 5k tun held in parks and public spaces around the UK/ Find yours by clicking here.

There are so many running groups to join across the UK, lots of which have beginners groups, here a a few useful links:

Run Together

Fit Mums and Friends

Lonely Goat

JogScotland

#bekind #tmpearlyyears #eyfs #wellbeing #bloodaxechallenge #running #physical #practitionersmatter #EYtwittertagteam

Open Ended Play with Nursery Nook

I totally meant to write about this last week but you know how life runs away with you?

Well last week we were delighted to welcome James Tunnell from Nursery Nook into our setting for a twilight session talking about loose parts and open ended play. James has an utter passion for this and it showed in his enthusiasm and eagerness to share his knowledge and experience with us, I sort of rate it a kid in a sweet shop type enthusiasm!

There was an opportunity to play with a huge variety of loose parts (James really needs a bigger car!) but, genuinely, I could have sat and listened to him all night long.

If you are in the wider Yorkshire area and would like to book him then visit his website:

www.nurserynook.co.uk

Male Only Apprenticeship Cohort? Radical!

I’ve followed June O’Sullivan’s blog (she’s the CEO of the London Early Years Foundation, a group of 39 nurseries in and around London) on and off for a while. Just recently though this article caught my eye:

https://www.leyf.org.uk/the-male-only-apprentice-group/

It surprised me and pleased me in equal measure. Finally somebody is doing something radical to increase the male practitioner population for Early Years.

June, I salute you!

soldier

Exciting Journey Ahead – Our Hygge Adventure

I was very lucky recently, I mean VERY lucky, and it doesn’t happen often. I entered a competition on the Facebook Page for Hygge in the Early Years, run by the amazing Kimberly Smith, and to my utter amazement I won!

The competition was to win a place on the latest cohort of the Hygge in the Early Years Accreditation scheme. This is such an exciting opportunity for me and my setting to bring some calmness and joy into our practice as we work through this journey. We are aware it isn’t an overnight process so we are taking our time with it and savouring each lesson.

Check back for updates soon!

What is the “Third Educator”?

I’ve was reading an interesting article recently by Stephanie Bennett and Lyndsey Hellyn, the co-founders of The Curiosity ApproachTM, where the talked about how educational pioneer Loris Malaguzzi always spoke about the children’s learning environment in terms of the Third Education. In fact he’s quoted as saying “There are three teachers of children: adults, other children and their physical environment.”

As practitioners do we really spend a lot of our time looking at how our rooms look and constantly running around and sweeping up the mess to keep it looking nice? Isn’t that just a sign that the room isn’t working for the children?

In one of my previous settings I always knew it was time for a change round in the layout of the room when it became our main focus of the day to be clearing up after the children. This was when, as a Team we would sit and look at what worked and what didn’t. Children constantly need, fresh, new challenges and the environment is there to scaffold the children into achieving these challenges. So I urge you to spend a bit of time regularly looking at your learning environment and seeing how to freshen up the challenge for your children.