Feedback from Early Years 2012 conference – Part Four   6 comments

I hope you have enjoyed my personal feedback from the conference so far – and have taken the opportunity to click on the links provided.

And so we come to the final installment – Part Four (If you have come across this page first – take a look at parts 1,2 and 3).

Part three ended at coffee time on day two – and I was chatting to fellow childminder Jackie – mainly it has to be said about the reject deregulation campaign – and the meetings to respond to questions from DfE (more about this elsewhere on the blog)

Coffee time passed really quickly and Jackie and I went of to different workshops – my choice was ‘Exploring the education approach of Reggio / promoting creativity in early education’ and was presented by Johanna Scott who is an Early Years practitioner from Edinburgh.

Johanna had taken up an opportunity to go and work in Reggio Emilia for a whole year with the remit of teaching the children English.

I have to say that I left the workshop a little sad – but nothing to do with Johanna’s presentation or knowledge – both which were excellent – but to do with my previous desire to go to Reggio and see for myself  -as I no longer want to go.

After listening to Johanna, I decided that actually I have already – through the information and photographs of others – both at this conference and the exhibition that I went to in Birmingham a few years ago – found out all that I need to about Reggio Emilia. I still love the creative work they do with children  especially with light and colour, and admire the end product of long term projects that are produced.

BUT personally I feel that this is not quite in tune with my thinking and my ethos  – where was the outside play? where was the sand and water play? Where were the bold brush strokes and ‘drippy paint’ pictures? ( I wonder do children in Reggio Emilia not paint like that? Surely some of them do)

Just made me think ( and not just because of Johanna’s presentation – my friend Elaine who has also been to Reggio in recent years said much the same) – there is so much about Reggio Emilia that I like, even admire – but thinking about the children I care for now and have cared for in the past – I am just not convinced that would meet their needs. Of course it would meet some children’s needs – and there are aspects that will feature within my setting .

However it is now time for me personally to look at other approaches in more detail, and so further develop my own understanding – and therefore reflect on my own practice and decide if these other ideas and approaches will feature in my setting  or adjust my personal values, practice and ethos.

By now lunchtime – another cold buffet but a different selection to Thursday. I manged to chat to several people – including two of my breakfast time companions – Linda and Helen, as well as Jackie and a couple of others. Linda mentioned the Reggio approach in Sweden and how it differs – something for me to look into – as soon as I have time.

And so back into the main hall for the last two speakers of the conference – Linda Pound and Helen Moylett – I suppose some might consider me a little ‘sad’ but I was quite excited about the session ahead.

Linda’s presentation was on ‘The importance of creative adults in young children’s learning’ – Thankfully this does not mean adults who are skilled artists or actors or musicians – as I am not of these things – I have a go but I am certainly not skilled.

Linda’s thinking – and I agree – is about the need to have adults who can think creatively – think outside the box so to speak – especially when in comes to interpreting policy. She suggested that as we can not foresee what skills or knowledge children will need in the future – it is better to give the children opportunity to develop their creativity, their imagination – their ability to THINK for themselves and not just to follow instructions or be able to perform limited tasks or tick certain boxes.

I totally agree – if we teach our children to do things in one set way – that is how they will do it – or worse, won’t do it that way and think they have ‘failed’ and will stop trying. In this world apart from certain laws – such as which side of the road you drive on in certain countries – there is usually lots of ‘right ways’ – like learning to read, like how you do multiplications or  even how you implement the EYFS.

If our ancestors had thought the only way to get from A to B  was to walk , and had not experimented, not learnt through trail and error, not thought there must be other methods – where would we be now – yes still walking from A to B, still eating cold, raw food, still huddling together in caves or under bushes.

I for one am glad that our ancestors had the creativity skills to think, to try, to solve problems, to be inventive – this is what I want for the children in my care now, and  the children I will care for in the future .

Of course Linda had lots of other things to say – such as about risky play – and why we prevent risk taking through our over protective risk assessments – again I agree – I now only have one statement about risk assessments – and that is my procedure as required by EYFS 12 – maybe I am thinking creatively – maybe Ofsted will inspect and down grade me – but why should they? Bits of paper do not keep children safe – I do – as described in my procedure.

I could go on  – but I think you get the message – Linda was expressing my thoughts from the front of the hall – and I am delighted that she was, as affirmation that I am on the right track, that my personal thoughts are echoed by others -is very reassuring.

Moving on then to the last speaker – Helen Moylett. Very well known – for her Birth to Three and EYFS input (to name a few things) Helen’s lecture was about ‘The characteristics of effect early learning: a new focus in the Early Years Foundation Stage’ – and the first thing she said? It is not new!! and she showed us where it was within EYFS08. Helen then explain that although included before not many people took much notice of it (of course she did not mean the people in the room – because we are the very sort of people who would have taken notice). Helen spoke with passion about how children learn  at the various stages of development (note not ages) and the importance of letting children do it for themselves (through showing a couple of powerful video clips). Again this all linked back to creative play, use of natural and recycled materials and most importantly TIME – time to explore, time to do again and again, time to find out through trial and error, time to do it – their own individual way. Music to my ears – because once again I was agreeing with the experts.

And so the conference came to a close – but not before I had made a comment to the room – which resulted in a round of applause.

So in conclusion before the conference I was asking myself if the conference was going to be worth the total cost of £500 (conference, travel, hotel) and taking two days off work – the answer is YES  – worth every penny. I will be going next year –  if there is one. Will you?

Posted September 24, 2012 by psw260259 in Conferences that I have attended

6 responses to “Feedback from Early Years 2012 conference – Part Four

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  1. Fantastic blog Penny, I have looked forward to each instalment. Interesting your change of heart on Reggio, during my studies over the last couple of years, I have done quite extensive research on many of the theorists and pioneers. I found myself excited by each, but always someting that didn’t sit right! For many years I was fascinated by the montessori approach until I vistited 2 nurseries that folowed this approach and the same with Stiener. My attitude now is variety is the spice of life!

    • You are right Sally – things do appear to be wonderful and just what we are looking for – until we find out a bit more!

      My ethos and therefore my practice has remained much the same over many years – but been developed as I have researched things – and it has to be said – tried things for myself. I also find that with different children / groups of children I naturally focus more on one aspect than another – to meet their individual needs.

  2. I am delighted that my presentation on the Reggio Emilia approach inspired you and most importantly made you reflecting and questionning your own personal views and values. Furthermore, I was very proud of showing the children’s creativity throughout all the different projects that I have done with the children in Reggio and it was a huge commitment and challenging year not only for myself but for my family and the Reggio practitioners. To resume I strongly believe that our duty as practitioners is to always value and nurture children’s creativity, talents, personality and above all giving the children a voice in early year’s education. I hope I will have another opportunity to attend an early year’s conference very soon and thank you again for your positive and honest feedback.

    PS: If you would like me to send you the hand-outs of my presentation here my email:

    Johanna Scott. (CPD Provider/Course tutor)

    • Thank you so much Johanna for taking the time to comment – and for the offer to send your presentation – I shall be emailing you.

      I do hope that you do get to present to others as a wonderful opportunity for practitioners to see and hear about your experiences.Thank you for sharing with others as not many of us will be given the same opportunities – and even if we were not many would be able to take it up for various reasons, especially as in your case meant giving up home, work and taking the family with you

      I wish you the very best of luck in the future.

  3. Pingback: Early Years 2014 ‘How Children Learn’ conference 19th September 2014 | Penny's Place Childminding

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