If your baby or toddler attends a playgroup or nursery, they will be assigned a key worker who takes on the responsibility of liaising between your child and you, the parents. The key worker assumes the role of primary carer for your little one, ensuring that they settle into the nursery setting, integrate with the other children, and generally ensure your baby's welfare whilst they are in their care.
The key worker is also responsible for reporting on the six areas of learning and development within the Early Years Foundation Stage and to this end, they will make regular observations and report back to the parents. They will also raise any concerns about development should they notice anything.
The key worker does not shadow your child the whole time or play solely with their key wards. A key worker will take responsibility for several children simultaneously and may only make observational notes on an occasional basis rather than every day.
You should always be made aware who your child's key worker is, this information is usually displayed on a notice board within the setting, and the preschool may hold 'parent's evenings' where you can interface directly with the key worker to be told of progress and any concerns. Over time your key worker may change, and you should be informed at the time. If you ever have concerns about how your child is setting into their day setting, then do not hesitate to raise them with your key worker.
We've progressed a long way from the Victorian days when children were best kept our of sight and out of mind, but the sad truth is that modern living often means that your children spend more time with a childminder than they do with you. Are you kept informed of how your children are doing, and do you have a good idea of their progress?
The government's Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) requires for child minders, carers and nursery teachers actively to keep records of every child's progress. Make sure that you are getting the level of information you want about your children and how they are developing. If you aren't hearing enough, then ask for more - if you feel your childminder is being too diligent, then they will be delighted to be asked to reign back a bit and tell you just what you want to hear!
At ToucanLearn, every child receives their own Daily Diary designed especially for childminders to share information with parents. By sharing the Daily Diary you can stay informed about what your children are doing every day. This service can be used for free, but premium members can also upload photos to keep a photographic record of everything they do too.
We know from feedback that we receive about our service that many parents are able to view what their children are doing throughout the day - they can see pictures of new artwork once it has been uploaded, and they can read what their little ones are making, doing and eating during the day. Here at ToucanLearn we're dedicated to helping working parents share as much information about their children as they can. If you don't feel you are getting the information you want from your childminder, why not ask them to start posting a Daily Diary in ToucanLearn? Our FREE service means they don't even have to spend a penny to do so!
Many families don't have the luxury of a parent staying at home to raise their children, many families require two incomes to support themselves, and it's a sad truth that your childminder may see more of your young children than you do. Given the amount of time spent away from your children, how do you know that they are in good hands? ...that your nanny, childminder or nursery is really great with them?
Part of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) mandates good lines of communication between carers and parents. It is important for parents to know what their children have been doing, what they are learning and how they are progressing. ToucanLearn's Daily Diary offers one way in which carers can share their experiences with parents. Nanny's don't have to follow EYFS but it is still good practice for you to develop a formal or informal way that lets them tell you what has been happening.
If you have doubts about the quality of your child care, you should raise it with the care provider in the first instance. If matters remain unresolved, you can take complaints to OFSTED. They will investigate not only people registered as OFSTED carers, but also people providing care services that aren't enrolled on their registers. You can find out more about how OFSTED respond to complaints in this document. Child services are, understandably, a hugely important and sensitive area. OFSTED will take your issues seriously, and will work with both sides to ensure a high standard of care, and the implementation of best practice.
There's no doubt that the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) requirements place a huge burden on childminders and teachers, but linking your activities to the EYFS and planning topics in advance need not be as difficult as you might imagine. Every activity you choose to undertake with babies and toddlers will have some learning benefits, and it's usually pretty easy to stretch activities to cover almost any of the areas of learning and devlopment.
Let's look at three basic activities, and see how we can adjust them to cover all six of the areas of learning and development.
(1) Finger Painting
Sit your little one down with a large sheet of paper and some poster paints, and ask them to create a 'picture' dipping their fingers in the paint and drawing on their canvas. You can easily cover each of the areas of learning and development:-
(2) A Walk in the Park
Take a stroll out to your nearest park and observe what's happening around you, at the same time, covering all the areas of learning and development:-
(3) Make-Believe Restaurant
Set up a restaurant with your little one(s), pretend you have a nice restaurant, beautiful tables, and lots of customers. Pretend to make and serve food, and let's see how we can fit it to those areas of learninf and development once more:-
All of the activities we present in ToucanLearn are tagged with the key areas of learning and development they support, we flag the specific focus areas within each area that they compliment. However, with just a little bit of imagination, you can expand any activity to cover almost any of the areas of learning and development.
Why don't you decide on a theme to pursue each week? It might be counting, shapes, colours, animals, countries or anything else. Choose a theme, and adjust each activity you undertake to fit in with the theme. It's easier than you might think, and you'll have a lot of fun together at the same time!
It stands to reason that art and craft assists to develop fine muscle control in your babies, and that kicking, running and chasing games improve their physical strength and control, but how do you kick start your baby's ability to think and solve problems? Funnily enough, abstract thinking and analytical skills are the focus of many Fisher Price toys created for babies and toddlers. You may not have thought about it, but toys such as shape sorters, simple jigsaws starting with just two pieces per puzzle, old fashioned building blocks and musical instruments all help to develop analytical and thinking skills in babies and toddlers.
Walk into a toyshop and so many of the toys available today were available in a similar form in our own childhood - many were available in similar form during our parents and grandparents childhoods too! Science has long told us that interacting with such toys helps us explore the world and develop our thinking, perhaps what is more surprising is that there are so few innovations in childrens toys over the last two generations. That comes down to the fact that human development hasn't evolved in that time, and for a long time we have had a pretty good understanding of it.
When nurturing your children, or children that you work with, introduce a good balance of 'thinking' games and activities. This is only one area of child development, but it can be easy to overlook the importance of this area if you particularly enjoy more physical activities. That is one reason that the Early Years Foundation Stage is so important - by following the guidelines and ticking off boxes for areas that you have pursued, you will automatically be delivering a well balanced development plan to your little ones. If you aren't the most creative person and struggle for ideas in areas of EYFS, or you simply want ideas that you can adopt and develop, then sign up to ToucanLearn now! We offer hundreds of activities concentrating on key development skills, and for premium members we link them all to EYFS too so that you can track progress with your little ones. If you are toying with the idea of subscribing to ToucanLearn, then there are several hundred good reasons for doing so!
In the first few months following birth, your baby is experiencing the world through its senses, and it is those experiences that help form connections inside the brain and these connections that shape the individual mind of your baby. At birth, a baby is barely able to see but they have an acute sense of smell. At three days old they can recognise the smell of their mother's breast milk and the odour of their parents, yet they can still see only centimetres in front of them. They have an innate ability to recognise faces and are attracted to faces close by.
By three months their brains have developed considerably and they are able to control themselves better - they can choose where to look rather than being fixated on moving objects nearby. They might move their arms and legs seemingly randomly, but this is helping them to build up muscles, an essential component on the way to being able to roll, crawl and later walk. This movement allows them to interact with their physical surroundings and this intensifies the rate at which the brain develops as it is exposed to new experiences. Research shows that babies who are denied the opportunity to interact physically with their surroundings develop at a slower rate so it is particularly important to work with babies suffering physical or mental disability to ensure that they can develop as best they can.
Interacting with your baby is especially important even during these early months - try to spend time with your newborn baby stimulating them. Stimulate their vision by exposing them to high contrast patterns and making movement in front of them; stimulate their hearing by playing background sounds and music, and rattling toys in front of them. Stimulate their sense of feel by touching stroking them and letting them hold your fingers and baby toys.
It would be easy to ignore your newborn baby and leave them lying in another room for their first few months while you get on with the chores you have to do, but the more time you can spend with your baby, the more rewarding for both you and your little one!
Don't forget that here at ToucanLearn we have activities suitable from birth onwards. Our early activities are simple and aimed at helping to stimulate early development in your child. All our activities link into the Early Years Foundation Stage Areas of Learning and Development, so you can monitor that you are giving your baby a broad range of activities even at this early stage.
ToucanLearn has just got better - all our activities now link to the Early Year Foundation Stage (EYFS) areas of learning! Over the last few months we've been working to tie in our activities to the government's curriculum for preschool children (from birth to 5 years). There are six areas of learning, each broken down into different focal points, click here to read more specific information on each of the areas and their constituent parts.
Our EYFS information is only available to PREMIUM Members - but annual PREMIUM membership costs less than a pizza! PREMIUM Members are able to search for activities with a focus on each of the six areas of learning, making planning really easy. Record your activitiy in your blog and over time you will see which areas you have covered and in how much depth.
Whilst EYFS is of primary interest for childminders, carers and nannies, the easy way in which ToucanLearn presents this information makes it easy for parents to follow a government led learning path without having to invest time in understanding the wider EYFS programme.
This is the first in a series of new features coming over the next few months, so watch out for our further announcements!!
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Hi! I'm Tikal the Toucan, the mascot for ToucanLearn. Follow my blog to find out interesting things relating to babies, toddlers and preschool children!
Sign up FREE to ToucanLearn to follow our activity based learning programme for babies, toddlers and children. We offer hundreds of fun learning craft, games and activities - every activity is aimed at the capabilities of your specific children. Download custom activity sheets, and log their progress in each child's unique Daily Diary!
You'll also find sticker and reward charts, certificates, number and letter practice. Every activity links into the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) areas of learning and development.
Fill in our Daily Diary to log progress against the EYFS and add photo entries instantly simply by sending them straight from your phone. You can share diaries back with parents or childminders so that everyone can enjoy watching your children develop.
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