Creating your own ethos at your home nursery
by Alicia Wilkins on August 26
7 min read:
Miss, I can’t do that because I am a girl.
Miss, my hair is ugly.
Miss, I’m not clever because I don’t have stars.
Miss, this person looks like me. I love this book!
I start this article with a few sentences that children have said to me during my years of working as a primary school teacher.
I had a snapshot of the child’s world, through their eyes, that even at a very young age they are aware of their surroundings and how their surroundings shape their thinking and impact their self-worth.
Children are naturally inquisitive, and they have the ability to make sense of the world through play. We as Early Years Educators, are the enablers that provide them with the freedom to learn, grow and develop. We nurture their interests, motivate and empower them. This is why we must aim to ensure that every child is celebrated, represented and most importantly listened to.
We can all learn from what has been successful and what has not been successful in any educational setting. As part of our pedagogy, we observe, evaluate and reflect daily to strengthen our practice and to ensure that we are consistent with initiating the actions to support the progression of the child’s learning, which includes the child’s personal, social, physical and emotional development. We also encourage positive interactions and relationships with others and the ability to have a healthy and positive approach to have love and respect for ourselves. I believe that self-love, well-being and education go hand in hand.
Many of us are already aware of how the pandemic has affected children’s well-being, due to the sudden change to their daily routine and the limitations set upon them, that they simply cannot comprehend. All of a sudden, they were introduced to a world where they couldn’t hug loved ones, they couldn’t attend schools, playgroups, nurseries, parks, or any social gatherings.
During the lockdown, although there were positive situations where it highlighted the power of togetherness and community, it was an overwhelming time for many children across the world and unfortunately, many children have remained anxious and negatively affected by the pandemic. Those of us who provide care to children have collectively experienced how each individual child has been affected; how the impact of the pandemic, no matter how subtle, (for example, the impact on confidence, communication skills, mental and physical health) has resulted in a society now recognising the importance of protecting children’s well-being and learning, so that we can still provide the children with the freedom to be children in a world with these new restrictions and rules. There is also a growing consciousness and empathy for children and families who, before the introduction of the lockdown, had already experienced limitations on a day-to-day basis, with various reasons as to why they cannot leave their home, thus being isolated and excluded from society.
I ask this question; what measures are now in place to ensure that children are listened to and that their mental health, well-being, and their learning are looked after?
I have an important role as an Early Years Educator, Childminder and Tiney home leader. I can be the example of the change that I want to see in educational settings, honouring my authentic belief that children should be free to be children; listened to and included, empowered and nurtured to achieve at their own pace, without the pressure to maintain certain levels or targets set upon them, which in my opinion stifles creativity and thinking, due to the disregard of the multiple intelligences and the institutional systematic emphasis on only recognising and celebrating a child’s academic achievements.
Using my own experience as a primary school teacher and a mother to a toddler, my role is to love, support, celebrate, and care for the children within my setting. I have created an environment that is safe and that they feel safe and loved as soon as they enter my home.
Play is learning and learning is play, and I am responsible for ensuring that my home has various opportunities for child-focused learning, in a learning-rich environment. The children can engage with each other and the adults. I encourage children to be independent and independent thinkers. In my home nursery, I do not have society ideologies set upon them that hinder their thinking, their worth, and natural curiosity. For example, I have a wide selection of books of various reading stages, that feature black and brown children as part of the story and as the main characters and also books that are written and illustrated by black people. In most schools that I’ve worked in and visited in London, the selection of books and resources lacked multicultural representation, which surprisingly does not reflect the multicultural London that I live in.
Representation matters and having a selection of books that reflect our society does not just benefit the communities and individuals that have been marginalised and underrepresented. We can all learn about each other through our environment and the children will learn their worth and value within my home through the activities and resources that I provide and also through the natural conversations that we will have together, whereby we can have a cultural exchange, appreciating and respecting each other as we all have special skills, and unique talents to offer the world.
I welcome the learning about cultures and traditions different from my own and will not rely on the outdated, generic “topic boxes”, that are often based on stereotypes and are only bought out during specific times of the year, instead of having these topics weaving in as part of an important discussion of interest throughout the year (October = black history month and Africa topic box/ display of mud huts and wild animals…). I believe that institutions should not be ticking the boxes to cover certain topics. Instead, it should be an enjoyable, immersive learning and discovery experience, about the different cultures and traditions where perhaps the topic box can be replaced by real people, sharing their experiences and stories.
All communities are welcome at my home nursery, and I look forward to inviting families to share their cultures, languages, and traditions as part of my home nursery curriculum, whereby I will work in partnership with the children’s families, so that we make up the wider learning experience for the children and for myself.
I am creating a home nursery that is a celebration of all children of all nationalities and backgrounds and my home nursery has already become a hub of creativity and togetherness. I have had tremendous support from my friends, family, and the wider community. I welcome the ideas from those around me and I am very appreciative to have this support.
I have had people generously donate toys, books and learning resources and I have even had people offering their time to be involved in the daily nursery activities, such as becoming an outing volunteer, storyteller, arts and crafts leader and play facilitator.
It’s an exciting prospect to know that I will be making a positive impact within my community.
I am well supported and although I will be providing the learning experience as the nursery leader, I am also “the student” within my environment.
There is a lot that we can learn from children, and I feel very fortunate to soon be opening my doors to more children who will become a part of my family. I provide a service with the same standards I would expect for my own child to have at his nursery or school. I provide a ‘home from home’ experience, in a surrounding that is familiar to the children, where they are happy, relaxed, and comfortable.
My home nursery is called “Indigo Butterfly”. A creative place, where we can learn, grow, flourish and fly.
At Indigo Butterfly Tiney home nursery, it is most certainly the change that I want to see in education, and I am proud to be part of a community of Tiney home leaders, who share the same passion for putting children’s needs at the forefront of education.
“Do not train a child to learn by force or harshness; but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each”