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Advocacy, Community, Documentation, Pedagogy, Professional Development, Professionalism, Programming


Another brand new podcast episode has landed and we are pretty excited about it! This episode Nic talks to Carrie Rose of Rosie’s Early Learning in QLD, all about inquiry based planning. This episode is a little longer, but it is worth it!

Our brilliant buddy Jeff A Johnson, over at Explorations Early Learning/Playvolution HQ is producing our podcasts for us (for which we are incredibly grateful!) and you can listen on your favourite podcast app under the Child Care Bar and Grill podcast feed. Here is a link to episode 007


EPISODE 007 – Inquiry Based Planning with Carrie Rose
What if we asked ourselves the question – why do we do it this way? What if the answer led us to “throw out” a whole way of thinking and working that we had engaged in since time began?! Carrie Rose and her team at Rosie’s Early Learning in QLD are the epitome of reflective educators. They really thought about the way in which they programmed and planned, observed and documented, and they made some really big changes. 
In this episode we find out more about inquiry based planning and why ditching the traditional portfolios might just lead us to even more meaningful documentation and assessment of learning. 

LINKS AND OTHER INFO
To find out more about Carrie Rose and Rosie’s Early Learning, you can contact: 
 
 

Did you know that one of our Inspired EC Co-founders, Tash, is a licensed trainer for Claire Warden and regularly delivers professional development on the Talking and Thinking Floorbooks Approach? To find out more about this collaborative approach which lends itself beautifully to what we discussed in this episode, please email us today – training@inspiredec.com 

You can also get a copy of the book “Talking and Thinking Floorbooks” by Claire Warden on our website




WE WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU! 

If you have any comments or questions about the episode, we would love to hear them. Perhaps there is something that we talked about that you would like more information on, or you have a topic you would like to hear explored in an upcoming episode? Maybe YOU would like to be interviewed! Our aim is to talk to educators all around the country (and overseas!) about their everyday practice with children. 
Feel free to comment below or email nicole@inspiredec.com
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Advocacy, Childhood, Outdoors, Parenting, Play


A little while back, my youngest daughter and I popped into a local shopping centre to grab a few things. On our way in, she spotted a little playground area with some climbing equipment and a slide. The layout of the playground was actually pretty cool (especially for a shopping centre complex!) and she was delighted to have it all to herself. She climbed and swung and rolled her way around the playground while I watched. As I stood at the foot of the slide, watching her climb up, a sign on the wall grabbed my attention: 


While most of the “rules” on the sign seemed fairly logical, one about halfway down really jumped out at me. “Slides are for going down, not up!” 

Needless to say, I continued to watch my four-year-old climb the slide, content in the knowledge that there were no other children for her to impact and that she is an extremely competent climber, but the signage really bugged me. Now, I am by no means the first person to suggest that it is okay for children to go up the slide – a quick google search reveals several articles, and Heather Shumaker even titled a book “It’s OK to Go Up the Slide: Renegade Rules for Raising Confident and Creative Kids.” In recent years, I have become more and more aware of the great divide between parents (and parts of society such as schools, councils and other “rule makers”) around this issue. 

I have raised this issue with others before and frequently been met with furious debate. There are those that value the skills and strength required to climb up the slide, as well as the freedom afforded to children in their play; while others argue that it is dangerous and that the slide was designed for going down, not up. My response to that has always been – how do we know? Who says? Why? One particularly adamant educator insisted that it was just a well-known fact of history – they are only for going down. Always one to explore things that make me curious or try to find out more about “the facts” – I took to Google (of course… how else do we find stuff out?!) 

The following is from Wikipedia: 
Playground slides are found in parks, schools, playgrounds and backyards. The slide is an example of the simple machine known as the inclined plane,[1][circular reference] which makes moving objects up and down easier, or in this case more fun.

Do you know that expression that someone looks like the “cat that caught the canary”? Well… that’s me upon reading this!

In all seriousness though, children can get hurt going down a slide. Children can get hurt going up a slide. Children can get hurt walking to the bathroom! Going up the slide requires a different set of body skills, it requires a different focus. Some children will find it challenging to go up the slide. Some children will find it easy. There will be some negotiation required between children, but you know what? They usually just work it out. I can remember being at a playground once, watching my son climbing up the slide. I was sitting back on the grass, leaving him to his play. A child came to the top of the slide to slide down, so my son (who was then around 3.5years old) hopped off and let the child slide down, then began to climb again. He worked it out. This went on for a good twenty minutes or so, with other children coming and going, some going up and most going down. Suddenly, a parent stepped in and told the children who were going up “you are not allowed to do that. It’s dangerous. The slide is for going down.” The children who had been climbing up got off the slide and a few drifted away to play elsewhere, wistfully looking back at the slide. I stepped towards the slide and let my son know that he could keep going up if he wanted to and that I had seen how careful and considerate he had been. The glare I received from the other parent was intense, but it didn’t change my mind. I was simply advocating for the way that children (and not just my own) were playing. 

Signs like this one hurt my heart a little. I know that there are times we need to have rules and regulations to keep people safe. I know that there are insurance issues and fear of litigation. But I also know that children have the right to play… and sometimes that play looks different from what we might first expect! 



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Advocacy, Community, Pedagogy, Professional Development, Professionalism


Did you catch episode 6 of our podcast “The Inspired Educator” when it landed a few weeks ago?? You might have missed it, as we were crazy busy at the time and didn’t pop it up here so you would know all about it! 

Our brilliant buddy Jeff A Johnson, over at Explorations Early Learning/Playvolution HQ is producing our podcasts for us (for which we are incredibly grateful!) and you can listen on your favourite podcast app under the Child Care Bar and Grill podcast feed. Here is a link to episode 006


EPISODE 006 – Men in Early Childhood with Tristan Page
Let’s face it – men are severely outnumbered in the early childhood profession. While I’ve known many services to say “We would love to have a male working in our service!” the reality is, that there are not enough men out there. Why? Are there issues of sexism at play? Are men deterred by societal “norms” and assumptions? In this episode, we chat with educator Tristan Page. Tristan has been an educator for over 18 years and provides a great insight into what it is really like as a male in a female-dominated profession. 

** We recognise that it is not a black and white – male/female situation and do not wish to exclude anyone based on gender identity. Gender identity and stereotypes are something we would love to continue exploring and thinking critically about in the way we present information and ideas. Please bear with us as we fine-tune!! **


WE WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU! 

If you have any comments or questions about the episode, we would love to hear them. Perhaps there is something that we talked about that you would like more information on, or you have a topic you would like to hear explored in an upcoming episode? Maybe YOU would like to be interviewed! Our aim is to talk to educators all around the country (and overseas!) about their everyday practice with children. 
Feel free to comment below or email nicole@inspiredec.com
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Professionalism



“None of them are mums – they have no idea.” 
“They are all so young.” 

“There’s one great educator – she’s a parent, so she gets it.”


These are some snippets of a conversation that I overheard at the school gate last week. As parents arrived to collect their children from school, one shared their frustration with their other child’s early education and care service. While there is doubt that their concerns were valid and that they ultimately want their child to be happy, settled and well cared for in the service, what stood out to me most was the assertion that the “young” educators were doing a lousy job because they weren’t parents yet. Other parents quickly agreed with this idea, expressing their preference for more “mature” educators who were already parents, suggesting that they were better at their job as a result. 

This isn’t the first time that I have overheard this sort of conversation, and I can be certain that it won’t be the last time either. When I began working in early childhood in a full-time position, I was 19 years old. I had just finished my Diploma and was keen to begin really putting into practice, the theory that I had learned. It didn’t take long before I noticed that some parents would talk to me about the “fluff” things (she loved the trucks in the sandpit today) but swiftly seek out an older “mum” educator to talk about the “important stuff”. Was I offended? Nope. Not only was I young and not a parent, but I was also indeed inexperienced. I had done 18months of training, a couple of practicums and a few casual shifts at a local preschool. I was a total newbie. 

As time went on I became more confident in my ability as an educator, and in my knowledge and understandings. 
When I was 21, I unexpectedly found myself in the position of nominated supervisor. While it was only intended to be a temporary position, I decided that I actually loved it and put my hand up to take it on permanently. The management committee (comprising of parents) discussed this at length and as I found out from them some years later, there was some concern about my age and the fact that I wasn’t yet a parent, and may not, therefore, be able to relate to parents as well as a more mature (parent) educator. Am I glad I didn’t know that they had this conversation at the time? Damn right I am! I would have been outraged! 21 year old me thought that she had the goods. She thought that it didn’t matter that she wasn’t a parent because she understood theories, research, programs and all of the “right” things to be doing with children. Looking back – 21 year old me was probably a little bloody smug! Parents occasionally said things like “you’ll understand when you are a parent”, and I would think – “I already understand.”


I was 24 when I became a mum for the first time. Did I think it would change me as an educator? Not really. Did it change me as an educator? YOU BET! But I don’t think it made me a better educator. I still knew what I knew (well except for the precious information that seems to get eaten up by baby brain – a condition that I hope will subside now my youngest is almost 5!!). But, it did offer me a different perspective. Now, when a parent was having difficulty separating with their child in the morning, I wasn’t just looking for the best solution for the child, I was thinking about how hard it feels for that parent who is leaving their child in the care of virtual strangers, crying and unsettled. Even now, being a parent has an impact on my work as a consultant. When I visit an early childhood service to observe practice, I find myself constantly thinking about whether that way of speaking or engaging with the child is how I would want my child to be cared for. 

But back to the conversation that sparked this train of thought (I promise I am getting to a point!) 

There does seem to be an assumption that being a parent or even just being older makes for a better educator. I have worked with and visited educators who range in age from 18 to 60+ and have seen non-parent educators who are insightful, connected, perceptive and provide the most nurturing, high-quality care for children. I have also experienced educators who are in fact parents, and yet their practice is poor, their patience low, their enthusiasm for their work lacking. I guess the point I am trying to make is that it isn’t as simple as parent = better educator. And while some families attending your service may feel comforted to know that there are educators who are there that have been through exactly what they are going through, it is most important that we have educators who are committed to ongoing development, who have the rights of the child at the forefront, and whose practice is infused with love and connection.   

Becoming a parent certainly changed me as an educator – but so have years of experience, and attendance at conferences, as well as opportunities to read, research and learn. 

And, next time I overhear this conversation I’ll be joining in. I will suggest that perhaps these educators aren’t “lousy” because they are young and not parents, but perhaps the parent expectations and service practice are misaligned, or perhaps they could spend some time in the service (we all know that the 10mins at drop off and pick up are not the best representation of the whole day) or perhaps they are just not cut out to be educators – I hate to say it, but there are some people in our profession who don’t appear to enjoy it or have a real desire to grow and be better for children (and if you know one of these people – a gentle nudge to another career is always a nice idea!) 

What do you think? Have you experienced this in your work? Has becoming a parent changed you as an educator? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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Advocacy, Childhood, Environments, Nature Play, Outdoors, Professionalism


Last night it rained. It didn’t rain for long – perhaps ten minutes in total, but it rained. It has been so long since that pitter-patter sound was heard on our roof that my children cheered. 
“It’s finally raining!” they said. 

We are in a coastal area on level one water restrictions. Our “grass” resembles crunchy straw, and we took water play off the menu at home when our rainwater tank ran dry around two months ago. But we are not in the worst of it.  We have family out west who are running out of water. Our friends have a farm and have been hand feeding and selling off sheep for months, trucking in water to keep those that remain alive while their dam sits dry and cracked. 

And now, just when we thought that our country couldn’t take anymore, we have been ravaged by fire. There are currently over 130 fires burning in New South Wales alone and there is no real end in sight. The images being shown across the world are heartbreaking – lives lost, families fleeing and wildlife decimated. For those not directly in the fire zones, there may be a feeling of helplessness. What do we do? How do we help? How do we support those affected? 

There have been amazing stories of kindness and hope emerging during this horrific time. There are fundraising campaigns, food and supply collections, and people sewing pouches for joeys, and mittens for Koalas. 

What can we do as an early childhood community?
There is no escaping the stories, images and general sense of sadness that is sweeping our country. Children in fire-affected areas are experiencing trauma – let’s not downplay that. Some of them will have seen, heard and felt the unimaginable in the last few weeks.
They may have lost their homes.
They may have seen their parents weep. 
They may have sheltered on a beach, or in a hall, or in the homes of relatives, not really understanding why they were there. 
They may have lost their pets. 
They may have lost a loved one. 

As for the children in areas not directly affected, while they may not be faced with these immediate experiences, they are no doubt impacted by what they are seeing in the news, or hearing in their community. 

While we can advocate for limited access to the twenty-four-hour news cycle (which many experts recommend for children), it is impossible to truly escape what is happening to our country.
There is no doubt that children will want to talk about the bushfires.
There is no doubt that these themes will appear in their play. ‘
There is no doubt that some children will feel worry or fear more strongly than others. 

There have been some wonderful posts online and articles sharing ways in which we can support children and families. As early childhood services, we are in a position to make a difference. Here are just a few things that we can do: 


– Provide a safe space (and your full attention) for children (and families) to share their worries, experiences, and understandings
– Provide materials for children to represent these (e.g. art materials, loose parts, small world play) 
– Assist children to help in the ways that they want to. Many children will have suggestions for how to help – embrace these and bring their ideas to fruition where possible.
– Set up an initiative like a “community pantry” or clothing exchange to allow families to support one another.
– Act as a collection point for donations of supplies to send to those affected. 
– For families who have been directly affected by fire – support them to access the Temporary Financial Hardship Subsidy. 

There are many things we can do. Creating a strong sense of community within our services is vital for strengthening relationships and for ensuring that children and families feel loved, supported and safe.
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Advocacy, Childhood, Community, Pedagogy, Play, Professional Development, Professionalism, Risk


Episode 4 of our podcast “The Inspired Educator” is now available and ready for your listening pleasure!
Our brilliant buddy Jeff A Johnson, over at Explorations Early Learning/Playvolution HQ is producing our podcasts for us (for which we are incredibly grateful!) and you can listen on your favourite podcast app under the Child Care Bar and Grill podcast feed. Here is a link to episode 004


EPISODE 004 – Social Justice with Alistair Gibbs
Here we are with episode 004 and this one is super interesting! For some educators, the term social justice conjures up all sorts of ‘scary’ topics and questions and may evoke imagery of picket lines and protests. This chat with Alistair, really breaks down some of the misconceptions about social justice and offers some great advice for how educators can get started in their service!


WE WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU! 

If you have any comments or questions about the episode, we would love to hear them. Perhaps there is something that we talked about that you would like more information on, or you have a topic you would like to hear explored in an upcoming episode? Maybe YOU would like to be interviewed! Our aim is to talk to educators all around the country (and overseas!) about their everyday practice with children. 
Feel free to comment below or email nicole@inspiredec.com
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Childhood, Community, Parenting, Pedagogy, Play, Professional Development


It’s official. There is only a month until Christmas, and whether you celebrate or not, this time of year becomes absolutely manic in many households, schools, early childhood services, and workplaces. The whole community has a buzz about it. Our calendars demand so much from us – end of year parties, graduations, the finishing of assessments and paperwork, school assemblies, work functions… the list goes on. 

So many adults often lament the busy-ness of this time of year, yet most are able to keep calm and carry on. But what about children? What impact does this time of year have on their wellbeing, on their time to play? 

Think about what might be going on for the young children in our lives right now: 
– End of year parties/celebrations/graduations
– Orientations for those going off to “big school”
– Transitions – from and to new classes or rooms and school (includes new people, places, routines, expectations) 
– Christmas stuff (for those who celebrate!) – parties, Santa visits, photos, extended family visiting, the general buzz of the festive season. 

At this time of the year, children (and often adults!) are hot (summer is upon us here in Australia), tired and busy. School-aged children might jump in the car at 3 pm and commence whining, fighting and crying. Toddlers might protest at the constant go-go-go, by plonking down on the floor of aisle three at Woolworths and refusing to budge. Preschoolers may suddenly not want to separate from mum at drop off. However this manifests in our children, it’s our job as educators, parents, and carers to support them to slow down, to connect and to PLAY. 

So, how do we do that? There are a lot of things we can do to help… but here are a couple. 
  1. Make our spaces (services, homes) calm spaces. Turn off the loud Wiggles music, avoid lots of “activities” and transitions. Just allow children to play
  2. Listen – really listen. Take time to have a conversation with children, and really listen to what they have to say
  3. Spend more time outdoors. Many indoor places (shops, homes, centres etc) are decorated at this time of year. This can be overstimulating for some children. Reconnecting with nature can help to restore a sense of calm. 
  4. Say no. Not to the children! Say no to all of the extra, unnecessary things that simply add to our workload and subtract from children’s play. Say no to “Christmas craft” (you know the old “everybody come and make a Christmas tree from a handprint” thing that I wish wasn’t still around, but one look at Facebook and Pinterest tells me it is!) Say no to graduation ceremonies and performances that put children on show. Say no to things that don’t respect the child’s right to play. 
  5. Just BE with children. Lay on the grass and look for shapes in the clouds, read books together, build with lego, dig in the sand, have a cuddle, go for a bushwalk. Ensure that children have long, uninterrupted blocks of time to just play. 
  6. Meet their basic needs. Sometimes, in the peak of this busy-ness, old Maslow can be forgotten! Tune in to children and assess their needs for sleep, food, comfort, safety. 

So there you have it. A few simple things we can do for children at this busy time of the year. And you can almost guarantee that slowing down and creating calm, with a focus on connection will not just benefit the children, but us adults too!
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Advocacy, Childhood, Environments, Nature Kindergarten, Nature Play, Outdoors, Pedagogy, Play, Professional Development, Professionalism, Risk


Episode 3 of our podcast “The Inspired Educator” is now available and ready for your listening pleasure!
Our brilliant buddy Jeff A Johnson, over at Explorations Early Learning/Playvolution HQ is producing our podcasts for us (for which we are incredibly grateful!) and you can listen on your favourite podcast app under the Child Care Bar and Grill podcast feed. Here is a link to episode 003


EPISODE 003 – Nature Play with Jen and Narell from Birdwings
Here we are with episode 003 and it is a great one! Nic had a delightful chat with both Jen and Narell from Birdwings. These two took some time out from their adventuring in beautiful QLD with some very lucky children, to talk about why they do what they do, why nature play is so very important and what inspires them. 

If you are wanting to venture out into some wild natural spaces with children… this is the episode for you. Jen and Narell will have you wanting to get out, slow down and just be with children in nature. 

– You can see some of the beautiful images, story sharing and insights from Birdwings on Facebook
– We have some great resources available in our online store that support nature play in all its glory, including: Deep Nature Play 
How to Raise a Wild Child
Learning with Nature
And many more!


WE WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU! 

If you have any comments or questions about the episode, we would love to hear them. Perhaps there is something that we talked about that you would like more information on, or you have a topic you would like to hear explored in an upcoming episode? Maybe YOU would like to be interviewed! Our aim is to talk to educators all around the country (and overseas!) about their everyday practice with children. 
Feel free to comment below or email nicole@inspiredec.com
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Advocacy, Childhood, Environments, Nature Kindergarten, Nature Play, Outdoors, Pedagogy, Play, Professional Development, Professionalism, Risk


Episode 2 of our brand new podcast “The Inspired Educator” is now available and we are pretty excited! 
Our brilliant buddy Jeff A Johnson, over at Explorations Early Learning/Playvolution HQ is producing our podcasts for us (for which we are incredibly grateful!) and you can listen on your favourite podcast app under the Child Care Bar and Grill podcast feed. Here is a link to episode 002!


EPISODE 002 – RISK with Kate Higginbottom 

We are super excited to release our second podcast episode where Nic chats to Kate Higginbottom of Adamstown Community Early Learning and Preschool. The service was involved in a brilliant research project with the University of Newcastle and in this episode, Kate shares the learning that took place for her team as they explored risky play in their setting. 

Perhaps you are trying to take a more risk friendly approach in your service? Maybe you want to step outside of your comfort zone? This is definitely the episode for you! 

– Adamstown Community Early Learning and Preschool is on Facebook and Instagram
– You can join us in November 2019 for a professional development session which incorporates a visit to Adamstown Community Early Learning and Preschool  (while the children are there playing!) so you can see the practice happening! Visit our professional development bookings page to find out more and register!


WE WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU! 

If you have any comments or questions about the episode, we would love to hear them. Perhaps there is something that we talked about that you would like more information on, or you have a topic you would like to hear explored in an upcoming episode? Maybe YOU would like to be interviewed! Our aim is to talk to educators all around the country (and overseas!) about their everyday practice with children. 
Feel free to comment below or email nicole@inspiredec.com
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Advocacy, Childhood, Environments, Nature Kindergarten, Nature Play, Outdoors, Pedagogy, Play, Professional Development, Professionalism, Risk


We are so excited to launch our brand new podcast “The Inspired Educator”. Our brilliant buddy Jeff A Johnson, over at Explorations Early Learning/Playvolution HQ is producing our podcasts for us (for which we are incredibly grateful!) and you can listen on your favourite podcast app under the Child Care Bar and Grill podcast feed. Here is a link to the very first episode 


EPISODE 001 – PHYSICAL PLAY WITH BELINDA TURNER

For our very first episode, Nic interviewed Belinda Turner. Belinda is the nominated supervisor of Woodrising Natural Learning Centre, a community based long daycare service in Lake Macquarie NSW (which also happens to be where Nic and Tash met and worked together for many years!) 

During this episode, Belinda shares the work that the team are doing with children in relation to physical play. Lots of talk about risk-taking, occupational therapy, outdoor play, brain development and SO MUCH MORE. This was such a great chat and we hope it inspires you. 

Below you will find some resources and references that connect to the episode and can further develop your skills and understanding in this area. 

– Woodrising Natural Learning Centre is on Facebook and Instagram
– You can find out more about Angela Hanscom and the TimberNook Program here
– You can see the work we are doing as a TimberNook provider at TimberNook Newcastle over on Instagram and Facebook
– Angela Hanscoms book Balanced and Barefoot (which is a HUGE personal favourite of ours), is available to order on our website by clicking on the image below


– You can join us in November 2019 for a professional development session which incorporates a visit to Woodrising Natural Learning Centre (while the children are there playing!) so you can see the practice happening! Click on the image below for more details and to register. 


WE WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU! 

If you have any comments or questions about the episode, we would love to hear them. Perhaps there is something that we talked about that you would like more information on, or you have a topic you would like to hear explored in an upcoming episode? Maybe YOU would like to be interviewed! Our aim is to talk to educators all around the country (and overseas!) about their everyday practice with children. 
Feel free to comment below or email nicole@inspiredec.com 
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