Little Forest Folks

Little Forest Folks

We recently met up with Leanna Barrett at one of her Little Forest Folks settings in Wimbledon Common. She contacted us after getting through to the final stages of a competition run by Edumission. They had been selected, out of thousands of world wide entries, to create 4 short films about how their settings run […]

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Tristan goes for a walk

Tristan’s Mum has a strong commitment to ensuring that he spends plenty of time outdoors every day, both as part of their routine and at his nursery. Whilst the garden provides much for Tristan, she has also long experienced the value of taking him out into the various outdoor environments in their locality. He thrives […]

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Tristan goes for a walk
Woodbine Place is 30!

Woodbine Place is 30!

Made in the 1980s by Wendy McEvoy (director of Siren Films) for Channel Four this film is more poignant now than ever. With children rapidly disappearing from our streets the film leaves plenty to think and talk about. This fascinating documentary will give anyone who works with or is interested in children, an insight into […]

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Alison Gopnik on the science of relationships between parents and children

Siren Films recently met up with Alison Gopnik at the Early Education Conference and managed to film an interview with her. Alison is Professor of Psychology at The University of California, Berkley. She has delivered Ted Talks, Robb Lectures and also writes a column for the Wall Street Journal.  Your latest book is called ‘The Gardener and the Carpenter’ […]

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Alison Gopnik on the science of relationships between parents and children
Insights into self-regulation

Insights into self-regulation

Self-regulation and executive functioning are consistently linked with the successful learning, including pre-reading skills, early maths and problem solving. Developing self-regulation helps children in really important and far reaching ways. Being self-regulated or being very cognitively controlled, turns out to be really important. Lots of evidence suggests that this is probably thee development in early childhood […]

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Thoughts on early literacy

Thoughts and research from Dr Julian Grenier on early literacy & a FREE training clip: Early literacy skills of reading and writing develop in parallel and are closely interwoven. They require a slightly different sets of skills, but as the skills of reading develop and strengthen, so do the skills of writing. So we need to think […]

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Thoughts on early literacy
How important is professional love?

How important is professional love?

Findings from research by Dr. Jools Page and a video clip excerpt of an interview with Peter Elfer: Most people would agree to the necessity of “professional love” when caring and educating children. Erich Fromm stated that: “One loves that for which one labours and labours for that which one loves.” But in this modern world […]

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What’s so important about risky play?

Free training video clip & thoughts from Dr. David Whitebread: It is an interesting observation that young children clearly appear to derive considerable enjoyment from engaging in risky or slightly dangerous activities. The evidence seems to suggest, however, that this is an adaptation developed during our evolution as a species, and serves the important purpose of helping the […]

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What’s so important about risky play?
Face to Face

Face to Face

  The importance of reciprocal expressions between a baby and an adult carer, and finding opportunities that enable it, are explored by Anne O’Connor… Close interactions and the affectionate gaze between parent and child help shape a baby’s brain. But just as importantly, an essential part of Bobby’s brain is being built and developed through the positive […]

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How does experience help to shape the brain?

Our brains, at birth, are really a ‘brain in waiting’. Although we are born with all the neurons (the special cells in the brain that communicate with each other) that we will need, it is our experiences which influence the way in which our brains grow and develop. There are two types of cells, the […]

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How does experience help to shape the brain?
See young children managing to avoid conflict

See young children managing to avoid conflict

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How to support early literacy and emergent writing skills

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How to support early literacy and emergent writing skills
To and Fro

To and Fro

Practitioners should acknowledge the feelings that separation can trigger in a young child, a parent and themselves, says Anne O’Connor… Seb and his mother arrive at nursery. Although he can handle being away from his mother for short periods, he is still finding the transition from home to the setting quite traumatic. He cries when mum […]

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At a Crawl

Crawling is an important physical stage in its own right which enables babies to break away from their carers for the first time and is significant in reflex development, says Anne O’Connor… Ko (9 months) is out in the park with his mum. They don’t have a garden but mum takes him out somewhere every day. Mum’s […]

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At a Crawl
In a Spin

In a Spin

Tyres are perfect open-ended resources and link well to children’s schemas, as Anne O’Connor observes… Three-year-old Jordan is playing outdoors at nursery. He enjoys rolling around in the tunnel, watching the world spin by as he rotates his whole body over and over. Then he moves to play with the tyres. They are big and heavy […]

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Let’s Pretend

Tuning in to children’s imaginative play will encourage language development, says Anne O’Connor… Tristan and his mother have walked from their house to the park. They find a place to play among some fallen tree trunks. His imagination is stimulated by the space and Tristan spots something that reminds him of a dinosaur. Mum responds, […]

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Let’s Pretend
Stage Design

Stage Design

Block play allows a child to mix creativity with mathematical problem-solving, says Anne O’Connor… Seb, aged three, is playing at home with his mother. He has built a structure out of wooden bricks and has added a road track, cars and small world figures to his building. His mother responds to his directions as he […]

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In the Mix

  The benefits for children of playing in a mixed age group are explored by Anne O’Connor, with advice for practitioners on reinforcing it… Skye is two years six months old. She has been coming to nursery for a while now and enjoys being outside in the garden. She likes to play with children slightly older […]

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In the Mix
On the Beach

On the Beach

New sights and new textures are made familiar for a baby with careful adult interest, says Anne O’Connor… Dexter (12 months) and his mother are at the beach. His mother points to the birds and Dexter follows her gaze and says ‘bap’. This is the word that he uses for birds – and also for dogs. […]

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Mud Mud…

The sensory experience of messy play has far-reaching benefits for brain development, creativity and risk-taking, says Anne O’Connor… Tristan is in the park with his mother. He steps into a muddy puddle and squats down to investigate it further. He uses a finger to gently poke at the mud. After a while, he scoops some on […]

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Mud Mud…
Tuning In

Tuning In

Young children with developmental delay will benefit from the care of a practitioner who responds to them as they are now, says Anne O’Connor… Leila is two years ten months old and comes to playgroup for a few mornings each week. She is well settled and has a close relationship with Carol, one of the practitioners. […]

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Hide Away

Building dens is a natural and important pastime in children’s social and emotional development. Anne O’Connor explores how adults can support this form of play while respecting children’s need for privacy… Seb (three years 11 months) and Chelsea (four years two months) have made a den outside. Seb is the ‘dad’, but Chelsea wants to be the ‘little girl’ and […]

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Hide Away
Dad’s the Word

Dad’s the Word

The important role men play in children’s lives is increasingly recognised. Anne O’Connor explains how settings can better involve them… Baby Orson is one week old. His dad was there at the birth and has played a full part in his care from the beginning. Although mum, who is breastfeeding Orson, is his primary care-giver at this […]

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In Line

In a safe environment where they feel secure, even very small children can enjoy constructive problem-solving and concentrate for surprising amounts of time, says Anne O’Connor… Jamie (23 months) is on the floor, playing with a variety of everyday objects, including plastic cups, pots and large wooden curtain rings. Her grandmother is watching her nearby. Jamie is very absorbed […]

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In Line
Peek a-boo

Peek a-boo

Two-way exchanges between babies and adults help build up language and brain development. Anne O’Connor considers how practitioners can create more opportunities for them… Orson and his mother are on the floor together. Playing games with Mum is fun, but when she hides behind the book, there is a moment of concern for Orson, though this soon turns […]

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When Friends Fall Out

While children will squabble from time to time, they are usually practising negotiating techniques. The skill for adults is to know when to step in or step back and let them get on with it, explains Anne O’Connor… Fran and Lauren are happily playing together. They are chatting away and appear to be enjoying each other’s company. That is, […]

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When Friends Fall Out
Bye Bye!

Bye Bye!

  Starting daycare away from home can be a daunting experience for a young child – and their parent. Anne O’Connor looks at the case of two-year-old Ava and considers how settings can take the tension out of settling in at nursery… Ava’s first day Ava, who lives with her mother Molly, attends a small local nursery for two […]

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Time to Talk

Young children can acquire more than one language without detriment to learning English and will enjoy greater self-esteem if carers outside the home respect their mother tongue. Anne O’Connor explains why… Shammy is in the bedroom with his grandmother. She knows him well and spends lots of time talking and playing with him. She lays him on the bed […]

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Time to Talk
Pretty in Pink

Pretty in Pink

  Seeing a young boy do something considered feminine provokes some extended thinking about traditional gender roles and stereotypes. Anne O’Connor explores the issues in practice… James is in the role-play area. He selects a pink dress to wear. The practitioner tells him ‘pink is for girls’, but his determined smile shows that James intends to wear it […]

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Reference Points

Adults’ facial expressions have a strong impact on very young children learning about social relationships. Anne O’Connor explains social referencing and why early years workers need to understand it… Orson and his brother Seb are playing happily with dad. The mood changes when Seb bangs his face on the guitar. Orson looks carefully at dad and registers that he […]

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Reference Points
Read With Me

Read With Me

  Sharing a book creates a partnership between a young child and their carer that will promote their attention, social awareness and a habit of reading for pleasure. Anne O’Connor shows why… Orson is sitting on his mother’s knee and together they are looking at a book. Mum points to the pictures and talks about them. Orson points too, […]

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Who’s Calling

A pretend telephone communication can demonstrate a very young child’s grasp of speaking languages, imitating adult reality and being held in mind, as Anne O’Connor explains… Jaleel is 16 months old. Both French and English are spoken in his family. He and Steven, an early years practitioner, are sitting together playing games and singing songs. Jaleel […]

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Who’s Calling
A Sense of Security

A Sense of Security

Young children can cope with minor stresses and anxieties if they feel secure in their relationship with their carer, as Anne O’Connor explains… Leila and mum are together at home. Mum bangs her foot and Leila responds by calling her a ‘silly mummy’ when she sees that mum is OK. They both laugh together about it. […]

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Going for a Song

Shared singing with a carer with whom a child is securely attached is an important learning resource, says Anne O’Connor… Orson (age two) is sitting at the table with his mother. He is fascinated by spiders and loves singing songs about them, especially if they are scary. He is very familiar with the rhyme ‘Insey Winsey Spider’ […]

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Going for a Song
Master Chefs

Master Chefs

Observing the level of involvement that children show in their play can tell you much about their emotional well-being, and about the effectiveness of your provision, says Anne O’Connor… Seb (age three years four months) is at playgroup. There are a couple of sand trays grouped together and lots of familiar containers and utensils available. Nearby are some hollow […]

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