So it’s time to talk about our provision…

As many of you will have seen over the past couple of days there has been a lot of discussion around the ‘resources’ that a lot of settings seem to be filling their provision with more and more recently… 

I couldn’t resist the urge to share my views too! 

Firstly I will follow the lead of @littlemissearlyears and echo the opinion of both her and Elaine @keyu_official (if you haven’t read their blogs the links are at the bottom of this post and definitely worth reading alongside this) who agree that some of these ‘resources’ pose a significant risk to the health and safety of some children in Early Years provision. I think it is vital we recognise that every single part of our provision should be planned, primarily for the child. When considering the child this must include the safety of the children when they are accessing the provision. 

You wouldn’t put a jar of marbles in the baby room would you? Same rules apply with the use or pallets or cable reels or any other resource. If it isn’t safe for the age or developmental stage of a child it should NOT be there regardless of the kind of ‘look’ you are wanting to create. 

Secondly, the aesthetics of an environment. This is something that constantly crops up during conversations on Instagram, the pinnacle of aesthetic led social medias. ‘Pinterest Pedagogy’ (If you haven’t heard this phrase before you NEED to check out @littlemissearlyyears blog for more on this!) 

I see A LOT of settings, educators and professionals sharing photos of their areas, we see settings replicating one another using images they’ve seen or following accreditations. This is something I simply do not understand. Now let me make clear, I am NOT anti-accreditation… HOWEVER, if we are to be truly child centred and build our provision for our particular group of children this HAS to mean we can not pay someone else for a ‘how to resource your home corner’ checklist. 

There are a huge range of factors which should influence our resources ranging from our demographics to the interests of the children, age and developmental stage. 

Some accreditations, reflective ones that encourage professionals to deeply reflect on themselves and their practice, it’s intent and it’s impact and improve their provision as a result I am on board with but any others no thank you! 

There is also discussion around things like having china tea-sets. For the record the children in my setting do have resources stored in glass jars, they do have porcelain cups and saucers and they is because they are child sized (IKEA’s espresso cups) and because they are mini-mugs which replicate what they say they experience in their home life. We can provide children with a real-life experience without it needing to be highly breakable, decorate and collected from the 1930’s. 

I am a firm believer in providing children with real-life, authentic resources as much as you can. The learning that takes place when replicating those lived experiences is far more rich when authentic resources are used in my eyes, however like anything, it is possible to go too far. You CAN have too many resources, too many objects which have no real purpose and are there simply because they make the environment look like an antique shop my Mum used to take me as a child. 

I believe when we are adding to our provision we should ask: 

Who is this for?

Why are we doing it?

Why is it there? 

What skills can the children improve using these?

What is the learning opportunities provided by this resource? 

When you ask those questions about a lot of the resources I see added to areas I suspect there is no real answer. 

Also just let me touch on one of my biggest annoyances…Quotes. Now this is something that impacts my personal life as well as professional one. 

If you follow me on Instagram you will see that I love a good quote. A thought provoking quote. A meaningful quote. One that can take on multiple meanings and often stem from iconic moments and iconic people. 

Not ‘Home is where the heart is’ or ‘Live, Love, Laugh’ or any other random quotes. I simply do not understand their place in Early Years let alone life more generally! 

Why are they all over the wall?

What do they even mean? 

What impact do they have on the children? 

How are they extending a child’s learning? 

All genuine answers are welcome! 

Lastly, and most important of all I think some of the commenters and ‘professionals’ who use social media, specifically Instagram in this case, need to carefully reassess the way they use it and the reasons they use it for. 

The comments aimed at people recently for sharing their views have been absolutely disgraceful. Just because a view does not align with yours does not warrant you to call them “toxic” or question their motives for working with children or their integrity. 

If you are one of those people.. ask yourself why are you here? To engage in a healthy debate and improve outcomes for children or to hurl abuse at someone whose practice is different to yours? If it is the latter then I would suggest you ask yourself why that is and kindly disengage from my posts! 

@keyu_official blog ‘Loose parts: Sometimes one persons junk…is just junk’ https://www.keyu.co.uk/keyu-blogs/the-keyu-blog/

@littlemissearlyyears blog ‘How many children see their parents using china cups, saucers and teapots in the year 2021???’ https://www.littlemissearlyyears.com/single-post/how-many-children-see-their-parents-using-china-cups-saucers-and-teapots-in-the-year-2021

12 thoughts on “So it’s time to talk about our provision…

  1. Elaine

    Hi Adam
    Thank you for writing this! It is so important we don’t stop talking, asking, questioning and reflecting!

    1. Adam

      It really is, the only way to really improve practice and drive change within the sector is by having these critical discussions with each other and to not be afraid to share unpopular opinions!

  2. Hayley

    I agree with you Adam. Resources and environment need to reflect who you have in on which day. If we had a child who constantly emptied the water then that day water would be available outside. If we had a child who put things in their mouth we would be mindful of loose parts. We are in a large hall pack away and have 2-4’s together. The home corner is different each day depending on intetests. We have a couple of Forest School Quotes on display but their purpose is for the parents and showing how being muddy is okay. They have accompanying images for the child to see. We have COEL and this is for the staff as a reminder and we use them to talk the children about their learning.

    1. Adam

      That is absolutely right, our provision has to be tailored for our cohort and to support the development of their skills.

      I used to manage a pack-away setting myself so I completely understand the challenges it creates! We had similar ages too!

      Some quotes are okay but they obviously need to be relevant like it sounds like yours are :)!

  3. Teresa

    Absolutely agree! We need to use our professional knowledge and understanding of the children’s needs so that the environment is planned meaningfully

  4. Rita W Neher

    I thank you for your commentary. I agree whole heartily. I think there is too much competition in making an activity “ pretty” and not enough thoughtfulness in regards to the child. I also think there is too much stuff added to some of the activities that’s totally overwhelming! I would think the more you add , the more it’s pitched around the room and the more frustrating it becomes for everyone. As an adult, if I’m frustrated, I become angry and then everyone suffers. I’m not sure that’s the outcome y’all are looking for. Less is best. Sometimes a wooden box, a bunch of pretty jewels and play dough is enough!
    Thank you.

    1. Adam

      Aesthetics definitely play a much more important role than is necessary a lot of the time.

      I agree you can have too much ‘stuff’ which does then take away from the impact of the meaningful and well-planned resources provided.

  5. Samina

    thank you for sharing your common sense approach.
    I’m not a follower of anyone on Instagram so I can’t comment on anything that is on there.
    My home corner is not pristine or prettified with lots of decorative pieces. It has a few china mugs and a few empty ‘grocery’ containers for the children to use as they explore their home experiences. They enjoy picnics at the moment so I’m going to move things around to support that interest.
    The biggest push I’ve noticed is adding labels for the children to read as they play. Bearing in mind my children are 4-5 some can read very well and others recognise a few letters but understand the label corresponds with the object.
    Is this real life? Not in my house, or theirs. However, I’m using the familiar to introduce something that is also valuable. An opportunity to experience the written word where decoding is supported and not as daunting as some parts of schooling..
    I have a low threshold for labels so won’t add something if my children can’t access any of it. There is challenge but not for challenge sake alone.
    I love Pinterest. Can’t deny it. I find it can offer inspiration without imitation as well as wholesale copying. The user of any media and material can engage with it, digest it and use it in a way that is responsive to the purpose or while the user is on a journey to explore and experience different offerings s/he may mimic what is shared.
    We are all on a learning journey and just as our children would, we mimic before we make it our own.
    The important thing to remember is that we choose how much to engage with something and sometimes this is restricted by our environment as much as it is by our own developing knowledge. As I said, I love Pinterest 🙂 it’s a great starting point. I like the collaborative nature of being inspired by others.
    I’m fortunate in being able to enjoy creating provision that matches my pedagogy for Early Years. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have supportive teams around them or the freedom and ‘power’ to explore provision according to their own values or pedagogy.
    We can all be a little kinder to each other so the learning journey is better supported.

    1. Adam

      Thank you – I hugely appreciate you engaging with my posts despite not being a user of instagram yourself!

      Labels are like everything is Early Years and absolutely has its place but again it needs to be purposeful and in moderation so your approach seems to make sense.

      I also agree Pinterest, like all social media has a positive and negative impact.

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