Tag Archives: sensory play

Taking the time to stop and listen to children

 

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The children I work with have now been in school for four weeks, I have spent the time watching, observing, listening and getting to know them and then assessing them using the Thrive assessment. From this week we start the intervention work, the Ta’s and I start working together with the child to build up their sense of feeling safe, feeling they are special and meeting their needs.

During the observation period, it is so important to see the world through the child’s eyes; we often focus on what overwhelms the child, what they find hard but I also love to discover what it is that excites them, that they are fascinated by. Once we glimpse this, we can then incorporate this into the nurture work and sensory work we will be doing. We know that children respond well when they are doing activities that link to their interests. I am always encouraging early years practitioners to follow children’s interest, and I believe we need to do this also in the nurture role.

This year some of the interests are Thomas the tank engine, owls, and dinosaurs. One little boy told me this week, with such passion and depth of feeling how he “adores owls” as he told me about his love of owls he put his hand on his heart and said “ I love owls so much’. Until this conversation I wasn’t sure what made him happy, this one conversion brought him alive, his eyes were sparkling, he was animated and enthusiastic, this was the first time I had seen this response. Another child loves Thomas the tank engine, the one way to engage him is to talk about Thomas and the characters.

This week I will be hiding Thomas and his fellow engines in lavender sensory rice, I will be hiding dinosaurs in crazy soap, and I will be playing with owls, fabric and boxes. I know from experience that keying into the child’s interests and incorporating this into the nurture activities will engage them, it will help them to feel they have been noticed and valued and help them to feel special. It’s amazing how much emotion language you can use with Thomas the tank engine or a dinosaur!.

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Noticing and seeing the small things

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This week I have been thinking about noticing and enjoying the small things around us. I have spent some of the week writing a chapter about using mindfulness and stillness with children. A crucial part of mindful practice is being aware of the here and now, and noticing what is going on in your head and body. Another element of mindful practice is really noticing the environment you are in. Through the process of writing and reflecting on this, I realised how much of this has become a crucial part of my nurture work with 4 yr olds. In the role as a nurture worker I am often encouraging children to stop and notice how they are feeling and to notice what is happening in their body.

So often we can be so caught up in being busy, of thinking about the next job or the next thing we need to do, that we sometimes miss the small but significant things. This week one child greeted me with a sentence “hello, look I am wearing 2 green tops” . This was one small sentence, to many it would seem insignificant, but to me it was a small moment of brilliance. The little boy had managed to put together a sentence that I could understand, he used the correct colour and the correct number, was also really happy and proud to tell me. It doesn’t sound much, but it was a small and memorable moment, remindng me that we had made significant progress. This small moment made me feel so happy, it was a moment of great job satisfaction. I could so easily have dismissed it, but instead it has stayed with me for the rest of the week and continued to make me smile.

This next week I am going to be experimenting with using some intentional mindful practice with my 4 yr olds. I will be doing sensory play with colourful pasta  ( see photo above!) and noticing how it makes us feel. I am also going to use a friends idea, to use a magnifying glass to go on an exploration to find and notice things, to see if we can stop and enjoy some moments of beauty and enjoy how they make us feel.