For many of us it’s easy to get bogged down in the day to day, and perhaps be too overly critical on ourselves, our practice, our provision and the opportunities we provide for our children.
For us as home-based childcare providers, with no ‘management’ or powers from above to keep us accountable, there is of course a worry that we will become complacent, our provision will become stagnant and the children’s learning and development experiences will be affected.
You know you are a good practitioner and as long as the children in your care are happy, safe, healthy and learning every day, then you should have the confidence and belief to know that you are doing a good job.
We’ve heard from many practitioners, not just home-based childcare providers, but practitioners from a range of different settings, who worry that because the resources they provide aren’t ‘new’ or ‘top of the range’ that this might have an impact on the learning and development opportunities they provide the children with, but this is frankly not the case.
Children find joy, excitement and curiosity in even the most simple of tasks and resources, and not only are simple, everyday objects and resources the perfect way to ignite children’s curiosity but also a fantastic way for children to use their imagination to develop and extend their own play.
We aren’t just making reference to loose parts and natural resources when we talk about simple, everyday items, we are also talking about general household items, past and present, presented to and offered within the provision for children to explore, manipulate and use for their own purpose in their child-led play.
Offering children a range of household resources and interesting everyday items, we not only provide children with the opportunity to use their imagination, but also to develop new skills, explore new concepts and also learn about the use of more complex items and resources and as such providing them with a varied wealth of new knowledge and new skills.
Our provision is full of loose parts, natural resources, and interesting and varied items and objects we not only find in our local antique shop, but also charity shops and things that have been donated from our beloved Nanny & Nut.
Some of our children’s favourite resources are objects and items that many of them have had no experience with before; a set of Russian dolls, a giant wooden abacus, a real, working type writer, a pestle and mortar, grating jars, authentic instruments from around the world, golden doorknobs and countless other, somewhat random objects and items!
However random these objects may seem, by simply adding them to your provision provides children with invaluable opportunities to explore, manipulate, use and learn about the object’s use, whilst also challenging their imagination and problem-solving as they navigate new skills and ways of using objects for their desired purpose.
Too often the value of everyday items, chores and experiences are overlooked and deemed not a necessary part of children’s play, learning and development, when actually we have a wealth of opportunities and learning experiences at our fingertips simply through every day objects found around the home.
In Early Years, it is not about how much money you have to spend on resources nor where these resources come from or if they are bought new, or donated to you, it is about how reflective and creative we are as practitioners in order to see the value and potential in the most simple objects and experiences in order to facilitate and support our children in becoming curious and inquisitive learners, and that costs very little, if anything at all.