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Founder’s Column: Hello World, We’re Coming For You!

Sam Green, Founder of That Nursery Life

In his latest column, TNL CEO and Founder Sam Green looks forward to that wonderful part of early years work that we have all had to put on hold this past year or so: Trips! With things hopefully continuing to improve around Covid, practitioners can start to plan again where they would like to take the children in their setting.

In case you weren’t already aware, WE ARE ALLOWED OUT AND ABOUT AGAIN! I don’t know about you, but over the last few weeks I’ve been having a variation of the same conversation with everyone. It goes something like, “Eurgh. How much worse was lockdown in winter? I’ve found it so much harder this time”. Well, now is the time (safely and within the rules that remain of course) to get out and engage with the world beyond the four walls of our homes and early years settings.

So, this month I’m dedicating my “Founder’s Column” to the topic of… Trips!

Sam

^(Me in my nursery polo shirt at least 7 years ago, holding my little brother)

I started my career in early years working as a Practitioner in my family’s setting in Somerset, and once I had the confidence to take responsibility for a group of a children outside the safety of the nursery, I grew to love the opportunity of organising trips. Whilst a walk to a nearby park, or an outing to the local library are perfectly good places to visit, the trips I remember most clearly are those that involved me and a group of children doing ordinary, everyday, even family-like things.

Take for example the fairly typical situation where our Nursery Chef realised that she had an ingredient missing for lunch. As often as I could, I used to seize on that as an opportunity to get out of the setting and engage some children with the outside world. I’d round up a small group of pre-schoolers, we’d all get our coats on and off we’d trot to the little Co-op across the road to fetch the handful of carrots or the box of stock cubes that Milly needed.

In the course of the 20 minutes or so that that outing might take, the children and I would have the opportunity to explore all sorts of different areas of development.

First, we would need to walk carefully through the town centre car park outside the nursery. That meant careful listening and attention, as well as the experience of looking after one another by holding hands. (If I was on my own, I wouldn’t ever have more than 3 children with me)

Next would come the traffic lights where we would need to cross the high street. As we waited, a post van or a tractor driving past might prompt a short conversation about what people doing those jobs might be up to today (Understanding the World). Sometimes we might happen to see a family member drive past (that sort of thing happens in small rural towns) and a child would have the opportunity to explain who they are in their life.

And then we’d be in the shop, with all the myriad opportunities to talk about colours and shapes, counting out carrots into a bag, or using positional language to find things on a shelf. Not to mention the experience of talking to the cashier, helping to sort out the coins I’d grabbed from the petty cash tin, and generally being as polite and unobtrusive little group as we could be. When we talk about “cultural capital” in the early years, it’s these sorts of experiences which can shape a young life.

Back to nursery we’d head, with the same careful listening and general chit-chat on the return journey. The cherry on top for our very ordinary, very interesting trip out would come as my band of merry carrot-finders swelled with confidence and pride as they presented our haul to Milly in the kitchen.

This is the transformational difference of a childcare setting compared with a child’s home life. No parent has the time or brain-space to spend 20 minutes faffing about all in aid of a handful of carrots. Quite naturally, supermarket trips and other similar chores are things to be “got through” for most families and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. But that’s all the more reason as early years professionals to try hard not to lose sight of the wonder and fascination which children can experience if given the time and space to engage with even the most mundane and unplanned experiences outside of the setting environment.

What are some of your favourite trips? Where do you like take children from your setting? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear what you’re getting up to as lockdown continues to lift.

Sam