National Early Years Teacher Day

To celebrate National Early Years Teacher Day, our guest blogger Tara Pierrepont – an experienced Early Years Teacher and Leader- tells us about the importance of the role Early Years Teachers play in child development. The early years are the first experience children have of school and Tara tells us about how learning opportunities are carefully crafted to ensure that children are ready for the next stages of education.

In my nursery, we have a days of the week song that we regularly sing that ends with “each day different and everyday new.” As cheesy as it sounds, this describes teaching in the Early Years perfectly. Every day is a different experience - most good experiences, some not so good and sometimes a little bit gross!

I have been teaching in the Early Years for longer than I care to admit! During this time, I have seen changes to the curriculum and, more broadly, changes to the education system itself. One constant is the excitement and curiosity of small children, it is infectious and I take pleasure in watching them grow and learn. The role of the early years teacher is an important one, we represent the first experience of education not only for the children but for their parents too. The early years classroom should be a space for families; parents are partners in their children’s education. Open and regular communication is key, sharing successes and enjoyment as well as any development points.

To be honest, I feel early years teachers are underrated by so many, we just play right? Wrong! Early years teachers are highly trained professionals who deliver a highly personalised learning experience to all who enter our classrooms. An effective early years classroom has a balance of adult led and child led learning opportunities with adults who know how to interact with children on their level to move their learning on without interfering and ruining the game!

The effective use of the EYFS planning cycle is of paramount importance, this being - Observe, Assess, Plan, Do. It is simple and yet brilliant and requires a good knowledge of the expectations of the EYFS. It can be used in the moment as well as when planning more structured adult led activities. An example of this is when I observed a group of reception children pawing over a much-loved copy of ‘Superworm’ by Julia Donaldson, the children were discussing which garden creature they liked best. I seized this opportunity to explore minibeasts and we visited the school library to find fact books. The children then wrote their own fact files before venturing out on to the school field armed with spades to see what we could dig up (much to the caretaker’s dismay, I am sure!). Levels of engagement were extremely high and the resulting learning covered several areas of the Early Years curriculum. A great advocate to this style of teaching is Anna Ephgrave, I would highly recommend looking her up.

The early years hold such importance in the development of children not only in their education but in the development of themselves as individuals. We provide the foundational building blocks for future learning. Children learn how to learn, they learn how to interact with others, how to communicate and negotiate. They also develop physical skills, those gross and fine motor skills that are fundamental before a pencil can even be considered.

If I was asked to give three words to describe quality early years provision they would be – consistency, repetition and enthusiasm. Children thrive in an environment where they know the routines, lowering their cognitive load so they can concentrate on the content of learning. Much the same they benefit from repeated practice, giving them the opportunity to explore and test new knowledge. And lastly, enthusiasm is infectious. If you are super excited the children will be right there with you on that boat! A happy and engaged child is a child ready to learn. I use the Leuven Scales of Involvement and Wellbeing to judge how successful my classroom is in delivering a quality Early Years experience.

Teaching in the Early Years is fun, exciting, unpredictable and rewarding. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else!

This National Early Years Teacher Day, show your thanks to your Early Years Practitioners. If there is a special Early Years Teacher who goes above and beyond, consider nominating them for National Early Years Teacher of the Year .

If you feel inspired to become an Early Years Teacher, find out more about how to become a teacher here. If you already work in Early Years and are looking for a new opportunity, then explore our early years opportunities.

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