Thursday, 30 January 2014

How Do Our Children Grow?

The key to learning in baby and childhood is exploring and discovering and challenging and copying and segueing without fear or concern.  I am sure most, if not all, would agree that this makes sense and is there or thereabouts correct.

If I said children should be allowed to play all day – many would start to disagree- even if you agree with an open ended philosophy – with freedom of choice- disagreement might come through actions rather than words.  “Sit quietly while you eat” “Form a line before we go..” “All sit on your bottoms please” are all forms of regular control.

I recently visited a nursery where the manager wanted fences in the garden to stop children mixing together as the big ones might hurt the babies... It is easier to control our children than allow them to explore and grow appropriate actions with appropriate resources and activities. 

Play is, I believe, the foundation of brain development, with nutrition, exercise and mental stimulation being the building blocks.  And play is an action not an activity – there is no such thing as ‘playtime’ that can be cut out of a day – play is freely chosen and has only an intrinsic value. If you take away choice – play is halted – if play is halted, open ended learning stops – if you are learning deprived the ultimate brain reaction is to close down....

So children grow positively with the right environment – and this includes being surrounded by people who are willing to forego some of their fears and controls to allow children to choose for themselves – then for us all to reinforce these with lots of positive opportunities – the right food, plenty of challenges to encourage exercise and movement and non directive mental opportunities.

I would prefer children to eat the right food with their fingers than the wrong food with their knives and forks.  I would prefer children falling over in the park than exploring parks on their computers.  I would prefer seeing a grown up reading a newspaper to a baby rather than sitting with them in front of a television.
So next time you think or say – “sit down and we will all play this” – remember that’s not play and learning...

Tom x

Friday, 24 January 2014

Warriors in need of some extra cuddles!

I have a 10 year old that has a different kind of brain than my 2 other children. The kind that would have been more useful some 1000 years ago. He is a warrior. He is fast and loud and larger than life sometimes. His emotional development is unusual and the only people he can learn from, trust and respect are people he is emotionally connected to. So he struggles with adults that judge him and he gives them reasons to judge him even more!

Warriors are rarely photographed in focus!
It´s been an amazing journey to try to understand him, find ways to connect better with him and help him understand that he is not the center of the universe (he is still not convinced!). His emotions are ALL really BIG and he used to pass out from anger when he was a toddler. He has never been violent but he is very defensive and I can see why children like him might grow up to be violent adults. He is always alerted and in defense in public. He sees most adults as enemies that are out to get him. 
Children like him suffer more than other children. Because they look like warriors and get treated like ones but they are more sensitive than you can even imagine. And they brake easily. They just hide it really well. 
I have found that the only things that work for him are love, trust and a lot of RESPONSIBILITY. He is after all a warrior. He is blessed with the fact that we live in Iceland so he gets to travel the city on the bus with friends or alone, he walks his little sister to school and he pretty much runs his own life during the summer. And it works because he is different for a reason. He lives on adventures and he can handle them because he is fearless and hopeful and ready. Yes he has always been ready!   

Spot the warrior!

He has abilities beyond his years - and some are out of reach for most people but he thrives and grows when he gets a chance to lose himself in them. I think that is how you light "ADHD" children up with happiness. You trust them and believe in them and show them their superpower! No one else will and our current social structure won't embrace them nor encourage their amazingness.

I just wanted to write this in case you have a warrior or know one that might be suffering. They are the people that either change the world or populate prisons. All depending on how they are nurtured 


Thursday, 16 January 2014

We Need All Kinds Of Skills

We all need skills... and the more creative the better.

With the growing emphasis on reading and writing I just wanted to bring us back to where creativity and imagination comes from.  We have been looking and working and thinking about creativity.

We have introduced at Childs First Nursery a place where children can come and ‘make’, ‘create’, ‘watch’ and do... We call it the Studio and we have a Netty – who is an artist and childcare person – well on her way to pedagogy. The Studio offers endless possibilities for children to build real skills as well as developing their imagination for life.

Then we also have our New Factory, where fafu now lives with some elegant machines that saw and plane and sand and drill and edge and polish and stuff. Combine that with a whole bunch of wood – all from sustainable sources or recycled and a spray booth and buckets of wood dye (excuse the blue fingers) and invite people in and their creative hopes and dreams can rapidly become creative realities.

I am rapidly growing an even stronger belief that we need to offer creativity as part of our curriculum and give children the skills and knowledge that can turn dream into reality as well as providing learning opportunities that create skills and interests way beyond reading and writing..

If you become really motivated – you will want to read more about wood or write notes about creating or understand geometry and physics... and all from being allowed to create...

Watch out for Fafu in the New Factory and lots of ideas and hopes and aspirations.

Tom Shea

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Happy new year!

2013 was a really good year for Fafu.
Thank you all for being a part of it!
We are excited to connect with more amazing people and keep growing so that we can make a greater difference to children and childhood culture!
Here are some highlights!
* We became an Icelandic AND English company
* We developed our new range Imynda with Naturally Learning

* We attended The Nursery Show in Bournemouth
* We organized our first PLAY! Iceland ♥ Those of you interested in PLAY! Iceland 2014 can email for dates and to reserve your place.  
* We moved into The New Factory. Look out for new exciting products in 2014!
* We started working with Hartbeeps!
Most importantly though - we made a lot of new precious friends and started building a network of like-minded teachers and early years professionals that work hard and passionately to support children in their early learning. Thank you all for reaching out!
Lets make 2014 the year that early education becomes even more child centered!!!    

Hulda & Tom