When I started my journey with Hygge in the Early Years we were in the middle of our first lock down and only had one keyworker child attending. It was the first in over 30 years as a nursery nurse that I was forced to not work to full capacity. I embraced the courses that were on offer through Hygge in the Early years and loved every minute taking the opportunity to enhance my childminding setting of over 20 years, having previously been a Nanny. For 8 years I had also been working with my husband, Ian who had trained as a Forest School leader. As I started the accreditation, he was put to very good use making changes to both our indoor and outdoor provision.He installed more nature in the playroom with a branch,artificial foliage and fairy lights, made a dinosaur park in the garden and revamped our mud kitchen.
I was left devastated when the 6th June 2020 Ian died at home of an enlarged heart. I didn’t stop working as I needed the routine of work to keep me going and I also pledged to continue the accreditation.
This took on a new outlook as I had to employ more people to keep open.
Over the last 18 months we have made an outdoor art cupboard where the children can access art materials themselves. We have also been gifted by one of my kind parents a large outdoor easel with Perspex, the children love trying to paint each other’s portraits! We also revamped the bottom of the garden furniture made from pallets donated by another parent, this provided us with a lovely cool place in the summer to eat snack or read stories, it has also been a castle, boat and dungeon.
In doors we have scaled down our resources so that the children can see what they are playing with, and they can access more loose parts. We got our parents on board by donating any unwanted household items, including a China tea set, this has helped some of our ‘throwers’ to learn to be more careful with our resources. We also gained two old suitcases which hold lovely learning provocations. We have added more visible written word, books, magazines and more opportunities to mark make during imaginative play.
Because of all the lockdowns we looked at supporting our community, making mince pies and mini easter cakes for our elderly neighbours, drawing amazing pictures and posting them to local nursing homes. Making little cream teas and delivering them to some of our children and their families who couldn’t attend our setting. The children love baking, and we make this a weekly event now, which the afterschool children really appreciate!
We looked at our mealtime routines and incorporated a more independent approach for the children, setting the table themselves, helping themselves to breakfast and helping to clear away, Friday breakfast is now a celebration with Danish pastries and hot chocolate, its lovely listening to conversations about what’s happened over the week and what’s planned for people over the weekend.
We have also encouraged parents to be part of our planning and to enable us to really get to know our children by sending out questionnaires, asking parents for details of what they are working on with their child at home and what they would like to see happening in the setting. We had some very positive feedback which helped to tailor our planning to individuals and enhance the overall learning for children both in the setting and at home. We did this by setting up more links with home with a mini library, treasure bags sent home to collect things whilst I was on holiday and having little competitions on our private Facebook group. As restrictions lifted, we had an open day where parents came with their children, we put on activities for the children to take part in and this also enabled parents to see for themselves how their children engaged, we even had our yoga teacher join us so that the parents could learn more about the positive contribution that yoga makes to their children’s wellbeing. This was so popular that we intend to have another one in the summer.
Because I have had to employ more staff, I have looked at how we can all work effectively as a team, especially as quite often members of staff don’t see or work together regularly. I have incorporated a group on WhatsApp to share ideas and a termly evening session so we can all discuss ideas, planning and in house training, not to mention a little social chat with refreshments at the end. This does seem to be helping to support staff and I feel even with our slightly different approaches we are all singing the same tune which I am very grateful for and helped me to adjust to a different way of working without Ian.
Even with the pandemic and enforced lockdowns with probably more screen time than was ever intended we are seeing happy, curious, eager to learn children in our setting, they have become settled and meeting their next steps in their learning journey.
It has been an absolute pleasure doing this course, after training in 1984 I gained my N.N.E.B and I have felt refreshed and revitalised by the whole Hygge in the Early Years approach, it was so akin to what I believe in and have been doing for so many years but now it has a bit more sparkle.
Apart from continuing to inspire my team my next goal is to finish my Forest School training so that I can continue to offer our complete package to parents, we have obtained some farmland by another kind parent, this will mean going back to forest school sessions and a little allotment patch for growing vegetables. I have always had an evolving approach to my practice and this course has helped to inspire me to keep going.
By Sally T