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  • Writer's pictureJabadao

How we're using tech to create great training packages

I absolutely love teaching on Zoom.

And attending other people’s courses on Zoom for that matter.

I love the way it makes it easy for lots of people to take training that they couldn’t necessarily get to if it were six hours in a room somewhere, each dropping in from a different part of their day, on a different device, at home, at work, and even in the car. I love that everyone feels differently about how they engage - on camera or not; happy to unmute and chatter away, or preferring to stay silent and drop something in the chat for me to respond to.

I love that every session I have done for a while has included at least one person committed enough to come along even though they have Covid, a child or two sitting on their mum’s lap waving at me, a sick dog in the corner, several cups of tea in fancy and not-so-fancy mugs, and the occasional scantily clad man wandering innocently by in the background.

And I love that they all start with us remembering how to use the technology, helping each other out, (“Stella - you’re on mute!”) and working out who is on a laptop, or a tablet or a phone and making sure the way we do the session works for everyone.

But most of all I love the amazing quality of engagement that all you early years practitioners bring to these sessions. The conversations we have about children and their physical development have been inspiring, in fact, the most thoughtful and in-depth conversations I have known on this training, and we have been doing it since 2002. That’s another reason to be a real fan of online training I think. There is something about the focus it provides that can really work in our favour.

Conversations are detailed, specific and very real. for example, we often talk about the children who want to crash about - leap, dive, kick and punch, indoors as well as outside. Children who love to enthusiastically hug their mates, but their mates back off because to them it feels as if they’re being strangled, rather than hugged. You bring the particular everyday examples and I offer reasons this might be happening - reasons grounded in body experience, explaining the body signals these children might be responding to. And we talk about why they are actively seeking this kind of push-pull-crash movement, and how this might be a piece of infant expertise in action. Children knowing in their bones what they need for their development. And because safety is paramount, we often talk about how to keep physical play safe and purposeful at all times. Often in small crowded spaces. What interesting stuff!

And we also talk about the children who avoid physical activity at all costs. The children on the edge - perhaps we read them as shy or timid? - and together we think again, unpacking the body signals that might be telling them to keep separate, rather than joining in. Body signals that might be nothing to do with shyness, but are nevertheless strong reasons to stand back.

In one session we compared lots of toe walkers! We noticed how different they all were, and came up with lots of different things their bodies might be seeking to keep their developmental journey on track. I had no idea that was where the session would take us, but it was such a good discussion. We all learnt loads, me included.

Getting to grips with the detail

These sessions are so focused because everyone has just done an online course, exploring developmental movement. Four courses build the whole approach, each one exploring a different aspect of early movement.

The Feeling of Me looks at four core body senses that work together to build body awareness and spatial awareness. Floor Play Foundations takes lots of little movements that will be very familiar to you, but you might not have thought twice about, and explains how they provide the foundations for all the motor control and movement to come. Halfway Play suggests seven things specific things to look out for that are neither down on the floor nor up on two legs; movement that builds power and connection in little bodies. And in Upright Play we learn to recognise when children are showing us they need more foundation building to facilitate all the walking, running leaping and improvising they do up on two legs. The last course takes everything you have learnt and asks - How can we support children to wallow in the developmental movement play that underpins so much of their learning and life? The answer is, create an indoor movement play area and we share lots of experience of how to make this work alongside all your other learning areas.

The courses offer lots of short filmed lessons, each either unpacking a particular kind of movement or inviting you to reflect on the movement you see back in your setting. This isn’t a ‘How to Do Physical Development’ programme. It’s an invitation to get interested in how physical development works and to apply that new knowledge in your own way, within your own pedagogy, taking account of the unique ethos of your setting. So there’s lots of room for reflection, questioning and development.

The programme as a whole offers real detail about bodies and movement, lots of pictures and video of babies and children in action, some new ways to structure movement observation and lots of opportunities to reflect on your own practice.

You could just go through a course in one or two chunks. They each take between two and two and a half hours to watch straight through. But we think that - if you can - it’s a good idea to keep stopping as you go, and take time to do observations of your children around the specific movement you have just been learning about. It is your children who will really help you learn this material. We start you off - the children will make it real.

There are lots of downloads to support your learning; everything from structures for creating a sensory profile to a game you can play across your team to illuminate the different roles you might take, as you develop the way you support physical development.

Checking In

So when we meet up online to check in, we are all buzzing with fresh understanding about how bodies develop and how movement builds much more than just fine and gross motor, balance and co-ordination. We are all eager to swap insights and questions around how children grow into their body and into their sense of self, and the movement play they choose to help them do this.

We think that this training model enables you to learn, retain and use more of the detail about physical development to influence your practice. Immediately. And with lots to keep working at over time. Practitioners certainly say that this is a course that will continue to shape their practice forever.

Face to face will always be a great way to train. Taking the online courses on their own is great. But join online and live chat together and we think we are getting close to creating the best of all worlds.

You can view the courses here..


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