Early Years top resources by Jo Baranek

1st December 2016

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jo-baranek-ndnaContinuing on from the theme of my last two blogs I am going to look at how we can support our own continuing professional and personal development.

This time I am going to be looking into some of the amazing books out there that support our day to day work with children. There are so many in the marketplace and NDNA itself has many practical and managerial publications – but how do you know which to go for and which will impact on your practice?

Personally, I always look to see if the author has the relevant early years background and practice under their belt, as to me this enables them to write from the right perspective. I know this helps me when I am writing publications as I draw on all my experiences as well as my training, knowledge gained and tips I have heard and seen in action.

So which books have had an impact on me and why?

Anyone who knows me will be aware that my passion is early years maths, so the first couple are of course on this topic. In my humble opinion all of the books below should be pride of place in all settings for ALL staff to read and be inspired by:

Foundations of Maths by Carole Skinner and Judith Stevens. I loved the approach in this book to explaining how maths can be taught in different ways including practical activities and ideas. This covers both number and shape, space and measure.

Mathematics Through Play in the Early Years by Kate Tucker. This book, very much like the above publication, covers how to teach maths using play in the early years and includes all areas of maths in a child-friendly play approach.

Continuous Provision in the Early Years by Alistair Bryce-Clegg. This book helps you to analyse the continuous provision in your setting and how to make yours effective and engaging. The practical ideas are very helpful and I love the inclusion of the outdoor area, as this is sometimes an area in which practitioners struggle to make educationally engaging.

The Nursery Year in Action by Anna Ephgrave. This has been written by a teacher in a setting who has had consecutive outstanding grades by Ofsted and looks at their year in action, with great pictures showing the activities and environment in action with the children. As this shows the practical side of their setting, it enables you to take the ideas and ways of planning and implement them into your own practice – very useful.

Effective Leadership and Management in the Early Years by Janet Moyles. A great book for leaders and managers. It’s an essential resource and practical tool for anyone with management or leadership roles in early years to evaluate their skills under ‘four key branches’ called ELMS (Effective Leadership and Management Scheme); Leadership Qualities; Management Skills; Professional Attributes and Personal Characteristics and Attributes. There’s an evaluation tool at the end of each of the four ‘branches’ with statements outlining ‘An effective early years leader should…’ under each ‘stem’. Leaders and managers can then reflect on their strengths, areas for improvement and what they need to do to improve their skills and capabilities under each stem.

This is how we do it by Kirstine Beeley. I was very lucky to be sent a copy of this by the author soon after publication, and I was very pleased to read and publish a full review on my own blog. In short, this book provides a clear explanation of the characteristics of effective learning in practice in the early years setting. Kirstine talks through how to ensure they are threaded through your everyday teaching and continuous provision with bright colourful pictures.

This is only a small sample of my own library and there are many more publications out there just as good as the few I have mentioned above. The point here is to keep up with new ideas and try them out in your own setting and spend time reading and refreshing your approach, as this can only benefit the children in your care.

NDNA’s own publications, written by an expert team of early years advisors and myself, can be found on their website.

Happy reading folks!

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