The importance of high quality play and learning environments for young children is vital to their development, a major childcare conference has been told.
Delegates from Tyrone were among more than 180 early year practitioners from local day care nurseries, Sure Start projects, preschool and school aged childcare groups who gathered to share information and best practice at the recent Northern Childcare Partnership Conference.
They also heard how parental involvement in early learning is the biggest factor influencing a child’s wellbeing and achievement, with a need to engage with parents and families to stimulate children’s learning at home and in the full range of childcare settings.
Early years practitioner Julie Lennox, Gold Sure Start, Cookstown, said: “This event gave me a wide variety of practical ideas and a better understanding of the need to engage the whole staff team and the family in order to help stimulate children’s early development and the benefits this delivers for the child.”
Delegates heard from leading experts including keynote speaker, June O’Sullivan MBE, London Early Years Foundation chief executive, who discussed the role of early years teachers, while early years educator and author, Allice Sharp discussed the role of child care practitioners and families in developing imagination zones to stimulate young children’s thinking and engagement.
She said: “Evidence suggests that parental involvement in early learning has a greater impact on children’s well-being and achievement than any other factor. In our early year’s establishments, we have a glorious opportunity to encourage parents to consider a wide range of rich, meaningful and exciting play experiences. Sharing ideas, resources, activities and contexts that will support a parent’s role in scaffolding their child’s development and learning has to become a priority.” Other contributors included Pete Moorhouse, early years creative consultant, who led a practical session on woodwork, while Marian Molloy and Maria McGuckian, NSSCT speech and language therapists, focused on the importance of developing language rich environments and how a flexible approach can help develop communication skills among children.