Exploring the natural world is a fantastic way to develop and inspire early years. Find out why, and gain practical ideas for how to encourage young children to explore the world of plants

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Often when we think about using the environment to teach young children, we focus on the natural world and ignore all the wonderful examples that exist around us in the built environment. Early Years Update discusses ways to use the man-made environment around us to develop early years learning

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Linda Thornton and Pat Brunton discuss the best way to develop an early years team, as a collective unit as well as individual roles. They discuss Bruce Tuckman’s stages of forming, storming, norming and performing, and advise how to gather feedback regarding team members’ development

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The word heuristic derives from the Greek word eurisko meaning ‘I discover’. It is used to describe an intuitive way of meeting challenges and solving problems – exactly what young children do when they are engaged in heuristic play

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Treasure baskets are thought to promote accelerated learning in early years. Early Years Update describes the benefits, as well as explaining the key elements of a successful Treasure Basket

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Early Years Focus outlines three main factors which will affect your setting’s ability to develop early years communication skills, and then offers a list of practical ideas for you to initiate which support them

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All early years practitioners are aware of the importance of establishing good relationships with the parents of the children who attend their setting. This week’s Early Year Focus suggests practical ways that you might develop this partnership

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As the weather improves and opportunities for being out of doors for most of the day increase, it is time for practitioners in early years settings to consider the many different ways in which children’s mathematical development can be enhanced by ‘taking maths outdoors’

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All early years practitioners have a role to play in quality improvement by developing their personal and professional skills as reflective practitioners. Linda Thornton and Pat Brunton discuss what you can do

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Early Years Update looks at the benefits of using play as a developmental tool with young children, particularly focusing on the added value of parental support and involvement

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Linda Thornton and Pat Brunton discuss the benefits of playing with light and dark with early years children, offering thinking skills activity ideas

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In order for your team to provide quality early years provision, each individual should be aware of the part they play in helping it to function effectively. Below are some descriptions of the roles typically adopted by different team members that will help you to define your contribution

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In many cultures there are celebrations at this time of year involving light. Below are some suggestions for how you might use the themes of light and celebrations as the basis for activities in your setting

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As an early years practitioner you will be familiar with the importance of creating the right balance between adult-led and child-initiated learning so that all children have the best opportunities to learn and develop

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Outdoor play is important for early years development, so Linda Thornton and Pat Brunton discuss ways that you can encourage playing outdoors even in the colder seasons

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Early Years Focus discusses the importance of listening to babies when they cry

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Are you worried about swine flu in your early years setting? Linda Thornton and Pat Brunton give advice on preventing swine flu spreading, keeping parents informed and managing existing cases

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Particular provision must be provided for the boys in early years settings. Here Linda Thornton and Pat Brunton discuss what early years practitioners can do

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This, the first Early Years Focus, provides advice on how to be a creative practitioner for those working with young children in the Early Years Foundation Stage

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