Penny attended the 'Narrowing the Gap' conference, organised by TTS, on Friday 7th of October 2016 at the Grand Connaught Rooms London. This is how the day went...
I arrived for registration between 9 and 9:30. I gave my name and collected my badge and Goody bag which had a timetable of the day and notes from some of the speakers.
Then I was led into the medium hall for breakfast and an opportunity to meet other delegates. The hotel was lovely and the bacon, sausage and egg rolls were delicious as well as biscuits and sweet pastries. There was tea, coffee, herbal tea and water available and when you had decided what you wanted for breakfast you just took it through to the large hall. The hall was beautifully set out with round tables which had pens, paper and water for taking notes as well as examples of different TTS toys on the tables.
Between 9:30 and 9:40 we were welcomed with a short talk about what they hoped to achieve on the day. They were hoping all delegates would have a fabulously inspiring day with lots of great ideas and just a sprinkle of sparkle.
Between 9:40 and 10:25 we had the keynote speaker Helen Moylett talking to us about some ways that settings and schools have used the EYPP improve their practice in their provision and how this can make a real impact in helping children at risk of underachieving. As a nanny not all of this applied to me as my setting does not have EYPP but I still enjoyed the talk and it was very interesting to see how some nurseries had gone about letting Parents know how they were spending the money and this had led to really good communication sheets being developed which gave me ideas of what I could do for the Parents I work with.
10:25 till 10:45 was break time we all went outside to enjoy more coffee and cake and also looked around at the beautiful stands TTS had set out. They had hidden a star which whoever found it would win a prize so there was lots of hustle and bustle of people looking through the 6 stands.
10:45 to 11:30 we had the keynote speaker Alice Sharp talking about multi sensory being a pathway to enjoyment and fun. During this talk Alice spoke about how play activities that explored the sensory experiences of children enable them to gain knowledge and skills she also spoke about how under stimulation of the senses means we miss opportunities to Narrow the Gap. In this session she shared a variety suggestions and approaches to ensure all children are immersed in a multi sensory learning environment this was a really great talk she spoke about why touch is so important. She did several rhymes where she got people to touch each other's faces, she also spoke about using smells and different art materials in activities. One activity she spoke about was where the children spoke about the colour of each other skin so she set up an area where people could try out making the colour paint that was right for their skin tone in this area she had all different materials, not traditional paint to make the colour of the children's skin things like gravy powder, hot chocolate powder, strawberry milkshake powder, vanilla milkshake powder etc this was a really great talk and everybody enjoyed it and took loads of notes of things that they can do in their own settings.
Then there were three workshops and everybody was split into groups, which were on their badges, and when it was time to go to a workshop you just followed whatever color you were. I was in Red Group.
Between 11:30 and 12:30 I had a talk with Anne Conroy about taking the trauma out of transition, how to support effective transition from reception to year 1. During this talk she offered exciting ideas of activities to engage motivate and challenge children she also talked about supplying adults with a range of strategies to promote independent learning before during and after transition. Although this talk again wasn't exactly for me as a nanny I do help with the transition of children into nursery, through reception and into year one. Although I felt this was aimed mainly at teachers the ideas and strategies she spoke about were very useful.
12:30 till 1:30 was lunch and it was an amazing spread. There was a delicious range of salad bowls, cheeses, bread rolls, salmon, vegetarian aubergine, beef Wellington, couscous, vegetables as well as amazing puddings of chocolate cake and profiteroles. You could go back if you wanted and, of course, there were drinks available. It was also really nice to be able to spend this time chatting to other early years provider.
13:00 to 14:30 the second workshop I attended was by Maria Richardson on exploring language and communication in early years "the power of the nursery rhyme". This was a practical workshop that was to support early years practitioners to develop their knowledge and understanding of communication and language. We were told we would need to use our singing voices and we could be giving lots of hands on activities that would be ideal for taking back to a workplace. This was a real interesting workshop because she had made lots of singing bags for prompting children to be engaged and motivated. As well as teaching us rhymes about touching, she showed us how she has made letter boxes out of old washing tablet boxes, with lots of small items inside that are related to the letter like in the B box was a brush, a bell, a bare bottom baby, balloon and bubbles etc. This was an enjoyable talk and although lots of people were already in groups, if you weren't and you needed a partner you just looked around the room and there was always someone who will partner up with you. This could be quite funny especially when you were doing a rhyme where you had to touch people's noses, heads and knees.
14:30 to 14:45 was the last break (with more coffee, biscuits and cake if you wanted it) then it was back for the last workshop.
14:45 to 15:45 we spoke to Alice Sharp "prepare to get messy! we are artists ". She talked about how it has been proven that if young children are given a range of materials, they will be able to create beautiful things, they will be interested, they will use their imagination and they will make wonderful designs with different textures, movements and sounds. Children are drawn to creative materials which stimulate all of their senses so it is important to help children to learn how to manipulate and use a wide range of materials. We were told to prepare to get messy, dirty and gooey too - at the back of the room she had laid out lots of tables with inspiring ideas that people to take back to their settings.
She first showed us a film of a child painting on the floor on a large piece of paper and it started off with just one big paintbrush but it ended up painting his hands and his feet, legs and arms most of himself. He was experimenting on how these different things looked on the paper how the paint felt between his feet and his fingers or if you run the brush your arm how it felt. It was easy to see how much the child was enjoying this experience and how much he was getting out of it, even if it's not always practical.
This was a great end to the last workshop because you felt like big kids being able to play with all the different things that Alice had out on the tables! She had some interesting ideas as well as saving money, as she said not all settings have a huge amount of money. So if you can find a way of making an activity last so much the better. Alice bought some frames and had a table full of white things buttons, pearls, beads, stones, cotton balls, pipe cleaners, ear buds, flowers and ribbons. The idea was you put the frame on the table and made your picture the pieces are not stuck down so they can be used again and again. Alice said if you have a child who does not want their picture to be messed up you can take a photo which can then be displayed or taken home.
On another table she had lots of shells, wooden buttons, small pieces and the idea was that there was a white painting canvas and each child starts to put some things on the canvas, making a picture and then the teacher or person who's looking after children will tell them to move round how many spaces 2 or 3. Then they will add to that person's picture this is a great way of community sharing and everybody being able to like and join in with everybody else. There were loads of messy activities and loads of ideas of sensory items and loads of stuff that you can buy from TTS which Alice uses on a regular basis.
1545 to 1600 this was the close, and the time for certificate distribution. There was a basic summary of the day and a thank you to all the delegates for coming. The prize was given to the person who found the star earlier on in the daytime and we were told that we would have a survey sent so we could tell them what we had enjoyed that day or what they could to improve. After that we went out to collect our coats and also receive a certificate of attendance for the day and a £50 voucher that we can spend on TTS products
All in all I was really impressed with the day. It was so nice to be able to spend a day with other adults who do a similar job to you and understand when you talk about different ideas or plans that you want to do in the future. It was also really nice to feel growing up and spoilt - there's not many days when I have tea and coffee hot (often starts hot but never get time to drink it) a cooked breakfast, lunch with pudding and afternoon tea so this was a really luxurious day. I also enjoyed all of the speakers and it was great to see more of what TTS can provide for my setting.
It was wonderful to be able to get a certificate at the end because it is always great to keep our personal CPD up-to-date and I'm very excited to be able to start looking through the TTS website to decide what I will be spending my £50 on.
I would say that it was a really, really great day. I enjoyed it and will definitely be looking to go next year. Keep an eye out on the news and events area of the BAPN website and newsletter and we will let you know when and where the TTS conferences are next year I can't wait.
Written by Penny Watts