Did you know that the government is running a three-year initiative called 'Hungry Little Minds' - https://hungrylittleminds.campaign.gov.uk/ - to teach or remind us parents that in every day there are wonderful moments of time within our busy lives to chat, play and read with our children. Many little things light up hungry little minds. Children take everything in, and even the smallest things we do with them can make a big difference.
This neatly fits in with my idea that 'mini experiences' are the way to go with our children. By that I mean simple little opportunities that don't take a lot of organising, time or expense to enable our children to experience something new. Here at nursery we have had such fun with lots of these kinds of activities: we have taken a bus ride down to the town library, enjoyed a 10 minute train ride to Beaconsfield and back, put on a performance of our nativity at our local nursing home, bought an ice cream the old-fashioned way from an ice cream van, run along the common with plastic bag kites, had first hand contact with the local bee keeping society, reared half a dozen caterpillars into butterflies, cooked a meal on an open fire, gone on a nursery camping sleepover.
Our latest idea for a mini experience came from a lantern-making workshop run at a festival I attended last summer where I saw the intensity of sustained shared thinking, talking and problem-solving within families working together to create AMAZING lanterns. Once the seed of doing it at our nurseries was planted in my brain there was no going backwards!
And so the end result was a half-day workshop delivered by Alan Horton of 'Brill Crafts' where fathers, mothers, grandparents, sisters and brothers came together to make and create a lantern. Wow, that was intense. But then a few days later came the excitement of gathering once again and setting off on a local 20 minute walk through the village in the calm of the early evening, finishing with a community supper of baked potatoes or pasta and toppings.
It was SO special. Parents told me of the growing excitement as the day approached. They explained that their children had told anyone and everyone including those queuing up at supermarket tills, neighbours and friends what was coming. I saw children arriving for the event with eyes wide, staying close to their familiar adults, and then as we set off their growing confidence encouraging wonderful chatter and laughter as we walked along and met for our meal.
That simple 'mini experience' was worth its weight in gold in providing the conditions for building our children's brains - new vocabularly was learned, new understandings of physics, new friendships formed for both young and older participants (one mum found another native German speaker to chatter merrily away to). And it all hinged on the simplicity of a few willow canes, some tissue paper, loads of glue, and of course a vision and desire to support those 'hungry little minds' that our children are.
Here's to the next experience whatever it will be!
And in the meantime , whilst waiting, why don't you go to the 'Hungry Little Minds' website for loads of ideas, including local 'mini experiences' you could do with your little one! https://hungrylittleminds.campaign.gov.uk/
Virginia Roden, Principal