Lochinver ELC hunt for the perfect Christmas tree

The following blog post was submitted by the staff at Lochinver ELC: 

The fun and learning opportunities when you go searching for a Christmas tree are endless.

The children first had to think about where the tree would go and measure the space…. “with what?” Remembering the big number was tricky but it was the same height as Jane’s shoulders. Saws are sharp and dangerous but not our folding saw! Which tree to choose? Children learnt a new word “evergreen” and discovered some had “needles” not leaves. We even made up a new song!

Of course, when we returned, the tree was hung upside down the old traditional way!

Merry Christmas!

Click on the image below to watch a video of Lochinver’s Christmas Tree hunt! 

“Food Matters” – A new resource from the Care Inspectorate (featuring Junior World)

Food Matters is a resource by the Care Inspectorate that highlights examples of good practice from across the ELC sector in relation to food and nutrition. The resource compliments NHS Health Scotland’s ‘Setting the Table‘, the nutritional guidance and food standards for the ELC sector. 

You can view the resource on the Care Inspectorate website by clicking here.

The guidance features case studies from ELC settings across Scotland, including Junior World in Nairn. 

Here’s an excerpt from the guidance, in which Jayne Macintosh, Junior World Manager, talks about their gardening project: 

“Donations of seeds, bulbs and resources for the garden led to them growing produce. Children
delighted in growing their own strawberries and commented that they tasted better than any they had
eaten before. The gardening project expanded to include growing radishes, cucumbers, and tomatoes
as well as herbs and flowers. The children now take extra delight in ensuring that Jayne, the manager,
always has fresh flowers in her office. They also show their parents what they have been doing, taking
real pride in their achievements.”

CALA practitioner Elizabeth Reid presented with award by Drew Hendry MSP

Congratulations to Elizabeth Reid, Assistant Childcare Practitioner at Junior World in Nairn. Elizabeth recently received a Saltire Ascent Award for completing over 500 hours of voluntary work within her local community! Elizabeth has also been selected as a Saltire Ambassador by Signpost Inverness and Nairn. 

Elizabeth expanded on her love of volunteering to us: 

“It all started from a hobby of mine, which was tennis. I started helping my coach teach younger children how to play. Shortly after I found out about Saltire, so I quickly signed up and ever since have been gaining hours. When I was at school, my friends started volunteering at a group called BIG. I was intrigued to find out more about it, so a couple of weeks later I started attending with them and I am so pleased I did.”

“Just over 4 years later I am still helping the club! I have developed friendships with the attendees – most of whom have been coming since the start, like me. Since leaving school just over two years ago, I have been returning to Nairn Academy twice a week to tutor the Steel Band. I am proud of the groups I have helped develop. It is great saying you help at a group but it’s even better when you love what you do.”

The award was presented to Elizabeth by Drew Hendry MP at the Signpost AGM held in Nairn. Here he is on Facebook offering his congratulations to the volunteers: 

Care and Learning Alliance would like to congratulate Elizabeth for her fantastic dedication to making her local community a better place. 

Kindness Calendar: Do Good December 2018

Action for Happiness has created an alternative advent calendar – one based on kindness. For every day of December, there is a suggested act of kindness. 

Head over to their website to download a high-resolution version of the calendar and to learn more about it. 

Action for Happiness describes themselves as “a movement of people committed to building a happier and more caring society. We want to see a fundamentally different way of life – where people care less about what they can get just for themselves and more about the happiness of others.

Only 2 days left to register for World Book Day!

Time is running out to register for World Book Day! Get your application in before 5 pm on the 30th of November, or risk missing out. 

If you’re new to World Book Day, here’s what it’s all about (taken from their website): 

World Book Day is a registered charity on a mission to give every child and young person a book of their own. It’s also a celebration of authors, illustrators, books and (most importantly) it’s a celebration of reading. In fact, it’s the biggest celebration of its kind, designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, and marked in over 100 countries all over the world.

If you’re ready to register, head to https://tinyurl.com/ybdoycm8

Or learn more about World Book Day on their website: https://www.worldbookday.com

Have You Seen The Leaf monster? Autumn fun at Lochinver ELC

The abundance of autumn leaves blowing around at this time of year presents many fabulous and fun learning opportunities for children of all ages. Lochinver wanted to share some of their learning, developing their understanding about hibernation, using their imagination and creativity inspired through running around and making discoveries outdoors.

The children at Lochinver ELC have been chased through the woods and around and around the play area by the “leaf monster”!

Then it disappeared and no-one knew where it had gone, but how could people help when we didn’t know what the leaf monster looked like? The children contributed ideas about the monster and then created their own version using recycled and natural materials. The monster hid in the leaves amongst the hibernating hedgehogs! Shhh, do not disturb until spring!

– Amy and Jane, Lochinver ELC

Muir Of Ord ELC (MOO) welcomes MOO FOOD

The following blog article was submitted by Laura at Muir of Ord ELC :

The staff and children at MOO invited Rachel from MOO FOOD to visit us in September to talk to the children and some parents about what they do as a group and some ideas of what we could do together here at our setting.

MOO Food is a community food company located in the Highlands of Scotland, with the aim to build community resilience by bringing people together to grow food, knowledge and confidence. Learn more about them at https://moofood.org/

It was agreed that Rachel would provide us with a raised planting bed, compost and bulbs to plant in it. Everyone is so excited about working together with MOO FOOD

Early in November Rachel and Jasmine came back and helped all the children fill the raised beds with compost and plant some onions and garlic bulbs.

We learned that the bulbs needed frost, sun and rain to grow. Our bulbs should be ready in Spring, so the children counted how many months we would need to wait before we could harvest them. We talked about things that could harm the bulbs and put netting over the planting bed to protect it from birds.

We have only planted seeds before, so planting bulbs was a new experience for us. One of the children explained: “you have to break them up.”

We have had so much fun, and cannot wait to harvest our crops. “We are going to make garlic bread!” exclaimed one child! See you soon MOO FOOD!!!!!

Scotland Works for You – guidance on the Scottish disclosure process

 ‘Scotland Works for You’ is the name of the collaborative group initiated in early 2017 with the aim of securing opportunities for people with convictions to lead positive, healthy lives that contribute to society. The initiative also aims to reduce both the stigma of having a conviction and the barriers to integration, through employment and education for individuals with convictions.

They have released guidance to support employers who are or are looking to, employ someone who has a conviction and offer information to individuals who have a conviction and are looking for employment. 

The guide is split into ‘advice for employers’ and ‘a guide for individuals’. The information in the guide includes: 

  • The different types of disclosure
  • Who can apply for each level of disclosure? 
  • What can and should be disclosed?
  • Creating internal policies and procedures
  • A disclosure case study
  • A ‘safer recruitment’ checklist

This is a fantastic guide for anyone who would like a deeper understanding of the disclosure system, or for people with specific questions about the rules governing past convictions. 

You can download the guidance by visiting https://www.mygov.scot/scotland-works-for-you/ 

Anti Bullying Week

12-16 November is anti-bullying week. Bullying is never acceptable and is something that can affect people of all ages. Those of us working in childcare have a real opportunity to help the children in our care to develop positive, respectful relationships with others.

Respect Me, Scotland’s anti-bullying campaign has a range of information and resources which you can access here: https://www.chooserespect.scot/

An interesting study in Canada has discovered that babies visiting schools can help children develop empathy and recognise vulnerability in others as well as themselves. This seems to have a positive impact in reducing bullying in school. To find out more about this you can watch a BBC news item here:

Lochinver ELC and their commitment to helping the environment

The following blog article was submitted by Amy and Jane at Lochinver ELC.

Green Flag Success For Lochinver Early Learning Centre

Lochinver Early Learning Centre has received exciting news from Eco School Scotland. A second green flag has been awarded for all their eco school work over the last 2 years. This involved a lot of community co-operation with surveys and marine litter picks. So they would like to thank everyone and congratulate the now P1’s, P2’s and nursery children for all their hard work in helping to “save the world”!

Here is a quote from their assessment:

“We must commend you on your glitter campaign and the lengths you went to get the message out there. Your young people were so expressive and determined to change glitter usage practice in your authority. Well done in making that change happen. We were also extremely impressed with measuring techniques to raise the profile of your targets for your projects. It emphasises that small changes in our habits can make a remarkable transformation to achieve a sustainable environment.”

“Recycle – Use It Again”

Lochinver Early Learning Centre has 9 children enrolled this session including some younger 2-year-olds. They have already been out and about in the woods and making a lot of use of their outdoor space, despite the rain and wind. In fact, on sunny, dry days the children don’t find the outdoors as interesting and chose to spend more time inside – this bunch will be tough “Highlanders”!

The centre would like to thank Ken Fairchild who has come up trumps again and provided them with two up-cycled new outdoor storage bins and kindly collected an apple tree from Inverness to plant in the old leaky bin – nothing ever gets wasted!

#Openingdoors at the Scottish Mentoring Network Awards

On Tuesday 6th of November, CALA Chief Executive Jaci Douglas, and Mentoring Support Officer Kirsty Hunter travelled to Edinburgh for the Scottish Mentoring Network Awards.

The awards are designed to acknowledge mentoring projects and individuals that have made a significant impact over the past year.

Jaci and Kirsty were there representing CALA’s #Openingdoors programme, which provides mentoring and guidance to young people aged 16-24 years who are interested in a career in Early Learning and Childcare.

#Openingdoors ended up winning not one, but two awards on the night. #Openingdoors received a ‘Highly Commended Project’ award, while Kirsty won a ‘Highly Commended Employee’ award. 

Kirsty said of the awards: 

These awards give the mentees the opportunity to feel part of something which is recognised and valued. It also assures their families, carers and our supportive partners that taking part in #Openingdoors is something positive and beneficial.” – Kirsty Hunter

What is #Openingdoors?

Over the past three years, #Openingdoors has mentored 72 young people into their chosen career path of working in Early Learning and Childcare. 

Here’s what two former #Openingdoors mentees had to say about the project: 

“I am now working in Social Care with young people from residential and secure units and I can honestly say I would not be in the position I am now or be in a career that I am truly passionate about, without the training and continued support I received from Kirsty at #Openingdoors”

“Kirsty helped me to do so many little things that turned out to be BIG things!

We talked about where I wanted to be and how I could get there. This helped me to believe in my own future and made me want to try – to put the effort in. Kirsty really listened to me and never pushed me too hard – she always made it fun!

“The little steps I started to take were huge! I started to interact with people more, to travel independently, to take responsibility for ‘adulting’ – filling in forms and finding certificates etc.”

Where can I learn more?

Keeping Children Safe bulletin – 3rd edition

The Keeping Children Safe bulletin contains useful information and links on child protection, with a focus on Highland and Moray. 

Some of the articles include: what to do if you have a child protection concern, contact details for child protection groups in Highland and Moray, information on upcoming child protection training, and advice on internet safety. 

Download the Keeping Children Safe bulletin by clicking here.