Smart Start on Skye

JH-Smart-StartI recently had the opportunity to go back to Skye and visit some of the Gaelic Medium nurseries to see how they were getting on with implementing Smart Start. It was wonderful to see how they were using the material along with the adaptions they made to support the added challenge of delivering the Smart Start messages in Gaelic.

I enjoyed looking at the displays that showed how the practitioners and children were engaging with the health and wellbeing programme. The practitioners commented on the ease of use of the material, the framework it provides while still being flexible enough to adapt to meet the needs of the children and to get parents on board.

This approach – planning opportunities for ‘intentional learning’ through play – is highlighted in Section 4 of Building the Ambition, the Scottish Government’s National Practice Guidance on Early Learning and Childcare, in which practitioners are encouraged to be flexible in offering choices and resources which spark children’s play.


The children were keen to talk to me about their learning. One little boy talked me through all the different parts of the body on a skeleton they had being using as a prop.

The children at Portree Gaelic Medium Nursery had visited the Chest, Heart and Stroke foundation where they had been shown how to do resuscitation! One child told me “you have to breathe into their mouths and press on their chest if people collapse”. Another child at Kilmuir commented, “I listen to my heart, it only comes out when I’m running”!

One group had measured the children with string, taken hand prints and then buried the prints and string in the garden in a time capsule – they will dig this up next year with parents and children to see if there have been any changes!

Don’t forget whilst the pack is set out in a structured way, it is there to be adapted and used as best meets the needs and interest of the children, their families, and you. By using it in this way you can keep the ideas fresh, exciting and relevant to the children year on year, building on the foundations and adding depth and breadth to the learning as appropriate.

Find out more about Smart Start.

Find out more about Building the Ambition.

Jackie Hird, CALA Smart Start Coordinator