home > Birth to Three Matters - An introduction.
under5s - Birth to Three Matters
Birth to Three Matters is a Framework to support Children in their earliest years - if you have not yet received a copy which includes an introductory booklet, a poster, component cards, a video and a cd-rom you can order one for free from dfes@prolog.uk.com

The framework recognises, at long last, that there are Early Years Practitioners - nursery staff, nannies and childminders working with children under the age of three in a variety of settings providing them with a huge range of opportunities. Older children are working within the Foundation Stage Curriculum and now the younger ones have their own framework of support, information, guidance and challenges which values each child's uniqueness.

My first thoughts as a Childminder, who is just getting a grip of how to plan a Foundation Curriculum for my over 3's, was 'O No' as I currently care for three under threes (part time). 'Do we have to plan for everyone?' but I bravely put the video in my player and watched with interest. The video reflected practise in both the home and nursery settings and after watching it all the way through I confidently thought - 'I do that' and I wanted to find out more.

It does introduce a different language and a different way of thinking but as we help the babies in our care, develop into toddlers and then pre-schoolers, we can clearly see them develop into:

  • A Strong Child
  • A Skilful Communicator
  • A Competent Learner
  • A Healthy Child
And it looks at four broad stages of development - (it puts a whole new light on how I look at the children)
Heads Up, Lookers and Communicators (0-8 months)
Sitters, Standers and Explorers (8-18 months)
Movers, Shakers and Players (18 - 24 months)
Walkers, Talkers and Pretenders (25-36 months)

The pack does show how these areas overlap, it has ideas for activities (on the component cards), for treasure baskets and heuristic play (in detail on the cd-rom) and things to look out for if you have concerns about the child's development. It is also simple to use, it can be dived in to - used for ideas, to check the child's stage of development and give different perspective to your current practice, or you could sit down and worked through.

The most important thing the pack highlights to me is the importance of play - young children learn through play, and can not be rushed through an activity - children need choice of what to play with, they may need to be uninterrupted and have time to play alone, or with others in a safe and supervised environment. A skilled birth to three practitioner provides plenty of opportunity for play and structures it only by providing different resources which can be used in a range of ways.

I personally think once you have digested the pack, it is up to you how you can interrupt it - I have used it to develop my own long term plan (PDF) for my under threes, and then to make observations under the relevant coloured headings for a termly report to parents so they can see how their child is developing.

The framework also links amazingly well to the Foundation Stage - and with a little tweaking I can develop activities for my under three's easily alongside my other children - by providing them with a range of opportunities, time to experiment and explore, supporting them through their experiences and at the same time becoming competent with my own expertise, as I implement activities within the Framework.

The pack is only a Framework - it is not something that is compulsory - all children under three need not be working on it, even if you have never heard of it before or read about it, if you are providing your child with a caring, loving environment, offering a variety of experiences, stimulation and time to play then you are undoubtedly providing the opportunity for your child to develop into a Strong, Skillful, Competent, and Healthy Child.

Helen Renouf
Accredited Childminder

under5s - Birth to Three Matters
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