Get ready for a fresh start in January

It may come as a shock having to match your energy levels to the children’s when they arrive back after the Christmas break – so lay plans to get them outside and letting off steam, while supporting their learning and physical development.

Children enjoy being active outdoors at the Old Station Nursery
Children enjoy being active outdoors at the Old Station Nursery

Children can find it difficult to settle into the routine of nursery when they return after the Christmas holiday and will still be feeling excitable. Harness their energy by taking them outdoors to explore wintery weather and challenge themselves physically – then bring them indoors for calming activities that focus on new beginnings, growth and life cycles. Try these ideas:

1. What we can learn from new beginnings
The New Year is a time of hope and for fresh starts. It offers children the chance to review the previous year and to look forward to the new one. This is the perfect time to talk about new beginnings, whether in terms of the changes to come for the children themselves, or in terms of undertaking a project on growth

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2. Play, come rain or shine
Encourage children to get outside to experience the rain and sun, cloudy and windy weather, and hopefully some snow during the course of the year. Remember that early years mantra, that ‘there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing!’, and remind parents that children have access to the outside area in all weathers and that their clothing needs to be appropriate. If funding allows, try and invest in some all-in-one waterproof suits and Wellington boots for the children in your setting so they can really explore and experience the outside in all conditions.
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3. Why we love the snow
Jenni Clarke outlines indoor and outdoor activities that will fuel children's fascination for snow. Don't worry if it is not the real thing – you can fake it! Read here

4. Get active when it’s cold outside
There are many barriers to active outdoor learning in the winter but they can be overcome with thoughtful planning and a little imagination. This article looks at the ways children can be encouraged to be outside and active during the winter, using the seven areas of learning as its guide, while also considering individual children’s learning characteristics.
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5. Winter brings that sluggish feeling
Explore hibernation. British animals that hibernate include badgers, bats, dormice, hedgehogs and ground squirrels. Ask the children to help make a display of hibernating animals using both pictures and names (to support them as they make links in their learning). You can use books and the internet to find out what each of the animals eat in the months leading up to hibernation and where they hibernate – you can build on this learning when you plan crafts and other activities.
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