Laminated words, box labels and other things

Following on from the Early Years 2012 conference – and the question posed by Helen Bromley about the use of laminated words – I have been giving some thought to my personal view on the use of laminated words and other laminated things within my childminding setting.

However before I start – I should remind everyone that the children in my care are all 2 or 3 years of age.

Using my question approach – I have asked myself the following questions
WHO are these laminated cards for?
WHAT do I hope to achieve by using them?
IS there any evidence that they improve outcomes for the children in my setting ?

So one at a time

Who are these laminated cards for?
My first response was – for the children
– so going on to question 2

What do I hope to achieve by using them?
Again first response – to provide information and an environment that showed words had a purpose, were useful, to help the children become familiar with letters,words, sentences.
– and the third question

Is there any evidence that they improve outcomes for children?
Well if I am honest – No – not that I have noticed – in fact the children don’t notice the words, or use the words, or point to the words, or show their parents or their friends or me.
I have no evidence that the children in my care are using the words or even taking any notice of them, no evidence that this group of children who have now experienced laminated words since they were 12 months old are making any better progress in the area of literacy than any of the many children that I have cared for over the years (including my own children).

Mmmmmm………

Lets ask myself the questions again

Who are the laminated cards for?
Well me! Not because I want to read them – I know what they say as I went to the trouble of printing and laminating them.

No – I do it because I have been brain washed into thinking that they have a use. that parents and inspectors will like them, but my own evidence is that they do not improve outcomes for children. The parents do not see most of them – as on wall in conservatory and although come into setting every day usually do not go and look at the displays.

And the inspectors – my view is that I should not do things just because others say I should – I should only do things that safeguard the children or improve outcomes for children – and my evidence is that laminated word cards do neither.

So as of now the laminated words are to GO

Is my laminator redundant?
Far from it – I will still laminate pictures and the place mats (including the ones with words), the children’s self registration cards – number lines and other picture based display items – the big difference being that from now on I will be asking myself every time before I laminate something – WHY do I need to laminate this thing? – and – WIL it improve outcomes for the children?

My own children did not not experience a single laminated word at home or at play group. They came across a few – very few – words displayed on the wall at school – and these were usually their name and class under their picture or piece of work – and a title for the display.

But in all cases – home, playgroup and school – there were pictures and art work displayed.

I have to ask – just where did the idea that laminated words were a good thing, come from?

I find myself thinking back to the environment provided for my own children and in the first few years that I was registered – and will be adding some more blogs about these thoughts, when I have time.

One benefit of all this thinking and recording of that thinking in my blog – when I do get my next inspection – I think Ofsted will have to agree – I am a reflective practitioner.

Oh and the toy box labels?
I stopped using these nearly a year ago – because the children just took them off and I like to swap the boxes round and to add things, take things away, to change the continuous provision – and to include an element of surprise and discovery.

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