Time to Sing

Research practitioner:

Senior practitioner:

Project summary:

A questionnaire based project on how do we provide inclusive opportunities for children and families to experience singing together within the nursery setting and the local community.

 

Introduction

This project was aimed at all children and families that use the setting with the aim to seek the views on the opportunities provided within the nursery to support singing in early years.
With Froebel placing such emphasis on the importance of singing to develop literacy skills and strengthen relationships between children and adults I wanted to find out what musical opportunities the children experienced at nursery, home and within the wider community. I looked at what impact our role as practitioners has and how I can add depth to our provision, whilst supporting our Froebelian values of unity and connectedness and by placing children and families at the centre of all we do.

Context

As a setting we provide musical experiences daily with all staff singing with the children throughout the session to support and enhance their learning. The setting provided access to musical experiences through outside professionals such as Gaelic tutors and YMI, however this is done sporadically throughout the year in the 3-5 room and not available to all age groups or to families. As part of my role and the ethos of our settings inclusive approach I was keen to develop the experiences we provide, making singing accessible to all and part of our continuous provision.
As a Froebelian setting I felt it was extremely important that families are part of our journey and as family engagement is part of our improvement plan. We needed to provide opportunities to work with our families and share our knowledge and skills in a creative way that does not
provide barriers to learning whilst providing children with access to knowledgeable, nurturing educators. This also gave me the opportunity to investigate what musical experiences children shared with their families at home and in the wider community

As I embarked on this project, I was aware that this needed to reflect the views of all that used the service, with this in mind I felt that using questionnaires provided children, parents and staff a medium to express their views in an unobtrusive way with the option of non-participation if
expressed.
To support participants, I engaged in conversations to explain my reasons for seeking this information and to answer any questions they may have and to explain alternate approaches to completing the questionnaire such as support to fill it in or translation if necessary.
With regards to gaining the views of the children I felt that using a mind map in small group situations allowed the children to engage in conversations with both adults and peers creating a more natural, relaxed approach to express their views before transferring this to a questionnaire
format that I could later seek the appropriate permissions for.

Ethics

As my project was based on a questionnaire format, I felt that I could easily gain consent from all participants by attaching the appropriate permissions. In the case of children, I explained to the child that they were helping me to learn more about what they liked and then any information
given was then transferred to a questionnaire and shown to the parent or guardian for overall consent.
I did not feel that I would encounter any issues as I explained to every participant that this was a voluntary exercise, and they could withdraw consent at any time or choose not to complete the questionnaire and that the information that they provided would only be used to support the
development of this project.
In the case of child protection issues all parents, carers and staff are aware of the protocol that we follow as part of Falkirk Council’s Child Protection Procedures

“Today the most urgent need in education is that the school should be united with the life of home and family” (Froebel in Lilley 1967:156)

Findings

Throughout the course of this project, I have had the opportunity to reflect critically on my own practice as well as the experiences that we provide as a service.
The information I have gained has not been surprising to me as I knew that the vast majority of parents were aware of what experiences we provided through their observation at collection times or with the information their children shared with them about their day. However as expected many parents would love to be involved in any music or singing experiences although with the constraints of working hours this is not always feasible, leading me to the conclusion that a more creative style of delivering these opportunities would be best suited to our families.
“Practitioners should continually reflect on their practice and be aware of the importance of music, song and rhyme and how these are offered to each baby and child in their setting.” (Bruce, Early Childhood Practice p93)
Through discussions with the children, it became apparent to them that the singing offered to them was impactful on their learning as the children could tell me what their favourite songs were and they could also explain when they would sing them at home, showing me that they could use memory recall and transfer their knowledge.
“I sing Uncle John in the bath”
As most parents told me that they would be happy to see more singing at nursery the question of if they accessed any musical experiences out with the setting was that almost no children did. A small amount had previously attended local events, however this had stopped due to children
now attending nursery, in turn reiterating my initial thought that are we providing inclusive opportunities for children and families to experience singing together?
My findings regarding staff were also as excepted, with most staff feeling that we provide sufficient experiences. However, they would like this to happen more often, both indoors and out being mindful not to interrupt children’s play. Supporting Froebel’s principle of the importance of
play, they also felt that the introduction of more visuals would be beneficial for all children and would be particularly supportive for non-verbal children or where English is a second language.

Conclusion

This project allowed me to look subjectively at our setting’s provision and the impact that our musical experiences have on the nursery as a whole.
This project supported my initial feeling that we could provide a more inclusive approach to singing with our children and families. The evidence provided me with the data to justify my vision to further develop our skills and to extend this to make it accessible to all children and families within the setting and beyond. We aim to engage with local community groups and develop relationships where we could visit these venues with our children and families and share our skills and knowledge, thus helping to support any transitions between these clients and the nursery.
It also provided me with the knowledge that the majority of children, families and staff are keen to see a more flexible approach to singing and that they all share my passion for singing with young children and the impact it has on their learning.

Research implications

As we settle into our new building and work towards becoming Falkirk’s First Froebel Flagship Centre, it is important we examine all areas of service delivery. As a team we have reflected on our service delivery
and practice. We have also taken into consideration the lasting impact that Covid has had on children’s development. One of the experiences which stopped during Covid was singing and staff have taken a long time to build up confidence in this area. Many staff who trained during Covid missed out in learning about the richness that singing brings to children’s development. We know that children’s speech & language has been affected due to lack of opportunities and isolation that many families felt during periods of lockdown.
Caroline’s project has given the centre the opportunity to revisit the benefits of singing for children. She has role modelled and worked alongside staff and visiting professionals to learn and enhance the
experience of singing. She has participated in the Youth Music Imitative Training (YMI) to further her knowledge and skills. Caroline continues to work alongside the music practitioner to further support her
journey and provide wider musical opportunities for children. The Gaelic tutor provides a different musical experience which involves a variety of musical instruments.
Caroline has looked at how we involve families and has shared resources to support a home/nursery link. We are looking at different ways to share this through different media e.g. Twitter, QR Codes and paper.
Singing can be a spontaneous experience which results in no costs, although we have identified a small budget for any resources required

Practitioner enquiry

This research project has given Caroline the opportunity to develop her leadership skills and share her knowledge and expertise with children, families and staff. It has highlighted the importance and impact that research has ensuring we have the theory behind our journey of improvement. This has also supported our journey as a family centre model within Froebelian practices.
Caroline is planning how to take this out into the community and has started to invite members of the community into the building. We are already seeing other staff becoming more confident by following Caroline’s lead.

Leadership learning

This course has helped me to value the importance and impact research can have. It has supported our Froebelian journey as we work towards becoming a Froebel Flagship Nursery and how we embed the Frobelian Principles. It reminded me of good practice pre-covid and the need to re-start or re-visit. It has encouraged us as a team to share our new found knowledge with our team and beyond. Research will be embedded into our professional practice going forward.
I very much valued the opportunity for professional dialogue with practitioners/leaders from my own authority as well as other Froebelians.

Author and role

To be completed

Comments from other network members

What did you appreciate about this research? What forward-looking questions did it raise for you?

  1. Laura Brown
    Laura Brown
    24 Mar 2024 at 9:53 am

    I really enjoyed reading your work, this sounds like a well thought out project and one you are passionate about.
    I totally understand it isn’t always feasible to have singing sessions with parents due to staffing etc, however I would like to hear more about your “more creative style of delivering opportunities to your families” would look like as this is something as a setting we would be interested in.
    Great project, well done!


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  2. Sharon Muir
    Sharon Muir
    25 Mar 2024 at 6:50 pm

    This is a very interesting project and one I can relate to. I am also very passionate about singing with young children and their families and this has such a crucial role in early years!


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  3. Donna Green
    Donna Green
    27 Mar 2024 at 1:05 pm

    Well done Caroline and Shirley for the commitment to this practitioner Inquiry – great that the participants included children, families, and educators to give a breadth of findings.
    The holistic multi layered benefits of singing and music are certainly huge. These also link in with the National and local agenda around early communication, language, and well-being. Great to see how this all connects to support positive experiences and impacts for children. P.S You have got some beautiful images to add one to your inquiry. 😊


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