Where is Froebel in our Early Learning and Childcare Centre Information Brochure?

Research practitioner:

Senior practitioner:

Project summary:

A study which identifies if Froebel’s principles are evident in our current Early Learning and Childcare Centre Information brochure and how the setting’s vision, values and aims are reflected in it.

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Introduction

This practitioner inquiry was undertaken by ten staff participants over two focus groups and four parent participants in one focus group.  We focussed on looking at our new settings vision, values and principles, where our whole community had been involved in the process, to discover how our Froebelian principles and setting values where evident or not in the existing information brochure. The intention was to update and improve it, based on participant feedback.  This inquiry matters as it enables a learning together opportunity with educators and families and shows that their voices have helped empower change, promoting an information brochure that will support others in understanding a Froebelian approach to learning through the settings vision, values and principles.  My purpose in undertaking this project was to build on my current knowledge and understanding of Froebel and look into specific aspects in more depth.

 

Context

In order to become an authority Froebel flagship nursery, we have to ensure Froebel is embedded throughout the nursery as a whole, beginning with our vision, values and principles.  We also have to move on from being Froebelians to being Froebelians in a Froebelian setting.  We discussed the information brochure as being a good starting point for Froebelian principles to be incorporated, followed by all policies and guidance.  Our current practice is guided by Froebel’s principles, which we follow in a personalised way, that meet the needs of our children, families and community.  When deciding on my research topic, I was therefore passionate to make our principles visible and parent friendly, particularly the terminology.  When reading the information brochure, I recognised it needed updates to align with our Froebelian approaches where our setting vision, values and principles threaded throughout, when sharing with leadership team and colleagues they agreed.

I had to consider what methods I was going to use, to gather evidence, throughout my project.  I ultimately decided focus groups consisting of staff and parents would be the best way to get in-depth, high-quality feedback.  Group dialogue offered me multiple opinions and participants were able to feed off one another, creating a more comfortable and natural setting.  I also used creative methods, in which I captured photographic evidence of the children throughout play, connecting them to the Froebelian principles in practice.

‘The community is enriched by the diversity and uniqueness of individuals.  So in turn individuals gain a sense of belonging and connection from the community.’ (Tovey, 2020, p.6). 

Ethics

All staff and parents were welcome to participate, in providing feedback on the old and new information brochures.  I required consent from my manager to make changes to the information brochure.  A notice was put up and those who expressed an interest were selected.  Most staff were happy to contribute along with four parents.  None of the participants had any difficulties fully participating in the study and understood they could withdraw at any time.  All participants understood that anonymity was ensured to them, unless a safeguarding issue arose.  Written consent was obtained from parents for any photographs used of their child and the child was also included by asking if it was okay to use their photograph.  It was explained to the participants that their feedback will help to improve the new information brochure and that this will be shared with them for further feedback.  Taking into consideration my research title, I do not foresee there being any negative repercussions.

“I knew Froebel was a theorist, but had no idea about a Froebelian setting until reading this” (Anonymous parent)

Findings

Reviewing the current information document, allowed me to address my research questions. My findings revealed that Froebel’s principles were not evident throughout the document.  There was barely a mention of Froebel and our vision, values and aims were documented, however it wasn’t clear what they meant in practice.  Staff and parents were involved in giving their feedback.  Many staff felt there was an overload of information, it was very formal, not inviting, didn’t like the red highlighted writing and it wasn’t made clear that we are a Froebelian setting.  Parents all agreed it was quite long, which was off-putting, wasn’t very eye catching and that it never mentioned all the team’s names, only managements.  When asked if they had an understanding of our Froebelian principles, many parents were unsure of Froebel in general. However, signposting with in our setting to information and posters displayed helped to provide information and provoke discussions.

This feedback helped, as a starting point, to improving our information brochure.  I went on to research other Froebelian establishments such as the Cowgate Centre and Guildford Nursey School and Family Centre and was able to look at their information brochures.  I liked how they gave a brief description about who Friedrich Froebel was and what their Froebelian principles looked like in practice.  I feel this is a great way to introduce Froebel to parents and provide them with an understanding of Froebel’s approach to learning.  A key message I took from ‘FRIEDRICH FROEBEL – A Critical Introduction to key themes and debates’ by Tina Bruce, on emphasizing the Froebelian principles was “What does Froebelian education look like and feel like in practice?”.  By making Froebelian principles more evident in our information brochure, I will be able to share what Froebelian education looks like in our nursery setting.

Using the feedback from staff and parents I began to update the information brochure.  I added colour making it more attractive and less clinical.  I reduced the amount of information (less is more).  I introduced that we are a Froebelian setting on a journey to becoming a first local authority Froebel flagship nursery.  I added a brief description about Friedrich Froebel and a QR code to downloadable Froebel Trust pamphlets to further educate parents and provide them with ideas.  Our vision values & aims, and Curriculum Rationale poster covers were added, which are extremely eye-catching as they are pictures as opposed to just text; and finally I incorporated our Froebelian principles in practice, which clearly states our approach to learning in a personalised way for our community, alongside some lovely photographs of the children throughout their play.

I then got feedback from all participants on the new information brochure.  Many complemented how much more eye catching it was, through the use of colour, pictures and photographs. The parents all agreed that it helped provide them with a better understanding of Froebel and all voiced that they would happily use the QR code to access the Froebel Trust pamphlets, linking to their own children’s interests. Staff felt it was more family friendly and our principles were explained in an easy-to-read format.  Overall, feedback from the new brochure has been very positive and the only improvements voiced from a parent was she’d like to know more about staff.

Conclusion

This project enabled me to take a closer look at our current Information brochure.  With staff and parent feedback to support my findings, it was evident that the brochure wasn’t up-to-date with our Froebelian journey and that although the information was correct, it wasn’t all needed.  I realised that, as one of the first documents a parent will receive about the setting, the brochure needs to introduce Froebel and what a Froebelian setting’s approach to learning is, through examples of our practice and visuals to make it more child and parent friendly.  After researching how the Cowgate Centre and Guildford Nursey School and Family Centre introduce Froebel through their information brochures, I was able to update and improve information brochure in a personalised way for our community.  In conclusion, staff and parents agreed, the newly revised information document provides a better insight into us as a Froebelian setting and also empowers parents to want to learn about a Froebelian approach to learning too.

Going forward, I would like Froebelian principles to be incorporated into all policy and guidance along with practice and this information brochure is the starting point to this improvement.  From parent feedback, on wanting to know more about staff, this could also be our next focus.

Research implications

This research will help us to effectively share an better insight into how we are embracing and embedding a Froebelian approach into our setting, sharing what a Froebelian setting means to our families and the wider community and how the principles are embedded throughout the ethos of the setting. The findings from this research challenged us to find a way to share the benefits of a Froebelian approach and how we have become Froebelians in a Froebelian setting, we found that we must do more to share why we do what we do with our parents. Findings from the research show that parents will have a deeper understanding of our approach if they can read about our aims and values alongside practical examples of our core provision, child and adult friendly examples and attractively laid out documentation including our brochure and other documents eg. Policies. Findings from the research show that staff agree that parents will have a better understanding of our approach by seeing learning through the eyes of child and the children themselves were able to have discussions with their parents and staff using the visuals as a starting point, talking about their practical experiences. Implications in regard to resourcing will mainly be around sharing the new brochure with families and we plan to spend time at our initial home visits explaining our priorities and we will be able to show them how this is being achieved with visual examples of our Froebelian setting. Froebelian principles will now be incorporated into all policy and guidance and this information brochure will be the starting point for further improvement.

Practitioner enquiry

Within our setting there is a large focus on Distributed Leadership where everyone is encouraged and supported to research and share their ideas and findings within the team, implementing change where it will benefit all users. This inquiry enabled the researcher/ practitioner to participate in the chosen project and carry out research alongside myself, their colleagues, and the families who attend the setting. This project enabled the researcher/practitioner to take a critical look at what information we share with our families and how we do this. The researcher/practitioner was able to challenge our present nursery information brochure and by engaging in dialogue we acknowledged that if we want to be a Froebelian setting we had to ensure that the language we use in our documents is clear and understood by staff, children and families and that the Froebelian Principles are clearly explained, giving examples from practice to support this. Moving forward, I believe more autonomy should be given to practitioners in relation to carrying out research and asking questions which will improve the service we provide to children and families and for their own professional development.

Leadership learning

The project enabled me to reflect on how important it is to share with all stakeholders the ethos of our setting and also share more information on what we as a Froebelian setting aim to achieve alongside our vision, values and aims. Being a leader on this project has enabled me to see the impact of the enquiry and the value that the researcher/practitioner has placed on involving children and families within the setting and wider community. As a lead practitioner I would continue to support more practitioners to undertake this practitioner inquiry course, personally and professionally I benefited from the programme, I valued the opportunity to have professional discussions with colleagues from other settings and the development of valuable relationships with these settings and beyond.

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. Chelsey McClurg
    Chelsey McClurg
    31 May 2023 at 5:35 pm

    This was very interesting to read on the reflection of Froebel and what this means within the ELC
    Brochure – I think enabling this inquiry has enabled a strengthened and enriched brochure for
    Families to understand the “why” behind the settings practice – before their child starts in the ELC

    Well done!


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  2. Lynette Wilson
    Lynette Wilson
    31 May 2023 at 6:32 pm

    Very interesting reading, especially gathering thoughts on the current brochure. The brochure or website would be a place a parent would look first probably to get a feel for the nursery to a great project to start with the very first possible interaction your families may have! So yes it is important it reflects your froebel journey. Interesting to read this will feed in to your policy also. Well done!


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  3. Yvonne Wright
    Yvonne Wright • Post Author •
    31 May 2023 at 7:06 pm

    The brochure seems to be too big a file to upload, so if anyone would like to see it we can email it 🙂


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  4. Jean Aitken
    Jean Aitken
    12 Jun 2023 at 8:19 am

    Your project has shown that it is important to review how we inform others of Froebel and what it means within the nursery setting. Your reflection on editing the brochure to show ‘ less but more’ shows that you have thought about the target audience. Often we create brochures that come over as being to business like.
    Your project has given me food for thought. Well done.


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  5. Leona Stewart
    Leona Stewart
    13 Jun 2023 at 1:55 pm

    This was a great opportunity to share your pedagogy with your community and ensure a shared understanding by all practitioners. I think that in the same way you learned from other settings, settings and practitioners will look to you to guide and share.


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  6. Donna Green
    Donna Green
    15 Jun 2023 at 11:51 am

    Well done Yvonne for enabling the information brochure to be explored and updated in lines with the settings new vision, values and principles. Wonderful to have the representation of families and practitioners doing this together.


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