Children aged 0 to 5 years across Warwickshire have benefited from training and equipment provided by the “Are You Sitting Comfortably?” project, funded by Warwickshire County Council’s Smart Start Programme.
‘Are You Sitting Comfortably’ was designed to support children in early years with functional sitting and personal care. The free training was undertaken by staff supporting children within the Early Years Foundation Stage, including reception classes, nursery classes, day nurseries, child-minders and out of school clubs.
The project centred on two themes:
- Sitting for learning – the development of gross motor skills for concentrating, writing, reading and communication.
- Sitting for personal care – the development of independent toileting, toilet training, managing more complex toileting needs.
The training covered a range of areas including: meeting the physical needs of children in school; developing independence in children; managing children’s needs safely; and the early intervention of children with Special Educational Needs and Disability.
100% of attendees of the sessions which took place across Warwickshire rated them as either good or outstanding for content and delivery – and said they would recommend the training to others.
The Smart Start funded project has also purchased specialist equipment to support the inclusive provision of 2HELP nursery places for children with physical disability. For children who require specialist equipment, for example specialist seating, there was no provision of this equipment outside of the home, making nursery placements challenging or impossible.
The new equipment enabled the children to attend nursery safely, sit independently and be with their peers, increasing their self-esteem. Other children would see children with physical disability as part of their community from the earliest stages, and developmentally similar as they sit independently, rather on adults’ knees.
Nursery staff that supported children in their use of the new equipment provided positive feedback “It’s lovely to see Lucy sitting on the floor. I read a story last week and one of the other children joined us. It was the first time she really took notice of the other children because she was sitting independently and they sat close together. I can see her reactions because I can face her. Before she was always on my knee and I was constantly teaching her from the back if she were sitting upright.”
Clare Woodman, IDS 0-5 Lead Consultant Teacher said
“The Smart Start funding has enabled us to provide training to early years workers in the use of this equipment to meet children’s physical needs and give them more independence. We will soon have a store of specialist equipment for 2 years olds across the county allowing more children with physical restrictions to get the support they need in a learning environment.”
Cllr Jeff Morgan, Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services said
“Ensuring that all children have access to early years education and the opportunity to interact with their peers is an objective of the Smart Start strategy. It is great to see this project already having a positive impact on these children and will continue to make a difference to more children across Warwickshire in the future.”