When doing an early years degree at university, I would say the best thing you can do is try to surround yourself with lots of opportunities to explore the field even more. I would imagine this would be good practice for any course you do. Which is why, when I found out about ChildcareExpo, I was very keen to go.
So what is it? Well, it’s a childcare exhibition run annually for early years practitioners, and anyone who works in that area, with the aim of the event being to inspire and motivate early years professionals and provide exhibitors to talk to, network with and discover.
The venue was smaller than I had anticipated but don’t let that fool you! They squeezed in so many different companies with an array of suppliers, professionals and products, that I had to work out a strategy on arrival to make sure I didn’t miss anything. Rows of stalls selling toys, clothes, gadgets, online apps, training, jobs, food… I could go on for hours.
There were huge incentives to sign up to things on the day and codes to take away for future use. Demonstrations and free gifts, sometimes just for stopping and speaking with the promoters, sometimes for signing up to be sent more information. There were stalls where you could speak to representatives from places like local council offices and universities, au pair agencies and even the chance to work in America! It really was a little hub of opportunities.
Alongside the stalls, there was also the opportunity to participate in workshops and book onto some seminars; you receive a CPD certificate after completion. This is great because when working within the early years sector (or even if you are looking to go into it in the future) if you show your employer that you can undertake CPD courses of your own accord, this will show them you are serious about your profession and that you want to make sure you are the best you can be. With this in mind, I jumped at the chance of joining in with an educational seminar. I went to the ‘Developing Literacy for Children with SEN and EAL through Stories’ seminar run by Natasha Dennis from Little Creative Days Ltd. You will be able to read more about this seminar in my next post.
The workshops are free and the seminars cost £21 (£15 if you pre-book). A small price to pay for an hour of that professional’s time to widen your knowledge and gain a CPD certificate at the end of it! The seminars ranged from talking about forest school, risky play, reflections on the Reggio Emilia Approach and delivering the revised EYFS; to capturing curiosity, listening to children and looking at the Onion Approach (talking about teaching in layers – don’t worry, I haven’t gone mad!). Caroline Dinenage MP (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Women, Equalities and Early Years) was the keynote speaker and she opened the event on the Friday with her speech.
This event was not only a fun day out with a fellow Anglia Ruskin student, Leanne, but it was a chance to fully immerse myself in the early years sector and speak to like-minded professionals who had a wealth of knowledge and advice that I could not have gained from a textbook. If you are ever given the opportunity to attend this event – I would highly recommend.
Next year’s ChildcareExpo is on 2-3 March 2018 at Olympia, London. See you there!