This is a stick- well that’s pretty obvious but if I invited you to imagine a stick, would it have been this very one?

It might have been similar but it could not possibly have been this particular one. This stick is unique. It has twists and turns. It has formed in response to the ways of the world that it has grown up in. There are millions of sticks in this world but every single one is unique. Why a stick? This is a stick that my son picked up on a walk today. It was a lovely sunny day and we were both relaxed. There were no pressures, nothing to ​​rush back for. There were just the two of us (if you don’t count the dog!) and we simply walked… and we talked. In fact he talked more than he has done in a long time.

​I have three sons and each of them is different. I have learned that for one of my sons long car journeys are when he talks to me, for another it is when we are cooking together.

Every child connects in a different way but some seem to grab out attention more than others- you know the ones!

My question to you in busy early years setting is: Do you listen to the little voice?

Do you go to where that child is comfortable, where he is playing, investigating or just watching?

Do you spend time without a camera, without an iPad, without a clipboard?

Are you able to leave your leaky roof and lost keys behind in order to be positive and present for him, for him alone?

Can he see that you have ‘pressed the pause button’ of all the expectations you have to meet and you are now calm, warm and open to what he wants to say?

Can he see that you are not just physically available but also emotionally available?

This is when the magic happens- when he is in his comfort zone- when you discover what makes him shine and what makes him shrivel.

What Makes Him Shine and What Makes Him Shrivel?

We complain that children don’t communicate these days but have we thought what we could do to make ourselves available to listen?

Just like the stick, every child is individual. Let’s listen well and let them know that their voice is heard, their voice is valued.

Listen to the little voice and you will truly discover how to help every child to learn.








Watch out for Ali’s next blog ‘Being sensitive to their story’.


Ali’s work ‘transforms practice, transforms lives’

You lucky people can hear her speak at Childcare Expo in September and take away not just practical tips and advice but a real depth to enable you to challenge your own practice.

​You will leave invigorated and be able to empower all your staff to really ‘Make it Better for Boys’ and for girls alike. If you simply cannot wait then Ali would love to hear about how she can help match your training needs at

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