Dr Stella Louis’ Early Childhood and Babies Webinar: Donna Lamey

About the author

Donna works as the Early Years SCITT Lead within Bright Futures Teaching School Hubs. She has worked in early years for over 20 years in various roles including work in schools, PVIs, children’s centres and local authorities. Donna is incredibly passionate about the early years and has loved working with the hub to support her own continued professional development and her work with trainee early years teachers.

Dr Stella louis

Through being an enthusiastic reader of many of Dr Stella Loius’ books and articles, it was a great pleasure to attend The Early Childhood and Babies webinar which Stella recently delivered on behalf of Bright Futures Stronger Practice Hub. Babies as a discussion topic always brings a fascinating feast of child development, sensory exploration, and exciting milestones to unravel. Stella’s session really took us to the heart of this fascinating world of babies and young children’s development.

It is always a joy and privilege to work with the youngest children, but to navigate their world requires us as early years practitioner to know how they learn and develop best. Dr Louis describes the power of observation as a key component of understanding babies. Not just describing what a child does but really watching and listening, and reflecting on what interests, motivates and engages them using focused observation lenses in which we see children with. Within our roles, we might observe children in many ways such as playing alongside children to encourage, support and extend learning or at times stepping back so we can really watch and listen to see how children interact within their individual worlds.

Whilst young babies might not always be talking at this stage in their development, they are still telling us about what their explorations and fascinations are. This might be through manipulating their body to build enough momentum to roll over on their side (as Dr Stella described this within her own granddaughter’s development), with the adult recognising any struggles the child might have within this process so that they will be brave enough to try rolling over again to achieve their goal. In addition, this also might be through a child repeatedly transporting a collection of stones from one plant pot to another where thinking and actions are simultaneously refined and explored.

Repeated patterns of behaviour or ‘Schematic Play’ allows children to experiment as they explore their thinking through their actions. Dr Stella (building on the work of Chris Athey, 1990) highlights the importance of well-informed adults to skilfully tune in and respond to children’s repeated behaviour. Knowledgeable educators are one of the best resources we can provide for our youngest children. Firstly, by recognising and building on children’s life experiences as a crucial foundation for learning. Secondly by having a good understanding of how babies learn best and knowing that what we offer children, is based on what we know about them as individuals. Finally, being a reflective practitioner is key to re-examining what we know about our young children to ensure our responses are always responsive, purposeful, and engaging.

Thank you to Dr Stella Louis and the Bright Futures Stronger Practice Early Years Hub team for such and informative session.

You can access the webinar here

For further reading, please see the ‘Observing Young Children’ pamphlet written by Dr Stella Louis which can be accessed from The Froebel Trust website:

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