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'Child-initiated', 'adult-led', 'learning journeys'... Early years practitioners need to understand the meaning of such terms if they are to implement the new framework effectively, says Ann Langston.

A guide to planning opportunities to engage young children in den-building, by early years consultant Helen Bilton.

Children have a lot to offer in ideas for the design of the settings where they spend their time, says Alison Clark.

Children start to understand the world by exploring objects, writes Jools Page, Senior Early Childhood Consultant, Kent

Rich learning environments are vital in extending children's speaking and listening skills, says early years consultant Elizabeth Jarman As clearly set out in the 'Principles into Practice' cards that form part of the guidance for the Early Years Foundation Stage, 'language, thinking and learning are interlinked; they depend on and promote each other's development' (1:1 A unique child, Child Development).

Practitioners have a lot to learn from observing such basic play, says early years consultant Anne O'Connor Blocks are one of the most open-ended play materials available.

Why children need to chatter is explored by Di Chilvers, senior lecturer in Early Childhood Studies When was the last time that you had an extended, informal and relaxed conversation with the young children around you? A conversation where you let the child decide on the subject and you followed their lead, listening intently, nodding, making positive eye contact and holding back your questions? I hope it was recently and that it is a regular part of your everyday chatter with children.

A strategy for consulting frankly with staff on improving a setting is outlined by Shona Carmichael How happy are your staff? What do they really feel about their jobs, the quality of provision, the management team? These are questions that, as a manager, you should be able to answer. But establishing a fair and accurate overview of staff views can be difficult.

Exploring The Link Between Music And Maths Will Promote Children's Appreciation Of Both, Says Early Years Consultant Linda Pound Because so many of us had an unhappy time in maths lessons at school, we have come to expect that everything to do with mathematics will be both boring and difficult.

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