The first and most important thing to say about “Cultural Capital” – is DON’T PANIC.
- You do not need to attend a training course on cultural capital.
- Ofsted does not want to see a poster up in your setting labelled cultural capital.
- You do not have to start taking childminded children to the opera!
Cultural capital is defined in the EYFS framework as ‘the essential knowledge that children need to be educated citizens’ and what is necessary to ‘prepare them for future success’. Some children arrive at your setting with different experiences than others. The experiences they arrive with are their ‘cultural capital’. All children have SOME cultural capital when they arrive with you at your setting. But for some, this cultural capital is not enough to narrow the gap and get them ready for school (and for life!). The curriculum you plan for that unique child can make all the difference to his or her future.
Your job as a childminder is to find ways to establish what a child’s ‘gaps in learning’ are, and then plan your curriculum to help the child in the area that he is missing or behind.
As soon as a child starts in your setting you should be gathering information about a child’s starting points to help you understand where they might have gaps in their cultural capital. I recommend using the ‘All About Me,’ forms from the ‘Super Summative Assessment,’ pack with parents to start with and then follow that up with your own starting points a few weeks later. (There is lots more information and advice in the pack so if you have a copy, fish it out and have a look!) For example, parents may write on their ‘All about Me’ form that their child does not know any nursery rhymes. Therefore for this child learning nursery rhymes would be very beneficial.
Another key example is communication and language; an area in which many children are currently needing additional support and input. Some children arrive at your setting speaking really well with great vocabularies because they are exposed to lots of words and their parents read loads of books to them at home. Research has shown time and again that this gives them a massive advantage in school and in life. Other children come from much less fortunate backgrounds where they are not read to so much at home and know far fewer words. If you identify talking and vocabulary for example, as a child’s weakness, then your job as their childminder is to find ways to enhance it. In other words, you should make sure to plan a curriculum where you read a lot more and talk a lot more to children whose parents do not read to them at home.
What about the Characteristics of Effective Learning?
The same rule applies right across the areas of learning and development and also applies to the characteristics of effective learning. For example, if a child has not had opportunities to explore their creativity and imagination then this is an area on which I recommend you focus.
Another example is a child who is never given any choices at home and who appears to passively take everything he is given. You can enhance his learning and prepare him for school by encouraging him to make choices and be independent while he is with you.
If you find the characteristics of effective learning confusing, or would just like some more ideas around the topic, look the the ‘Characteristics of Effective Learning,’ pack for help and guidance.
Provide a broad and balanced curriculum.
I know, it sounds like a party political broadcast soundbite doesn’t it?! However this is really important and part of what Ofsted have been trying to promote. Simply put it means that you need to make sure you are giving children opportunities to learn about lots of different things across all seven areas of learning. It is good practice to use children’s interests, for example, tractors, to help engage and interest them in their learning but if all you ever offer is tractor themed activities they will not learn about other things like dinosaurs, plants, healthy eating and so on. Instead offer other activities that help children broaden their knowledge of the world.
Here is a quick checklist of what you need to do to ‘do’ cultural capital:
- Do starting points observations on all new children across all the learning and development areas and the COEL. This will show you the child’s strengths and areas of weaknesses.
- Ask yourself what you would do to fill the child’s gaps in learning. Think of a plan for each individual child. What can you develop? What can you encourage? What are their next steps? (Don’t forget to share these with parents.) This is your ‘intent.’
- Follow through on your plans. (This is your ‘implementation’ stage.) After you’ve been doing your plans for a while, check that your plans are having an effect. (What has been their ‘impact’?) Has the child started to catch up? Have you broadened their cultural capital from when they started with you?
This blog was updated in August 2023
You may also find these resources helpful:
One way of making sure children are exposed to plenty of new ideas and concepts is by planning around themes. Childminding Best Practice Club members receive a monthly ‘toolkit’ containing loads of planning, crafts, activities and colouring sheets all around a different theme each month. To find out more see the information page here:
Super Summative Assessment and Gap Tracker Kit
This kit will help you recognise any gaps in children’s learning and also contains all the tools you need to sum up a child’s development and achievements, right from when a child starts with you, all the way until they leave to go to nursery or school. From ‘All about Me’ forms, starting points, transition and report templates as well as sample reports, tips and of course a gap tracker for when you need it.
Characteristics of Effective Learning
Confused by the Characteristics? This pack can help. It contains information about the Characteristics of Effective Learning, broken down in a way that is easy to absorb, as well as business tools, printable posters and activities
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Sign up for my free weekly Childminding Best Practice newsletter and I will send you best practice ideas, childminding news, EYFS tips, outstanding ideas, stories from other childminders, arts and crafts project templates, new products, and links.