Social Media #KeepingItReal

Alistair Bryce-CleggUncategorized2 Comments


Social media is a funny old place isn’t it? I try to use the various platforms to interact with fellow Early Years practitioners in a constructive way as well as sharing what I’m up to over the coming months. For the most part I find it positive and a really nice way of connecting with people.

One of my favourite formats is Instagram – there seems to be more of a community feel to it and (generally) less negativity.

If you follow my Instagram feed you’ll know that every Tuesday I hand my account over to someone else working within the world of Early Years. We’ve had contributions from teachers, home schoolers, nursery teams, childminders and playgroups. We’ve also loved hearing from all over the world – including Australia, China, The Netherlands, USA and the Middle East.

DUCKS in Shanghai

The actual idea of #TakeOverTuesday started on Instagram back in 2012 and has been used by brands, influencers and individuals for a myriad of reasons. For me, it’s about sharing best practice, sharing ideas and if nothing else having a good old nosey in to other people settings!

We’ve loved looking at beautiful spaces

Suze @InvitationToPlay

Cosy nooks…

Ambleside Primary School

We’ve wished we had more trees…

 Hull Collegiate

Wished we had ANY trees!

 Eloise @mightymother

Loved display board ideas…

 Silverdale St John’s Primary

 Wished we had more sun…

Deira International School, Dubai

 Wished we had more snow. And a hill!

 Hull Collegiate

 But there’s more to it than that. For the person/team taking over there’s the joy of sharing some of what they do and why. Their ideas, inspirations, what’s worked, what hasn’t, how an activity panned out, where a moment of pure discovery took them.

There’s also the pleasure of seeing the likes, reading the comments, seeing people share your idea, getting feedback. It’s great to feel part of a like minded community and be among others who ‘get it’ (especially if you don’t work/live with any real life people who do!).

By and large the feedback is incredibly positive. People love to share and equally love to be inspired. It may not be how you would teach, it might be the antithesis of what your space looks like, you might not agree with the pedagogy behind it…but if it’s not for you then you can simply scroll on. OR you can tag your whole team and tell them THIS is what you’re doing on Monday!

Bright Stars Nursery @natureforlearning

Of course there’s sometimes another side to social media. Constantly looking at images on Instagram/Pinterest and seeing nothing but amazing, breathtakingly beautiful environments you can only dream of, or seeing activities set up that you know for sure the inquisitive children in your setting would completely ‘reorganise’ in 30 seconds flat can leave you feeling disheartened. If you let it.

It’s really easy to imagine that everyone else has got it right, got a better space, got more support, has a TEAM of elves cleaning up after them. But sometimes the beauty of being part of a social media community is that we can remind each other of the reality of working with children who are discovering the world around them.

This was demonstrated really clearly by a post on this weeks #TakeOver from Josie, an NQT working in Reception. She shared bird tables, maths activities and tuff tray ideas…but the thing that got the biggest response? Her well used Creative Area.


It genuinely looks like a bomb has hit it. Wonderfully messy. Covered in sequins and paint and glue and unidentified stuff.

Her description definitely resonated:

‘The reality of early years is often messy, so here is a picture of my creative/art area after a morning of play. Yes, it is a mess, but after observing the children I know this is because the children had been so engrossed in their curiosities, they were simply forgetting to choose it, use it and put it away. I am a firm believer of process over product so allowing the children time to freely explore is an important part of my practice. Let’s just say tidy up time needed a little longer on this day!’

What a gloriously brave thing to decide to share with 12,000 people. And another 36,000 on Facebook! And everyone loved it. Hundreds of comments thanking her for sharing and embracing reality. #KeepingitReal.

Because it’s real and authentic and familiar! You can imagine the art that was created and the learning that has taken place in that space.

Hampden Way Nursery

If we fully commit to process rather than outcome, to choice and freedom of expression, we will have areas of our setting that look like this. Children up to their elbows in paint or covered in mud. Soaking wet or dripping in glue. Sometimes that’s what it’s all about.

Lancaster University Pre-school

So while I hope that our #TakeOvers continue to be full of inspiration and ideas I also hope that we can all be confident and brave enough to share the reality of working in Early Years.

If your clothes need dry cleaning you’re probably in the wrong job!


(A massive thank you to everyone who has shared their setting with us over the last few months. We now have enough contributors for the rest of the year but will be inviting people to contribute for 2020 later in the year)

2 Comments on “Social Media #KeepingItReal”

  1. I absolutely agree. I love Josie’s photo. At last!! Seeing images of beautiful environments, whilst inspiring, can also leave us feeling demoralised, that we’re not doing enough. We try our best with what we have and as a Maintained Nursery school with an uncertain future as we await the governments decision on our funding we don’t have money to spare. Staff spend their own money on resources and have become masters at recycling and our environment is inviting, interesting and as we like to call it ‘a place if possibilities’ and always ends up a glorious mess but we wouldn’t have it any other way. Let’s see more of these ‘after’ pictures and celebrate the learning that made it that way. Thank you for including one of our photos. Janine, from Hampden Way Nursery School.

  2. Love it! #keepingitreal needed to give practitioners confidence. As always Alistair, you have the nail on the head 🤗 x

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