Toddler Wellbeing (ToWe) Project: Enhancing the Education and Wellbeing of Disadvantaged Toddlers through the Development of Training and Materials to Support Early Years Practitioners

Sutherland, Helen [Project manager], Mukadam, Yasmin [Collaborator], Flores, Carme [Collaborator], Corcoll Lopez, Cristina [Collaborator], Geis, Angels [Collaborator], Rothle, Monika [Collaborator], Rosell, Yngve [Compiler] and [Collaborator]

Impact Summary

ERASMUS+ Project built on knowledge transfer and exchange as University Partners (UP) shared expertise designing materials and tools to support practitioners in enhancing wellbeing of disadvantaged toddlers with early years Setting Partners (SP). Working collaboratively through transnational meetings, training event, job shadowing and project events Practitioners and Teachers used the materials and tools, to develop strategies on ToWe project website. Initially 13 staff and 39 children from Sandvedhaugen Barnehage used the materials and tools. Now with 57 staff and 240 children. Changed settling-in process, mealtimes enabling children’s independence and autonomy, and parental involvement with ‘stay and play’ sessions. Working with Kindergartens in Sandnes, Stavanger and Sola on SToWe using project’s materials. Achieving for Children ran yearlong CPD within Kingston and Richmond Children’s Services on wellbeing using materials in their annual conference, local multiplier event and Cluster groups. Settings developed provision, changing snack times, toddlers used child friendly serrated knives to cut up fruit developing autonomy and independence. Visual cards supported parents’ encouragement of describing words. Publication of materials on website, with over 2,000 users from 64 countries when completed. Publishers approach lead to book on Supporting Toddlers Wellbeing by Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Positive review in Early Years Educator, June 2018.

Key Achievements

  1. ToWe Project sustainable, flexible, and adaptable materials and tools used to support practitioners and teachers in enhancing opportunities for toddler wellbeing.
  2. Internationally shared good practice, strategies, and expertise in supporting toddlers’ wellbeing: with early years settings changing their practice and provision in light of the project.
  3. Approached by Jessica Kingsley Publishers to publish a book on Supporting Toddlers’ Wellbeing after article in Nursery World about the project.
  4. Case Study Impact Report on the impact that the project has had for practitioners and teachers in supporting toddler wellbeing.
  5. International Conference at Kingston University sharing the projects materials, tools, strategies, experiences and results.
  6. ToWe Application used as an exemplar by UiS, and knowledge of writing EU application used to support successful ETEIP Project application 2019-SE01-KA201-060552.

Key Aims

ToWe aimed to enhance the quality of Early Childhood Education and Care by developing new approaches to Continuing Professional Development enhancing the professional practices of Early Year’s Practitioners and Teachers (EYPTs) working with disadvantaged toddlers (age 18 -36 months). Its purpose was to maximise the learning opportunities of the toddlers and to optimise their start to formal education, in the anticipation of maximising their potential and encouraging active citizenship in the future. The project: • Produced practical learning materials; • Provided training and job-shadowing; • Developed innovative tools and learning opportunities for EYPTs to develop their professional practices. The ToWe project developed a wellbeing framework and situated toddler wellbeing at the core of practitioners, teachers and student learning. The objectives of the project were successfully achieved through a range of activities and outputs including: • Development of a context and a ‘space’ for open dialogue and discussion, reflection and sharing. • Strategies to support the wellbeing of toddlers. • Project website to disseminate materials. • Local and International Workshops and Conferences to disseminate materials.


Open and collaborative approach ensured all participants were able to share views, ideas and voice within project. Communication strategy and evaluative feedback ensured each partner had opportunity to voice ideas and opinions. Methodology underpinning project was mixed method approach of Action Research for Early Years Practitioners Teachers (EYPTs) to reflect and review provision and practice in supporting toddlers’ wellbeing. Facilitated through a training session reflecting on implementation of materials and tools, job shadowing and collaborative peer discussion. EYPTs challenged assumptions and ideas reflecting upon current practice to develop new ways of working. UP used Case Study approach to produce Case Study Impact Report gathering qualitative and quantitative data through online communication, asynchronous discussions and face-to-face focus groups. Key impact, England, developed snack area so toddlers cut own fruit using child-friendly serrated knives, Norway developed meal times so toddlers more autonomous and independent, and Spain used continuous reflection to challenge entrenched habits and practice. University partners wrote materials around wellbeing framework supporting EYPTs in understanding and use of materials and tools. Materials and strategies developed by SP shared at three regional and one international event all partners contributed and presented. Results a range of early years stakeholders access to the website.

Key Outcomes

Development of the manual and its use One main outcomes from the project was the impact that being involved in the project, receiving the training and job shadowing had on the SP and EYPT. It has changed their ways of working, with children, their parents and carers and other professionals. An example Sandvedhaugen Barnehage started using the materials in four selected classes, now trained all staff in other 13 classes. They are disseminating project materials within the municipality of Sandnes Kommune and other local regions as SToWe, now applying ToWe principles within their settings practices. The SP have changed practices for mealtimes and settling-in. Achieving for Children introduced child-friendly serrated knives so toddlers could chop own fruit at snack time. Escola Bressol Mas Balmanya has changed their attitudes and ways of working with self and shared reflections creating opportunities for change and working collaboratively. They developed their practice to ensure that toddlers have more autonomy, independence, and time creating a calm and respectful environment for toddlers. Beneficiaries from outside of project partnership Local and International Conferences delivered to EYPT, Managers, Children Centre workers, Family Support Workers, Local Authority and Advisory Teachers. HEI and FEI Lecturers, students and Trainers use materials, tools and strategies created by ToWe Project. Delegates stated that it “has helped them be reflective upon their settings practice, inspiring, valuable information that will definitely be used, manual and tools great, will be very useful, international element fantastic, how relatively easy to implement strategies globally, want to implement more about wellbeing in my setting, great international knowledge about strategies used, great project going to make changes in my setting”. Delegate verbal feedback informed of changes made to settings, for example, self-service at mealtimes and nappy changing strategies altered with the result that toddlers being more autonomous and happier.

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