Parenta Magazine May 2019

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Issue 54

MAY 2019




Reflective practice vs

reflexive practice

There’s more to slime

than meets the eye...

Using a reward

chart effectively

+ lots more

Write for us

for a chance to



p 29



Tonya Meers discusses storytelling and shares lots of ideas that are guaranteed

to spark your imagination – just by using your location and whatever you can see.


Hello and welcome to the May edition of the Parenta magazine!

May is upon us, the daffodils and tulips have been in full bloom for some weeks now; and we can finally look forward

to a few months of long, drawn-out evenings and (hopefully) warm weather!

We have so many pieces of invaluable advice for you this month – ranging from great ways to take stories everywhere

you go, to how to teach creative writing, to the importance of fantasy, role-play and superhero play! All of which are

written to help you with the efficient running of your setting and to promote the health, happiness and wellbeing of the

children in your care.

Summer is just around the corner and children love to be outside at any given opportunity. Sometimes it’s just too hot to be running around so

what better way of helping them to cool down than getting them to create and tell stories outside? May is national Share-A-Story Month, and

Tonya Meers gives some fantastic advice on how to make up a story ‘on the spot’ without the need for any props!

How to teach creative writing doesn’t feel as if it needs to be a priority when talking about pre-school children. However, many practitioners

agree that creative writing for children is one of the many areas that is neglected in literacy development. On page 12, we look at ways in

which we can help our little ones start to express themselves more by allowing their imaginations to run wild and have some fun with words!

Speaking of imagination, Tamsin Grimmer continues her ‘superhero’ series on page 14 with a fascinating article exploring how important

fantasy play is for child development.

Viral Meningitis Awareness Week runs from 6th to 12th May this year and is a topic close to many people’s hearts. All early years professionals

should know what to do if they suspect a child is suffering with meningitis but it is not always detected in time. Why not try our meningitis quiz

on page 38 to see how much you know about the disease?

Congratulations to our guest author competition winner! Tamsin Grimmer’s article, “I’m killing the baddies!” which uses ‘superhero play’ to

deal with notions of killing and death within early childhood, was very popular with our readers. We’re always on the lookout for new authors

to contribute insightful articles for our monthly magazine. If you have written on a topic relevant to early years and would like to be in with a

chance to win £50 in shopping vouchers, turn to page 29 for details.

We really hope you enjoy all the advice articles and suggested activities in this month’s magazine – please feel free to share with friends and







MAY 2019 ISSUE 54



24 What our customers say

28 Shape emergency services cars craft

29 Write for us for a chance to win £50


4 Invitation to attend the House of Commons for

Hartlepool nursery

6 Parenta Trust news


10 A childcare career without a childcare


12 How to teach creative writing to children

16 Deaf Awareness Week

19 Free childcare insurance review

20 Encouraging role-play with young children

25 Parenta solutions

26 People who help us

A childcare career without a childcare qualification? 10

Learn more about Deaf Awareness Week. 16

Encouraging role-play with young children. 20

Joanna Grace explores

how slime/gak can

be used to support

emotional regulation,

looking at two different

personality types.




Tamsin Grimmer

delves further into

the importance of

fantasy play in child

development, and shares

some of the benefits.


Tonya Meers discusses storytelling and

shares lots of ideas that are guaranteed

to spark your imagination – just by using

your location and whatever you can see.


30 The importance of fostering

38 Viral Meningitis Awareness Week


8 A good story can be taken anywhere!

14 Keeping it real? The importance of fantasy play

in child development

22 Using a reward chart effectively

32 Reflective practice vs reflexive practice

36 There’s more to slime than meets the eye...

Test your meningitis knowledge with our quiz! 38

Invitation to attend the House of

Commons for Hartlepool nursery

Footprints Learning for Life owner and manager, Sharon Birch, and her colleague Vivienne

Dempsey were privileged to be invited to the Parliamentary Review at the House of Commons

- to put forward a paper for ‘best practice’.

MPs from all parties, some of the UK’s

leading business people and a few

celebrities were in attendance at the

gala ceremony on 27th March. The

nursery’s aim was to raise its profile as

a nursery in the north of the country and

to put forward its paper highlighting best

practice in early years childcare.

The staff at the nursery school, founded

in 2006 in Hartlepool, focus entirely

on providing every child with an equal

opportunity for a great start in life,

regardless of circumstances. They

believe that one size does not fit all, and

they cater for individual requirements

irrespective of need, culture, race,

gender and abilities.

Sharon Birch explains a little more about

the background and philosophy of her

nursery: “I founded Footprints after a

20-year career in the police service. As a

mother of three children born within five

years, I knew what a busy family needed

in terms of childcare. My husband was a

service police officer and we spent years

juggling childcare with shift work and

school hours. It was difficult, and the

system was inflexible. My children were

not able to attend school nursery ahead

of reception due to this inflexibility

and we took up their free nursery

entitlement. It worked well for us as a

family, but I believe parents should have

choice. Rigid systems are not compatible

with families today.

“I took on my children’s old nursery

when it was due for closure, and with

a personal investment, turned it into

‘Footprints Learning for Life’ – 12 staff

and 55 children returned to the nursery

after the takeover. The first thing I did

was devise a ten-year plan that focused

on three main areas: for Footprints to

become financially viable, to have a

reputation that other providers aspired

Happy staff

make happy

children - which

makes happy parents

who can carry on

their day knowing

their children are

well cared for. We

employ staff at the

start and the end of

their careers, and

everyone in


towards, and to gain an “outstanding”

rating from Ofsted.

“In 2016, we achieved these goals, but

we had a difficult journey along the

way. I was new to running a business

and had never employed anyone, but I

knew the sort of childcare I wanted to

provide. It was hard to break the mould,

but, even today, we are one of the few

nurseries in the UK that provide these



“I enrolled Footprints in the Investors in

People (IIP) programme and we have

learned a lot, achieving the standard

in 2008 and Gold IIP in 2010. Happy

staff make happy children - which

makes happy parents who can carry

on their day knowing their children

are well cared for. We employ staff

at the start and the end of their

careers, and everyone in between. We

have apprentices, students on work

placements, nursery nurses, teachers,

cooks and drivers, of both sexes. We

have low staff turnover and believe

in giving staff proper contracts, with

only three ‘bank’ staff on zero-hour

contracts. They have the same benefits

and entitlements as contracted staff,

and everyone works very well as a team,

irrespective of job role. We invest in staff

training and appreciate that everyone

works very hard for their wage. We

embrace opportunities and encourage

students with additional needs and

those who have been marginalised due

to their circumstances. We also employ

staff that are returning to work after a

long break. Although we can’t increase

wages, I give staff other benefits, such

as paying for a health therapist to give

treatments, recognition awards at every

staff meeting, a Christmas event, highstreet

vouchers and a subscription to a

scheme that offers perks to employees.

In 2012, we won a UK Nursery World

Award for team development and we

achieved our “outstanding” Ofsted rating

in 2016.”


“Our income is low in comparison to

our geographical area, because our

prices are half what our rivals charge,

and we have the same overheads.

Profits are minimal and there is no

spare cash, but thankfully we have a

good working relationship with the local

authority who ensure that payments

for the two-, three-, and four-year-old

funded places are completed promptly.

Payments from parents, many of whom

are in receipt of benefits or are on a low

income, are often late, which can also

cause cash-flow difficulties. Hartlepool

is an area with high deprivation and

poverty, and we care for around 180

children a week from a variety of family

environments. As a result, many cannot

afford additional services, so we provide

all meals through our grants and

funding. We do not charge for extras,

other than transport, and we provide

healthy menus, in line with early years

guidance from the government. We cater

for cultural needs and cook all foods on

our premises with fresh, locally-sourced

produce. We work with many local

businesses and actively support the

charities Changing Futures NE and Miles

for Men.”

Families and childcare

“We offer a range of services –

breakfast, after-school, holiday club,

half and full day care, late evenings and

Saturdays – depending on demand.

We also open on bank holidays, aside

from those over the Christmas period.

Every child receives breakfast, a twocourse

lunch, a two-course dinner and

two snacks throughout the day. Busy

families often need to be in two or more

places at once, and working patterns

and school schedules are often not

compatible. Footprints offers flexible

childcare sessions for shift workers,

as well as term-time-only places for

teachers and those that need it. We offer

a fully inclusive transport service across

town, which is tough to schedule but is

complemented by staff who also work

flexibly. We have a fleet of four vehicles,

operated by qualified, experienced

drivers and nursery nurse escorts. This

service fosters good relationships with

the primary schools across the town,

enabling positive transitions for children

preparing for school. Our parents

currently favour social media as a

means of communication.

“We are in the process of developing

an app for parents to book and pay

for sessions, and we have also gone

online with a new system that enables

parents to view their child’s learning and

development journal.”

What does the future hold?

“We are always looking to enhance

our nursery and grow the business

within our tight financial constraints.

We are innovative and embrace change

in a sector that has strict regulations.

My vision for the future is to continue

giving the families of Hartlepool quality

childcare, fit for purpose. I would love to

offer children up to the age of seven the

opportunity to continue their education

with us, as we know that not all are

ready for the formal school system.

Our emphasis is learning through play

and discovery in a variety of different

environments, in a variety of different


4 Parenta.com May 2019 5




Parenta Trust news

Don’t miss out on the road trip of a lifetime - come and

join us for an automotive adventure!


for Parenta Trust and help us build more pre-schools for the little ones

living in deprived areas of the world - they really need your help.

Here at Parenta Trust, we are raising vital funds to build preschools

for young children in desperate need of a quality

education in deprived areas of the world.

Please join us on our annual Maidstone to Monaco Rally

on 26th — 30th June!

Check out our video here: bit.ly/ptrally2019

To take part in this adventure and to help us make a difference to hundreds of

children’s lives, find out more and register today at parentatrust.com!

The Rally:


2000 miles. 8 countries. 5 days.


Camp under the stars.


Negotiate the winding roads of the

Furka Pass.


Take part in crazy challenges.


Absorb the stunning scenery of the



Enjoy plenty of laughter along the


The Vehicles:


All cars and motorbikes welcome.


Teams or individuals can enter.


Decoration is a must!

Choose Parenta

Trust for your next

fundraising event! Every

penny counts on our

mission to ensure every

pre-school child gets

the education they


There are so many things you

can do to fundraise. Here are

just a few ideas:

• Take part in a sponsored run

• Have a bake sale

• Host a quiz night

• Set up a “tuck shop”

• Start an in-setting/in-office


• Hold a raffle

• Host your own “bake off”

The Dates:


26th–30th June 2019.


Setting off from Maidstone, Kent.

Now in its 6th year, the Maidstone to Monaco Rally is a fantastic way to bring

people together for a great cause and have fun along the way. Our 5th school

opens early in 2019 and in addition, funds raised from last year’s rally and our

two charity balls, means that we are now finalising funds for our next school.

Together, we can raise enough funds to continue building a new pre-school

year on year. With every pre-school we build, we give another 200 children the

opportunity they deserve to have an early years education.

Register today at parentatrust.com

Together we can make a difference to hundreds of children in the

poorest areas of the world

Parenta Trust was founded by Allan Presland in 2013 after a life-changing and

heartbreaking trip to Kampala in Uganda. He returned to the UK to set up a

charity, leveraging his existing network of contacts in the early years sector, and

his ambitious quest to build one pre-school per year began.

The Mission:


Raise vital funds to build pre-schools

in the most deprived areas of the



Allow young children to break out of

the cycle of poverty and look forward

to a bright future.

Follow the Rally countdown on

social media!

8 weeks to go!


We’ll help you as much as possible by sending you:

• A dedicated contact to help you with any questions you may have along the way

• Promotion materials including wristbands, posters and information booklets

• A fundraising pack including information on the history of the Trust, events we’ve hosted,

our plans for the next year and a half-price ticket for our Charity Ball

Get in touch via our website: bit.ly/fundraise-for-parentatrust

6 Parenta.com May 2019 7

A good story can be

taken anywhere!

Yay summer is here at last and who doesn’t want to take full advantage of

those long warm summer days to be outside? Children love all that fresh

air but sometimes it’s just too hot to be running around so what better

way of helping them to cool down than getting them to create and tell

stories outside? May is national Share-A-Story Month, so what better time than

to explore how to make up a story ‘on the spot’ without the need for any props?

Stories are everywhere and whether we realise it or not we tell them every day, they are after all what

makes us human! But if I asked you to make up a story on the spot, you would probably look at me

terrified, I can see the panic in your eyes already! Well don’t worry, I’m going to give you lots of ideas

that are guaranteed to spark your imaginations and make you and the children natural storytellers,

just by using your location and whatever you can see.

So where to first?

The Garden

Why not let the children make a den in a corner of the garden just to use for storytelling? It

could be somewhere you can all sit in the shade just to tell stories, making it a special and

magical place. Or you could have a special storytelling chair where the person who’s telling

the story would sit and tell their stories.

Then look around the garden, what do you see? Perhaps you spot a bee buzzing

around the flowers, where has he been? Where is he going to next? How many

gardens has he visited and what has he seen on his travels? Why not give him a name,

you could make up a whole story of what he’s been up to just by asking a few questions.

The children will love this and it’s a great way for them to learn about nature.

The Beach

Perhaps you are near the beach or are planning a day trip with the children - there are no end of

possibilities here. You could make up stories about the people you see, like the ice cream seller or the

lifeboat crew or even a seagull. You can make up a story about where the seagull has been on his

travels and what he’s seen. How many ice creams has he pinched?

Perhaps he feels guilty about that and wants to put things right. Or

maybe you could all make up a story about a magic sandcastle. Who

lives there? What’s it like inside? Do you get transported off to another

world? What happens there?

The Park

Perhaps you will be taking the children for a picnic to the park. What do

you see? Is there someone there you can make up a story about like the park

keeper or the gardener? Or maybe you could include some of the play equipment

like a magic roundabout or a magic swing that transports you off somewhere? The

children would find this really exciting!

So as you can see, there are lots of different ideas you can use. The secret is to think

about the 5 Ws:

Who is the story about?

What are they looking for?

Where is the story set or where are they going?

Why are they going? Is it to find something?

When is it set in the past, the present or the future?

The stories you can make up with the children are endless and they will love it as

they have got such vivid imaginations. A plant pot might be just a plant pot to you or

me but to them it could be a snail’s house or even a rocket launcher.

So now you’ve got a bucket load of ideas, what are the benefits of taking

stories outside?

Don’t forget...


It gets everyone out in the fresh air


Improves our understanding of the world around us


Improves vocabulary


Improves speaking and listening skills


It helps us to relax and that’s when the ideas really start to flow


Helps us to bond with the children and creates some great, long-lasting


For some hands-on experience of how to create stories using the outside

world, and to enhance the experience of storytelling, why not join us at the

Holiday Inn Express at the Trafford Centre, Manchester on the 28th June

when we will be running a workshop on this in partnership with EYR? To

book, just go to www.littlecreativedays.co.uk/eyrworkshops.html

You’ve got five

senses: smell, touch,

sound: sight and taste

so use them to really

bring your story

to life.

Tonya Meers

Tonya Meers is the Chief

Storyteller at Little Creative

Days. Tonya believes that

stories are the most versatile

and powerful educational

tool you can use and there

isn’t anything that you can’t

teach through a story.

She is co-author of the


Pojo series of educational

creative storytelling kits,

which have won awards

for their promotion of

communication and

language skills for early

years and primary schoolaged


In addition, she and her

storytelling sister/business

partner also deliver training

and workshops for early

years practitioners, local

authorities and primary

schools. They offer a range

of interactive workshops

to encourage, engage and

enable children to develop a

love of literacy.

You can contact Tonya at

Little Creative Days via


on Twitter @littlecreative or

via Facebook.

8 Parenta.com May 2019 9

A childcare


without a



There are many people who really

enjoy spending time with young

children and would like to pursue

a career in childcare, but are

not always aware of how to get

started - or don’t realise that it’s

even a feasible option.

Nowadays, to become a qualified nursery

worker and to be counted in the staff-tochildren

ratios in an early years childcare

setting, you need to have a childcare level 3

qualification or higher.

People of all ages and walks of life decide to

pursue a career in childcare and their reasons

for doing so vary. We explore some options

for getting started into childcare employment

without a childcare qualification, and also take

a look at some of the categories that can apply

to these people.

Find volunteer work

Following the successful completion of a

DBS (formerly CRB) that will be carried out

by the employer, which is a check into your

background, you can be cleared to work with

children. Many nurseries and pre-schools are

short on resources and would welcome the

opportunity to have an extra pair of hands

helping them out. The advantage of this, is

that if a paid position becomes available,

you may be able to apply for it immediately.

Volunteering is looked upon very favourably in

most industries and the vacancy may even be

offered to you before it is opened up to anyone


Become a childminder

If you are serious about starting up your own

childminding business, there are certain

training and qualifications that you will need

to take beforehand. You will also need to be

willing to adapt your house to make it a safe

environment to care for a group of children and

allow Ofsted to carry out regular inspections to

make sure you are providing a high quality of

care. You can read our guide on the steps you

need to take to become a childminder here:


10 Parenta.com

Take on work-based training

If you’re already working with children in a

setting, such as a nursery nurse or pre-school

assistant, and you want to help shape the

future of the next generation of children whilst

at the same time improving your knowledge

of how to support their mental and physical

development, a childcare level 2 course

would be ideal for you. Work-based training

programmes, also known as apprenticeships,

allow you to gain valuable industry

qualifications whilst working in a childcare

environment. There are a number of reasons

why considering a childcare apprenticeship is a

good idea: there are no student loans or tuition

fees to pay – in fact, because you are training

in your workplace, you actually “earn as you

learn”! You get your own tutor who supports

you every step of the way and there are no

classes to attend.

It’s a good idea to talk to your employer

and agree with them that they will support

you in your decision to take your childcare

qualifications. The good news is, if your

employer is non-levy and you are aged

16-18 when you start an apprenticeship, the

government will subsidise 100% of your training

costs and from 1st April 2019, if you’re 19 or over,

the amount that your employer is responsible for

paying the government towards the cost of your

training drops from 10% to 5%.

Who might benefit from these top tips on how to

get started into childcare employment without a

childcare qualification?

The inspired parents

Although the number of fathers choosing to stay

at home to look after their children has fallen,

there are still nearly a quarter of a million stayat-home

fathers in the UK. Some new mothers

or fathers decide to take a couple of years out

of work to see their young babies grow up.

They soon decide they really enjoy taking care

of children and actively decide to get a job in


The career-changer

This is someone who has worked in several

different jobs unrelated to childcare and has

decided to have a change of career - pursuing

childcare as something new and exciting.

The young school leaver

A young person who has just finished Year 11

at school. They may have some experience of

babysitting or looking after younger siblings, but

will never have held a full time job before.

The first time job-er

This is normally someone of graduate calibre,

who has finished university and is looking for

their very first job. Related degrees such as

Health and Social Care would be relevant for

working with children.

At Parenta, we help hundreds of people get started into childcare every year,

supporting them while they develop essential skills whilst working in an early years

setting. We have a highly skilled team of recruitment specialists, dedicated to finding

the ideal apprenticeships and jobs - giving the right start to a rewarding career in


Our team is on hand with expert advice and guidance and can be reached on

0800 002 9242.

Do you love practical hands on

training and a good story?

The multi-award winning Little Creative Days are experts in running

fun and interactive workshops where you’ll learn lots of creative and

practical ways to use stories in your setting.

Next Workshops:

Introducing Maths Through Stories

Taking Stories Outside

28 th June Holiday Inn Express Trafford City Manchester

“I will use the ideas straight away.

Lots to take back. Thank you.”

Kelly Simpson, Teaching Assistant

“Very enjoyable and informative – you can’t

beat hands on, practical training. Thank You!”

Nicole Darbyshire, Teaching Assistant

To book your place go to:



In partnership with

Across the world,

many pre-school

children are deprived

of a basic education…

From an early age, in many countries, children are sent

out to fetch water, carry out domestic chores and look

after their siblings. Very often, this means that they miss

out on going to pre-school and receiving additional

education throughout their childhood. Therefore they are

not given the opportunity they deserve to develop to their

full potential.

Our sponsorship programme gives orphaned and

disadvantaged pre-school children the chance to lay

the foundations for their learning in a safe and loving

environment. Having a basic education means these

young children can break out of the cycle of poverty and

look forward to a much brighter future.


Personalised visual resources to support

communication and learning

15% off for readers of Parenta

Magazine at www.createvisualaids.com

with the code PARENTA15


create visual aids


Create Visual Aids uses Widgit Symbols (C) Widgit

Software 2002 - 2019

How to teach creative

writing to children

The capacity to think creatively - for instance, in creative writing - forms the basis of selfexpression.

However, many parents and teachers would agree that creative writing for

children is one of the many areas that can be neglected in literacy development, and

today’s young generation happen to be struggling with it as a result! It is strange because

intrinsically, young ones are motivated to express themselves through writing, and we see

social posts becoming one of their favourite activities as they grow older.

As parents and early years

practitioners, we may be guilty of

not redirecting and channelling

this instinct towards something

fruitful - like giving them crayons

and paper. What we do instead

is give them gadgets with

educational videos on the

display, often just to be able to

give ourselves some time and

space. Thus, in the absence of

the right environment and

motivation, this creative

instinct can die, or at least

become muted.

If we want children in our care

to be more imaginative

and better creative

writers, here are

some strategies that

can get both the

children, and

you, started.

Unplug from technology more


The passive consumption of TV,

smartphones, laptops, and online

games etc., is largely responsible

for dulling children’s senses and

their desire to express themselves

through writing. So parents and

practitioners need to create a short

‘unplugged zone’ during the week or

a longer one over weekends - for the

family, and engage their children in

conversation, listen to them and tell

stories, explore ideas, or draw and

write things together. There are some

ways technology and media can

be used by parents to give children

material, for example to give them

writing prompts, and it can be used

by teens to create blogs too, but

unplugged time will give them room

to develop their imagination.

Surround children with books

and stationery

It is very important to surround

children with books rather than

gadgets. Proximity

creates curiosity and

the desire and

motivation to

explore, can

set the

ball rolling in the right direction. You

should also take children to libraries

and bookstores often, giving them

the freedom to choose the books

they want to read and the kind of

stationery they like. This can include

journals and any writing materials

they want to use for their projects,

such as pens, coloured pencils,

crayons, folders, binders and stickers.

Encourage children to read


Reading stimulates the imagination

as it exposes children to new

words, sentence structures, plots,

and characters. If a toddler is too

young to read on their own, you

should read out loud to them.

Picture storybooks and audio books

are best for them. Depending on

their age, you can ask them to

create short book reports on what

they have read or other journal

topics. Likewise, you could get a

teenager a Kindle or Nook Reader

and give them access to ebooks

and audiobooks. Active reading

skills naturally lead to a better

ability to express oneself in words.

Discuss ideas and extend

them into write-ups

One way to encourage creativity

is to help children unleash their

imagination through active

discussion. Once a child is old

enough to communicate, ask them

questions about common things

such as: places visited, people met,

and books you’ve read together.

Ask age-appropriate, probing

questions, raise points, and add

details. Use these discussions as

writing prompts and encourage

children to extend their ideas in

stories and write-ups. You can

extend this activity for older children

by asking them to develop the

scope of their imaginative work

into other areas such as essays,

paragraphs, compositions and

speeches. These techniques

can even be used in tackling

scientific or maths work.

Make composing words fun

Ironically, some children find

imaginative assignments boring,

probably because they fail to see

the point behind the exercise.

But penning your thoughts is

supposed to be fun, funny, bold,

silly, enjoyable, explorative and

adventurous, because this is the

way our imagination and intuition

works. Don’t force logical and/or

more rational thinking to interfere

with the flow of creative thoughts

and words. Also, don’t focus

too much on pointing out and

correcting any mistakes in content

and form, such as spellings and

punctuation at this stage. Let your

children compose freely and without

stopping. You can return to these

things later. Display your child’s

creative draft as much as you

celebrate their artwork - place it

prominently on the fridge, and show

it to guests and grandparents!

Set a better example yourself

Experts have hypothesised that

parents are not modelling better

literacy skills for their offspring

because they are themselves

guilty of spending too much

time in front of the TV or on their

smartphones. This is one of the

reasons why parents can be

distracted and pressed-for-time

themselves. Parents who read

more (including books, newspapers

and magazines), maintain diaries

or a journal, and visit bookshops

and libraries, are often able to set

a better example to their young

children than those who do not.

Helping children to think and

compose freely and creatively,

opens up their minds to

possibilities. Expressing oneself

creatively using spoken or written

words, is a skill that has many uses

beyond school, as it teaches young

ones to think ‘outside the box’,

solve problems and appreciate and

tolerate different viewpoints.

12 Parenta.com May 2019 13

Keeping it real? it The real? importance of

fantasy play in child development

The importance of fantasy play in child development

When you have a good imagination, you are never alone! You can be transported to a world of

make-believe where none of your worries exist. You can be as good or otherwise as you like, and

you can create friends to play alongside you. My youngest daughter often goes to an imaginary

land, when I asked her what she loved about it, she replied: “Vegetables are unhealthy and sweets

are healthy!” So in your imagination you can eat whatever you like too! My forthcoming book

“Calling All Superheroes” also explores the importance of fantasy play in child development. This

article touches upon some of the issues it raises.

According to the Oxford

dictionary, fantasy is defined

as: ‘The faculty or activity

of imagining impossible or

improbable things’ (OUP,

2019a). This is opposed to the

definition of reality which is: ‘A

thing that exists in fact, having

previously only existed in one’s

mind’ (OUP, 2019b). Fantasy

play is when children use

their imagination and play out

scenarios which are impossible

or improbable, for example,

having superpowers as a


Practitioners within early

childhood education settings

are mindful of the importance

of starting with concrete,

hands-on, real experiences

when working with young

children and building on their

prior knowledge. It is vital that

we continue to use hands-on,

real life examples so that

the children

can explore using their senses.

Yet, whilst keeping it real, we

must also encourage pretence

and fantasy play. This type of

play feeds children’s creativity

and helps them to use their

imagination. It is a natural way

for children to play and we

must engage in this with young

children. Many educators

naturally incorporate elements

of pretence into their settings

which also keeps magic alive. I

have tried to do this within my

own practice and been inspired

by great authors such as Vivian

Gussan-Paley (2010, 1984) and

Jenny Tyrrell (2001).

Children are excellent players

and do not distinguish between

fantasy and reality play.

They move easily between

the two. I was reminded of

this when I observed two

boys in a pre-school setting

pretending to be werewolves

recently! In their game they

were able to breathe fire

and began toasting


for their


on the fire. They were

being careful not to burn

their mouths on the hot

marshmallows, thus moving

easily between the fantasy

of being werewolves and

breathing fire, to the pretence

of toasting marshmallows

on the fire and the notions of

reality in potentially burning

their mouths on the hot

marshmallows. Imaginings

within the fantasy realm also

invoke real feelings, so if we

feel good during this play, we

will have a positive emotion

which outlives the fantasy. A

child who exclaims, “I can fly

like Superman!” feels powerful

and strong, and these are real

feelings, albeit which stem

from fantasy.

Again, I was reminded of

this when a


told me

about her

son. He had a

condition which

required him

to have regular

blood tests from

about the age of

2½. She bought

him an Iron Man

suit in advance of

attending, which she intended

to be a reward for having the

blood test. Her son, however,

had other ideas! He wanted to

wear it to the hospital because

he knew that Iron Man was

powerful and strong and

nothing could hurt him when

he is wearing his suit. So this

little boy wore his Iron Man

suit each time he attended the

hospital and it helped him to

feel strong enough to cope with

the regular blood tests. This is

a great example of how some

elements of fantasy play, and,

in particular, superhero play,

can be immensely empowering

for the children.

Young children begin pretend

play from around 18 months

and this develops into more

refined role-play, real or

fictional, at about three years

old (German & Leslie, 2001).

However, by around 6 years,

most children have still not

fully grasped the difference

between knowing something

and believing it. Thus, early

childhood educators are

working with children who

are learning to distinguish

between fantasy and reality,

pretend and real. There will

be times when these lines are

very blurred. You only need

to have observed children

playing a make-believe game

to know that they are fully

engrossed in this play, they are

that character at that moment,

in their minds they are not

pretending. I was reminded of

this recently when I asked my

youngest daughter if she was

pretending to be the doctor,

“No”, she replied, “I am a

doctor!” That certainly put me

in my place and I was left in

no doubt about how seriously

fantasy and make-believe play

is taken by children.

After approximately seven

years, Kitson (2010) suggests

that if fantasy play is not

actively encouraged it slowly

diminishes. One way that we

can keep the magic of fantasy

play alive is through pretence

and superhero play. These

themes continue to engage

older children, teenagers and

adults as demonstrated by the

amount of media attention

dedicated to superheroes.

Pretence is the ability to play

with an object as if it were

something else, or take on a

role as another person. There

are considerable overlaps

with fantasy play, which is

linked with the improbable

and impossible, however,

pretending can be more closely

linked to reality. Children rarely

distinguish between the two

and we need to learn not to as


There are many noted benefits for children engaging in this type of

fantasy and make-believe play. It:












Encourages imagination and creativity.

Builds children’s confidence as they

experience the freedom to ‘be’ whomever

or whatever they want to be.

Enables children to deal with real life

scenarios in a safe environment.

Provides an opportunity for children to play

games involving social rules, cooperation

and collaboration.

Encourages children to empathise with


Offers children a place to escape from the

real world.

Usually involves a narrative and acts as

a type of therapy as children talk through

scenarios and possibilities.

Helps children to deal with changes in their


Allows children an element of control in

their lives - e.g. they can put toppings on

a pizza that their parent wouldn’t normally


Improves children’s language and

communication skills and is a great

opportunity for extending children’s


Provides an opportunity for children to

negotiate roles and understand rules and










Allows children to problem-solve and

resolve conflicts themselves.

Can counter stereotypes and discrimination

as boys can play at being a mummy and

girls at being Superman.

Offers opportunities for children to explore

different emotions and practice emotional

control and self-regulation.

Nurtures children’s dispositions such as

resilience, perseverance and a ‘can-do’


Develops children’s cognitive skills and

provides opportunities for literacy and


Enhances children’s understanding of the

world and how things work.

Allows children to practise fine and gross

motor skills.

Is fun! As educators we are always looking

for the purposes in play – we should value

this play intrinsically!

For references please visit


Tamsin Grimmer

Tamsin Grimmer is an

experienced early years

consultant and trainer and

parent who is passionate about

young children’s learning and

development. She believes

that all children deserve

practitioners who are inspiring,

dynamic, reflective and

committed to improving on their

current best. Tamsin particularly

enjoys planning and delivering

training and supporting

early years practitioners and

teachers to improve outcomes

for young children.

Tamsin has written two

books - “Observing and

Developing Schematic

Behaviour in Young Children”

and “School Readiness and

the Characteristics of Effective











14 Parenta.com May 2019 15

Deaf Awareness Week

In the UK, it is estimated that 1 in 6 people (approximately 11

million people) are deaf or hard of hearing. Deafness is the third

most common disability in the world, but you would be hardpressed

to spot a deaf person in a crowd.

Most deaf people do not see their

deafness as a disability or even a

problem that needs to be solved. They

just view it as part of the normal life

experience that they share with others in

the deaf community and with their family

and friends.

From 6th – 12th May, the UK Council on

Deafness (UKCoD) will co-ordinate Deaf

Awareness Week (DAW) to highlight

problems that deaf people face in their

life, work, education and leisure. Many

organisations and charities get involved

in events, fund-raising activities and

education to bring the message to

others. There is a lot of free material on

their website including bunting, posters

and educational materials, but read on

to find out more.

Origins of Deaf Awareness Week

Deaf Awareness Week was originally

run in October by the British Deaf

Association (BDA) and its main focus

was on promoting British Sign Language

(BSL) and the people in that community.

As more and more organisations and

groups wanted to get involved and draw

attention to more general deafness

topics, in 2001, the October week name

was changed to Sign Language Week,

and the mantle of organising Deaf

Awareness Week passed to the UKCoD,

who subsequently set the week in May,

so as not to conflict with the BDA’s work.

Nowadays, Deaf Awareness Week is a

platform to discuss and raise awareness

of many general issues related to

deafness, and countless organisations

get involved both locally and nationally

to bring more understanding of

deafness, and positive change to their

own communities.

The theme for this year’s DAW is

“Celebrating Role Models” and it’s hoped

that organisations will publish their own

role models (deaf and hearing) using

the hashtag #DAWrolemodels2019 on

social media during the week to raise


Communicating with deaf people

One on the main issues for both

people in the deaf community and

those who are not, is the problem of

communication. Many hearing people

might wrongly assume that deaf people

will not be able to understand them

and there are still many misconceptions

about the abilities of deaf people which

need addressing.

Many hearing people become easily

frustrated trying to communicate

with deaf or hard of hearing people

(especially with elderly relatives) and

often give up in their attempts. This can

leave the deaf or hard of hearing person

feeling isolated and lonely, so it is

important that hearing people gain more

understanding and information about

ways they can effectively communicate

with their friends and loved ones.

The National Deaf Children’s Society has

lots of useful information about this and

emphasises the need to understand

that all deaf people have different levels

of deafness, hearing aids, implants

or technology as well as their own

preferred method of communication.

It has published the following tips on

communicating with deaf people, but

especially with children.

1. Find out the person’s preferred

method of communication - speech,

lipreading, BSL or a mixture. In some

instances, children may need an


2. Get their attention before attempting

to communicate - you could wave,

knock on a table or lightly tap their


3. Face the person and stand still when

talking so that they can see your

face clearly.

4. Speak clearly and naturally - if you

try to over exaggerate or speak too

loudly or slowly, lipreading becomes

more difficult.

5. Don’t cover your mouth with your

hands when you speak. Many

people try to speak whilst eating,

smoking or chewing gum, which

makes understanding difficult, even

for hearing people!

6. Use visual cues where you can.

Even if you don’t know official BSL,

you can use commonly-accepted

gestures and facial expressions to

communicate ideas.

7. Ensure that deaf people know

what the topic is, or when the topic


8. Stand in the light or by a window so

your face is visible.

9. Speak one person at a time.

10. Try to reduce any background noise

- turn off radios/machines or do up

car windows.

11. Never give up or say “I’ll tell you

later”. This is a deaf child’s ‘pet hate’.

They want to be involved, not left

out. Try alternative methods: texting,

emailing or using a pen and paper.

British Sign language

British Sign Language is used by an

estimated 125,000 deaf adults in the

UK, plus 20,000 children. It is not just

a matter of adding gestures to replace

words but is a language in its own right,

with its own vocabulary and grammar.

It also differs from American Sign

Language and Makaton Signing and is

the preferred language of many deaf

people, so learning BSL is one thing you

could do to help your communication

with deaf people.

How to get involved in DAW

1. Organise an event to raise awareness and/or funds for your favourite

deaf-related charity

2. Nominate a role model and publicise it on your social media using


3. “Dress in decibels” is an idea from Action on Hearing Loss, to encourage

people to dress in their ‘loudest’ and brightest clothes for the week

4. Create a sensory experience not based on sound; alternatively, one purely

based on sound

5. Hold a sponsored silence

6. Learn to spell your name using British Sign Language letters

7. Take a lipreading challenge - hold a conversation with friends using


8. Decorate a doughnut and sell them to raise funds – another idea from

Action on Hearing Loss. You can even download a free recipe from their

website here: www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/you-can-help/fundraise/


For more information, see:

• deafcouncil.org.uk/deaf-awareness-week

• bda.org.uk

• british-sign.co.uk

• actiononhearingloss.org.uk/you-can-help/fundraise/deaf-awareness-week

16 Parenta.com May 2019 17

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with young


Children learn by playing. They

first observe - listening and

watching others; then they copy –

imitating the people around them.

And when they are able, they

experiment. That’s when they

learn to ask, and answer, new

questions – not “what is the capital

of France?”, but the much more

important questions, such as:

“What happens if I do this?”, “what

will I feel if I say that?” and “who

am I really?” That’s where roleplay,

really comes into its own.

What is role-play?

Role-play is where children take on

different roles and play at being different

people in any number of improvised

situations. It could be an everyday role,

a job or complete fantasy, and all types

of role-play should be encouraged. Not

only is it fun, but each is a stepping stone

which can help children learn new things.

The benefits of role-play

Research has identified many benefits

of role-play including cognitive, social,

emotional and physical benefits, all vital

for a child’s development.

Improved creativity and imagination

When children role-play, they use their

imagination. They engage the right

(creative) side of their brain and learn to

think for themselves and to think in new

ways - for them. That’s important. As early

years professionals, we might have seen

many children use a cardboard box as a

spaceship, but to that child, role-playing that

scenario for the first time, they are thinking

and creating something essentially ‘new’.

Sir Ken Robinson, a long-time exponent

of the value of creativity and its important

place in education, says:

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.

For knowledge is limited to all we now know and

understand, while imagination embraces the entire

world, and all there ever will be to know and


- Albert Einstein

“Imagination is the root of creativity. It

is the ability to bring to mind things that

aren’t present to our senses. Creativity

is putting your imagination to work. It is

applied imagination.”

Improved language and

communication skills

Role-play can develop language and

teach children new vocabulary. Recent

data acknowledged that: “Play is highly

beneficial to children’s language skills

and provides a supportive context for

language learning”. These researchers

also suggested that children’s language

can be enhanced most when adults

helped and guided their use of new

words during role-play.

Thinking, learning and cognitive


Role-playing helps children develop

creative and abstract thought processes

and encourages the formation of new

neural pathways. It also encourages

problem-solving as children work out

who will be who; what the rules are; and

which props/costumes they need. These

key cognitive skills are needed in adult

life, and being able to develop them as

children, is vital.

Social and emotional skills

Stepping into other people’s shoes,

developing empathy, understanding

different situations and perspectives, and

being able to react in an emotionallyappropriate

way, are clearly skills that

children need to develop. Role-play

can facilitate this. It allows children to

collaborate, pretend to be someone

else, and experience different points of

view - all in a safe environment with the

added benefit of feedback from others.

Many therapists use role-play situations

to encourage children’s emotional

development because the ‘pretend’

element disassociates the person from

any real situation and reduces any related

anxiety or stress.

Physical development

Role-play is perfect to get children active

– escaping from pirates or fighting a

monster gives children the opportunity

to run, jump, climb and fire-up their

cardiovascular systems, which aids fitness,

the development of large motor skills and

helps maintain appropriate weight. Even

simple activities such as operating a toy

till or dressing a teddy, can enhance fine

motor skills and dexterity.

Different types of role-play

There are different types of role-play that

you can encourage.




Real-life situations - pretending

to be at the beach, a playground, at

school or on holiday, for example.

Fantasy - becoming a superhero,

prince/princess, witch/fairy or other

mythical creature like a dragon or


Occupational - being a teacher,

doctor, fire-fighter or builder, amongst



Disassociated, toy-based play -

this is where a child role-plays with

toys such as dolls, action figures,

or puppets. It is often undertaken

individually, but the child can take on

an ‘architect’ role, deciding the fate

of each toy and multi-rolling between

them - think Andy in “Toy Story”.

What do you need to

encourage role-play?

Essentially, children need very little to

role-play – only their imagination and

a safe space to play in. However, to

actively encourage role-play, you can:

Provide spaces, props and


Different safe spaces such as kitchen

areas, outdoor spaces and sandpits

are great. Try to include some props

and costumes to facilitate different

situations/places too – these do not

need to be expensive, sticks and

cardboard boxes do very well as

swords and rockets, although specific

toys are useful too.

Costumes often work best when they

are indicative rather than prescriptive;

so long skirts can make a princess

and a piece of material can become a

superhero cloak or some wings.

Let the children lead

Role-play activities should be childled

and any interventions by adults

should be used to safeguard children,

encourage additional learning or

explain alternative options that

children can take.

Be a good role-model

Engage in the role-play yourself,

enacting out different characters and

situations based on the children’s

ideas. Be careful not to ‘lead’ their

play too much. You can be there to

assist and help if needed but resist the

temptation to say that “time-travel is

against the laws of quantum physics!”

Offer stimuli

You could use real or fantasy stories,

pictures or films as a starting point,

if needed, but allow the children

themselves to work out what happens


It is vital to encourage role-play

in your setting. It allows children

complete freedom to explore; to use

their imagination without the limits

of ‘knowledge’; and to reimagine the

world in a better way. What a beautiful

gift and what amazing opportunities

early years specialists have to facilitate

that freedom.

20 Parenta.com May 2019 21

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Using a reward chart effectively

Many early years providers choose to use reward charts as a way of promoting positive behaviour

in a child. When used well, these are a fantastic tool for helping a child to change a particular

behaviour. Unfortunately, though, they are often used in ways that are not clear for the child and

that don’t encourage a child to achieve. Here are some factors to bear in mind when designing a

reward chart.


Pick your battles. If you could

change one behaviour what would

it be? Focus on this one behaviour

only. Once things have improved

you can always tackle a different

behaviour (using the same chart if

you like).


Be specific. Don’t rely on

expressions such as ‘be good’.

This is one of the most common

mistakes I see when parents use

a reward chart at home. Telling a

child their chart is for ‘being good’

doesn’t work. Why? Because ‘good’

is subjective and is far too broad

for a child to understand. What one

person considers to be good may

not be the same as someone else’s

standards. Furthermore, if you tell a

child their reward chart is for ‘being

good’ and they don’t achieve it,

then they come away believing

they have been… bad. This isn’t

going to boost their self-esteem or

help them want to strive to achieve

next time. Instead, tell

the child exactly what it is

that you want them to do

e.g. sit down at carpet

time, use kind words,

or for use at home it

might be ‘stay in my bed

all night’.


Use positive wording. For

example, ‘I can use gentle hands’

rather than ‘I will not hit’. Don’t

remind the child of the behaviour

that you don’t want to see. If you

tell a child ‘don’t run’ then the last

word they hear is ‘run’ and guess

what they are likely to do?! If you

try saying ‘walk’ instead they are

far more likely to do so. Set them a

target that clearly says what they

do need to do.


Make it realistic/achievable.

The child needs to be able to

achieve the reward quite soon

after receiving a new chart so that

they get to enjoy the value of the

reward. If they keep trying and

trying but don’t get to experience

the reward within about the first

week, then I would say it is too

hard and they are likely to give

up. So, let it be easily achievable

at first. You can always

extend the chart later by

increasing the number

of times you expect to see the

positive behaviour, or the amount

of time that they do it for.


Pick a theme, something that the

child is interested in – they are

far more likely to want to engage

with it if it’s related to a theme

that they love. Some great reward

charts allow a child to work along

a race track, up a space rocket or

to collect something like unicorns

or characters from a favourite TV

show. It doesn’t need to be a work

of art – just a simple drawing or

printout will be fine.


Choose a reward carefully. This

is the bit that you really need to get

right. Choose something that really

matters to the child. The reward has

to be something that a child really

really wants – it has to mean more

to them then the buzz they get from

the behaviour you want to stop. For

some children, it is time playing with

a particular toy or in a particular

place, for some children it is

food, for some children it is

simply attention – what they want is

to spend 1:1 time with an adult that

is important to them.


Let the reward be instant. Once

the chart has been achieved, try

to make the reward as instant as

possible. If a child earns a reward

on Monday but then doesn’t get

it until Friday then the novelty will

have worn off, plus things could go

wrong between Monday and Friday

and you may feel that by Friday you

are rewarding negative behaviour.

You may also lose the trust/interest

of the child if they don’t get the

expected reward when they have

earned it.


Make it positive. Create a chart

whereby the child starts at the

bottom of a chart and works

towards their target. Don’t start

with, for example, 10 stars and

then take them away if the child

does something wrong. That way

things can only go downhill. So,

for example, a child might earn a

character on their chart each time

they go for part of the day using

gentle hands.


Stay calm. Don’t react/tell a child

off if they don’t achieve their chart.


Reward Chart


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Doluptatum et exerumquam

Hicilit experum accus et, quis

Saperum quam ut desciet am ati

Show the child that you believe

that they can do it. The idea of a

reward chart is that receiving or

not receiving the reward is enough

for the child. If they really want

the reward that badly and don’t

achieve it then that is going to be

enough of a disappointment for

them. Don’t tell them off, just calmly

remind them that they can try again



Keep it visual. Make sure the child

can see how well they are doing

and what more they need to do

to achieve their reward. This will

really help them understand that

changing this behaviour is worth it!

If things start to go wrong, you can

show them the chart to give them

an incentive to stay on track.

You will notice that most of the advice

here relates to a reward chart for one

child. This is because, for the chart to

be most effective, it needs to be specific

to the needs and interests of that child.

Whilst some ‘whole group’ reward charts

can be useful, if you are tackling a

particular behaviour, then a child is likely

to need their own chart. If you need any

support coming up with a reward chart,

then please feel free to email me – we

can put our heads together and see

what we can come up with. Good luck!

Saperum quam ut desciet Saperum quam ut desciet Saperum quam ut desciet

Gina Smith

Gina Smith is an

experienced teacher with

experience of teaching

in both mainstream and

special education. She

is the creator of ‘Create

Visual Aids’ - a business

that provides both homes

and education settings with

bespoke visual resources.

Gina recognises the fact

that no two children are

the same and therefore

individuals are likely to need

different resources. Create

Visual Aids is dedicated

to making visual symbols

exactly how the individual

needs them.





22 Parenta.com May 2019 23

What our customers say


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especially for my studies. I am in

my first year of childhood studies,

hoping to become an early

years teacher.




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no hesitation to contact him with

queries again.

Jo - Victoria Park

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24 Parenta.com


Excellent customer service and was very helpful. Felt very

satisfied and happy when I had finished.

Hillside Preschool



APRIL 2019

The support I have received

throughout this process has been

amazing. Nothing is too much

trouble! Thank you again.

Jennie - Ash House Day



Website Design

We’ve built 100s of

websites – we only design

and build childcare

websites. So you can rest

assured that our team

know what Ofsted and

parents look for.


We provide training for almost

3,000 learners each year.

From those just starting out in

their career to those already

established and working in a

setting - we offer a range of


Branding & Design

We take care of all

your branding needs,

whether it is a new

childcare website, printed

prospectus, business

cards, newsletters or



Social Media

A social media page will

open up your setting to

thousands of parents

searching online for a

provider in their area. We

can help you set up and

use your account in no time.


Our recruitment team

helps learners find an

apprenticeship in their area,

assists settings looking for

apprentices, and governs the

Parenta job board, which you

can use for FREE.

People who help us

In the UK, there are over eight million ‘999’ calls made every year? That’s

approximately one every 4 seconds! And millions of other calls are made to the nonemergency

police number, 101.

But it’s not just the police, fire and ambulance

service that respond. Did you know you can also call

mountain rescue, cave rescue, the coast guard and

lifeboats too?

In this article, we look at these emergency services

and suggest ways you could introduce the work

of these amazing people to the children in your


Fire Police Ambulance

Mountain rescue


Cave rescue


services from

a landline or

mobile in the

UK 999

Coast guard


services from

a mobile

worldwide 112

A brief history of the main emergency services

It’s nice to think that if we are in trouble, there will

always be someone there to help. But this was

not always true, and in the past, many fires went

untended and many crimes unsolved, due to the

lack of an organised emergency response.

A Roman general called Marcus Licinius Crassus

set up the first organised fire service in the first

century BC. He employed around 500 fire-fighters,

but as a businessman, unless he could negotiate

an ‘acceptable fee’ from the owner of the burning

building, his fire-fighters would simply let it burn to

the ground.

In 1829, Sir Robert Peel set up the first Metropolitan

Police Force, however, the Royal Irish Constabulary

had been set up in 1822, and Scotland had

benefitted from the Royal Scottish Constabulary as

early as 1800. Despite this, the early police officers

were known as ‘Bobbies’ or ‘Peelers’ in reference to

Sir Robert.

And if you were injured in the 1890s, then it was left

to the police, fire service or a passer-by to assist

you! It was not until The National Health Service Act

was passed in 1948, that ambulances were legally

required for all those who needed them.

Thankfully, things have improved since these

fledgling days and nowadays, members of the

emergency services are called out regularly. Let’s

look at who these people are and what they do.


The police are the first port of call when

dealing with crimes, but they have other

duties too, such as enforcing the laws

of the land (e.g. traffic laws), promoting

crime prevention and maintaining public

order and safety. Sadly, the days of the ‘Bobby on the

beat’ are mostly over, but police officers are often

involved in visiting local schools to promote prevention

strategies to children.


The fire service was, until relatively

recently, considered a ‘man’s job’,

as it was only in 1982 that Josephine

Reynolds became Britain’s first female

fire-fighter, aged just 17. In January of

this year, the BBC ran a story about a 4-year-old girl

who wanted to be a fire-fighter but thought that it

was only for men, because that’s all she’d ever seen

in books and films. Reassuringly, several female firefighters

replied to her mother’s tweet, proving their

existence to little Esme. However, 95% of firefighters

in England are male, so more needs to be done to

attract women in to the profession.

The NHS website says:

“An ambulance service career is much

more than ‘flashing blue lights’! You’ll

make a difference every day to patients

in emergency and non-emergency


Many people who work in the ambulance service

reiterate this desire to help, and it is what drives most

medical staff to train for years and join the service.

Ambulance staff include paramedics, emergency care

assistants and technicians, but let’s not forget the

wonderful doctors and nurses of the NHS too, who are

always ready to help whenever disaster strikes and

who, together, save countless lives each year.

“Most of all, I love the feeling that I’ve helped

others in their moment of need”

Elisha Miller - Paramedic


Cave rescue

Whilst the responsibility for inland rescue

rests generally with the police, when

people get into difficulties in caves, mines

or potholes, it is usually some of the

1,000 volunteer cave rescuers who are

called in to assist the police, due to their specialised

training and experience.

Giving their time freely, British cave rescuers have also

participated in worldwide rescues, such as the muchpublicised,

cave rescue of 12 boys and their coach in


Coast guard and RNLI lifeboats

Since its formation in 1824, the brave

RNLI lifeboat crews; and the coast guards

who look out for us on our beaches, cliff

tops and coastal waters, have saved over

140,000 lives. Her Majesty’s Coastguard

is not a military force, nor a law enforcement agency,

but exists to keep us safe and offer assistance if people

get into difficulty at sea or on our shorelines. The RNLI

is a charity and is funded by donations and run by

some extraordinary volunteers – most of whom have

everyday jobs too. They are also involved in education

and incident prevention, and many children will have

seen them at the beach ensuring these areas are kept

safe for us to enjoy.

These RNLI statistics underline the need to keep these

services running:


people aided

a day by

lifeboat crews


young people

reached with

safety tips


people aided



Mountain rescue




There are over 70 mountain rescue

teams in the UK and each region exists

as its own charity. As well as mountain

rescue, these volunteers help many

hikers and dogs are often used to help

locate people in extreme conditions. Teams also help

people in floods and other natural disasters.


People who help us in times of need are truly

special and should be celebrated as real-life


You could make some bunting or a display to

celebrate their work. You could read the children

books or newspaper articles or research your

own local heroes and invite them to your setting

to tell their own stories. Or why not make a big

‘thank you’ card to remind them they are really

appreciated? Check out our craft on the next

page for some ideas.

26 Parenta.com May 2019 27

Shape emergency

services cars craft

You will need:

> > Coloured craft paper

> > Scissors

> > Glue

Write for us for a chance to win £50

We’re always on the lookout for

new authors to contribute insightful

articles for our monthly magazine.

If you’ve got a topic you’d like to write about,

why not send an article to us and be in with a

chance of winning? Each month, we’ll be giving

away £50 to our “Guest Author of the Month”.


1. Pick which emergency services cars you’d like to make

2. Cut out the different shapes and sizes that will make up your

chosen cars, body, wheels, etc.

3. Glue the shapes together on a piece of paper

4. You are done!

Here are the details:


Choose a topic that is relevant to early years



Submit an article of between 600-900 words

to marketing@parenta.com


If we choose to feature your article in our

magazine, you’ll be eligible to win £50


The winner will be picked based on having

the highest number of views for their article

during that month

This competition is open to both new and existing

authors, for any articles submitted to feature in

our Parenta magazine for 2019. The lucky winner

will be notified via email and we’ll also include an

announcement in the following month’s edition of

the magazine.

Got any questions or want to run a topic by us? For

more details, email marketing@parenta.com


Tamsin Grimmer

Congratulations to our guest author competition

winner! Tamsin Grimmer’s article “I’m killing the

baddies! Using ‘superhero play’ to deal with

notions of killing and death within early

childhood” was very popular with our

readers. Well done, Tamsin!

28 Parenta.com May 2019 29

The importance of fostering

Every year, around 30,000 children enter the British care system – imagine the intake of 30,

average-sized comprehensive schools – all children needing to live with people other than

their parents, in surroundings that may, or may not be familiar to them. On any one day

in the UK, there are 65,000 children living with over 55,000 foster families. That’s a lot of

vulnerable children.

In a recent report on the state of

fostering in England, the government

recognised that:

“…the number of children in care

increased at a faster rate than the

number of fostering places, which

may suggest the fostering sector

is struggling to keep up with the

increasing demand.”

The charity, Fostering Network,

reports that another 8,100 foster

families will be needed in the next 12

months alone to meet the increasing

demand for places.

So what exactly is fostering, and why

is it important?

Fostering has a long history

There are references in The Bible

and The Talmud to societies having a

‘duty of care’ for dependent children,

although fostering as we understand

it today, could be said to have been

introduced in 1853, when a Cheshire

Reverend, John Armistead, took

children out of the local workhouse

and placed them with foster

families instead. The local union (a

predecessor of the local council) paid

the foster parents a sum of money,

equal to the cost of keeping the

child in the workhouse, and was still

legally responsible for the children.

In the mid-1800s, the practice began

to be more regulated, and the

passing of the Adoption of Children

Act in 1926, began the move towards

increased regulation, legislation and

safeguarding, which continues to this


What do foster carers do?

Ostensibly, fostering is a simple job

involving looking after children and

providing them with a bed, food

and a stable, nurturing environment

that they may not have previously

enjoyed. In reality, fostering is much

more complex and simply feeding

and providing material comforts is

the tip of the iceberg. More often,

what these children really need,

is a loving, stable and consistent

approach to their physical, emotional

and psychological wellbeing; and

those skills go far beyond just ‘bed

and board’.

Many children in care have suffered

abuse or neglect; causing them to

have a range of physical, emotional

and mental challenges to deal with,

in addition to the trauma of being

removed from their parents.

A survey of foster carers revealed

that 48% were supporting children

with mental health needs who were

not currently accessing specialist

support; and 43% had looked after a

child who had either caused violence

in their home, gone missing or had

some involvement with the police.

This compares to just 8% of parents

coping with the same challenges,

and highlights the increasing

demands of the role. Fostering

can be a difficult and emotionallydemanding,

24/7 job!

Responsibilities (amongst others)


• Providing food, clothes and

accommodation for the dayto-day

living of the child (an

allowance is paid to support

carers financially with this)

• Passing the statutory minimum

standards for foster carers within

12 months of being approved

• Attending CPD sessions

• Keeping accurate records or the

child’s progress and incidents

involving their behaviour or


• Attending meetings with social

workers, medical services, and

review sessions

• Liaising with the birth family

• Acting as an advocate for the


• Keeping up-to-date with current

training and legislation

• Supporting children in transition

- if they ‘move on’ – either

returning home, being adopted

or to a new placement

Who can foster?

In short, most people! There’s no

‘generic’ foster carer profile – they

come from all social spheres, have a

wide range of backgrounds, cultures

and life experiences. They receive

training and have a dedicated social

worker to support them.

There are a few criteria that you

need to meet, although these may

vary depending on whether you

apply through a Local Authority or a

private fostering agency. You should:

• be at least 21 years-old

(although you can apply from

age 18)

• have a large-enough spare


• be a full-time resident in the UK

or have permission to remain

• be able to give the time to care

for a child or young person

depending on

their needs

Applications can take from 6-12

months from enquiry to approval

and will take into account your

health, financial security, friends

and own family too. Carers also

need to pass safeguarding checks.

Things that don’t affect your ability

to apply include your race, marital

status, religion, gender and sexual

orientation. In fact, people from

ethnic minorities are often sought

after to match with children from a

similar background. There’s also no

upper age limit.

There are also different types of

carers including those who look

after babies, short-term, longterm,

parent-and-baby carers and

enhanced carers who deal with the

most challenging children.

So with all this potential stress,

why does anyone do it?

A foster carer we spoke to said:

“I do it because I can, and because

I know I can make a difference. It

has not always been easy. There

have been many times when I

questioned the sanity of what I

was doing, especially as a singlecarer.

There have been tantrums,

misunderstandings and difficult

issues to resolve – and we are still

working through many things each

day - all of us learning slowly from

each other and making progress. But

when I see the life the children have

now, and think about what might

have been, I know it is the right thing

to do and I wouldn’t change it for the


The truth is, we all have a

responsibility to help the most

vulnerable children in our society,

and fostering is one important and

vital way that can give them security,

love, and the prospect of lasting


For more information, contact your

Local Authority, or visit:



30 Parenta.com May 2019 31

Reflective practice vs

reflexive practice

Reflective practice is an important part of our professional

development. It means we look at what went well, what didn’t

and this allows us to tweak and amend our approach in the

future. Although this practice is necessary, it is quite passive and

is done after the event.

Stacey Kelly

Reflexive practice, however, is much more transformational

because it is often done in the moment and takes our level of

understanding much deeper. Reflexive practitioners have a

higher level of self-awareness because they are not only able

to assess a situation as it is happening and tweak things as

they go, but they also have the ability to look at why things are

the way that they are, and consider the role they are playing in

the current outcome.

A reflective thinker will analyse what

has happened. However, a reflexive

thinker will automatically self-assess

and react to the circumstances as

they are happening. They will know

themselves well and will look inwardly

as well as outwardly.

In an early years setting there are a

million and one things to consider

at any given point. A reflective

practitioner will set up the room and

at the end of the day they will assess

how the children interacted, how

engaging the resources provided

were and how they could possibly set

the room up differently the next day

to get a better outcome. However,

the reflexive practitioner would tweak

things as they went along and would

also run with the direction that the

children were going in, even if it

wasn’t a part of the plan. They would

also be able to look at how they

have impacted on the efficacy of the

present situation:


Are they engaging with the

children on their level? If not,

they would tweak the way they

are communicating with them

to make their message more

accessible to that individual child.




Are they understanding the needs

of each unique child? If not, they

will make sure they understand

what makes each child tick and

adjust their actions accordingly.

Are the children displaying signs

of being a visual, auditory or

kinaesthetic learner? If so, they

would adjust the setting and

activities available to make

sure they are appealing to each

learning style. Instead of doing

what they think is fun, they would

put themselves in the shoes of

each child and make decisions

based on their reality, rather than

their own.

Do they know the children’s

triggers and look beyond what

is happening for a deeper level

of understanding? If one of the

children keeps crying all of the

time, do they look beyond their

tears and tantrums and find

the root cause? Does this child

suffer with separation anxiety?

Do they feel insecure? Do they

have problems at home that are

making them more sensitive? If

so, they would meet the child’s

deeper-rooted needs as well as

addressing the present situation.


Does the practitioner actually

understand their own triggers

and how this can impact their

reaction to situations? Can they

see how their own childhood

can actually affect their actions

as adults? For example, were

they brought up with ‘no

nonsense’ parents who had high

expectations and wouldn’t allow

for mistakes and is this now

filtering into their own practice

and meaning they can, at times,

lack tolerance themselves? Do

they have an issue with control

and project this onto the children

or the way the setting runs?

Were their parents overbearing

when they were younger, and

they have vowed to never make

children feel this way, so struggle

to set boundaries through a

subconscious need to make

them happy? Do they have things

going on at the moment that

could be affecting their own

patience? If so, the reflexive

practitioner would identify these

deeper-rooted issues and work

through them, rather than solely

focusing on external factors.

With reflexive practice, there is a

level of responsibility that doesn’t get

reached with reflective practice. This

all sounds very deep. However, there

are no greater teachers in life than

children. We have all been moulded

throughout our own childhood and

look at the world through a lens that

is influenced by the experiences

and beliefs that we have acquired

throughout our early years. Sometimes

our own blueprint serves us well. Other

times, not so much. If we can identify

why we are the way that we are, why

we think the way that we think and

why we react the way that we do, we

can have a better understanding of

how the current situation is, at times, a

reflection of this. Self-awareness is the

foundation of happiness and success.

We focus on developing it in children.

However, it is imperative that we take

the time to develop it in ourselves if we

are going to become the best that we

can be.

It is important to be a reflective

practitioner, but if we can take

this a level deeper and become a

reflexive practitioner, it will have a

positive impact on both the children’s

development and our own personal

development too. Our role is to

teach children and provide them

with amazing learning opportunities.

However, if we can also see the many

amazing lessons that children bring

to us, we will also give ourselves

the opportunity to unlock our inner

brilliance and release any inner

programming that could be holding

us back.

Stacey Kelly is a former

teacher, a parent to 2

beautiful babies and the

founder of Early Years Story

Box, which is a subscription

website providing children’s

storybooks and early years

resources. She is passionate

about building children’s

imagination, creativity and

self-belief and about creating

awareness of the impact

that the early years have

on a child’s future. Stacey

loves her role as a writer,

illustrator and public speaker

and believes in the power of

personal development. She is

also on a mission to empower

children to live a life full of

happiness and fulfilment,

which is why she launched

the #ThankYouOaky Gratitude


Sign up to Stacey’s premium

membership here and use the

code PARENTA20 to get 20%

off or contact Stacey for an

online demo.













32 Parenta.com May 2019 33


that’s child’s play

We’ve learnt our craft over 15 years. And

in that time, we’ve turned our hand to

creating bespoke construction projects

for childcare and nursery settings.

We create safe environments for toddlers and children to explore,

play and develop their imaginations. One day they can be a

builder, the next an astronaut, ambulance-driver or high-flying

footballer. We can build from scratch to suit exactly what you need.

And we offer landscaping, decorating, a 24-hour help desk, and

maintenance service after the job’s complete.

It’s not all about fun and games

Safety and security are core to our service. All our projects are risk

assessed. We’re experts in fire protection. We can install intruder

alarms, door-entry systems, non-slip surfaces and CCTV. We have

gas and electrical engineers as part of our team. All our staff are

DBS checked, and all our vehicles are tracked.

We’ve converted buildings into Ofsted rated nurseries, and

playscapes that are ROSPA accredited. For more case studies,

references or a quote – get in touch.

Give us a call on

01634 258238

or email us at enquiries@kentlincs.com


“I’ve worked with

Kentlincs for fourteen

years, and in this time

they have supported

our ninety six nurseries

through their growth.

They have helped

build quality nurseries,

including maintenance,

major refits and gardens.

They provide a personal

service with quality

work. I would highly

recommend them.

Andrew Morris

ex CEO Asquith

There’s more to slime than

meets the eye...

We have all heard of fiddle toys, and children with “sensory needs,” and there is a dilute

understanding amongst educators of the value of such things. Some of us provide our

students with them, some of us feel the costs in terms of disruption and clutter in class

outweigh the benefits. As with any tool, the utility of these items is partly dependent on

the choice of item and partly on how it is used. Imagine teaching a class handwriting skills

but providing them with crayons. Similarly imagine a class equipped with the very best

fountain pens but taught none of the skills associated with learning to write. Neither group

is going to be producing calligraphy very soon. It is the same with sensory resources, there

is absolutely value to be had from having them around, but we need also to be teaching the

skills associated with their use. In my coming articles, I will be examining individual sensory

resources and unpicking their application in the classroom. We looked at search jars last

month, this month I will cover gak or slime.

Gak or slime

In schools today we are constantly meeting

sensory crazes. No sooner were fiddle

spinners banned than the production of gak

(or slime if you prefer) began. That the young

people of today delight in these sensory

resources is reflective of a population with

greater sensory needs than past generations.

You may have been impressed, as have I,

by the creativity unleashed in children and

young people as they develop even better gak

recipes and turn up to school with ever more

amazing colours and textures. This article is

one of a series of articles unpicking the value

of such sensory resources within our settings.

As with any resource, it is not simply owning it

that makes the difference but knowing how to

use it. In this article I will explain how you can

make gak and how you might seek to use it

or other comparable resources to support the

behaviour of your students.

What is gak?

Gak is a non-Neutonian fluid that can be

stretched, poured and manipulated in a wide

variety of ways. It comes in different scents,

colours and textures.

How does someone use gak?

The malleability of gak is very enticing, unlike

a search jar, which we discussed in the first

article in this series, there is no set way to

use gak, making it very supportive of creative

play. As there is no end goal with gak there

is no getting it wrong or right, meaning

it can be explored without fear of failure.

Someone exploring gak may shape it into

different shapes, stretch and pull it to admire

its colours and textures, or squeeze it in the

palm of their hands so that it squidges out

between their fingers.

How to make gak

You need:

• PVA glue

• Something with borax as its chemical

agent, for example: contact lens solution,

Lidl’s Formil Super Concentrated Laundry

Liquid, or just plain old borax itself which

is sold as a powder for you to dilute with



• Glitter, or other particulate matter to add

texture, for example sand.

• Coloured ink

To make:

Gak results from a chemical reaction between

the PVA glue and the borax. Failed attempts at

making gak are often due to insufficient mixing,

or not allowing time for this reaction to happen.

1. Begin with your PVA glue, use an amount

slightly smaller than the amount of gak

you wish to end up with.

2. Mix in any ink or glitter/particles that you

want in your gak.

3. Now add a small amount of your chosen

borax carrier and mix well.

4. Mix really well: you want the borax to

mix with all of the glue. You will notice

the consistency of the substance begin

to change. At first it will seem sticky, with

the mixture sticking to the sides of the

container it is in and to the tool you are

using to mix it with. Keep mixing.

5. Add a little more of your borax carrier

and repeat the mixing process, allowing

plenty of time for the reaction to take place

before adding any more borax.

6. Continue this process until your gak

reaches the desired consistency: this is

when it forms a single lump in the bowl

and no longer sticks to the sides. You will

be able to lift it out of the bowl and knead

it with your hands.

If you add too much of

your borax carrier your

gak will go from too sticky

to too slippery. You may be able to save your

batch of gak by adding more PVA glue to

make amends. Always mix really well and

allow time for the reaction to take place.


Clearly gak is a substance made out of

glue and detergent, it is not edible. Nor is it

advisable to play with it for long periods of

time. Horror stories can be found online of

teenagers who spent their whole weekend

making batches of gak to sell to their peers

tell of hands burned by over exposure to

the chemicals in the detergent. But used

intermittently, and with hands washed after

use, it is as safe and a lot of fun. (If you want

to create a similar substance for someone

who may be liable to put it in their mouth,

you can find recipes for edible play dough

online, or simply mix cornflour and water

together to make a dough).


So far you may be thinking you have

the beginnings of a motivating science

experiment but gak has a utility beyond

offering a beginner-level introduction to

chemical reactions. In Exploring the Impact

the Senses have on Behaviour, we look at

gak, and other sensory items, not for their

science lesson potential, but for their uses in

helping people to emotionally regulate. Here

we are going to think of two sorts of people

as we consider the usefulness of gak, the

first one you are likely to find among your


Person one:

Do you have a friend who is a fidget, the sort of

person who at the cinema will twiddle their hair,

who couldn’t sit at dinner without fiddling about

with the cutlery or tapping their foot on the floor?

Imagine this friend in an interview situation,

facing all the stress of the adjudicating panel.

Would they sit on their hands? Would they be

embarrassed by their fidgetiness? Would it be

exacerbated by the stress of the situation?

All of us need to regulate our sensory systems

in order to be able to access information from

the world and be included successfully within

society. Just as we would expect eyesight to

differ between individuals, so we can expect

other sensory systems to differ. A fidget may

need more vestibular (balance and motion),

proprioceptive (body mapping and movement) or

tactile stimulation than the next person. In their

fidgeting, they seek to regulate their systems so

that they reach a point of homeostasis in which

they are able to engage and concentrate.

If your friend sits in that interview and focuses

their attention on not fidgeting, they are likely

to miss the nuances of the questions being

thrown at them. If they can find a way to provide

their body with its fidgeting needs, then their

concentration is freed to focus on the interview.

In the modern climate, gak offers us a way to

allow children with significant sensory needs to

have them met in a socially acceptable, even

cool way! To take the comparison with vision

again, in gak we have progressed from the old

embarrassing bulky national health spectacles

to the cool contemporary designer shades. Other

contemporary fiddle toys have the potential to

do the same: silly pencil toppers, fiddle spinners,

along with the good old-fashioned blue tac, bent

paper clip and rubber band. You may think you

are running a tight ship by banning such things

but if your ultimate aim is to improve

behaviour in your classroom, you

may find that adopting a more laid

back attitude in response to them

actually results in a better behaved

class than rules that inhibit selfregulation.

Person two:

The second person we are thinking of may also

be among your friends, but often times, these

people find themselves isolated because their

inability to regulate their systems damages their

friendships. These are people who are constantly

tense or on edge, people quick to snap, jumpy


These people are likely to have had a traumatic

early life, a life that has taught them that danger

is around every corner. Neurodiverse conditions

can also result in a hypersensitive response

system, meaning people live with high levels of

anxiety and feel the need to be constantly on

guard and in control of the world around them.

This person two feels a little bit tense all the

time; it is not a feeling triggered by a particular

event or altercation, it is something they have to

cope with all day, every day, and it is exhausting.

We used to believe that people should “let out”

tensions by indulging them by, for example,

hitting a punch bag. But we now understand that

practicing hitting in response to feeling tense

makes us – rather unsurprisingly – more likely

to hit out when feeling tense. A couple of things

are going on within this piece of advice that are

worth unpicking to prevent misunderstanding: 1)

Exercise is great for enabling self-regulation and

will help someone to feel calmer. 2) Disciplines

such as boxing and martial arts do not simply

teach people to hit, they also teach people when

to hit and are often beneficial to people looking

to learn to control their behaviour to a greater


There are many strategies we can use to relieve

tension for someone who is naturally prone to

feeling tense: meditation practices can help to

reprogramme the mind: exercise is wonderful,

time spent in nature is also fantastic, but when it

is not possible to go outdoors, for example

in the middle of a maths lesson, then

having the opportunity to knead

gak, and to admire its colours,

scent and sparkles – in itself a

small dose of mindfulness –

will help. And as with person

one, the current trendiness of

sensory toys provides us with

intervention options that do

not require us to single people

out as different or weird, but

enable us to provide for each

according to their needs in the


Joanna Grace

Joanna Grace is an

international Sensory

Engagement and Inclusion

Specialist, trainer, author, TEDx

speaker and founder of The

Sensory Projects.

Consistently rated as

“outstanding” by Ofsted,

Joanna has taught in

mainstream and specialschool

settings, connecting

with pupils of all ages and

abilities. To inform her work,

Joanna draws on her own

experience from her private

and professional life as well

as taking in all the information

she can from the research

archives. Joanna’s private life

includes family members with

disabilities and neurodiverse

conditions and time spent

as a registered foster carer

for children with profound


Joanna has published several

books: “Sensory Stories for

Children and Teens”, “Sensory-

Being for Sensory Beings”

and “Sharing Sensory Stories”

and “Conversations with

People with Dementia”. Her

latest two books, “Ernest and

I”, and “Voyage to Arghan”

were launched at TES SEN in


Joanna is a big fan of social

media and is always happy

to connect with people

via Facebook, Twitter and




36 Parenta.com May 2019 37





The first full week in May

(6th – 12th) is Viral Meningitis

Awareness Week. It’s run by

the charity, Meningitis Now,

as an annual event aimed

at “stopping lives being lost

through meningitis and to make

sure that sufferers and survivors

get appropriate support.”

As children under 5 are most at risk

of developing meningitis, we think it’s

important that all pre-schools are informed

about the disease, its causes, symptoms

and treatments. Most importantly, all early

years professionals should know what to

do if they suspect a child is suffering with


Take our meningitis quiz to see how much

you know about the disease and then

read on to find out more information and

advice. (Answers at the end of the article).

1. Meningitis is a disease which

causes inflammation of the:

a. Meniscus

b. Meninges

c. Metatarsals

2. In the UK, Meningitis is most often

caused by:

a. Bacteria

b. Viruses

c. Fungi

3. What percentage of people

contracting bacterial meningitis may

die (approximately)?

a. 5%

b. 10%

c. 15%

4. Babies and young children are at

particular risk of meningitis due to


a. Immature immune systems

b. Milk teeth

c. Developing DNA

5. Septicaemia can occur with

meningitis and cause a rash, which

can be identified by:

a. A urine test

b. Counting the spots in a specified area

c. Pressing a glass onto the skin to see

if the rash disappears under pressure

6. The most common types of

meningitis can be prevented by:

a. Vaccination

b. Gene therapy

c. Pre-natal diet

7. Which of the following does NOT put

you at increased risk of meningitis?

a. The seasons

b. Smoking

c. Body mass index (BMI)

8. Which of the following are

symptoms of meningitis?

a. Vomiting

b. Dislike of bright lights

c. Blank, staring or vacant look

9. You always get a rash with


a. True

b. False

10. There is no treatment for viral

meningitis, but what might help

with recovery?

a. Painkillers

b. Injectable antibiotics

c. Insulin therapy

11. Which of the following can be longterm

effects of meningitis?

a. Acquired brain injury

b. Learning and behaviour changes

c. Weight gain

12. What should you do if you suspect a

child of having meningitis?

a. Confine the child to bed until the

symptoms dissipate

b. Make an appointment to see your

local GP

c. Take them to hospital or dial 999

What is meningitis?

Meningitis is a serious illness that has

the potential to cause death or disability

within hours. It is the inflammation of

the meninges, which are the protective

membranes that surround the brain and

the spinal cord, but can also lead to lifethreatening

blood poisoning (known as

septicaemia) which in fact, is the cause of

a rash often associated with the bacterial

form of meningitis.

Meningitis can be caused by a number

of different factors including bacteria,

viruses and fungi and each type has

a different prognosis. The most fatal

is bacterial meningitis which can have

devastating effects for survivors including

acquired brain injury, seizures, learning

difficulties, deafness and physical


Viral meningitis is the most common

form and is usually less severe than

the bacterial form as most patients

recover without any permanent damage,

although full recovery can take many

weeks or months. There is no treatment

for viral meningitis, but painkillers and

rest can help.

Who is at risk?

Children under 5 are most at risk. The

second most at-risk group for meningitis

is teenagers and young people, with firstyear

university students being particularly

vulnerable. However, it can strike anyone,

at any age and there are thousands of

cases in the UK each year.

Symptoms of meningitis

The following have been identified as

common symptoms of meningitis, but this

is not an exhaustive list:

• a high temperature (fever) of 38˚C

(100.4˚F) or above

• cold hands and feet, shivering

• vomiting

• headache

• diarrhoea

• irritability

• rash that does not fade when a

glass is rolled over it (but this will not

always develop)

• stiff neck

• blank, staring or vacant look

• dislike of bright lights

• drowsiness or unresponsiveness

• fits (seizures)

Symptoms can appear in any order

and sufferers do not always get all the

symptoms. If in doubt, you should contact

A&E or call 999.

Prevention and treatment

Prevention is always better than cure and

there are several vaccinations available

that offer protection against meningitis.

These are usually administered to infants

although other ‘catch-up’ and teenager/

adult programmes also exist. No vaccine

is 100% effective but vaccinations have

been shown to reduce meningitis

incidence rates and one of the aims of

meningitis charities is often to raise the

vaccination rates, especially in children.

Treatment for bacterial meningitis

requires hospitalisation, intravenous

antibiotics and fluids. Viral meningitis

is usually treated with pain killers and

rest, although antibiotics may be given

in certain cases to rule out bacterial

meningitis or secondary infections.

Meningitis Aware Recognition Mark

(MARM) for childcare providers

Meningitis Now have launched the MARM

toolkit to help nurseries, pre-schools and

childminders learn more and inform their

staff and parents about meningitis.

To achieve this recognition mark,

providers need to register their interest on

the MARM webpage and then download

and complete a checklist, which includes

actions to take on:

• Raising awareness internally

• Raising awareness externally

• Planning ahead

This will confirm that the setting has

demonstrated their awareness of

meningitis, the issues surrounding it,

and the actions they have taken. There

are a lot of free resources available

on the website to help you including

PowerPoint presentations, information

sheets, helpline numbers and videos. You

can access these after you register your


To find out more about the condition, or to

see how you can help, visit:





Answers: 1b, 2ab, 3b, 4a, 5c, 6a, 7c, 8abc, 9false,

10a, 11ab, 12c.

38 Parenta.com May 2019 39

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