Parenta Magazine May 2019

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Issue 54<br />

MAY <strong>2019</strong><br />

FREE<br />



Reflective practice vs<br />

reflexive practice<br />

There’s more to slime<br />

than meets the eye...<br />

Using a reward<br />

chart effectively<br />

+ lots more<br />

Write for us<br />

for a chance to<br />

WIN<br />

£50<br />

p 29<br />



Tonya Meers discusses storytelling and shares lots of ideas that are guaranteed<br />

to spark your imagination – just by using your location and whatever you can see.<br />


Hello and welcome to the <strong>May</strong> edition of the <strong>Parenta</strong> magazine!<br />

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

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

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

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

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

children in your care.<br />

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<br />

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

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

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<br />

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<br />

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!<br />

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

fantasy play is for child development.<br />

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

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<br />

on page 38 to see how much you know about the disease?<br />

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

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<br />

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<br />

chance to win £50 in shopping vouchers, turn to page 29 for details.<br />

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<br />

colleagues!<br />

Allan<br />

SLIME!<br />

hello<br />


36<br />

MAY <strong>2019</strong> ISSUE 54<br />



24 What our customers say<br />

28 Shape emergency services cars craft<br />

29 Write for us for a chance to win £50<br />

NEWS<br />

4 Invitation to attend the House of Commons for<br />

Hartlepool nursery<br />

6 <strong>Parenta</strong> Trust news<br />

ADVICE<br />

10 A childcare career without a childcare<br />

qualification?<br />

12 How to teach creative writing to children<br />

16 Deaf Awareness Week<br />

19 Free childcare insurance review<br />

20 Encouraging role-play with young children<br />

25 <strong>Parenta</strong> solutions<br />

26 People who help us<br />

A childcare career without a childcare qualification? 10<br />

Learn more about Deaf Awareness Week. 16<br />

Encouraging role-play with young children. 20<br />

Joanna Grace explores<br />

how slime/gak can<br />

be used to support<br />

emotional regulation,<br />

looking at two different<br />

personality types.<br />


PLAY<br />

14<br />

Tamsin Grimmer<br />

delves further into<br />

the importance of<br />

fantasy play in child<br />

development, and shares<br />

some of the benefits.<br />


Tonya Meers discusses storytelling and<br />

shares lots of ideas that are guaranteed<br />

to spark your imagination – just by using<br />

your location and whatever you can see.<br />

8<br />

30 The importance of fostering<br />

38 Viral Meningitis Awareness Week<br />


8 A good story can be taken anywhere!<br />

14 Keeping it real? The importance of fantasy play<br />

in child development<br />

22 Using a reward chart effectively<br />

32 Reflective practice vs reflexive practice<br />

36 There’s more to slime than meets the eye...<br />

Test your meningitis knowledge with our quiz! 38

Invitation to attend the House of<br />

Commons for Hartlepool nursery<br />

Footprints Learning for Life owner and manager, Sharon Birch, and her colleague Vivienne<br />

Dempsey were privileged to be invited to the Parliamentary Review at the House of Commons<br />

- to put forward a paper for ‘best practice’.<br />

MPs from all parties, some of the UK’s<br />

leading business people and a few<br />

celebrities were in attendance at the<br />

gala ceremony on 27th March. The<br />

nursery’s aim was to raise its profile as<br />

a nursery in the north of the country and<br />

to put forward its paper highlighting best<br />

practice in early years childcare.<br />

The staff at the nursery school, founded<br />

in 2006 in Hartlepool, focus entirely<br />

on providing every child with an equal<br />

opportunity for a great start in life,<br />

regardless of circumstances. They<br />

believe that one size does not fit all, and<br />

they cater for individual requirements<br />

irrespective of need, culture, race,<br />

gender and abilities.<br />

Sharon Birch explains a little more about<br />

the background and philosophy of her<br />

nursery: “I founded Footprints after a<br />

20-year career in the police service. As a<br />

mother of three children born within five<br />

years, I knew what a busy family needed<br />

in terms of childcare. My husband was a<br />

service police officer and we spent years<br />

juggling childcare with shift work and<br />

school hours. It was difficult, and the<br />

system was inflexible. My children were<br />

not able to attend school nursery ahead<br />

of reception due to this inflexibility<br />

and we took up their free nursery<br />

entitlement. It worked well for us as a<br />

family, but I believe parents should have<br />

choice. Rigid systems are not compatible<br />

with families today.<br />

“I took on my children’s old nursery<br />

when it was due for closure, and with<br />

a personal investment, turned it into<br />

‘Footprints Learning for Life’ – 12 staff<br />

and 55 children returned to the nursery<br />

after the takeover. The first thing I did<br />

was devise a ten-year plan that focused<br />

on three main areas: for Footprints to<br />

become financially viable, to have a<br />

reputation that other providers aspired<br />

Happy staff<br />

make happy<br />

children - which<br />

makes happy parents<br />

who can carry on<br />

their day knowing<br />

their children are<br />

well cared for. We<br />

employ staff at the<br />

start and the end of<br />

their careers, and<br />

everyone in<br />

between.<br />

towards, and to gain an “outstanding”<br />

rating from Ofsted.<br />

“In 2016, we achieved these goals, but<br />

we had a difficult journey along the<br />

way. I was new to running a business<br />

and had never employed anyone, but I<br />

knew the sort of childcare I wanted to<br />

provide. It was hard to break the mould,<br />

but, even today, we are one of the few<br />

nurseries in the UK that provide these<br />

services.”<br />

Leadership<br />

“I enrolled Footprints in the Investors in<br />

People (IIP) programme and we have<br />

learned a lot, achieving the standard<br />

in 2008 and Gold IIP in 2010. Happy<br />

staff make happy children - which<br />

makes happy parents who can carry<br />

on their day knowing their children<br />

are well cared for. We employ staff<br />

at the start and the end of their<br />

careers, and everyone in between. We<br />

have apprentices, students on work<br />

placements, nursery nurses, teachers,<br />

cooks and drivers, of both sexes. We<br />

have low staff turnover and believe<br />

in giving staff proper contracts, with<br />

only three ‘bank’ staff on zero-hour<br />

contracts. They have the same benefits<br />

and entitlements as contracted staff,<br />

and everyone works very well as a team,<br />

irrespective of job role. We invest in staff<br />

training and appreciate that everyone<br />

works very hard for their wage. We<br />

embrace opportunities and encourage<br />

students with additional needs and<br />

those who have been marginalised due<br />

to their circumstances. We also employ<br />

staff that are returning to work after a<br />

long break. Although we can’t increase<br />

wages, I give staff other benefits, such<br />

as paying for a health therapist to give<br />

treatments, recognition awards at every<br />

staff meeting, a Christmas event, highstreet<br />

vouchers and a subscription to a<br />

scheme that offers perks to employees.<br />

In 2012, we won a UK Nursery World<br />

Award for team development and we<br />

achieved our “outstanding” Ofsted rating<br />

in 2016.”<br />

Finances<br />

“Our income is low in comparison to<br />

our geographical area, because our<br />

prices are half what our rivals charge,<br />

and we have the same overheads.<br />

Profits are minimal and there is no<br />

spare cash, but thankfully we have a<br />

good working relationship with the local<br />

authority who ensure that payments<br />

for the two-, three-, and four-year-old<br />

funded places are completed promptly.<br />

Payments from parents, many of whom<br />

are in receipt of benefits or are on a low<br />

income, are often late, which can also<br />

cause cash-flow difficulties. Hartlepool<br />

is an area with high deprivation and<br />

poverty, and we care for around 180<br />

children a week from a variety of family<br />

environments. As a result, many cannot<br />

afford additional services, so we provide<br />

all meals through our grants and<br />

funding. We do not charge for extras,<br />

other than transport, and we provide<br />

healthy menus, in line with early years<br />

guidance from the government. We cater<br />

for cultural needs and cook all foods on<br />

our premises with fresh, locally-sourced<br />

produce. We work with many local<br />

businesses and actively support the<br />

charities Changing Futures NE and Miles<br />

for Men.”<br />

Families and childcare<br />

“We offer a range of services –<br />

breakfast, after-school, holiday club,<br />

half and full day care, late evenings and<br />

Saturdays – depending on demand.<br />

We also open on bank holidays, aside<br />

from those over the Christmas period.<br />

Every child receives breakfast, a twocourse<br />

lunch, a two-course dinner and<br />

two snacks throughout the day. Busy<br />

families often need to be in two or more<br />

places at once, and working patterns<br />

and school schedules are often not<br />

compatible. Footprints offers flexible<br />

childcare sessions for shift workers,<br />

as well as term-time-only places for<br />

teachers and those that need it. We offer<br />

a fully inclusive transport service across<br />

town, which is tough to schedule but is<br />

complemented by staff who also work<br />

flexibly. We have a fleet of four vehicles,<br />

operated by qualified, experienced<br />

drivers and nursery nurse escorts. This<br />

service fosters good relationships with<br />

the primary schools across the town,<br />

enabling positive transitions for children<br />

preparing for school. Our parents<br />

currently favour social media as a<br />

means of communication.<br />

“We are in the process of developing<br />

an app for parents to book and pay<br />

for sessions, and we have also gone<br />

online with a new system that enables<br />

parents to view their child’s learning and<br />

development journal.”<br />

What does the future hold?<br />

“We are always looking to enhance<br />

our nursery and grow the business<br />

within our tight financial constraints.<br />

We are innovative and embrace change<br />

in a sector that has strict regulations.<br />

My vision for the future is to continue<br />

giving the families of Hartlepool quality<br />

childcare, fit for purpose. I would love to<br />

offer children up to the age of seven the<br />

opportunity to continue their education<br />

with us, as we know that not all are<br />

ready for the formal school system.<br />

Our emphasis is learning through play<br />

and discovery in a variety of different<br />

environments, in a variety of different<br />

ways.”<br />

4 <strong>Parenta</strong>.com <strong>May</strong> <strong>2019</strong> 5




<strong>Parenta</strong> Trust news<br />

Don’t miss out on the road trip of a lifetime - come and<br />

join us for an automotive adventure!<br />


for <strong>Parenta</strong> Trust and help us build more pre-schools for the little ones<br />

living in deprived areas of the world - they really need your help.<br />

Here at <strong>Parenta</strong> Trust, we are raising vital funds to build preschools<br />

for young children in desperate need of a quality<br />

education in deprived areas of the world.<br />

Please join us on our annual Maidstone to Monaco Rally<br />

on 26th — 30th June!<br />

Check out our video here: bit.ly/ptrally<strong>2019</strong><br />

To take part in this adventure and to help us make a difference to hundreds of<br />

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

The Rally:<br />

ÌÌ<br />

2000 miles. 8 countries. 5 days.<br />

ÌÌ<br />

Camp under the stars.<br />

ÌÌ<br />

Negotiate the winding roads of the<br />

Furka Pass.<br />

ÌÌ<br />

Take part in crazy challenges.<br />

ÌÌ<br />

Absorb the stunning scenery of the<br />

Alps.<br />

ÌÌ<br />

Enjoy plenty of laughter along the<br />

way!<br />

The Vehicles:<br />

ÌÌ<br />

All cars and motorbikes welcome.<br />

ÌÌ<br />

Teams or individuals can enter.<br />

ÌÌ<br />

Decoration is a must!<br />

Choose <strong>Parenta</strong><br />

Trust for your next<br />

fundraising event! Every<br />

penny counts on our<br />

mission to ensure every<br />

pre-school child gets<br />

the education they<br />

deserve.<br />

There are so many things you<br />

can do to fundraise. Here are<br />

just a few ideas:<br />

• Take part in a sponsored run<br />

• Have a bake sale<br />

• Host a quiz night<br />

• Set up a “tuck shop”<br />

• Start an in-setting/in-office<br />

challenge<br />

• Hold a raffle<br />

• Host your own “bake off”<br />

The Dates:<br />

ÌÌ<br />

26th–30th June <strong>2019</strong>.<br />

ÌÌ<br />

Setting off from Maidstone, Kent.<br />

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

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

opens early in <strong>2019</strong> and in addition, funds raised from last year’s rally and our<br />

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

Together, we can raise enough funds to continue building a new pre-school<br />

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

opportunity they deserve to have an early years education.<br />

Register today at parentatrust.com<br />

Together we can make a difference to hundreds of children in the<br />

poorest areas of the world<br />

<strong>Parenta</strong> Trust was founded by Allan Presland in 2013 after a life-changing and<br />

heartbreaking trip to Kampala in Uganda. He returned to the UK to set up a<br />

charity, leveraging his existing network of contacts in the early years sector, and<br />

his ambitious quest to build one pre-school per year began.<br />

The Mission:<br />

ÌÌ<br />

Raise vital funds to build pre-schools<br />

in the most deprived areas of the<br />

world.<br />

ÌÌ<br />

Allow young children to break out of<br />

the cycle of poverty and look forward<br />

to a bright future.<br />

Follow the Rally countdown on<br />

social media!<br />

8 weeks to go!<br />

facebook.com/<strong>Parenta</strong>Trust<br />

We’ll help you as much as possible by sending you:<br />

• A dedicated contact to help you with any questions you may have along the way<br />

• Promotion materials including wristbands, posters and information booklets<br />

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

our plans for the next year and a half-price ticket for our Charity Ball<br />

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

6 <strong>Parenta</strong>.com <strong>May</strong> <strong>2019</strong> 7

A good story can be<br />

taken anywhere!<br />

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

those long warm summer days to be outside? Children love all that fresh<br />

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

way of helping them to cool down than getting them to create and tell<br />

stories outside? <strong>May</strong> is national Share-A-Story Month, so what better time than<br />

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

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

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

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

that are guaranteed to spark your imaginations and make you and the children natural storytellers,<br />

just by using your location and whatever you can see.<br />

So where to first?<br />

The Garden<br />

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

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

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

the story would sit and tell their stories.<br />

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

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

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

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

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

The Beach<br />

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

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

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

travels and what he’s seen. How many ice creams has he pinched?<br />

Perhaps he feels guilty about that and wants to put things right. Or<br />

maybe you could all make up a story about a magic sandcastle. Who<br />

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

world? What happens there?<br />

The Park<br />

Perhaps you will be taking the children for a picnic to the park. What do<br />

you see? Is there someone there you can make up a story about like the park<br />

keeper or the gardener? Or maybe you could include some of the play equipment<br />

like a magic roundabout or a magic swing that transports you off somewhere? The<br />

children would find this really exciting!<br />

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

about the 5 Ws:<br />

Who is the story about?<br />

What are they looking for?<br />

Where is the story set or where are they going?<br />

Why are they going? Is it to find something?<br />

When is it set in the past, the present or the future?<br />

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

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

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

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

stories outside?<br />

Don’t forget...<br />

»»<br />

It gets everyone out in the fresh air<br />

»»<br />

Improves our understanding of the world around us<br />

»»<br />

Improves vocabulary<br />

»»<br />

Improves speaking and listening skills<br />

»»<br />

It helps us to relax and that’s when the ideas really start to flow<br />

»»<br />

Helps us to bond with the children and creates some great, long-lasting<br />

memories.<br />

For some hands-on experience of how to create stories using the outside<br />

world, and to enhance the experience of storytelling, why not join us at the<br />

Holiday Inn Express at the Trafford Centre, Manchester on the 28th June<br />

when we will be running a workshop on this in partnership with EYR? To<br />

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

You’ve got five<br />

senses: smell, touch,<br />

sound: sight and taste<br />

so use them to really<br />

bring your story<br />

to life.<br />

Tonya Meers<br />

Tonya Meers is the Chief<br />

Storyteller at Little Creative<br />

Days. Tonya believes that<br />

stories are the most versatile<br />

and powerful educational<br />

tool you can use and there<br />

isn’t anything that you can’t<br />

teach through a story.<br />

She is co-author of the<br />

multi-award-winning<br />

Pojo series of educational<br />

creative storytelling kits,<br />

which have won awards<br />

for their promotion of<br />

communication and<br />

language skills for early<br />

years and primary schoolaged<br />

children.<br />

In addition, she and her<br />

storytelling sister/business<br />

partner also deliver training<br />

and workshops for early<br />

years practitioners, local<br />

authorities and primary<br />

schools. They offer a range<br />

of interactive workshops<br />

to encourage, engage and<br />

enable children to develop a<br />

love of literacy.<br />

You can contact Tonya at<br />

Little Creative Days via<br />

email@littlecreativedays.co.uk,<br />

on Twitter @littlecreative or<br />

via Facebook.<br />

8 <strong>Parenta</strong>.com <strong>May</strong> <strong>2019</strong> 9

A childcare<br />

career<br />

without a<br />

childcare<br />

qualification?<br />

There are many people who really<br />

enjoy spending time with young<br />

children and would like to pursue<br />

a career in childcare, but are<br />

not always aware of how to get<br />

started - or don’t realise that it’s<br />

even a feasible option.<br />

Nowadays, to become a qualified nursery<br />

worker and to be counted in the staff-tochildren<br />

ratios in an early years childcare<br />

setting, you need to have a childcare level 3<br />

qualification or higher.<br />

People of all ages and walks of life decide to<br />

pursue a career in childcare and their reasons<br />

for doing so vary. We explore some options<br />

for getting started into childcare employment<br />

without a childcare qualification, and also take<br />

a look at some of the categories that can apply<br />

to these people.<br />

Find volunteer work<br />

Following the successful completion of a<br />

DBS (formerly CRB) that will be carried out<br />

by the employer, which is a check into your<br />

background, you can be cleared to work with<br />

children. Many nurseries and pre-schools are<br />

short on resources and would welcome the<br />

opportunity to have an extra pair of hands<br />

helping them out. The advantage of this, is<br />

that if a paid position becomes available,<br />

you may be able to apply for it immediately.<br />

Volunteering is looked upon very favourably in<br />

most industries and the vacancy may even be<br />

offered to you before it is opened up to anyone<br />

else.<br />

Become a childminder<br />

If you are serious about starting up your own<br />

childminding business, there are certain<br />

training and qualifications that you will need<br />

to take beforehand. You will also need to be<br />

willing to adapt your house to make it a safe<br />

environment to care for a group of children and<br />

allow Ofsted to carry out regular inspections to<br />

make sure you are providing a high quality of<br />

care. You can read our guide on the steps you<br />

need to take to become a childminder here:<br />

bit.ly/childminderinfo<br />

10 <strong>Parenta</strong>.com<br />

Take on work-based training<br />

If you’re already working with children in a<br />

setting, such as a nursery nurse or pre-school<br />

assistant, and you want to help shape the<br />

future of the next generation of children whilst<br />

at the same time improving your knowledge<br />

of how to support their mental and physical<br />

development, a childcare level 2 course<br />

would be ideal for you. Work-based training<br />

programmes, also known as apprenticeships,<br />

allow you to gain valuable industry<br />

qualifications whilst working in a childcare<br />

environment. There are a number of reasons<br />

why considering a childcare apprenticeship is a<br />

good idea: there are no student loans or tuition<br />

fees to pay – in fact, because you are training<br />

in your workplace, you actually “earn as you<br />

learn”! You get your own tutor who supports<br />

you every step of the way and there are no<br />

classes to attend.<br />

It’s a good idea to talk to your employer<br />

and agree with them that they will support<br />

you in your decision to take your childcare<br />

qualifications. The good news is, if your<br />

employer is non-levy and you are aged<br />

16-18 when you start an apprenticeship, the<br />

government will subsidise 100% of your training<br />

costs and from 1st April <strong>2019</strong>, if you’re 19 or over,<br />

the amount that your employer is responsible for<br />

paying the government towards the cost of your<br />

training drops from 10% to 5%.<br />

Who might benefit from these top tips on how to<br />

get started into childcare employment without a<br />

childcare qualification?<br />

The inspired parents<br />

Although the number of fathers choosing to stay<br />

at home to look after their children has fallen,<br />

there are still nearly a quarter of a million stayat-home<br />

fathers in the UK. Some new mothers<br />

or fathers decide to take a couple of years out<br />

of work to see their young babies grow up.<br />

They soon decide they really enjoy taking care<br />

of children and actively decide to get a job in<br />

childcare.<br />

The career-changer<br />

This is someone who has worked in several<br />

different jobs unrelated to childcare and has<br />

decided to have a change of career - pursuing<br />

childcare as something new and exciting.<br />

The young school leaver<br />

A young person who has just finished Year 11<br />

at school. They may have some experience of<br />

babysitting or looking after younger siblings, but<br />

will never have held a full time job before.<br />

The first time job-er<br />

This is normally someone of graduate calibre,<br />

who has finished university and is looking for<br />

their very first job. Related degrees such as<br />

Health and Social Care would be relevant for<br />

working with children.<br />

At <strong>Parenta</strong>, we help hundreds of people get started into childcare every year,<br />

supporting them while they develop essential skills whilst working in an early years<br />

setting. We have a highly skilled team of recruitment specialists, dedicated to finding<br />

the ideal apprenticeships and jobs - giving the right start to a rewarding career in<br />

childcare.<br />

Our team is on hand with expert advice and guidance and can be reached on<br />

0800 002 9242.<br />

Do you love practical hands on<br />

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In partnership with<br />

Across the world,<br />

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How to teach creative<br />

writing to children<br />

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

However, many parents and teachers would agree that creative writing for<br />

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

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

intrinsically, young ones are motivated to express themselves through writing, and we see<br />

social posts becoming one of their favourite activities as they grow older.<br />

As parents and early years<br />

practitioners, we may be guilty of<br />

not redirecting and channelling<br />

this instinct towards something<br />

fruitful - like giving them crayons<br />

and paper. What we do instead<br />

is give them gadgets with<br />

educational videos on the<br />

display, often just to be able to<br />

give ourselves some time and<br />

space. Thus, in the absence of<br />

the right environment and<br />

motivation, this creative<br />

instinct can die, or at least<br />

become muted.<br />

If we want children in our care<br />

to be more imaginative<br />

and better creative<br />

writers, here are<br />

some strategies that<br />

can get both the<br />

children, and<br />

you, started.<br />

Unplug from technology more<br />

often<br />

The passive consumption of TV,<br />

smartphones, laptops, and online<br />

games etc., is largely responsible<br />

for dulling children’s senses and<br />

their desire to express themselves<br />

through writing. So parents and<br />

practitioners need to create a short<br />

‘unplugged zone’ during the week or<br />

a longer one over weekends - for the<br />

family, and engage their children in<br />

conversation, listen to them and tell<br />

stories, explore ideas, or draw and<br />

write things together. There are some<br />

ways technology and media can<br />

be used by parents to give children<br />

material, for example to give them<br />

writing prompts, and it can be used<br />

by teens to create blogs too, but<br />

unplugged time will give them room<br />

to develop their imagination.<br />

Surround children with books<br />

and stationery<br />

It is very important to surround<br />

children with books rather than<br />

gadgets. Proximity<br />

creates curiosity and<br />

the desire and<br />

motivation to<br />

explore, can<br />

set the<br />

ball rolling in the right direction. You<br />

should also take children to libraries<br />

and bookstores often, giving them<br />

the freedom to choose the books<br />

they want to read and the kind of<br />

stationery they like. This can include<br />

journals and any writing materials<br />

they want to use for their projects,<br />

such as pens, coloured pencils,<br />

crayons, folders, binders and stickers.<br />

Encourage children to read<br />

more<br />

Reading stimulates the imagination<br />

as it exposes children to new<br />

words, sentence structures, plots,<br />

and characters. If a toddler is too<br />

young to read on their own, you<br />

should read out loud to them.<br />

Picture storybooks and audio books<br />

are best for them. Depending on<br />

their age, you can ask them to<br />

create short book reports on what<br />

they have read or other journal<br />

topics. Likewise, you could get a<br />

teenager a Kindle or Nook Reader<br />

and give them access to ebooks<br />

and audiobooks. Active reading<br />

skills naturally lead to a better<br />

ability to express oneself in words.<br />

Discuss ideas and extend<br />

them into write-ups<br />

One way to encourage creativity<br />

is to help children unleash their<br />

imagination through active<br />

discussion. Once a child is old<br />

enough to communicate, ask them<br />

questions about common things<br />

such as: places visited, people met,<br />

and books you’ve read together.<br />

Ask age-appropriate, probing<br />

questions, raise points, and add<br />

details. Use these discussions as<br />

writing prompts and encourage<br />

children to extend their ideas in<br />

stories and write-ups. You can<br />

extend this activity for older children<br />

by asking them to develop the<br />

scope of their imaginative work<br />

into other areas such as essays,<br />

paragraphs, compositions and<br />

speeches. These techniques<br />

can even be used in tackling<br />

scientific or maths work.<br />

Make composing words fun<br />

Ironically, some children find<br />

imaginative assignments boring,<br />

probably because they fail to see<br />

the point behind the exercise.<br />

But penning your thoughts is<br />

supposed to be fun, funny, bold,<br />

silly, enjoyable, explorative and<br />

adventurous, because this is the<br />

way our imagination and intuition<br />

works. Don’t force logical and/or<br />

more rational thinking to interfere<br />

with the flow of creative thoughts<br />

and words. Also, don’t focus<br />

too much on pointing out and<br />

correcting any mistakes in content<br />

and form, such as spellings and<br />

punctuation at this stage. Let your<br />

children compose freely and without<br />

stopping. You can return to these<br />

things later. Display your child’s<br />

creative draft as much as you<br />

celebrate their artwork - place it<br />

prominently on the fridge, and show<br />

it to guests and grandparents!<br />

Set a better example yourself<br />

Experts have hypothesised that<br />

parents are not modelling better<br />

literacy skills for their offspring<br />

because they are themselves<br />

guilty of spending too much<br />

time in front of the TV or on their<br />

smartphones. This is one of the<br />

reasons why parents can be<br />

distracted and pressed-for-time<br />

themselves. Parents who read<br />

more (including books, newspapers<br />

and magazines), maintain diaries<br />

or a journal, and visit bookshops<br />

and libraries, are often able to set<br />

a better example to their young<br />

children than those who do not.<br />

Helping children to think and<br />

compose freely and creatively,<br />

opens up their minds to<br />

possibilities. Expressing oneself<br />

creatively using spoken or written<br />

words, is a skill that has many uses<br />

beyond school, as it teaches young<br />

ones to think ‘outside the box’,<br />

solve problems and appreciate and<br />

tolerate different viewpoints.<br />

12 <strong>Parenta</strong>.com <strong>May</strong> <strong>2019</strong> 13

Keeping it real? it The real? importance of<br />

fantasy play in child development<br />

The importance of fantasy play in child development<br />

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

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

you can create friends to play alongside you. My youngest daughter often goes to an imaginary<br />

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

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

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

article touches upon some of the issues it raises.<br />

According to the Oxford<br />

dictionary, fantasy is defined<br />

as: ‘The faculty or activity<br />

of imagining impossible or<br />

improbable things’ (OUP,<br />

<strong>2019</strong>a). This is opposed to the<br />

definition of reality which is: ‘A<br />

thing that exists in fact, having<br />

previously only existed in one’s<br />

mind’ (OUP, <strong>2019</strong>b). Fantasy<br />

play is when children use<br />

their imagination and play out<br />

scenarios which are impossible<br />

or improbable, for example,<br />

having superpowers as a<br />

superhero.<br />

Practitioners within early<br />

childhood education settings<br />

are mindful of the importance<br />

of starting with concrete,<br />

hands-on, real experiences<br />

when working with young<br />

children and building on their<br />

prior knowledge. It is vital that<br />

we continue to use hands-on,<br />

real life examples so that<br />

the children<br />

can explore using their senses.<br />

Yet, whilst keeping it real, we<br />

must also encourage pretence<br />

and fantasy play. This type of<br />

play feeds children’s creativity<br />

and helps them to use their<br />

imagination. It is a natural way<br />

for children to play and we<br />

must engage in this with young<br />

children. Many educators<br />

naturally incorporate elements<br />

of pretence into their settings<br />

which also keeps magic alive. I<br />

have tried to do this within my<br />

own practice and been inspired<br />

by great authors such as Vivian<br />

Gussan-Paley (2010, 1984) and<br />

Jenny Tyrrell (2001).<br />

Children are excellent players<br />

and do not distinguish between<br />

fantasy and reality play.<br />

They move easily between<br />

the two. I was reminded of<br />

this when I observed two<br />

boys in a pre-school setting<br />

pretending to be werewolves<br />

recently! In their game they<br />

were able to breathe fire<br />

and began toasting<br />

marshmallows<br />

for their<br />

friends<br />

on the fire. They were<br />

being careful not to burn<br />

their mouths on the hot<br />

marshmallows, thus moving<br />

easily between the fantasy<br />

of being werewolves and<br />

breathing fire, to the pretence<br />

of toasting marshmallows<br />

on the fire and the notions of<br />

reality in potentially burning<br />

their mouths on the hot<br />

marshmallows. Imaginings<br />

within the fantasy realm also<br />

invoke real feelings, so if we<br />

feel good during this play, we<br />

will have a positive emotion<br />

which outlives the fantasy. A<br />

child who exclaims, “I can fly<br />

like Superman!” feels powerful<br />

and strong, and these are real<br />

feelings, albeit which stem<br />

from fantasy.<br />

Again, I was reminded of<br />

this when a<br />

practitioner<br />

told me<br />

about her<br />

son. He had a<br />

condition which<br />

required him<br />

to have regular<br />

blood tests from<br />

about the age of<br />

2½. She bought<br />

him an Iron Man<br />

suit in advance of<br />

attending, which she intended<br />

to be a reward for having the<br />

blood test. Her son, however,<br />

had other ideas! He wanted to<br />

wear it to the hospital because<br />

he knew that Iron Man was<br />

powerful and strong and<br />

nothing could hurt him when<br />

he is wearing his suit. So this<br />

little boy wore his Iron Man<br />

suit each time he attended the<br />

hospital and it helped him to<br />

feel strong enough to cope with<br />

the regular blood tests. This is<br />

a great example of how some<br />

elements of fantasy play, and,<br />

in particular, superhero play,<br />

can be immensely empowering<br />

for the children.<br />

Young children begin pretend<br />

play from around 18 months<br />

and this develops into more<br />

refined role-play, real or<br />

fictional, at about three years<br />

old (German & Leslie, 2001).<br />

However, by around 6 years,<br />

most children have still not<br />

fully grasped the difference<br />

between knowing something<br />

and believing it. Thus, early<br />

childhood educators are<br />

working with children who<br />

are learning to distinguish<br />

between fantasy and reality,<br />

pretend and real. There will<br />

be times when these lines are<br />

very blurred. You only need<br />

to have observed children<br />

playing a make-believe game<br />

to know that they are fully<br />

engrossed in this play, they are<br />

that character at that moment,<br />

in their minds they are not<br />

pretending. I was reminded of<br />

this recently when I asked my<br />

youngest daughter if she was<br />

pretending to be the doctor,<br />

“No”, she replied, “I am a<br />

doctor!” That certainly put me<br />

in my place and I was left in<br />

no doubt about how seriously<br />

fantasy and make-believe play<br />

is taken by children.<br />

After approximately seven<br />

years, Kitson (2010) suggests<br />

that if fantasy play is not<br />

actively encouraged it slowly<br />

diminishes. One way that we<br />

can keep the magic of fantasy<br />

play alive is through pretence<br />

and superhero play. These<br />

themes continue to engage<br />

older children, teenagers and<br />

adults as demonstrated by the<br />

amount of media attention<br />

dedicated to superheroes.<br />

Pretence is the ability to play<br />

with an object as if it were<br />

something else, or take on a<br />

role as another person. There<br />

are considerable overlaps<br />

with fantasy play, which is<br />

linked with the improbable<br />

and impossible, however,<br />

pretending can be more closely<br />

linked to reality. Children rarely<br />

distinguish between the two<br />

and we need to learn not to as<br />

well!<br />

There are many noted benefits for children engaging in this type of<br />

fantasy and make-believe play. It:<br />

ÌÌ<br />

ÌÌ<br />

ÌÌ<br />

ÌÌ<br />

ÌÌ<br />

ÌÌ<br />

ÌÌ<br />

ÌÌ<br />

ÌÌ<br />

ÌÌ<br />

ÌÌ<br />

Encourages imagination and creativity.<br />

Builds children’s confidence as they<br />

experience the freedom to ‘be’ whomever<br />

or whatever they want to be.<br />

Enables children to deal with real life<br />

scenarios in a safe environment.<br />

Provides an opportunity for children to play<br />

games involving social rules, cooperation<br />

and collaboration.<br />

Encourages children to empathise with<br />

others.<br />

Offers children a place to escape from the<br />

real world.<br />

Usually involves a narrative and acts as<br />

a type of therapy as children talk through<br />

scenarios and possibilities.<br />

Helps children to deal with changes in their<br />

lives.<br />

Allows children an element of control in<br />

their lives - e.g. they can put toppings on<br />

a pizza that their parent wouldn’t normally<br />

allow!<br />

Improves children’s language and<br />

communication skills and is a great<br />

opportunity for extending children’s<br />

vocabulary.<br />

Provides an opportunity for children to<br />

negotiate roles and understand rules and<br />

boundaries.<br />

ÌÌ<br />

ÌÌ<br />

ÌÌ<br />

ÌÌ<br />

ÌÌ<br />

ÌÌ<br />

ÌÌ<br />

ÌÌ<br />

Allows children to problem-solve and<br />

resolve conflicts themselves.<br />

Can counter stereotypes and discrimination<br />

as boys can play at being a mummy and<br />

girls at being Superman.<br />

Offers opportunities for children to explore<br />

different emotions and practice emotional<br />

control and self-regulation.<br />

Nurtures children’s dispositions such as<br />

resilience, perseverance and a ‘can-do’<br />

attitude.<br />

Develops children’s cognitive skills and<br />

provides opportunities for literacy and<br />

numeracy.<br />

Enhances children’s understanding of the<br />

world and how things work.<br />

Allows children to practise fine and gross<br />

motor skills.<br />

Is fun! As educators we are always looking<br />

for the purposes in play – we should value<br />

this play intrinsically!<br />

For references please visit<br />

parenta.com/references-tg<br />

Tamsin Grimmer<br />

Tamsin Grimmer is an<br />

experienced early years<br />

consultant and trainer and<br />

parent who is passionate about<br />

young children’s learning and<br />

development. She believes<br />

that all children deserve<br />

practitioners who are inspiring,<br />

dynamic, reflective and<br />

committed to improving on their<br />

current best. Tamsin particularly<br />

enjoys planning and delivering<br />

training and supporting<br />

early years practitioners and<br />

teachers to improve outcomes<br />

for young children.<br />

Tamsin has written two<br />

books - “Observing and<br />

Developing Schematic<br />

Behaviour in Young Children”<br />

and “School Readiness and<br />

the Characteristics of Effective<br />

Learning”.<br />

Website:<br />

tamsingrimmer.co.uk<br />

Facebook:<br />

facebook.com/earlyyears.<br />

consultancy.5<br />

Twitter:<br />

@tamsingrimmer<br />

Email:<br />

info@tamsingrimmer.co.uk<br />

14 <strong>Parenta</strong>.com <strong>May</strong> <strong>2019</strong> 15

Deaf Awareness Week<br />

In the UK, it is estimated that 1 in 6 people (approximately 11<br />

million people) are deaf or hard of hearing. Deafness is the third<br />

most common disability in the world, but you would be hardpressed<br />

to spot a deaf person in a crowd.<br />

Most deaf people do not see their<br />

deafness as a disability or even a<br />

problem that needs to be solved. They<br />

just view it as part of the normal life<br />

experience that they share with others in<br />

the deaf community and with their family<br />

and friends.<br />

From 6th – 12th <strong>May</strong>, the UK Council on<br />

Deafness (UKCoD) will co-ordinate Deaf<br />

Awareness Week (DAW) to highlight<br />

problems that deaf people face in their<br />

life, work, education and leisure. Many<br />

organisations and charities get involved<br />

in events, fund-raising activities and<br />

education to bring the message to<br />

others. There is a lot of free material on<br />

their website including bunting, posters<br />

and educational materials, but read on<br />

to find out more.<br />

Origins of Deaf Awareness Week<br />

Deaf Awareness Week was originally<br />

run in October by the British Deaf<br />

Association (BDA) and its main focus<br />

was on promoting British Sign Language<br />

(BSL) and the people in that community.<br />

As more and more organisations and<br />

groups wanted to get involved and draw<br />

attention to more general deafness<br />

topics, in 2001, the October week name<br />

was changed to Sign Language Week,<br />

and the mantle of organising Deaf<br />

Awareness Week passed to the UKCoD,<br />

who subsequently set the week in <strong>May</strong>,<br />

so as not to conflict with the BDA’s work.<br />

Nowadays, Deaf Awareness Week is a<br />

platform to discuss and raise awareness<br />

of many general issues related to<br />

deafness, and countless organisations<br />

get involved both locally and nationally<br />

to bring more understanding of<br />

deafness, and positive change to their<br />

own communities.<br />

The theme for this year’s DAW is<br />

“Celebrating Role Models” and it’s hoped<br />

that organisations will publish their own<br />

role models (deaf and hearing) using<br />

the hashtag #DAWrolemodels<strong>2019</strong> on<br />

social media during the week to raise<br />

awareness.<br />

Communicating with deaf people<br />

One on the main issues for both<br />

people in the deaf community and<br />

those who are not, is the problem of<br />

communication. Many hearing people<br />

might wrongly assume that deaf people<br />

will not be able to understand them<br />

and there are still many misconceptions<br />

about the abilities of deaf people which<br />

need addressing.<br />

Many hearing people become easily<br />

frustrated trying to communicate<br />

with deaf or hard of hearing people<br />

(especially with elderly relatives) and<br />

often give up in their attempts. This can<br />

leave the deaf or hard of hearing person<br />

feeling isolated and lonely, so it is<br />

important that hearing people gain more<br />

understanding and information about<br />

ways they can effectively communicate<br />

with their friends and loved ones.<br />

The National Deaf Children’s Society has<br />

lots of useful information about this and<br />

emphasises the need to understand<br />

that all deaf people have different levels<br />

of deafness, hearing aids, implants<br />

or technology as well as their own<br />

preferred method of communication.<br />

It has published the following tips on<br />

communicating with deaf people, but<br />

especially with children.<br />

1. Find out the person’s preferred<br />

method of communication - speech,<br />

lipreading, BSL or a mixture. In some<br />

instances, children may need an<br />

interpreter.<br />

2. Get their attention before attempting<br />

to communicate - you could wave,<br />

knock on a table or lightly tap their<br />

shoulder.<br />

3. Face the person and stand still when<br />

talking so that they can see your<br />

face clearly.<br />

4. Speak clearly and naturally - if you<br />

try to over exaggerate or speak too<br />

loudly or slowly, lipreading becomes<br />

more difficult.<br />

5. Don’t cover your mouth with your<br />

hands when you speak. Many<br />

people try to speak whilst eating,<br />

smoking or chewing gum, which<br />

makes understanding difficult, even<br />

for hearing people!<br />

6. Use visual cues where you can.<br />

Even if you don’t know official BSL,<br />

you can use commonly-accepted<br />

gestures and facial expressions to<br />

communicate ideas.<br />

7. Ensure that deaf people know<br />

what the topic is, or when the topic<br />

changes.<br />

8. Stand in the light or by a window so<br />

your face is visible.<br />

9. Speak one person at a time.<br />

10. Try to reduce any background noise<br />

- turn off radios/machines or do up<br />

car windows.<br />

11. Never give up or say “I’ll tell you<br />

later”. This is a deaf child’s ‘pet hate’.<br />

They want to be involved, not left<br />

out. Try alternative methods: texting,<br />

emailing or using a pen and paper.<br />

British Sign language<br />

British Sign Language is used by an<br />

estimated 125,000 deaf adults in the<br />

UK, plus 20,000 children. It is not just<br />

a matter of adding gestures to replace<br />

words but is a language in its own right,<br />

with its own vocabulary and grammar.<br />

It also differs from American Sign<br />

Language and Makaton Signing and is<br />

the preferred language of many deaf<br />

people, so learning BSL is one thing you<br />

could do to help your communication<br />

with deaf people.<br />

How to get involved in DAW<br />

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

deaf-related charity<br />

2. Nominate a role model and publicise it on your social media using<br />

#DAWrolemodels<strong>2019</strong><br />

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

people to dress in their ‘loudest’ and brightest clothes for the week<br />

4. Create a sensory experience not based on sound; alternatively, one purely<br />

based on sound<br />

5. Hold a sponsored silence<br />

6. Learn to spell your name using British Sign Language letters<br />

7. Take a lipreading challenge - hold a conversation with friends using<br />

lipreading<br />

8. Decorate a doughnut and sell them to raise funds – another idea from<br />

Action on Hearing Loss. You can even download a free recipe from their<br />

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

deaf-awareness-week/donut-challenges<br />

For more information, see:<br />

• deafcouncil.org.uk/deaf-awareness-week<br />

• bda.org.uk<br />

• british-sign.co.uk<br />

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

16 <strong>Parenta</strong>.com <strong>May</strong> <strong>2019</strong> 17

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Encouraging<br />

role-play<br />

with young<br />

children<br />

Children learn by playing. They<br />

first observe - listening and<br />

watching others; then they copy –<br />

imitating the people around them.<br />

And when they are able, they<br />

experiment. That’s when they<br />

learn to ask, and answer, new<br />

questions – not “what is the capital<br />

of France?”, but the much more<br />

important questions, such as:<br />

“What happens if I do this?”, “what<br />

will I feel if I say that?” and “who<br />

am I really?” That’s where roleplay,<br />

really comes into its own.<br />

What is role-play?<br />

Role-play is where children take on<br />

different roles and play at being different<br />

people in any number of improvised<br />

situations. It could be an everyday role,<br />

a job or complete fantasy, and all types<br />

of role-play should be encouraged. Not<br />

only is it fun, but each is a stepping stone<br />

which can help children learn new things.<br />

The benefits of role-play<br />

Research has identified many benefits<br />

of role-play including cognitive, social,<br />

emotional and physical benefits, all vital<br />

for a child’s development.<br />

Improved creativity and imagination<br />

When children role-play, they use their<br />

imagination. They engage the right<br />

(creative) side of their brain and learn to<br />

think for themselves and to think in new<br />

ways - for them. That’s important. As early<br />

years professionals, we might have seen<br />

many children use a cardboard box as a<br />

spaceship, but to that child, role-playing that<br />

scenario for the first time, they are thinking<br />

and creating something essentially ‘new’.<br />

Sir Ken Robinson, a long-time exponent<br />

of the value of creativity and its important<br />

place in education, says:<br />

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.<br />

For knowledge is limited to all we now know and<br />

understand, while imagination embraces the entire<br />

world, and all there ever will be to know and<br />

understand.”<br />

- Albert Einstein<br />

“Imagination is the root of creativity. It<br />

is the ability to bring to mind things that<br />

aren’t present to our senses. Creativity<br />

is putting your imagination to work. It is<br />

applied imagination.”<br />

Improved language and<br />

communication skills<br />

Role-play can develop language and<br />

teach children new vocabulary. Recent<br />

data acknowledged that: “Play is highly<br />

beneficial to children’s language skills<br />

and provides a supportive context for<br />

language learning”. These researchers<br />

also suggested that children’s language<br />

can be enhanced most when adults<br />

helped and guided their use of new<br />

words during role-play.<br />

Thinking, learning and cognitive<br />

problem-solving<br />

Role-playing helps children develop<br />

creative and abstract thought processes<br />

and encourages the formation of new<br />

neural pathways. It also encourages<br />

problem-solving as children work out<br />

who will be who; what the rules are; and<br />

which props/costumes they need. These<br />

key cognitive skills are needed in adult<br />

life, and being able to develop them as<br />

children, is vital.<br />

Social and emotional skills<br />

Stepping into other people’s shoes,<br />

developing empathy, understanding<br />

different situations and perspectives, and<br />

being able to react in an emotionallyappropriate<br />

way, are clearly skills that<br />

children need to develop. Role-play<br />

can facilitate this. It allows children to<br />

collaborate, pretend to be someone<br />

else, and experience different points of<br />

view - all in a safe environment with the<br />

added benefit of feedback from others.<br />

Many therapists use role-play situations<br />

to encourage children’s emotional<br />

development because the ‘pretend’<br />

element disassociates the person from<br />

any real situation and reduces any related<br />

anxiety or stress.<br />

Physical development<br />

Role-play is perfect to get children active<br />

– escaping from pirates or fighting a<br />

monster gives children the opportunity<br />

to run, jump, climb and fire-up their<br />

cardiovascular systems, which aids fitness,<br />

the development of large motor skills and<br />

helps maintain appropriate weight. Even<br />

simple activities such as operating a toy<br />

till or dressing a teddy, can enhance fine<br />

motor skills and dexterity.<br />

Different types of role-play<br />

There are different types of role-play that<br />

you can encourage.<br />

oo<br />

oo<br />

oo<br />

Real-life situations - pretending<br />

to be at the beach, a playground, at<br />

school or on holiday, for example.<br />

Fantasy - becoming a superhero,<br />

prince/princess, witch/fairy or other<br />

mythical creature like a dragon or<br />

unicorn.<br />

Occupational - being a teacher,<br />

doctor, fire-fighter or builder, amongst<br />

others.<br />

oo<br />

Disassociated, toy-based play -<br />

this is where a child role-plays with<br />

toys such as dolls, action figures,<br />

or puppets. It is often undertaken<br />

individually, but the child can take on<br />

an ‘architect’ role, deciding the fate<br />

of each toy and multi-rolling between<br />

them - think Andy in “Toy Story”.<br />

What do you need to<br />

encourage role-play?<br />

Essentially, children need very little to<br />

role-play – only their imagination and<br />

a safe space to play in. However, to<br />

actively encourage role-play, you can:<br />

Provide spaces, props and<br />

costumes<br />

Different safe spaces such as kitchen<br />

areas, outdoor spaces and sandpits<br />

are great. Try to include some props<br />

and costumes to facilitate different<br />

situations/places too – these do not<br />

need to be expensive, sticks and<br />

cardboard boxes do very well as<br />

swords and rockets, although specific<br />

toys are useful too.<br />

Costumes often work best when they<br />

are indicative rather than prescriptive;<br />

so long skirts can make a princess<br />

and a piece of material can become a<br />

superhero cloak or some wings.<br />

Let the children lead<br />

Role-play activities should be childled<br />

and any interventions by adults<br />

should be used to safeguard children,<br />

encourage additional learning or<br />

explain alternative options that<br />

children can take.<br />

Be a good role-model<br />

Engage in the role-play yourself,<br />

enacting out different characters and<br />

situations based on the children’s<br />

ideas. Be careful not to ‘lead’ their<br />

play too much. You can be there to<br />

assist and help if needed but resist the<br />

temptation to say that “time-travel is<br />

against the laws of quantum physics!”<br />

Offer stimuli<br />

You could use real or fantasy stories,<br />

pictures or films as a starting point,<br />

if needed, but allow the children<br />

themselves to work out what happens<br />

next.<br />

It is vital to encourage role-play<br />

in your setting. It allows children<br />

complete freedom to explore; to use<br />

their imagination without the limits<br />

of ‘knowledge’; and to reimagine the<br />

world in a better way. What a beautiful<br />

gift and what amazing opportunities<br />

early years specialists have to facilitate<br />

that freedom.<br />

20 <strong>Parenta</strong>.com <strong>May</strong> <strong>2019</strong> 21

Comniae caborem perore nonsequaepe Comniae caborem perore nonsequaepe Comniae caborem perore nonsequaepe<br />

Using a reward chart effectively<br />

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

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

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

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

reward chart.<br />

ÌÌ<br />

Pick your battles. If you could<br />

change one behaviour what would<br />

it be? Focus on this one behaviour<br />

only. Once things have improved<br />

you can always tackle a different<br />

behaviour (using the same chart if<br />

you like).<br />

ÌÌ<br />

Be specific. Don’t rely on<br />

expressions such as ‘be good’.<br />

This is one of the most common<br />

mistakes I see when parents use<br />

a reward chart at home. Telling a<br />

child their chart is for ‘being good’<br />

doesn’t work. Why? Because ‘good’<br />

is subjective and is far too broad<br />

for a child to understand. What one<br />

person considers to be good may<br />

not be the same as someone else’s<br />

standards. Furthermore, if you tell a<br />

child their reward chart is for ‘being<br />

good’ and they don’t achieve it,<br />

then they come away believing<br />

they have been… bad. This isn’t<br />

going to boost their self-esteem or<br />

help them want to strive to achieve<br />

next time. Instead, tell<br />

the child exactly what it is<br />

that you want them to do<br />

e.g. sit down at carpet<br />

time, use kind words,<br />

or for use at home it<br />

might be ‘stay in my bed<br />

all night’.<br />

ÌÌ<br />

Use positive wording. For<br />

example, ‘I can use gentle hands’<br />

rather than ‘I will not hit’. Don’t<br />

remind the child of the behaviour<br />

that you don’t want to see. If you<br />

tell a child ‘don’t run’ then the last<br />

word they hear is ‘run’ and guess<br />

what they are likely to do?! If you<br />

try saying ‘walk’ instead they are<br />

far more likely to do so. Set them a<br />

target that clearly says what they<br />

do need to do.<br />

ÌÌ<br />

Make it realistic/achievable.<br />

The child needs to be able to<br />

achieve the reward quite soon<br />

after receiving a new chart so that<br />

they get to enjoy the value of the<br />

reward. If they keep trying and<br />

trying but don’t get to experience<br />

the reward within about the first<br />

week, then I would say it is too<br />

hard and they are likely to give<br />

up. So, let it be easily achievable<br />

at first. You can always<br />

extend the chart later by<br />

increasing the number<br />

of times you expect to see the<br />

positive behaviour, or the amount<br />

of time that they do it for.<br />

ÌÌ<br />

Pick a theme, something that the<br />

child is interested in – they are<br />

far more likely to want to engage<br />

with it if it’s related to a theme<br />

that they love. Some great reward<br />

charts allow a child to work along<br />

a race track, up a space rocket or<br />

to collect something like unicorns<br />

or characters from a favourite TV<br />

show. It doesn’t need to be a work<br />

of art – just a simple drawing or<br />

printout will be fine.<br />

ÌÌ<br />

Choose a reward carefully. This<br />

is the bit that you really need to get<br />

right. Choose something that really<br />

matters to the child. The reward has<br />

to be something that a child really<br />

really wants – it has to mean more<br />

to them then the buzz they get from<br />

the behaviour you want to stop. For<br />

some children, it is time playing with<br />

a particular toy or in a particular<br />

place, for some children it is<br />

food, for some children it is<br />

simply attention – what they want is<br />

to spend 1:1 time with an adult that<br />

is important to them.<br />

ÌÌ<br />

Let the reward be instant. Once<br />

the chart has been achieved, try<br />

to make the reward as instant as<br />

possible. If a child earns a reward<br />

on Monday but then doesn’t get<br />

it until Friday then the novelty will<br />

have worn off, plus things could go<br />

wrong between Monday and Friday<br />

and you may feel that by Friday you<br />

are rewarding negative behaviour.<br />

You may also lose the trust/interest<br />

of the child if they don’t get the<br />

expected reward when they have<br />

earned it.<br />

ÌÌ<br />

Make it positive. Create a chart<br />

whereby the child starts at the<br />

bottom of a chart and works<br />

towards their target. Don’t start<br />

with, for example, 10 stars and<br />

then take them away if the child<br />

does something wrong. That way<br />

things can only go downhill. So,<br />

for example, a child might earn a<br />

character on their chart each time<br />

they go for part of the day using<br />

gentle hands.<br />

ÌÌ<br />

Stay calm. Don’t react/tell a child<br />

off if they don’t achieve their chart.<br />

Millie’s<br />

Reward Chart<br />


Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer<br />

Comniae caborem perore nonsequaepe<br />

Doluptatum et exerumquam<br />

Hicilit experum accus et, quis<br />

Saperum quam ut desciet am ati<br />

Show the child that you believe<br />

that they can do it. The idea of a<br />

reward chart is that receiving or<br />

not receiving the reward is enough<br />

for the child. If they really want<br />

the reward that badly and don’t<br />

achieve it then that is going to be<br />

enough of a disappointment for<br />

them. Don’t tell them off, just calmly<br />

remind them that they can try again<br />

tomorrow.<br />

ÌÌ<br />

Keep it visual. Make sure the child<br />

can see how well they are doing<br />

and what more they need to do<br />

to achieve their reward. This will<br />

really help them understand that<br />

changing this behaviour is worth it!<br />

If things start to go wrong, you can<br />

show them the chart to give them<br />

an incentive to stay on track.<br />

You will notice that most of the advice<br />

here relates to a reward chart for one<br />

child. This is because, for the chart to<br />

be most effective, it needs to be specific<br />

to the needs and interests of that child.<br />

Whilst some ‘whole group’ reward charts<br />

can be useful, if you are tackling a<br />

particular behaviour, then a child is likely<br />

to need their own chart. If you need any<br />

support coming up with a reward chart,<br />

then please feel free to email me – we<br />

can put our heads together and see<br />

what we can come up with. Good luck!<br />

Saperum quam ut desciet Saperum quam ut desciet Saperum quam ut desciet<br />

Gina Smith<br />

Gina Smith is an<br />

experienced teacher with<br />

experience of teaching<br />

in both mainstream and<br />

special education. She<br />

is the creator of ‘Create<br />

Visual Aids’ - a business<br />

that provides both homes<br />

and education settings with<br />

bespoke visual resources.<br />

Gina recognises the fact<br />

that no two children are<br />

the same and therefore<br />

individuals are likely to need<br />

different resources. Create<br />

Visual Aids is dedicated<br />

to making visual symbols<br />

exactly how the individual<br />

needs them.<br />

Website:<br />

www.createvisualaids.com<br />

Email:<br />

gina@createvisualsaids.com<br />

22 <strong>Parenta</strong>.com <strong>May</strong> <strong>2019</strong> 23

What our customers say<br />


<strong>Parenta</strong> solutions<br />


APRIL <strong>2019</strong><br />

All your posts have been so<br />

beneficial for our practice and<br />

especially for my studies. I am in<br />

my first year of childhood studies,<br />

hoping to become an early<br />

years teacher.<br />

Aneesa<br />


FEBRUARY <strong>2019</strong><br />

<strong>Parenta</strong> services have been highly<br />

professional and extremely useful for<br />

my business in finding apprentices and<br />

providing the support and training to our<br />

nursery team.<br />

Cheryl - Meadow View Childcare<br />

<strong>Parenta</strong> Solutions<br />

With 20 years’ experience, we provide award-winning nursery software management<br />

solutions and are the UK’s largest provider of work-based childcare apprenticeships. We<br />

train nearly 3,000 nursery staff a year, offer a free recruitment service and help hundreds of<br />

settings invest in tomorrow’s generation of childcarers.<br />

SOFTWARE SUPPORT - APRIL <strong>2019</strong><br />

Excellent advice and guidance, so if it happens again, I’m sure I<br />

could do it myself.<br />

Veena - Hillside Preschool<br />

Nursery Management<br />

Software - Abacus<br />

Online EYFS Tracker -<br />

Footsteps 2<br />

Online Daily Diary -<br />

Dayshare<br />

Fee<br />

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up and running. Despite this, he is very<br />

thorough in explaining the detail. I have<br />

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queries again.<br />

Jo - Victoria Park<br />

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24 <strong>Parenta</strong>.com<br />

SOFTWARE SUPPORT - APRIL <strong>2019</strong><br />

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SUPPORT -<br />

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Nursery<br />


Website Design<br />

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websites – we only design<br />

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websites. So you can rest<br />

assured that our team<br />

know what Ofsted and<br />

parents look for.<br />

Training<br />

We provide training for almost<br />

3,000 learners each year.<br />

From those just starting out in<br />

their career to those already<br />

established and working in a<br />

setting - we offer a range of<br />

courses.<br />

Branding & Design<br />

We take care of all<br />

your branding needs,<br />

whether it is a new<br />

childcare website, printed<br />

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cards, newsletters or<br />

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Social Media<br />

A social media page will<br />

open up your setting to<br />

thousands of parents<br />

searching online for a<br />

provider in their area. We<br />

can help you set up and<br />

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Recruitment<br />

Our recruitment team<br />

helps learners find an<br />

apprenticeship in their area,<br />

assists settings looking for<br />

apprentices, and governs the<br />

<strong>Parenta</strong> job board, which you<br />

can use for FREE.

People who help us<br />

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

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

police number, 101.<br />

But it’s not just the police, fire and ambulance<br />

service that respond. Did you know you can also call<br />

mountain rescue, cave rescue, the coast guard and<br />

lifeboats too?<br />

In this article, we look at these emergency services<br />

and suggest ways you could introduce the work<br />

of these amazing people to the children in your<br />

setting.<br />

Fire Police Ambulance<br />

Mountain rescue<br />

Lifeboats<br />

Cave rescue<br />

Emergency<br />

services from<br />

a landline or<br />

mobile in the<br />

UK 999<br />

Coast guard<br />

Emergency<br />

services from<br />

a mobile<br />

worldwide 112<br />

A brief history of the main emergency services<br />

It’s nice to think that if we are in trouble, there will<br />

always be someone there to help. But this was<br />

not always true, and in the past, many fires went<br />

untended and many crimes unsolved, due to the<br />

lack of an organised emergency response.<br />

A Roman general called Marcus Licinius Crassus<br />

set up the first organised fire service in the first<br />

century BC. He employed around 500 fire-fighters,<br />

but as a businessman, unless he could negotiate<br />

an ‘acceptable fee’ from the owner of the burning<br />

building, his fire-fighters would simply let it burn to<br />

the ground.<br />

In 1829, Sir Robert Peel set up the first Metropolitan<br />

Police Force, however, the Royal Irish Constabulary<br />

had been set up in 1822, and Scotland had<br />

benefitted from the Royal Scottish Constabulary as<br />

early as 1800. Despite this, the early police officers<br />

were known as ‘Bobbies’ or ‘Peelers’ in reference to<br />

Sir Robert.<br />

And if you were injured in the 1890s, then it was left<br />

to the police, fire service or a passer-by to assist<br />

you! It was not until The National Health Service Act<br />

was passed in 1948, that ambulances were legally<br />

required for all those who needed them.<br />

Thankfully, things have improved since these<br />

fledgling days and nowadays, members of the<br />

emergency services are called out regularly. Let’s<br />

look at who these people are and what they do.<br />

Police<br />

The police are the first port of call when<br />

dealing with crimes, but they have other<br />

duties too, such as enforcing the laws<br />

of the land (e.g. traffic laws), promoting<br />

crime prevention and maintaining public<br />

order and safety. Sadly, the days of the ‘Bobby on the<br />

beat’ are mostly over, but police officers are often<br />

involved in visiting local schools to promote prevention<br />

strategies to children.<br />

Fire<br />

The fire service was, until relatively<br />

recently, considered a ‘man’s job’,<br />

as it was only in 1982 that Josephine<br />

Reynolds became Britain’s first female<br />

fire-fighter, aged just 17. In January of<br />

this year, the BBC ran a story about a 4-year-old girl<br />

who wanted to be a fire-fighter but thought that it<br />

was only for men, because that’s all she’d ever seen<br />

in books and films. Reassuringly, several female firefighters<br />

replied to her mother’s tweet, proving their<br />

existence to little Esme. However, 95% of firefighters<br />

in England are male, so more needs to be done to<br />

attract women in to the profession.<br />

The NHS website says:<br />

“An ambulance service career is much<br />

more than ‘flashing blue lights’! You’ll<br />

make a difference every day to patients<br />

in emergency and non-emergency<br />

situations.”<br />

Many people who work in the ambulance service<br />

reiterate this desire to help, and it is what drives most<br />

medical staff to train for years and join the service.<br />

Ambulance staff include paramedics, emergency care<br />

assistants and technicians, but let’s not forget the<br />

wonderful doctors and nurses of the NHS too, who are<br />

always ready to help whenever disaster strikes and<br />

who, together, save countless lives each year.<br />

“Most of all, I love the feeling that I’ve helped<br />

others in their moment of need”<br />

Elisha Miller - Paramedic<br />

Ambulance<br />

Cave rescue<br />

Whilst the responsibility for inland rescue<br />

rests generally with the police, when<br />

people get into difficulties in caves, mines<br />

or potholes, it is usually some of the<br />

1,000 volunteer cave rescuers who are<br />

called in to assist the police, due to their specialised<br />

training and experience.<br />

Giving their time freely, British cave rescuers have also<br />

participated in worldwide rescues, such as the muchpublicised,<br />

cave rescue of 12 boys and their coach in<br />

Thailand.<br />

Coast guard and RNLI lifeboats<br />

Since its formation in 1824, the brave<br />

RNLI lifeboat crews; and the coast guards<br />

who look out for us on our beaches, cliff<br />

tops and coastal waters, have saved over<br />

140,000 lives. Her Majesty’s Coastguard<br />

is not a military force, nor a law enforcement agency,<br />

but exists to keep us safe and offer assistance if people<br />

get into difficulty at sea or on our shorelines. The RNLI<br />

is a charity and is funded by donations and run by<br />

some extraordinary volunteers – most of whom have<br />

everyday jobs too. They are also involved in education<br />

and incident prevention, and many children will have<br />

seen them at the beach ensuring these areas are kept<br />

safe for us to enjoy.<br />

These RNLI statistics underline the need to keep these<br />

services running:<br />

22<br />

people aided<br />

a day by<br />

lifeboat crews<br />

735K+<br />

young people<br />

reached with<br />

safety tips<br />

24K+<br />

people aided<br />

by RNLI<br />

lifeguards<br />

Mountain rescue<br />

8,436<br />

Lifeboat<br />

launches<br />

There are over 70 mountain rescue<br />

teams in the UK and each region exists<br />

as its own charity. As well as mountain<br />

rescue, these volunteers help many<br />

hikers and dogs are often used to help<br />

locate people in extreme conditions. Teams also help<br />

people in floods and other natural disasters.<br />


People who help us in times of need are truly<br />

special and should be celebrated as real-life<br />

heroes.<br />

You could make some bunting or a display to<br />

celebrate their work. You could read the children<br />

books or newspaper articles or research your<br />

own local heroes and invite them to your setting<br />

to tell their own stories. Or why not make a big<br />

‘thank you’ card to remind them they are really<br />

appreciated? Check out our craft on the next<br />

page for some ideas.<br />

26 <strong>Parenta</strong>.com <strong>May</strong> <strong>2019</strong> 27

Shape emergency<br />

services cars craft<br />

You will need:<br />

> > Coloured craft paper<br />

> > Scissors<br />

> > Glue<br />

Write for us for a chance to win £50<br />

We’re always on the lookout for<br />

new authors to contribute insightful<br />

articles for our monthly magazine.<br />

If you’ve got a topic you’d like to write about,<br />

why not send an article to us and be in with a<br />

chance of winning? Each month, we’ll be giving<br />

away £50 to our “Guest Author of the Month”.<br />

Instructions:<br />

1. Pick which emergency services cars you’d like to make<br />

2. Cut out the different shapes and sizes that will make up your<br />

chosen cars, body, wheels, etc.<br />

3. Glue the shapes together on a piece of paper<br />

4. You are done!<br />

Here are the details:<br />

••<br />

Choose a topic that is relevant to early years<br />

childcare<br />

••<br />

Submit an article of between 600-900 words<br />

to marketing@parenta.com<br />

••<br />

If we choose to feature your article in our<br />

magazine, you’ll be eligible to win £50<br />

••<br />

The winner will be picked based on having<br />

the highest number of views for their article<br />

during that month<br />

This competition is open to both new and existing<br />

authors, for any articles submitted to feature in<br />

our <strong>Parenta</strong> magazine for <strong>2019</strong>. The lucky winner<br />

will be notified via email and we’ll also include an<br />

announcement in the following month’s edition of<br />

the magazine.<br />

Got any questions or want to run a topic by us? For<br />

more details, email marketing@parenta.com<br />


Tamsin Grimmer<br />

Congratulations to our guest author competition<br />

winner! Tamsin Grimmer’s article “I’m killing the<br />

baddies! Using ‘superhero play’ to deal with<br />

notions of killing and death within early<br />

childhood” was very popular with our<br />

readers. Well done, Tamsin!<br />

28 <strong>Parenta</strong>.com <strong>May</strong> <strong>2019</strong> 29

The importance of fostering<br />

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

average-sized comprehensive schools – all children needing to live with people other than<br />

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

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

vulnerable children.<br />

In a recent report on the state of<br />

fostering in England, the government<br />

recognised that:<br />

“…the number of children in care<br />

increased at a faster rate than the<br />

number of fostering places, which<br />

may suggest the fostering sector<br />

is struggling to keep up with the<br />

increasing demand.”<br />

The charity, Fostering Network,<br />

reports that another 8,100 foster<br />

families will be needed in the next 12<br />

months alone to meet the increasing<br />

demand for places.<br />

So what exactly is fostering, and why<br />

is it important?<br />

Fostering has a long history<br />

There are references in The Bible<br />

and The Talmud to societies having a<br />

‘duty of care’ for dependent children,<br />

although fostering as we understand<br />

it today, could be said to have been<br />

introduced in 1853, when a Cheshire<br />

Reverend, John Armistead, took<br />

children out of the local workhouse<br />

and placed them with foster<br />

families instead. The local union (a<br />

predecessor of the local council) paid<br />

the foster parents a sum of money,<br />

equal to the cost of keeping the<br />

child in the workhouse, and was still<br />

legally responsible for the children.<br />

In the mid-1800s, the practice began<br />

to be more regulated, and the<br />

passing of the Adoption of Children<br />

Act in 1926, began the move towards<br />

increased regulation, legislation and<br />

safeguarding, which continues to this<br />

day.<br />

What do foster carers do?<br />

Ostensibly, fostering is a simple job<br />

involving looking after children and<br />

providing them with a bed, food<br />

and a stable, nurturing environment<br />

that they may not have previously<br />

enjoyed. In reality, fostering is much<br />

more complex and simply feeding<br />

and providing material comforts is<br />

the tip of the iceberg. More often,<br />

what these children really need,<br />

is a loving, stable and consistent<br />

approach to their physical, emotional<br />

and psychological wellbeing; and<br />

those skills go far beyond just ‘bed<br />

and board’.<br />

Many children in care have suffered<br />

abuse or neglect; causing them to<br />

have a range of physical, emotional<br />

and mental challenges to deal with,<br />

in addition to the trauma of being<br />

removed from their parents.<br />

A survey of foster carers revealed<br />

that 48% were supporting children<br />

with mental health needs who were<br />

not currently accessing specialist<br />

support; and 43% had looked after a<br />

child who had either caused violence<br />

in their home, gone missing or had<br />

some involvement with the police.<br />

This compares to just 8% of parents<br />

coping with the same challenges,<br />

and highlights the increasing<br />

demands of the role. Fostering<br />

can be a difficult and emotionallydemanding,<br />

24/7 job!<br />

Responsibilities (amongst others)<br />

include:<br />

• Providing food, clothes and<br />

accommodation for the dayto-day<br />

living of the child (an<br />

allowance is paid to support<br />

carers financially with this)<br />

• Passing the statutory minimum<br />

standards for foster carers within<br />

12 months of being approved<br />

• Attending CPD sessions<br />

• Keeping accurate records or the<br />

child’s progress and incidents<br />

involving their behaviour or<br />

wellbeing<br />

• Attending meetings with social<br />

workers, medical services, and<br />

review sessions<br />

• Liaising with the birth family<br />

• Acting as an advocate for the<br />

child<br />

• Keeping up-to-date with current<br />

training and legislation<br />

• Supporting children in transition<br />

- if they ‘move on’ – either<br />

returning home, being adopted<br />

or to a new placement<br />

Who can foster?<br />

In short, most people! There’s no<br />

‘generic’ foster carer profile – they<br />

come from all social spheres, have a<br />

wide range of backgrounds, cultures<br />

and life experiences. They receive<br />

training and have a dedicated social<br />

worker to support them.<br />

There are a few criteria that you<br />

need to meet, although these may<br />

vary depending on whether you<br />

apply through a Local Authority or a<br />

private fostering agency. You should:<br />

• be at least 21 years-old<br />

(although you can apply from<br />

age 18)<br />

• have a large-enough spare<br />

bedroom<br />

• be a full-time resident in the UK<br />

or have permission to remain<br />

• be able to give the time to care<br />

for a child or young person<br />

depending on<br />

their needs<br />

Applications can take from 6-12<br />

months from enquiry to approval<br />

and will take into account your<br />

health, financial security, friends<br />

and own family too. Carers also<br />

need to pass safeguarding checks.<br />

Things that don’t affect your ability<br />

to apply include your race, marital<br />

status, religion, gender and sexual<br />

orientation. In fact, people from<br />

ethnic minorities are often sought<br />

after to match with children from a<br />

similar background. There’s also no<br />

upper age limit.<br />

There are also different types of<br />

carers including those who look<br />

after babies, short-term, longterm,<br />

parent-and-baby carers and<br />

enhanced carers who deal with the<br />

most challenging children.<br />

So with all this potential stress,<br />

why does anyone do it?<br />

A foster carer we spoke to said:<br />

“I do it because I can, and because<br />

I know I can make a difference. It<br />

has not always been easy. There<br />

have been many times when I<br />

questioned the sanity of what I<br />

was doing, especially as a singlecarer.<br />

There have been tantrums,<br />

misunderstandings and difficult<br />

issues to resolve – and we are still<br />

working through many things each<br />

day - all of us learning slowly from<br />

each other and making progress. But<br />

when I see the life the children have<br />

now, and think about what might<br />

have been, I know it is the right thing<br />

to do and I wouldn’t change it for the<br />

world.”<br />

The truth is, we all have a<br />

responsibility to help the most<br />

vulnerable children in our society,<br />

and fostering is one important and<br />

vital way that can give them security,<br />

love, and the prospect of lasting<br />

change.<br />

For more information, contact your<br />

Local Authority, or visit:<br />

www.thefosteringnetwork.org.<br />

uk/advice-information/all-aboutfostering<br />

30 <strong>Parenta</strong>.com <strong>May</strong> <strong>2019</strong> 31

Reflective practice vs<br />

reflexive practice<br />

Reflective practice is an important part of our professional<br />

development. It means we look at what went well, what didn’t<br />

and this allows us to tweak and amend our approach in the<br />

future. Although this practice is necessary, it is quite passive and<br />

is done after the event.<br />

Stacey Kelly<br />

Reflexive practice, however, is much more transformational<br />

because it is often done in the moment and takes our level of<br />

understanding much deeper. Reflexive practitioners have a<br />

higher level of self-awareness because they are not only able<br />

to assess a situation as it is happening and tweak things as<br />

they go, but they also have the ability to look at why things are<br />

the way that they are, and consider the role they are playing in<br />

the current outcome.<br />

A reflective thinker will analyse what<br />

has happened. However, a reflexive<br />

thinker will automatically self-assess<br />

and react to the circumstances as<br />

they are happening. They will know<br />

themselves well and will look inwardly<br />

as well as outwardly.<br />

In an early years setting there are a<br />

million and one things to consider<br />

at any given point. A reflective<br />

practitioner will set up the room and<br />

at the end of the day they will assess<br />

how the children interacted, how<br />

engaging the resources provided<br />

were and how they could possibly set<br />

the room up differently the next day<br />

to get a better outcome. However,<br />

the reflexive practitioner would tweak<br />

things as they went along and would<br />

also run with the direction that the<br />

children were going in, even if it<br />

wasn’t a part of the plan. They would<br />

also be able to look at how they<br />

have impacted on the efficacy of the<br />

present situation:<br />

oo<br />

Are they engaging with the<br />

children on their level? If not,<br />

they would tweak the way they<br />

are communicating with them<br />

to make their message more<br />

accessible to that individual child.<br />

oo<br />

oo<br />

oo<br />

Are they understanding the needs<br />

of each unique child? If not, they<br />

will make sure they understand<br />

what makes each child tick and<br />

adjust their actions accordingly.<br />

Are the children displaying signs<br />

of being a visual, auditory or<br />

kinaesthetic learner? If so, they<br />

would adjust the setting and<br />

activities available to make<br />

sure they are appealing to each<br />

learning style. Instead of doing<br />

what they think is fun, they would<br />

put themselves in the shoes of<br />

each child and make decisions<br />

based on their reality, rather than<br />

their own.<br />

Do they know the children’s<br />

triggers and look beyond what<br />

is happening for a deeper level<br />

of understanding? If one of the<br />

children keeps crying all of the<br />

time, do they look beyond their<br />

tears and tantrums and find<br />

the root cause? Does this child<br />

suffer with separation anxiety?<br />

Do they feel insecure? Do they<br />

have problems at home that are<br />

making them more sensitive? If<br />

so, they would meet the child’s<br />

deeper-rooted needs as well as<br />

addressing the present situation.<br />

oo<br />

Does the practitioner actually<br />

understand their own triggers<br />

and how this can impact their<br />

reaction to situations? Can they<br />

see how their own childhood<br />

can actually affect their actions<br />

as adults? For example, were<br />

they brought up with ‘no<br />

nonsense’ parents who had high<br />

expectations and wouldn’t allow<br />

for mistakes and is this now<br />

filtering into their own practice<br />

and meaning they can, at times,<br />

lack tolerance themselves? Do<br />

they have an issue with control<br />

and project this onto the children<br />

or the way the setting runs?<br />

Were their parents overbearing<br />

when they were younger, and<br />

they have vowed to never make<br />

children feel this way, so struggle<br />

to set boundaries through a<br />

subconscious need to make<br />

them happy? Do they have things<br />

going on at the moment that<br />

could be affecting their own<br />

patience? If so, the reflexive<br />

practitioner would identify these<br />

deeper-rooted issues and work<br />

through them, rather than solely<br />

focusing on external factors.<br />

With reflexive practice, there is a<br />

level of responsibility that doesn’t get<br />

reached with reflective practice. This<br />

all sounds very deep. However, there<br />

are no greater teachers in life than<br />

children. We have all been moulded<br />

throughout our own childhood and<br />

look at the world through a lens that<br />

is influenced by the experiences<br />

and beliefs that we have acquired<br />

throughout our early years. Sometimes<br />

our own blueprint serves us well. Other<br />

times, not so much. If we can identify<br />

why we are the way that we are, why<br />

we think the way that we think and<br />

why we react the way that we do, we<br />

can have a better understanding of<br />

how the current situation is, at times, a<br />

reflection of this. Self-awareness is the<br />

foundation of happiness and success.<br />

We focus on developing it in children.<br />

However, it is imperative that we take<br />

the time to develop it in ourselves if we<br />

are going to become the best that we<br />

can be.<br />

It is important to be a reflective<br />

practitioner, but if we can take<br />

this a level deeper and become a<br />

reflexive practitioner, it will have a<br />

positive impact on both the children’s<br />

development and our own personal<br />

development too. Our role is to<br />

teach children and provide them<br />

with amazing learning opportunities.<br />

However, if we can also see the many<br />

amazing lessons that children bring<br />

to us, we will also give ourselves<br />

the opportunity to unlock our inner<br />

brilliance and release any inner<br />

programming that could be holding<br />

us back.<br />

Stacey Kelly is a former<br />

teacher, a parent to 2<br />

beautiful babies and the<br />

founder of Early Years Story<br />

Box, which is a subscription<br />

website providing children’s<br />

storybooks and early years<br />

resources. She is passionate<br />

about building children’s<br />

imagination, creativity and<br />

self-belief and about creating<br />

awareness of the impact<br />

that the early years have<br />

on a child’s future. Stacey<br />

loves her role as a writer,<br />

illustrator and public speaker<br />

and believes in the power of<br />

personal development. She is<br />

also on a mission to empower<br />

children to live a life full of<br />

happiness and fulfilment,<br />

which is why she launched<br />

the #ThankYouOaky Gratitude<br />

Movement.<br />

Sign up to Stacey’s premium<br />

membership here and use the<br />

code PARENTA20 to get 20%<br />

off or contact Stacey for an<br />

online demo.<br />

Website:<br />

www.earlyyearsstorybox.com<br />

Email:<br />

stacey@earlyyearsstorybox.com<br />

Facebook:<br />

facebook.com/earlyyearsstorybox<br />

Twitter:<br />

twitter.com/eystorybox<br />

Instagram:<br />

instagram.com/earlyyearsstorybox<br />

LinkedIn:<br />

linkedin.com/in/stacey-kellya84534b2/<br />

32 <strong>Parenta</strong>.com <strong>May</strong> <strong>2019</strong> 33

Construction<br />

that’s child’s play<br />

We’ve learnt our craft over 15 years. And<br />

in that time, we’ve turned our hand to<br />

creating bespoke construction projects<br />

for childcare and nursery settings.<br />

We create safe environments for toddlers and children to explore,<br />

play and develop their imaginations. One day they can be a<br />

builder, the next an astronaut, ambulance-driver or high-flying<br />

footballer. We can build from scratch to suit exactly what you need.<br />

And we offer landscaping, decorating, a 24-hour help desk, and<br />

maintenance service after the job’s complete.<br />

It’s not all about fun and games<br />

Safety and security are core to our service. All our projects are risk<br />

assessed. We’re experts in fire protection. We can install intruder<br />

alarms, door-entry systems, non-slip surfaces and CCTV. We have<br />

gas and electrical engineers as part of our team. All our staff are<br />

DBS checked, and all our vehicles are tracked.<br />

We’ve converted buildings into Ofsted rated nurseries, and<br />

playscapes that are ROSPA accredited. For more case studies,<br />

references or a quote – get in touch.<br />

Give us a call on<br />

01634 258238<br />

or email us at enquiries@kentlincs.com<br />

kentlincs.co.uk<br />

“I’ve worked with<br />

Kentlincs for fourteen<br />

years, and in this time<br />

they have supported<br />

our ninety six nurseries<br />

through their growth.<br />

They have helped<br />

build quality nurseries,<br />

including maintenance,<br />

major refits and gardens.<br />

They provide a personal<br />

service with quality<br />

work. I would highly<br />

recommend them.<br />

Andrew Morris<br />

ex CEO Asquith

There’s more to slime than<br />

meets the eye...<br />

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

understanding amongst educators of the value of such things. Some of us provide our<br />

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

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

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

but providing them with crayons. Similarly imagine a class equipped with the very best<br />

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

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

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

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

resources and unpicking their application in the classroom. We looked at search jars last<br />

month, this month I will cover gak or slime.<br />

Gak or slime<br />

In schools today we are constantly meeting<br />

sensory crazes. No sooner were fiddle<br />

spinners banned than the production of gak<br />

(or slime if you prefer) began. That the young<br />

people of today delight in these sensory<br />

resources is reflective of a population with<br />

greater sensory needs than past generations.<br />

You may have been impressed, as have I,<br />

by the creativity unleashed in children and<br />

young people as they develop even better gak<br />

recipes and turn up to school with ever more<br />

amazing colours and textures. This article is<br />

one of a series of articles unpicking the value<br />

of such sensory resources within our settings.<br />

As with any resource, it is not simply owning it<br />

that makes the difference but knowing how to<br />

use it. In this article I will explain how you can<br />

make gak and how you might seek to use it<br />

or other comparable resources to support the<br />

behaviour of your students.<br />

What is gak?<br />

Gak is a non-Neutonian fluid that can be<br />

stretched, poured and manipulated in a wide<br />

variety of ways. It comes in different scents,<br />

colours and textures.<br />

How does someone use gak?<br />

The malleability of gak is very enticing, unlike<br />

a search jar, which we discussed in the first<br />

article in this series, there is no set way to<br />

use gak, making it very supportive of creative<br />

play. As there is no end goal with gak there<br />

is no getting it wrong or right, meaning<br />

it can be explored without fear of failure.<br />

Someone exploring gak may shape it into<br />

different shapes, stretch and pull it to admire<br />

its colours and textures, or squeeze it in the<br />

palm of their hands so that it squidges out<br />

between their fingers.<br />

How to make gak<br />

You need:<br />

• PVA glue<br />

• Something with borax as its chemical<br />

agent, for example: contact lens solution,<br />

Lidl’s Formil Super Concentrated Laundry<br />

Liquid, or just plain old borax itself which<br />

is sold as a powder for you to dilute with<br />

water.<br />

Optional:<br />

• Glitter, or other particulate matter to add<br />

texture, for example sand.<br />

• Coloured ink<br />

To make:<br />

Gak results from a chemical reaction between<br />

the PVA glue and the borax. Failed attempts at<br />

making gak are often due to insufficient mixing,<br />

or not allowing time for this reaction to happen.<br />

1. Begin with your PVA glue, use an amount<br />

slightly smaller than the amount of gak<br />

you wish to end up with.<br />

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

want in your gak.<br />

3. Now add a small amount of your chosen<br />

borax carrier and mix well.<br />

4. Mix really well: you want the borax to<br />

mix with all of the glue. You will notice<br />

the consistency of the substance begin<br />

to change. At first it will seem sticky, with<br />

the mixture sticking to the sides of the<br />

container it is in and to the tool you are<br />

using to mix it with. Keep mixing.<br />

5. Add a little more of your borax carrier<br />

and repeat the mixing process, allowing<br />

plenty of time for the reaction to take place<br />

before adding any more borax.<br />

6. Continue this process until your gak<br />

reaches the desired consistency: this is<br />

when it forms a single lump in the bowl<br />

and no longer sticks to the sides. You will<br />

be able to lift it out of the bowl and knead<br />

it with your hands.<br />

If you add too much of<br />

your borax carrier your<br />

gak will go from too sticky<br />

to too slippery. You may be able to save your<br />

batch of gak by adding more PVA glue to<br />

make amends. Always mix really well and<br />

allow time for the reaction to take place.<br />

Safety<br />

Clearly gak is a substance made out of<br />

glue and detergent, it is not edible. Nor is it<br />

advisable to play with it for long periods of<br />

time. Horror stories can be found online of<br />

teenagers who spent their whole weekend<br />

making batches of gak to sell to their peers<br />

tell of hands burned by over exposure to<br />

the chemicals in the detergent. But used<br />

intermittently, and with hands washed after<br />

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

to create a similar substance for someone<br />

who may be liable to put it in their mouth,<br />

you can find recipes for edible play dough<br />

online, or simply mix cornflour and water<br />

together to make a dough).<br />

Discussion<br />

So far you may be thinking you have<br />

the beginnings of a motivating science<br />

experiment but gak has a utility beyond<br />

offering a beginner-level introduction to<br />

chemical reactions. In Exploring the Impact<br />

the Senses have on Behaviour, we look at<br />

gak, and other sensory items, not for their<br />

science lesson potential, but for their uses in<br />

helping people to emotionally regulate. Here<br />

we are going to think of two sorts of people<br />

as we consider the usefulness of gak, the<br />

first one you are likely to find among your<br />

friends:<br />

Person one:<br />

Do you have a friend who is a fidget, the sort of<br />

person who at the cinema will twiddle their hair,<br />

who couldn’t sit at dinner without fiddling about<br />

with the cutlery or tapping their foot on the floor?<br />

Imagine this friend in an interview situation,<br />

facing all the stress of the adjudicating panel.<br />

Would they sit on their hands? Would they be<br />

embarrassed by their fidgetiness? Would it be<br />

exacerbated by the stress of the situation?<br />

All of us need to regulate our sensory systems<br />

in order to be able to access information from<br />

the world and be included successfully within<br />

society. Just as we would expect eyesight to<br />

differ between individuals, so we can expect<br />

other sensory systems to differ. A fidget may<br />

need more vestibular (balance and motion),<br />

proprioceptive (body mapping and movement) or<br />

tactile stimulation than the next person. In their<br />

fidgeting, they seek to regulate their systems so<br />

that they reach a point of homeostasis in which<br />

they are able to engage and concentrate.<br />

If your friend sits in that interview and focuses<br />

their attention on not fidgeting, they are likely<br />

to miss the nuances of the questions being<br />

thrown at them. If they can find a way to provide<br />

their body with its fidgeting needs, then their<br />

concentration is freed to focus on the interview.<br />

In the modern climate, gak offers us a way to<br />

allow children with significant sensory needs to<br />

have them met in a socially acceptable, even<br />

cool way! To take the comparison with vision<br />

again, in gak we have progressed from the old<br />

embarrassing bulky national health spectacles<br />

to the cool contemporary designer shades. Other<br />

contemporary fiddle toys have the potential to<br />

do the same: silly pencil toppers, fiddle spinners,<br />

along with the good old-fashioned blue tac, bent<br />

paper clip and rubber band. You may think you<br />

are running a tight ship by banning such things<br />

but if your ultimate aim is to improve<br />

behaviour in your classroom, you<br />

may find that adopting a more laid<br />

back attitude in response to them<br />

actually results in a better behaved<br />

class than rules that inhibit selfregulation.<br />

Person two:<br />

The second person we are thinking of may also<br />

be among your friends, but often times, these<br />

people find themselves isolated because their<br />

inability to regulate their systems damages their<br />

friendships. These are people who are constantly<br />

tense or on edge, people quick to snap, jumpy<br />

people.<br />

These people are likely to have had a traumatic<br />

early life, a life that has taught them that danger<br />

is around every corner. Neurodiverse conditions<br />

can also result in a hypersensitive response<br />

system, meaning people live with high levels of<br />

anxiety and feel the need to be constantly on<br />

guard and in control of the world around them.<br />

This person two feels a little bit tense all the<br />

time; it is not a feeling triggered by a particular<br />

event or altercation, it is something they have to<br />

cope with all day, every day, and it is exhausting.<br />

We used to believe that people should “let out”<br />

tensions by indulging them by, for example,<br />

hitting a punch bag. But we now understand that<br />

practicing hitting in response to feeling tense<br />

makes us – rather unsurprisingly – more likely<br />

to hit out when feeling tense. A couple of things<br />

are going on within this piece of advice that are<br />

worth unpicking to prevent misunderstanding: 1)<br />

Exercise is great for enabling self-regulation and<br />

will help someone to feel calmer. 2) Disciplines<br />

such as boxing and martial arts do not simply<br />

teach people to hit, they also teach people when<br />

to hit and are often beneficial to people looking<br />

to learn to control their behaviour to a greater<br />

extent.<br />

There are many strategies we can use to relieve<br />

tension for someone who is naturally prone to<br />

feeling tense: meditation practices can help to<br />

reprogramme the mind: exercise is wonderful,<br />

time spent in nature is also fantastic, but when it<br />

is not possible to go outdoors, for example<br />

in the middle of a maths lesson, then<br />

having the opportunity to knead<br />

gak, and to admire its colours,<br />

scent and sparkles – in itself a<br />

small dose of mindfulness –<br />

will help. And as with person<br />

one, the current trendiness of<br />

sensory toys provides us with<br />

intervention options that do<br />

not require us to single people<br />

out as different or weird, but<br />

enable us to provide for each<br />

according to their needs in the<br />

community.<br />

Joanna Grace<br />

Joanna Grace is an<br />

international Sensory<br />

Engagement and Inclusion<br />

Specialist, trainer, author, TEDx<br />

speaker and founder of The<br />

Sensory Projects.<br />

Consistently rated as<br />

“outstanding” by Ofsted,<br />

Joanna has taught in<br />

mainstream and specialschool<br />

settings, connecting<br />

with pupils of all ages and<br />

abilities. To inform her work,<br />

Joanna draws on her own<br />

experience from her private<br />

and professional life as well<br />

as taking in all the information<br />

she can from the research<br />

archives. Joanna’s private life<br />

includes family members with<br />

disabilities and neurodiverse<br />

conditions and time spent<br />

as a registered foster carer<br />

for children with profound<br />

disabilities.<br />

Joanna has published several<br />

books: “Sensory Stories for<br />

Children and Teens”, “Sensory-<br />

Being for Sensory Beings”<br />

and “Sharing Sensory Stories”<br />

and “Conversations with<br />

People with Dementia”. Her<br />

latest two books, “Ernest and<br />

I”, and “Voyage to Arghan”<br />

were launched at TES SEN in<br />

October.<br />

Joanna is a big fan of social<br />

media and is always happy<br />

to connect with people<br />

via Facebook, Twitter and<br />

LinkedIn.<br />

Website:<br />

thesensoryprojects.co.uk<br />

36 <strong>Parenta</strong>.com <strong>May</strong> <strong>2019</strong> 37

Viral<br />

Meningitis<br />

Awareness<br />

Week<br />

The first full week in <strong>May</strong><br />

(6th – 12th) is Viral Meningitis<br />

Awareness Week. It’s run by<br />

the charity, Meningitis Now,<br />

as an annual event aimed<br />

at “stopping lives being lost<br />

through meningitis and to make<br />

sure that sufferers and survivors<br />

get appropriate support.”<br />

As children under 5 are most at risk<br />

of developing meningitis, we think it’s<br />

important that all pre-schools are informed<br />

about the disease, its causes, symptoms<br />

and treatments. Most importantly, all early<br />

years professionals should know what to<br />

do if they suspect a child is suffering with<br />

meningitis.<br />

Take our meningitis quiz to see how much<br />

you know about the disease and then<br />

read on to find out more information and<br />

advice. (Answers at the end of the article).<br />

1. Meningitis is a disease which<br />

causes inflammation of the:<br />

a. Meniscus<br />

b. Meninges<br />

c. Metatarsals<br />

2. In the UK, Meningitis is most often<br />

caused by:<br />

a. Bacteria<br />

b. Viruses<br />

c. Fungi<br />

3. What percentage of people<br />

contracting bacterial meningitis may<br />

die (approximately)?<br />

a. 5%<br />

b. 10%<br />

c. 15%<br />

4. Babies and young children are at<br />

particular risk of meningitis due to<br />

their:<br />

a. Immature immune systems<br />

b. Milk teeth<br />

c. Developing DNA<br />

5. Septicaemia can occur with<br />

meningitis and cause a rash, which<br />

can be identified by:<br />

a. A urine test<br />

b. Counting the spots in a specified area<br />

c. Pressing a glass onto the skin to see<br />

if the rash disappears under pressure<br />

6. The most common types of<br />

meningitis can be prevented by:<br />

a. Vaccination<br />

b. Gene therapy<br />

c. Pre-natal diet<br />

7. Which of the following does NOT put<br />

you at increased risk of meningitis?<br />

a. The seasons<br />

b. Smoking<br />

c. Body mass index (BMI)<br />

8. Which of the following are<br />

symptoms of meningitis?<br />

a. Vomiting<br />

b. Dislike of bright lights<br />

c. Blank, staring or vacant look<br />

9. You always get a rash with<br />

meningitis:<br />

a. True<br />

b. False<br />

10. There is no treatment for viral<br />

meningitis, but what might help<br />

with recovery?<br />

a. Painkillers<br />

b. Injectable antibiotics<br />

c. Insulin therapy<br />

11. Which of the following can be longterm<br />

effects of meningitis?<br />

a. Acquired brain injury<br />

b. Learning and behaviour changes<br />

c. Weight gain<br />

12. What should you do if you suspect a<br />

child of having meningitis?<br />

a. Confine the child to bed until the<br />

symptoms dissipate<br />

b. Make an appointment to see your<br />

local GP<br />

c. Take them to hospital or dial 999<br />

What is meningitis?<br />

Meningitis is a serious illness that has<br />

the potential to cause death or disability<br />

within hours. It is the inflammation of<br />

the meninges, which are the protective<br />

membranes that surround the brain and<br />

the spinal cord, but can also lead to lifethreatening<br />

blood poisoning (known as<br />

septicaemia) which in fact, is the cause of<br />

a rash often associated with the bacterial<br />

form of meningitis.<br />

Meningitis can be caused by a number<br />

of different factors including bacteria,<br />

viruses and fungi and each type has<br />

a different prognosis. The most fatal<br />

is bacterial meningitis which can have<br />

devastating effects for survivors including<br />

acquired brain injury, seizures, learning<br />

difficulties, deafness and physical<br />

disability.<br />

Viral meningitis is the most common<br />

form and is usually less severe than<br />

the bacterial form as most patients<br />

recover without any permanent damage,<br />

although full recovery can take many<br />

weeks or months. There is no treatment<br />

for viral meningitis, but painkillers and<br />

rest can help.<br />

Who is at risk?<br />

Children under 5 are most at risk. The<br />

second most at-risk group for meningitis<br />

is teenagers and young people, with firstyear<br />

university students being particularly<br />

vulnerable. However, it can strike anyone,<br />

at any age and there are thousands of<br />

cases in the UK each year.<br />

Symptoms of meningitis<br />

The following have been identified as<br />

common symptoms of meningitis, but this<br />

is not an exhaustive list:<br />

• a high temperature (fever) of 38˚C<br />

(100.4˚F) or above<br />

• cold hands and feet, shivering<br />

• vomiting<br />

• headache<br />

• diarrhoea<br />

• irritability<br />

• rash that does not fade when a<br />

glass is rolled over it (but this will not<br />

always develop)<br />

• stiff neck<br />

• blank, staring or vacant look<br />

• dislike of bright lights<br />

• drowsiness or unresponsiveness<br />

• fits (seizures)<br />

Symptoms can appear in any order<br />

and sufferers do not always get all the<br />

symptoms. If in doubt, you should contact<br />

A&E or call 999.<br />

Prevention and treatment<br />

Prevention is always better than cure and<br />

there are several vaccinations available<br />

that offer protection against meningitis.<br />

These are usually administered to infants<br />

although other ‘catch-up’ and teenager/<br />

adult programmes also exist. No vaccine<br />

is 100% effective but vaccinations have<br />

been shown to reduce meningitis<br />

incidence rates and one of the aims of<br />

meningitis charities is often to raise the<br />

vaccination rates, especially in children.<br />

Treatment for bacterial meningitis<br />

requires hospitalisation, intravenous<br />

antibiotics and fluids. Viral meningitis<br />

is usually treated with pain killers and<br />

rest, although antibiotics may be given<br />

in certain cases to rule out bacterial<br />

meningitis or secondary infections.<br />

Meningitis Aware Recognition Mark<br />

(MARM) for childcare providers<br />

Meningitis Now have launched the MARM<br />

toolkit to help nurseries, pre-schools and<br />

childminders learn more and inform their<br />

staff and parents about meningitis.<br />

To achieve this recognition mark,<br />

providers need to register their interest on<br />

the MARM webpage and then download<br />

and complete a checklist, which includes<br />

actions to take on:<br />

• Raising awareness internally<br />

• Raising awareness externally<br />

• Planning ahead<br />

This will confirm that the setting has<br />

demonstrated their awareness of<br />

meningitis, the issues surrounding it,<br />

and the actions they have taken. There<br />

are a lot of free resources available<br />

on the website to help you including<br />

PowerPoint presentations, information<br />

sheets, helpline numbers and videos. You<br />

can access these after you register your<br />

interest.<br />

To find out more about the condition, or to<br />

see how you can help, visit:<br />

www.meningitisnow.org<br />

www.meningitis.org<br />

www.comomeningitis.org<br />

www.nhs.uk/conditions/meningitis<br />

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

10a, 11ab, 12c.<br />

38 <strong>Parenta</strong>.com <strong>May</strong> <strong>2019</strong> 39

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