Magazine June 2019

parentamarketing

June is the perfect month to teach the children about butterflies. Learning about their life cycle is a great way to introduce them to biology and environmental topics. We have a wonderful activity for making your own butterfly life cycle … and June wouldn’t be complete without a Father’s Day craft too! We’ve got a lovely template that you can download so the children can make their own stick puppet for the father figures in their lives. Don’t forget to send us your photos! We really hope you enjoy all the new stories, advice articles and craft activities in this month’s magazine – all of which are written to help you with the efficient running of your setting and to promote the health, happiness and wellbeing of the children in your care.

Issue 55

JUNE 2019

FREE

INDUSTRY

EXPERTS

Exploring the real

heroes in our lives

How to help parents

boost their child’s

vocabulary

Using stories to nurture

self-awareness

+ lots more

Write for us

for a chance to

WIN

£50

p 31

COPING WITH CHANGE

Gina Smith shares some great tips and advice to

help children cope with the transition into school

FATHER’S DAY • NYSTAGMUS AWARENESS • DROWNING PREVENTION


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

June is a busy month here at Parenta HQ. The team is really looking forward to Childcare Expo Manchester on 14th

and 15th June and will be on hand to give you valuable advice and guidance on apprenticeships and upskilling your

staff. We will also be demonstrating all our software solutions – do come and visit us – you’ll find us on stand B46!

The excitement is mounting for the annual Parenta Trust Rally which sets off at the end of the month. Teams of cars and

motorbikes will cross eight counties in five days, travelling 2,000 miles to raise vital funds for our charity, Parenta Trust who

builds pre-schools for young children in deprived areas of the world. Look out for more rally news next month!

The weather is warming up, visits to the beach are on the horizon for some; and with that, comes the temptation to let the little ones swim in

the sea. Tragically, drowning is one of the leading causes of accidental death in children in the UK. The Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK)

runs an annual Drowning Prevention Week (14th – 24th June) to raise awareness of the problem and to reduce the number of drowning (and

near-drowning) incidences that happen. Advice on how it’s never too early to start water safety education can be found on page 14.

June is the perfect month to teach the children about butterflies. Learning about their life cycle is a great way to introduce them to biology

and environmental topics. We have a wonderful activity for making your own butterfly life cycle … and June wouldn’t be complete without

a Father’s Day craft too! We’ve got a lovely template that you can download so the children can make their own stick puppet for the father

figures in their lives. Don’t forget to send us your photos!

Congratulations to our guest author competition winner! Joanna Grace’s article and activity “Secrets of the search jar” proved to be very

popular with our readers. We’re always on the lookout for new authors to contribute insightful articles for our monthly magazine. If you have

written on a topic relevant to early years and would like to be in with a chance to win £50 in shopping vouchers, turn to page 31 for details.

We really hope you enjoy all the new stories, advice articles and craft activities in this month’s magazine – all of which are written to help you

with the efficient running of your setting and to promote the health, happiness and wellbeing of the children in your care.

Please feel free to share with friends and colleagues!

Allan

INSPIRED

Read about the journey

of a mother and teacher

who was so inspired by

the Finnish education

system that she started

The Family Learning

School.

hello

WELCOME TO OUR FAMILY

6

JUNE 2019 ISSUE 55

IN THIS EDITION

REGULARS

17 What our customers say

23 Father’s Day stick puppet craft

31 Write for us for a chance to win £50

NEWS

4 Local MP officially opens award-winning day

nurseries in Plymouth

5 Elmscot Broussa Nursery strengthens community

spirit

6 Family Learning School - a new model of

education

8 Parenta Trust news

ADVICE

10 Learning Disability Week

14 Drowning Prevention Week

18 The life cycle of a butterfly

22 Father’s Day

26 Diabetes Week - #SeeDiabetesDifferently

38 7 tips for nystagmus success in the classroom

INDUSTRY EXPERTS

Tracy Newberry gives tips on how to soothe a restless baby 24

Stacey Kelly shares how to use stories to nurture self-awareness 28

7 tips for nystagmus success in the classroom 38

CHANGE

32

This time of year can

be stressful for young

children, as they

approach big changes

in their lives. Gina Smith

shares tips on how to

help children with the

transition into school.

COMMUNICATION

Joanna Grace shares some great

practical advice for negotiating with

children who seem set on digging

their heels in and resisting your every

instruction.

12

12 Communication hacks

20 Exploring the real heroes in our lives

24 How to soothe a restless baby

28 Using stories to nurture self-awareness

32 Coping with change

36 How to help parents boost their child’s

vocabulary

Drowning Prevention Week 14


Local MP officially opens awardwinning

day nurseries in Plymouth

Elmscot Broussa Nursery

strengthens community spirit

Luke Pollard has met with

local childcare provider,

Cheryl Hadland, of Tops Day

Nurseries at the nurseries in

Stonehouse and Devonport

and pledged his commitment

to support local childcare

providers.

Elmscot Broussa Day Nursery and Nursery School has been strengthening bonds with the local

community this month by welcoming the ambulance service and Broussa families into the

nursery, as well as visiting care home residents.

Luke Pollard MP joined Cheryl

Hadland, managing Director of Tops

Day Nurseries, during the official

openings for Tops Stonehouse on

Wolsdon Street and Tops Devonport,

based at Greenark Children’s centre

on Friday 3rd May 2019.

Throughout the open day, colleagues,

parents and Luke Pollard MP signed a

specially-made pledge board agreeing

to banish single-use plastic, and

reduce waste to landfill. As one of

the South’s leading eco-sustainable

day nursery groups, with 29 settings

across the south coast, Tops are

leading the way in sustainable

childcare. One of the group’s settings

was even the first nursery setting in

the UK to achieve the Surfers Against

Sewage: Plastic Free Schools status.

Speaking after the official opening

event, Cheryl Hadland said:

“I am delighted Luke Pollard MP has

pledged his support for childcare

providers, families and children in

Plymouth.

“At Tops Day Nurseries, we provide

top-quality early education to our

children, and we’re pleased that the

Government’s 30 hours childcare

policy means that more 3- and 4-year-

-olds can benefit from our services.

“However, funding in Plymouth is

less than the cost of delivery, and

this reduces our ability to pay our

staff what they deserve and burdens

parents with having to pay more

towards their children’s education and

care than any other parent in Europe.

We also want a healthier environment

and future for our children and

grandchildren. This is why I look

forward to working with our local MP

to campaign for a more sustainable

future for childcare providers, parents

and children.”

Luke Pollard MP commented:

“It was great to meet Cheryl Hadland

at Tops Day Nurseries in Plymouth:

Stonehouse and Devonport, and hear

about the great work Tops does to give

children the best start in life possible.

I was particularly impressed at their

commitment to reducing one-use

plastic and reducing their impact on

climate change.

“It is great news that some 3- and

4-year-old children in Plymouth are

now able to receive 30 hours funded

childcare, however, I understand

that many settings and parents of

small children are facing financial

challenges, and I will be making

representations in Parliament and to

the Government to help ensure that

every child in Plymouth is able to

access a high quality early education

and also that we work to improve

Plymouth’s effort to reduce oneuse

plastic and air pollution, and to

process waste more efficiently, in

order to provide a healthier future for

our children.”

During the visit from the ambulance

service, the children explored the

ambulance and were even allowed to

sit in the driver’s seat. The paramedic

explained to the children about her

job and what the team does during an

emergency.

The children’s family members were

invited to take part in creative activities

and see what their children enjoy

doing at nursery. This included baking,

dance, music and painting – which

the adults and children all loved, and

created a great talking point even

outside of nursery.

Elmscot Broussa has also been

enabling the children to build

intergenerational relationships through

visits to a local care home to visit the

residents. The residents read books

with the children and even told some

of their own stories.

Community activities such as these

are of great benefit within the early

years sector and build upon key

areas of development within the EYFS

curriculum. Children are provided with

opportunities to build and strengthen

relationships, develop confidence in

their abilities, enhance communication

skills, as well as learn from different

generations. In particular, both the

children and elderly people within

the community gain socio-emotional

values from experiences enjoyed

together.

Annette Derby, Nursery Manager at

Elmscot Broussa, said: “Forging links

with the community and building a

strong community spirit are aspects of

our nursery life that we take pride in.

Providing the children with enabling

environments allows them to learn

about other people who are different

to themselves and creates a sense of

belonging.”

Elmscot Broussa is part of the Elmscot

Group of Day Nurseries and Nursery

Schools, providing outstanding

childcare and education to over 1,800

children across Cheshire.

4 Parenta.com June 2019 5


Family Learning School - a

new model of education

In April 2017, Julie Dunford - an experienced teacher, educational leader and nursery/pre-school

owner, and Alida Smith - with her background in business and finance - followed their maternal

instincts and turned down their daughters’ places at their local “outstanding” primary schools. The

reason? To embark on a journey to set up a new type of school, one not seen before here in the UK.

Before too long, they found support among like-minded parents and educationalists, and within two

years, their vision is even bigger. They have established a brand new model of primary education for

the UK: The Family Learning School.

Julie explains the history and

philosophy behind The Family

Learning School: “I set up my

childcare business when I had

my first daughter as I needed

to continue working but wanted

to be at home with her at the

same time. As a primary and

secondary languages teacher,

I was keen to learn about the

early years sector and within

two years, my business grew

substantially. I now own a

small familial nursery/preschool

where I have a manager

and a team of 3 childcare

assistants.

“I absolutely love the early

years and find it unbelievably

rewarding. I have learned

so much about childhood

development and the best

ways of supporting and

facilitating children’s learning,

from simply watching and

interacting with children as

they learn through playing

together in mixed aged groups.

Children are all so different,

with their own innate abilities,

passions and talents, and

they all learn in different ways

and at different rates. Most

importantly, they all deserve

to have a childhood full of fun,

love, cuddles, tickles and mess!

Alida was one of my childcare

clients who embraced the

childcare ethos I had created

at my setting and shared my

educational philosophies.

“Despite being offered places

at our first choice, “outstanding”

primary schools, we felt flat and

unexcited about our daughters

starting school. Large class

sizes, limited space, decreasing

numbers of support staff, an

increase in academic focus and

testing, and schools’ reliance

on generating data to satisfy

the government’s accountability

measures, were among our

main concerns.

“We set about researching other

education systems and travelled

to Finland to find out why they

consistently top the Programme

for International Student

Assessment (PISA) charts.

While our children are starting

school at 4 and their play-time

is being gradually reduced,

Finnish children are only learning

through play and exploration

until the age of 7. Children are

only tested once in secondary

school – this is because the

teachers are highly regarded

professionals, trusted by parents

and school leaders to do their

jobs and ensure the children

in their care thrive personally

and academically, without the

need for data as evidence. They

understand that “less is more” in

terms of the curriculum and do

not cram in too much. Teachers

stay with the same class for at

least three years and if a child

doesn’t grasp a concept one

year, teachers do not worry as

they are confident they will the

following year. The learning

environments we experienced

were relaxed, productive and

calm.

“We returned to the UK, and

inspired by Finland and our

extensive secondary research,

have since created a flexible,

progressive educational model

that prioritises children’s

happiness and well-being. It

nurtures, builds confidence

and teaches vital life skills; and

instils a lifetime love of learning

and exploration. The outcomes

for the children within our first

class this year have exceeded

all our expectations and since

releasing our promotional

video, we are receiving interest

and encouragement from

across the globe, as well as all

over the UK.

“Our model is based on small,

mixed-aged classes of 15

children, from 3—11 years

old, interacting and learning

together. They take part in

child-led ‘Forest Education’

one day a week, and also take

educational trips one day a

week. These “adventures” range

from physical activities such as

horse riding, trampolining and

climbing, to cultural visits such

as museums, art galleries and

theatres. At the school site on

the other days, there is a focus

on creativity and freedom to

learn through play - both in and

outdoors - and their academic

lessons are in very small groups

based on the children’s interests

and strengths, rather than

simply by their age.

“Younger children naturally

learn from observing and

playing with older children,

and the older children develop

empathy and look after the

younger ones. As well as

developing academically, it has

been very special watching

the relationships develop and

seeing them grow in their

ability to effectively collaborate,

communicate and co-operate in

different learning environments.

“Family Learning is at the

heart of our model, which

means building a community

around the school is essential.

We attract parents who are

truly engaged in their child’s

education and appreciate the

amount of communication

and feedback we provide.

Parents are asked to offer a

skill that they can either teach

the children, or to support the

running of the school. The

children have gained so much

from sessions delivered by

their parents and grandparents

and it’s wonderful to see the

impact of intergenerational

relationships and interactions

from these experiences, as

well as when we visit our local

nursing home.

“We do not set homework but

instead provide ideas around

topics we are covering in

school, called “Family Learning

Opportunities”. There is no

pressure to complete them

and it is stressed that it is the

engagement in the activity as a

family that is important, rather

than the end product.

“Testing is not necessary as

Family Learning is at the heart

of our model, which means

building a community around

the school is essential

we teach in small groups, offer

plenty of individual support,

observe and interact with the

children all day, and therefore

know exactly where their

strengths and interests lie, and

where they need more support.

We monitor progress in every

area (emotional and social

development, communication

skills, confidence, physical

ability, creativity, ability to

collaborate and support others,

global and environmental

awareness etc.) as well as their

developing reading, writing

and numeracy skills.

“We had absolutely no idea of

the never-ending challenges

that lay ahead when we turned

down our school places, but we

were convinced we both had

the necessary drive, ambition,

determination and requisite skill

sets between us to achieve our

vision.

“Although independent, we are

a not-for-profit organisation,

and we are voluntary directors.

This is truly a “passion

project”; far from a moneymaking

venture. After two

challenging but successful

years, we want to see The

Family Learning School (FLS)

become an established and

exemplary model of primary

education, with sites across

the UK - and despite not being

eligible for government funding,

our dream is to make this

model accessible to as many

families as possible and to be

advocates for ALL children.

“It is becoming increasingly

clear that teachers and

parents believe our children

deserve more and they want

other options. Our world is

changing so fast, but increasing

pressure on our children to

pass standardised tests is

having a devastating impact

on their mental health, while

doing nothing to equip them

to actually deal with the world

around them.

“We desperately need a

revolution in the way our future

generations are educated. We

personally didn’t want to be

moaning at the school gates

for 7 years, regretfully knowing

that we had the capability to

bring about the change.

“FLS is a new model of

education we are offering the

UK. It is a call for action and

we intend to show our political

leaders that there is a better

way of educating our children.

It continues to be such an

enormous amount of work and

so many barriers have been put

in our way by local councils and

other public bodies. But with

every metaphorical wall that we

smash down for our children,

we move closer to our goal.”

Family Learning School is

expanding in South London,

with 45 children starting in

September 2019. If you are

interested in learning more,

either as a family or as an

educator, please visit the

website or follow them on

Facebook to get in touch.

Website:

familylearningschool.com

Facebook:

@familylearningschool

6 Parenta.com June 2019 7


In this month’s news from Parenta Trust, we learn how the charity and its supporters change the

lives of hundreds of children who attend Parenta Trust schools in East Africa.

In many countries, pre-school children

are deprived of a basic education.

In the poorest areas, children are

sent out to fetch water, carry out

domestic chores and look after their

siblings. Very often, this means that

they miss out on going to pre-school

and receiving additional education

throughout their childhood. They

are not given the opportunity they

deserve to develop to their full

potential.

It doesn’t sound much, but for as

little as 56p per day, a child’s life

can be changed, and they can look

forward to a much brighter future.

The Parenta Trust sponsorship

programme gives disadvantaged

pre-school children the chance to lay

NEWS

Parenta Trust news

the foundations for their learning in a

safe and loving environment. Having

a basic education means these young

children can break out of the cycle of

poverty and look forward to a much

brighter future.

Sponsorship plays a hugely important

role in shaping the lives of young

pre-school boys and girls across

the world. With the support of their

sponsors, the children are given a

bright start to their life and receive a

pre-school education, with its effects

lasting a lifetime.

Each sponsored child benefits from

a pre-school education, a school

uniform, a daily hot meal, school

supplies and the knowledge that

someone really cares.

For as

little as 56p

a day, you

can change a

child’s life

How sponsorship saved

Bridget’s life...

We met Bridget on a trip to Uganda

in 2014. Nothing could’ve prepared

us for her story but, sadly, her case

is not a one-off. Bridget was rescued

from a shrine where she was about

to be sacrificed by her parents. Saved

at the last moment from a shocking

fate, she now attends one of our preschools

where she can lead a happy

and safe life. She is cared for, has a

sponsor and has the education she

needs to brighten her future. There

are many more vulnerable children

like Bridget who need your help. By

sponsoring a pre-school child, you

make a real difference to their lives.

To find out how you can make a

difference and sponsor a child, visit

parentatrust.com/sponsor-a-child

Did you know...

How does it work?

1

2

3

we offer a FREE recruitment service?

Here at Parenta, we train nearly 3,000 nursery staff each year!

Let us know about your vacancy for a childcare apprentice and what type of person you’re

looking for. We’ll advertise the role for free on our job board and other job platforms.

When we receive suitable CVs, we’ll put forward any candidates we feel would be a good match

for your setting.

Once you’ve found your ideal apprentice, we’ll help them transition into their new role and sign

them up for their childcare apprenticeship.

On the 1 st April, the contribution that you pay when you are a non-levy employer dropped to 5% - it could be as

little as £100 for 19+ or free for 16—18-year-olds. There has never been a better time to recruit an apprentice!

It’s as easy as

“Sponsoring a Parenta Trust child is so rewarding. To know that our support gives hope to

a child and that we can change their lives for the better, is incredible. You form a special

connection with your sponsored child and are able to share in their milestones as they grow. In

fact, you’ll soon find that your sponsored child feels like a part of your own family! Each year,

we receive a couple of letters from them as well as a card at Christmas time. The children

that we sponsor love to hear from us! One of the most rewarding things about sponsoring a

child is when that letter arrives and you hear about what they’ve been up to and how you have

helped them, it fills you with pride and happiness!”

View all of our current vacancies here: jobs.parenta.com

What are you waiting for?

Let us help you find your perfect apprentice, today.

8 Parenta.com June 2019 9

0800 002 9242 hello@parenta.com


Learning Disability Week

Can you imagine how your life would be different if you had a

learning disability? How would it affect you and the lives of the

people you love?

Maybe you’d find it more difficult to live independently? Perhaps

everyday tasks that we all take for granted; like cooking, keeping

clean or going out to socialise with friends, would be something

you could no longer do.

You might be like one-third of people

with learning disabilities who, on a

typical Saturday, spend less than 1

hour outside their home. Maybe you’d

soon feel alone and cut off from others,

like 17.8% of people with a learning

disability do.

Whoever you were, wouldn’t it be nice

to know that there were people out

there who cared, and who you could

rely on to make things just that little bit

easier?

The charity, Mencap, does just that, and

leads the way in helping people with

learning disabilities feel included and

get the help they need.

For parents and carers of children with

learning disabilities, getting an initial

diagnosis; dealing with healthcare

professionals and the child’s special

educational needs (SEN); and sorting

out childcare or portage (a homebased,

early intervention and support

service), can be a difficult and isolating

time. That’s why awareness weeks and

inclusion events are more important

than ever.

There are 1.4 million people in the

UK with a learning disability and

approximately 193,707 children of

school age. There are some conditions

where people are more likely to have an

associated learning disability such as;

What is a learning disability?

According to Mencap, a learning

disability is “a reduced intellectual

ability and difficulty with everyday

activities” such as household tasks,

socialising or managing money – 3

things that often cause the most

problems.

It is often confused with learning

difficulties, such as those experienced

by people with dyslexia or some mental

health problems. However, learning

difficulties do not affect people’s

intellect, whereas learning disabilities

do. Learning disabilities are usually

caused by problems when the brain

is still developing during pregnancy,

in birth or in the first few months of

life. The level of disability can be mild,

moderate, severe or profound, and

affects people for their whole life as

they can take longer to learn and may

need additional support to interact

with others, understand information or

develop new skills.

• Down’s syndrome

• Williams syndrome

• Asperger’s syndrome

• Autism

• Fragile X syndrome

• Global development delay

• Cerebral palsy

• Challenging behaviour

The degree of disability varies greatly

and children with a learning disability

will have special educational needs,

although not all people with SEN have a

learning disability.

Learning Disability Week 2019

The week runs from 17th to 23rd June

and this year, is all about sport and

inclusion. The goal for the week is for

as many people as possible – those with

and without a learning disability – to get

involved in inclusive sporting activities

in their local communities. Mencap is

encouraging everyone to share their

photos with them and raise awareness

by advertising the week on social media

sites using the hashtag #LDWeek19.

Sport is well known for bringing people

together, whether it’s the Olympics or a

local amateur football match, sport can

cross boundaries and create shared

memories. For those taking part, it can

reduce loneliness and isolation; improve

health and wellbeing; and allows for

greater social inclusion and a sense of

empowerment.

Another benefit is that it can help

improve and change negative attitudes

and prejudices which unfortunately still

exist towards many people with learning

disabilities – a much-needed change

that is fundamental to Mencap’s raison

d’être.

The Mencap website has information

and listings of many events around

the country that people are planning,

including an interactive map where

you can find out about events near

you. There’s still plenty of time to plan

your own event or attend one of those

already being advertised. There are

different categories, including:

• Treat me well events

• Network partner here we are local

events

• Royal Mencap Society events

• Round the world challenge activities

Not all settings will have children who

have learning disabilities, but that does

not stop everyone getting involved in

the week in some way. Children with

learning disabilities have the right to

early years childcare just like everyone

else and childcare providers, by law,

“must not deny disabled children access

to childcare because they are disabled”.

In addition, “providers must make sure

they try their best to meet the needs of

the children with a learning disability”.

How to get involved

You could raise money for the charity,

for example by doing something fun

and active, such as a sponsored football

match, walk/run or just a multi-activity

sports day.

You could set up a stand at your summer

fair to raise awareness; or set up some

fun and ‘sporty’ stalls such as a ‘shoot

a hoop’ challenge; a fastest-over-10-

metres race; or a good old-fashioned

egg and spoon race! Be creative and get

active!

If you have children in your setting with

learning disabilities, you could consider

The Round The World Challenge which

is run in partnership with Sport England

and The National Lottery. It’s a great way

to improve inclusion and get your whole

setting involved whilst teaching your little

ones something about the world at the

same time. You can register here. and

there are events in different regions run

by specially-trained staff.

Mencap’s vision is a world where people

with learning disabilities are valued

equally, listened to and included, but

it’s clear that there is still a long way to

go for that vision to be realised in our

society.

What will you do this year in order to

bring their goal just that little bit closer?

For more information, click here.

10 Parenta.com June 2019 11


COMMUNICATION HACKS

Negotiating with children who seem set on digging their heels in and resisting your every

instruction is tricky. Here are a few communication hacks that have stood me in good stead.

ALONGSIDE CHOICE

Scenario: Ethan is playing in the

sand and isn’t likely to want to stop

for snack time.

1. Get alongside Ethan and play

in the sand. Show genuine

connection with what he is doing.

After all, how willing would you

be to listen to someone who

never listened to you? Listen first,

to demonstrate the skill.

2. Give him a choice. Do not

present this as a demand, more

a casual consideration as a part

of play. “Which do you want to

do first: wash your hands, or

put this truck away?” When he

chooses, reinforce and praise

his choice and move as if it is

about to happen. (This is not

a conversation about stopping

playing so do not bring that up).

For extra support, use a visual time

prompt such as a one minute sand

timer. Use this to narrate time, not

enforce your rule of law. Observe the

timer with the child: “Oh look, in a

minute this is going to be over, what

do you want to do first….”, Rather

than “you have one minute and then

this has to stop.”

GIVE POWER

Scenario: Ava is not helping with

the tidying up.

1. Do not engage with the defiance.

Pause your attention on Ava for a

moment or so and then return it

and offer Ava the power: “Ava, I

am putting you in charge, which

toys do you think I need to pick

up first?” Let her take the reins

and give you an instruction.

Follow the instruction that you

are given. As with before, why

should we expect someone just

to do as we say if we are not

willing to do the same? We do not

want to teach children that they

have to do what they are told by

people who are older than them,

just because they are older than

them. In some situations, to have

learnt this could be dangerous.

2. Once you have followed an order

or two, change the question

“Gosh there is a lot of tidying

up to do, which toys am I going

to pick up next and which ones

are you going to do?” When she

makes the choice, reinforce it

so that she realises she has just

said what she is going to do. In

your reinforcement, give clear

guidance to how she is going to

do it: “Okay so I am putting the

trucks away and you are picking

up the dollies, and putting them

all in their bed in the blue box?”

3. Reinforce her success at tidying

up: “Those dollies are all very

comfy now you have put them

away, what are you going to tidy

up next?”

FOCUS ATTENTION

Scenario: It is storytime and Lydia

is not coming to sit down with

everyone else.

1. Resist the urge to give Lydia

instructions right away, instead

use your attention like a torch

beam to guide and direct the

children. Narrate what you are

doing: “I am looking at all the

children who are sitting nicely on

the carpet.”

2. Create an attention bridge

between the behaviour you are

looking for and the behaviour

you want to stop: “I am watching

everyone walk to the carpet”.

If you are worried about the

children who are sitting on the

carpet getting up again, involve

them in this, saying: “Sittingdown

children can you watch the

children walking to the carpet?”

– by mentioning them as ‘sittingdown’,

you are continuing to

reinforce that behaviour.

3. If you have to give Lydia direct

instructions, tell her what you

are going to watch; think of the

smallest first step towards doing

the right thing, if you can spot

something she is already doing

then use that: “Lydia I can see

you looking at the carpet, you are

choosing your spot, I am ready

to watch you walk over nicely.” If

she moves, then keep that beam

of attention on the movement. If

she doesn’t, quickly go back to

regarding the children who are

doing what you were looking for.

Do we want them to just follow orders?

Some people will think that these hacks

are a dangerous softening of discipline;

children should be seen and not heard,

should do as the grown-ups say. But should

they? Is our aim really to bring up children

who unquestioningly do as they are told

by adults? Believe it or not, I was actually

pleased, and his teacher was too, when my

son was first naughty at school. Before then,

I had worried he was not confident enough

to do his own thing. A child who meekly

follows every order should be as concerning

to us as one that follows none.

The strategies above give the children the

opportunity to make choices and to exert

control. By deploying them, we are teaching

the foundations of responsibility – a far

better long-term outcome than blanket

submission to our will.

Think about how we talk about

behaviour

Remember that a lot of the rules in our

settings are there for our benefit, to make

it easier for us to deal with a large group

of children (we are out numbered - we

need the rule of law). It is easy for us to get

fixed on our rules and not recognise the

bigger picture. The child who doesn’t want

to stop playing with the sand may possess

a brilliant ability to focus on a task for a

long time. The child who will not help with

tidying up might need support structuring

an approach to a task with no clear start

point. The child who will not come and sit

down might be testing out how their power

holds up to ours, or may feel a need to be

noticed in a crowd. A wilful child is not a

naughty one, it is a resilient one. Repeatedly

having your will defeated sows the seeds of

depression in later life, and teaches children

that no matter what they do, someone else

has dominion over their lives.

We meet a lot of children, and we see a lot

of ‘behaviour.’ We need to be very careful

how we report behaviour to parents. Parents

know their children better than anyone, but

as their child grows up, they constantly meet

them as they are now. Finding out who they

are in your setting is news to them. Passing

on information about behaviour should be

done as carefully and as thoughtfully as

a doctor passing on information about a

medical problem.

Telling a parent that their child shouts too

much, or runs inside, is a blunt presentation

of a perceived negative, and it does not

help them to do anything about it. It does

not matter how cutely you dress it up, they

hear it as a negative and they will worry

about it. You know that pretty much all

of the ‘behaviour’ that you deal with is

simply a natural part of growing up. Our

weaknesses and strengths are often two

sides of the same coin. Instead of reporting

‘naughtiness’, present the strength a

child exhibits through their behaviour to

their parent and then give the associated

learning that needs to come with it:

“Ethan has such spectacular focus, today

he didn’t want to stop playing with the sand

for snack time. We used a timer to help him

realise it was ending and then he made a

choice about what to do next.”

“Ava took responsibility for the tidying up

today, she told me where to put the trucks,

she knows where everything goes in the

classroom. At first when we were tidying

up she didn’t join in at all, it can be a bit

overwhelming for children when we switch

from playing to tidying – and the room is

quite chaotic at that time – but once we had

given Ava the chance, she was able to sort

that chaos out for us.”

“Lydia always makes her own mind up about

her actions. She stood back and watched

when the other children sat down for

storytime today. We guided her by telling her

where our attention would be and then she

came over happily and joined in, we were

really pleased with her choice.”

Remember our aim is not to control the

children in our settings but to contribute to

them growing up and becoming physicallyand

mentally-healthy, responsible adults

who think and reason for themselves. Signs

that they are already taking control, and

reasoning, should not be squashed - they

should be built upon and celebrated.

Joanna is running Exploring the Impact of

the Senses on Behaviour in Birmingham

on the 28th June: a day well suited to those

supporting children whose behaviour seems

to be a bit different from what you would

ordinarily expect.

Joanna Grace

Joanna Grace is an

international Sensory

Engagement and Inclusion

Specialist, trainer, author, TEDx

speaker and founder of The

Sensory Projects.

Consistently rated as

“outstanding” by Ofsted,

Joanna has taught in

mainstream and specialschool

settings, connecting

with pupils of all ages and

abilities. To inform her work,

Joanna draws on her own

experience from her private

and professional life as well

as taking in all the information

she can from the research

archives. Joanna’s private life

includes family members with

disabilities and neurodiverse

conditions and time spent

as a registered foster carer

for children with profound

disabilities.

Joanna has published several

books: “Sensory Stories for

Children and Teens”, “Sensory-

Being for Sensory Beings”

and “Sharing Sensory Stories”

and “Conversations with

People with Dementia”. Her

latest two books, “Ernest and

I”, and “Voyage to Arghan”

were launched at TES SEN in

October.

Joanna is a big fan of social

media and is always happy

to connect with people

via Facebook, Twitter and

LinkedIn.

Website:

thesensoryprojects.co.uk

12 Parenta.com June 2019 13


Drowning Prevention Week

Drowning is one of the leading causes of accidental death in children in the UK, and every

year, over 700 people drown in the UK and Ireland; approximately one person every 10 hours.

According to the Royal Life Saving Society’s Director of Education, Mike Dunn, you are more likely to

die from drowning than you are from being hit by a car or in a fire.

The Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS

UK) thinks that every drowning is

preventable, and they exist to offer

education and advice to “make sure no

one ever drowns”.

The society run an annual Drowning

Prevention Week to raise awareness

of the problem and to reduce the

number of drowning and near drowning

incidences that happen. This year, the

campaign starts on Friday June 14th and

finishes on Monday June 24th and has 3

major aims:

1. To increase the number of children

receiving water safety education

2. To reduce the number of drowning

incidences

3. To promote drowning prevention

projects and initiatives at local and

national level

The campaign focuses on showing

people how to be safe and have fun near

water, and encourages schools, clubs,

leisure centres and communities, to

promote water safety education through

events, lessons, games and activities, in

a bid to make people more aware of the

dangers that water poses, especially in

the summer months, when more of us

are tempted to enter the water at lakes,

beaches and swimming pools.

The first thing to remember is to always

follow the water safety code. The

message is simple but needs to be

reiterated, often. You can download a

poster like the one shown, here.

Always follow the

water safety code

Whenever you are around water:

STOP and think

stay together

In an emergency:

Call 999 or 112

float

Always follow the Water Safety Code

KEY STATISTICS

• 52% of accidental drownings happen in open water

• More than 80% of all accidental drownings are male

• More than 56% never intended to be in the water

• Around 34% of accidental drownings happen in the summer

• The highest percentage of drownings occur in the age range

20–29 years old

Statistics from RLSS UK website

Look for the dangers. Always read

the signs.

Never swim alone. Always go with

friends or family.

Shout for help and phone 999 or 112.

If you fall in, float or swim on your

back. Throw something that

floats to anyone who has fallen in.

rlss.org.uk

When we think about drowning, many

people wrongly assume that it is mostly

people who have gone swimming and

maybe got into trouble, but over half of

accidental drownings occur in people

who never intended to be in the water

in the first place. And when you really

think about where we interact with

water, you realise that the problem is

not just confined to lakes, beaches and

swimming pools, but also to the safe

use of paddling pools, ponds, streams,

puddles and yes, baths. People can

drown in only a few centimetres of

water so learning about water safety in

different environments is vital.

The RLSS UK website has lots of useful

advice and information relevant to

different situations, including water

safety for:

• Open water places

• Winter water and ice

• Summer water advice

• Commercial swimming pools

• Residential swimming pools

• Water at home (paddling pools,

ponds, baths, water storage

containers etc.)

• Holidays

• The beach

• During a flood

• Anglers

In addition, the site offers advice on how

to help someone who is drowning, coldwater

shock, lifeguard and first aider

training and links to other campaigns,

schemes and awards they run. And they

have many free, educational resources,

and videos to help you, at whatever level

you need.

It’s vital to get these important

messages across to all ages and there

are many ways for everyone to get

involved; parents, teachers, educators,

nurseries, community groups and of

course, children, to make as many

people as possible aware of the key

messages - things that could ultimately

save their own, or someone else’s life.

HOW TO GET INVOLVED

If you want to get involved in this year’s Drowning Prevention Week, you can register

on the website here, and gain access to their many different resources. There are

resources for schools, parents, community groups, and others so you can use these

to plan an education session for your children, staff or parents.

Consider the following activities:

1. Run a water safety educational session – you can buy or make related

certificates to give out to show a child’s participation in the session

2. Organise a water fun day, raising awareness of water safety at the same time

3. Hold a stall at a local summer fair to share key messages

4. Download and put up the water safety code poster

5. Share the messages on your social media platforms letting everyone know you

are supporting the awareness week. Suitable images are available from the

website

6. Hold a fundraiser for the charity

If you download the Drowning Prevention Week Toolkit, you will find many useful

ideas and activities along with risk assessment forms, email and letter templates

and examples of press releases for local news outlets, to get you started.

WATER SAFETY AT HOME

Whilst drownings at home are less frequent that at other places, the RLSS UK believe

they are more preventable. So it is important to pass on the advice for water safety

at home so that nurseries can ensure they are using water safely in their settings

and they are taking action to pass this advice on to their parents and staff.

• Always use self-closing gates, fences

and locks to prevent children from

gaining access to pools of water

• Securely cover all water storage

tanks and drains

• Empty paddling pools and buckets

as soon as they have been used.

Always turn paddling pools upside

down once empty

• Always supervise bath time (never

leave children unattended). Empty the

bath as soon as possible after use

• Vulnerable adults and people who

suffer from sudden seizures should

consider using showers rather than

baths

rlss.org.uk

And if you needed any more

motivation, there are some

heart-wrenching true stories

on the website about young

people who have lost their

lives by drowning. Don’t let

the people you know and love

become a statistic – spread the

word and take action to prevent

drowning today.

14 Parenta.com June 2019 15


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16 Parenta.com June 2019 17


The life cycle of of a a butterfly

butterfly

Everyone loves butterflies. These fragile and beautiful creatures grace all continents (except

Antarctica), and herald in the summer. They pollinate flowers, help scientists monitor the

environment and ecosystems, and are an important element in the food chain.

There are approximately 20,000 global species of butterfly of

which 71 have been recorded in Britain and Ireland. Learning

about their life cycle is a great way to introduce environmental

topics, as well as the idea that things change and develop as

they grow, just like frogs, chickens and humans!

Here’s some information and a few ideas for activities, which

can really help you bring the subject to life!

Butterfly life cycle

There are four stages in the life cycle of a butterfly:

1. Eggs

2. Caterpillar/larva

3. Pupa/chrysalis

4. Adult butterfly

Each stage has a different purpose and the butterfly needs to go through all four stages before it can reproduce. The process is

called metamorphosis and can take from one month to one year, depending on the butterfly species.

Related activities

Arts and crafts

1. Make some models of the different stages of the life cycle. You could

use, playdough, clay or paper to create the eggs; egg boxes to make the

caterpillars; kitchen roll inserts for the chrysalis; and pipe-cleaners and tissue

paper to make some beautiful adult butterflies.

2. Little people’s handprints make excellent ‘wings’ for butterfly pictures and

you can use their footprints for the body too! See this website for some great

examples you can easily recreate.

3. Why not create butterfly pictures by dropping different colours of paint onto

one side of a piece of paper, then folding the paper in half to print a mirrored

image on the opposite side? You can use paper plates too, and then cut them

into different wing shapes.

4. There are many free-to-download colouring pages on the web which include

all stages of the life cycle, but some good ones can be found here.

Practical nature

1. One of the best ways for children

to learn about caterpillars and

butterflies is to allow them to

raise their own. There are different

butterfly packs available which

allow you to look after caterpillars,

watch them grow into butterflies

and finally release them. You can

buy starter and refill packs here

and there is a lot of information and

other resources on this site related

to nature too.

2. Go out into your garden, local

park or wooded area and hunt

for butterfly eggs, caterpillars or

adult butterflies. Just be careful

and mindful that they are living

creatures.

Creative

Stage 1:

Egg

Stage 2:

Larva/caterpillar

Stage 3:

pupa/chrysalis

Stage 4:

Adult Butterfly

You can also introduce the idea of

the butterfly life cycle using creative

movement and music. Encourage the

children to start out as an egg, curled

up tightly; then have them emerge as a

caterpillar and crawl around to explore

their surroundings. You can then get

them to wiggle to ‘shed their skin’ and

find a safe place to become a chrysalis.

Finally, have them fly around as an adult

butterfly.

Every butterfly starts life as an egg and

if you look closely at some eggs (such as

Monarch butterfly eggs), you can see the

tiny caterpillar growing inside it.

The shape of the egg depends on the

butterfly that laid it, and adult butterflies

lay eggs on leaves of certain plants,

so their offspring have food when they

hatch. But be careful if you are looking

for butterfly eggs outside, as many

butterflies like to lay their eggs on

stinging nettle leaves for that added bit

of protection!

The larva stage of a butterfly’s life cycle

is what we all recognise as a caterpillar,

and the main purpose of this stage, is

for the caterpillar to eat and grow. The

caterpillar often starts by eating its own

eggshell, moving onto the leaf where the

egg sat. Newly hatched caterpillars are

very small and cannot move to another

plant so it’s important that the adult

butterfly lays its eggs on the right plant.

Caterpillars are very vulnerable at this

stage and need to eat and grow quickly.

When they start to eat, they start to

expand but their exoskeleton (skin) is

not like ours and does not expand with

them as they grow. Instead, a caterpillar

sheds its skin several times - a bit like

discarding clothes that no longer fit

and changing to something bigger. The

process is called ‘moulting’.

Once the caterpillar is large enough,

it finds a safe place and attaches

itself to a branch, leaf or twig. Some

caterpillars hang upside down, some

hang the right way up, and others create

a kind of hammock. The caterpillar

then sheds its skin for the final time

revealing the chrysalis, which hardens

over time to form a protective shell. It’s

here that the caterpillar has its greatest

metamorphosis, undergoing a seemingly

magical transformation.

You can think of this stage a bit like

recycling a plastic bottle – melting it

down and re-forming it into a carrier

bag or plate. In the chrysalis stage,

most of the caterpillar’s cells change, to

become something like a stem cell, then

reorganise themselves as something

completely different - an adult butterfly.

After about 2 weeks, the adult butterfly

emerges from the chrysalis for the final

stage of its life cycle. When the butterfly

first comes out however, its wings are

wet and small since they have been

folded up inside the chrysalis. The

butterfly needs to rest for a few hours

after emerging, to dry its wings and

pump blood into them, causing them

to expand. The adult butterfly can then

fulfil its final role; to mate and ensure

the continuation of the species. Female

butterflies will then find suitable plants

on which to lay their eggs and the whole

cycle starts again.

Whatever you do, have fun and

appreciate these miraculous little

creatures.

18 Parenta.com June 2019 19


Exploring the real heroes in our lives

This is the penultimate article in this series looking at superhero play, prior to the publication of my

book Calling all Superheroes. It considers real-life heroes and encouraging children to think about

how ordinary people can, and do, do extraordinary things.

own or smiling at someone who feels

very sad and asking if you can help.

These everyday acts of kindness can

make a huge difference to someone’s

day and even their life! We can explain

that heroes come in all shapes and

sizes – men, women, boys, girls, all

nationalities, all ethnic groups, all

socio-economic statuses and so on.

Everyone can be a hero when they show

compassion or care for others.

We can encourage children to engage

in socio-dramatic play and pretend they

are a variety of everyday heroes. Here

are some ideas of how to play with the

concept of real-life heroes and promote

this in your setting:

The young children we are working

with are surrounded by stories of

heroism in real-life, for example, the

firefighters during the horrific events at

the Grenfell Tower fire in London. They

showed bravery, emotional resilience

and physical strength amid such

terrifying circumstances. As firefighters

are ordinary people, we can explain

to the children that they can also be

brave, resilient and strong. Playing

at superheroes should not be limited

to those with superpowers or extrahuman

strength, instead, children can

explore heroic abilities relating to reallife

scenarios too. We want our children

to develop a growth mindset where

the sky’s the limit, or rather, where

there are no limits! This will require us

role-modelling, sharing stories of adults

and children overcoming adversity and

problem-solving in everyday scenarios.

One child that I have had the pleasure

of working with is Tom. His dad is his

superhero as this note that he wrote

implies. It says, “To dad Soopu Hirow

(superhero) luve (love) Tom.” He gave

this note to his father and told him that

the crosses were kisses.

Tom looked upon his dad as his hero

and many of our children will look

up to other people as their heroes.

Sometimes these heroes are fictional,

like Superman; sometimes they are

famous, like a pop star or footballer;

and sometimes they are heroes from

our everyday lives, like Tom’s Dad

or Uncle Fred! One idea is to talk to

children about heroism, who real-life

heroes are, and what makes them

special. Harris defines ‘everyday

heroes’ as, “heroes (in the local

community or among the students) who

are not wearing costumes and masks”

(2016, p.212). You might like to explain

that heroes come in all shapes and

sizes and many are people that we can

meet everyday and look after us, for

example, mummies, daddies, doctors

and nurses. Heroes do not need to be

famous, they can be individuals who

overcome adversity or do something

very special to help others. Perhaps

your children would like to draw a

picture of their hero or make a card for

their hero and invite them to talk about

why they are great.

When discussing heroes with young

children, here are a few questions

that you might want to ask:

What is a hero? Focus on all

heroes, not just superheroes.

(Ordinary people who do

extraordinary things?)

How can someone act like a hero

- what does heroism mean to

you? (Doing good, being

the first to help, putting

the needs of others first?)

What do heroes have

in common? (Amazing

at what they do? Help

us? Brave? Overcome

problems?)

Do you have any heroes?

How can we be kind-hearted

and caring heroes to our friends?

We also need to teach children about

how small actions are also heroic in

their own way and might make a big

difference for someone

else. For example,

asking someone to

play with you if

they are on

their

Invite visitors into your setting who

could be described as heroes, for

example, fire-fighters, park rangers

or police officers. Ask them to explain

their daily activities, equipment,

training, and why they enjoy their jobs.

Follow the children’s lead and allow

them to plan areas, gather resources,

imagine things and improvise.

Provide artefacts or props and

encourage the children to create

their own props, labels and signs to

enhance their play.

Offer opportunities for role-play inside

and outside.

Plan an event with the children which

encourages them to be heroes too –

for example a sponsored walk which

raises money for charity or helping to

remove plastic from the local beach, or

visiting a residential care home for the

elderly.

Show the children the various icons

and logos that many heroes have

and create a logo for an

everyday hero of their choice.

Encourage the children to

make ‘My Hero!’ cards for

someone in their family

who has inspired them.

Show children newspaper cuttings of

heroes and heroic acts – courage or

service to community.

Show children pictures of figures,

living and dead, who have been called

heroes – choose people you admire.

Notice and encourage kindness, for

example through creating a kindness

jar or promoting acts of kindness at

specific times of year.

Encourage children to be involved in

community projects, serving others in

some way, for example collecting food

for the local food bank.

Read stories and rhymes to the

children which focus on heroism and

overcoming difficulties.

Create a display about ‘Our Heroes’ to

celebrate everyday heroism.

Exploring the real-life heroes can be a

great way of combining the children’s

interest in superhero play with teaching

skills and attributes that we want

to encourage, like kindness,

compassion, bravery, resilience and

inner strength. So put on your x-ray

specs to view those heroes all

around you and also don’t forget

to look into a mirror and see the

hero that lives in you!

Tamsin Grimmer

Tamsin Grimmer is an

experienced early years

consultant and trainer and

parent who is passionate about

young children’s learning and

development. She believes

that all children deserve

practitioners who are inspiring,

dynamic, reflective and

committed to improving on their

current best. Tamsin particularly

enjoys planning and delivering

training and supporting

early years practitioners and

teachers to improve outcomes

for young children.

Tamsin has written two

books - “Observing and

Developing Schematic

Behaviour in Young Children”

and “School Readiness and

the Characteristics of Effective

Learning”.

Website:

tamsingrimmer.co.uk

Facebook:

facebook.com/earlyyears.

consultancy.5

Twitter:

@tamsingrimmer

Email:

info@tamsingrimmer.co.uk

Reference

Harris, K. I. (2016). Heroes of resiliency and reciprocity:

teachers’ supporting role for reconceptualizing superhero

play in early childhood settings. Pastoral Care in Education,

34(4), 202–217.

20 Parenta.com June 2019 21


Father’s Day

Father’s Day stick puppet craft

On Sunday 16th June, the nation dedicates a day to members of the family who we consider to be

father figures. In many countries, Father’s Day traditionally falls on the third Sunday in June and

unlike Mother’s Day, this event is celebrated by the UK and the USA on the same day.

Whilst France, Greece and Saudi Arabia

also celebrate Father’s Day in June,

other countries like Fiji, Papua New

Guinea, and Australia all celebrate

in September. This is thought to be

because, in the northern hemisphere,

spring is March to June. The reverse

is true for countries in the southern

hemisphere, where spring falls from

September to December.

How did it all begin?

The history of Father’s Day can be traced

back over 100 years, to 1909, in the USA.

According to one tale, a lady called

Sonora Smart Dodd was listening to a

Mother’s Day sermon at church when

she had an idea - calling upon her

local pastor to consider a similar day

to be held to honour fathers. Dodd was

the daughter of an American Civil War

veteran who single-handedly raised 6

children.

Dodd initially suggested that the day be

celebrated on 5th June 1910, which was

the anniversary of her father’s death.

However, this did not leave much time

for the pastors to prepare their sermons.

Therefore, it was decided that the

celebration would be postponed until

the third Sunday in June. On the day,

Dodd selflessly delivered Father’s Day

gifts to those who were too ill to leave

their homes.

In the 1920s, Dodd went to study at the

Art Institute of Chicago and stopped

promoting awareness of the celebration.

Without her efforts, the familiarity

of Father’s Day faded somewhat.

In the 1930s, Dodd returned to her

hometown of Spokane, Washington,

and took up the reins for the cause

once more. This time, she began

raising awareness of Father’s Day at

a national level. Initially, there was

some resistance to recognising Father’s

Day. Many Americans thought it was

another attempt by retailers to copy the

commercial success of Mother’s Day.

Even the papers mocked Dodd’s idea.

Making the day an official national

holiday

In 1966, President Johnson issued a

statement honouring fathers, which

supported the idea that the third

Sunday in June would be Father’s Day. It

was President Nixon who, in 1972, made

the day a permanent national holiday in

the USA. He said it was “…an occasion

for the renewal of the love and gratitude

we bear our fathers.”

According to another story, Father’s Day

first began because of a woman named

Grace Golden Clayton from Fairmount, in

West Virginia. An orphan, Grace lobbied

her local Methodist ministers for a

church service to honour fathers in 1908.

The story goes that she was inspired to

do this after a mining disaster killed 362

local men. Their deaths orphaned more

than 1,000 children and Grace wanted to

pay tribute to the children’s dead fathers

- as well as her own.

There are, however, alternative theories

as to how the day came about. Some

people believe Father’s Day to have

roots in paganism. Many pagans

believe that the sun was the father of

the universe and, because the summer

solstice (longest day) takes place on a

similar date to Father’s Day, there are

those who believe that this was actually

the original link.

Traditions on Father’s Day

On the day, people traditionally

post or hand-deliver Father’s

Day cards. Many people try

to visit their fathers in person

and gather the whole family

for a meal. Some dads are

lucky enough to receive

breakfast in bed or a

home-cooked Sunday roast

dinner, as well as gifts. But

it’s not just fathers who are

honoured on this day. Those

who are considered to hold a

fatherly role in the family, such

as grandfathers or stepfathers,

are similarly cherished

and celebrated.

You will need:

> > White paper

> > A printer

> > Colouring pens/pencils/markers

> > Scissors

> > Lolly sticks

> > Glue

Instructions:

1. Click here to download

our free template, once

downloaded, print it.

2. Colour in the template with

pens, pencils or markers, in

any colours you like, see if

you can use every colour you

have!

3. Carefully cut out the template.

4. Put some glue on the back of

the template, place the lolly

stick on the bottom part so it

sticks out, like feet, and then

carefully glue on the front part

of the template.

Voilà!

Happy Father’s

Day!

We’d love to see what designs

the children at your setting

came up with! Share photos

with us on Facebook or

email us at marketing@

parenta.com

22 Parenta.com June 2019 23


How to soothe a restless baby

Anyone who has tried without success to soothe a crying and restless baby, can vouch

for the fact that it can be both exhausting and upsetting - for parents and childcare

practitioners alike. However much experience you may have with children, it’s only natural

to be concerned when none of the usual techniques seem to work and you struggle to calm

baby down.

For babies, the world is an incredibly

fascinating, stimulating and utterly

exciting place. Everything is brand

new, and although amazing,

at times it can also be a little

overwhelming.

The overstimulation of senses is

one of many reasons a baby may

be restless, but other reasons can,

of course, include tiredness and

trapped wind.

With this in mind, here are five ways

that can work wonders to soothe

and calm a baby.

Change of scenery

Babies, just like adults,

need a change of

scenery and fresh air.

As babies become

a little older,

they

love being out and about for their

walk or play - and if it falls around

the same time each day; they come

to expect it. They can even get a

little bit grumpy if it doesn’t happen!

Sometimes, just going into the

garden or taking a walk around the

block can be a welcome change

of scenery, greatly helping to keep

them content.

Quiet time

As well as being understimulated,

babies can also quickly become

overstimulated, just as adults can.

If you find there is a lot of noise

and general coming and

going of people and

you notice that baby

is turning their

head away, it may

be a good sign

they have ‘had

enough’. Babies

can become

‘sensory

overloaded’ and

will need you to

help them take

it down a level. You can do this by

going somewhere a little quieter –

similar to when we’ve had a busy

day – it’s wonderful to have a few

minutes of quiet time to catch our

breath.

Relieving wind

For the beginning part of a baby’s

life, they will rely on us to wind them

and help to relieve gas; their little

bodies can’t quite do it all on their

own just yet. When a baby has wind,

it is often painful. Wind may come

in the form of a burp or gas in their

tummy. Often, burping a baby to get

rid of wind helps soothe them. This

can be done by laying baby down

on his/her back and doing bicycle

movements with his legs and also by

pushing the legs gently up towards

his/her tummy. Laying baby on your

lap and rubbing his back can also

help to relieve gas.

“Shush-pat”

This is a wonderful tool to use if

baby has become overstimulated

or overtired. By picking them up

Use this as a rough guide:

Age

and allowing their head to rest on

your shoulder, patting between the

shoulder blades, in a very rhythmic

way and shushing (not into - but

past baby’s ear), you begin to take

the attention away from the crying

and focus it on the rhythmic motion

of your patting and the soothing

sound of your shushing. This should

allow you to be able to help baby

be calm enough so that you can lay

baby in their cot and help them from

there, continuing to pat and shush if

needed, again, helping to focus the

attention on falling asleep.

And finally…

Often, an upset baby is a tired baby.

A baby’s ‘awake time’ is the amount

of time a baby can comfortably

stay awake for between naps and

bedtime, before becoming tired

again – and then overtired if you

miss this window.

Young babies are often

misdiagnosed as having colic when

in fact they are overtired, as on

paper, the symptoms are incredibly

similar.

Awake time

0 - 12 weeks 45 mins - 1 hour

12 - 16 weeks 1 - 1.5 hours

17 - 25 weeks 1.5 - 2 hours

6 - 8 months 2 - 3 hours

9 - 12 months 3 - 4 hours

13 months - 2.5 years 5 - 7+ hours

Tracy Newberry

The content in this guide

has been kindly provided by

baby sleep coach and sleep

consultant Tracy Newberry -

mother of two and founder of

Happy Baby and Me. Known

as ‘The Gentle Baby Sleep

Coach’, Tracy specialises in

working with parents whose

babies are between 6–11

months, solving their little

one’s sleep issues without

using any of the ‘cry-it-out’

methods. This significantly

reduces stress and protects

the bond parents work so

hard to build. With over 14

years’ experience working

with babies as a nanny and

as a baby sleep coach, Tracy

prides herself on helping

babies sleep gently, with

love, kindness and the utmost

respect.

Website:

www.happybabyandme.com

Facebook:

www.facebook.com/

HappyBabyAndMe

LinkedIn:

www.linkedin.com/in/

tracynewberry

*Note that as little ones get older, they can have different awake times during the day. E.g. a 9/10-month-old baby

may need a 2-hour stretch between waking up for the day and their morning nap, then a 3-hour gap between

waking from their morning nap and going down for their afternoon nap. Then a 3.5/4-hour gap from waking up after

the afternoon nap until going down for bedtime again.

Once you spot your baby’s tired signs, reduce stimulation and start getting your baby ready for their nap by doing a

short nap routine.

24 Parenta.com June 2019 25


Diabetes

Week -

#SeeDiabetesDifferently

Week

#SeeDiabetesDifferently

What comes to mind when you

think of diabetes? Older and

more obese people? Insulin

injections? Poor eyesight? A

life without chocolate?

All these things have been

associated with diabetes in

the past, and some still are

today; but is this all diabetes

is about? Or are there

misconceptions, prejudices

and stereotypes about

diabetes that could do with an

overhaul?

Every year, Diabetes UK, a leading UK

diabetes charity, organise ‘Diabetes

Week’ to raise awareness, education

levels, and money to fund future

research on diabetes. This year, it runs

from 10—16th June and has the theme

of “#SeeDiabetesDifferently”. The aim

is “to help people know more about

diabetes - not just as a condition, but

about how it feels to live with it.”

Someone is diagnosed with diabetes

every two minutes and there are 4.7

million people in the UK living with

diabetes. Diabetes UK think “every

one is different”, so here are 7 major

myths about diabetes that may need

reconsidering – one for each day of

Diabetes Week.

MYTH

1

Diabetes only affects older, overweight people

The media often talk about diabetes along with images of obese or

overweight people, and greasy, ‘take-away’ food. Whilst there is a link

between the rise in obesity and increasing incidence of Type 2 diabetes,

diabetes can affect people of all ages, weights and body types. Around onefifth

of people with Type 2 diabetes are of a normal weight, or underweight.

That said, being overweight is a risk factor for Type 2 diabetes, so reducing

weight is usually recommended to reduce risk.

There are also at least 6,000 children and young people under 25 with Type

2 diabetes in England and Wales and the incidence is increasing. What’s

important here is that childcare providers are up-to-speed with diabetes

information and know what to do if children in their care have the condition.

You could set up a diabetes policy within your setting to make sure that you

are effectively able to look after children with diabetes.

MYTH

2

Type 2 diabetes is a mild form of diabetes and

does not need insulin

All types of diabetes are serious and there is no such thing as ‘mild

diabetes’. If left untreated, both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes can cause serious

complications that can be fatal. It is a chronic disease that occurs when the

pancreas either does not produce enough insulin, or when the body cannot

effectively use the insulin that the pancreas produces, leading to ineffective

control the body’s blood sugar levels, which can damage other systems such

as blood vessels, nerves and organs.

Type 2 diabetes can often be managed by lifestyle changes but in some

cases, as the degree of insulin resistance increases, insulin may be needed,

just like Type 1 diabetes.

MYTH

3

People with diabetes cannot drive

Being able to drive and be independent is something that many people value

highly. If you have diabetes and manage it well, research suggests that you

are no less safe on the roads than other people, so developing diabetes

does not automatically mean you cannot drive. Charities like Diabetes UK

offer advice on all aspects of living with diabetes including how it might

affect a person’s ability to drive.

MYTH

4

People with diabetes can’t do certain jobs

To some extent, this is true. There are still positions, such as some roles in the

Armed Forces, which are not available to people with diabetes. However, the

number of jobs that people are excluded from, is decreasing and charities are

campaigning to remove prejudice and ‘blanket bans’ around employment.

MYTH

5

People with diabetes can’t eat sugar or fruit and

should eat only ‘diabetic’ food

Eating is one of life’s pleasures and restricting what you eat can be difficult

whether you have diabetes or not! People with diabetes need to eat a healthy,

balanced diet in order to control their blood sugar effectively. Since everyone

is different, dietary advice can be a tricky area, and it is recommended that

people diagnosed with diabetes, see a dietician as soon as possible to get

tailored advice for their specific situation. And it’s perfectly possible to eat fruit

and sugar in moderation and still manage glucose levels effectively.

So-called ‘diabetic’ foods are often labelled as such because they include

sugar replacements, but patients should contact their dietician before buying

them. It is certainly not the case that people with diabetes can only eat

‘diabetic’ food.

MYTH

6

It’s difficult to travel if you have diabetes

People with diabetes travel all over the world on all forms of transport.

Preparation and planning are key, as it’s even more important for people

with diabetes to ensure that they have access to the correct medicines,

advice, emergency help and insurance when they travel – but they can still

fulfil their travel dreams.

MYTH

7

Diabetes is contagious

You cannot catch diabetes like you might catch a cold! It is a ‘noncommunicable

illness’ so is not passed on by touch, coughing, sneezing,

blood, or any other person-to-person contact. Some types of diabetes

have been linked to genetic factors, but this just means a person may have

increased risk of developing diabetes if they have a genetic predisposition.

Obviously in the space of one

article, we cannot tackle every

myth or misconception, or lay out

a comprehensive guide to the

condition, its symptoms, treatments

and complications. But hopefully

we have straightened out some

myths so you can indeed begin to

#SeeDiabetesDifferently.

What will you do in

your setting to support

Diabetes Week?

We’d love to hear about

your involvement. Please

email us at marketing@

parenta.com.

For more information about

diabetes, visit:

• Diabetes UK -

www.diabetes.org.uk

• Diabetes.co.uk -

www.diabetes.co.uk

• NHS website -

www.nhs.uk/conditions/diabetes

• WHO -

www.who.int/news-room/factsheets/detail/diabetes

26 Parenta.com June 2019 27


Using stories

to nurture selfawareness

Stories are an amazing tool to teach children

about different concepts and circumstances

in life. They are also excellent for supporting

children through difficult times. If you are

going through a hard time yourself, it is always

easier if you know someone who has been

through something similar. The fact that they

have experienced the same thing and come

out the other side is reassuring and shows you

that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Characters in storybooks can be that ‘friend’

for children. At big moments in their lives, like

starting school for example, stories can help to

not only prepare children for what is about to

happen, but also reassure them they’ll be okay

and take away the fear of the unknown, which

is linked to anxiety.

By reading the story and then

taking the time to talk about

the different characters and

their feelings, you can also

give children the opportunity

to identify with them and

therefore explore their own

thoughts and feelings too.

This is fantastic because

it develops children’s own

self-awareness, which has

a huge impact on their

emotional well-being.

I stumbled across a simple,

yet amazing way to use

stories when my daughter

was 3 years old. Like many

parents, I was hit by the

dreaded ‘witching hour’.

At 4pm on the dot, my

daughter would go into an

almighty meltdown. Being

a former teacher, I just

couldn’t understand how I

could control a room full of

children, yet I had zero ability

to navigate afternoons with

the beautiful little human

that I had created. It was

completely new territory at

the time and I have to say

that it had me in a frenzy!

Having worked with children

for years, I understood that

there were many reasons

for the meltdowns – she

was tired, she wanted my

undivided attention, but I

was running around trying

to do the 1 million jobs

that needed doing before

bedtime; she was hungry –

the list goes on! However,

despite knowing this, I still

found myself struggling

to get through this time

without feeling like I was

going to have a meltdown

myself. I decided that the

only answer was to put my

teacher’s cap back on and

try to approach it from a

different angle. I always

made my own resources

and had written and

illustrated storybooks from

my daughter being 4 months

old, so I decided to try to

create some fun resources

to keep her entertained.

Because I already had the

illustrations from my books

on my computer, I quickly

downloaded them and used

them to make some fun craft

activities.

Not only did this work and

our afternoon went without

one single cry or scream,

something else amazing

happened. My daughter

was familiar with all of the

books that I had written,

so when we were doing a

craft activity based on one

of my characters called

Bunty Bee, my little girl

started to talk about her.

She started to tell me that

Bunty had helped the fairy

to find magic dust and that

I then asked open-ended questions

that related the story back to my

daughter’s life and she proceeded to

tell me all about the times that she

is kind and how she helps her friends

at pre-school.

she was kind. I then asked

how she thought it made

the fairy feel when Bunty

helped her and why it was

important to ask for help.

I then asked open-ended

questions that related the

story back to my daughter’s

life and she proceeded to

tell me all about the times

that she is kind and how she

helps her friends at preschool.

We’d had so much

fun together doing the craft

activity and had developed

so many different areas of

learning. However, because

this activity also linked to

a story that my daughter

was familiar with, it gave

us so many opportunities

to explore the characters

and storylines as we were

doing it, which allowed her

to explore her own thoughts,

feelings and actions!

I know myself, if someone

said to me that we were

going to talk about feelings,

I would probably clam up

and feel a bit uncomfortable.

However, if I was with a

friend doing something fun

and just chit-chatting about

life, I’d probably naturally

open up more because the

focus wouldn’t be on me.

By creating activities that

could stand alone and that

were fun, but that also had

a theme underpinned by a

story, this provided a similar

safe space for children to do

the same.

The moment I realised the

amazing power of this, my

business Early Years Story

Box was born and I created a

range of resources to go with

every book I had written. To

this day, my children love

to do the activities and I’m

always blown away by the

wonderful conversations that

take place as we are having

fun together as a family.

If you don’t have the time to

create your own storybooks

and resources you can

access all of mine for just

£9.99 per year using the

code PARENTA. I will also

send you 2 free storybooks

as a welcome gift!

Find out more here:

www.earlyyearsstorybox.

com/subscribe

Stacey Kelly

Stacey Kelly is a former

teacher, a parent to 2

beautiful babies and the

founder of Early Years Story

Box, which is a subscription

website providing children’s

storybooks and early years

resources. She is passionate

about building children’s

imagination, creativity and

self-belief and about creating

awareness of the impact

that the early years have

on a child’s future. Stacey

loves her role as a writer,

illustrator and public speaker

and believes in the power of

personal development. She is

also on a mission to empower

children to live a life full of

happiness and fulfilment,

which is why she launched

the #ThankYouOaky Gratitude

Movement.

Sign up to Stacey’s premium

membership here and use the

code PARENTA20 to get 20%

off or contact Stacey for an

online demo.

Website:

www.earlyyearsstorybox.com

Email:

stacey@earlyyearsstorybox.com

Facebook:

facebook.com/earlyyearsstorybox

Twitter:

twitter.com/eystorybox

Instagram:

instagram.com/earlyyearsstorybox

LinkedIn:

linkedin.com/in/stacey-kellya84534b2/

28 Parenta.com June 2019 29


THESE LITTLE

PEOPLE

NEED YOUR

HELP TOO.

Write for us for a chance to win £50

We’re always on the lookout for

new authors to contribute insightful

articles for our monthly magazine.

As a nursery practitioner,

you work tirelessly to ensure

the children in your setting

receive the very best care.

Unfortunately, not all children

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You’ll be able to see firsthand

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making with regular updates,

letters and drawings from your

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

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

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

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

Here are the details:

••

Choose a topic that is relevant to early years

childcare

••

Submit an article of between 600-900 words

to marketing@parenta.com

••

If we choose to feature your article in our

magazine, you’ll be eligible to win £50

••

The winner will be picked based on having

the highest number of views for their article

during that month

This competition is open to both new and existing

authors, for any articles submitted to feature in

our Parenta magazine for 2019. The lucky winner

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

announcement in the following month’s edition of

the magazine.

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

more details, email marketing@parenta.com

APRIL’S WINNER

Joanna Grace

Congratulations to our guest author competition

winner! Joanna Grace’s article “The secrets of the

search jar” was very popular with our readers. Well

done, Joanna!

FIND OUT MORE

June 2019 31


Coping with change

This time of year can become stressful for young children, and for us all, as they approach

big changes in their lives. A major change for young children is when they leave your setting

to start school. Some children will cope with this transition easily whilst others will really

struggle with it; especially if they are the eldest child or only child in their family, therefore

they haven’t had the advantage of watching an older sibling go to school every day.

Here are some tips to help

children cope with the

transition into school:

Put school uniform in

the role-play area

This is such an effective

yet simple way of helping

children get use to one

aspect of school life – the

uniform. Ask around and

see if anyone has any

old uniform and book

bags that they no longer

need. The children can

then role-play schools –

if you observe this play

carefully you may become

aware of any worries that

some children have that

they are not otherwise

able to express. Another

great thing about this is

that children can practise

getting changed in and

out of their uniform –

something that they are

going to need to do at

school when getting

changed for P.E. (The

reception teachers will

really appreciate this!)

Create a transition book

With the help of the

school, create a transition

book that tells a child, in

very simple terms, what

their new school is going

to be like i.e. I am going

to ____ school. I will be in

the ___ class. My teacher

will be ____ . This is where

I will hang my coat etc.

Put one sentence on each

page and include a photo

above each sentence.

That way, the book is clear

and simple yet very, very

effective. If you then give

this to the family, they

can read it with the child

over the summer or at any

point that the child may be

having a ‘wobble’ about

starting school.

School visits

Most parents will be keen

to take their children to

all school visits, and I’m

sure that you will welcome

school staff who would

like to visit your setting

(most reception teachers

will do this at some point

during the summer term,

if they haven’t already).

If you have a child that

you think is going to

particularly struggle with

transition, then it would be

worth having a chat with

the school to see if you

can arrange some extra

visits for them.

Help the child

understand when the

changes are happening

One of the problems with

an upcoming change

is that young children

have little concept of

time, so they don’t really

understand when it is

happening. In this case a

visual calendar can help.

Just use a calendar or print

a calendar month off the

computer. On it, highlight

any key events that the

child knows of such as

a holiday or a family

birthday, plus mark their

last day with you and their

first day at school. You

might need to use visuals

to highlight these such as

One of the problems with

an upcoming change is that

young children have little

concept of time, so they don’t

really understand when it is

happening.

a visual symbol, drawing

or photo. The child can

then cross off, either week

by week or day by day, the

time until they start school.

This allows them to visually

get an idea of when they

start school, thus removing

the unknown and easing

anxiety.

Help children

prepare for school

expectations &

routines

Gently helping children

to learn some simple

skills that they will need

to use at school such as

lining up and not calling

out at carpet time is a

great way of helping

them understand what

school is like. That way,

the expectations at school

won’t come as such a

shock to them.

Be positive

Be positive about school –

this may seem obvious but

it is very easy to slip into

lines such as ‘you won’t

be able to do that when

you start school’. This just

instils fear into children

and even if the child

you’re saying it to isn’t

that bothered, there may

be other, more sensitive

children listening in.

Whilst the big upcoming

change that we know

about is starting school,

there are often other

big upheavals in a little

person’s life that can

benefit from the same

support – the birth of

a new sibling, moving

house etc. You can apply

many of the tips above to

these sorts of scenarios.

There are also excellent

Gina Smith

Gina Smith is an

experienced teacher with

experience of teaching

in both mainstream and

special education. She

is the creator of ‘Create

Visual Aids’ - a business

that provides both homes

and education settings with

bespoke visual resources.

Gina recognises the fact

that no two children are

the same and therefore

individuals are likely to

need different resources.

Create Visual Aids is

dedicated to making visual

symbols exactly how the

individual needs them.

Website:

www.createvisualaids.com

Email:

gina@createvisualsaids.com

books available to support

children through different

changes in their lives.

As well as being hard for

children, change can also

be tough for adults! I’m

sure you will be sad to

say goodbye to some of

the characters that you

have got to know so well,

but by putting steps like

these into place, you can

be sure that you have

done your best to help

them transition into school

happily.

32 Parenta.com June 2019 33


Do you love practical hands on

training and a good story?

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How to help parents

boost their child’s

vocabulary

A child learning to speak their first words is one of those magical

times and once they start, there’s usually no stopping them. But,

children need to know how to put those words into context and

there’s no better way of doing that than with a story!

As Philip Pulman said: “Storytelling is one of the most important,

most humane, most liberating and most democratic things that

human beings can do.”

Reading to their child from a young

age is one of the best things a parent

can do for them (as well as feed and

love them obviously). But sadly, not

all parents can or do. This can be for

any number of reasons. It may be

that they weren’t read to as a child,

so they don’t associate the benefits

of reading to their children or maybe

they struggle with their own literacy

skills and are frightened to admit it.

But being able to make up stories

can help to overcome some of those

issues and it’s not as difficult as you

might think. Believe it or not, we tell

stories every day, it’s what make us

human!

THE BENEFITS OF A GOOD STORY

Improves language

Listening to stories helps us put

things into context and this is how we

learn best. It can also invoke a love of

language and develops vocabulary.

After all, who doesn’t like trying to

use a pun or two?

Bonding

Children with the biggest emotional

and behavioural difficulties respond

best to stories and it’s a great way

for parents to bond with their child

too. It’s spending that special time

with them that’s so important.

Cognitive

Stories develop our thinking and

reasoning skills. They help to develop

imagination and help us to paint a

picture as well as developing our

memories.

Social & emotional

Stories help us to understand

emotions, they give us an insight

into the minds of others and can be

used to help us deal with difficult

situations.

Morals

Stories help children develop their

capacity to think about moral issues as

they have an innate interest in fairness.

So, if you would like to help the

parents of the children in your setting

be more engaged, there are lots of

ideas you can suggest to them:-

HOW TO CREATE STORIES

1. What toys does the child have?

Get them to make up a story

about what their favourite toy

does when their child is at

nursery. All our stories feature a

little dog called Pojo, who gets

itchy paws when his owner, Sam,

goes to sleep or school. Children

will love making up a story about

their toy going on an adventure.

2. Are there stories from within the

family that the parents can retell?

Children find it fascinating hearing

stories of what their parents or

grandparents did when they were

little.

3. Use props. Puppets are great

as it allows the child to act as

the storyteller. Or why not get a

box and put a variety of random

things into it such as jewellery,

candles, bus or train tickets and

a toy and then make up a story

incorporating those things in the

box. It’s amazing to hear the

stories they come out with.

4. Why not adapt some wellknown

fairy tales by changing

the characters so, for example,

change “The Three Little Pigs” to

‘three little spacemen’ and see

how it changes the story.

5. Play a story relay – one person

starts the story with one sentence

and the other follows on; keep

it going until you’ve finished

your story. If they’re out for a

picnic, why not use the location

and a person they can see and

incorporate them into a story?

SO HOW DO YOU RUN A SESSION TO

ENGAGE PARENTS?

1. Put parents at ease by starting off

with a short, fun game such as

the storytelling relay (mentioned

above), by getting everyone to

say a sentence of the story – we

often use “Cinderella” with some

hilarious adaptations.

2. Give them enough time to practice

one game before going onto

another; this will build confidence.

3. Why not start a storytelling club

after school/nursery and make it

a regular social event?

4. Be prepared – plan what activities

and stories you want to cover.

5. Make sure you tell parents why

stories are important and make

sure they know their role.

The key to it all is to have fun with

making up stories. The more you do it,

the easier it gets, I promise!! I’ve lost

count of the times someone has come

on one of our workshops thinking they

couldn’t make up a story and by the

end, they are usually some of the best

storytellers.

SO GO ON, HAVE A GO AND SEE

WHAT YOU CAN DO!

Tonya Meers

Tonya Meers is the Chief

Storyteller at Little Creative

Days. Tonya believes that

stories are the most versatile

and powerful educational

tool you can use and there

isn’t anything that you can’t

teach through a story.

She is co-author of the

multi-award-winning

Pojo series of educational

creative storytelling kits,

which have won awards

for their promotion of

communication and

language skills for early

years and primary schoolaged

children.

In addition, she and her

storytelling sister/business

partner also deliver training

and workshops for early

years practitioners, local

authorities and primary

schools. They offer a range

of interactive workshops

to encourage, engage and

enable children to develop a

love of literacy.

You can contact Tonya at

Little Creative Days via

email@littlecreativedays.co.uk,

on Twitter @littlecreative or

via Facebook.

If you would

like us to come

into your setting to run a

workshop on how to engage

parents, email me at:

email@littlecreativedays.co.uk

We also run a free, same-day,

parent workshop following

any of our paid

workshops.

36 Parenta.com June 2019 37


7 tips for

nystagmus success

in the classroom

Having just released my book “Can I Tell You

About Nystagmus?” I jumped at the chance

of being able to raise the awareness around

the condition, in support of Nystagmus

Awareness Day, 20th June 2019.

For those who don’t know, nystagmus is an involuntary

continuous wobble of the eyes. During your time

teaching, it is likely you will come across a child who has

nystagmus, as it is one of the most common forms of

childhood visual impairment. It affects approximately 1

in 1,000 people. It can either be congenital (from birth)

or acquired. Those with nystagmus have a ‘null point’ or

a point in which their eyes wobble less. This can cause

them to have a head tilt in order to gain the clearest

view possible. There is NO cure. Therefore, having a

broad understanding and a host of helpful strategies

will help you and your students.

When I was planning this article I sought some advice

from Sandy Turner, Headteacher at the primary school,

The Link. Sandy and her school had recently been

host to the launch of the aforementioned book, “Can

I Tell You About Nystagmus?” where she and her

staff engaged in some live training with me about

the condition. When I asked her what might be most

helpful for early years practitioners, she emphasised the

importance of considering the fact that the curriculum is

taught through play and games in

a free-flow environment.

So with this in mind,

I’ve compiled 7

nystagmus hacks you

can use in and around

your setting whilst

teaching the children in

your care.

Position: Always, always, allllllways

(you catch my emphasis?!) position a

child in the most comfortable way to

accommodate their null point. Do not sit

them at the back and do not expect them

to share books.

Triggers: Nystagmus can change across

a day - things that make Nystagmus

worse are: stress, tiredness, fatigue,

illness and excitement.

Playing: Physical games that require

hand/eye coordination can sometimes

be a challenge. Games such as football

or catch can be challenging as judging

depth and speed is a huge challenge for

those with nystagmus.

TIP: Consider adapting the games, e.g.

oversized balls or brightly-coloured balls or

reducing the number of participants to make

a slower and more visually-clear way to play

games that require hand and eye coordination.

Clutter: In early years environments, freeflow

and daily environmental changes

for activities, can be hard for someone

with a visual impairment. Often the skill

of memory is used to be able to navigate

familiar environments and so areas

that are packed with different toys and

activities can lead to something called

‘crowding’, in which it becomes hard to

visually see everything. This can frustrate

and lead to impacted play as they may

not be able to see what they want.

TIP: Limit clutter and give adequate processing

times. Pre-select a few toys and show them

away from the clutter so they can choose what

they want without getting overwhelmed. Give

them more time to react and process.

Body language: Some people with

Nystagmus can find it difficult to give eye

contact, which might be misinterpreted

by others and could impact on social

interactions with peers.

TIP: Don’t emphasise the need for front-facing

eye contact - especially for school photos!

Let them look at the camera in the most

comfortable position for them.

Fatigue: Having wobbly eyes can make

some with nystagmus fatigue very easily.

nystagmus fluctuates throughout the day

with its intensity. Having a quiet or lessbusy

area available to the child for them

to play in if they get fatigue, increases

independence and coping skills across

the day.

Safety: Nystagmus can affect depth

perception - so think stairs, steps and

changes in flooring, which could be

harder to see and navigate. This can

affect judging speed - so think about

children rushing around them or balls

being thrown at them in P.E. and being

able to react. On school trips, be aware

that new environments can raise anxiety,

unfamiliar faces, places and information

having to be processed. This can

affect nystagmus making it worse and

increasing fatigue. Lots of pre-visual and

auditory explanations can reduce this.

Factoring in breaks and finding quiet

areas to relax in, can be beneficial too.

These are just a few ideas to help you better support

children with nystagmus as well as other visual

impairments. Within the book, there are many more

helpful ideas, as well as a handy checklist to make

sure you are set each term! You can grab a copy

from Amazon and other online retailers. For more

information on the book, or if you would like me to

come and visit your school, visit nadineneckles.co.uk

for more information.

Nadine Neckles, is a special needs blogger and life

coach who has written for leading disability charities

including Carers UK, Caring in the Chaos and Firefly.

She is also mum and full-time carer to her six-year-old

daughter who has nystagmus and Chromosome 18qsyndrome,

a rare genetic condition. She is the inspiration

behind her first book “Can I Tell You About Nystagmus?”.

38 Parenta.com June 2019 39


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