Parenta Magazine July 2019

parentamarketing

Issue 56

JULY 2019

FREE

INDUSTRY

EXPERTS

Write for us

for a chance to

WIN

£50

p25

Building a resilient

workforce in the

early years

Supporting children

with sensory needs

Drinking games

for children on

summer days

+ lots more

FESTIVAL OF BRITISH

ARCHAEOLOGY

Learn about the Festival of British Archaeology and find out how you can

get into the spirit of history and archaeology in your setting!

FUN SUMMER FOOD ACTIVITIES • NATIONAL SIMPLICITY DAY • FRIENDSHIP DAY


hello

WELCOME TO OUR FAMILY

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

July is upon us and we are already halfway through 2019 – how time flies!

We enjoyed meeting so many early years professionals at Childcare Expo Manchester in June, discussing

constraints in the industry and sharing the successes of our customers. Thank you to all of you who visited

our stand – we’ve received some really great feedback about our new EYFS learning journey software Footsteps

2. Turn to page 8 for more details about this FREE software!

As this magazine goes to print, the annual Parenta Trust Rally sets of from Kent! Turn to page 6 for photos of the teams embarking

on their epic adventure and look out for rally updates (#parentatrustrally) on our social media channels.

We have a jam-packed magazine for you this month with so much advice and fun activities – ranging from how to build a resilient

workforce, to how to avoid spreading disease in your setting; and in preparation for some (hopefully) warm weather, lots of fun

food and drink activities that the children can take part in all summer!

The summer is also the time of year when the oldest children in your setting are preparing for a major change in their lives - to

leave your care and begin the next stage of their education. This month, we take a different look at how to help children transition

into Foundation Stage (Reception) – this time from a reception teacher’s point of view. You can read more on this on page 16.

Congratulations to Stacey Kelly who is our guest author competition winner! Her article “Reflective Practice vs Reflexive Practice”

was very popular with our readers and gives us some really interesting food for thought. We’re always on the lookout for authors to

contribute insightful articles for our monthly magazine so 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 25 for details.

We really hope you enjoy this month’s news stories, advice articles and craft activities – please feel free to share with friends and

colleagues!

Allan

DRINKING

GAMES

30

Joanna Grace shares

some easy and fun ways

to encourage children to

drink more in the summer

STRESS

Helen Garnett discusses

the stresses and

strains that early years

practitioners face and

offers advice on how

to build a resilient

workforce

10

SUPERHERO PLAY

Tamsin Grimmer concludes her

superhero play series by offering advice

on how to effectively manage superhero

play in your setting

14


JULY 2019 ISSUE 56

IN THIS EDITION

REGULARS

19 What our customers say

24 Sensory archaeology craft

25 Write for us for a chance to win £50

25 Guest author winner announced

NEWS

4 GECCO real nappy launch – reducing plastic

pollution

5 Reduction of fresh fruit and vegetables for

children in nurseries

6 Parenta Trust news - The Parenta Trust Rally sets

off!

8 Get Footsteps 2 for FREE!

Get into the spirit of history and archaeology – and

make ‘bones in the sand’!

Our theme of the month for July is…..archaeology!

The Festival of British Archaeology runs for 2 weeks from

Saturday 13th to Saturday 28th July and aims to bring the very

best of archaeology to everyone!

Special archaeological events and activities have been

organised across the whole of the UK, hosted by loads

of different museums, heritage organisations, Young

Archaeologist’s Clubs and youth groups – so there are lots of

things to get involved in and many opportunities to be handson!

There is a full list of events on the festival website.

Turn to page 22 to ‘unearth’ some really interesting facts

about the Festival and discover how you can get involved.

We also have our very own archaeological dig activity on

page 24, which you can do with

the children – hopefully

they will ‘dig’ making

‘bones in the

sand’!

Don’t forget to send

us your pictures

of the children

carrying out their mini

excavations – happy digging!

ADVICE

12 International Friendship Day

16 The Importance of a well-considered transition

18 Nursery graduation

22 Festival of British Archaeology

Hygge in the early years - what’s it all about? 34

28 How to avoid spreading disease in your setting

32 Fun summer food activities

34 Hygge in the early years - what’s it all about?

38 National Simplicity Day

INDUSTRY EXPERTS

10 Building a resilient workforce in the early years

14 Calling all superheroes: managing their play

26 The importance of personal development in

early years

30 Drinking games for children on summer days

36 Supporting children with sensory needs

The Parenta Trust Rally sets off! 6


GECCO real nappy launch –

reducing plastic pollution

GECCO is a registered charity, established to promote sustainability in early years childcare and

education. GECCO’s Real Nappy campaign aims to promote reusable, washable nappies to

reduce plastic pollution. GECCO is going to do this by providing information and support, and cloth

nappies to staff working in day nurseries, enabling them to support parents to make the change.

and rare spirits in November 2018, to

raise funds for sustainable ventures and

charities battling plastic pollution around

the world.

A generous donation of £5,000 has

been used to launch the campaign and

buy real nappies, which are reusable

and washable, and replace plastic

disposable nappies.

GECCO, in partnership with Tops Day

Nurseries, is giving a pack of reusable

nappies to early years professionals with

babies and toddlers in nappies, so that

they can support local parents to use the

same, as well as leading by example.

Chairman of the GECCO board, Cheryl

Hadland, is passionate about a cultural

change towards sustainability, through

those responsible for the education

of our youngest citizens. She is also

Founder and CEO of Tops Day Nurseries

(a group of 30 day nurseries in the

South and South West of the UK as of

May 2019) and of Aspire Training Team

– described as a world class training

organisation by DfE in the training of

early years personnel.

Cheryl explains: “There needs to be a

behavioural change away from plastic,

disposable, single-use nappies, towards

reusable nappies. Every child has about

6,500 nappy changes, generating one

tonne of plastic waste each. Damage is

caused by nappies disintegrating into

the environment, forming microplastics

which can maim and kill fish, mammals

and birds, and filter into the food chain

for humans.

Every householder in the UK has about

3% of their domestic rates bill spent on

getting rid of single-use nappies. This

is whether you have a baby in nappies

or not. It costs around three times the

cost of a disposable nappy to get rid of

it and unfortunately most go to landfill.

Using just one reusable nappy a day for

3 months will stop around 90 single-use

nappies being thrown away.”

GECCO’s Real Nappy campaign has

been supported by funds raised by

leading whisky auctioneer, Whisky

Auction, in partnership with retailer,

The Whisky Exchange, who hosted an

auction of one-off bottles of whisky

Every Tops Day Nursery across the South

of England has a hamper of reusable

nappies to loan out to parents to try for

free and will be encouraging parents to

move to reusable nappies, at least while

children are at nursery.

GECCO will also be supporting other day

nurseries around the country to support

parents to use reusable nappies and is

looking for donations of nappies, and

funds to buy nappies, in order to spread

the word as quickly as possible, and to

help save the planet from plastic waste.

Reusable nappies can be made

of bamboo and hemp rather than

cotton or microfiber; they are soft and

comfortable; don’t cause nappy rash

if rinsed normally; are easy to fit with

velcro, poppers or clips (no safety pins)

and are easy to wash. They are the

responsible, sustainable way to parent,

and even the new baby son of Prince

Harry and Meghan will be wearing

reusable nappies.

4 Parenta.com


Reduction of fresh fruit

and vegetables for

children in nurseries

The portions of fresh fruit and vegetables in childcare settings are being reduced, due to cuts,

which are threatening to close down one in five nurseries in the most deprived areas of the

country.

Early Years Alliance reported that some

childcare providers are under pressure

and only able to provide tinned food and

‘fatty’ meats to the children.

The report continues to say that 17

percent of childcare settings in the

poorest areas expect to be closed down

next year and one in five had to reduce

the quality of food they are giving the

children, with half having to cut down on

learning resources.

Quality and standards manager at

EYA, Melanie Pilcher, said to The

Independent: “Providers are having

to make really difficult decisions, and

sometimes that does involve the food

that is being served.

“We are hearing of people cutting down

on fresh fruit and vegetables that they

are offering.

“Sometimes it is about buying lower

quality items such as fattier meat, or

sometimes it is about changing the

frequency of certain foods being served.

Not having fresh fish as often.”

The guidelines for childcare providers

recommend that the children are offered

fresh fruit and vegetables during every

meal, and as a snack, and advise

against using fatty, processed meat.

“Unfortunately, quite often the

cheaper option is the less healthy

option. Sometimes it is about ease of

availability, not being able to go out and

source the best products.

“Early years providers are in the best

possible position to help tackle the

obesity crisis that we have, so it is

unacceptable that we find ourselves in

this position,” added Ms Pilcher.

Childcare settings will face an estimated

£455m in cuts in 2019–2020 which will

go up to £662m when younger children

are taken into account.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of EYA, said:

“Providers are straining to deliver quality

childcare on funding levels set in 2015,

leaving them forced to choose between

reducing quality and charging everhigher

fees or closing their doors.”

Purnima Tanuku, chief executive of

National Day Nurseries Association,

said that the gap between the ‘free’

Government childcare hours and the

cost of providing the care is getting

more significant: “This is squeezing

nurseries to the point where they are

really struggling to stay open”, adding

that parents are asked for contributions

or are paying extra for healthy snacks.

“We have urged the Government, again

and again, to make funding available

that covers the promises they have

made to parents, but they are just not

listening,” she added.

Labour’s shadow early years minister,

Tracy Brabin, said that the

Government cuts are

“hurting providers

in the poorest

areas the

hardest”.

The Department for Education said

that their formula for local authorities

is working and is fair, transparent and

being monitored.

The DfE spokesperson said: “We want

every child to have the best start in life,

which is why we are planning to spend

around £3.5bn on our early education

entitlements this year alone – more

than any previous government.

“The Government provides a significant

package of childcare to parents and

carers, including our 30 hours offer for

working parents of three- and fouryear-olds,

which benefited over 340,000

children in the first year of delivery.

“Low-income families also have access

to support through universal credit,

which can cover up to 85 percent of

childcare costs.

“We recognise the need to keep our

evidence base on costs up-to-date, and

we continue to monitor the provider

market closely through a range of

research projects.”

Original article by: The Independent

July 2019 5


Parenta Trust news -

The Parenta Trust Rally

sets off!

NEWS

From Maidstone to Monaco - The Parenta Trust Rally sets off!

As this month’s magazine goes to print, the teams taking part in this year’s Parenta Trust car rally

are setting off for Dover to begin the road trip of a lifetime – and to raise vital funds to build preschools

for children in need of a quality education in deprived areas of the world.

The Maidstone to Monaco annual fiveday

escapade – now in its 6th year – sees

teams drive over 2000 miles in five days.

They travel through eight countries,

experiencing the scenery of the Alps and

the winding roads of the legendary Furka

Pass - camping and undertaking various

fun challenges along the way - before

reaching their final destination of Monaco

on 30th June.

As he was putting the finishing touches

to his car, founder of Parenta Trust,

Allan Presland, said: “We are all really

excited for the five days that lay ahead

of us: this annual rally is a fantastic

way to bring people together for a

great cause and have fun along the

way - the support we receive year on

year is nothing less than astounding!

After seeing first-hand the enormity of

the poverty and lack of education for

pre-school children in post-conflict East

Africa, I knew I had to do something

significant to help; so I set up Parenta

Trust to support the building of further

pre-schools in the region. Our charity

has the support, passion and driving

force of some remarkable people who

are united in the belief that all children

deserve to have a basic education, no

matter where they are in the world.”

The first four Parenta Trust preschools

are built and open - giving

nearly 900 children an education

that would previously have been

impossible. The fifth opens in 2019

– in memory of former Parenta

trustee, Dan Carlton, who sadly

passed away.

Rally progress can be followed on Parenta Trust social media channels or

search for #ParentaTrustRally19 and you can read about how it all went in next

month’s magazine!

6 Parenta.com


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July 2019 7


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visit www.parenta.com/footsteps2-60 or call us on 0800 002 9242


Building a resilient

workforce in the

early years

“Working in early years used to be all

about the children. Now it is all about

the paperwork and constant changes to

legislation...There just aren’t enough hours

in the day and not enough money in the pot

to pay people what they deserve for the job

they do.”

- “Minds Matter”, Early Years Alliance, 2018.

There are many studies

on primary and secondary

teachers’ workloads and

wellbeing and yet the

experiences of early years

practitioners have been

historically overlooked.

The “Minds Matter” report

(Early Years Alliance, 2018

provided a comprehensive

overview of the impact on

practitioners’ mental health

and levels of stress on

those working in the early

years sector. The results

were alarming - depression

and anxiety were the most

common mental health

issues. A quarter of the

workforce was actively

considering leaving the

sector.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of

the Early Years Alliance said,

“The results of our “Minds

Matter” survey were a wakeup

call for many of us. We

expected to see the strain

of trying to keep a childcare

setting sustainable and of

managing ever-increasing

workloads in the results

– but no one could have

anticipated the sheer scale

of stress and other mental

health issues in the sector. It

was far and away our most

responded-to survey and the

findings were as striking as

they were upsetting.”

Key findings were:

»»

66% of the respondents

stated that their

personal relationships

had been ‘negatively

affected by work-related

stress or mental health

difficulties over the last

year.’

»»

62% felt their work/

non-work life was

unbalanced.

»»

44% quite often felt

stressed about work

or an issue relating to

work.

»»

52% of respondents had

not spoken to anyone at

work about their stress

or mental health issues.

(“Minds Matter”, Early Years

Alliance, 2018)

Fatigue, insomnia,

irritability, tearfulness and

mood swings scored highly

in the “Minds Matter” report.

Panic attacks affected

one in eight respondents,

and a very small number

had experienced suicidal

thoughts or self-harming.

With more than a half of

respondents keeping silent

over their anxieties, it is

clear that there is poor

perception of support.

Meanwhile, practitioners

find themselves floundering

in increasing workloads;

falling short in wages; and

largely unrecognised by the

masses for the invaluable

work they do.

Such gloomy statistics have

serious consequences for a

workforce with the task of

building a nation of resilient

children.

Improving practitioners’

mental health will only

be achieved through

collaborative approaches. It

is essential for early years

providers and practitioners

alike, to take steps to help

prevent low mental health

and wellbeing of colleagues

due to work-related stress,

and also to support and

comfort anyone who is

affected by mental health

issues. Early years providers

have the chance to place

wellbeing at the heart of

10 Parenta.com


their practice, recognising

that the needs of the

practitioner are of significant

importance to children’s

development. When whole

settings implement stressreducing

strategies, such as

finding solutions to address

isolation and depression,

there is a significant

improvement in mental

health.

A healthy emphasis on

emotional intelligence

and resilience amongst

management, staff and

parents, ensures that there

is no ‘putting up with things’

or ‘getting on with it’.

Instead happy, connected

communities anticipate

events and plan for them,

working together to ‘take

meaningful, deliberate,

collective action to remedy

the impact of a problem,

including the ability to

interpret the environment,

intervene, and move on.’

(Pfefferbaum, 2005)

“Building A Resilient

Workforce in the Early Years”

is a new publication that

follows the “Minds Matter”

report, published by Early

Years Alliance. The book

coincides with Ofsted’s

new “Education Inspection

Framework”, where the

outstanding requirement

is that leaders ‘ensure

that highly effective and

meaningful engagement

takes place with staff at all

levels and that any issues

are identified. When issues

are identified – in particular

about workload – they

are consistently dealt with

appropriately and quickly.’

“Building a Resilient

Workforce in the Early Years”

demonstrates how to build

both team resilience and a

culture of support to tackle

low mental health and

wellbeing. It is full of advice

on improving workplace

practice and providing

support to colleagues

to ensure a proactive

approach. It provides

practical tools to help

settings reflect on and make

positive and lasting changes

in their practice, and more

importantly, in their positive

attitude towards mental

health.

Resilient communities build

resilient children. A happy

and thriving environment

is central to a child’s

development and wellbeing.

Such an environment also

supports parents/carer’s

wellbeing. Once the daily

stresses and pressures

are recognised and lifted;

individual skills encouraged;

and abilities and confidence

intentionally supported

through a whole-setting

approach, the levels of

mental health and wellbeing

for practitioners can be

significantly raised, and in a

relatively short space of time.

“Building a Resilient

Workforce in the Early

Years” is available to

purchase here.

Helen Garnett

Helen Garnett is a mother

of 4, and a committed and

experienced early years

consultant. She co-founded

a pre-school in 2005

and cares passionately

about young children and

connection. As a result,

she has written a book,

‘Developing Empathy in

the Early Years: a guide for

practitioners’ for which she

won the Professional Books

category at the 2018 Nursery

World Awards. She has also

co-written an early years

curriculum and assessment

tool, at present being

implemented in India. Helen

is also on the Think Equal

team, a global initiative led

by Leslee Udwin, developing

empathy in pre-schools and

schools across the world.

July 2019 11


International Friendship Day

July 30th is the United Nation’s International Friendship Day. Officially proclaimed in 2011, it

is aimed at promoting friendships between peoples, countries, cultures and individuals to

“inspire peace efforts and build bridges between communities”. It is also intended to support

the goals and objectives of the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace and

the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World

(2001-2010).

Originally established by the greeting card industry early

last century, it was quickly picked up around the world

as countries adopted their own friendship days. In 1998,

the United Nations announced, ‘Winnie the Pooh’ as

their world Ambassador of Friendship, thanking him for

“his consistent message of companionship, loyalty and

friendship.”

UN Member States are invited to “observe this day in an

appropriate manner”; celebrating our treasured friends

by reminding them of how much we appreciate them

and thanking them with thoughtful gifts; as well as

reaching out across the miles to make new ones.

Friends are fun; friends help get us through life’s ups

and downs, and friendships can start very young and

last a lifetime. We all remember a friend we made in

nursery school; when we realised for the first time that

there were other people who liked the same things

as we did. So, what better way to get involved in

International Friendship Day than by taking part in some

friendship activities?

But we thought; “why should friendship promotion be

limited to just one day? Why not challenge yourself to a

whole month of friendship activities, and see how many

new friends you can make before the end of July?”

So, we’ve put together a list of simple, easy and

cheap things you can do to celebrate friendships, both

new and old, taking you from July 1st to International

Friendship Day itself. How many will you get though in

your own setting?

1. Smile at people; it costs nothing to be nice.

2. Write a letter to an old friend.

3. Write a letter to new friends in a different country.

You could connect with a nursery in a different

part of the world. Contact the nursery manager

and see if they would like to become pen pals. You

can then exchange cards and letters securely from

one nursery to another.

4. Sponsor a child – see the Parenta Trust sponsorship

programme.

5. Organise a ‘friendship tea’. Invite residents from a

local care home into your setting for the afternoon

and provide them with tea, giving you both the

opportunity to benefit from intergenerational

activities.

6. Make some friendship bracelets. You can use pipe

cleaners, string, different coloured pieces of wool or

cut up some straws to use as beads. Tie or twist the

tops together, then either braid, plait or weave the

strands from the top to the bottom. Tie around your

friend’s wrist with love.

7. Make some paper flowers for your friends.

8. Pick up the phone and say ‘hello’.

9. Give out some friendly hugs.

10. Make an international friendship map: find out

where people have friends all over the world and

add them to a world map.

11. Bake a friendship cake and give a piece to a friend.

12 Parenta.com


12. Watch a film about friendship – “Winnie The Pooh”

(2011) is a great start with a friendly moral.

13. Get children to bring in pictures of their friends who

are not in your nursery, and ask them to talk about

them.

14. Ask for a dedication for your friend on local radio.

15. Send your friend a card telling them how much you

value their friendship.

16. Start a diary/scrapbook about things you’ve done

with your friends.

17. Organise a sleepover.

18. Decorate a biscuit for your friend.

19. Make an appreciation board. Write the names of

each person in the setting on a piece of paper or

a sticky note. Give each person one of the notes

ensuring it’s not their own name. Ask everyone to

write one or two things that they appreciate about

the named person and stick them up. You may

have to get your staff to help with writing, but the

sentiments should come from the children.

20. Learn some friendship songs: there are some

wonderful examples with music and lyrics here.

21. Learn how other countries celebrate friendships,

for example, in Paraguay, they hold a Friendship

Day festival or parade, complete with floats, live

entertainment and colourfully-costumed dancers.

22. Run a session on the United Nations and how it

promotes friendship and peace around the world.

23. Encourage friendship by dancing. Teach the

children some easy folk dances like the farandole

– a medieval line dance in which the participants

hold hands and form a chain. A ‘leader’ leads the

chain of dancers in different directions around the

floor. You can see an example of a community

farandole here. Join up the ends to form a circle at

any time, skipping in and out, then drop one link in

the chain to let someone else lead.

24. Make a friendship board about what makes a good

friend. You can tie into anti-bullying issues with this

too.

25. Expand your children’s vocabulary by learning

some different words for ‘friend’ such as playmate,

comrade, buddy, pal, mate etc.

26. Learn the word for ‘friend’ in different languages:

e.g. amigo, freund, ami and many others. See here

for a list.

27. Draw a candle in honour of a close or distant friend

and write their name on it.

28. Apologise to someone if you need to.

29. Get the children to draw either their friends, or

some of their favourite characters with their friends;

like Postman Pat and his cat, or George and his

dinosaur.

30. Hooray - you made it! Now it’s time to hold a welldeserved

International Friendship Day party – and

remember to invite all your old and new friends!

July 2019 13


Calling all superheroes:

managing their play

Part of our role as early childhood educators is to facilitate play by observing what our children

do, how they use resources and the themes that regularly lead their play. Then we provide

opportunities to extend this play and develop their understanding. It is vital that we accept

differences between children’s preferences and value their interests, using them to tailor

an exciting and relevant learning environment for them. My forthcoming book, “Calling All

Superheroes” argues that a child’s interest in superheroes, in all its various guises, is no less

important and should be equally valued as an interest in dinosaurs, tractors or princesses. To deny

children the opportunity to engage in their interests disempowers them and gives them a negative

message about themselves.

This article is the last in the current

series on superhero play and

acknowledges that this type of play can

be very difficult to manage. It involves

balancing the needs and interests of

the children with supporting different

viewpoints of staff and parents and

carers. Some may love nothing more

than to engage in this play with their

children, whilst others might strongly

oppose it! The first and most important

thing within your setting is to consult

with staff, parents and children and

then decide upon your approach.

This will be unique to your setting and

dependent upon your context and the

views of all those involved. For some

providers, limiting superhero play or

banning gun play outright may appear

to be the easiest option. However, I

believe a simple ban is not the best

choice for the children as it would limit

their learning opportunities.

In my book, I share a case study about

Ben, who has created a gun in the

construction area. When a practitioner

asks him what he has made, he insists

that it isn’t a gun but a ‘zapper’ which

changes the TV channel. Ben then uses

his ‘zapper’ suspiciously like a gun when

far enough away from the practitioners!

Often educators turn a blind eye to this

play, which can be seen in many settings

around the world, or Ben might be told

to create something different or play

elsewhere. However, banning superhero

play in all its guises can give the

message to children that their interests

are wrong, bad or unacceptable. This

is not how we want children to feel!

Therefore we must think carefully about

our approach and perhaps design some

appropriate rules which will allow this

play, but on our terms.

Secondly, put a policy in place

which represents what you do in practice

and incorporates your values about

children’s play. This should summarise

your approach and clearly state what

you believe and why. It should also refer

to any rules that you have put in place,

for example, superheroes rescue and

protect other people, superheroes do not

hurt others or superheroes only shoot

people who are part of the game.

A superhero policy could include the

following points:

• How you will observe children

playing in your setting

• Your rationale about superhero play

– what you believe and why

• Your approach – how you will

respond to superhero play, e.g. role

model, join in, supervise

• An acknowledgement that there are

different perspectives on this

• How will children be involved or their

voice be represented in the policy

• Your approach to liaising with

parents and carers

• When you will review the policy and

evaluate how things are working.

It can also be useful to agree a pause

button or way to stop the play with

immediate effect and reflect this in both

policy and practice. This could be calling,

‘freeze!’ or ‘stop!’ Helping children to

be in control of when full-body play

starts and stops is also an important

way to empower and safeguard them.

If children know that they can say, “stop

it, I don’t like it!” at any time and that

14 Parenta.com


other people MUST stop at that point, they

might feel more confident if they need to

safeguard themselves in the future.

Thirdly, do your research – find out which

characters your children are most interested

in and use these to support and extend

their learning. You could look into the back

stories of the heroes they are fascinated

by and gather information relating to their

superpowers, costume, logo and any arch

enemy or nemesis to assist you in playing

alongside the children.

It would be helpful to link with home

and work in partnership with parents and

carers around this. They will be able to tell

you about any interests that stem from TV,

film, comics or books and may have more

of an idea where their fascination with

particular heroes has stemmed from.

Finally, do not micro-manage the

play! To use Julie Fisher’s phrase: “Interact,

don’t interfere!” (Fisher, 2016). Children

Questions for reflection

may need support in moving away from

the ‘bish, bash, bosh’ of superhero play by

thinking together about plots, storylines

and how these can develop over time.

This series of articles has looked at

superhero play and covers many of the

themes that I explore in my new book. I

have shared the benefits of letting children

engage in themes relating to superheroes

and how we can create an enabling

environment which embraces this play. I

discussed both rough-and-tumble activities

and how children engage with themes like

killing and death and also how sometimes

more boys than girls engage in this type of

play and how superheroes provide us with

an opportunity to consider our approach to

gendered play. In addition, I have discussed

how it can link fantasy with reality and how

we can develop super skills in children and

share with them how we can be heroes in

real life. So in calling all superheroes? Will

you respond to the call?

1. In what ways do you find managing superhero play challenging or otherwise?

2. Is this type of play covered by any of your current policies? If not, what could you

include in a superhero policy?

3. Are there opportunities to notice children keeping your rules and being gentle and

kind when engaging in superhero play?

4. Which superpowers do you value in your children and to what extent do you

celebrate them?

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”.

CALLING ALL

SUPERHEROES

Supporting and Developing

Superhero Play in the

Early Years

TAMSIN GRIMMER

Tamsin’s exciting new book “Calling All

Superheroes” is available for pre-order here.

Website:

tamsingrimmer.co.uk

Facebook:

facebook.com/earlyyears.

consultancy.5

Twitter:

@tamsingrimmer

Email:

info@tamsingrimmer.co.uk

EMMA HUGHES-EVANS

AND SIMON BROWNHILL

A David Fulton Book

For references and further reading material please click here.

July 2019 15


The

Importance

of a wellconsidered

transition

It is a busy time of year for EYFS

settings particularly reception

class teachers as they help their

current classes prepare for life

after the EYFS curriculum and

that all important transition to

Year 1, ensuring they have met

the Early Learning Goal (ELG)

they have worked towards

since birth! And then there is

the essential task of ensuring

that new entrants’ transition is

managed sensitively. Lindsey

Harris, a deputy headteacher with

a degree in primary education and

masters in early years, shares her

experiences.

The key to a successful transition is

relationships. Secure relationships

between nursery settings and schools,

between parents and schools, and the

most important relationship to nurture,

is that of the staff and the children

beginning school.

A successful transition considers not

just the processes and clear routines for

this transition but those that do this with

consideration and empathy for a child’s

emotions during this time. In order for a

child to seamlessly move from nursery

to school, a three-pronged approach is

essential:

School

Parent

Child

16 Parenta.com

Nursery

Nursery educators have worked with,

and cared for their pre-schoolers for

a minimum of a year, perhaps longer.

They are a fount of knowledge when it

comes to that child’s wants, needs, likes

and dislikes. Their insight into that child

is immeasurable, therefore schools need

to initiate and maintain a good working

relationship and open communication

with nursery teams.

Nursery visits

In order to do this, reception teachers

should conduct nursery visits during

June/July to have honest conversations,

and to discuss the nurseries records of

achievement so far for that individual.

This is also a time for the professionals

to share key information that has helped

them to form secure relationships with

the child during their time at the setting.

In addition, there should be time for

teachers to observe and interact with the

child at their nursery setting. Teachers

should leave nursery visits with a much

better understanding of where the child

is academically and how to care for their

emotional wellbeing in line with what the

nursery has started. This continuation is

essential to a successful transition from

nursery to school.

Parents and carers

The people who know the child best are

the parents or carers. They know all their

child’s quirky ways, what makes their

child happiest and what their child does

not like.

In order to prepare their child for starting

school, there are several practical things

parents could do:

• Promote independence e.g.

putting on their own shoes and

coat, doing zips, eating their lunch

independently.

• Purchasing and trying on uniform to

help create a sense of belonging.

• Help their child to recognise their

name on their school items e.g. their

new school jumper.

• Spend time preparing and talking

about school.


But this relationship is more than just

what the parent can and will offer to their

child’s learning journey as they continue

their way through the early years

curriculum.

The role of a parent during transition

from nursery to school is not just in the

form of practical support, it is about

supporting their child emotionally

with this next step in their education.

Therefore, it is vital that parents feel

secure in their choice of school and

have confidence in the staff. They too

are leaving the familiarity of the nursery

setting, making a huge leap of faith.

Parents must feel valued by their child’s

new teacher and reassured.

School transition routines

There are several ways to initiate a

good professional relationship with

parents and carers. All schools have a

slightly different approach to initiating a

connection, but here are some practical

things that practitioners may wish to do:

Teddy bears picnic

Children and parents are invited to

attend a picnic at the school with the

staff who will be responsible for the

care of their child. Children can enjoy a

picnic with the security of their parent

being there and adults at the school can

begin to support the networking process,

parent-to-parent.

Welcome meetings

Schools should host a welcome meeting

in June to share with parents important

information about the school; this will

include: what a child needs to bring to

school daily, as this may differ to their

previous setting; what a “typical” school

day entails; any part-time starting

arrangements; and information about

further transition sessions (often referred

to as ‘Stay and Play’ sessions). Parents will

be given an opportunity to ask questions,

meet staff, and purchase uniform.

‘Stay and Play’ sessions in summer

Schools should offer ‘Stay and Play’

sessions for children in the summer term.

These sessions are usually an hour long

and nursery children are invited to attend

to play in their new classrooms. In my

experience, it is better to invite ‘children

only’ to these sessions as it ensures

there is no confusion for the child when

they are expected to leave their parent in

September. As this is difficult for parents

to do initially, and as an hour is a short

time, I have always invited parents to

have refreshments in the school hall

and have encouraged them to network.

During this time parents are looked after

by different teams who may work with

the children whilst they are at school.

(e.g. SENCO and their team, the pastoral

team, the Senior Leadership Team). This

encourages open communication and

familiarity; if the SENCO wishes to talk to

the parent about a particular need later

in the year, the parent already knows

who he/she is and this always helps.

During the ‘Stay and Play’ session,

settings should use the time to:

• Make the children’s peg labels so

children know they belong.

• Share a transition book - this is a

book that some schools make with

photos of the classroom and the

adults at school in the form of a

story for children to read over the

summer.

• Make notes about good friendships

for class groupings.

• My school has always provided a

balloon with the school logo on it

in an envelope with a home visit

appointment scheduled. This means

the child can put the balloon on their

front door and teachers can easily

locate the child’s home.

Home visits

Schools should arrange to complete a

home visit to see the child in their most

natural environment. Home visits usually

occur before a child starts school, this

may be in July or the first few weeks in

September. Home visits are important

because of how personal they are. The

visits usually follow a structure - the

teacher will share information with

the parent(s) and then complete a

questionnaire (set by the school). This

gives the team a greater insight into

medical needs, dietary requirements and

anything else that teachers will want

to know first-hand, not just from the

school office. The child is the centre of

the discussion. When this is completed,

parents will have the opportunity to

ask any questions they may still have.

Whilst the discussions occur, the learning

support assistant/teaching assistant

will spend time down at the child’s level

reading with them or looking at their

toys. Some schools provide a book bag

to their new entrants and this can be

given with a reading record or home/

school planner and a picture book for

the child to share with a family member.

This is helpful for providing a connection

between home and school.

Part-time schedule for starting school

Finally, despite a child having gone to

pre-school and perhaps even spent

longer days in day care of some kind,

it is essential to a child’s wellbeing to

have a period of part-time attendance.

This enables a child to get familiar

with their new environment and their

new rules and routines without feeling

overwhelmed. Settings vary on this:

some encourage a staggered start;

some have part-time morning sessions

and afternoon sessions which children

are invited to attend. The best parttime

approach I have ever seen is

one week of part-time, all children in

together from 9:00am–12pm, Monday–

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday

9:00am–1:00pm with lunch. This allows

a child to build up their time in school

but doesn’t mean they become too

reliant on a part-time schedule.

July 2019 17


Nursery graduation

Although kindergarten graduation ceremonies have been taking place in America for around 50

years, the nursery graduation ceremony is still relatively new to the UK, but is definitely growing in

popularity! July is the month when thousands of settings, up and down the country, will be holding

their ceremonies for their imminent leavers.

The aim of a nursery graduation

ceremony is to teach children about

change as they move on to a new

chapter in their life. It also shows

them that change can be a positive

experience: children change, grow and

develop so much during these early

years, so these ceremonies can be a

great way of celebrating this.

The ceremony itself often includes a

small presentation, followed by the

children collecting their certificates and

some settings even hold a little party for

children and their families afterwards.

The day is intended to be both fun and

memorable, and usually talked about

beforehand as more of a party and

celebration, so that children are less

likely to become nervous about it.

Dressing up in different clothes and

collecting their graduation certificate

can be a rewarding experience for

children which can really help improve

their self-confidence too. At some

nursery graduations, the staff say

something about each child’s progress

and at others, the children entertain

their parents with songs and poems.

Whatever the format, it should be a

happy and momentous occasion for all

involved! The day will almost certainly

be an exciting one for the children, who

often have happy memories of dressing

up in fancy clothes, singing songs,

being given a certificate (maybe for the

first time) and celebrating with party

food and games after the ceremony.

It’s a great opportunity to mark the next

chapter in their life and watch them

be praised for their development and

achievements.

We spoke to Micah from Maidstone, Kent who has just had his

graduation ceremony.

Are you excited to start ‘big’ school in September?

Yes, I’m very excited – big school sounds like fun!

What are you looking forward to the most?

To be able to play with my friends and sit in the reading corner.

Do you have any friends who will go to the same big school as you?

Yes, some of my friends will also go to my big school!

What did you do at your graduation party?

We sang to our mums and dads and had party food! I love my certificate!

FREE GRADUATION CERTIFICATE

To make your setting’s graduation day even more special, the team at Parenta

have designed a wonderful certificate you can download! Download your free,

editable graduation certificate here.

Don’t forget to send us your photos from your graduation ceremonies!

18 Parenta.com


What our customers say

WHAT OUR CUSTOMERS SAY

TRAINING

My assessor was very thorough and was a

very good listener. She always responded to

my messages with quick response. She was

kind and helpful and I would recommend

the service to anyone looking to extend their

qualifications.

Lyndsey Jackson - Kings Meadows

Primary School

SOFTWARE SUPPORT

As always, a quick response and

great understanding of my query.

Always friendly and happy to help.

Carmen - Little Beans

Day Care

CHILDCARE WEBSITES

Absolutely amazing! Over the moon with the forms - so

professional and just what we need. We are promoting like

crazy to fill up and these will really help with new admissions.

Sending so much thanks for the time you’ve taken.

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TRAINING

Fantastic, helpful, experienced.

Tutors who are understanding and

supportive. Brilliant!

Justine Cohen

NURSERY MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE

- ABACUS

Despite being offered a free version of

alternative software from our local county

council, we much prefer to use Abacus

due to its ease of use. Abacus has quite

obviously been designed for USE by nursery

staff, and not by computer experts.

Josy Thompson - Fun Care Limited

July 2019 19


Support Parenta Trust

When you shop at smile.amazon.co.uk,

Amazon donates

AmazonSmile is a website operated by Amazon

with the same products, prices, and shopping

features as Amazon.com.

The difference is that when you shop on

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Bespoke Training!

If you have enjoyed reading Tamsin’s articles every

month, why not invite her to deliver bespoke

training at your setting? Tamsin and colleagues from

Linden Learning are experts in coaching, training

and consultancy and regularly share their expertise

at conferences, INSET meetings, CPD sessions,

workshops and seminars.

Tamsin has a keen interest in how young children

learn and develop. She has written three books

on Early Childhood Education “Observing

and Developing Schematic Behaviour in

Young Children”; “School Readiness and the

Characteristics of Effective Learning” and “Calling

all Superheroes: Supporting and Developing

Superhero Play in the Early Years”.

Twitter: @tamsingrimmer

Facebook: www.facebook.com/earlyyears.consultancy.5

Websites: www.lindenlearning.org

www.tamsingrimmer.co.uk

Email: tamsin.grimmer@lindenlearning.org

Ring 07793 060 077 to see how Linden Learning can

support your setting to be the best you can be!

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0800 002 9242 hello@parenta.com

July 2019 21


Festival of British

Archaeology

Have you ever wondered how we know about the dinosaurs?

Or what the walls of an ancient building can tell us about the

people who lived there? Or what an archaeologist does apart

from dig?

Well this year, the British Festival of Archaeology, which runs

from Saturday 13th to Saturday 28th July 2019, is your chance to

find out.

The Festival is coordinated by the Council

for British Archaeology, a UK-wide

archaeology charity whose aim is to

enable people to protect and celebrate

their archaeological heritage. The

aim is to showcase the very best of

archaeology for everyone, with special

events right across the UK, organised

and hosted by museums, heritage

organisations, national and countryside

parks, universities, local societies,

community archaeologists, Young

Archaeologist’s Clubs and youth groups.

The aim of the Festival is “to make

archaeology as accessible as possible,

by providing hundreds of opportunities,

to people of all ages and abilities.”

Holding an annual festival helps the

charity to:

create a higher profile for ߀߀

archaeology

promote a better understanding of ߀߀

the past

increase public engagement with ߀߀

archaeology and history

diversify and increase visitor ߀߀

numbers to relevant sites

The organisers say they want everyone to

“understand, appreciate, and celebrate

archaeology in the UK”. Whether you’re

interested in fossils or castles; ancient

ruins or ancient battles, there’s plenty for

everyone to get excited about. The theme

for this year is “archaeology, science and

technology” or #ArchaeoTech, so why

not get out into your local, or not-so-local

area and discover the history that is all

around you?

Some of the events taking place around

the country include the chance to:

explore the local archaeology of your ߀߀

area and watch the experts at work

experience the excitement and thrill ߀߀

of being on an archaeological dig

and take part in mini-excavations

learn about the technology behind ߀߀

archaeology and have a go at

some of the geophysical and/or

technical aspects

experience life in the past ߀߀

with living history, warfare

demonstrations, food tasting &

mosaic making

visit historic industrial sites ߀߀

listen to different talks and practical ߀߀

demonstrations such as Viking

cookery

watch a battle re-enactment ߀߀

enjoy farm and woodland-themed ߀߀

activities, talks and tours on the

latest discoveries and expert-led

walks

It is entirely up to you to decide how

you would like to get people involved

and thinking about archaeology and

the wider historic environment. In recent

years, there were over 1,000 events

put on around the country by over 300

different organisers under the banner

of the Festival, and the promoters are

keen to exceed these numbers this

year. There is a full list of events on the

Festival website, which you can access

at: festival.archaeologyuk.org.

However, the fun does not stop

there, and the charity is also keen

to hear from people, clubs and

event-organisers all over the country

with ideas for holding their own

celebrations. And you don’t have to live

in a castle to get involved either. You

could organise a historical dressing-up

day to promote the ideas behind the

Festival and be part of the fun that way.

There is a leaflet of event ideas that you

can download here giving you plenty

to think about when planning your own

events.

Whilst many events are aimed at

families, some are more suited for older

children, however you can still promote

the Festival by getting into the spirit of

history and archaeology in your own

setting. You could consider some of the

following activities which can be done

in your own nursery:

22 Parenta.com


Why not

have a go at

our archaeology

sensory craft on

the next page?

Themed, historical days

Why not decide on a period of history

that you want to explore? The ancient

Greeks, Romans in Britain, medieval,

Tudor times, or the industrial revolution

are just a few that you could choose

from. Tell stories about people from

that time and encourage children

to dress up to reflect that period.

Remember to include people from all

ranks and walks of life too. It’s great

fun to be ‘king’ for a day, but most of

the work was done by the peasants

and the ordinary people, so get the

children to think about what life might

have been like for those people too.

Create your own

archaeological dig

If you have access to a sand pit or

garden area, you could bury some

objects or artefacts and ask the

children to carefully explore and dig

them up. You could combine this with

a small treasure hunt, getting the

children to follow a simple map, for

example. Once you have dug up your

‘treasure’, get the children to wash the

objects and then attempt to tell you

what they are, or what they are used

for. You can be quite inventive here

burying different things from either

history or the present day.

Get hands-on with

some historic crafts

Everyone loves modelling clay and you

could use this activity to explain to the

children about how people used to

make pots and cook with them. There’s

a great (if implausible) myth about

how the Romans lined their roads

with clay, but the local people would

steal handfuls of it to make their own

pots – hence the term ‘pothole!’ You

could also do some simple weaving

or spinning to link in with traditional

cottage industries.

Have some historical

fun and games

How about playing a game of quoits,

or trying to get a hoop to run along the

ground using a stick, or play marbles

or use a spinning top? Traditional

games like these have been played

by children for hundreds of years, and

not one of them needs an internet

connection or a battery! Have fun

in your setting by making your own

games too. And who knows, ‘pin the

tail on the donkey’ might be seen as

an old-fashioned game nowadays

so maybe there’s a place for that in

historic games too!

July 2019 23


Sensory archaeology craft

You will need:

For the sand:

• corn meal

• brown sugar

• oil

For the water:

• clear or blue jelly

For dinosaur bones:

• decorating icing sugar

You will also need:

• other decorative parts like

shells, chocolate eggs, or

anything you like!

• a clear container

• a painting or dusting brush

• a bowl and a spoon for

mixing

Instructions:

Let’s start with the jelly: make it according to the

1

instructions on the package and don’t wait until it’s

completely solid - you want it quite mushy, more slime-like

consistency - as this will be used for the water.

While your jelly is setting,

2

prepare the bones! Use

icing sugar to create different

bone shapes and structures and

let them set.

Mix the brown sugar and the

3 Put two-thirds of the ‘sand’ in one

corn meal and then add a few 4

side of your container, add your

spoons of oil. Be careful not to

bones on top and gently cover it with

add too much as you only want

the rest of the ‘sand’.

it to bind the dry products to a

sand-like consistency.

Add the ‘water’ (jelly) to the

5

other side of the container, but

be careful not to disturb the sand.

6

Add other decorative bits all over the sand and water.

You can even add some shells inside the jelly.

7

YOU ARE DONE!

Our craft is fully edible, so don’t worry if your little ones put it in their mouths! But we recommend that children play with it rather than eat it

24 Parenta.com


Write for us for a chance to win £50

We’re always on the lookout for new authors to contribute insightful articles for our

monthly magazine.

If you’ve got a topic you’d like to write about, why not send an article to us and be in with a chance of winning? Each

month, we’ll be giving away £50 to our “Guest Author of the Month”.

Here are the details:

••

Choose a topic that is relevant to early years childcare

••

Submit an article of between 800–1,000 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

Guest author winner announced

Congratulations to

Stacey Kelly!

Congratulations to our guest author competition winner!

Stacey Kelly’s article in the May edition of the Parenta magazine,

“Reflective practice vs reflexive practice” was very popular with our

readers. Well done, Stacey!

A massive thank you to all of our guest authors for writing for us.

You can find all of the past articles from our guest authors on our

website: www.parenta.com/parentablog/guest-authors

July 2019 25


The importance of personal

development in early years

Personal development is the process of taking the time to understand yourself, what makes you

tick and what triggers you. It is also the process of working through any barriers that may be

getting in the way of you living your best life and being your best self.

I often talk about the importance of

the early years and how they impact

a child’s future. However, we often

forget that we too are a product

of our own childhood and have

programming that subconsciously

influences our actions, reactions and

decisions.

What we saw, heard and felt on a

consistent basis throughout our own

childhood, created belief systems

and values that then formed a

blueprint for how we see ourselves

and the world around us. Personal

development is important because it

creates an awareness of this blueprint

and helps to give us a deeper

understanding of ourselves, rather

than living on autopilot, not knowing

why we are the way that we are, or

why we do the things that we do.

We all have triggers that are linked to

our own unique programming, which

is why we all react in different ways.

What affects one person might not

necessarily affect another and this is

because we are all wired differently.

Let’s use the example of a person

who grew up continually feeling not

good enough. There’s a good chance

that this person will now have a

subconscious belief that this is true,

and this belief can act like a default

setting influencing how they react and

respond to life. There are many ways

that a ‘not good enough’ belief could

affect someone:

They might:

• Find themselves feeling

inadequate around people

• Overreact or be sensitive to

criticism, even if it is coming from

26 Parenta.com


a positive or professional place

• Resist going for promotions or

different roles through fear of ‘not

being good enough’

• Be a perfectionist and put themselves

down

Personal development

allows us to look at

ourselves objectively and

gain an awareness of how

our internal programming

might actually be

hindering us or affecting

how we behave.

It can also affect people in ways you

might not realise.

They might:

• Work themselves to the ground

regardless of how it impacts their

relationships and health (because

they subconsciously feel that they

could always be better)

• Overcompensate for feeling not good

enough by blowing their own trumpet

or having an overinflated ego

• Struggle to take responsibility or

admit they are wrong because they

subconsciously yearn for approval

• Struggle to admit their weaknesses

through fear that people will think

badly of them

Personal development allows us to

look at ourselves objectively and gain

an awareness of how our internal

programming might actually be hindering

us or affecting how we behave.

A person who can identify that they are

not going for promotion due to their

negative beliefs, has an opportunity

to overcome this barrier as opposed

to someone who just says ‘no’ to

opportunities automatically. They will

ask themselves why and question if they

are making decisions based on fear or

self-doubt or actually whether it’s their

intuition. There is a fine line between the

two but a person who is self-aware will

make more decisions for the right reasons

and have more opportunities to become

the best version of themselves.

Life can often act like a mirror with

situations or people reflecting back to us

our inner beliefs. Working with children

is amazing but it can be very challenging

at times. If we can look for the lessons in

each challenge we will not only develop

as a person, but also as a practitioner.

• Were we put down as a child and

therefore made a vow to never make

children feel the same way? If so, we

could overcompensate, and this might

impact our ability to set boundaries.

• Did we grow up in a controlling

environment? If so, this might mean

that as much as we hated control,

we might struggle to live without it

because it is all we have ever known

growing up. We therefore might need

order around us over chaos and hate

seeing mess.

• Did we get criticised a lot growing up?

If so, this might impact our ability to

take on board constructive criticism,

which is essential for professional

development.

• Did we have to be perfect growing

up or were we taught that failure

wasn’t an option? If so, we might

have become a perfectionist and need

everything to be just so. We might

also struggle when children are their

perfectly imperfect selves!

• Did we grow up in an environment

where the expression of negative

feelings (such as anger or frustration)

weren’t acknowledged or accepted?

If so, we might struggle to deal with

our own emotions now and might find

it difficult to support others through

theirs.

There are many ways in which we are

impacted by people and our environment.

By looking deeper into why, we will

develop our own self-awareness, which

will have a huge impact on our lives

personally and professionally. We all react

and respond to life as it presents itself

to us. However, personal development

allows us to be the master of our

circumstances, rather than being at the

mercy of them. Our role in early years

is to nurture children and to empower

them with a blueprint for happiness and

success. We just need to remember that,

inside each one of us, there is also an

inner child that needs the same care and

attention.

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/

July 2019 27


How to avoid spreading

disease in your setting

It’s a foregone conclusion that wherever young children are together in a group, there is a

high chance that infections will spread. It’s an occupational hazard if you work in a childcare

setting where they are touching each other and the toys at the same time as wiping their

noses and rubbing their eyes with their little hands!

Illness spreads so quickly and easily

in these conditions as children can

be contagious for a day or more (or

longer in some cases) before they have

symptoms. For the first few years of

their lives, their bodies are building up

immunity to infections and they will

neither have completed their vaccination

programme, nor have developed good

hygiene habits!

We give our top tips on how to avoid

spreading disease in your setting.

Viral and bacterial infections are spread

in the same ways. A child with a cold

can spread the infection by coughing

and/or sneezing. Similarly, touching food

with dirty hands will also allow viruses

or bacteria from the intestine to spread.

The three main ways to prevent and

manage infectious disease in your

setting are to:

1

Promote good hygiene at

all times

It may sound obvious, but by constantly

encouraging good hygiene in your

setting, you really could prevent infection

spreading. It’s never too early to start

teaching personal hygiene to children

and it’s a good idea to remind staff of

your health and safety policy at each

team meeting.

Top of the list is handwashing. Effective

handwashing should be carried out

routinely by staff and children: on arrival

at the setting, after handling food,

using the toilet or changing a nappy,

helping a child wipe his nose or mouth

or tending to a cut or sore, playing in the

garden and after touching an animal.

In fact, in almost every situation that

you find yourself as you are carrying

28 Parenta.com


out your day-today duties! Always use

warm running water, together with a

mild liquid soap, not a bar of soap, and

always use disposable paper towels

which can be thrown away in a footoperated

wastepaper bin.

Tip: Why not have posters above sinks as

a reminder of your hand washing routine

to encourage consistency in hand washing

practice?

2

Promote immunisation

Some parents have strong feelings

regarding immunisation, particularly

surrounding the controversy in recent

years around the MMR vaccination.

Although it is important to support

and respect parents’ wishes wherever

possible, it is also the setting’s

responsibility to safeguard the health of

the children in your care by ensuring the

vast majority are immunised. This also

applies to staff!

Tip: Education is key, so you could speak to

parents face-to-face, have posters on the

walls or send out immunisation advice/

reminders in your newsletter.

3

Remove the sick child

from the immediate

environment

Even if you follow all the best health and

safety procedures, and with every best

will in the world, you will experience

sick children in your care at some point.

Symptoms develop swiftly, and even

the most conscientious parent may

drop off a child who is ill. If, during the

day, you notice runny noses, coughing,

fever, or other signs of illness, you must

act quickly as the virus or infection will

easily spread to other children.

In most settings, staff are not able to

individually care for a sick child due to

lack of space, or staff-to-child ratios

(or both!) In some, the child can be

kept comfortable and allowed to rest

in a separate area of the room where

the other children have already been

exposed.

In certain cases, it is even better for

the child not to be moved to another

area – this is to prevent their illness

from spreading around the setting and

also to allow good supervision of the

child. When the child is waiting to be

picked up, they should be kept in an

area where there is no contact with the

children who have not already been

exposed to their infection.

Most settings have a 24-hour waiting

period before children who are getting

over fevers can return. This policy not

only prevents the spread of illness but

ensures that children feel well enough to

participate in fun activities.

Tip: Your health and safety policy should

include the exclusion of staff as well as

children while they are infectious. They

may return to work when they are no

longer infectious, provided they feel well

enough to do so.

As well as these three main areas, there

are many other things that you can do

to help reduce the spread of infection.

We’ve listed a few here – some of which

you could incorporate into posters

around your setting.

• Sanitise toys and furniture daily.

• Wipe changing mats with soapy

water or a baby wipe after each use

and disinfect nappy changing areas

at the end of every day.

• Encourage children and adults to

cover their mouth and nose with a

tissue and wash hands after using

or disposing of tissues.

• Clean spillages using a product

which combines detergent and

disinfectant – this is essential for

working against both bacteria and

viruses.

• Clean children’s skin with a

disposable wipe. Flannels should

not be used to clean bottoms. Label

nappy creams and lotions with the

child’s name and do not share with

others.

Get parents on board

As well as the health and safety

aspects, another really important factor

in preventing illness spreading in your

setting is to build a trusting relationship

with parents – encourage them to share

important and relevant health or illness

information with you. If you are informed

in plenty of time about illnesses in the

children or their families, you will be in

a good position to reduce anxiety which

other parents may have about their own

children’s health and wellbeing, as well

as being equipped to be able to prevent

the spread of disease.

Keep healthy!

There are also lots of ways in which you

can help yourself and your staff stay as

healthy as possible to try and reduce the

risk of staff illness. Go outdoors as often

as possible, boost your vitamin C and D

intake, drink plenty of water and try and

get enough sleep!

More information about staff health and

wellbeing can be found on the Parenta

blog.

Parenta now offer

e-learning

CPD courses!

If you want to learn more about

infection prevention and control, or

refresh your existing knowledge,

why not take a look at our CPD

course “Care Certificate Standard

15: Infection Prevention and

Control” here.

July 2019 29


Drinking games for children

on summer days

Being well hydrated is essential for health and for learning, a dehydrated child will tire quickly

and lack focus. In the warmer weather it is essential that children take on enough liquid whilst

at school. The worry of a few extra toilet breaks is far less of a concern than the health risks of

dehydration, especially when you are supporting younger or more vulnerable children.

Children have less capacity than adults

to recognise their thirst. An adult may

feel a headache brewing and drink

a glass of water in response, a child

will not know to do this. Furthermore,

differences in sensory processing

abilities can affect a person’s internal

registry of their own thirst.

Our eighth sensory system: our

interoception, is rapidly becoming better

understood. Unlike our other senses

which are all about sensing the world

outside of ourselves, interoception is our

internal sense. Through our interoceptive

abilities we discover how we are feeling,

our emotions and our physical state, e.g.

am I happy, am I scared, am I hungry,

am I thirsty, do I need a wee? You use

your interoception to answer all of these

questions.

Just as with any other sensory

system this system works better for

some people than for others, and it

can be impaired. Many people with

neurodiverse conditions, such as autism

(myself included) report difficulties

with their interoceptive perception. I

remember lying on a doctor’s couch

being asked to identify where the pain

was coming from and trying to explain

to him that I do not always know what I

feel. Not being able to sense your own

thirst is not the same as not feeling

thirsty. For children like me, you need to

teach them how to spot what they are

feeling through means of observation,

e.g. notice that your lips are more

wrinkled than usual, notice that your

mouth feels dry – ask us to spot concrete

observable things and learn what to do

in response to them: “You can see you

are thirsty because of X; you need to

have a few sips of water.”

Your settings are full of lots of wonderful

fun things to do, drinking water is

boring. Why would any child break away

from a wonderful playful activity to have

a drink of water? We do not want to lure

them with sugar, so why not lure them

with fun.

Here are a few ways to make

drinking water more fun:

Present the water in interesting

ways: tiny tea sets, unusual bottles, let

them pour the water themselves, in hot

weather it won’t matter if a bit spills it

will soon dry.

30 Parenta.com


Ice cube lolly pops: (you can get all

sorts of weird and wonderful shaped ice

cube trays) – freeze a lolly stick into an

ice cube, so that the child has a cube of

ice to lick or crunch, freeze slices of fruit

in to add visual interest and flavour.

Potion pops: in the morning invite the

children to make potions using water

and herbs or fruit juices (they could even

squeeze them themselves) and then

freeze their potions into ice lollies for

them to consume in the afternoon.

Play aqua tic tac toe: use a cup cake

baking tray as a board, fill each divot

with water. Players each have a straw

(paper or reusable of course). On their

turn, they drink the water from the

square of the board they intend to play

in and place a token into the empty

divot. Using a straw has the added

benefit of strengthening the muscles

around the mouth, these are used for

articulating sound and swallowing saliva

– all great stuff!

Land the spaceship: this is a great

one for encouraging children to drink

enough water (rather than having a sip

and running off). Place a plastic figurine

(it could be a spaceship, I usually use

playmobile characters – boiling them

first to ensure they’re clean, poor little

things!) into the drink and ask the child

to drink until the figure is touching the

floor.

Shots: most people’s first thought when

you say drinking games is shots. Invest

in some brightly coloured, durable shot

glasses and then lay them out in fun

patterns; you could drink a rainbow, or

drink the eyes in someone’s face. You

can also use the shot glasses to play tic

tac toe – when you’ve finished your shot

you place the glass down upside down

as a marker in the game.

In the hot months, water should be

readily available all the time and should

be tempting to drink. It is no use simply

saying it is there for them to access if

they wish. Many adults still fail to drink

sufficiently in hot weather, why would

we expect children to be able to manage

this sophisticated regulation skill on

their own? I’ve given you a few ideas to

get you started, I bet you can think of

so many more. I’d certainly love to hear

about your drinking games – post them

on social media to me and I will play

them with my four-year-old!

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

July 2019 31


Fun summer food activities

As Nat King Cole once sang:

“Roll out those, lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer

Those days of soda and pretzels and beer!”

Yes, summer has finally arrived, the mercury levels are rising on the thermometers and we can

look forward to a cool beverage after work as the nights get warm and balmy – (well, hopefully –

unless you’re off on the Parenta Trust Rally, the rest of us are still in the UK after all!)

Looking on the bright side, during summer, we often aim to take our children outside and just enjoy the wonderful weather and

let them feel the sun on their skin (with sunscreen of course!) and the sand between their toes. However, once you’ve built a

sandcastle fortress and run through the sprinklers a few times, why not try some of our alternative activities involving summer

food, to help fill those long, summer days? They may take a few minutes, or a few hours, but we hope they will give you a few

useful ideas for some seasonal fun.

1. De-core strawberries with a straw

Strawberries are best at this time of year; they’re plump, sweet and juicy; and they’re also

rich in vitamin C, potassium, folic acid, and fibre so nutritious for little people too. But do

you know how to de-core a strawberry with a straw? No? Then prepare to be amazed.

Having washed your strawberries, hold the strawberry with the pointed end facing

down, then using a strong straw, place the straw on the pointed end and push the straw

upwards through the middle of the strawberry until it pokes out of the top, taking the

core and the top leaves with it. It’s a simple ‘hack’ but it works, and the best thing is

that the children in your setting can have great fun doing it too. The cored pieces look

like miniature ‘strawberry palm trees’ so you could make a food picture with these,

and of course, you’ll have plenty of delicious strawberries for a healthy snack as well!

2. Make an edible rainbow

This is a great way to encourage your youngsters to eat more fruit and vegetables and

teach them about the colours of the rainbow at the same time. Cut up some pieces of fruit

and vegetables of different colours and get the children to create their own ‘food rainbow’.

Below is a list of fruits and vegetables you could use for the different colours, but if you can

think of more, even better:

Red

Orange

Yellow

Green

Blue

Indigo

Violet

Red apples, red peppers, chillies, tomatoes, cherries

Oranges, orange peppers, kumquat, peaches, tangerines, apricots, carrots

Bananas, yellow peppers, pineapples, grapefruits, lemons

Kiwi, green beans, broccoli, cucumber, peas, green apples, pears

Blueberries, raisins, prunes, elderberries

Purple artichokes, blackberries, acai berries, grapes

Plums, aubergines, figs, red cabbage, red onions

You could extend this activity to sing about rainbows too using some popular nursery

rhymes and teach the children the names of the items you are using.

32 Parenta.com


3. Make your own ice lollies

Everyone loves an ice lolly on a hot summer day and children will love helping to make

them. You can buy some lolly moulds and sticks easily in any household store and for a

quick and simple lolly, make up some fruit squash, use fruit juices or yoghurts, putting

them in the freezer to set. However, why stop there? There are some great recipes on

the internet; see this website for some unusual ones such as avocado and coconut,

fruit salad ice-pops, and traffic light lollies. Or get the children to experiment and see

what they come up with!

4. Make a picnic and visit a local park

Summer would not be summer without a picnic, but you don’t have to rely on the old

‘sandwiches and cake’ anymore. The list of picnic-friendly fare has been expanding over

the years, and now, people take just about anything on a picnic, so think wraps, exotic

salads and quail’s eggs! Some of our favourites can be found here but be warned -

visiting this page can make your mouth seriously water! The great thing is that they are

all cheap and easy to make with younger children. And if you are going to the local park

for your picnic, remember to take along a blanket and some suitable bird food to feed

the ducks too!

5. Make a summer smoothie

Smoothies are great for younger children as they are often used to drinking milk, so you

could switch to making a smoothie every once in a while, to add some extra nutrition or

some hidden vegetables if children are resistant to eating vegetables. A basic smoothie

recipe would consist of:

• Milk or a milk alternative like soya or rice milk

• ½ mashed banana

• An extra portion of fruit such as strawberries, blueberries or raspberries

• Some ‘hidden’ vegetables such as kale, spinach or summer squash

Put all the ingredients into a blender or smoothie-maker or use a hand-held blender

to create a smooth mixture.

6. Make fruit kebabs

Fruit kebabs are fun to make but ensure that the children are well supervised if you

are using skewers. Cut up some ripe summer fruits and get the children to make fruit

‘kebabs’ by pushing the fruit onto the skewers. You could mix up the colours, create

another rainbow, or have different themes such as ‘all red’ or your favourite football

team colours.

Whatever you do this summer, we hope these ideas will keep you active and

healthy! Let us know what you make by emailing us.

July 2019 33


Hygge in the early years -

what’s it all about?

Pebbles Childcare is in the process of undertaking training, in order to become a ‘hygge’-

accredited setting. Hygge (pronounced hue-guh not hoo-gah) is essentially a feeling of cosiness

and comfort that sparks feelings of contentment and contributes to positive wellbeing and

feelings. Hygge was initially a Danish lifestyle trend (the word means ‘fun’ in Danish) but many

Western cultures are adopting this positive approach to their homes, settings, wellbeing and

general lifestyle choices, in order to create and develop a more positive environment and

approach to life by enjoying and focusing on the simple things that the world has to offer. Chloe

Webster from Pebbles Childcare explains what this means for her setting.

As part of this

transformation, we are

reducing the amount

of plastic toys in our

environments, instead

introducing not only

wooden resources, but

real, china items and other

materials to the children.

One of our most recent

additions to the setting is

our stunning china dinner

service, fondly referred to

as ‘The Flora Dora’ by the

children. This was of course

a well-thought-about

decision on our behalf

before we transitioned

the children from plastic

tableware to real china,

but one we felt they would

benefit greatly from.

Across the early years

sector currently, many

settings are wanting to

move away from plastic,

introduce ‘real’ items

and materials and loose

parts, as inspired by ‘The

Curiosity Approach’ and

other pedagogies, however

many are concerned about

the children breaking these

new, precious, real items.

In our opinion, that

completely takes away

the element of awe and

wonder, curiosity and

investigation that, by

having these items and

resources freely accessible

within your provision

ignites. And if practitioners

are concerned by this

element of risk and thus

limit the children’s access

to these resources, or only

offer them for their older

cohort, then essentially

they are missing the point

and their setting is not fully

onboard with incorporating

these elements of various

pedagogies into their

practice and provision,

thus making them

meaningless for the

children.

Children need to be able

to freely explore, handle,

manipulate, investigate

and experience items

and resources in order

to fully understand their

uses, their fragility, the

potential risks they can

hold and ultimately, how

precious these items can

be. Exploring items in such

a way enables the children

to not only understand

the object and it’s uses as

well as it’s fragility, but it

also enables the children

34 Parenta.com


to learn that precious

items like china and other

fragile materials need to

be respected, which is

an invaluable learning

experience in itself.

Of course, it is likely that

along the line, something

will get broken, however

this again is a valuable

learning experience.

Children will not learn from

constantly being told that

they will break a precious

item that they aren’t

allowed to freely handle;

children will essentially

learn, when they do

drop the object and it

breaks or shatters. This

is a life lesson, and one

children cannot learn from

plastic resources or from

restricted access to other

materials.

Similarly, we have noticed

via forums, blogs and

other media that many

settings only allow their

older children access to

these types of resources

and loose parts, which

again in our opinion, lacks

validity and meaning for

the children. If children

go through their early

education not experiencing

these items, when they

reach your pre-school

room with lots of high end,

precious resources freely

available, they won’t know

what to do with them,

and thus, their experience

and your provision will

be impacted as a result.

Of course you have to

be mindful about certain

resources being choking

hazards for your younger

children (this is something

that is difficult to manage,

but not impossible, within

a home-based childcare

provision), however, there

is absolutely no reason

why your 18-month-old

can’t have access to a real

clock, typewriter, metal

kitchen utensils, wooden

loose parts, curtain rings

and the other items from

the extensive range of

resources you can provide

them with. If you enable

your younger children to

have access to these items

and to explore them at

their own pace and in their

own way, these children

will automatically grow

up to learn, respect and

understand these and

other similar items as their

curiosity has been ignited

and fostered from the

outset.

In essence, what we are

trying to stress here is that

in order to fully embed

and implement new and

meaningful pedagogies

into your setting, you have

to be fully committed to

the real meaning and

ethos of the pedagogy and

understand the benefits

Early years can be so

bogged down with

paperwork, Government

input and legislation; let’s

do what we can to inspire

and ignite the awe and

wonder in our children’s

learning experiences

this type of learning and

a broad, diverse range

of resources can have on

the children’s learning

experiences.

Our transformation into

a Hygge-accredited

setting is an ongoing

one, as overhauling and

replacing your resources

and environment is timeconsuming

and costly.

However, we hope to

have completely made the

transition by September,

ready for our new cohort

of children and once

Chloe has completed the

accreditation officially.

Early years can be so

bogged down with

paperwork, Government

input and legislation; let’s

do what we can to inspire

and ignite the awe and

wonder in our children’s

learning experiences. In

our opinions, the benefits

of using real, fragile

materials hugely outweigh

the drawbacks, and our

children and their current

experiences, learning

styles and the new

resources and skills they

are learning, are testament

to that.

July 2019 35


Supporting children

with sensory needs

Everyone experiences things differently and some people

experience noise, smells, lights, tastes and the feel of

things in a very heightened way. In your setting, you may

have a child that keeps on removing a certain item of

clothing. You may have a child that really doesn’t like loud

noises and often seeks the quieter corner of your setting.

You may have a child that doesn’t like the glare of bright

lights. It could be that these children are experiencing their

senses in a much stronger way than their peers.

Children that are oversensitive

to sensory experiences often

hear noises louder than others,

they smell things in a stronger

way than you or I, plus they have

been known to find that certain

materials hurt their skin. For some

children, a trip to somewhere

such as a supermarket is quite

stressful for them because of the

bright lighting, the different noises

and all the different activity. The

hum of a radiator or fridge may

be unnoticeable to one person

but really distressing to another.

A child that has sensory needs

may appear to be misbehaving

or ‘playing up’ during a certain

activity, when in fact they are

struggling to cope due to sensory

overload.

This child may also be the

child that loves other sensory

experiences. They may love putting

their hands in gloop or shaving

foam, they may spend ages

running their hands under the

tap, enjoying the feel of the water

pressure running over their fingers.

Activities such as these are often

very calming for children so it’s a

great trick to have up your sleeve

if they ever become really upset.

When my own daughter was little, I

used to stand her on a stool at the

bathroom tap if she became really

worked up – she quickly calmed

and became completely absorbed

in her water play.

So how can you help the child with

sensory-processing needs?

Not only may sensory toys

and messy play calm and

engage a child but it is

also a great way to extend

their learning

The one single thing that you can

do that makes the most amount of

difference is to be aware. Keep an

eye out for that child and just know

that the reason they may be opting

out of a certain activity is because

they simply can’t cope with it. Your

understanding will go a long way

towards building a bond with that

child, and their carers.

Next, make other staff aware. You

often find certain members of staff

will insist the child comes and joins

back in with the noisy experience.

Educate them and help them

understand why that child needs to

be somewhere quiet.

Provide alternatives – have another

36 Parenta.com


activity for the children that can’t

cope. We all enjoy different things

– don’t expect ALL children to enjoy

the same activity, no matter how

exciting it seems. Try to create a

quiet/calm zone or room that is

free from over-stimulation.

Provide a variety of sensory

experiences – this may seem a

bit strange when I’ve just talked

about some children needing to

remove themselves from such

an activity. But just because they

struggle with one type of sensory

experience, they may really gain

from another. Certain experiences

can help children learn about

different feelings (smells, sounds,

taste, sights etc.) and can be really

helpful in calming a child.

Use sensory play as a route to

learning - not only may sensory

toys and messy play calm and

engage a child but it is also a

great way to extend their learning.

Children learn best when they are

learning through their senses. Use

this time to bring in new language

– what does the slime feel like? Is

it cold? Soft? Slippery? Also, if you

want them to practise a particular

area of learning, bring this into

the sensory play. Put numbers in

the water tray, put shapes in the

gloop, encourage mark-making

in the shaving foam. The other

day I visited a pre-school that was

encouraging children to scoop and

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

pour tea leaves! The smell was

amazing (to most!) and the children

loved the feel of the tea and

watching it pour.

Since all children are so different,

there is no one answer to

supporting all children with

sensory needs, other than to build

awareness and understanding.

Remind colleagues that just

because a certain experience

doesn’t bother them, it could

really bother others. Once this

understanding is in place you will

go a long way towards supporting

children with sensory needs in your

setting.

July 2019 37


National Simplicity Day

When was the last time you stopped to smell the roses?

Yesterday? Last week? Or so long ago you can’t really remember?

Have you EVER stopped to smell the roses? Or is the thought of switching off from daily life,

unplugging from the internet and social media, something that you wouldn’t wish on your

worst enemy?

Then it’s time you heard about National Simplicity Day!

On July 12th, many people will

celebrate National Simplicity

Day - the birthday of Henry David

Thoreau, an American philosopher,

naturalist, and ardent advocate for

simple living. They will switch off

their mobiles and electronic devices;

ignore their emails and purposely

forget where they put the TV remote,

in favour of a simpler, more natural

lifestyle, devoid of distractions and

the unnecessary ‘junk’ that doesn’t

make them happy!

And their challenge to you? Dare

you do the same?

Thoreau was born in 1817 in a

time that many of us today would

already consider ‘simpler’, yet even

then, Thoreau and his friend and

mentor, Ralph Waldo Emerson,

looked critically at what they saw

as the ‘trappings’ of society at

that time, and sought happiness

by returning to nature and a more

simple way of life. What they would

make of today’s fast-paced, global,

24/7 economy is anyone’s guess,

but it’s a pretty safe bet, that they

would not be impressed!

For the real question is not how high

our country’s GDP is; or the current

level of inflation or employment; but

rather “are we really happy?”

The answer to this question is much

more complex than quantifying

the number of people in work, but

truthfully, is immeasurably more

important! Thoreau believed that

the happiness that people sought,

was not to be found in acquiring

more and more material ‘things’,

but rather in connecting with nature

and thereby appreciating the

essence of all things. He is primarily

remembered for his book “Walden”

– a reflection of living simply in the

natural surroundings of Walden

Pond, where he spent just over 2

years living in a cabin in the woods.

National Simplicity Day is not

advocating people become a hermit

living in the woods, but it does suggest

re-evaluating the things currently in

your life and focusing on the really

simple things which are ultimately the

most important things to you.

According to a report from the

communications regulator, Ofcom,

(March 2014), the average UK adult

spends 8 hours and 41 minutes every

day, glued to some sort of screen.

Other studies have found that in

young people, heavy social media

use may be harmful for their mental

health. Thoreau himself said: “As

you simplify your life, the laws of the

universe will be simpler.” So was he

deluded, or just way ahead of his

time? Why not use this July 12th to

find out for yourself, your staff and

the children in your care?

How to simplify your life for the day

Challenge yourself and your staff to

do the following:

1. Unplug from the internet and

technology.

2. Switch off your mobile phones –

people can leave a message.

3. Disconnect from other electronics

such as tablets, game consoles

and TV.

4. Don’t use a ready meal or

microwave to cook your food.

5. Give up your regular routine in

favour of something different.

What to do instead

1. Go out and appreciate the

natural world around you; be

that the woods, the park, a

beach or a lake.

2. Take some time out to meditate

- sit quietly and try to switch off

the ‘noise’ in your head – try 10

to 15 minutes to start with.

3. Practice some mindfulness – sit

quietly and notice how your body

feels in the moment.

4. Cook your meal from scratch,

organic if possible – without the

use of a microwave.

5. Cuddle your children/family

more.

38 Parenta.com


6. Read a book.

7. Write a letter to someone saying

you love them.

8. Volunteer for a good cause.

9. Read some of Thoreau’s books

or essays.

10. Declutter your house.

Relating this to the children in

your setting

Mindfulness and simplicity practices

are not just for adults – in fact,

many would argue that it is more

important than ever that we teach

the children in our care, how to

relax, switch off and appreciate the

simple things in life.

A recent major study of children

and young people’s mental health

found an increase in mental health

disorders in children aged 5–19,

largely driven by an increase in

emotional disorders, (anxiety and

depression): up from 3.9% in 2004,

to 5.8% in 2017. [1]

In the 2–4-year-old bracket, 5.5%

of children were reported to have

a mental disorder, and pre-school

children living the poorest third

of households, were more likely

to have a mental disorder (8.9%)

compared to pre-school children in

households with a higher income

(4.0%). [2]

Mindfulness practices, on the

other hand, have been shown to

have significant positive effects on

mental health outcomes such as

mindfulness, executive functioning,

attention, depression, anxiety/

stress and negative behaviours. [3]

So why not introduce some

simplicity into your own practice for

the day? Try some of the following

things and see how much calmer

you and the children feel:

1. Remove electronics from

the setting for the day –

encourage children to use their

imaginations rather than rely on

electronic stimuli.

2. Allocate areas of your setting as

a ‘quiet or reflective zone’ where

children can sit and be quiet

and/or still.

3. Try some simple yoga poses or

get the children to lie on

the floor and relax,

thinking only

about how their

body feels.

4. Dedicate time

to playing

some

calming music and ask the

children to just sit and listen to it

with their eyes closed.

5. Ask a mindfulness coach to

run a session in your nursery.

Alternatively, you can find

some more excellent ideas and

resources here.

Whatever you do, have a simply

fantastic day!

“The question is

not what you

look at, but

what you

see.”

Henry David Thoreau


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