Magazine August 2019

parentamarketing

As the hot weather continues for most of us, we bring you some fantastic ideas for activities for the children to do - not just within your setting, but that can be shared with parents as they prepare for the long school holiday. There are around six weeks of summer holidays – that’s 42 days to fill! We look at some of the more traditional ways to keep the little ones occupied, like keeping a summer scrapbook, or holding a teddy bears’ picnic. These give such wonderful opportunities for making precious memories, at the same time as keeping their creative and literacy skills alive. More ideas can be found on page 16 – one for every day of the holiday – and all can be done on even the smallest of budgets! We really hope you enjoy all the new stories, advice articles and craft activities in this month’s magazine – all of which are written to help you with the efficient running of your setting and to promote the health, happiness and wellbeing of the children in your care.

Issue 57

AUGUST 2019

FREE

INDUSTRY

EXPERTS

“You can’t

say autism”

Helping children to

accept those with

additional needs

Should we force

children to say ‘sorry’?

+ lots more

Write for us

for a chance to

WIN

£50

p19

“WHY DID SOMEONE STICK THOSE

APPLES ON THE TREES?”

Tamsin Grimmer discusses how mud kitchen play can help to combat

the increasing problem of nature-deficit disorder

NATIONAL PLAYDAY • SUMMER HOLIDAYS ON A BUDGET • NATIONAL COLOURING BOOK DAY


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

As the hot weather continues for most of us, we bring you some fantastic ideas for activities for the

children to do - not just within your setting, but that can be shared with parents as they prepare for the

long school holiday. There are around six weeks of summer holidays – that’s 42 days to fill!

We look at some of the more traditional ways to keep the little ones occupied, like keeping a summer

scrapbook, or holding a teddy bears’ picnic. These give such wonderful opportunities for making precious

memories, at the same time as keeping their creative and literacy skills alive. More ideas can be found on page 16 – one

for every day of the holiday – and all can be done on even the smallest of budgets!

We have such a diverse range of expert advice from our guest authors this month. Turn to page 8 to discover how, through

effective questioning, we can enrich a child’s learning even further than just through child-initiated play. Stacey Kelly’s article on

page 36 called “Should we should force children to say ‘sorry?’” is guaranteed to spark discussion – do give us your thoughts!

On a musical note, on page 10, Frances Turnbull explores the importance of teaching children to love music from an early age

and gives us her top tips on how we can put this into practice; while Galina Zenin illustrates on page 28, how singing can be

incorporated into everyday tasks and used to make the children’s routine transitions during the day run smoothly.

Congratulations to Joanna Grace, our guest author competition winner! Her article “Communication hacks” gives some great

advice for dealing with children’s resistance to instructions. 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 19 for details.

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

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

in your care.

Please feel free to share with friends, parents and colleagues!

Allan

SING IT!

Galina Zenin explores

ways that singing can

be used to make the

transitions in a child’s

everyday routine run

more smoothly

SORRY!

hello

WELCOME TO OUR FAMILY

28

36

Stacey Kelly discusses

whether forcing children

to say ‘sorry’ really does

them any good and gives

5 alternative options

which encourage children

to understand the impact

of their actions

APPLES ON TREES?

Tamsin Grimmer considers the growing

problem that is Nature-Deficit Disorder

and discusses the benefits that a

mud kitchen can bring to a child’s

development

20

AUGUST 2019 ISSUE 57

IN THIS EDITION

REGULARS

19 Write for us for a chance to win £50

19 Guest author winner announced

30 Clay leaf print craft

31 What our customers say

NEWS

4 Sussex nursery is urging others to go plastic-free

5 Elmscot Woodlands Nursery delivers generous

donation to Uganda

6 From Maidstone to Monaco – the Parenta Trust

rally teams return triumphant!

ADVICE

8 How to extend children’s learning through

effective questioning

12 How to potty train a child during the summer

months

16 Summer outdoor activities – have fun but stay

safe!

22 Summer holidays on a budget – my summer

scrapbook

26 National Colouring Book Day

34 National Playday - 7th August

38 Healthy cold food for the perfect teddy bears’

picnic

INDUSTRY EXPERTS

10 Music ABCs for littlies

14 “You can’t say autism”

20 “Why did someone stick those apples on the

trees?” How mud kitchen play can help to

combat Nature-Deficit Disorder

24 Promoting young children’s health – putting it in

to practice

28 Sing your way to smooth transitions

32 Helping children to accept those with additional

needs

36 Should we force children to say ‘sorry’?

42 fun things to do outdoors this summer 16

Extend children’s learning through effective questioning 8

National Colouring Book Day - free templates! 26

National Playday - why not play with water? 34


Sussex nursery is urging others

to go plastic-free

Elmscot Woodlands Nursery delivers

generous donation to Uganda

The owner of Young Friends Nursery and Nature School in Hove, Louise Lloyd-Evans, has

launched an online platform to help other settings go plastic-free.

Elmscot Woodlands Day Nursery and Nursery School has made a wonderful gesture to those

less fortunate by donating and personally delivering items to families in Uganda.

Sustainable Nurseries Against

Plastic (SNAP) was created to

encourage nurseries to share tips

and ideas on how to be more

sustainable.

Until the website, which is still

under construction, goes live,

parents can follow the SNAP group

on Facebook as well as join their

regular meetings.

Children and families who attend the

nursery collected items to donate.

They were able to gather enough to

fill an entire suitcase, ready for one

of the nursery practitioners to take

to Uganda. The donated items were

all things Elmscot Woodlands felt the

children of Uganda would enjoy –

including toys, stationary, basic care

items and books.

The nursery’s approach to running

a sustainable model of childcare

made Ms Lloyd-Evans want to

share ideas and tips with others.

Young Friends Nursery and Nature

School received an Eco-Schools

Green Flag award for their plasticfree

and nature-based ethos.

Speaking to Nursery World, Ms

Lloyd-Evans said: “SNAP was

born from a passion to change

and provide a better world for

our children. In today’s climate,

we have a duty to educate young

people, staff and owners from

day one so it becomes a natural

responsibility.

“I was disturbed by the lack of care

about the environment in nurseries

which are terrible at using singleuse

plastic: shoe covers, glitter, wet

wipes, nappy sacks, disposable

nappies, balloons, the list is

endless. People are scared by

change, so we started to make

them one by one and teach the

children why we were doing so.

“SNAP is about helping nurseries

wake up to sustainability. It’s not

just about providing statistics

and information on the harm we

are doing. It’s creating a groundlevel

discussion for early years

professionals on how we can

change, improve, identify and

share the problems we may face

in doing so, and most importantly

how we can overcome these

together.”

Peter Kyle, MP for Hove said to

Nursery World: “The climate and

environmental crisis is finally

rising up the political agenda and

it’s inspiring initiatives like the

SNAP scheme, that show what

a difference we can make as

communities and as individuals

when we put our minds to it.

“I support the SNAP scheme

wholeheartedly – it’s an amazing

idea that is rightly getting the

recognition it deserves, and I’ll be

doing everything I can to be its

champion!”

Ms Lloyd-Evans added, “I’m

realistic, I don’t expect everyone

to become an eco-school, but we

really ought to be doing the basics.

SNAP can teach other nurseries to

do this in a cost-effective and userfriendly

way.”

Visit the SNAP Facebook page for

more information.

Georgia Heywood, Early Years

Assistant Practitioner at Elmscot

Woodlands, was the one to make

the journey to deliver the donations.

During her two weeks in Kampala,

the capital of Uganda, Georgia

spent time in the many orphanages,

children’s centres, schools and

local villages. The children Georgia

met were even able to receive the

Elmscot Woodlands’ experience, as

she led some play sessions while

volunteering and getting to know

some of the local people.

On her return, Georgia kindly

brought back traditional treasures

and photographs from her time in

Uganda for the children at Elmscot

Woodlands to explore.

Danielle Riley, Nursery Manager at

Elmscot Woodlands said: “We value

and celebrate differences at Elmscot

Woodlands and encourage children

to develop an understanding of

diversity beyond their immediate

family experiences. We strive to

embed a tolerance of differences,

as we think about how we can be

kind to others less fortunate than

ourselves. We highlight to our

families a snippet of global childcare

issues and the reality of the lives of

disadvantaged children.

“This has proven to be an eyeopening

experience for all involved

and we feel privileged to have

been able to make even just a little

difference to the lives of others.”

Do you want to do something to help underprivileged children, but not sure where to start?

Here at Parenta we’re passionate about supporting disadvantaged children across the world by providing them

with the opportunity to receive a quality pre-school education, in a safe and loving environment.

Visit parentatrust.com to find out ways that you can make a huge difference to a child’s life.

4 Parenta.com August 2019 5


From Maidstone to

Monaco – the Parenta

Trust rally teams

return triumphant!

NEWS

From Maidstone to Monaco – the Parenta

Trust rally teams return triumphant!

FREE EYFS

tracker!

As this magazine went to print

last month, the Parenta Trust

rally teams were setting off

on their epic adventure from

Maidstone to Monaco on the

“Drive to Build a School”.

During their five-day escapade, eleven

teams travelled through eight countries,

traversed the Alps and negotiated the

winding roads of the Furka Pass in

some of the hottest temperatures ever

recorded! They camped under the stars

and undertook various challenges along

the way, before reaching their final

destination of Monaco.

After the teams had returned from their

expedition, we spoke to Parenta Trust

founder and trustee, Allan Presland, and

first-time rally participant and Parenta

software developer, Luke Liddell.

Allan said; “A massive thank you goes

out to everyone who supported and

sponsored our teams throughout a very

hot, but incredible journey. This year’s

rally was probably the most successful!

We had a record number of teams enter

- 11 in total – with a diverse range of cars,

not to mention an interesting array of

team names…..’Piston Broke’, ‘Veloce-

Raptor’ and our first all-female team,

Monty2Monty with “Kerry and Perry”!

Although funds are still due in, it looks

as if we have raised about £20,000

which means we are well on our way to

building our next pre-school – for that we

are incredibly grateful. Every day I feel

privileged to have the opportunity to play

a part in the crucial task of giving children

in deprived areas of the world, the chance

to have an early years education.

“A particular highlight for me was the

challenges. From making a promotional

video and bringing a snowman to dinner,

to taking a photograph of themselves

on ice (naked!) - all the challenges were

really well received. Everyone joined

in and there was a great sense of

camaraderie throughout the whole rally.

“We were in France on the hottest day ever

recorded and three of our teams were in

convertibles…with no air conditioning! It

was extremely tough for them – several

people melted somewhat – but they pushed

on and continued with their journey.

“What I find incredible is the resilience of

the people that participated – most of the

cars in the rally cost under £350 and yet

they travelled those distances in that heat,

up and down motorway mountain passes

on some of the fastest driving routes in

Europe…and the cars survived - well,

most of them! Sadly, one of our teams,

Piston Broke, had to pull out before we

reached our final destination.”

Luke’s Story - Team Piston Broke

“Before I had even started working for Parenta, my best mate and I had decided

that we wanted to take part in the Maidstone to Monaco rally. What better way to

have fun with like-minded people, all raising funds for such a worthy cause - and

for the company that I was just about to start working for! We drove my classic MG.

She did us proud, but in hindsight, we probably let her down by not taking enough

breaks, especially in such hot conditions…which is why she broke down halfway

there! We made it home in one piece and we live to tell the tale! We absolutely

loved the experience and even though we didn’t make it to Monaco, I would highly

recommend it. We can’t wait to do it again next year…with a slightly newer car!”

As an early years professional, we know how much giving children a quality education

means to you. Parenta Trust aims to support disadvantaged children across the world by

providing them with a pre-school education.

Read on to find out how you can support the incredible work of Parenta Trust by

sponsoring a child … or even signing up for next year’s Maidstone to Monaco rally!

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After that, you decide, with no obligation at all if you want to

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month to continue to have access to all the features.

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6 Parenta.com August 2019 7

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


How to extend

children’s

learning through

effective

questioning

As an early years practitioner, you

spend the majority of your time

teaching the children in your care

through child-initiated play. But how

can we, as adults, enrich a child’s

learning even further?

encourage them to take

it wherever they want

to – this may not be

exactly what you had in

mind but if you trust the

child to create their own

learning path and then

challenge them along

the way – you could be

pleasantly surprised by

the outcome!

The content in this

article has been kindly

provided by special

education teacher, Gina

Smith. Read Gina’s

latest article for Parenta

on page 32 or click here

for all of the articles

Gina has written for

Parenta!

The famous

psychologist, Lev

Vygotsky introduced

a concept called ‘The

Zone of Proximal

Development’. This

refers to the difference

between what a child

can do both with

and without help.

Whilst he believed

in the importance of

children developing

spontaneously, he also

claimed that children

should not be left to

discover everything on

their own. Instead, we

should provide them

with challenges that

are slightly too hard for

them and gently ‘pull

them along’.

Based on this theory,

we should let children

learn through play,

then extend their

learning even further.

We look at

how to extend

children’s learning

through ‘effective

questioning’.

Because children need

the opportunity to

play an active part in

their own learning, we

should be mindful that

we don’t just give them

experience of ‘directed

learning’ (i.e. telling

them what to do), but

in addition, let some

of their tasks be openended

– we could, for

example, let them

take their learning

through play where

they want to take it!

As the children are

playing, this gives us

the chance to go in and

extend their learning

through gentle

challenges.

A few examples

of these effective

challenges/questions

could be:

• Can you tell me how

you made that?

• Why is the ice

melting?

• How could you

make the tower

even taller?

• What do you need

to do to make the

car go faster?

• What does the

rabbit feel like?

• How is that person

feeling?

• How could you

make your friend

feel happier?

Whilst you’re asking

the questions, you

could record what the

children are doing using

online EYFS learning

journey software if you

want to save time and

not record everything

using pen and paper.

Answers to these

questions are going to

give you some fantastic

observations for the

child’s learning journal!

Effective questioning

can give you some

particularly great

observations in the

areas of ‘Understanding

the World’ and

‘Communication and

Language’. When

questioning the

children, try not to limit

their learning. You could

Sign up today for

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8 Parenta.com August 2019 9


Music ABCs ABCs for

for littlies littlies

“What is the most important musical

thing I can teach my baby/toddler/preschooler?”

This is the most common question that most

parents attending early music sessions ask.

And the most common answer is, teach your

child to love music. But depending on our own

culture or upbringing, we may have insecurities

about being measured up and found not to be

good enough in different ways. On top of which,

different activities come more naturally to some

than others, and people who struggle to keep

up, especially in front of a group, are often

mocked or shamed by their peers for trying. The

good news is that with little ones, they have

no other source of comparison than you – and

you are perfect to them! You are the funniest,

kindest, most important person in the world who

can do no wrong, and as a parent or carer, you

can use this to unleash your inner dancer or

singer and perform without worrying! So, how do

you teach your child to love music? This article is

going to break it down.

A: Be natural

Getting caught up in “appropriate” musical styles or what you

think they “should” like is not helpful to anyone, especially you

and your little one. But if they see you singing comfortably,

playing, dancing and having fun, that will make a greater

impression on them. From birth, little ones are watching their

parents and the important people in their lives. Babies watch

parents to learn how to survive, what to value, and what to

avoid so that they do not get hurt. As they get older, children

learn to watch to see what gives you pleasure, what puts you

in a good mood, and they take in every tiny detail, reading

body language better than any professional profiler! So, play

the music you love, the music that makes you laugh and cry,

the music that makes you feel, that makes you remember.

Share this unique part of your life that they can hold on to for

the times that you may not be around. And when they see

you unselfconsciously sing or dance, it not only gives them

permission to explore these skills, it gives them confidence

that if you can do it, so can they.

B: Get moving

Different types of music can evoke different reactions. By

moving, we can begin to sense the type of song we are

hearing, whether we tap our feet or clap our hands, to

physically moving arms, legs and bodies in time with the

music. Whether you have been taught the difference between

3/4 and 4/4 timing, or whether you can just instinctively

feel when to move makes no difference – as long as you

move. Lullabies like “Rock A Bye Baby” generally get us

swaying gently to the beat, while “The Grand Old Duke Of

York” immediately gets us marching along to the song – it

would be quite strange to march to “Rock A Bye Baby”! These

are examples of fairly powerful movements because of the

emotions they convey. For example, rocking has a relational

element to it, as children are comforted by the closeness, the

smell of mummy or daddy, the sound of the heartbeat and

humming vibrations from your chest, and the warmth, which

makes it a powerful, secret anti-tantrum tool. In comparison,

marching has a communal quality, as an action that is

relatively easy to copy, that can be done altogether by a

group of any size, and feels like an incredible, choregraphed

performance when everyone is caught up in the magic of the

moment! In terms of musical skills, moving helps your little

one to begin to recognise pulse and rhythm!

C: Experiment with sound

You may be a natural at finding a harmony, or you may not yet notice any difference

between the notes in a song – it does not matter to small children because everything

is new and exciting! The first steps to hearing more accurately is hearing the differences

between different objects or instruments, also called timbre (pronounced tamber). What

does metal on metal sound like? What about wood on wood? Glass bottles with different

levels of liquid? Strings tied at different lengths and pulled tight? What happens when you

blow through pipes of different sizes? Hearing the difference between spoons on pans,

or sticks on a plastic tub begins to introduce the idea of low sounds and high sounds.

Imitating these sounds with the voice gets the body used to how it feels to sing a high note

or a low note. Next steps are singing along with your favourite singer, following their ups

and downs, which is great practice for learning to sing in tune. Using funny voices (‘witchy’

voice, ‘fairy’ voice, ‘giant’ voice, ‘dinosaur’ voice, ‘opera’ voice, ‘whispery’ voice) also helps

you to find your own unique sound. Experimenting is a natural part of little ones’ lives, so

they will love experimenting with you! And in musical terms, this experimentation teaches

them to identify pitch and melody!

Once you move to the beat, and hear the differences between sounds, learning music is

all about being able to hear and copy smaller and smaller differences in beats and sounds,

and the next article will provide more suggestions on musical milestones that little ones may

reach. Just as reading takes us to a written world beyond our imagination, music takes us

Frances Turnbull

Musician, researcher and

author, Frances Turnbull, is

a self-taught guitarist who

has played contemporary

and community music from

the age of 12. She delivers

music sessions to the early

years and KS1. Trained in the

music education techniques

of Kodály (specialist

singing), Dalcroze (specialist

movement) and Orff (specialist

percussion instruments), she

has a Bachelor’s degree in

Psychology (Open University)

and a Master’s degree in

Education (University of

Cambridge). She runs a local

community choir, the Bolton

Warblers, and delivers the

Sound Sense initiative aiming

for “A choir in every care

home” within local care and

residential homes, supporting

health and wellbeing through

her community interest

company.

She has represented the

early years music community

at the House of Commons,

advocating for recognition for

early years music educators,

and her table of progressive

music skills for under 7s

features in her curriculum

books.

Frances is the author of

“Learning with Music:

Games and Activities for the

Early Years“, published by

Routledge, August 2017.

www.musicaliti.co.uk

to a sonic world full of emotion. By helping your little one develop a love for music, you are giving them many more life skills

than research has been able to identify. You are introducing them to repeated patterns they will use in education; giving them

a healthy space to unwind and destress as life gets more complicated; and introducing them to a lifelong friend that always

knows just how they feel.

10 Parenta.com August 2019 11


How to potty train a child

during the summer months

What is your policy on potty training? Do you insist that children are independent and potty trained

before you accept them? Or do you only allow training pants until the child is potty trained?

However you look at it, nurseries deal with children’s ‘nature calls’ on a daily basis!

When it comes to potty training, there

is no magic ‘right age’; only the right

time, which is when the child itself is

ready. The NHS website page on potty

training says that “children are able to

control their bladder and bowels when

they’re physically ready and when they

want to be dry and clean.“ It warns

against comparing one child against

another but offers the following

information as a guide:

“Using a potty is a new skill for your

child to learn. It’s best to take it slowly

and go at your child’s pace.

• by age 1, most babies have stopped

doing poos at night

• by age 2, some children will be dry

during the day, but this is still quite

early

• by age 3, 9 out of 10 children are

dry most days – even then, all

children have the odd accident,

especially when they’re excited,

upset or absorbed in something

else

• by age 4, most children are reliably

dry during the day

• It usually takes a little longer

for children to learn to stay dry

throughout the night. Although most

learn this between the ages of 3

and 5, up to 1 in 5 children aged 5

sometimes wet the bed.”

Many parents feel that the summer is

the perfect time to begin potty training

and you can often assist them by

offering practical support and advice.

Benefits of summer potty training

1. In the summer, little ones tend

to run around outside more, in

less clothing. Weather permitting,

some parents may also allow their

youngsters to go bare-bottomed in

the garden (wearing a longer t-shirt

to cover their modesty!) to help with

potty training.

2. With less restrictions on clothing,

many children become more

acutely aware of their need to

pee, especially if they are wearing

training pants or a swimsuit, as

accidents are more obvious to them.

3. If accidents do happen, it’s often

easier to rinse out a swimsuit or

pair of underpants than heavier

winter clothes.

4. Parents often have more holiday time

so there are less distractions and

more time to allocate to potty training.

5. A full bladder (and consequent

peeing) can be encouraged by

getting children to drink more water,

juices and popsicles.

Training pants or no training pants?

There’s no doubt that nappies are

undergoing a fundamental change –

and we’re not talking ‘poop’ here either!

We mean the increasing awareness

of both nurseries and parents of the

impact of single-use nappies on the

environment. Last month we reported

on the launch of the GECCO real nappy

amidst concerns that disposable nappies

were adding to global plastic pollution.

Training pants are a half-way house

between a ‘soak-up-all’ nappy and

conventional underwear. The benefit is

that children get to practice at pulling

them up/down when using the potty,

but they can catch any ‘mistakes’ if the

child doesn’t get there on time. The child

will also feel the wetness more easily in

training pants than nappies.

Both reusable cloth training pants and

disposable ones are available. The

question of whether to use them is

really a parent/nursery decision based

on several factors including the nursery

policies/resources, parent preferences

and the needs of the child.

Top tips for summer potty training

1. Recognise the signs. The main aim is to get the child to recognise

when they need the toilet and to let you know beforehand, so help

them to recognise their own ‘toilet dance’ and remind them of what

this means. When they are wet, explain that this is a result of them

peeing, so they can begin to recognise the signs themselves.

2. Stay calm, stay patient, be prepared. Toilet training needs

compassion and understanding. Accidents will happen but

it’s just part of the learning process. Stay positive and be

prepared for a few clean-ups. In the grand scheme of

life, they’re nothing.

3. Praise where possible, ignore any ‘mistakes’. Children

respond much better to praise than punishment and want

to get it right too, so praise them when they do, and forgive

them if they don’t. Be positive - there’s always next time.

4. Buy some character undies! If children love their underwear,

they will be less inclined to get it wet, so parents may want

to invest in some underwear that has pictures of the child’s

favourite character on it.

5. Make some ‘potty time’. Many children need to go to the toilet

after eating or drinking, so encourage them to use the potty

after lunch or a snack to see if they need to go. Don’t sit them

there for more than a few minutes, but it could be just the trigger

they need.

6. Use a toilet trainer seat. Children love to be like their older siblings

and adults, so allow them to use the toilet with a trainer seat too.

7. Keep a potty handy. Keep enough potties on hand so that you can

get your child there on time. It’s no good if the potty is upstairs,

outside or in the car!

8. Consider the child’s individual needs. Everyone is different –

treat them as individuals. If you have a disabled child, the NHS

recommends looking at the charity, Contact, and downloading their

parents’ guide to potty training a disabled child.

What to do in the event of problems?

Occasionally, children will suffer problems when

toilet training that are related to other physical or

mental issues. If you or parents are concerned

about a child, there is a lot of information and

advice at ERIC, the Children’s Bowel and Bladder

Charity. Their helpline is available on 0808 169

9949 (Monday to Thursday, 10am to 2pm) or by

email via a webform at www.eric.org.uk/helpline.

12 Parenta.com August 2019 13


“You can’t say autism”

Words are labels we use to

convey meaning.

Using labels is easier than

the alternative...

I remember once being told by another professional “Yes, but

you can’t use the word autism.”

TREE

“This is my son, he

has autism ”

We were discussing a child who was having a lot of difficulties

at school and their parents were really struggling with

understanding their child at home.

The child had autism, okay so I am not

a diagnostician, but I would certainly

be willing to bet my next mortgage

payment on the fact that they were

neurodivergent. I had written a report

for their parents explaining that certain

strategies commonly helpful to people

with autism might be useful for them to

adopt at home. I was shocked by the

venom in the response of my colleague.

Why couldn’t I use the word autism?

The ferocity with which they said it made

me feel as if they thought I was insulting

the child. They saw offence in the word.

I am autistic. I was deeply saddened by

their response and it made me wonder

how many professionals are spotting the

signs of autism early on in a child’s life

but not saying so for fear of using this

‘dirty’ word!

Research shows across the board that

with regards to the identification of a

learning disability or a neurodivergent

condition, the sooner they are spotted,

the better the long-term outcomes for

the child. If we hold the child’s best

interests at heart, then we should all be

working to ensure that the early signs

are noted. We should work in a world

when I can say “I think they are autistic”

and if it turns out in a few months’ time

that I am clearly wrong, then it is no

big deal, no one has minded that word

being used in association with that child,

the relevant investigations have been

done and we move on.

If we act like “autism” or indeed any

other condition-associated word is

something only to be spoken of in

hushed tones, then we all dance around

information that would be useful to that

child.

Identification of a difference or disability

means that support can be put in place

that is relevant to your needs, it means

teaching strategies can be adopted

that match your ways of learning, it

means that you can be wholly known

and understood for who you are;

not misunderstood and judged for

something you are not.

People say they are against “labels”

but in saying this, they once again

reveal their own prejudice towards

these conditions. I am female, white,

middle-aged, brown-haired, browneyed,

English, a mother, a daughter,

and so on and so on. If you use any of

these descriptors in association with

me, I won’t be offended. I won’t jump on

your back for “labelling” me. Likewise,

if you call me autistic, I will take it in the

same way as any of these, it is simply a

description of me.

We use the term “label” to refer to a

descriptive term to which prejudice has

been attached.

If I were a child today, I would want to

have my diagnosis as early as possible.

For me, it would make little difference to

my success at school, I was always quiet

and focused. I was not a problem to my

teachers. Like many autistic women I

was a problem to myself. Knowing why

I was different would have helped me

not to feel bad about being so. I would

have loved to have received help making

friends, something that I was not able to

do for myself until my twenties.

If we were a little less afraid of our

own prejudice and spoke more freely

and acceptingly about neurological

differences and disabilities, perhaps we

would create education environments

where understanding and acceptance

blossomed.

...it saves us precious time.

“This is my son, he is very

zzzzz

caring and sensitive. He has an

obsession with trees, he becomes

agitated if he has to wear the colour

blue. He loves maths

and likes to count to

very big numbers. He

will only use a fork if

it has four prongs. He

often walks on tip toes,

he has the whole of the

first series of Doctor Who

memorised along with the

3

names and...”

Sometimes we choose labels

because they appear clean...

6

SPASTIC

SCOPIE

CEREBAL

PALSY

What those people mean is that

they do not like the pollution

of the labels they use.

9

“PROBLEM”

PREJUDICE

IGNORANCE

1

This label means

that big green woody

thing over there.

Labels work if everyone

understands them.

4

PREJUDICE

IGNORANCE

7

definition

of autism

“Autism”

SCOPIE

... but this

is just a

temporary

solution.

Promoting awareness and

understanding helps.

10

2

Without understanding labels

get grubby.

5

PREJUDICE

IGNORANCE

Some people say they do not

want labels at all, but all

words are labels.

8

No-one should feel sad about

their labels.

SPECIAL OLD GIRL GINGER

JEW

GAY

DISABLED

11

CLEVER

SHORT

POC

MUSLIM

CANCER

MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES

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

neurodivergent conditions and

time spent as a registered

foster carer for children with

profound disabilities.

Joanna has published three

practitioner books: “Sensory

Stories for Children and Teens”,

“Sensory-Being for Sensory

Beings” and “Sharing Sensory

Stories and Conversations with

People with Dementia”. and

two inclusive sensory story

children’s books: “Voyage to

Arghan” and “Ernest and I”.

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

14 Parenta.com If you want to learn more about autism, or refresh your existing knowledge, why not take a look at our

August 2019 15

eLearning CPD course “Autism Awareness” here?


Summer outdoor

activities – have fun

but stay safe!

There are generally 6 weeks of summer holidays, that’s 42 days

to fill with something to do, including the weekends. The summer

is a great time to get outdoors and give your body a chance

to make some vital vitamin D, a nutrient that is essential to the

body as it helps maintain healthy bones and teeth; supports the

immune, cardiovascular and nervous systems; and may also

protect against a range of conditions such as cancer, Type 1

diabetes, and multiple sclerosis 1 .

Vitamins are nutrients that cannot be

created by the body and therefore

must be taken in through our diet, but

despite its name, vitamin D is actually

considered a pro-hormone because

it can be synthesised by the body in

response to sun exposure.

It is estimated that sensible sun

exposure on bare skin for 5-10 minutes

2-3 times per week allows most people

to produce sufficient vitamin D, but

vitamin D breaks down quite quickly,

meaning that stores can run low,

especially in winter. Recent data also

suggests that many people are actually

vitamin D deficient and could benefit

from vitamin D supplements.

So correct sun exposure is important, but

obviously, sun exposure has to be safe,

especially for younger children as it can

cause sunburn, heat exhaustion and in

the longer term, over-exposure to UV

rays has been linked to skin cancer, eye

problems and premature ageing.

The NHS have issued the following

advice regarding sun exposure and

young children 2 :

“Children aged under six months should

be kept out of direct strong sunlight.

From March to October in the UK,

children should:

• cover up with suitable clothing

• spend time in the shade (particularly

from 11am to 3pm)

• wear at least SPF15 sunscreen

To ensure they get enough vitamin D,

children aged under five are advised to

take vitamin D supplements even if they

do get out in the sun.“

In Australia, where levels of sun

exposure are generally higher than

in the UK due to the weather, the

government created a ‘Slip, Slop, Slap”

campaign in the 1980s that is still very

popular today, and they have recently

added “Seek and Slide” to the advice. It

stands for:

1. Slip on a shirt

2. Slop on some suntan lotion

3. Slap on a hat

4. Seek some shade, and

5. Slide on some ‘shades’ (sunglasses

to you and me).

The campaign is fronted by a friendly

seagull named Sid, and has a very

catchy little song and video that you

can use with your children to advise

them of the 5 ways to stay safe in the

sun. You can find the updated video on

the SunSmart website 3 and the original

video can be found on YouTube too.

So, once you know how to stay safe in

the sun, there’s no excuse not to get out

there and really make the most of the

warm weather. And to make sure you

don’t run out of ideas, we’ve listed 42

different things you can do outdoors with

pre-schoolers this summer:

Lyrics for the ‘Slip,

Slop, Slap’ song were

written by the founder

of Bonkers Beat Music &

Wellbeing programs, Galina

Zenin. The song is widely

used in Australia. Take a

look at Galina’s article

on page 28!

1. Go on a nature walk and see how many different trees, plants and animals you

can see

2. Create a pavement chalk picture

3. Paddle in a stream – but remember your water safety code though

4. Take a trip to a beach and bury each other in the sand

5. Collect leaves and make a scrapbook of different trees or a forest picture

6. Learn to skip forwards and backwards

7. Visit a local play area and have a picnic

8. Learn a country dance

9. Make some rose-petal perfume

10. Roll down a large hill (avoiding the nettles!)

11. Learn to ride a balance bike or normal bike

12. Make a dandelion or daisy chain

13. Create an outdoor show jumping course and ride over it on a hobby horse or tree

branch

14. Visit a children’s farm

15. Make a den or a tent

16. Visit a steam railway and ride on a steam train – miniature or full size

17. Go on a boat trip

18. Give an outdoor drama/dance performance

19. Make some mud pies

20. Feed the ducks at a local pond or park (bird seed, not bread though)

21. Lie down and look up at the clouds – what shapes and stories can you tell?

22. Learn to do a forward roll

23. Visit a local wildlife or animal centre

24. Play football using your jumpers for goal posts

25. Fill a matchbox with something beginning with every letter of the alphabet – this

one might take a bit of thought and more than a day!

26. Watch the sun set

27. Sit under a tree and write a story or poem

28. Go for a ride on an open-top bus

29. Make a wildlife or bug hotel

30. Set up an outdoor treasure hunt

31. Learn to skim stones on water – or at least see how far you can throw them

32. Go to an open-air swimming pool or start learning to swim

33. Chalk out a pattern and play hopscotch

34. Make giant bubbles with some rope and washing up liquid

35. Hunt for fossils at the beach

36. See how many stones you can balance on top of each other

37. Set up an outdoor assault course

38. Send yourself or your friends a postcard from at least 6 different locations – one

for each week of the holidays

39. Find some unusually-shaped stones, clean and paint them – you can paint them to

look like animals, cars, houses or anything else you can think of

40. Learn to catch a ball and throw a frisbee

41. Create a miniature fairy garden

42. Toast marshmallows on a campfire – with adult supervision and help of course!

References:

16 Parenta.com 1. www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/161618.php

2. www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/injuries/skin-injuries/sunburn

August 2019 17

3. www.sunsmart.com.au/tools/videos/current-tv-campaigns/slip-slop-slap-seek-slide-sid-seagull.html


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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

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

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August 2019 19


“Why did someone stick stick those those apples

on apples the trees?” on the How trees?” mud kitchen play

How mud kitchen play can help to combat Nature-Deficit Disorder

can help to combat Disorder

I was recently told of a city toddler who, growing up in London, had not seen an apple tree before - let alone

an orchard. His mum took him to visit an orchard and he saw apples growing on a tree for the first time. He

remarked, “Mummy, why did someone stick all those apples in the trees?” This may make us laugh or smile

at his innocent naivety, however, it highlights a more serious issue that modern society is being faced with:

the disconnect between children and nature. The National Trust acknowledged this concern in their Natural

Childhood report, where they noted that, “One in three [children] could not identify a magpie; half could not

tell the difference between a bee and a wasp; yet nine out of ten could recognise a Dalek.”

The term ‘Nature-Deficit Disorder’ was

coined by Richard Louv in his controversial

book, “Last Child in the Woods”. Despite

its name, this is not a medical diagnosis;

rather he uses this term as a metaphor to

describe the children of this generation

who are, quite literally, deprived of nature

and the freedom to play outdoors. He

suggests that these children are more

likely to have physical and emotional

illnesses as a direct result of not playing

outside or being connected with nature.

Children in the UK are spending more

and more time inside and a recent Ofcom

Survey found that children aged between

3 and 4 spend an average of 14 hours per

week watching television and a further

9 hours per week online. On top of this,

the 2016 National Statistics NHS Health

survey found that 83% of children aged

between 2 and 4 spend less than an

hour being physically active in a typical

day. With the decline in children playing

outside, it is easy to see why Richard

Louv is concerned and, in fact, why we all

should be.

One way that many settings are

combatting Nature-Deficit Disorder is by

creating a mud kitchen in their outside

area. Mud kitchens are just that – an

outdoor kitchen where children can

make mud pies or use natural materials

like leaves, grass, sticks and stones to

engage in sensory role-play relating to

cooking and eating. Over the years I have

seen many different ways of creating

these, from expensive purpose-built

outdoor play equipment, to pots and pans

‘cooking’ on a plank resting on bricks. I

have even seen mud-free kitchens where

settings choose to use sand or just gravel

or leaves. Personally, I prefer the muddy

20 Parenta.com

variety as there is nothing like a sticky,

gooey mud pie sprinkled with freshly cut

grass to whet the appetite!

Although there are commercially-produced

mud kitchens available on the market, our

own mud kitchen is in an old beach tent

and includes a low table, pots and pans,

and kitchen utensils. I recently added to

this a basket with felt flames around the

rim as an alternative fire pit for them to

cook on. We also have a blackboard on

which to write a menu and, of course, the

vital ingredient of mud!

In her booklet Making a Mud Kitchen,

Jan White suggests that the best mud

kitchens are made in collaboration with

the children who will be using them. Think

about what you are providing and how

it will enhance the children’s learning

experience. For example, if you provide

measuring jugs, this will encourage

children to use numbers as labels and

for counting. Although there are no rules

as to how you design your kitchen, the

following ideas might be helpful:

ff

ff

ff

Find a suitable space outside to

position your mud kitchen, an

enclosed space or corner works well

and helps to define the area.

Provide a worktop space for children

to ‘cook’ on and ensure that it is

child-height.

Collect a variety of kitchen utensils

and cookware and think about how

you will store these. Any vertical

services can be used to hang pots

and utensils, or use cupboards and

shelves under the worktop.

ff

ff

ff

ff

ff

Source pre-loved items for your mud

kitchen by asking for donations from

parents and carers or your own

family and friends. You could also

search in local charity shops or even

ask at the local recycling centre.

Provide mud or sand

alongside other natural

materials that the children

can create with, such as

gravel, stones, leaves,

moss, sticks and grass.

Allow access to a water

source or provide a

bowl containing water.

Remember to conduct a

risk-benefit analysis

and ensure that

children wash their

hands carefully after

playing with the mud kitchen.

Be creative with the space

and ensure that your kitchen

continually evolves as the

children use it.

Within early childhood settings we

can help children to become more

connected or, indeed, re-connected

with nature by presenting our children

with a mud kitchen. We must

ensure that the children we

care for can recognise

a bee and do

know that

apples grow

on trees!

Suggested Kit List for a mud kitchen!

• Cooker - an old microwave or camping stove works really well. Equally some red and

black laminated circles make a great electric hob - just stick them onto the table.

• Pots and pans - the children will need something to cook in. Provide a variety of sizes

and types, like a frying pan, milk pan and large saucepan. Remember that aluminium

pans are lighter for younger children to use.

• Jugs and bowls - offer containers for children to mix their concoctions in.

• Utensils - whisks, spoons, sieves, colanders, ladles – include some unusual ones like

an ice cream scoop or garlic crusher.

• Bakeware - include some cupcake trays or smaller bakeware as the children will love

filling them with mud and sand!

• Small containers and jars - ones with lids attached will reduce the number of pots

which lose a lid! These can be used to store potions or special mixtures, and the

children will enjoy filling and emptying them.

• Large washing up bowl - encourage the children to help to wash up as part of the play.

• Special ingredients - you might want to think about enhancing your mud kitchen with

spices, food colouring and essential oils to add a sensory twist to their creations.

Ideas adapted from Jan White and muddyfaces.co.uk

For further reading materials please

visit: bit.ly/tamsin-august

Tamsin Grimmer

Tamsin Grimmer is an

experienced early years

consultant and trainer and

parent who is passionate about

young children’s learning and

development. She believes

that all children deserve

practitioners who are inspiring,

dynamic, reflective and

committed to improving on their

current best. Tamsin particularly

enjoys planning and delivering

training and supporting

early years practitioners and

teachers to improve outcomes

for young children.

Tamsin has written two

books - “Observing and

Developing Schematic

Behaviour in Young Children”

and “School Readiness and

the Characteristics of Effective

Learning”.

Website:

tamsingrimmer.co.uk

Facebook:

facebook.com/earlyyears.

consultancy.5

Twitter:

@tamsingrimmer

Email:

info@tamsingrimmer.co.uk


Summer holidays

Summer holidays

on a

on

budget

a budget

– my

summer scrapbook

If you decide to embark on a

summer scrapbook adventure, there

are many ways in which you can

make memories and collate content

that won’t break the bank! Here are

a few ideas – but above all…enjoy!

My summer scrapbook

The summer always seems to be a long time coming. Yet, when it eventually

arrives, it can be daunting for those parents who have to think about

entertaining their little ones during the holidays (as well as trying to keep their creative and literacy

skills alive) – all on a budget!

What better way to keep the children’s minds active - whilst making precious memories - than to

create a summer scrapbook?

Scrapbooks not only help preserve

memories for years to come,

they’re also a fun and educational

way for children to occupy those

days when there is nothing planned

or when the weather is inclement

– a regular occurrence during the

British summer!

Here are some of our top tips

for making a super summer

scrapbook!

Make the pages

really stand out!

Low key or lavish?

This depends on the children – there is no right or wrong and try and let them lead

on this if possible – sometimes, ‘less is more’! Some will choose to have simple

drawings (or scribbles!), others might use written captions (age dependent) and

some will want to use physical mementos, such as digital photos, a ticket to an

exhibition, cut-out pictures from an attraction leaflet – in fact, anything that reminds

them of that particular day.

Get started

If you already have some days out planned, make sure you collect as much as you can

from your trips. Postcards, photos, feathers, shells, straws, even sand. You will need

lots of different things to be able to colour, decorate and stick as much as you like!

The great thing about taking photos is that you can take hundreds but only need to print out the best ones. You could make

a photo collage of your favourite snaps and add some colour by sticking coloured or shiny paper around it. The children can

improvise by using bits of wrapping paper or even kitchen foil.

They can add texture by sticking leaves, twigs, grass or sand to the pages – anything that has been collected on their day. If the

children love to paint, they could use a couple of pages to interpret their day out through their painting.

If they run out of things they have collected, they can use little bits from around the house, like buttons, fabric or colourful cutouts

from magazines. The list is endless – you can really let their imaginations run wild!

Scrapbooking can be such a fun and relaxing activity that most children love – the result of which will be a

beautiful keepsake that they will treasure for years to come.

A day of cooking or baking

Let the children pick a recipe, then visit your local shops for

the ingredients and cook something together that you can

all enjoy eating. Cake baking always seems to be a firm

favourite!

Fruit picking

Pick your own (PYO) is a fun, less expensive (and almost

always messy!) way to buy your fruit. Save pennies and find

out where your local PYO farms are - you can even have a little

competition to see who can pick the most fruit!

Den building and camping

Weather permitting, you can build your den outside. All you

need are some boxes or sofa cushions, a few blankets, and

a bit of imagination. If you have a tent, you could arrange a

camping trip in your garden with the children for one night.

Garden races

Hold your own garden races with games that don’t need much

equipment...a sack race with pillowcases, a tug of war with

a dressing gown belt! Jumping over boxes and under old

blankets – you can let your imagination run wild!

Visit your local library

Local libraries are often under-used but can be a real blessing

in the summer holidays. You can borrow audio books (great

for long car journeys) and DVDs as well as normal books, and

many libraries run a Summer Reading Challenge. You can also

use the library to research free events in your local area.

Museums don’t need to be boring

Whether the children are interested in sports, animals, art or

history, there is usually at least one free museum in the area,

some of which will have interactive family-friendly activities

during the holidays.

Have a movie day

Choose a couple of favourite films, get some popcorn (and hot

chocolate if the weather isn’t great) grab the favourite teddies

and blankets and put your feet up with the children.

Dressing-up

As well as delving into the children’s dressing-up box, have

a look in your own wardrobe and play dress-up with your

old clothes. You can also use this as a recycling exercise by

sorting through your clothes together, and taking to the charity

shop or clothes bank the ones that you never wear and the

little ones have grown out of.

Top tip for settings:

Being able to take their summer

scrapbooks into nursery after the

holidays also presents settings with

a great opportunity for children of

different cultures to be able to share

some of their experiences with

others. This is an excellent way of

promoting the British Value of mutual

respect and tolerance of those with

different faiths and beliefs.

22 Parenta.com August 2019 23


Promoting young children’s

health – putting it in to practice

Brambles is a pre-school nursery setting with 106 children on roll. Karen Nash is the Manager,

Nicola is the Deputy Manager and Karen Neal is the Family Coordinator. Here, they discuss the Early

Childhood Health Promotion research they carried out in partnership with Jackie Musgrave, who

works at The Open University.

Karen, Nicola and Karen: Why

are you interested in promoting

the health of children?

We have always been committed

to healthy eating and to

becoming a healthy nursery.

For several years we have had

a campaign to encourage the

children, parents and the staff to

think about what they can do to

promote their health. The health

issues that affect the children in

our nursery include dental decay,

speech and language delay,

obesity, infectious diseases and

some mental health problems.

Last autumn, we started to

discuss what we could do to

make the nursery a place where

children could eat even more

healthily. We were becoming

concerned about the quality of

some of the food that children

were bringing in from home.

We are really aware of the

pressure that parents are under

for a range of reasons, but we

wanted to work with parents

to encourage them to provide

similar meals at home to those

they are provided with at nursery.

It was at this time that Jackie

got in touch with us to ask if we

would be willing to be involved

in a piece of research that she

was hoping to carry out. During

our initial meeting to discuss

the research, Jackie described

a toolkit that she had devised

to help practitioners to identify

ways to promote health in

settings.

Jackie: what was your

motivation for doing the child

health promotion research?

I was a Children’s Nurse before

I started teaching children’s

health to early years students at

the local college. When I moved

into higher education, I became

even more fascinated by the

ways that practitioners support

children’s health; adapting

routines and activities to ensure

that children with on-going

health conditions, for example,

eczema and asthma, are

included as much as possible.

More recently, partly because of

the school-readiness agenda,

I started to think about the

ways that practitioners promote

children’s health. I started

to look at publications and

research relating to promoting

health in pre-school children

and realised that there was very

little available that practitioners

could use to develop their

knowledge in general about

health promotion. Neither was

there anything available to guide

thinking about how to identify

health promotion activities in

settings. Most of the publications

relate to health promotion in

school-aged children. It’s as

if children can only have their

health promoted once they get

to school. However, the staff

at Brambles are really aware

of the need to ‘get them early’

and to teach children about

making healthy choices. So,

when I showed them the Toolkit

for Early Childhood Education

and Care Practitioners they were

really interested to be involved

in the research. The Toolkit is in

two parts, the first part includes

information about health

promotion in early childhood.

It includes definitions of health

promotion, there is a section

on the benefits of promoting

children’s health, an explanation

of the ways that many of the

health issues can be prevented.

It also includes clear links about

the ways that the aims of the

Early Years Foundation Stage

can promote health in children

aged 0–5 years. The second

part includes a series of 5 steps:

each step has been designed to

guide practitioners to identify the

health priorities for the children

and families in their setting;

consider ways to select a health

promotion intervention; support

them in preparing an action

plan and finally, to evaluate the

impact of the intervention.

I was delighted when the staff

at Brambles agreed to take

part in the research; Karen N

is the Family Coordinator at the

nursery, so she was my coresearcher.

Karen N: what are your

thoughts about the reasons

for taking part in the health

promotion research?

As Family Coordinator, I work

closely with the parents and I

am very aware of some of the

difficulties that they have in their

lives and how this can impact

on children’s health. It is really

important to be sensitive to that.

However, we wanted to find

ways of working with them to

make eating healthier at home.

Becoming involved with Jackie’s

research helped us put a plan in

place. Discussing the plan with

the practitioners in each of the

rooms made us look at what

we can do to promote health,

in ways that can benefit the

children that are relevant to the

age and stage of development.

Although we started off talking

about healthy eating, we quickly

realised that we needed to look

at healthy drinking too and we

needed to encourage children

to drink more water. We had

gone juice-free last year, but we

were concerned that the children

may not be drinking enough

water, and of course, there is

a risk of the children becoming

dehydrated. Very young children

don’t always make the links

between how they feel when

they are thirsty and may not

have the vocabulary to express

the way they feel. So, part of our

plan included activities aimed

at increasing the children’s

water intake in ways that were

appropriate.

As part of our plan to work with

parents, I sent out questionnaires

to parents to find out more

about their knowledge of healthy

eating. Some of the results were

surprising, especially in relation

to their knowledge about food

types and nutrition in general.

In response to the findings from

the questionnaires, I decided to

create a healthy eating display

board for parents’ evening.

Jackie: How useful was the

parents’ evening health

education display?

The display that Karen created

was fantastic: she set it up in the

entrance to the nursery which

was also the area where the

parents waited before going to

see their child’s practitioner at

the appointed time. Karen had

carefully identified the areas

that the parents had indicated

they wanted more information

about, and then she researched

the information she wanted to

pass on. She decided to make

the display really visual, as

you can see in the photo, she

measured out the actual sugar

content that was in some of the

products that children brought

into the nursery in their lunch

boxes. I was invited to attend

the parents’ evening and it was

striking how many of the parents

took the time to really look at the

display; nearly all were shocked

at the sugar content in some of

the products that they considered

to be healthy. What was really

interesting was that many of the

parents went on to ask Karen

questions about other healthrelated

issues, such as weaning,

dental health and toilet training.

Another really impressive part of

the health education display, was

that Karen had created a recipe

booklet of the children’s favourite

easy-to-cook, cheap but

nutritious meals that were served

at nursery. She had carefully

identified the meals that the

children enjoyed: these included

a West African stew, a Polish

cabbage dish and even pilchard

curry! To show the parents that

the children really did enjoy

the dishes, photos were sent

of the children eating them via

the electronic communication

system. Parents commented that

they were really surprised that

the children did eat the food. To

try and encourage the parents to

cook the dishes at home, Karen

included a list of ingredients as

well as the cooking instructions.

Nicola: what are your

thoughts about the health

promotion research?

The biggest thing that has come

out of it is the staff awareness

of health and wellbeing, not

just for the children, but for

themselves as well; it’s almost

as if they have changed some of

their lifestyle choices too. They’re

embedding it into their own lives

as well as their own practice.

Jackie: what are your

thoughts about how Brambles

have used the Toolkit and how

they have approached their

healthy eating and drinking

campaign for 2019?

The staff at Brambles have

demonstrated that early years

practitioners have a vital role

to play in promoting children’s

health. Although their campaign

started off as looking at healthy

eating, this quickly included the

need for them to think about

healthy drinking, in particular

how they could teach children

about the need to keep hydrated

with water. They then realised

that whilst healthy eating and

healthy drinking are vitally

important, these concepts also

affect the children’s dental

health and in turn, this can

impact on speech and language

development. If a child is

not given food that will help

jaw muscle development, for

example, fruits and vegetables

that require chewing, this can

mean that the muscles required

for speech don’t develop and

language can be affected. If

children have food that helps

teeth to decay and teeth can

become unsightly, even in

very young children, they can

become aware of this. One

of my students described

how a 7-year-old child had

been referred for speech and

language therapy, and when

he was being assessed by the

therapist, it turned out that his

teeth were so badly decayed, he

tried to conceal this by keeping

his mouth tightly closed and of

course, this meant he wasn’t

able to speak properly. Of course,

there are lots of other ways that

healthy eating and drinking

contribute to healthy living.

At Brambles they have developed

what can be called a ‘whole

systems’ approach to healthy

living. We started calling it the

Rs of Early Childhood Health

Promotion because they have

selected interventions that are

relevant to the children and

families; they are embedding

healthy living activities into the

routines of the nursery; the

practitioners have become role

models for the children, teaching

the children the importance of the

approaches by demonstration

and example. What is also really

important is that the interventions

are realistic and some have

no, or very little, extra resource.

The biggest resource need is

for a commitment to spend

time reflecting and developing

their approach. And of huge

importance, is the way that

Brambles have developed their

health promotion approach

on the foundations of their

relationships with the children

and their families in the setting.

It is so important that we identify

ways of promoting children’s

health and are doing all we can

to turn the tide in relation to some

of the important issues that are

making children unhealthy. After

all, healthy children will have

higher levels of wellbeing and will

learn better. What Brambles are

doing is a great example of highquality

attention to promoting

good health in their children.

Jackie Musgrave

Jackie Musgrave joined

the Open University as

Programme Lead for Early

Childhood in October 2017.

Before that, she worked in

the Centre for Children and

Families at the University of

Worcester from April 2012

as the Course Leader for the

BA (Hons) in Early Childhood

(Professional Practice).

Jackie trained as a General

Nurse and she did postregistration

training to

become a Sick Children’s

Nurse at Birmingham

Children’s Hospital. Her

professional interests as

a Practice Nurse included

chronic disease prevention

programmes, childhood

immunisations and women’s

health promotion.

Jackie graduated with a

Master’s degree in Early

Childhood Education from

the University of Sheffield,

gaining a distinction for

her dissertation as well as

being awarded the Rutland

Prize for Early Childhood

Education. Her doctoral

research explored the

effects of chronic health

conditions on young

children and ways in which

practitioners could create

inclusive environments for

these children.

Jackie’s research-based

book, Supporting Children’s

Health and Wellbeing, was

published by Sage in May

2017.

24 Parenta.com August 2019 25


National Colouring Book Day

What will you do on 2nd August? Change a few nappies? Get stuck in traffic? Struggle to get

everyone out of the door on time? Chances are that you might be doing at least a few activities

that could cause you some anxiety or stress.

But did you know that 2nd August also happens to have the perfect antidote to stress, in that it is

National Colouring Book Day? You didn’t? Then read on, to find out how you can use this age-old,

creative technique to not only entertain the children in your care but reduce your own stress levels

at the same time.

National Colouring Book Day was

started in America in the 1970s when a

company, Dover Publications, launched

the first colouring book for adults.

Until then, colouring in had been

the preserve of children, and mostly

very young children at that. But since

then, colouring for adults has really

taken off, and more recently, as adults

struggle to find non-screen-based

activities for children to keep them

occupied, the humble colouring book

has seen a resurgence in its popularity.

Nowadays, you can get colouring

books on virtually every topic under

the sun, from simple patterns to

complex, meditative mandalas;

animals to the human body; and

characters from every TV show or

popular film have found their way

onto the pages of a colouring book

somewhere!

THE BENEFITS OF COLOURING

Children have always loved colouring

in pictures, and for them, it’s a way

to learn and practice many important

skills including:

Development of fine motor skills

In order to colour, children need to

hold pencils/pens or crayons in their

little fingers, so practicing colouring

helps the development of their

muscles in their hands and fingers

and helps them to get a good grip.

Colour and shape recognition

By using different colours, children

can learn to name and distinguish

them, especially if helped by an adult,

who says the name and repeats it.

By blending or colouring over things,

children can also learn about the

subtleties of colour and the affect

they can have on their own work.

Hand and eye coordination

Hand and eye coordination is

extremely important in life when

doing many practical tasks – pouring,

catching and writing to name but a

few. When you look at a very young

child’s colouring, you notice how they

appear to scribble over the image

and find it difficult to stay within

the lines, but by practicing, children

gradually become more adept at

this skill as their hand and eye

coordination improves.

Concentration

Colouring things requires a good

deal of concentration and children

can extend their concentration spans

by practicing and focusing on

tasks, so colouring is great for

developing this skill. You

can even break the task

down if needed, by

say, focusing only

on one part of the picture or on one

colour to start with.

Sense of pride and self-esteem

There is a huge sense of achievement

and pride attained from finishing

something well and feeling you have

done your best. It’s even better if

your work is admired by others too,

so remember to praise the children

for completing their work and watch

them smile.

Creativity

Everyone experiences the world in

different ways and so allowing children

their own version of ‘reality’ can help

with their creativity rather than stifle

it. As they become more confident,

they may also experiment with their

creativity more using special effects

or even ‘pushing the boundaries’, and

colour over the lines again.

Self-expression

Who says you can’t colour the grass

blue and the trees purple? This is

linked to creativity too, as colouring

can be a great way to allow children

to express themselves and their mood.

Art therapists understand that using

different colours can reflect children’s

own experiences or their mood, so

be aware of this and be careful not

to criticise a choice of colour even if it

does not fit with conventional reality.

It could just be the child expressing

themselves in that moment. And

where would Art be generally if we

always had to stick with one version of

‘reality’?

Spatial awareness and boundary

recognition

Learning spatial awareness is

important in everyday life. Colouring

can help with this on a micro level

by making the child aware of 2D

boundaries and of different shapes

and areas.

Handwriting skills

Developing fine motor skills is

essential for the development of

legible handwriting. Colouring helps

develop these muscles so that

mastering letters later on can be more

easily achieved.

Reduced stress and anxiety

Recent studies have shown that

colouring can help reduce stress and

anxiety in adults due to the focused

and creative nature of the activity 1,2 .

Researchers found that colouring for

as little as 10 minutes a day, can have

positive mental health outcomes,

which suggests that colouring is no

longer just for children: you can add

some stress-relief to your staff’s day

as well, by encouraging them to get

involved and colour something in too.

SOME IDEAS FOR NATIONAL

COLOURING BOOK DAY

One of the great benefits of colouring

is that you really don’t need a lot

of expensive equipment. There are

colouring books you can buy on a

variety of different topics, and the

internet is full of free, downloadable

resources too.

Why not make your own patterns to

colour by using a large marker pen to

trace or draw the outline of an object

or a pattern and then photocopy them

for the children to colour in?

Think big! Colouring does not have to

be just a two-dimensional activity.

You could colour something in and

then wrap it around a cardboard

tube to make a spaceship; or

download some maths nets from

the internet to create a giant,

colourful dice; or cut out some

paper patterns to make animals,

pencil pot

covers or

murals. And

with a bit of

research, you

can turn your

finished designs

into mugs, T-shirts

or tea towels so use

your imagination

and let us know how

creative you can be!

We’ve created some

free downloadable

pages for you to use in

your setting too. Click

here to access them.

References:

1. www.tandfonline.com/doi/

abs/10.1080/10400419.2017.1

376505

2. files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/

EJ688443.pdf

26 Parenta.com August 2019 27


Sing your way to smooth transitions

In early childhood education we all put so much time and effort into coming up with experiences

that are stimulating, enjoyable, challenging and educational. But what about the time between

these experiences? This, at times chaotic, transitional space between parts of the day can not only

be made easier for you and the children in your care, but can also offer an opportunity for further

learning and development.

With the overall wellbeing of children

so crucial to all areas of their ongoing

development, it’s important to be aware

of how we can minimise stress levels

for children through managing calm,

smooth transitions – essential. “Children

who have sustained high stress levels

are less able to learn and develop to

their potential” (Sims, 2008) as a result of

high levels of cortisol or ‘stress hormone’

in their bodies. Today’s children face

fast-paced, busy lives and we can all

contribute to lowering the anxiety and

stress in their days during these pivotal

early years.

Making the transition

It’s a special thing to witness when

children are particularly enjoying an

element of their day, but it’s more

stressful when you know the time is

approaching to move on to something

else. What about the morning rush?

Children can often arrive at the nursery

feeling rushed and tense which leaves

them clinging to mum or dad and

potentially disrupting the morning flow

in the room. So how do we alleviate the

stress of transitions while simultaneously

maximising children’s learning? Enter:

transitional songs.

What are transitional songs?

Both research and experience support

the use of songs to ease children’s

experience with transitions, keeping in

mind that there are several transitions

across a standard day. These are the

transitions we tend to face each day

in settings that can sometimes be

challenging for children:

• Home to the settings

• Activity to activity

• Activity to pack up

• Room to room

• Outside to inside

Throughout numerous conversations and

surveys, educators have identified three

most challenging transitions for the day:

1. Rest time

2. Group time

3. Tidy/pack-away time

At the end of this article, we are sharing

a transitional song to tackle each of

these routines so you can see how

transitional songs can be tailored to

individual situations.

Why use transitional songs?

Before we understand why transitional

songs are so important, we need to

consider why children sometimes

struggle with transitions.

Here are four of the most common

problems that can cause transitions to

be chaotic:

1. Transitions are rushed

2. Children don’t know what is coming

next

3. Children are not ready to stop doing

what they are doing

4. Children have little or no warning of

what is expected of them

A consistent routine, fortified with

music in the form of transitional

songs, will solve all of these problems.

And while routine alone is crucial to a

positive environment for children, the

incorporation of music in any form – in

this case, singing - will always further

improve the scenario. At Bonkers Beat

Music Kinder, we have seen first-hand

the positive impact of singing throughout

the day, an experience backed up by

many other educators who implement

our program in their settings.

Transitional songs can play a pivotal role

for a child’s development. The time spent

struggling to convince children to move on

to the next task can be utilised effectively by

lowering stress levels during transitions and

incorporating singing and its many benefits

into children’s days.

Time to rhyme

There has been ample research telling us

that children who struggle with rhymes are

likely to have difficulties reading (Journal of

Child Psychology & Psychiatry Vol 31, Issue

2, Jan 1990), and this, combined with the

countless benefits of music for wellbeing,

is surely enough for us to consider how we

can use songs in children’s day-to-day lives.

Transitional songs are a simple, useful and

effective way to incorporate songs, rhymes,

poems and music into each and every day.

Transitional songs also serve us well

in encouraging rote learning through

memorisation, which I believe assists

children to retain all the information they

take in every day, so that they can recall it

and apply it when it’s needed.

Tips for using transitional songs

Consistency is key with making transitional

songs effective. Use the same song/s at

the same time/s to see results. Eventually

you may even find children using the songs

without prompting.

Make the songs fun – include some actions

or fun sounds to make!

In my experience transitional songs seem to

work best when the words in the song tell

the children what is happening or what they

are going to be doing.

Try these musical ideas for the top three

most challenging transitions in the day:

1. Rest time

2. Group time

3. Tidy/pack away time

Transitional songs not only ease children

in moving from one activity to another,

but they are also an enjoyable way of

incorporating music and singing into the

day and reaping the rewards on children’s

social and emotional wellbeing. If you are

looking for a way to make your day run

more smoothly, transitional songs could be

the answer.

To find out more about the first music kinder

in Australia visit the Bonkers Beat website.

To share your ideas and views, visit the

Bonkers Beat Facebook page

Galina Zenin

Galina Zenin (B.Mus. Ed.,

Dip. Teach.) is a presenter,

early childhood educator and

qualified music and voice

training teacher, author,

composer and storyteller.

She writes her own music

and brings to her programs

a wealth of European and

Australian experience,

together with a high level of

professionalism.

Her Bonkers Beat® programs

are breakthrough, multiaward-winning

music and

wellbeing programs for early

years that enrich the lives of

young children and boost

settings’ occupancy at the

same time. They have been

introduced in many settings

across Australia, empowering

educators and enhancing

the wellbeing of hundreds of

children and families.

Galina is a recipient of the

2015 National Excellence in

Teaching Award by Australian

Scholarships Group (ASG)

and the creator of Bonkers

Beat Music & Bonkers Gym

Wellbeing Programs. From

keynote address to small

group workshops, she has

inspired audiences on 4

continents and has been

widely featured in the

national media.

You can follow Galina on

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

and LinkedIn.

28 Parenta.com August 2019 29


Clay leaf print craft

What our customers say

WHAT OUR CUSTOMERS SAY

YOU WILL NEED:

• Clay (we used an air drying one)

• Paint

• Paint brushes

• Leaves/flowers or whatever you would like to

print on the clay

SOFTWARE SUPPORT - JULY 2019

Fabulous customer service. I never have a

problem getting through to the team and

when I do, they are happy and upbeat and

are always patient. Usually the problems

are operator error from my side but the

team humour my lack of computer skills

and are very patient with me. I cannot

recommend Parenta enough to people.

Great system but an A* customer service.

St Johns Nursery

TRAINING - JUNE 2019

The services on offer have been

fantastic. I have felt nothing but

supported throughout my time of

doing my apprenticeship.

Daniel Burgess

1. Get the clay ready and ask the children to create

different shapes with it.

2. Let the children press their chosen leaves onto the

clay. They might need help, as it needs to be pressed

hard.

3. Leave the leaves and the clay to dry. We left it

overnight.

4. Once the clay is dry, the children can paint it.

5. You are done!

TRAINING - JULY 2019

I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor throughout my time

of doing my level 3. Laura made me feel comfortable, calm

and most importantly, made me feel confident in myself. Was

happy to have her through everything.

Natasha Douglass - Footsteps Day Nursery

TRAINING - JULY 2019

Many thanks for your email and

for all the support Parenta has

given Stephanie, Tina is wonderful.

Fruit Tree Nursery

TRAINING - JULY 2019

I would like to say how much

I have enjoyed doing the

level 2 and level 3 courses

that I have done with

Parenta. My assessor, Amy

Webber, was brilliant all the

way through and supported

me extremely well.

Allison Johnson

30 Parenta.com August 2019 31


Helping children to accept those

with additional needs

Inclusion in early years settings and schools is something that is widely discussed thanks to

its advantages and disadvantages. Despite any disadvantages, one major bonus of inclusion

is the opportunity for children to mix with other children with different needs and learn about

differences in others. Throughout their early years and schooling, a child is likely to meet

others with a wide range of abilities and needs.

Young children are very accepting of

differences. They aren’t born judging

others – they learn this. Children will

learn prejudices from their parents or

other outside influences. Therefore

as practitioners, we have a duty to

teach children to accept one another,

no matter what their needs.

To young children, the additional

needs of others may sometimes be

obvious - for example one of their

peers may be a wheelchair user, or

the needs may be hidden. So how

do we teach children to accept and

respect those children around them

with additional needs, whatever they

are?

Teach children that we are all

different. To begin with, we need

to teach children that no two people

are the same. Circle time is a great

opportunity for this. Talk about the

fact that we all look different – some

have curly hair, we have different

eye colours, different skin colour,

some people wear glasses. Then

extend to other differences such as

where people live, what language

they speak, what different things

they like doing. The important thing

to emphasise here is that it is ok to

be different. In fact it is a good thing.

Wouldn’t it be boring if we all looked

exactly the same?

Once we’ve established the fact

that differences are a positive thing,

then you can include the fact that

one girl wears glasses because her

eyes need a little extra help to see,

and another boy uses a wheelchair

because his legs don’t work well.

Teach children that we all have

similarities. As well as differences

we also all have common ground.

Point out the fact that a few children

like a certain book character, a

few have the same lunch box, a

few have the same hair colour etc.

Include the child with special needs

when discussing similarities so that

all children can see that their need

doesn’t define them – they have

lots of other wonderful things about

them that we can learn about.

Extend to the fact that we all

find some things easy and some

things hard. It’s important for

children to realise that we all learn

at different speeds. Use yourself

as an example – there are things

that you learnt to do quickly

and things that you need to

practise again and again. It’s

just the same for all of us. It doesn’t

matter how long we take to learn

something, as long as we try our

hardest and don’t give up. Again, a

good way to tackle this is at circle

time. Ask the children what they

are good at and what they find

hard, again highlighting everyone’s

differences.

Once you’ve helped develop an

understanding and acceptance of

the fact that we all have differences

– with regard to our looks, our

circumstances and the things that

we find easy and hard - then you

can start to talk about the particular

needs that are in your setting if

necessary.

Talk about behaviour head-on.

This is the area that you are most

likely to need to discuss with children

because if one child in your setting

is really struggling with behaviour,

it can easily have a knock-on effect

on others. As we know, children are

constantly observing one another

and tend to copy behaviours, which

can be something that

needs addressing. You

may also have

children

that are worried or upset by another

child’s behaviour. If you have a child

that is displaying negative behaviour,

don’t sweep it under the carpet.

Acknowledge it to the other children

and talk about how the behaviour

makes them feel. Come back to the

fact that we all find some things

easy and some things hard. Now

explain to the rest of the children

that, just as you find it hard to do

e.g. drawing, this child finds it hard

to do the right thing. Reassure the

children that you are dealing with

this child’s behaviour in the best way

for them and that they do not need

to worry.

Ask them to help. Get children

involved. Explain that we can all

help one another by showing each

other the right thing to do. Use

it as an opportunity to reiterate

your expectations and let the

children know how proud you are

of both them, and the child that is

struggling. You can also discuss

practical ways that the children in

your setting can help another child.

Teach children that it is ok to ask

questions. Understanding is key to

acceptance, therefore children need

to feel safe to ask questions about

their friend’s needs. Just encourage

them to do so sensitively.

As in all aspect of life, acceptance is

always going to be a sticky issue that

can cause problems. Children with

special needs, just like all children,

want friends and respect. Thankfully,

if we can educate children to accept

and understand others at a very

young age, then they stand a good

chance of being more tolerant of

others as they grow up.

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

32 Parenta.com August 2019 33


National Playday

- 7th August

George Bernard Shaw famously wrote: “We

don’t stop playing because we grow old; we

grow old because we stop playing.” How right

he was!

“Every child has

the right to rest and

leisure, to engage in play

and recreational activities

appropriate to the age of the

child and to participate freely in

cultural life and the arts.”

Article 31. UN Convention on

the Rights of the Child.

It’s summer – why not try some water play?

Since the warm weather is finally kicking in, why not have

fun this Playday with some of our suggested water-based

play ideas.

1. Sprinkler Spree! Everyone loves running through a

sprinkler, thinking that we will somehow dodge the

water droplets and come out dry on the other side. Oh,

how wrong we are!!

Last month, the Government

published the KS1 and KS2

SATs results, and for many

young children, it marked

their first stage in the race to

reach the expected national

standards in academic

subjects by the ages of 7,

11, and 16. To some, this is

the culmination of years of

hard work studying maths,

English and SPAG (spelling,

punctuation and grammar)

and for many year 6

students, much of their last

year at primary school has

been focused on achieving

top results in these exams,

sometimes at the expense of

other curriculum items. It’s

no wonder that ‘playtime’

has become a dirty word in

some circles!

However, in the same month,

we also heard about the

increasing incidence of

mental health problems that

many young people suffer

from nowadays, often due

to the pressures they face

to do well across the board

in exams and academic

subjects, as well as feelings

of inadequacy and low selfesteem

that can be caused

by social media and a culture

which constantly promotes a

comparison with others.

And yet early years

professionals know that

children learn best when

they are engaged, interested

and excited by a subject;

and that often means that

the best learning is done

through PLAY and a holistic

approach to education!

So perhaps the time has

come to put ‘play’ back on

the curriculum and high on

the list! But fear not, the

humble playtime does have

its fair share of supporters

too – in fact it has its very

own awareness day!

Set up in 1987 by 3

London playworkers, Mick

Conway, Paul Bonel and

Kim Holdaway, Playday’s

initial aims were to raise

the profile of play and

alert people locally to the

potential loss of children’s

play services. But their idea

quickly gained momentum

and in 4 years, it went

national, and it is now

the biggest celebration of

children’s play in the UK.

Last year communities

celebrated Playday at more

than 850 events. The United

Nations have even officially

recognised the right to play

in their “Convention on the

Rights of the Child”.

You can read more about

Playday on the official

Playday website, and you

might also be surprised

to know that England,

Scotland, Wales and

Northern Ireland also have

their own charity groups

dedicated to promoting play

in their regions. This year,

Playday is on Wednesday

August 7th and there are

hundreds of activities for

you to join in all around the

country. Or you can always

set up your own event too.

The theme for this

year’s Playday is “Play

Builds Children”, and

the organisers and their

coordinating partners want

to “highlight the many ways

in which play is beneficial to

children and young people.”

Recent research has shown

play has many benefits,

not just for the children

undertaking the play, but

also for their families and

wider communities too. It

can:

• improve and maintain

children’s physical and

mental health

• give them the chance

to socialise with other

children of different

ages and social

backgrounds

• increase their

confidence, selfawareness

and selfesteem

• develop imagination

and creativity

• promote independence

• build resilience through

different physical and

mental challenges and

risk-taking

• offer opportunities for

problem-solving and

new encounters

That’s why this year’s theme

says that play can “build

children and communities”

– through their friendships,

their resilience, and their

health and wellbeing.

What can you do on

Playday?

The answer to this is quite

simple – PLAY!

There will be lots of

organised events you can

attend, either as an early

years setting, a family

or an individual. A quick

review of the some of the

events around the country

returned a whole myriad

of activities including: farm

activities, inflatables, crafts,

pop-up play, giant games,

messy play, circus skills,

willow weaving, balance

2. Set up a water run. You could set up a water run

by connecting different items together such as plastic/

wooden tubes, tilted bowls and old pipes. How far can

you get the water to travel?

3. Try some pond-dipping. This is great fun and highly

educational as well, helping you introduce mini-beasts

and different habitats/environments to your setting too.

4. Test your water pouring and maths skills.

Collect together a range of different containers of

different shapes and sizes that could hold water. Get

the children to pour the water from one container to

another and to say whether they think the water will fit

in or not.

5. Jump in muddy puddles! Although it’s summer, there

is no rule to say that you can’t make your own muddy

puddles to jump in. After all, if you can’t jump in a

muddy puddle when you’re a toddler, what has the

world come to?!

bikes, quad bikes, water/

mud slides, hay bales,

bouncy castles, sports, a

mobile skate park, treeplanting,

bolder-climbing,

face painting, magic shows,

water-play activities, Sumowrestling,

Capoeira, and a

plan “to fill a car park with

cardboard boxes!”

So it seems that ‘anything

goes’ as long as you are

playing and having fun!

Check out what is

happening near you by

visiting the Playday website,

and there are lots of

resources to help you if you

want to plan your own event

too, including logos, posters,

tips and an organiser’s

checklist.

For more information:

www.playday.org.uk

Reference for research

on play:

www.playengland.net/wpcontent/uploads/2015/09/

play-for-a-change-low-res.

pdf

34 Parenta.com August 2019 35


Should we force children to say ‘sorry’?

If a child does something to upset someone else quite often our automatic reaction is to ask

them to say ‘sorry’. It’s a natural response as we want them to learn manners and to be civilised

human beings. However, if we sit back and think about it, is this really doing them any good?

In a child’s early years, they have a

limited ability to feel empathy and

are literally the centre of their own

world. This therefore means that they

quite often struggle to see things

from another person’s point of view

and won’t truly understand what

‘sorry’ means or be able to say it in a

meaningful way. By forcing them to say

it, we are simply teaching them that an

empty word rectifies their actions and

allows them to avoid consequences.

It may sound extreme, but it also

indirectly teaches them to lie and does

the exact opposite of our intention,

which was to develop their empathy!

Now I’m not saying that we shouldn’t

ask children to say sorry as this is an

important thing to do in life. However,

I do think that in a child’s early years,

the emphasis should be more on

developing their understanding of

the situation, so that when they do

eventually say ‘sorry’, they will truly

understand what that means.

Ultimately, we want children to

understand the impact of their

actions and to make positive choices.

However, in order for them to do this,

we have to teach them how.

Instead of insisting that children say

’sorry’, here are 5 alternative options:

1. Natural consequences

It’s important for children to learn

about cause and effect, therefore

it is crucial that they learn natural

consequences. If a child hits

another child with a toy, the natural

consequence would be for that toy to

be taken away temporarily until they

can learn to play with it safely. If a

child hits someone, then that child

needs to be moved away (not isolated)

because the natural consequence is

that their friend probably won’t want

to be near them for a while. If we

come from a place of consequences

and teaching, rather than a place

of punishment and control, we will

give children more opportunities

to understand their behaviour and

therefore develop their self-awareness

and empathy.

2. Acknowledge feelings

Quite often we only acknowledge the

feelings of the child who has been

hurt or upset. However, it is important

to do the same for the other child too.

Have you ever been in a situation

where you have felt so frustrated,

yet nobody seemed to listen or

understand? It is infuriating isn’t

it? Well, it is the same for children.

Even though their actions may have

been wrong, they are still feeling

strong emotions. By asking children

how they feel you are giving them

an opportunity to learn and grow.

Behaviour is communication and if we

can support children to identify the

emotions and situation that have led

to their behaviour, we can help them

to develop better coping strategies in

the future.

3. Develop empathy

As well as identifying their own

feelings, it is also important to ask

children how they think their actions

might have made the other person feel

by asking questions such as:

• You did [action], how do you think

this made [child] feel?

• How would you feel if somebody

did [action] to you?

By asking these questions in a

supportive and gentle way, we give

children a safe space to explore what

has happened and to hopefully see

things from a different perspective,

which again will develop their

empathy.

4. Find an alternative solution

By giving children the opportunity

to think about how they could do

things differently in the future, you

are planting positive seeds in their

minds and supporting them to find an

alternative way of coping with their

emotions. Give them lots of praise for

their response and prompt them if

needed with questions like this:

• If we feel angry inside because

someone has taken our toy, what

can we do instead of hitting them?

• Could we ask nicely for it back?

• Could we tell a grown up?

• What would you do next time that

doesn’t hurt/upset someone?

5. Model the apology

You can ask children if they want to

say sorry but if they choose not, this

gives you a great opportunity to model

how to do it by apologising on their

behalf. If your apology is heartfelt and

explains why you are sorry (I am sorry

that [child] did [action] and that you

are feeling sad) children will see that

emotion and care are attached to this

word. You can also model apologies

when you make a mistake yourself.

Even though we are adults, we are still

human and make mistakes and it is

important to lead by example so that

children see it as the norm.

Apologising for your actions is

important. However, if there is no

meaning or care behind it, the word

‘sorry’ becomes worthless and simply a

tool to get away with things. Actions are

more important than words. A person

can say ‘sorry’ a million times but if their

actions never change, the word means

nothing. It is important for children to

learn to say it, but if we focus more on

supporting them to understand and

change their actions, when they do

eventually say ‘sorry’ it will be heartfelt

and for the right reasons.

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/

36 Parenta.com August 2019 37


Healthy cold food for the

perfect teddy bears’ picnic

“If you go down in the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise

If you go down in the woods today, you’d better go in disguise

For every bear that ever there was will gather there for certain

Because today’s the day the teddy bears have their picnic”

Everyone loves a teddy bears’ picnic – including the teddies, of course!

Ice lollies

Everyone loves an ice lolly on

a hot summer day and the

children can get involved with

helping to make them. You can

buy some lolly moulds and

sticks easily in any household

store. For a quick and simple

lolly, make up some fruit squash,

use fruit juices or yoghurts and put them in the freezer

to set. You can also make more natural ice lollies by

whizzing up in a blender strawberries, natural yoghurt or

apple/orange juice and adding honey for sweetness.

Crudities for kids

There’s nothing like a

delicious dip to tempt

children to eat their

veggies! Chop

up some carrots,

peppers, cucumber

and celery – you could let

the children make faces out of

the different shapes on their plates! You can prepare in

advance a couple of tasty dips which can be enjoyed by

children and adults alike - some easy to make healthy

dips can be found here.

The great thing about having a teddy bears’ picnic is that you don’t have to wait for the good weather to arrive -

you can have one pretty much anywhere. It can be just as much fun whether it’s indoors or outdoors and is a great

form of entertainment for little ones of all ages! You will almost certainly find that even the quieter children become

engaged and animated when it’s time to get the teddies out and have some fun! Children just love to compare their

teddies, play teddy bear games and of course, eat some scrumptious food.

With the warm weather upon us, here are some ideas for

healthy, cold, tasty treats for your very own teddy bears’

picnic…and they won’t break the bank!

Two-ingredient strawberry ice cream

Ice cream is usually a firm favourite with children and this delicious vegan-friendly, gluten/

dairy free, and no added sugar ice cream is sure to be no exception! You can prepare the fruit

in advance by chopping up a punnet of strawberries and 4 or 5 bananas. The children can

help by placing the fruit into zip-seal freezer bags and sealing them tight, being careful to

squeeze out the air without squeezing out the fruit! Freeze for 6 hours, break up into chunks

and blitz in a blender until it is the consistency of a smoothie. Pour it into a big dish, cover

and freeze for a further hour. The children can then spoon the ice cream straight from the

freezer and serve it to each other in a cone or in a cup. Don’t forget the sauce and sprinkles!

Fruit and vegetable teddies

Cut up some fruit and

vegetables into

different shapes.

You need some

round shapes to be

the head and body,

and some longer, thinner

shapes for the arms, legs and

ears. Get the children to make some edible 2D teddies

on a plate. For example, you could use half an apple

for the body; some celery for legs and arms; a slice of

orange for the head and some grapes for ears. Don’t

forget some raisins for eyes! Use your imagination and

see what lovely teddies you can create.... but sorry,

teddy.....you’re going to get eaten!

Sugar-free still lemonade

Lemonade is loved by children

everywhere – not so much by

parents and carers when it is

packed with sugar! Let the

children get messy with this

sugar-free, non-fizzy lemonade

which is fun to make. Use a

natural sweetener like honey and

add a couple of tablespoons to a cup of 5 or 6 freshly

squeezed lemons. Add this to a jug of iced water and a

few squeezed limes too.

If you want to learn more about diet and nutrition, or refresh your existing knowledge, why not take a look at

our eLearning CPD course “Diet and Nutrition” here?

For more healthy summer food ideas, read our top tips for favourite fun summer

food activities including making your own here.

38 Parenta.com August 2019 39


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