Parenta Magazine November 2019


Issue 60





Multisensory rooms:

myth busting

Should we force

children to say ‘please’

and ‘thank you’?

Exploring cultural

capital - the new buzz

words in education




page 6

+ lots more



Tonya Meers explains that the versatility of stories makes them a great tool for

practitioners to identify safeguarding issues and to help them assess situations


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

We are into the third month of the revised Education Inspection Framework – and since it was first published

in September, the words “cultural capital” have become the new buzz words in education, particularly

within early years. What do they really mean, and do we need to do anything differently within our settings?

Industry expert Tamsin Grimmer looks at the ways in which settings already take cultural capital into account

automatically - well before the phrase was coined. Turn to page 20 for her insightful article.

It’s time to get our singing voices in tune…in preparation for singing carols in a few weeks’ time; as we celebrate all

things “nursery rhymes” this month! World Nursery Rhyme Week runs from 18th to 22nd November and we have some great

ideas and activities for you to get involved in. More on that on the opposite page!

We wanted to say a big “thank you” to all those who took the time to participate in our recent early years settings survey. Your input is

invaluable in helping us better understand the business constraints you face within your settings and we are using these findings to be

able to help you with your childcare businesses even more!

We also want to show our appreciation to all our Parenta magazine readers – and are excited to announce that this month we are

giving away a FREE childcare website! Details of this amazing prize and how you can enter are on page 6.

On the subject of appreciation, as a society, we place a lot of importance on words such as ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. It goes without

saying that we want to raise our children to be polite and have good manners, but should we actually impose these words on them?

Industry expert Stacey Kelly takes a controversial look at this in her article “Should we force children to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’?”

Joanna Grace’s perceptive article “Sensory engagement” has got us really thinking about how sensory communication effects

everyone and wins her guest author of the month – congratulations once again, Joanna!

We really hope that you find this month’s news stories, advice articles and craft activities useful – 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!






The third instalment of

Frances Turnbull’s four-part

series discusses musical

skills and behaviours that

can be seen in children in

their early years




7 Write for us for a chance to win £50!

7 Guest author winner announced

14 Twinkle twinkle little star-ry night - craft



4 Milton Hall Montessori Nursery School

celebrates Diwali

5 Not so mellow yellow – Cheshire childcare group

supports World Mental Health Day


8 Focus on Forest Schools

12 World Nursery Rhyme Week

23 Top tips for managing your workload as an


26 Road Safety Week

30 Tips for teaching phonics

34 How to deal with bereavement

38 National Blog Posting Month


10 Encouraging mark-making in multisensory ways

16 Multisensory rooms – myth busting

Let’s fall in love with nursery rhymes… all over again!

Our theme of the month for November is…nursery rhymes!

If you ask people what they remember about their early

childhood, chances are they will mention “nursery rhymes”.

We listen to them as babies, learn them as infants and then, if

we have children ourselves, we are likely to pass on what we

learnt to them.

World Nursery Rhyme week runs from 18th to 22nd November

and has lots of information about

all the great ways children can

learn new nursery rhymes

and allows you to reminisce

about old ones too; from

learning a different one

each day of the week; to

even writing your own;

and downloading crafts

for them to take home!

Turn to page 14 for a

wonderful Vincent van

Gough-inspired craft

which will have you

and the children

singing and painting

“Twinkle Twinkle Little

Star-ry night” all week!

How you can help children in your care with bereavement 34




Gina Smith gives some

fantastic multisensory

tips for ways you can

encourage children in your

setting to mark-make


Galina Zenin explains the importance

of nursery rhymes for children’s

development and details some of the

incredible benefits of nursery rhymes in

early childhood education


20 Exploring cultural capital – the new buzz words

in education

24 Let’s fall in love with nursery rhymes...again!

28 Starting a musical journey part 3: Changes in

your little one’s musical behaviour

32 Should we force children to say ‘please’ and

‘thank you’?

36 How stories can help tackle bullying

Forest Schools - the history, benefits and core principles 8

Milton Hall Montessori Nursery

School celebrates Diwali

Milton Hall Montessori Nursery School



Not Cheshire so mellow childcare yellow group – Cheshire supports



group supports


World Mental

Health Day


We all know it is very important to teach children about different cultures and traditions

and Milton Hall Montessori School love to celebrate special days and festivals. In October

they celebrated Diwali, the festival of lights.

Nursery managers and practitioners of Elmscot Group day nurseries, nursery schools and

out-of-school clubs across Cheshire have come together to show their support for World

Mental Health Day.

On 23rd October, Milton Hall

Montessori School celebrated Diwali,

the Hindu festival of light. The children

dressed up wearing bright and

colourful clothing, and learned all

about the joyous festival!

Sutindar Lal told the children the story

of Rama and Sita and why Hindus

celebrate the Festival of Lights.

Diwali is the five-day festival of lights,

celebrated by millions of Hindus, Sikhs

and Jains across the world.

The children learnt about dandiyas,

made their own diva lamps out of

clay and painted them, tried different

Indian savoury snacks and sweets and

had henna designs painted on their


Diwali, which for some also

coincides with harvest and new year

celebrations, is a festival of new

beginnings and the triumph of good

over evil, and light over darkness.

You can see from the photos that

the children had a wonderful time

celebrating Diwali and learning about

the festival.

Happy Diwali

from Milton

Hall Montessori


#HelloYellow is a campaign launched

by YoungMinds, a UK charity that fights

for the future of children and young

people’s mental health. By wearing a

pop of yellow or even an entire yellow

outfit and making a donation, people

across the country have shown their

support for the cause.

ITV’s Britain Get Talking campaign has

also been supporting mental wellness

and is centred on bringing families

closer. Backed by the YoungMinds

charity, the campaign highlights

that anxiety and depression in

children has risen by 48% since 2004.

Through silencing popular television

programmes and advertising, families

are being encouraged to “tune back in

to the story in your living room”.

Elmscot Group understands that

good mental health and wellbeing is

important to enable children and young

people to reach their full potential, build

resilience and self-regulation – all vital

life skills to become a confident and

able adult.

Back in April 2019, managers and

practitioners across the childcare group

completed either a Level 2 course in

Understanding Children and Young

People’s Mental Health or a Level 2

course in Awareness of Mental Health

Problems. These courses focused

on support and early intervention

from early childhood, and on adult

and workplace health awareness,


Most recently, seven of the managers

within Elmscot Group have successfully

trained in Mental Health First Aid

– showing the group’s continued

commitment to mental health support

and awareness.

Rachael Lyons, Elmscot Group

Operations manager said: “The

importance of good mental health

and support is a priority for us across

the group. We are gradually getting

closer to achieving the goal we set out

this year of becoming an emotionallyhealthy

childcare business.

“Being able to show our support for

such an incredible campaign means

a lot to us and we were delighted to

donate and raise awareness amongst

Elmscot Group families.”

4 November 2019 5

Write for us for a chance to win £50!

Write for us!

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

monthly magazine.



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

month, we’ll be giving away a £50 voucher 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


If we choose to feature your article in our magazine, you’ll be eligible to win £50


The winner will be picked based on having the highest number of views for their article during that month

This competition is open to both new and existing authors, for any articles submitted to feature in our Parenta

magazine. The lucky winner will be notified via email and we’ll also include an announcement in the following month’s

edition of the magazine.

Got any questions or want to run a topic by us? Get in touch via

Guest author winner announced


Joanna Grace

We’re very excited to announce that we are

offering childcare settings the chance to win

a free website to the value of £599!

Enter now at:

Congratulations to our guest author

competition winner, Joanna Grace!

Joanna Grace’s article in the September

edition of the Parenta magazine, “Sensory

engagement” was very popular with our


Well done, Joanna!

A massive thank you to all of our guest authors

for writing for us.

You can find all of the past articles from our

guest authors on our website: www.parenta.


6 November 2019 7

Entries close on 29th November 2019. Terms and conditions apply.

Focus on Forest Focus Schools on

Forest Schools

The curriculum is not pre-set but

child-led, although it can easily cover

aspects of the EYFS and often includes

making dens and campfires, working

in teams or with tools, whittling spoons

and learning about nature.

History of Forest Schools

How can you set up a

Forest School?

There are a few things you will

need to be able to run as an

official Forest School:

Many adults over a certain age (about 50, but shh, don’t tell anyone)….fondly remember

their childhood as one lived mostly outdoors - making mud pies, climbing trees and being

allowed to play in the woods for hours until they were called in for dinner when the sun

went down. They made dens, knew that dock leaves could relieve the pain from stinging

nettles and occasionally, yes, made a campfire.

It seems a distant cry from the

common perception of many of today’s

children, branded as unable to tear

themselves away from their electronic

devices long enough to even sit at a

table for a meal, and the term ‘Nature-

Deficit Disorder’ is now being applied

to many of today’s youngsters who

spend less and less time outdoors.

Perhaps this is why there has been an

explosion in Forest Schools in the UK

over the last few decades, since Forest

Schools could be seen as an antidote

to the electronic age – a place where

children are free again to be children

and to drive their own agendas; to

learn and explore in an environment

that is challenging, but risk-assessed

for safety; and about as far away from

a SATs test as you could possibly be!

But how much do you really know and

understand about what they are, and

why they are growing in popularity?

What is a Forest School?

Being a Forest School is not a

marketing gimmick – it is an ethos

around a way of learning that stems

from Scandinavia, with a focus on

outdoor learning that is child-centred,

play-based and delivered regularly

over a long period of time, rather than

as a one-off session in a woodland.

The main principles behind a Forest

School involve:


Encouraging mark-making in

multisensory mark-making ways

in multisensory ways

As you will already know, mark-making is one of the earliest

stages of writing. If children are to become confident

writers, they need to partake in as many mark-making

activities as possible, at as early an age as possible.

When mark-making, you are looking for children to make marks on both a large

scale and a small scale – thus working both their gross motor skills and their fine

motor skills. If a child can’t make a huge ‘s’ shape in the air, they are going to

struggle to make their fingers draw a small one on paper.

Here are some multisensory ways of encouraging mark-making. For any of the

options below, a child could use their finger to make marks, or they could hold a

paintbrush, stick, pen, pencil or piece of chalk – whatever they like! As long as they

are using the muscles in their hand and arm to make different shapes, then they

are on their way to becoming a writer.

• Draw in different mediums: e.g. mud, sand, snow, paint, shaving foam or flour

• Draw with scarves and ribbons in the air

• Fill a plastic wallet with paint, sequins and glitter and get them to mark-make

over the pattern

• Put on gloves and use a block of ice to make marks on the ground

• Use coloured chalks on black paper – perhaps draw fireworks

• Paint water onto walls and fences using large paint brushes

• Use highlighters to draw over the lines of an existing drawing

• Draw on whiteboards and chalkboards

• Free drawing on an interactive whiteboard or iPad

• Trace pictures, letters and/or numbers

• Use stencils

• Run their finger over multisensory letters such as sandpaper or felt

• Write on a Perspex sheet

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.



When encouraging mark-making, think about how you feel when you use a pen –

how does your favourite pen feel? If you use a pen that is drying out, it doesn’t feel

good against the paper. A new pen on a whiteboard, however, feels lovely and

flows easily. A child is far more likely to want to mark-make if it feels good. Have

sharp pencils and good quality pens for children to use.

If a child is struggling to hold a pencil properly, get them to hold a much shorter

pencil or a broken off bit of chalk – this naturally encourages a proper grip since

they physically can’t manage the palmar grasp.

As always with young children, making things multisensory is the key to

engagement. Offer fun and interesting ways to mark-make and your children will be

on their way to mastering the physical side of writing.

10 November 2019 11

World Nursery Rhyme


World Nursery

Rhyme Week

1. Who sat in the

corner and who

sat on a tuffet?

2. Who kissed the girls

and made them cry?

3. How many, and what kind

of birds were baked in a pie?

If there is anything that people remember about their early childhood, then it surely has

to be nursery rhymes. We hear them as babies, learn them as infants and then, if we have

children ourselves as adults, we pass them on by singing them to our children too.

4. What’s the French

name for Brother Jack?

5. What are the

animals doing

down in the jungle?

Nursery rhymes are comforting, they

bring back happy memories of dancing

round the mulberry bush or making

our hands ‘twinkle’ like stars. So this

November, why not celebrate these

much-loved rhymes during World

Nursery Rhyme Week and bring a little

magic into your setting?

What is World Nursery Rhyme


World Nursery Rhyme Week is an

annual, global initiative “to promote the

importance of nursery rhymes in early

childhood development and education.”

It was started in 2013 by Music Bugs

who provide weekly sensory, playbased

music and singing classes for

babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers.

Since then, over 3 million children from

over 70 countries have taken part in

the week which is open to anyone who

works with, or has children under the

age of 7.

This year, the week runs from the 18th

to 22nd November and everyone is

invited to join in, especially if you are

a child, nursery professional, teacher,

parent, carer, grandparent, aunt, uncle

or the neighbour’s dog!

Why nursery rhymes?

For a start, nursery rhymes are fun!

They help children with speech and

language development and serve as

an introduction to musical skills as

well. Many have associated physical

actions which can aid in motor skills

development, and some use counting

and numbers to develop numeracy

skills. Participating in singing nursery

rhymes with peers is also sociable and


How can you join in?

You can do as much or as little as you

like. You might just want to sing a few

more nursery rhymes in your setting

than usual, or you could register your

involvement on the official website

and participate in the ‘Rhyme a Day’

challenge. Every year, there are 5

featured rhymes and children are

encouraged to sing one of the rhymes

each day and take part in some

supporting activities.

The 5 rhymes for 2019 are:

• Monday 18th November – “Baa Baa

Black Sheep”

• Tuesday 19th November – “Down in

the Jungle”

• Wednesday 20th November – “Incy

Wincy Spider/Itsy Bitsy Spider”

• Thursday 21st November – “Row,

Row, Row Your Boat”

• Friday 22nd November – “Two Little

Dickie Birds/Two Little Dicky Birds”

There are free videos to view on the

website which are perfect for singing

along to in your setting.

What other resources are


If you register your interest on the World

Nursery Rhyme Week website, you

can download a free resource pack

with instant access to lots of fantastic

resources and suggested activity ideas

that you can do at home or in your

setting. These include:

• Song downloads for each of the 5


• Videos of the rhymes

• Colouring sheets

• Craft activity suggestions

• Posters

• Certificates

• Quiz downloads and more!

You can also share your ideas and

activities on social media with other

practitioners using one of the links

below at:

• Facebook

• Twitter

• Pinterest

• Instagram

Why not expand your activities are try some of the following suggestions too?






Write your own nursery rhymes. Encourage the children to write a short poem of their own on a subject

of their choice. Depending on the age of the child, you could introduce the concept of rhyming to help them

create a short poem. You can even create a new tune if you are feeling musical.

Put on a nursery rhyme show. This will help to develop confidence and give the children a platform for

expressing themselves using drama. You can act out different rhymes and even invite the parents in to see

your performance.

Explore the emotions. One great thing about nursery rhymes is that they often cover many different

emotions and you use these to introduce a discussion on how the different characters are feeling to help

with emotional literacy. For example, you could discuss how Jack and Jill felt when they fell over, or how the

Incy Wincy Spider felt about trying to climb up the spout again. These are ideal opportunities to teach your

young students something other than just the words and actions to the song.

Dress up as your favourite nursery rhyme character. You could have a dressing-up day and welcome

Little Miss Muffet, spiders, black sheep and all manner of other creatures into your setting. It doesn’t take

much to transform children into different characters – all you need is a bit of imagination, and some tinfoil

can represent a star, an apron turns you into Old Mother Hubbard, and a cushion can transform anyone into

Humpty Dumpty!

Set up a nursery rhyme quiz. How well do you know your nursery rhymes? Why not test your colleagues

and children by writing a quiz based on nursery rhymes. We’ve given you a few questions around the edges

of this article to get you started, but we’re sure you’ll be able to think of plenty more to keep you going.

You can find lots of nursery rhymes on YouTube or a Google search

will bring up many different sites which include nursery rhymes

such as the one from Apple Music, here.

12 November 2019 13

1. Little Jack Horner and Little Miss Muffet 2. Georgie Porgie 3. 24 blackbirds 4. Frère Jacques 5. Washing their clothes

Twinkle twinkle

little star-ry night

craft instructions

Twinkle twinkle little star-ry

night - craft instructions

EYFS Learning

Journey Software

14 DAY



You will need:

• Paint, preferably finger paint or one that easily washes off in black, blue, white and


• Black craft paper (you can also use white)


1. Download and print the image of The Starry Night painting by Vincent Van Gogh

2. Prepare the paint by putting it on a paint mixing palette plate or just an ordinary plate

3. Find the nursery rhyme, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and play it

4. Show the children the image of The Starry Night and ask them to paint it with their

fingers while singing along to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star!

5. Once the children have finished the craft, you can introduce them to Vincent Van Gogh

and his other paintings.

Van Gogh was a Dutch

post-impressionist painter

who created about 2,100

artworks, including

around 860 oil paintings,

including landscapes, still

lives, portraits and selfportraits.

His most famous paintings

are The Starry Night,

Sunflowers, Self-Portrait

with Bandaged Ear,

Wheatfield with Cypresses,

The Potato Eaters and


Footsteps 2 is the only EYFS tracking software that allows you to

blur children’s faces, helping to ensure you are GDPR compliant!

And guess what? It comes with a 14 day FREE trial.




Footsteps 2 is designed to make EYFS

tracking easy in your busy setting!

Here are some of the great features:

Unlimited Users & Children

Photo Tagging & Blurring Technology

Group Observations

Characteristics Of Effective Learning

2 Year Check Assessment

Parent Portal With Newsfeed

Approval Process

Individual & Group Progress Report

Learning Journey Report

Flagging Overachievers & Underachievers

Suggested Next Steps

Next Steps Report

Report Emailing
















Here’s how our painting came out! We’d love to see the paintings that the children in your setting make!

Share them with us on social media or email us at

+ so much more!

See the full list on our website:


November 2019 15

Start your free trial today at

Multisensory rooms

Multisensory rooms –

Myth busting

myth So many places have multisensory rooms, perhaps you have one? Recently we have seen

football stadiums, airports and even shopping centres installing multisensory rooms.

The DfE (2015) require all special schools to have a multisensory room in order that

they be considered adequate provision for children with special educational needs and


It seems that everyone is convinced that

multisensory rooms are a great idea for

children with special educational needs.

Presumably this conviction is backed by

hard evidence from research?

Sadly not.

It seems likely that the faith we

collectively have in multisensory

rooms is based more on marketing

materials for the rooms than from peer

reviewed research. Of course there

is also powerful personal testimony.

Without doubt, many people have

had wonderful experiences within

multisensory rooms, but the risk

of basing general provision on the

experiences of individuals, is that no

matter how powerful those experiences

have been, we do not know that they

will generalise. This is where research

steps in. Good research will look at the

amazing experiences of individuals to

see if those experiences were a oneoff

or if they are indicative of greater

application. At a time of reducing

budgets, we would hope that the

provisions dictated by the government

as being essential, all had a firm

evidence base within the research

archives. Presumably multisensory

rooms have a strong evidence base?

Sadly not.

Researchers report that there is “no

methodologically sound research”

that endorses the use of multisensory

rooms. Exploring the research

archives myself, I quickly spotted the

methodological weaknesses they are

referring to: some studies were so poor

as to be funny. I remember one study

that was seeking to find out whether

the multisensory room, newly installed

in a setting, was having a positive

effect. The researchers took people in

the setting to the multisensory room

to see how they got on in there. Some

people did not like the room and would

become distressed when asked to go

there. As they were not able to take

part in the research they were dropped

from the study. The study concluded

that multisensory rooms had a positive

impact on 100% of people!

Multisensory rooms used to cost a

few hundred pounds, a thousand, two

thousand at most. Nowadays they are

priced in the thousands and it is not

uncommon for me to hear of rooms

that cost over a million pounds! I think

far more important than the question

of whether they are having a positive

impact, is the question of whether, even

if that impact is real, they are worth the

price tags we are paying. What else

could that money be spent on?

I have just concluded an 18-month

research project that fed into my book

“Multiple Multisensory Rooms: Myth

Busting the Magic”. Part of my research

explored the features that affect the

impact of a multisensory room. It

identified 12 key factors that influence

how much benefit users of multisensory

rooms got from them.

Here are a couple of those factors, all

obvious when we think of them, but

very worth considering when seeking

to get the most out of our multisensory

room or indeed any other specialist

provision or equipment we have at our


Timetabling – Many people I

interviewed in my research explained

that timetabling issues meant their

ability to reap the benefits of their

multisensory rooms were limited. For

example, people who had the session

at the end of the school day had to

interrupt it to sort out coats and bags;

those who had the session just before

lunch found engagement disrupted by

hungry tummies; others had so short

a slot on the timetable that by the time

they’d arrived and got comfortable, it

was time to go.

If you have an amazing piece of

equipment that you are sharing with

others, do not let sloppy timetabling

ruin it for everyone.

Interruptions – Many of the teachers I

interviewed as a part of my research

explained that it was not the features

of the multisensory room that made it

a powerful learning environment for

their students, it was simply that when

they were in the multisensory room,

they did not get interrupted. In their

classrooms, people popped in to give

them messages or borrow equipment,

specialists arrived to take children

to particular therapies. As well as

interruptions from outside, there were

also the interruptions from within: with

a class working in groups, a student

from one group would stray into

another and need redirecting. In the

sensory room, a group could work in

a focused and uninterrupted way and

that made learning powerful.

Rather than dream about installing a

dark room with a bubble tube, perhaps

consider whether a small cupboard

or room could be utilised as a ‘no

interruptions’ room in which small

groups could work in a focused way.

If you have a multisensory room,

celebrate it and ensure you are using

it effectively. The room, no matter how

wonderful or well-equipped, is not

magic: it cannot do the work alone, you

need to be informed, trained and have

access to creative ideas for how to use

that room.

If you have not got a multisensory

room, fear not. Watch out for next

month’s article to learn about

alternative sensory spaces!

Readers curious to know more may be

interested in Joanna’s book: “Multiple

Multisensory Rooms: Myth Busting the

Magic” published by Routledge

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



16 November 2019 17

Rugby World Cup fever!

Here are a few ideas to help you celebrate the Rugby World Cup:

The Rugby World Cup is held once every four years and is seen as one of the highlights

of the international sporting calendar. This year, it is being hosted by Japan, and as

has been the case since 1995, twenty teams from all over the world will battle it out to

be named world champions.

The competition will run for 7 weeks

from the 20th September, with the final

match being played in Yokohama City,

Japan on the 2nd November.

How many times has England

won the cup or been close to


England has played in the Rugby

World Cup for decades – stretching

as far back as 1987, where the first

tournament was played in New

Zealand. However, in the 8 times that

England has competed in the World

Cup, they’ve achieved varying degrees

of success. They managed to reach the

finals on 3 occasions including 1991,

2003 and 2007.

It was in 2003 that England went

the whole way and won the cup,

after wrestling it out of the hands of

Australia. A nail-biting final saw the 2

teams battle it out in extra time, with

England grabbing those final points

with 26 seconds to spare.

Here’s hoping that this year will be

lucky for our team once again!

How is the winner of the Rugby

World Cup decided?

A total of 48 matches will be played by

teams throughout the competition and

these are split into stages. For the first

stage, there are 4 pools consisting of 5

teams, with 40 matches being played in

Important lingo to remember:

total. The most successful 2 teams from

each ‘pool’ will qualify for the knockout

stage and be in with a chance of

making it to the final.

What are the basic components

of a rugby game?

A rugby game is played with two teams

of 15 players and 8 substitutes on the

bench. The game is split into 2 halves,

consisting of 40 minutes each, with a

5-minute break in the middle. The aim

is to carry, pass or kick the ball to the

opposing end of the pitch (end zone) to

score as many points as possible in 80

minutes. However, the ball may only be

passed backwards from one player to


Spread the word

Tell your parents, staff, friends and

colleagues about celebrating the Rugby

World Cup at your setting and ask

them to get involved with your planned

activities. Share this on your social

media pages, in your newsletter and on

your display boards.

Make colourful bunting

Get everyone’s creative juices flowing

and decorate “Come on England”

bunting to hang around your room. You

could also create bunting with flags of

all the countries participating in the Cup

this year. There are free templates for

craft activities with a Rugby World Cup

theme here if you don’t want to create

your own.

Choose a team to support

Ask the children to choose a country

they would like to support for the

duration of the Rugby World Cup. Then,

pick a day for everyone to come in

wearing a t-shirt with the colour(s) from

their country’s team kit. For example, a

child supporting England would wear

a white top. See our table below for

colour ideas listed by country.

Introduce children to the game

For the older children, you could

run short matches of tag

rugby with a sports coach

to introduce them to the

game. Younger children

may like to enjoy free

play or a game of catch

with small rugby balls.

Here are the team colours of the countries taking

part in the Rugby World Cup this year:

Learn the famous Haka

Show the children a video and explain

the meaning behind the Haka, the

famous routine performed by the New

Zealand rugby team before every match.

It was traditionally used as a Māori war

dance to display a tribe’s pride, strength

and unity. Taking things once step

further, why not let the children have a

go at learning the dance?

Here are some of the common terms you’ll hear thrown around when a rugby match is played, and what they mean in

layman’s terms:


A tackle happens when the ball carrier is held by one or

more opponents and is pulled to ground. The ball carrier

must be released immediately after the tackle.


When a player drops the ball in front of him/her and loses

possession of it, this is called a knock-on. This may happen in

a high-pressure situation where the player doesn’t catch the

ball cleanly and will result in the referee calling for a scrum.


A try is the rugby equivalent of scoring a goal. The player

must touch the ball to the ground in the try zone for this to

happen. It’s worth 5 points to the team.


When the ball goes out of bounds, it’s thrown from the pitch

sideline between two rows of players from each team who

will jump up and try to take possession of it.

Forward pass

This is also called a throw forward in the laws of the game.

A forward pass happens when the ball fails to travel

backwards in a pass. If the ball was deliberately thrown

forwards, then this would be an infringement.


A scrum occurs when the ball is put back into play after

an illegal move such as a knock-on. Specific players in

each team, called forwards, lock shoulders against one

another with their heads down. Each team tries to drive the

opposition back so that they can ‘hook’ the ball back and

gain possession for their team.


After scoring a try, the team will be allowed to kick the ball

through the goal post (shaped like an H). The kick is taken

from a point in line with where the ball was grounded

for the try. The player has one minute from the time they

have teed their ball and if successful the kick is worth an

additional 2 points.


Shirt: white


Shirt: dark blue

New Zealand

Shirt: black


Shirt: green


Shirt: red

South Africa

Shirt: dark green


Shirt: white & blue


Shirt: blue


Shirt: yellow


Shirt: blue


Shirt: red


Shirt: blue


Shirt: white &



Shirt: blue,

white & red


Shirt: red


Shirt: red

For more information about the Rugby World Cup, visit the official site here.


Shirt: light blue


Shirt: red & white


Shirt: light blue


Shirt: red

18 November 2019 19

Exploring cultural capital – the new

buzz words the new in buzz education

words in education

Exploring cultural capital

Since the revised Education Inspection Framework was first published, the words

‘cultural capital’ have become the new buzz words in education and within early

childhood, but what do they really mean and do we need to do anything differently

within our settings? In this article, I argue that, although they may not have used

the phrase, the most effective settings already take cultural capital into account

instinctively by trying to address any inequalities within their provision, so that

children are not limited by their social or economic circumstances.

According to Ofsted, “Cultural capital is

the essential knowledge that children

need to prepare them for their future

success.” This is about taking into

account that children will arrive in

our settings with differing amounts

of experience and trying to make life

a little more of an even playing field

for all children. In my view, effective

practitioners already do this. They

start with the child and ascertain what

they already know and can do before

planning next steps. This elicitation is

vital and can happen formally, through

gathering information from parents and

carers and talking to the children, and,

informally, through observation and

listening to the child.

The term cultural capital is not a new

phrase, it was coined by the French

sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, who

described economic and cultural

capital as something that is built up

over time and can be used, almost

in a bargaining way, in order to

enhance life. Different social groups

accumulate differing amounts of

capital and may be advantaged or

disadvantaged in life due to this. His

ideas are tied up in class and social

standing and it has been argued that

using the term cultural capital within

education is a backward step which

highlights differences and encourages

stereotypes rather than breaks down

these boundaries. When thinking about

cultural capital, we could make an

assumption that a family who live in a

high-rise block do not have access to

outdoor play, whilst in reality, they may

be a very ‘outdoorsy’ family who spend

most days in the city parks and green

spaces and play outdoors far more than

the child in our class who has a large

garden at home.

This was highlighted to me clearly

shortly after my first child was born. I

had attended some antenatal classes

and made friends with a couple of

mums-to-be, like myself. When our

children were about a month old, I

went for a pram walk in the park with

one of these new friends. She was an

Oxford graduate and had a very wide

vocabulary, sometimes making me feel

inadequate in my use of language, but

while we were walking, I was chatting

non-stop to my new baby Pippa about

everything. “Can you hear the birds

singing?” or “Brrr, it’s getting a bit cold

now, mummy’s going to tuck your

blanket in a bit more.” My friend noticed

this and said, “You talk to Pippa an

awful lot, perhaps I should start talking

to Dan.” She shared that she felt silly

talking to a baby who, in her opinion,

couldn’t respond. In discussion, I helped

her to see that he was indeed very

responsive to her, through the subtle

differences in Dan’s expression, in how

he held her gaze and kicked his legs

when she talked directly to him and I

helped her to understand that it was

really important to talk to him as much

as she could.

In relation to cultural capital, I would

have assumed that this little baby Dan

was very advantaged and had access

to a wide vocabulary, however, this

was not the case. So, we cannot make

assumptions about what children know

or their past experiences, but we can

start with the individual child. We talk

to them and their family and gather

information as a starting point. We then

use this knowledge and take it into

account when we plan effectively for our

future provision.

The idea of cultural capital is tied up

with the government’s social mobility

commitment, which aims to reduce

social inequalities and increase the life

chances of the most disadvantaged

children within society. So, take for

example, language. A US research study

found that by the age of 3, children

from poorer backgrounds have heard

30 million fewer words than those from

more affluent backgrounds. The Oxford

Language Report found that a word

gap also exists within the UK – with

on average, 49% of year-one-children

lacking the vocabulary that they need

to access the curriculum so that it

negatively affects their learning. So we

know that a child’s early years make a

difference to their future life chances and

thinking about cultural capital addresses

the fairness of these different starting

points and attempts to reduce any


Cultural capital is about widening

children’s experiences and offering them

opportunities that they would not have

if they were not attending our setting.

This is nothing new, we are always

using the EYFS curriculum to enhance

and extend opportunities available for

children, for example, encouraging them

to experience the awe and wonder of

the natural world in which we live. We

also tend to try and help to motivate and

interest children by starting with real-life,

first-hand activities and experiences. For

example, we might take the children to

the library or walk them to the post office

to post a letter or allow them to climb a

tree in the park. So this is not necessarily

about doing anything differently or

in addition to what we already do, it

is more about acknowledging what

we currently do in the light of cultural


So what does this look like in practice?

One nursery identified that several of

their children were wondering about the

origins of their food and drink. So they

made apple juice with the children - first

they chopped the apples, then they

mashed them, next they squeezed the

apples and finally they drank the juice.

Another setting regularly introduced

children to different music genres,

from classical to rap, widening their

appreciation of music. This is already

what effective practitioners do by

listening to the children, widening their

experiences and following up on their

interests, curiosities and fascinations.

However, in my view, what really makes

the difference for children in the long

term is encouraging them to develop

the dispositions and attitudes

that enable them to learn

effectively. If all children

have the opportunity to

become good at learning,

this will prepare them

for the future success

that Ofsted refer to in their definition

of cultural capital. Within the EYFS, we

refer to the characteristics of effective

learning as how young children learn

and, in my book, School Readiness and

The Characteristics Of Effective Learning,

I argue that these dispositions support

children to be life-ready. They learn how

to persevere if things do not go their

way and how to be resilient if they ever

receive a knockback. They learn how to

turn conflicts into problems to solve and

how to notice patterns and links in their

learning. For me, this also resonates

with encouraging a growth mindset

– the belief that we can achieve

anything we set our minds to

if we put in enough effort,

learning and time.

It is important not to view

cultural capital as a

deficit model where we

are constantly looking

for gaps in children’s

lives as this forgets that

children already arrive in

our settings as competent,

confident people with a

wealth of experiences.

Instead, we need to start with each child,

tap into their interests and build upon

their knowledge and skills, introducing

them to aspects of our wonderful world

that are new to them or they have yet

to experience. ‘Yet’ is a great word and

should always be part of our vocabulary

– when I was a child, if I ever stated,

“I can’t!” my father replied, “There’s no

such word as can’t!” At the time, I didn’t

know it, but this fostered in me a growth

mindset, that I might not be able to do it

yet, but if I work hard, learn well and put

in enough effort, I can do it.

We want to cultivate a love of learning

in our children and for them to believe

in themselves, believe that they are

competent and believe that nothing

can stop them, and in this so-called

“snowflake generation”, it is more

important than ever to teach them how

to be resilient, persevere and take risks.

This is about empowering and enabling

children to learn and achieve whatever

their circumstances. This is already what

we do. This is cultural capital.

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








For references,

please visit:

20 November 2019 21

Win a FREE copy

of Tamsin Grimmer’s new book

“Calling all Superheroes”!

Calling All Superheroes highlights the enormous potential of superhero play in supporting

learning and development in early childhood. Using examples from practice, it provides

guidance on how to effectively manage and implement superhero play and set appropriate

boundaries in early years settings and schools.

If you have enjoyed Tamsin’s

superhero series of articles in

Parenta magazine, then you

are in for a treat!

You can bag yourself a FREE

paperback copy of Tamsin’s

brand new book, Calling all


Tamsin has generously given

us 3 copies of her book for an

exclusive Parenta giveaway!

So, what do

you need to do?

For the chance to win a FREE copy of

this super new book visit:

and give us an example of how

the children in your setting have

engaged in superhero play. Tamsin is

very excited to read your examples!

Entries close on 22nd November and

the 3 winners will be announced in

our December magazine and on our

social media channels.

Top tips for managing Top tips for your workload

as an apprentice

managing your workload

1. Keep a diary to stay up-to-date with key dates

During your first meeting with your assessor, you’ll be taken

through the course units and target dates for getting your

coursework completed. It can be really useful to make note of

all the due dates of your assignments in a small diary, so you

know what needs to be completed and when. If you prefer,

you could also use the calendar on your phone.

2. Break down the workload sensibly

Rather than leaving all the month’s work to do in one go, it

will be much less stressful to tackle this in smaller chunks.

You could set a daily alarm reminder, on your phone if easier,

to complete your coursework. Try to spend at least one hour

per day, Monday to Thursday. This will then give you Friday,

Saturday and Sunday to relax and socialise!

Remember to drink plenty of water and to eat healthily whilst

studying. It’s also good practice to have a break from laptop

screens. Try to have a break for 5-10 minutes every hour.

3. Use your 20% allocated time during the week

As part of the funding rules, your employer must set aside

20% of your contracted work hours for “off-the-job” training.

This can involve undertaking study or assignments. If your

employer doesn’t have another form of training planned

for you, why not ask if you can use this time to do your

coursework? This poster will make your life so much easier

when deciding what to do for your off-the-job training!

as an apprentice

If you are reading this and have recently embarked on your apprenticeship, congratulations!

It may seem pretty daunting to begin with, juggling the demands of working in a busy setting

with your course…and you may well be wondering how you’ll fit it all in! However, doing an

apprenticeship is an exciting and rewarding opportunity. Make sure you give yourself the best

chance of succeeding by being prepared, getting organised and following these 7 top tips.

4. Use your assessor for support

Your assessor is your main source of guidance throughout

your training. If you’re not sure what you’re expected to do for

an assessment or have a general query, contact them. You

can speak to them directly over the phone or via email or text,

whichever method feels comfortable for you. No question is a

silly question! So please don’t worry about asking questions -

you’re not expected to know everything!

5. Don’t ignore feedback

Your assessor will be marking your work each month and

providing important feedback on your assignments. Listen to

any feedback they give, as it’s aimed to help you succeed in

your apprenticeship. If you don’t understand any comments

about your work from them, ask! Your assessor will be more

than happy to explain.

6. Use a social media barrier

In our social media-driven world, it’s easy to be distracted

by the alerts of what’s happening in your group chat or on

your newsfeed. To provide your full concentration to your

assignments, shut down any distractions. You can even use

handy apps to make sure you don’t access social media sites

whilst you’re trying to work.

7. Run your work through a proofing tool

Once you’re happy with your assignment, it’s always worth

having a second set of eyes to proof it for any obvious

mistakes. You can choose to run your work through a proofing

site such as Grammarly (choosing “British English” under your

profile settings) to pick up on spelling and grammar errors.

Alternatively, have someone you trust who can read over it.

If you have any queries or questions, remember that your assessor is there to help you every step of the way! Don’t forget

that there are lots of useful resources and top tips for you to help you throughout your learning journey on our blog too!

November 2019 23

Let’s fall in Let’s love fall with in love nursery with


nursery rhymes ... again!

Teddy bear, Teddy bear, turn around,

Teddy bear, Teddy bear, touch the ground…

At first, we might think that every child and every adult who grew up speaking English

as their first language will know this adorable nursery rhyme. The tune is simple and

repetitive and the small range is perfect for little ones to pick up and sing easily. This

song is also excellent for incorporating simple actions to get little bodies moving and

stretching. You can even use this nursery rhyme as a tool for learning the musical

intervals So - Mi - La and Do!

But would children today know the

“Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear” nursery

rhyme? What nursery rhymes would

they know? Are nursery rhymes still

playing an important role in early

childhood education?

Looking back at my own childhood in

Russia, I grew up with lots of music and

singing around me but had no access

to English traditional tunes or nursery

rhymes. However, my love for nursery

rhymes, including “Teddy Bear, Teddy

Bear”, started 23 years ago when I had

my second child. And my love affair

with nursery rhymes has only continued

to grow stronger!

Importance of nursery rhymes

for children’s development

Nursery rhymes feature prominently in

cultures all over the world and their role

in language and literacy for children

should not be underestimated.

In fact, research indicates that exposure

to and familiarity with nursery rhymes

has a notably positive impact on

early literacy for children during early

childhood and beyond. Nursery rhyme

time can enhance children’s alphabet

knowledge, vocabulary, ability to

recognise words, awareness of different

letter sounds and story-telling skills.

These are vital learning experiences

that can be achieved through simply

making time to recite nursery rhymes

with children!

If you would

like to receive 5 of

our most popular rhymes

and transitional songs, visit

With reading to children a key undertaking

to improve their overall education, nursery

rhymes in the form of books present a

great opportunity to promote reading with

the additional engaging element of rhyme.

Rhythm and beat competency have been

found to be instrumental when it comes to

children’s listening skills, reading ability and

even their performance in maths!

Incredible benefits of nursery

rhymes in early childhood


The beauty of nursery rhymes, I believe, is

in their simplicity. We all know a nursery

rhyme and can bring it into the room at any

moment! Let’s consider the benefits that

incorporating nursery rhymes into your day

can offer:

Discovery of language

Nursery rhymes are often the first

exploration of language children have.

They are short and engaging tales that

have simple words and concepts for

children to be introduced into the world

of literacy and language. From here they

begin almost immediately to improve

their word recognition, pronunciation and

through memorisation, children begin to

recognise words visually when reading

books of nursery rhymes too.

Building memory

It’s interesting to note that almost all adults

can recall a nursery rhyme or two from

their earliest years no matter how old they

get. The rhymes, repetition and rhythm are

the reason for this and part of what makes

nursery rhymes so powerful. Being able

to recall that ‘cat’ and ‘mat’ or ‘around’

and ‘ground’ rhyme, is an incredible tool

for children to call on as they continue to

enhance their literacy and language skills.

Speech development

Pronunciation can be made easier for

children through nursery rhymes thanks

to the rhyming of lines. Once a child can

recognise and say the parts of a word that

sound the same, they have the ability to

apply that same sound to other words. This

repetition of sounds really helps them to

grasp these sounds quickly too.

Physical development

Many nursery rhymes have actions that can

go with them. This enhances the learning

experience further by adding motor skills

development. Take it a step further by even

learning to identify body parts, as in ‘Head,

Shoulders, Knees and Toes’.

Love of language and


If children can associate pleasure and

joy from an activity, it is more likely they

will continue to do more of it and enjoy it

for years to come. By helping children to

develop a love of nursery rhymes, reading,

books and language you are ensuring

they have a solid foundation from which to

develop a love of learning for life.

Power of bonding and


In the world of technology, we need to

remember that human connection and

relationship plays an even bigger role than

ever before. Children develop social and

emotional skills and an understanding of

the world around them through personal

relationships, communication and use of

gross and fine motor skills.

Nursery rhymes provide an incredible

opportunity for children to bond with adults

and enhance all areas of their development

in a holistic way.

Bring nursery rhymes into your

early childhood setting

Learning to read and developing reading

comprehension are essential skills for life.

If you can encourage a love of words and

language in children, you are giving them

one of the most valuable tools possible.

With so much to be gained, it’s impossible

to ignore the magic of nursery rhymes

and their potential in the early childhood

education spaces. As I mentioned, when we

think of our very own childhood, no doubt

most of us remember a nursery rhyme

fondly. Let’s pass this on to the children in

our services and, I’m sure, that one day,

they’ll be singing “Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear”

to their own children too!

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


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.

Let’s inspire more educators to use

nursery rhymes with children

and share your favourites on

Bonkers Beat Facebook


24 November 2019 25

Road Safety Week

Road Safety Week

Last month, the tragic death of teenager, Harry Dunn, made headlines because of the

involvement of the wife of a US diplomat in the incident. Whilst this fact alone elevated

the story to one of national interest, the startling statistics are, that every 20 minutes,

someone is killed or seriously injured on a British road. That’s 3 people an hour, 72

people a day, 504 a week and just over 26,000 per year. That’s too many lives which are

devastated or destroyed when each of these tragedies is fundamentally preventable. So,

isn’t it time we all stood up to do something to make our streets and roads safer?

The Road safety charity, Brake, has

the goal of “zero road deaths and

injuries”. It organises a Road Safety

Week annually and this year, the

week runs from the 18th to 24th

November. The aim is to “inspire

thousands of schools, organisations

and communities to take action

on road safety and promote lifesaving

messages during the week

and beyond.” The week also helps

road safety professionals boost

awareness of their work and gives

them a great opportunity to get out

into communities to involve local

people in their work too. As well as

organising Road Safety Week, Brake

also offers support to victims of road

accidents including bereavement

advice and a free national helpline

on 0808 8000 401.

The theme for 2019 is “Step up for

Safe Streets” focusing attention and

education on some of “the amazing

design-led solutions that will allow

us all to get around in safe and

healthy ways every day.”

What are safe and healthy

journeys and what can we

do to step up?

Safe journeys can happen when

we design our road networks so

that human error doesn’t result in

accidents and death and there are

systems already in place to promote

this, such as cycle lanes, speed limit

warnings and technology to make

vehicles safer.

Promoting healthy journeys

means finding ways to ensure that

walking, running or cycling to our

destination does not increase the risk

of injury or death, as well as making

sure that the air we breathe is free of

pollutants. This needs policymakers

to prioritise safer travel and vehicle

manufacturers to reduce emissions.

But on a simple level, even holding

hands with a young person while

out walking reduces risk.

Stepping up means celebrating and

promoting safe solutions so that

we can all enjoy a safer and

healthier future. It’s a call to

action for everyone to get

involved, including:

• Individuals

• Nurseries, schools and

educational establishments

• Organisations and workplaces

• Designers of road transport

infrastructures and related


• Emergency service


• Policymakers

• Governments and NGOs

What can you do as a

nursery professional?

It’s never too early to teach road

safety to children. In fact, we would

be neglecting our duty if we didn’t.

Luckily, there are a lot of resources

out there to help you, including:

activity ideas, lesson plans,

downloadable posters, banners,

participation certificates, activity

ideas as well as films and stories

related to the topic. Quite frankly,

there’s something for everyone!

Introducing Zak the zebra

For nursery-aged children, Brake

have a new website which features

‘Zak’, a friendly zebra who can help

bring this topic to life for younger

students. You can access lots of free

resources at

including information about holding

your own ‘Beep Beep! Day. There’s

also a bumper resource pack that

you can get for only £11.50 plus

VAT. You can register events and

activities and it’s not just restricted

to Road Safety Week – you can run

a Beep Beep! day any time of the


Here are some of the things that

Brake suggest you teach your children

to get them started with road safety:

Be a good role model

Being a good model reinforces the

importance of road safety to young

children – if adults wear seatbelts

and cycle/motorbike helmets, then

the children will follow their example.

Other good habits to model are:

• Using crossings correctly

• Using cycle paths and footpaths

where available

• Knowing and using the Highway


• Being trained in first aid

Talk about road safety

You can talk to everyone about road

safety; the children in your care are

obviously one main group, but have

you considered talking directly to

professionals in the field, or your

neighbours and friends in person

and via social media?

Become a campaigner

There will always be something that

needs improving in your local area

to do with road safety – it could be

a lower speed limit, safer crossings,

cleaner air or prioritising cycle paths

and footpaths. Think about what

needs to happen

in your own area

to make things safer and move

everyone towards the goal of zero

road traffic deaths and injuries.

Raise money for Brake

Brake works with bereaved families

when the unthinkable happens and

lives are lost. They help people

come to terms with their grief

and overcome their loss. As local

counselling services have declined

in the past few years due to budget

pressures, charities such as Brake

are more important than ever.

Other ways to get involved

Thousands of people take part in

Road Safety Week each year and

there are numerous ways that you

can get involved as an individual,

a nursery setting or a local

community. Here are a few ideas to

get you thinking:

• Create a road safety display in

your setting

• Make a giant banner for outside

• Hold a cake sale – you could

make some traffic-light cakes, or

some fairy cakes decorated like

road signs

• Encourage children to cycle,

scoot or walk to your session,

wearing the correct safety gear

of course

• Run a session about road safety.

You’ll find lots of ideas about

what to teach at


• Dress up in stripes for the day

like Zak the zebra and share

your photos using the hashtag


• Arrange a visit from a local road

safety professional

• Whatever you do, do it safely and

have fun!

For more information and

resources, see:

26 November 2019 27

Starting a musical journey part 3:

Starting a musical journey part 3:

Changes in your little

Changes in your little one’s musical

one’s musical behaviour


It’s 2006 and I have a new baby. I love music, so I look for a local baby music group. I’m not even sure

what to look for, and as a new mum, I cannot find a central directory of services. Finally, I google the

right keywords to find a local franchise, but it has a waiting list. (A waiting list? For baby music?!) I

look further afield. I find another franchise about an hour’s drive away, with free spaces. Chatting to

the teacher after the session, she suggests that because I live so far away, I sign up to the same low-cost

franchise and start delivering my own sessions – that way, my little one will definitely attend! Being fairly

musical (I had taught myself guitar as a child and sung in the school choir for a couple years), I did it.

Supporting skills: (Part 1)




In a circle, children can:

(learning relationship)

In a line, children can:

(learning sequencing)

When leaving out the last

line of a song, children can:

(planning skills)

Supporting skills: (Part 2)

While I was studying my part-time psychology degree, I ended

my franchise license arrangement and started planning my own

curriculum. Having worked with children from birth (youngest

student ever was 6 days old!) to 7 years old, I had begun to

recognise patterns in both the children and the music education

styles. Children developed interests at different times (child

development studies), and since the music education styles had no

age-limited order, just a general progression, they worked perfectly

for everybody. The more children I was around, the more I could see

that their engagement with stories lasted longer than incidental

skills training (memory skills from psychology training), so I wove

child-appropriate themes into initial skills. To understand it better

for myself, I created a table of musical skills/ages and a table of

child development skills/stages and then combined them. This

turned into a table of musical skills progression, starting with the

ideas from the August musical article: Music ABC’s for Littlies, on

“being natural”, “getting moving” and “experimenting with sound”.

Researching the music education approaches, I noticed a clear

progression in 12 skills, loosely divided into supporting skills and

musical skills, and all easily introduced using easy-to-learn singing

games. This article is part three of a four-part series describing the

musical behaviours that we can see and encourage from birth to 7

years old.




Children use language by:

(language skills)

Weekly sessions:

(concentration skills)

Children can learn: (memory


Musical skills: (Part 3)




Children keep the pulse

through: (pulse skills)

Children recognise: (rhythm


Children can use:

(percussion skills)

Musical skills: (Part 4)

Children keep the pulse through:

(pulse skills)

The pulse is the foundation of rhythm, or keeping a beat, and is

developed through experience. Although the regularity of clapping

or walking to a beat comes relatively naturally to adults, this is not

true of children. Sometimes it is due to a lack of experience (they

have not had other adults keep a beat with them), lack of attention

(they may match their own heartbeat instead of an external beat),

or lack of understanding (they may not understand the purpose

of the exercise), but research has shown that the skills of under

5s tend to only match the pulse approximately 50% of the time.

Little ones start recognising external beats by tapping or clapping.

As they start walking, keeping a beat progresses to stamping.

As they get better at controlling their limbs, they are able to click

or flick their fingers, hop on one foot, and progress to skipping –

interestingly, it becomes easier to keep a beat with longer heavier

limbs, like our legs, than our (lighter) arms! Older children will

begin to gain control in activities like patsching (tapping knees),

and then be able to use a combination of skills. To date, research

does not show whether keeping a pulse is a predictor of future

musical ability, but is almost certainly a sign of past experience.

From swaying to clapping, stamping to tapping, matching

movement to the pulse seems to indicate the ability to

internalise music. And when we can internalise music,

or hear it in our heads, we can start to invent or create

our own music.




Listening to music, children

can: (listening skills)

Children match the pitch by:

(pitch skills)

Children recognise: (interval


Children recognise:

(rhythm skills)

Music is often compared to maths because of

its additive qualities, and fractions is one part of

maths that is said to come easier to children who

formally learn music theory. Before children even

begin school, the ability to learn successfully in

the future depends on providing a wide variety

of learning experiences early on. The same is

true in music. Foundational music skills begin

with rhythm, keeping a beat, and little ones are

already used to their own and their mother’s

regular, ongoing heartbeat. The crotchet or

quarter note beat is the first step that little ones

take after matching their internal heart beat

when tapping instruments, because it is regular,

called the “pulse” in musical terms. As little

ones master this skill, they can be introduced

to doubling that speed as the quaver or eighth

note. We introduce these ideas naturally through

starting with bouncing or clapping to the beat/

pulse, and as they get older, walking to the beat.

As they become more confident at changing

from jogging to walking and back to jogging,

we can show how that sounds musically, that

jogging is twice as quick as walking (it is helpful

to use the term “jogging” first, as quavers/

eighth notes, as soon we introduce semiquavers/

sixteenth notes which are twice as fast again

as the jogging quavers/eighth notes!). Once

confident in walk/jog changes, skipping can be

introduced as an experience of the dotted rhythm

(e.g. Girls And Boys Go Out To Play). “Slow walk”,

or the minim/half note, introduces even more

self-control through taking twice as long as a

crotchet/quarter note. Games involving walking

and changing to jogging at a signal, and then

changing back to walking, not

only reinforce musical notes,

but develop listening, selfcontrol


as well as physically

introducing them to maths

skills like fractions and physics

skills like frequency.

Age in








Children keep the pulse




flicking or clicking fingers

jumping to hop on 1 foot


patsching (knee tapping)

Children can use:

(percussion skills)

Accessible instruments depend on size (i.e. can

the child hold the instrument comfortably?); and

purpose (can the child play it/perform clearly/

appropriately?). If the purpose of the session is

exploration, it will not matter how it is held or

played, but whether the child remains engaged

(sounds exploration will be different for most

children) and careful with the instrument.

However, if the purpose of the session is to

develop musical skill, the child will need to

hold and play the instrument conventionally for

activities including basic accompaniment, playing

together, or maintaining a rhythm by keeping a

beat. Starting simply is a good rule of thumb but

following the child’s interest is a more important

priority, as musical skill and technique can be built

from literally any of these interests. And whether

with adults or children, it is useful to remember

that people are not inanimate, unchanging

objects, but constantly interactive. So while it is

helpful to have goals in early years sessions, it

is always necessary to be aware and respect

that every child or learner comes

equipped with skills and abilities

from previous experience, so be

prepared for surprises and


Children recognise

sit and sway

sit and tap knees

hold hands and walk

play circle games

step forward and step back

create inner and outer


Children can use

shaking instruments

tapping instruments

drum and beater

triangle and beater

cymbal and beater

glockenspiel (2 notes)

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


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


Frances is the author of

“Learning with Music:

Games and Activities for the

Early Years“, published by

Routledge, August 2017.


pulse combinations

dance with the inner circle

ukulele (2 strings)

28 November 2019 29

Tips for teaching Tips phonics for

teaching phonics

The early years foundation stage (EYFS) sets standards for the learning, development

and care of all children from birth to 5 years old to try to give them the best start in life.

All English schools and Ofsted-registered early years providers must follow the EYFS,

including childminders, preschools, nurseries and school reception classes. There are

different early years standards in Scotland and Wales, but that said, all the provisions

include the need to develop good communication and language skills. Teaching in the

early years is mostly achieved through games and play but there will be opportunities for

sessions to learn numbers and letters for example, including phonics.

What is phonics?

Phonics is a way of matching sounds

with letters, to help build up words

and subsequently, reading. It is a

proven system and many children

using phonics are able to read letters

and short words before they enter a

formal education in their reception year.

Phonics can also help children to write

and spell words too. But what is the

best way of teaching phonics? Here are

some tips to help you.

There are different forms of phonics

with a slightly different teaching

emphasis. These include:

Synthetic phonics



Analogy phonics



the most widely

used - breaks

down each

syllable e.g. c-a-t

examines how

words are


e.g. pat/pail/park

looks at rhymes

in words e.g.




in the course of


There are different stages of phonics


Phase 1 – early years

Way before children start learning letter

names, they begin their development of

language skills through listening. They

need to learn to listen first, enabling

them to differentiate between different

noises, and then tune in to the different

sounds in words. You can help children

become successful readers later by

helping them with these listening skills.

1. Start by asking the children to listen

for different sounds in the room

or outside. You could use different

instruments to see if they can identify

different pitches or tones.

2. Get them to use their bodies and

voices to copy sounds. They can be

percussive sounds, or just noises,

but the emphasis is on copying the

things they hear.

3. You can play games like “I spy” to

help identify sounds at the start of

words, or repeat the consonant at the

start of a word several times, e.g. c, c,

c, cat to emphasise the ‘c’ sound.

4. Ask them what kind of noises

different things make, e.g. a dog, a

car, a train etc.

5. Ask them to identify different sounds

that rhyme such as in nursery

rhymes, or alliterative beginnings,

e.g. rotten rain.

6. Split different words up into their

component sounds, such as D-O-G

or C-A-T.

7. Use words from topics that the

children are interested in.

Phase 2

At this stage, children start to learn to

correspond letters (graphemes) with

sounds (phonemes). There are 44

phonemes in the main phonics set,

varying slightly depending on the type

of phonics used. It is usual to start with

the most common, simple, single-letter

sounds. There are 19 of these, such a

‘s’, ‘a’ and ‘t’. Nurseries often start this

but it’s definitely taught in reception.

Phase 2 tips:

1. Start simply – teach a few letters at a

time, e.g. s, t, i, a, m, p, n.

2. You can build simple words with only a

few letters, e.g. with the 7 letters listed

above, you can create the words ‘sat’,

‘sit’, ‘mat’, ‘pin’, ‘pat’ etc. This is known

as ‘blending’. Simple words like these

are known as CVC words because

they include a consonant, vowel and

another consonant.

3. Once children know a few letters,

use games and as many everyday

opportunities as possible to point

out letters in things around them. For

example use road signs, adverts or


4. Ask students to think of things that

begin with a letter: “Tell me 3 things

that start with the letter c” (cat, cake,


5. Stick labels on objects to identify

them and use posters showing

images and simple words. Label

the ‘door’ or the ‘wall’ for example.

Remember to use lower-case letters

at this stage.

6. Use cut-out letters, letter blocks or

magnetic letters and let children

start making words, experimenting

with blending different sounds.

7. Some systems use actions to help

children learn the letters too and

there are a myriad of phonics

systems games and apps too.

Phase 3

In this phase, children learn the

remaining 25 sounds, which are more

complex two-letter sounds, such as

‘au’, ‘ar’ and ‘ee’. This phase (and

higher phases), are usually taught

from year 1 and in combination with

reading simple books as part of a

formal reading curriculum.

In nursery settings, focusing on phases

1 and 2 will provide a solid foundation

for more formal approaches when they

go to school.

Teaching phonics is just like teaching

any other skill that the child is

developing, so remember:

• Each child is different and will

learn at different rates

• Children have different preferred

learning styles; some learn better

by visual methods, some are more

kinaesthetic and some, more

auditory. Try to include different

styles in your phonics teaching

using sounds, images, pictures

and tangible items such as letter

blocks to cover most styles.

• Reading and recognising letters

is not the same as understanding

what is read. We may be able to

read a sentence in French, but

if we don’t understand what the

words actually mean in English,

then the activity has little effect

in helping us communicate.

Therefore, help children

understand the words they read

and build their vocabulary too.

This way, they will not only be able

to read the word ‘mat’ but will also

understand what a mat is, what it

is used for, and where they might

find one.

And finally…

• Make it fun

• Keep sessions short to aid


• Don’t teach phonics when

children are tired

• Keep reading to children

• Give them lots of praise!

For more information, see:





30 November 2019 31

Should we force children to

say ‘please’ and

‘thank you’?

Should we force children

to say ‘please’ and

‘thank you’?

As a society we place importance on words such as ‘please’

and ‘thank you’. Of course, we want to raise polite children

and it is important to teach them good manners, but

should we force them to use these words?

I think it’s important to hold

children to the same standards

that we ourselves can live up to.

Do we truly ALWAYS say ‘please’

and ‘thank you’? I say these words

a lot, but I know myself, there are

times when I am excited about

something or in a big rush and I’ll

ask for something without saying

them. Nobody would ever think I

was being rude because my tone is

always kind and polite, so why is it

so different for children?

How would I then feel if someone

refused to help me until I said

the ‘magic word’? To start with,

nobody would ever say this to an

adult because it would actually

be seen as THEM being rude!

However, if someone did say it, it

would instantly dim any excitement

I had and make me feel quite

degraded. I’d also feel like it was

unfair because I know I am a polite


When you look up the definition of

manners it says:

“The treatment of other people

with courtesy and politeness, and

showing correct public behaviour”.

Nowhere does it mention the use

of the words ‘please’ and ‘thank

you’. This is because these words

are not the most important part

of being polite. Using kind words,

conducting yourself in a nice way

and being thoughtful of others are

more important than empty words.

Would we rather our children act

politely or for them to use these

phrases without any understanding

of what they truly mean? You can

say the word ‘please’ and still be

rude. Surely a person’s tone and

intention are more important?

Now I’m not saying that we

shouldn’t reinforce these words

or that they are not important,

because they are! I’m simply saying

that when children don’t say them,

we should ask ourselves if they are

actually being rude. If not, then

what are we achieving by forcing

them to say ‘please’ and ‘thank

you’? Children are human, like the

rest of us. They are not perfect and

never will be. If they forget to say

‘please’ or ‘thank you’ simply say it

for them, rather than pulling them

up on it. However, if their tone is

a bit abrupt, this then gives you

the opportunity to teach them the

importance of how they use their

words and the impact that they

have on others.

There have been a few times when

my own children have asked for

something in quite a brash way

and my focus has always been

on their tone not that they haven’t

said ‘please’. I remind them that it’s

important to ask nicely because it

doesn’t feel very nice being spoken

to like that and quite often as soon

as I say that, they automatically

use the word ‘please’ themselves

and ask again in a softer way. If

I feel that they should have said

‘please’, I’ll simply model the word

and tell them that of course they

can have what they asked for.

Children learn by what they see, so

the best way to teach them about

polite behaviour is by being polite

ourselves. By saying ‘please’ and

‘thank you’ consistently to children,

they will automatically copy and

start using these words. In the

times that they don’t, we can ask

ourselves if they are being polite

and if not, use it as an opportunity

to teach them about the impact

of their words and how they say


I absolutely do think that saying

‘please’ and ‘thank you’ is

important and that we need

to model this as often as we

can. However, I do feel that

forcing children to say them

isn’t necessary. Children will

automatically mimic what they

see, so if we focus on how we are

around children and hold them

to the same standards that we

hold ourselves, the rest should

eventually fall into place.

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


Sign up to Stacey’s premium

membership here and use the

code PARENTA20 to get 20%

off or contact Stacey for an

online demo.







32 November 2019 33

How to deal How with to bereavement

deal with


The only thing we know that is certain about life, is death. We are all going to die, we just

don’t know when. Different people and cultures have different attitudes towards death;

some see it as a transition, some see it as a finite end, and for others, they freely admit, they

just don’t know. In the UK, 1 in 29 school-aged children has been bereaved of a parent or a

sibling, that’s one in virtually every form in every school. It is estimated that 24,000 parents

die each year leaving dependent children. So how do you help the children and young

people in your care when they experience the death of a parent, sibling or close relative?

Obviously, it is important to deal with things on an individual basis as and

when they come up. However, here are some of the things that bereaved

children have said that adults can do to help them in times of need:

1. acknowledge that a death has occurred and be honest when talking

about it

2. talk to children in an age-appropriate way and give them ageappropriate

material to help them understand

3. allow children to express their emotions and share their feelings

4. set aside time for children to remember their loved one

5. allow them to attend funerals

6. ensure children have opportunities to talk to others who have

experienced bereavement too

7. help children understand that they are not to blame for any deaths

How death impacts young


Even as an adult, when we are

more likely to understand the

reasons behind it, death has an

enormous impact on our emotional,

psychological and sometimes,

financial state. For children (who

are often still trying to define what

their emotions are), the impact of

death can have lasting, unseen

consequences in terms of selfesteem,

guilt or behaviour.

The concept of death from a child’s

perspective is very different from that

of an adult. When adults are talking

to children about death, they need to

understand how children conceptualise

and make sense of death at different

ages. If they understand this, then

they can talk about death and respond

in an appropriate manner, one

which takes into account the child’s

developmental age.

The following is a guide to how children

relate to death in the early years:

• For birth to 2 years, children are

not usually able to conceptualise

death and their capacity to

remember specific personal

relationships is limited, although

infants do feel loss and

separation. They may react to the

death of a primary caregiver by

becoming angry or anxious. They

may also internalise the grief

shown by adults around them in

some way.

• From 3 to 5, children will begin to

understand that something serious

has occurred, although they may

not be able to comprehend that

death is a permanent thing. If

a child is bereaved at this age,

they will show their fear and

confusion through their behaviour,

not through words, and may

therefore display more challenging

behaviours or have difficulty with

everyday functions such as eating,

sleeping and using the toilet. You

may also witness them displaying

separation anxiety, or they may

even appear unconcerned at

times. At this age, language is

usually very literal, so avoid using

euphemisms such as telling a

child that their parent is ‘sleeping’

which can result in them believing

that one day they will return,

causing further confusion.

As children get older, their

understanding of death and its

permanence increases, so adults

should adjust their language in

accordance with the developmental

age of the child.

What issues do children


Some of the main issues that children

face when coming to terms with

bereavement include:

• difficulty in recognising or

accepting the loss

• problems talking about the

person who has died

• an inability to understand the

permanence of the situation

• social exclusion or isolation

• life changes such as a house

move or a change of school

• financial difficulties for the family

As a result, children may begin to

feel anxious about their future but

may not have the words or emotional

literacy to describe how they feel,

especially pre-school children

who are still coming to terms with

everyday emotions. That’s when

the adults around them need to be

particularly patient, understanding

and honest.

How to help children who

are bereaved

Luckily, there’s a lot of guidance and

support available nowadays to help

children (and adults) dealing with

bereavement. You can find advice

from bereavement charities, medical

associations, citizens advice centres

and the NHS to name a few.

Children’s Grief Awareness

Week UK

The child bereavement charity, the

Childhood Bereavement Network,

and other, similar organisations are

trying to help children (and grown-ups)

navigate a path through their grief.

Each year, it organises an awareness

week, and in 2019, this runs from the

15th to 21st November. The aim is

to highlight the issues that children

face and try to provide some practical


The theme for 2019 is ‘Remember

When’, encouraging everyone to share

their memories of a loved-one either

online or on a social media channel

using the hashtag #RememberWhen.

You can find out more at

They are particularly interested in

helping children remember something

about the people who have died, and

you could use some of these questions

in your setting to talk about loved ones,

then link it in to talking about the fact

that some children have unfortunately

experienced the death of a loved one.

• #RememberWhen everyday

memories: e.g. What did they like

for breakfast? What was their

favourite song?

• #RememberWhen special times:

e.g. a birthday, a wedding, some

special time together, favourite


• #RememberWhen find out more:

collect memories of the person

who died from people who knew

them well – ask them to share a

memory with you

• #RememberWhen help through

tough times: memories of

a time when someone

supported you in your


Above all, be patient,

understanding and

compassionate and you

will be able to help

children through this

traumatic time.

For more

information and

advice, see:

• Child

Bereavement UK

• Grief Encounter

• Hope Again from Cruse

Bereavement Care

• Winston’s Wish

• Childline

• Get Connected

Grief Encounter


0808 802 0111

34 November 2019 35

How stories can

How stories can help tackle bullying

help tackle bullying

The 11th – 15th November might be Anti-Bullying Week but there’s never a wrong time to

talk about bullying or to find ways to deal with it.

Stories are a versatile and powerful way of helping children (and all of us come to that)

learn. It was through our work with early years practitioners that it became apparent that

stories would be a great way to help practitioners identify safeguarding issues and to help

them assess whether they might need to raise a concern sheet and bullying definitely falls

into that category.

Why use stories?

Children will naturally use stories

and play to help them make sense

of things or to help them solve their

problems. Psychologist Gopnik,

Meltzoff and Kuhl explained how we

all use stories in their 1999 work “The

Scientist in The Crib”.

“Our brains were designed

by evolution to develop story

representations from sensory input

that accurately approximate real

things and experiences in the world.

Those programs…let us predict what

the world will be like and so act on it

effectively. They are nature’s way of

solving the problem of knowledge.”

Stories help us to build empathy

by giving us the opportunity to

put ourselves into the character’s

shoes. It helps children to either

identify how their behaviour affects

others, or to help them identify

what is happening to them and

how they can deal with it.

What are the signs to

look for?

Storytime is a great opportunity

to help you understand what

might be going on in a child’s

inner world. So when children

are playing and telling stories, watch

how they interact with others and

listen to the stories they make up;

it might give you some clues as to

what they are trying to deal with.

Take note if:

• A child who would normally join

in seems withdrawn

• They are reluctant speakers

• They are being deliberately

naughty. Children will sometimes

be naughty to get attention even

though it’s the wrong attention.

They could also be copying

behaviour they think is normal

• A child is showing signs of


Other signs children are being

bullied are eating problems, sleeping

problems or complaining of tummy

aches and are reluctant to come to

the setting.

So how can you use stories

to help tackle bullying?

Creative storytelling

(no article from me would be

complete without it!)

This is where the children make up

puppets of the characters in a story

or something linked to the story that

helps them retell the story with you.

This is useful in a number of ways:

• You can watch how they interact

with others

• You can listen to the stories

that the children tell with their

puppets – often once they have

retold the story with you, they

will go off and make up their

own stories which should be

actively encouraged. This gives

you an opportunity to observe;

are they mimicking behaviours

they’ve seen elsewhere?

• You can talk to them about the

story they are acting out with you

and ask them relevant questions.

Children will often open up when

they are using a puppet because

it’s not about them. In addition

for any child who is bullying

they need to understand the

repercussions and consequences

of their actions as our role is

help these children grow into

responsible and compassionate

adults, and as we all know, our

childhood can shape the person

we become. By discussing how

and why a character has acted

in a certain way, this can be


• It’s also a great way to build

teamwork and sharing, so

it helps them to develop


Fairy tales

We like to use fairy tales proactively

to discuss topics and they are an

ideal way to introduce the subject of

bullying. Stories are rich in metaphor

and children use metaphor quite

naturally so it’s a great way for them

to learn right from wrong.

Identify what’s happening in the

story and talk about it. Listen

closely to what they tell you in their

responses and how they interpret the


For instance, with “The Ugly Duckling”

story, get the children to make two

duck puppets and they can take turns

being the one being bullied and the

one doing the bullying.

Making up stories

Use feelings and emotions cards

which have a picture of a scene on

one side and prompts and questions

you can use on the back. They are

a great way to start a discussion

and something that early years

practitioners have found useful as a

way to broach a subject.

With small groups if you are trying to

find out whether there is a problem,

then why not get the children to tell

you a story entitled ‘If I could make

something disappear in my life, what

would it be and why?’

So these are just a few ideas of how

you can use stories to help deal

with the bullying or to help children

understand more about bullying and

the effects it can have.

Tonya Meers

Tonya Meers is the Chief

Storyteller at Little Creative

Days. Tonya believes that

stories are the most versatile

and powerful educational

tool you can use and there

isn’t anything that you can’t

teach through a story.

She is co-author of the


Pojo series of educational

creative storytelling kits,

which have won awards

for their promotion of

communication and

language skills for early

years and primary schoolaged


In addition, she and her

storytelling sister/business

partner also deliver training

and workshops for early

years practitioners, local

authorities and primary

schools. They offer a range

of interactive workshops

to encourage, engage and

enable children to develop a

love of literacy.

You can contact Tonya at

Little Creative Days via,

on Twitter @littlecreative or

via Facebook.

We also run practical interactive workshops on how to use stories to keep children safe as well as

how to record stories with children, so for more information go to or

contact us on 01488 468901. Why not join us on the 27th January, 2020 when we are running two

workshops, Recording children’s stories and Tales around the world for EYR in Manchester.

36 November 2019 37

National Blog Posting Month

National blog

posting month

November is National Blog Posting Month – and to celebrate this, we are giving you our

top tips on how having a blog can boost your ranking on search engines and ultimately

increase your occupancy levels!

What is a blog?

A blog is an online page, usually connected to your website, which you regularly update with news, advice or information.

Having a blog allows you to share knowledge and generate interest, with the aim of giving parents a good reason to keep

returning to your website.

Why is it important to have a blog?

Having a blog for your nursery or pre-school plays such a large part in increasing awareness of your setting and

attracting prospective parents. The term ‘blogging’ simply means adding and updating regular content to your website

which brings a huge range of benefits for not only your current parents, but those actively looking at childcare options.

Improve online visibility and occupancy

Posting content on your blog is the single best way

to attract new visitors to your website, increasing

your online visibility to parents who are looking

for childcare providers using search engines like


Every update you make to your website affects the

way search engines interact with and rank your site.

Frequent updates with fresh, original content will

help your site rank much higher on Google, helping

parents find you more easily and keep visitors

coming back. This same content can be used for

your social media channels too!

Show your personality!

Provide content parents will find useful

The content you write for your blog should reflect

your business’ tone of voice, which should be both

friendly and professional. Either way, every blog

post you produce is an opportunity for you to draw

your target audience to your nursery website with

relevant information. If you’re writing for parents, be

sure to generate posts based on topics that would

interest them. It can relate to a specific area of

the EYFS and how parents can support their child’s

learning at home. Whatever it is, use your own

experience, make it informative and ensure it is

appropriate for the audience. The more relevant it is,

the more it will drive visitors to your website.

Blogging allows you to connect with your target audience and share information about your nursery. It’s also

great for showcasing your personality and showing your ‘human side’ - something that will appeal to existing and

prospective parents. Your professional image will also be enhanced if you write about and comment on interesting

and thought-provoking articles that focus on industry topics. Not only will this keep you and your readers up-todate,

it’ll also show parents that you’re a knowledgeable business and you take a real interest in what’s going on

in your sector, helping you to build a strong relationship with them. The great thing about blogging is that it actually

enables you to be your own marketing department – people can easily read all your stories and successes - past

and present - 24/7! If a prospective parent reads your blog, likes what you have done and the way you present

yourself, then they are far more likely to enquire about enrolling their child at your setting.

Top Tip: Google favours

websites that are updated

often – try to post 200-300

words fortnightly.

Create Opportunities

Blogging on your website is certain to convert

visitors into leads and ultimately these leads into

customers. It’s been said that 60% of businesses

who blog acquire more business than those who

don’t, so content is key!

Each blog post you write should generate or

encourage a response, whether it be a parent leaving

a comment, a prospective parent enquiring about

your nursery or simply gaining a new following of

return visitors. Either way, the aim is that your posts

need to achieve something, so make sure that

they follow a clear idea and end with a question,

statement or a ‘call to action’ which prompts visitors

to do something, such as booking a show-round at

your setting, or asking for more information.

Not sure where to

start? Check out our

handy guide - Blogging for


Keep the content updated and promote it as much as

you can. The more new content you have, the greater the

possibility of increasing your visibility and reaching more

prospective parents. Also, utilise this content on your

social media channels as much as you can. It will definitely

improve engagement and send more traffic to your website

– win/win for you!

Creating and maintaining a blog for your setting is the

perfect opportunity to show parents that you run a

professional and knowledgeable business and are in touch

with recent developments in childcare. All of these things

are desirable in a childcare provider, and will provide

parents with reassurance that you’re doing your best to

provide great care for their child.

Would you like an up-to-date website to go alongside your

blog? Our friendly team are on hand to help you with your

childcare website and blog needs, so, get in touch today!

38 November 2019 39

These little people

need your help too!

We know how much giving children a quality education means to you.

Parenta Trust supports disadvantaged children in deprived areas of the world by providing them

with a pre-school education.

Without this, they miss the opportunity they deserve to develop to their full potential.

Sponsoring a Parenta Trust child helps the children in your care with

understanding the world, language and communication – they love

receiving a hand-written letter from the child many miles away!

Sponsoring a child provides:

• A pre-school education

• Access to clean water

• A school uniform

• A daily hot meal

• School supplies

• The knowledge that someone truly cares

56p a day WILL make

a difference to a

child’s life!

Get a FREE

half page

advert in our

magazine when

you sponsor a


*Advert content must be both relevant and appropriate to the early years

industry. Minimum of 12 months’ sponsorship applies.

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