Parenta Magazine January 2020


Welcome to the January edition of the Parenta magazine!

January is the month when many of us reflect on the year behind us and endeavour to make (and stick to!) resolutions for the year ahead, both personally and professionally.

If you are one of the many who are starting the new year with high hopes of becoming more sustainable, we’ve got some useful ideas to help you reduce the use of plastic in your setting, together with some fun activities to educate the children about the importance of recycling.

In the aftermath of the festive season, it’s important to remember to look after ourselves and our teams, both physically and mentally. Following on from an earlier article on how to improve the wellbeing of your staff, we take a look at this topical subject from Ofsted’s perspective, according to its recently-introduced Education Inspection Framework.

We hope you enjoy this edition of our magazine and would like to wish all our readers a happy New Year and we hope that 2020 brings you happiness and success.

Issue 62





Help children to


Tips for easier

transition times


room magic?

+ lots more


out our




page 25

Reducing single-use

plastic in your


We give some tips on how to reduce single-use plastics in your setting and

take a look at some of the sustainable initiatives nurseries have already

implemented to reduce their use of plastic



The final instalment of

Frances Turnbull’s four-part

series discusses musical

skills and behaviours that

can be seen in children in

their early years


welcome to our family

Hello and welcome to the January edition of the Parenta magazine - we hope you have had a lovely festive break!

January is the month when many of us reflect on the year behind us and endeavour to make (and stick to!) resolutions for

the year ahead, both personally and professionally.

If you are one of the many who are starting the new year with high hopes of becoming more sustainable, we’ve got some

useful ideas on page 22 to help you reduce the use of plastic in your setting, together with some fun activities to educate the

children about the importance of recycling.

In the aftermath of the festive season, it’s important to remember to look after ourselves and our teams, both physically and mentally.

Following on from an earlier article on how to improve the wellbeing of your staff, we take a look at this topical subject from Ofsted’s

perspective, according to its recently introduced Education Inspection Framework. Turn to page 20 to out what it means in practice and what

plans you can put in place within your setting to ensure you are on the right path when it comes to staff wellbeing.

On the subject of wellbeing, we explore the different ways that children as young as toddlers, can benefit from having quiet time, alone with

their own thoughts and “just being who they are”. Turn to page 30 for some simple ideas that you can use to introduce yoga, meditation and

even mindfulness for the little ones.

Congratulations to Tamsin Grimmer who is guest author of the month for November. Her article “Exploring ‘Cultural Capital’ – the new buzz

words in education” was a clear winner with our readers! We’re always on the lookout for new authors to contribute insightful articles for our

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 a £50 voucher!

Please feel free to share your Parenta magazine with friends, parents and colleagues! This month’s magazine is packed with news stories,

advice and craft activities – all of which have been 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.

May we take this opportunity of wishing all our readers a happy New Year and hope that 2020 brings you happiness and success.






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

15 Guest author winner announced

24 Pine cone and feather dream catcher craft

25 EYFS activity - recycling

26 Farmhouse breakfast

39 What our customers say


4 A look back at 2019

6 What do the election results mean for the early

years sector?

7 Christmas sock cheer for the homeless and

those in need


8 The Global Goals for sustainable development

10 Cervical Cancer Prevention Week

16 Young Carers Awareness Day

20 Wellbeing of staff

22 Reducing single-use plastic in your setting

30 Yoga, meditation and mindfulness for toddlers

34 Blue Monday

Industry Experts

Yoga, meditation and mindfulness for toddlers 30

EYFS activity - recycling 25

Cervical Cancer Prevention Week 10



Gina Smith shares her top

tips on making transition

times in your setting

easier for everyone



Stacey Kelly explains that everything a

child consistently hears, sees and feels

creates a belief system that then silently

influences them throughout their life

12 Starting a musical journey part 4: Changes in

your little one’s musical behaviour

18 Multisensory room magic?

28 A New Year – a new resolution to help children

to self-regulate and become a co-regulator

32 The importance of feeling good enough

36 Tips for easier and happier transition times

Wellbeing of staff 20

A look

back at

A look

back at



Milton Hall Montessori celebrated

Harvest Festival with care home

Parents and children from

Milton Hall Montessori School

collected lots of food items

to donate to the elderly in

Birchlands Care Home. The

children visited the home and

sang songs to residents and

gave them the harvest gifts

as well as being read a story

by one of the residents.

Generous Hale pre-schooler donates

entire money box to Children in Need

A wonderful act of kindness

from a pre-schooler at

Elmscot Hale Day Nursery.

The child brought his

money box into nursery and

requested that its contents

were given to Children In


You, our lovely readers, sent us so many

wonderful news stories in 2019. Here are

some snippets of a handful of our favourite

good news stories from the past year!

Green-fingered tots help create a

‘blooming’ fantastic display!

Boogie through the generations!

Tops Day Nursery Cosham

have been visiting Hilside

Lodge Care Home regularly,

and the children enjoy

the time spent with their

elderly friends. The nursery

Budding young gardeners

from Bright Kids Nursery in

Studley helped spruce up the

local community in support

of Studley in Bloom. The

children also learnt all about

gardening - planting seeds

and making bird feeders for

their feathered friends!

Children enjoy a visit from the National

Animal Welfare Trust

Children from Boys & Girls

Nursery, Watford, enjoyed

a visit from the National

Animal Welfare Trust to

mark ‘National Pet Month’.

The visit was educational,

with the children getting to

meet Stewart the rabbit and

learning about a rabbit’s diet.

introduced the lively music

and movements of Boogie

Mites, a fun, educational

dance and music activity as

part of an intergenerational

music course.

Nursery welcomes

local guide dog

Children at Broussa Day

Nursery were visited by a

very special guest - Carter

the trainee guide dog. The

experience with Carter

was valuable in developing

an understanding and

awareness of those with

sensory impairments.

Nursery introduces

yoga sessions

Tops Day Nursery

Babbacombe introduced

free yoga sessions for the

children in their care. The

setting has little “Yogis” from

just 3 months’ old to school

age who benefit from the

regular sessions held at the


Elmscot Nantwich delivers gifts to

celebrate 104th birthday

The children at Elmscot

Nantwich baked a birthday

cake and made a card for

Alice, a resident at Richmond

Nantwich Care Home. It was

Alice’s 104th birthday and

the children had lots of fun

dancing to the live pianist

and entertaining all of the


Nursery helps with shop window


Children at The Nursery

in Portishead celebrated

National Story Telling Week

by teaming up with a local

family-run footwear store

and helping with its window

display. The children took

inspiration from the book

“There was an old lady who

lived in a shoe”.

Cygnets brings the Beach to Bordon to celebrate 15 years!


Cygnets Day Nursery celebrated its fifteen-year anniversary

with a beach themed event. Staff and children were dressed

in colourful outfits and were busy all day enjoying sand pits,

inflatable pools, beach balls and painting their faces. The

children enjoyed the storytellers who made the children laugh

with their interactive stories. Possibly, the most popular attraction

was the opportunity to ride on two ponies!



in 2019


Launch of new ‘Fire

it Up’ campaign for



Ofsted’s new Education

Inspection Framework –

the reading ‘deep dive’


Childminders are facing

delays registering for



How the elderly

and the young can

have a beneficial

relationship through

intergenerational care


Pre-School Alliance

praises the “incredible

legacy” of its founder

Belle Tutaev


Ofsted – autumn

changes announced

affecting framework


Chichester nursery

spots toddler’s cancer


Sussex nursery is urging

others to go plastic-free


Nursery in Bristol

removes toys to improve



Outstanding across the

board for The Old Forge

Day Nursery

4 January 2020 | | January 2020 5

What do the

What do the election results mean for

the early years sector?

election results

mean for the early years sector?

The waiting is over and the results are in. But now the Conservatives have secured

a majority in the December 2019 General Election, what does the Party have in store

for the early years sector?

For a long time now, the early

years sector has challenged the

government to review childcare

funding rates. Now, more than ever,

it is appealing to the Conservatives

as concerns are being raised once

again by sector leaders over a

series of promises the party made

in its election manifesto regarding


Sector leaders say pledges in the

manifesto have been made without

any commitments for additional

funding or funding reviews which

could have a huge impact on

parents and settings alike.

Ahead of the election, an

independent analysis of party

manifestos was carried out by Ceeda

which estimated that a Conservative

win could prove to be the most

harmful for the early years sector.

These are some of the pledges

made by the Conservatives which

could well impact the sector:

• Continue with Universal Credit

• Allow parents to take longer

neonatal leave by implementing

new legislation

• Raise teachers’ starting salary

to £30,000

• Raise the National Living Wage

to £10.50per hour by 2024

• A new £3 billion National Skills

Fund to support high-quality

education and training for SMEs

and individuals

• A £250 million spending boost

for term-time wraparound and

holiday provision in school

During the campaign, the

Conservatives announced that they

would raise funding rates paid to

nursery providers in 2020/21 by a

total of £66 million. However, there

is currently a £662 million gap in

funding. If the additional funds are

not given by the government for the

so called ‘free places’ for 2–4-yearolds,

or revisions made to existing

entitlements, the result would be a

whopping deficit of £824 million by

the end of this Government’s term in


Furthermore, the promise of

increased ‘wraparound’ care for

working parents has not been

supported by detailed costings or

information on how the scheme will

be implemented.

Neil Leitch, the Chief Executive

of the Early Years Alliance,

commented: “This Government

could leave the sector facing an

£800 million funding shortfall by

the end of its term that will further

increase parent fees and force

more providers to close. We can’t

go on like this – we urgently need

funding levels to cover the true

cost of delivering childcare and a

firm commitment for them to be

reviewed annually.”

Purnima Tanuku, Chief Executive

of NDNA, said: “It’s clear that the

30 hours policy is here to stay but

we need to make sure it is working

for children, parents and childcare


“There are still many challenges

in delivering this policy, which the

new Government need to face up to

and address. Funding rates need to

cover costs and allow nurseries to

deliver the high-quality care we all

want to see for our children. At the

same time, the growing burden of

business rates on nurseries must be

addressed as promised.”

Christmas sock

sock cheer for the homeless and those in need

cheer for the homeless and those in need

Nursery staff from Little Adventurers Nursery in Cranham are keen to support local

charities and community projects and this Christmas, they decided it was all about

socks! Along with their secret Santa presents, staff also donated a pair of new socks

to support a local homeless charity. Nursery Practitioner, Linda, came up with the

idea, which quickly gained the support of the whole staff team as well as Nursery

Manager, Ginny Andreas.

Local Church Leader from Harold

Hill Salvation Army, Phil Goldsmith,

was delighted when the nursery

approached them. Phil visited the

family-run nursery on Monday 16th

December and was presented with

the sock collection from some of

the staff team at Little Adventurers.

“Thanks to Little Adventurers Nursery

for donating the socks and hats which

we will distribute to folk over this

Christmas period, thank you for your

generous spirit in thinking of others.”

Nursery Manager Ginny, who won

UK Nursery Manager of The Year

Award, is immensely proud, “We

have an incredible team of kind and

caring practitioners here at Little

Adventurers and I am delighted that

we are supporting the homeless

and people in need with our ‘sock

challenge’. The staff are all keen

to do their bit and give something

back, which is especially important

at this time of year.”

Little Adventurers also like to

support community projects and

this year, they were pleased to

sponsor some of the local planting

in Cranham. Nursery Director

and owner Lee Stimpson, said:

“When we opened up our homefrom-home

nursery, we wanted

to embed ourselves within the

local community; over the past 5

years we have enjoyed building

partnerships with the local

churches, schools and businesses

and we look forward to supporting

more local projects and charities in

the years ahead. I feel extremely

proud of everything we have

achieved so far and recognise that

the care given by our wonderful

team of practitioners is very much at

the centre of our unique setting.”

This award-winning nursery in

Cranham promotes healthy lifestyles

and offers optimum nutrition

through their high-quality nursery

menus. The nursery was extremely

honoured to host a visit earlier this

year from the Deputy Mayor of

London in recognition of their work

for the Healthy Early Years London

Awards. Little Adventurers have a

growing number of achievements

and accolades; this year they have

also been selected as a Top 20

London Nursery by Daynurseries. by parents at their setting.

6 January 2020 | | January 2020 7

The Global Goals

The Global Goals for

sustainable development

for sustainable development

We are excited to announce that as from 1st January 2020, Parenta will be aligning itself

with the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development.

What are “The Global Goals”?

Parenta Solutions

With 20 years’ experience, we provide award-winning nursery software management

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

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

settings invest in tomorrow’s generation of childcarers.

In 2015, world leaders agreed to 17 goals for a better world by 2030. These goals have the power to

end poverty, fight inequality and address the urgency of climate change. Inspired and guided by the

goals, it is now up to all of us, governments, businesses, civil society and the general public to work

together to build a better and more sustainable future for everyone.

The exciting aspect for Parenta, is that there is a natural fit and tie-in to education: Goal No. 4 being

“Quality Education”.

Goal number 4: Quality Education:

Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

Education liberates the intellect, unlocks the imagination and is fundamental for self-respect. It is the

key to prosperity and opens a world of opportunities, making it possible for each of us to contribute to a

progressive, healthy society. Learning benefits every human being and should be available to all.

There are ten ‘targets’ within Goal No. 4 – and two in particular that clearly resonate with Parenta.

Nursery Management

Software - Abacus

Online EYFS Tracker -

Footsteps 2

Online Daily Diary -




Target 4.2: Equal Access

to Quality Pre-Primary


By 2030, ensure that all girls and

boys have access to quality early

childhood development, care

and pre-primary education so

that they are ready for primary


Target 4.3: Equal Access

to Affordable Technical,

Vocational and Higher


By 2030, ensure equal access

for all women and men

to affordable and quality

technical, vocational and

tertiary education, including


Give back more time to every

child in your care! Discover

how our software helps you

gain more hours during the

week to enrich children’s

learning opportunities.

Record detailed and

meaningful EYFS observations,

improve essential

safeguarding and identify

at a glance, each child’s

development pathway.

Share every magical moment

of each child’s day, including

photos, with their parents

and carers with our online

diary software.

Marketing Solutions for Your Business

Focus on childcare,

not chasing fees. Our

automated fee collection

service enables parents to

pay their fees to you every

month via direct debit.

Your childcare setting provides a vital service to the local area, and you can let parents know this

by showcasing your business in the right way.

Both of these targets sit perfectly within

Parenta’s values and ethos, allowing us to

bring greater synergy between what we do

as a training provider and our charitable

efforts, through Parenta Trust.

For Parenta, supporting the early years

sector isn’t limited to the UK - we are

passionate about extending our work

to make a difference to the early years

sector globally. Our learners, through the

training we provide them, already impact

thousands of children’s lives in the UK,

so why not extend this worldwide? Our

charity’s mission is “to raise funds to build

8 January 2020 |

pre-schools in the most deprived areas

of the world: to allow the youngest, most

vulnerable children in desperate need

of an education to break out of the cycle

of poverty and look forward to a bright


By aligning ourselves with Global Goals,

there is clear potential to be able to deliver

something tangible to tie in what the

business does in the UK with what it does

in the third world.

Our intention is that our Global Goals

deliverables will begin in early 2020.

To be able to combine and co-ordinate our

commercial activities with our charitable

objectives not only allows us here at

Parenta to contribute to the vision of Global

Goals, but makes our company unique in

the early years sector.

“We the People” for Global Goals:

Website Design

We’ve built 100s of

websites – we only design

and build childcare

websites. So you can rest

assured that our team

know what Ofsted and

parents look for.


We provide training for almost

3,000 learners each year.

From those just starting out in

their career, to those already

established and working in a

setting - we offer a range of


Branding & Design

We take care of all

your branding needs,

whether it is a new

childcare website, printed

prospectus, business

cards, newsletters or


Social Media

A social media page will

open up your setting to

thousands of parents

searching online for a

provider in their area. We

can help you set up and

use your account in no time.


Our recruitment team

helps learners find an

apprenticeship in their area,

assists settings looking for

apprentices, and governs the

Parenta job board, which you

can use for FREE.

Cervical Cancer Prevention Week

Cervical Cancer

Prevention Week

Cervical cancer is not something that many people talk about, yet around 3,200

women (9 people per day) are diagnosed with the disease in the UK every year 1 . Whilst

incidence rates have been falling since the early 1990s, in the last decade, rates have

increased again by around 4%, especially in the 25–29-years age group. Sixty-three

percent of those diagnosed will survive for 10 years or more, but there are still 852

deaths per year and since 99.8% of cervical cancers are preventable, many women are

dying unnecessarily 1 .

January 20th to 26th is Cervical Cancer

Prevention Week, when leading cancer

and healthcare charities come together

to raise awareness of the disease and

how people can reduce their risk. This


• Encouraging people to attend

cervical screening sessions when


• Disseminating information about

the symptoms of cervical cancer

and when to get help


Fallopian tube




When you’re invited

Under 25 Up to 6 months before you turn 25

25 to 49 Once every 3 years

50 to 64 Once every 5 years

Over 64

25 and 64 should be invited into

the programme by letter. The time

between screenings will depend on

age and any previous abnormal tests.

A ‘smear test’ takes about 10 minutes

and involves taking a small sample

of cells from the cervix which are

then tested to see if there have

been changes. Results are usually

received within 2 weeks, by letter. If

abnormal changes are found, then

further investigation and monitoring

will be undertaken to help prevent

any changes developing into cervical


Only if one of your last 3 tests was abnormal

occur for many reasons so you should

visit your GP early if you experience

this abnormally. Other symptoms

include pain or discomfort during sex,

an unpleasant vaginal discharge or a

pain in your lower back or pelvis.

If the cancer spreads to other

organs or tissues, then more severe

symptoms can be experienced

including constipation, weeing or

pooing more than normal, severe

pain, incontinence, blood in your

urine or severe vaginal bleeding. You

should see your GP immediately if you

experience these symptoms.

people miss the first dose, they can still

have the first vaccine up to their 25th

birthday. Importantly, this is now being

offered to boys as well as girls.

How to get involved

There are many ways to get involved

and nurseries are well-poised to raise

awareness in the target audience.

Initiatives should be aimed at the health

of your staff and parents rather than

children, so why not?:

• Hold an awareness event

• Wear pink for the day and share

your reasons

• Fundraise for a cancer charity

• Promote the importance of

attending a smear test

• Hold a drop-in session for parents

to get some information or advice

• Use your social media to spread

the word of what you are doing

and why

• Allow staff time off to attend

cervical screening

• Encouraging the take up of HPV

vaccinations for 11–18-year-olds

• Promoting sites where people can

find help and support

Nurseries and pre-schools are

ideally placed to spread the word to

those who could potentially be most

affected, and to help save lives, due

to the predominantly female workforce

and regular contacts with young


What is cervical cancer and

what causes it?

The cervix (neck of the womb) is part

of the female reproductive system and

is the lower entrance of the womb,

leading to/from the vagina. The cervix

is a strong muscle that allows the flow

of menstrual blood from the uterus into

the vagina, and during intercourse,

directs sperms into the uterus.

Normally, the entrance is very narrow,

but during labour, it dilates to allow for


The cervix has several layers, and the


Transformation zone

showing position of

abnormal cells



area most likely to become cancerous

(the area around the opening) is

known as the transformation zone.

The main cause of cervical cancer is

a persistent infection of the human

papilloma virus, known as HPV, which

is a common virus, usually cleared by

the immune system. In some cases,

the virus causes changes to the

cells in the cervix which can become

cancerous if left untreated.

Who is most at risk?

Younger women, especially those in

their 20s, are most at risk although

trans men can also develop it if they

haven’t had a total hysterectomy.

What is cervical screening?

(smear test)

The National Health Service Cervical

Screening Programme (NHSCSP) was

introduced in the 1980s. All women and

people with a cervix, aged between

Why are women still not being


One of the main reasons women

often give as to why they have not

had a smear test, is that they are

too busy with their work and their

family to make time; they often put

everyone else’s needs ahead of their

own. Smear tests do not take long

but delaying one may impact on your

ability to receive early investigation

and/or treatments, and in some cases,

it may be too late. Research by cancer

charities has also shown that women

do not understand the symptoms of

cervical cancer and many find the

process embarrassing.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms are not always obvious and

there may be no symptoms until the

advanced stages, which is why it is

important to take part in the screening


The first symptom is usually abnormal

vaginal bleeding, especially during or

after sex, between periods or after

the menopause. Vaginal bleeding can


There are currently are 3 licensed HPV

vaccines in the UK that protect against

HPV. They are Gardasil, Cervarix and

Gardasil 9. According to the NHS


“From September 2019, all 12- and

13-year-olds in school year 8 will

be offered on the NHS the human

papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. It helps

protect against cancers caused by HPV,


• cervical cancer

• some mouth and throat (head and

neck) cancers

• some cancers of the anal and

genital areas

• It also helps protect against genital


A second dose is normally offered 6

to 12 months after the first (in school

year 8 or year 9) and it is important

to have both doses to be protected. If

• Join the #SmearForSmear

campaign run by Jo’s Trust charity

to help get rid of the myths around

smear tests.

Useful information

• Government cervical cancer

screening leaflet

• Cancer research NHS cervical

cancer site

• Jo’s trust cervical cancer charity

includes a helpline: 0808 802 8000



10 January 2020 | | January 2020 11

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)

Starting a musical journey part 4:

Changes in your little

one’s musical behaviour

Starting a musical journey

part 4: Changes in your little

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.

Montessori, the first Italian female

doctor and author of the pre-school

learning methodology, found that

children as young as two would

happily repeat an activity that they

enjoyed for 2-3 hours, unlike the

recent trend that suggests that

children can only concentrate for the

number of minutes that match their

age. She found that when the activity

was self-corrective, children became

empowered to take control of their

learning, requiring little intervention,

using activities as simple as painted

lines on a floor, or as complex as

child-sized towers of varying sizes.

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 the last of a four-part series

describing the musical behaviours that

we can see and encourage from birth

to 7 years old.

Supporting skills: (Part 2)


Children use language

by: (language skills)


Weekly sessions:

(concentration skills)


Children can learn:

(memory skills)

Musical skills: (Part 3)


Children keep the pulse

through: (pulse skills)


Children recognise:

(rhythm skills)


Children can use:

(percussion skills)

Listening to music, children can:

(listening skills)

Musical skills: (Part 4)


Listening to music,

children can: (listening



Children match the pitch

by: (pitch skills)


Children recognise:

(interval skills)

Listening is a deceptively simple skill but it is essential to develop because it is so

powerful! Good listeners often get things right the first time so get rewarded more

often. Good listeners are able to solve more problems quicker because they have

heard all of the information, not just what they want to hear. Good listeners know

where to find solutions to important questions about jobs and money, because

they have heard about what is available. Good listeners can answer more

questions, can pick up on cues and clues that are not obvious, and can spend

their time working less, because they have heard all of the important information

that they need. Developing musical skills improves listening, just as developing

listening improves musical skills, and the combination of these skills helps us to

break up noise into individual sounds,

helping us to hear everything more

accurately. We see this through

children following movement with

their eyes when we do the actions

to songs, until they gradually learn

to copy the actions, then copy

each other, and eventually learn to

keep simple timing (up and down).

Age in









Listening to music,

children can

follow movement with

their eyes

follow movement with

their eyes

copy actions

copy actions

play partner games

play partner games

conduct in simple timing

Children match the pitch by:

(pitch skills)

Most children sing high naturally because

of the way vocal folds develop, also

known as vocal “chords”. Children are

born with short and very soft vocal folds

which change quite drastically as they

mature. As a result, it is often easier for

them to sing higher than adults, as can

be seen through their speech patterns.

Environment makes a huge difference to

children, so they tend to imitate what they

hear most frequently. And then there are

simple anomalies, that for no apparent

reason, have much deeper voices at

much younger ages! Little ones up to 2

years old, for example, seem comfortable

singing around the A below middle C to

the A above middle C, while children 4-7

years seem more comfortable singing D

above middle C to the next octave of D.

This has major implications for the adults

that teach them, as they generally are

older and/or more self-conscious

and/or not musically trained,

so would be unsurprisingly

unaware that children singing

quietly or “badly” are in fact

struggling to sing as low as

they are! (You can find these

notes on a piano or xylophone!)

Children match

the pitch by

bouncing up and down

jumping up and down

touching shoulders

and hips

touching shoulders

and head

touching hips and toes

touching knees and toes

touching over head

and toes



minor third

minor third

perfect fifth

major sixth

major third

major second


Children recognise:

(interval skills)

Like language has an alphabet to create

words, music has notes to create sounds,

and they share the letters A, B, C, D, E,

F, G which correspond with the sound

frequencies that they create. Additional

notes feature in between these letter, and

are used according to their frequencies

(sharps and flats). Notes can be grouped

in different ways, and certain tone

groupings can sound more pleasing

to the ear than others, e.g. notes that

skip a letter often sound more pleasing

when played together (“harmonise”)

than notes that are next to each other

(“clash”). Notes are also used according

to their relationship with other notes, or

the distance between notes, also known

as “intervals”. Intervals are particularly

useful when working out the tune of a

song based on the musical notation or

note names alone, for example, one

school of thought is that because the

“nee-naw” sound is used so often by

children and in folk songs, it must

be the easiest note-relationship

(interval) to learn, also known

as the minor third. As a result

of this, a lot of children’s songs

are based on the minor third, with

additional notes gradually added.

In this sense, the minor third is

considered the foundation

of teaching melody.

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.

12 January 2020 | | January 2020 13



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.



Think of it like this – a nursery website is like having your very own

marketing team working on promoting your setting 24 hours a day,

7 days a week, 365 days a year…need we say any more?!



We are childcare specialists






We know the requirements of Ofsted

We understand what will get parents to engage with you

We suggest what information would benefit your website

We regularly check we are providing the best software

We help you improve areas of your website using stats

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


Tamsin Grimmer

Congratulations to our guest author

competition winner, Tamsin Grimmer!

Tamsin’s article in the November edition of the

Parenta magazine, “Exploring cultural capital

– the new buzz words in education” was very

popular with our readers.

Well done, Tamsin!

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.


We can help, whatever your budget or technical knowledge | January 2020 15

Young Carers

Awareness Day

Young Carers Awareness Day

Have you ever thought about what would happen if you or another

adult member of your family became seriously ill, had mental

health issues that affected their day-to-day life, or developed a

disability that affected their sight, hearing or physical mobility?

Who would look after them on a daily basis? Your parents? Your

siblings? Your friends? Or your children?

If you’ve never thought about it, then

you are probably in the majority.

Most of us stagger through our

daily existence with little thought

about what would happen in such

circumstances, but for some families,

the burden of care may well fall on

a child. When we have children, we

accept the responsibility to look after

them until they are old enough to look

after themselves, but if the tables are

turned and they end up looking after

us, how different would life be then?

A carer is “anyone who cares, unpaid,

for a friend or family member who

due to illness, disability, a mental

health problem or an addiction cannot

cope without their support.”

Carers Trust is a major charity who

work for, and with, unpaid carers

or all ages to raise the profile of

what carers do and help them. Every

year they organise a Young Carers

Awareness Day, and this year, it falls

on January 30th. The day is aimed

at highlighting the important work

that young carers do and giving them

support in their endeavours.

You may have some young carers

in your setting or if not a carer

themselves, they may have older

siblings who are caring for a parent

or relative. One in ten people in the

UK is a carer for someone and the

figure is rising. Sixty percent of us will

be a carer of some kind at some point

in our lives; estimates suggest that

the value of the contribution made by

carers in the UK is £132bn a year.

Understanding the issues

According to the Carer’s Trust

website 1 :

• One in five children aged over 11

may be a young carer

• 68% of young carers report being

bullied at school

• Only about 50% of young carers

have a designated person in school

who they can turn to for help

• Many young carers miss a

disproportionate number of

school days because of their

caring role – they average 48

days a year missed from school

from a total of 195, which is

almost 25% of the school year.

Poor attendance at school has

been shown to affect exam

results and therefore future


What is it like being a young


Most young people have enough on

their plates caring for themselves,

dealing with teenage anxieties,

puberty and exams without having

the additional stress that caring for

someone else brings. Some young

carers are not even in secondary

school, so for them, being a carer

really does cut years off their


Being a carer could mean looking

after a sick parent, or someone who

has alcohol or substance abuse

issues. It could be helping a disabled

relative manage their everyday life

or taking on the household chores

because there’s no one else to do

them at home.

Many carers feel isolated and alone

throughout their life, often feeling that

there is no one else to turn to. And

often at a time when they need the

most support themselves.

Often carers need to sacrifice

somethings in their own lives in

order to look after others, and

unfortunately, some young people are

dealing with situations that are both

emotionally and physically difficult.

Being a young carer can affect the

life of the young person in a variety of

ways, including their:

• Health and wellbeing

• Financial situation

• Work opportunities

• Education

• Travel

However, being a young carer can

have advantages and many young

people learn a lot of independent and

useful skills which can stand them in

good stead in later life. For example,

they may learn:

• Practical and useful skills such as

cooking, shopping, budgeting and


How can you support young

carers in your community?

This year, Carers Trust is running

a campaign called “Count Me In!”

aimed at:

“getting compulsory education

providers to do more to proactively

identify young carers and ensure that

they received the recognition and

support they deserve.“

They have produced a free,

downloadable campaign pack,

available in English and Welsh and

are using the hashtag #CountMeIn on

social media channels to promote the

campaign. The pack includes ideas

and tools to help people get involved

in Young Carers Awareness Day. You

can request a pack by emailing:

• (England)

• (Scotland)

• (Wales)

Other ways to get

involved include:

• Promote awareness of

young carers in your setting.

Chances are, there will be

some young carers who are

connected to your nursery

in some way, perhaps older

siblings of the children in

your care

• Find out about your local

young carers service so you

can offer help and advice to

people you identify

• Hold an awareness event

to raise the profile of young

carers, asking for people to

look out in the community for

each other more, especially if

they feel that there are young

carers who might need help

• Hold a party for some young


• Offer your services to a local

young carers association so

that you can provide some

respite if needed, particularly

if people are looking after

younger children

• Fund raise for the Carers Trust

by holding a fete, cake sale,

jumble sale or nearly new sale

• Write to your local MP to

encourage them to recognise

and support young carers

much more. There is a letter

template in the campaign

resource pack that you can

download and customise.

• Physical care and nursing skills

• Emotional intelligence,

counselling skills

or be able to offer

emotional support

for others in distress

• Childcare skills

• Communication skills

You never know what is around the corner, but with a bit

of empathy and understanding, we can all make things

better for those young carers doing an unenviable and

sterling job, caring for the people they love.

16 January 2020 | | January 2020 17


room magic?


room magic?

Do you have a multisensory room in your

setting? Have you ever considered getting

one, or setting up a small multisensory

environment? Since their inception

in the late 1970s, multisensory rooms

have proliferated at a staggering rate.

Recently we have seen airports, hotels

and even football stadiums opening

multisensory rooms.

Multisensory rooms are

specified by the DfE as a

part of adequate provision

for children with learning

disabilities. Yet no one is

stopping to question why

this should be. There is no

reliable research evidence to

back up this belief, what we

know is purely anecdotal.

What have fibre optics and

bubble tubes got to do

with autism and learning

disabilities? Why do disabled

children need access to a

dark space lit with artificial

light? Why would access to

control over sensory stimuli

help someone who struggles

to regulate their response

to sensation any more than

access to an off-licence

would help someone who

struggles to regulate their

intake of alcohol?

In my recent book, Multiple

Multisensory Rooms: Myth

Busting the Magic I charted

the history of sensory rooms

and looked to identify where

their magic came from,

whilst also reporting the

findings of a recent study

into their current use in

the UK, identifying aspects

of the rooms critical for

their effectiveness. On my

course, ‘What is happening

in our multisensory rooms?’

I further explore current

multisensory room practice

with my delegates.

Despite being thought

of as magic, many

multisensory rooms have

no effect whatsoever on the

populations they purport

to be for and some have

a damaging effect. The

difference between the

rooms that seem to work

magic, the rooms that do

nothing at all and the rooms

that do harm, is not found in

the types of gadgetry within

them. No. The magic is

hidden elsewhere.

Misunderstandings about

the rooms and their usage

abound. Researchers and

commentators remark upon

people being taken into the

rooms “shutting down” in

response to the strange and

overwhelming environment,

and this “shut down” being

interpreted as relaxation.

Design flaws and a lack

of regulation have seen

equipment within rooms

catch fire, or rooms built in

a way that impedes mobility

– a room with the bubble

tube plumbed in across the

doorway such that a person

using a wheelchair could not

enter, rooms with padded

floors upon which people

usually a little unsteady on

their feet, struggle to walk at

all. Multi-walled, high-lumen

projection spaces render

visually-impaired people

blind as their retinas are

flooded by the enormous

amounts of back light thrown

off by the projections.

Through 50 years of practice,

very little scientifically

rigorous research has been

conducted into the rooms,

a by-product of which has

been a lack of governance

over those advertising the

rooms. With no evidence

to keep claims in check,

advertising copy concerning

the rooms is becoming

bolder and making grander

and grander claims. Settings

told they are buying a room

that cures ‘all ills’ are likely

to believe that. In order

for this magic space to do

its job, people need to be

bought into it and it needs

to be switched on (after

all things cannot work

if not switched on). The

switching on of everything

in a multisensory room is

one of the most common

mistakes of practice, and

a lack of training in how to

use the rooms (in my study

only one person reported

having had training in how

to use, rather than how to

operate the room) means

it isn’t surprising that most

settings report feeling

underwhelmed by responses

to their sensory room.

So where is the magic?

Jan Hulsegge and Ad Verheul

are recognised as the

start point to multisensory

room practice. In the early

1970s they were working

in an institution. A place

where people with learning

disabilities would have been

shut away from society.

A time when in research

terms, people with learning

disabilities were not even

being referred to as human.

Jan and Ad were active

young men, they recognised

that in their own lives, when

they had physically exerted

themselves, they entered

a state of relaxed curiosity.

Imagine two men in their

twenties who’ve cycled to

the top of a mountain lying

back in the grass to watch

the clouds drift across the

sky and notice the pappus

of dandelion seeds floating

across the sky. They were so

enchanted by the wonder

and beauty of nature that

they wanted to share it with

the people they worked with.

In all of their writing you can

read the inherent respect

they had for the people they

worked with, considering

them not just equal but

at times, superior to

themselves. In nature, they

had something precious and

they wanted to share it with

the people who lived in the

institution whom they loved

and respected.

The original multisensory

room practice was relational.

It was about the connections

between people, and the

sharing of beauty and

wonder. Recognising that

their friends would not

be able to perceive the

dandelion fluff against the

backdrop of the sky, they

pitched a tent to give an

easier landscape against

which to share the wonders

of nature. They said clearly

that it wasn’t about the tent

and that this sharing of time

could happen anywhere,

at dinner, when having a

bath, just sitting together.

They were very clear that:

“Most important are the

interpersonal contacts. These

can never be substituted by

machines or effects.” It was

not about the place, it was

about the people.

When winter came, their

institution allowed them

to move the bits and pieces

they had in the tent, inside to

a room. People heard about

the amazing responses they

were getting from people

who previously had seemed

unreachable and came to

ask them how to make a

tent, how to make a room.

Jan and Ad were always

very clear, telling them that it

wasn’t about the room. Then

a company trademarked

the name of their room, and

from that point, multisensory

rooms became commodities

bought and sold. It is the

brilliant sales techniques

that led to their proliferation,

not their effectiveness.

This is not to say that there

is no value in the amazing

pieces of technology

available to us today. It

is simply to say that the

magic lies in the people.

If you have that inherent

respect and love for the

people you support, and

use a multisensory room

to connect with them, then

the magic will be there. And

if you have that, it will still

be there if all you have is a

scrap of tin foil and a small

torch. To quote from my

book: “The biggest danger

with regards to multisensory

rooms is viewing them as

an object or set of objects,

when in fact they are a

manifestation of thoughts

and ideas and attitudes.”

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



18 January 2020 | | January 2020 19

Wellbeing of staff

Wellbeing of staff

Last year, we published an article on “How to improve the wellbeing of your staff”,

focusing on ways that you could promote their physical, mental and emotional health. In

Ofsted’s recently introduced Education Inspection Framework, the wellbeing of nursery

and other education-establishment staff is specifically mentioned as one of the criteria

that inspectors will look at under the “Leadership and Management” section.

Extracting the staff wellbeing parts, settings who want to

obtain ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ judgements, should meet the

following targets.

To be judged “good”:


Leaders engage with their staff and are aware of the main

pressures on them.


They are realistic and constructive in the way they manage

staff, including their workload.


Leaders protect staff from harassment, bullying and


To be judged “outstanding”, settings must meet

all the ‘good’ criteria, plus:


Leaders ensure that they and practitioners receive focused

and highly effective professional development. Practitioners’

subject, pedagogical content and knowledge consistently

builds and develops over time, and this consistently translates

into improvements in the teaching of the curriculum.


Leaders ensure that highly effective and meaningful

engagement takes place with staff at all levels and that

any issues are identified. When issues are identified – in

particular about workload – they are consistently dealt with

appropriately and quickly.


Staff consistently report high levels of support for wellbeing


But what does this really mean in practice? And what can

your setting do to ensure it is on the right path when it

comes to staff wellbeing? Here are 5 things to consider:

1 Policies and procedures

Good governance starts with having clear ideas about

how things should optimally be run. This is where your

strategies and policies come in. For example, does

your setting have a clearly written staff wellbeing policy

or strategy, which outlines what staff can expect in

relation to their own wellbeing? If so, are your provisions

adequate, and how do you know that they are being

adhered to equitably across the board? If not, what are

you doing to improve this?

2 The culture in your setting

What do the people who work for you say about your

setting? It is an enjoyable, empowering and supportive

environment, or do they feel pressured to work overtime,

feel powerless, or fear for their jobs in a culture of blame?

We all know which culture we would prefer to work in,

but sometimes, everyday work pressures can lead to

a very different practical culture being developed. Ask

yourself some searching questions here about what is

expected of staff both in their written contract and in

the often-unwritten culture that has developed? Do your

leaders set a good work-life balance example, and are

there opportunities for staff to raise concerns without



Opportunities for further

education and staff development

Bill Gates once said, “As we look ahead into the next

century, leaders will be those who empower others”. He

was right. Helping to empower your staff will ultimately

help your setting to succeed on levels that you cannot yet

imagine because it will allow staff to feel valued, make

informed choices, and to ultimately find solutions to their

own problems. Education empowers people as does

encouraging life-long learning, CPD and trust. Studies

show that CPD increases job satisfaction and contributes

to good health and wellbeing. So, are you allocating time

and resources to do that? If not, why not?

4 Supporting and helping your staff

What do you do if your staff have a problem – be it a

personal problem, mental health or physical health

problem? Do your policies and working arrangements

allow for emergencies or flexible working patterns, and

what sources of information and help do you offer if

issues do arise? We all know that some employers are

more flexible and understanding than others when it

comes to these things, so ask yourself bluntly – would you

like to work for you?

5 Audit your approach

A few years ago, it seemed that ‘audit’ was almost a

dirty word since anything and everything that could be

audited, was being done. This led some institutions into

a culture of box-ticking and meaningless surveys and

reports. However, done well, auditing your practice gives

you the information you need to continue going forward

and improving with each step, and should be seen like a

satellite navigation system that is continually feeding back

your position so that you can be certain you are in the

right place, heading in the right direction.

What does this mean in practice?

If you are unsure about what some of these things mean

in practice, it might be useful to download a recent staff

wellbeing report published by the National Centre for Children

and Families. It outlines 10 steps to help support staff

wellbeing, and although written initially for schools, much of

the content of the report is also relevant to nurseries.

It offers several suggestions for improvements, including:

1. A dedicated space for staff to take time out

2. A culture of openness and support talking about mental


3. A lead person responsible for mental health

4. Introduction of a staff wellbeing survey

5. Consideration of working hours

These are just a few of the suggestions, but it also includes

some case studies to show how different schools have

improved their staff wellbeing by following some of the advice.

Other ideas that fall into similar categories, include:


Stress reduction techniques such as relaxation or

mindfulness classes


Encouraging appraisal systems that are focused on praise

rather than fault-finding


Instigating team building and teamwork opportunities


Offering initiatives which recognise and praise staff


Robust staff induction programmes


Buddy schemes or counselling services for help and advice


Using language to promote wellbeing as a normal concept

within the work environment


Encouraging an open-door policy


Provision of occasional free lunches, fruit or other low-cost



Regular consultations with staff and ‘staff voice’ initiatives


Healthcare plans or private health insurance


Mental health first aid training


Perks such as gym memberships or wellbeing workshops


Encouraging a can-do attitude and growth mindset

Staff wellbeing matters, so make sure you are looking after

your staff well.

20 January 2020 | | January 2020 21

Reducing single-use

plastic in your setting

Reducing single-use

plastic in your setting

We hear on the news and via social media (sadly, pretty much on a daily basis) about

the growing decline of our planet. We learn that we must strive to be more sustainable:

increase our recycling, decrease our carbon footprint and reduce our reliance on singleuse

plastic - as we are waking up to the fact that “climate change” is actually happening

and our planet is in real danger. The world’s oceans are literally filling up with rubbish

and it’s the non-biodegradable plastic that is the main culprit.

We would love to hear from

you on this crucially important

subject. Please share with us if

you have found ways to help the

environment and reduce your

use of plastic.

Get in touch via email or on

any of our social channels -


Millions of us have been recycling,

saving water or attempting other ways

to be more ‘environmentally friendly’

in one way or another for years, but in

October 2015, when the Government

introduced a plastic bag fee requiring

all supermarkets and large stores to

charge a minimum of 5p for every

single-use plastic carrier bag they

handed out, this was quite possibly the

turning point for many people as they

realised the severity of the situation

with regards to plastic.

Globally, we produce about 100 million

tonnes of plastic each year. According

to National Geographic, there are a

staggering 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic

debris in the world’s oceans. Of that,

over a quarter of a million tons float

on the surface, while some four billion

plastic microfibers per square km, litter

the deep sea.

This plastic is not just endangering our

marine life and ruining our oceans; it’s

accelerating climate change. Plastic is

one of the most stubborn pollutants on

earth. It’s made specifically to last and

that’s exactly what it does! Sometimes

for 400 years or more. To add insult to

injury, at each stage of its lifecycle, long

after it has been thrown away, plastic

creates greenhouse gas emissions that

are contributing to the warming of our


22 January 2020 |

It’s a sad fact, but, generally speaking,

the early years sector contributes greatly

to the production of plastic waste due

to its use of many disposable items

including nappies, baby wipes, plastic

gloves, aprons, craft materials and toys.

Nurseries need to reassess their current

practices and try find areas where they

can improve on, or switch completely, to

sustainable alternatives.

A staggering eight million disposable

nappies are thrown away in the UK

every day – these can take hundreds

of years to naturally decompose and

are made with plastic resins which

will never fully biodegrade. Baby

wipes, nappy bags, disposable plastic

gloves and aprons all contribute to the

problem and recent data has revealed

a 94% increase in wet wipes being

washed up on UK beaches.

Here are some ideas to help you reduce

the use of plastic in your setting and

become more sustainable. They are

easy to implement and will definitely

make a difference to the environment.

Chances are, you are probably already

applying some of these, but it can be

easy to forget in the day-to-day running

of a busy setting!

• Select loose fruit and veg from

the supermarket – or if possible

grow your own with the children,

it makes for a great activity!

• Find out what the local options

are for buying milk in glass

bottles instead of plastic ones.

Sites like www.findmeamilkman.

net are useful!

• Avoid carton juice drinks - these

are often non-recyclable with

plastic straws attached in plastic


• Replace single-use plastic cutlery,

plates and bowls with washable


• Swap plastic straws for paper


• Try an alternative to cling film,

such as beeswax wrap which is

readily available nowadays.

• Use fabric or paper bags for


• Less than 50% of single-use

plastic bottles are recycled so

encourage staff and children to

bring in reusable or metal water


• Ask staff to use reusable coffee


• Use cotton wool or cloths instead

of wipes during nappy changes.

• Use biodegradable nappy bags

and fabric or PVC aprons.

• Swap hand wash in plastic

containers for bars of soap – just

as hygienic if used correctly!

• Swap plastic toothbrushes for

bamboo ones.

• Try and encourage parents to use

cloth nappies.

• Choose toys made from

sustainable materials, e.g. wood.

Read on to find out how some nurseries

have already implemented sustainable

initiatives into their settings to reduce

their use of plastic:

Elmscot Hale Day Nursery & Nursery

School became the first setting in

Trafford to achieve Plastic Free status

through the Surfers Against Sewage

scheme. It successfully completed the

charity’s five ‘Plastic Free Nursery’

objectives – educating the children

about the problem of single-use

plastic, holding litter picking sessions

and discussing where changes can be

made to reduce the requirement for

single-use plastic within the setting.

Changes include: nursery staff now

use washable tabards instead of

single-use aprons at mealtimes and

for nappy changing, single-use aprons

have been replaced with PVC aprons

that can be sanitised after each use.

Fresh milk is now delivered from a local

supplier in traditional glass bottles

rather than plastic, which has made a

huge impact on the amount of singleuse

plastic coming into the nursery.

All food shopping is now delivered

without carrier bags and the use of

plastic gloves has been reduced and

traditional methods reintroduced.

The owner of Young Friends Nursery

and Nature School in Hove, Louise

Lloyd-Evans, launched an online

platform to help other settings go

plastic-free. Sustainable Nurseries

Against Plastic (SNAP) was created to

encourage nurseries to share tips and

ideas on how to be more sustainable.

The nursery’s approach to running a

sustainable model of childcare made

Louise want to share ideas and tips

with others.

Tops Day Nurseries has made huge

progress in its quest to care for the

planet. All its nurseries are rigorously

reviewed to ensure the carbon

footprint is minimised, as well as

having integrated learning sessions for

children on the subject of caring for the

environment, growing their own food

and being waste-conscious. A few of

its recent initiatives include the banning

of glitter, working with environmental

charity, GECCO, promoting reusable,

washable nappies to reduce plastic

pollution, investing in bamboo

toothbrushes for the children, using

environmentally-friendly cleaning

products and installing solar panels on

some of its buildings. | January 2020 23

Pine cone and feather

dream catcher craft

Pine cone and feather

dream catcher craft

You will need:

• Pine cones

• Feathers

• Wreath piece (you can create your

own, but we purchased ours in


• Natural string

• Scissors

EYFS activity - recycling

EYFS activity -


We know that recycling is becoming more and more important, both globally and within

our own communities. Most of us do something to contribute to the recycling process at

home, so why not enhance the children’s knowledge in your setting too? It’s never too

early to teach the children in your care about being environmentally friendly!

Here are some ways in which you can work together with the children that makes

recycling fun and that fit perfectly within the EYFS prime and specific areas of learning.

Understanding the World Communication and Language Expressive Arts and Design


• Create a specific area for recycling, with the children’s input, and explain how your ‘recycling corner’ will work – this is a

good opportunity to ask the children what their understanding is of the word ‘recycling’ and for you to introduce the concept

for the younger ones who perhaps have not heard the word before.

• Make sure you have lots of boxes with labels and pictures on them

of what you are going to put in them – remembering to

take the time to ensure that the children understand

what goes where by involving them early on.

• They can discuss and agree between them (with your

assistance) which day-to-day materials within the

setting need recycling and which boxes can be used

for which materials. They can then stick the labels and

pictures on together.


1. Take your wreath, tie the string to the wreath and then

wrap the string around the wreath creating nice shapes

and tying off at the end. This should give you the main

part of you dream catcher.

2. Cut 7 pieces of string to varying lengths. Attach the

pieces of string to the feathers and pine cones. Our pine

cones had a little ‘tail’ we could attach the string to. If yours

don’t, you might have to use glue to attach it in place.

3. Tie these to the main wreath, so they hang down at the


4. Voila! You are done!

We want to encourage sunny winter walks in the park with this craft. Finding feathers and pine cones can

be fun and you could also add leaves or anything else the children find!

• Provide some craft materials for the children to decorate

their different recycling boxes. Ask them to collect

newspapers, magazines, greetings cards and junk mail

when other family members are finished with them and

put them in the box when they’ve finished decorating it.

You also can do this for the box for plastic

recycling and other materials.

• As well as this being an excellent

start to the children learning about

the variety of recycling, this will also

give you a constant supply of recycled

materials for your craft activities!


Personal, Social and Emotional Development

One of the best ways to keep the little ones engaged and have their full attention is during storytime! Nowadays, there are so

many books about recycling geared towards early years – but the ones which encourage engagement with the audience are

the best ones! Books like “George Saves the world before lunchtime” are ideal and tend to spark conversation!

Encourage the children to take turns to suggest ways in which they can help George who is determined to save the world

by lunchtime, but he’s not quite sure how. He asks his Grandpa who suggests they start by recycling his breakfast yogurt

pot. The book’s eye-catching illustrations which combine painting and photographs will really draw the children into the

world of recycling.

24 January 2020 | | January 2020 25

Farmhouse Farmhouse



Farmhouse Breakfast Week takes place at the end of January each year. The campaign

started in 2000 with the aim of encouraging people to regularly eat a healthy and

balanced breakfast and to reduce the amount of people that skip breakfast. To get on

board with the Farmhouse Breakfast campaign we have created our own breakfast –

which comes highly approved by the little ones!

We have tried to pick local ingredients for our recipe as well, supporting small

businesses and local produce ☺

If you are vegan or vegetarian, there are many plant-based alternatives

available to replace the meat options we have suggested.

You will need:

• Sausages

• Bacon

• Hash browns

• Eggs


1. Pre-heat the grill on medium heat.

• Tomatoes – cut in half

• Mushrooms

• Baked beans

• Oil

2. Put the sausages on a grill plate and cook for 10-15 minutes, turning regularly.

3. After that time, add bacon and tomato to the grill plate and cook until the

bacon is crispy (you can even sprinkle a little salt on the tomato and

drizzle with some olive oil).

4. In the meantime, clean the mushrooms with a little

brush (or wash them quickly under running

water), then cut them in half. Put some oil in

a frying pan on a medium heat and fry the

mushrooms until golden.

5. Once you have finished cooking the

mushrooms, add some fresh oil to the

frying pan and break the eggs. Fry the

eggs sunny side up or however you prefer.

6. Open a tin of baked beans and warm

the beans up in a saucepan.

7. Serve everything on a warm plate.

8. Enjoy your farmhouse breakfast!



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26 January 2020 | | January 2020 27

Start your free trial today at

A New A Year New – a Year new resolution - a new to help

children to self-regulate


and become a


to help children to self-regulate and become a co-regulator

Imagine the scene – it’s Christmas eve and you realise with horror that you have no

cranberry sauce. Without it, Great Aunt Jenny would spend tomorrow complaining and

so you pop out to the overcrowded supermarket in a panic to pick some up. As you wait

patiently for a car to pull out of a parking space, another car ignores your signalling and

drives straight into the space you were waiting for. You wind down your window and yell,

“I was waiting for that space!” and the other driver shrugs an apology yet still takes the

space! How would you feel and react?

We all have moments when our

emotions get the better of us, or we feel

less than in control. Some people refer to

this increased rush of stress hormones

as being in a state of ‘freeze, fight or

flight’. When this happens, we are

unable to think rationally until we return

to a state of calm. As adults, we have

ways of overcoming this stressful state,

often in an instant. Perhaps we take a

deep breath or count to 10, or even just

roll our eyes. Children do not yet know

how to deal with these powerful feelings

and part of our role as educator is to

help children to regulate their emotions

by becoming a co-regulator, actively

listening and being attuned to children’s

emotional states.

Co-regulation is a supportive process

that relies on the foundation of a warm,

responsive and trusting relationship

between adults and children. It is about

adults providing a safe and stable

environment within which children can

explore and take risks. A consistent

routine and predictable boundaries

will help children to feel secure, as

will having adults who interact in the

moment, coaching and role-modelling

to scaffold their learning. In this

environment, adults help children to

regulate their emotions and teach them

strategies to use in the future.

Sometimes self-regulation as a term

is, I believe, not totally understood by

those working within early childhood

education. It is regularly equated

with children simply controlling their

behaviour. Although this is part of

the story, in reality, self-regulation is

about a child managing their powerful

thoughts and feelings in order to

regain feelings of calm. It is also about

children being able to maintain focus

and attention and, at times, inhibit

impulses. Just like the impulse that you

might have to say something unkind if

your parking space were stolen!

It is through relationships with others

that children learn how to self-regulate.

Vygotsky first uses this term within

the context of children being able to

do something with a little help or a

scaffold from others that they wouldn’t

be able to do alone. He talks about

children moving from being regulated

by others to being self-regulated. Part

of this process is learning about our

emotions and understanding social

situations and etiquette. Children need

to know that it might be appropriate

to clap during show and tell in the

classroom, but not during prayers in

assembly. Research suggests that

children who are able to self-regulate

are well-adjusted, socially competent,

cognitively more able and ultimately,

more successful in life.

So it should be no surprise that selfregulation

forms part of the revised

Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). It

replaces, in my view inappropriately,

the aspect Managing Feelings

and Behaviour in the Prime Area

of Personal, Social and Emotional

Development. I want to draw your

attention to the consultation that is

currently considering these proposed

changes. It is really important that as

many early childhood educators as

possible respond to this.

Literature review of evidence

Full consultation

The proposed Self-Regulation Early

Learning Goal states, “Children at the

expected level of development will:

• Show an understanding of their

own feelings and those of others,

and begin to regulate their

behaviour accordingly;

• Set and work towards simple

goals, being able to wait for

what they want and control

their immediate impulses when


• Give focused attention to what

the teacher says, responding

appropriately even when

engaged in activity, and show

an ability to follow instructions

involving several ideas or actions.”

(DfE, 2019, Early Years Foundation Stage

Reforms, p.18, emphasis mine)

This begs the question, what does

“regulate their behaviour accordingly”

mean? This vague statement is unhelpful

and open to interpretation. In addition,

assessing whether children are able to

“wait for what they want” will open the

doorway to children being made to wait

inappropriately at times. If a teacher

needs to assess if they can respond

“appropriately even when engaged in

activity” the easiest way to check this is

to interrupt their play even when deeply

involved. Julie Fisher (2016) would call

this interfering not interacting!

In addition, children “show an

understanding of their own feelings

and those of others” – this in itself is

a difficult task which requires a high

level of empathy and the ability to

know that others have thoughts and

feelings that are different to their own

– which is theory of mind. Research

shows that young children struggle

to understand this concept and at the

age of 4 or 5, many may not have

grasped it yet. So this goal is assessing

them on something that could be

developmentally out of their reach!

If the EYFS is to include selfregulation,

it needs to be written

in a developmentally-appropriate

way through exploring how children

learn to manage their emotions and

develop emotional resilience. It should

consider how children overcome stress

through understanding their feelings,

and through developing meaningful

relationships and social interaction.

As educators we can become co-regulators for our children. Here are some ways

that we can support children’s self-regulation:

• Follow the child’s lead and react and interact sensitively

• Use language associated with feelings and emotions

• Avoid reprimanding children for having big emotions, instead offer calm and

continuous reassurance, emotional support and warmth

• Acknowledge and accept children’s feelings

• Use any incidents that arise as opportunities to practise conflict resolution and

emotion-coaching techniques

• Engage in role play and pretence play, e.g. role modelling calming strategies

• Use books and stories to talk about character’s thoughts and feelings

• Develop emotional intelligence and praise children when they successfully

manage big emotions

• Encourage children to recognise other people’s feelings – using photographs can


• Focus on fostering the characteristics of effective learning and enabling children

to be resilient, persevering in the face of challenges

• Play listening and attention games

• Support children to problem solve and develop creative approaches to learning.

So this new year, take a deep breath and become a co-regulator for the children in

your care.

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








28 January 2020 | | January 2020 29

Yoga, meditation and

mindfulness for toddlers

Yoga, meditation and


Now the question here is not about

us controlling our own outburst or

exasperation, (albeit desirable) but

rather, what are we teaching our

children when this happens?

Children learn by copying. They

observe, they copy, and then learn

from their own experiences of copying

what we do – good and bad. So

when we all push ourselves to the

brink of collapse (often physically and

mentally), with no time or space to

breathe easy or release our tensions,

children will pick up on this, and

eventually try to emulate us. They think

it’s important to get everything ‘right’

and to be ‘perfect’. And we all know

what an elusive and impossible master

that can be!

What can we do to redress this

balance and teach our children that it’s

ok to just ‘be who they are’; to spend

time sitting quietly with their own

thoughts; and to experience the world

in a different way? We suggest trying

yoga, meditation or mindfulness.

for toddlers

In a busy world, where time always seems to be ‘of the essence’, we are all straining to

be effective parents, productive professionals, and happy to boot, it’s no wonder that

sometimes our patience snaps and our tolerance wanes. But who then is at the end of our

frustrated outburst or our annoyance? It’s often our children or the children in our care.

What are they?

Yoga is an ancient form of physical,

mental and spiritual practice about

revealing the true essence of our

being. It originated in India thousands

of years ago, but is not considered a

religion; it’s rather a philosophy, in

which the practitioner uses certain

techniques such as controlled

breathing, stretching and poses

to understand themselves and the

oneness of all things better. There are

different branches of yoga that put

emphasis on different techniques.

Meditation is one branch of yoga in

which you quieten your mind and just

observe what is left when you remove

all the ‘mind chatter’. It is a simple

practice that you can do almost

anywhere in order to clear out the

clutter in your head and find an inner


Mindfulness could then be said to

be an extension of meditation in

which, having quieted your mind, you

then take control of your thoughts

and your attention to focus on the

moment; observing and experiencing

it fully. The Greater Good Center at

Berkeley, have an easy-to-understand


“Mindfulness means maintaining a

moment-by-moment awareness of

our thoughts, feelings, bodily

sensations, and surrounding

environment, through a

gentle, nurturing lens.”

Benefits for children

These practices have been

shown to have many benefits for

adults and children, including:


• Boosting the body’s immune


• Increasing suppleness and


• Reduced negative emotions,

anxiety and stress

• Changes in areas of the

brain linked to learning,

memory, emotionalregulation

and empathy

• Improved sleep patterns

• Reduces behaviour problems

and aggression

• Increased sense of self

How to start meditation,

mindfulness and yoga with


Unless you are a practicing yoga

teacher, you might think it is difficult

to start helping children to meditate

or learn yoga, but you’d be wrong. Of

course, there is a place for having a

dedicated yoga teacher to come into

your setting and share their experience

and knowledge with your children, and

if you can arrange that on a regular or

one-off basis, then that will be a great

way to start.

But there are also many simple ways

that you can use to introduce these

practices into your setting. Here are 3

short exercises to get you started.

Yoga: move and pose

One way to engage toddlers in

stretching their bodies and beginning

yoga poses, is to get them to pretend

to be animals. Many yoga poses

themselves are based on characteristics

observed in animals. You could ask the

children what kind of traits they think

certain animals have, such as a cat

(suppleness), a tiger (strength), a snake

or cobra (curling and twisting) and then

ask them to show these traits with their

bodies. You can then build these into

the real yoga poses.

Meditation: breathing

Ask the children to sit or lie down

quietly and focus on their breath

coming in through their nose, filling

their tummies so their tummy rises

up; and then blowing out through

their mouth. You can do this to slow

counts; in for four counts and out for

four counts. Remind the children that

their tummies should rise up like a

balloon when then breathe in and go

down/deflate like a balloon when they

breathe out.

Mindfulness: focus

Ask the children to sit or lie down

quietly and try to listen to every sound

in the room. Guide this by pointing out

different things e.g. a fan, the hum or

a radiator of the ticking of a clock. Just

spend a few moments really listening

to and focusing on each sound, then

move on.

You can do the same with areas of

the body. Get the children to listen

for their heartbeat and then to sense

how their feet feel, or how their hands

feel on the floor etc. The purpose is

to get them to consciously focus on

individual things one at a time, without


Continuing and building on

your practices

Once you have run a few sessions,

expand on your practice by either

inviting a yoga teacher in, or

researching and building on things.

One of the best ways to help children

is through stories and children are

naturally drawn to stories, and they

often want to act out or physically

engage with them. The website has some great

information and resources especially

designed to help teach yoga and

mindfulness to toddlers. You can even

start with the babies in your setting too.

Top tips

1. Start slowly

2. Lead by example

3. Use some guided

meditations to start with

4. Connect to ideas/concepts

they understand – e.g. cats

stretch, snakes curl, trees

stand still

5. Do not expect children to be

perfect meditators – just plant

the seed and let it grow.





For more resources and ideas, visit:

30 January 2020 | | January 2020 31

The importance The importance of


feeling feeling good enough good enough

Everything a child consistently hears, sees and feels creates belief systems that then

silently influence them throughout life. Early childhood experiences mould how we

view ourselves and the world around us. If a child consistently doesn’t feel good

enough (and the key word here is consistently), this is likely to form a belief that then

acts as a default setting.

I always explain this by using a driving

analogy. Think back to when you first

started learning to drive. You had to

think about every single action within

the process. I even remember saying

them out loud to myself as I was doing

them ‘clutch, gears, mirror, signal’.

However, over time and repetition

(consistency), these actions become

second nature and before we know it,

we are driving from A to B without even

remembering the journey, let alone

having to think about how to drive our

car! It’s the same with belief systems.

What a child experiences and how they

consistently feel creates beliefs that

over time become like a default setting.

It’s like having a computer programme

running in the background of our life,

powered by the beliefs we acquired in

childhood. We then look at the world

through a lens influenced by those

beliefs. Imagine two people walking

in a room. Both of them see a larger

than life character who is dominating

the room. One might see how they

are captivating the audience and think

that they are the most inspiring person

they’ve ever seen. The other might think

that they are too big for their boots

and convince themselves that they

are looking down their nose at them.

Two people, both in the same room,

but seeing that person and scenario

in a completely different way! This is

because they both have different beliefs

influencing how they feel and how they

view the world.

Now beliefs don’t all affect us in the

same way. There could be 2 people

with the same belief (that they are not

good enough) and they might have very

different lives. However, one thing they

will probably have in common is that

they will be out of balance. One person

might put themselves down a lot, stay

in the background and therefore never

quite fulfil their potential because they

don’t feel good enough to fully step into

it. They also might be a perfectionist

and therefore struggle to put

themselves out into the world because

they never feel ready. However, another

person might be larger than life and big

themselves up all of the time making

them appear quite arrogant. This is

because they are overcompensating

for this inner subconscious feeling of

not being good enough. There are also

some people with this same belief

who appear to have huge success.

This is because

they have fought

against their internal


They always

strive for more

because they never


feel like what they

have achieved is good enough. The

problem here is that they will likely

be a workaholic because whenever

they reach a goal, they still won’t

feel fulfilled and they will probably

also work at the expense of their

relationships and health.

Feeling ‘not good enough’ is a common

belief and many of us have varying

levels of this within us. The good news

is that we can reframe beliefs and

change the path of our life. However,

in the words of Frederick Douglass, “it

is much easier to build up a child than

to repair a broken adult”. It’s important

to be mindful of our consistent words

and actions around children and how

they are creating belief systems.

Here are ways that we can make children feel

that they ARE good enough:

Listen to them and make them feel heard. A child knows when they ܕܕ

have your full attention and need to feel valued.

Allow them to have a bad day. Quite often we hold children to a higher ܕܕ

standard than we can live up to ourselves. We all have days when

we feel grumpy and when we are not the best version of ourselves.

Children have them too but are not developmentally equipped to deal

with them in a balanced way and need our help to regulate.

person. Don’t put them down. Focus on their behaviour, not them as a ܕܕ

A child may be demonstrating negative behaviour, but they are not a

bad person. It is important to make sure that our words reflect this.

Love them for who they are. Everyone is different. We all have our ܕܕ

positive attributes and our flaws. It is important to understand each

individual child, to accept them for who they authentically are and to

meet their needs, even if they are different to what you are familiar

with. Try to look at the world through their eyes.

results. Praise effort not just ܕܕ

Show them that you believe in them. If they are saying they can’t do ܕܕ

something, tell them that you think they can and give them reasons why

(build them up). Help them to find a solution and praise them along the


Make sure behaviour management focuses on teaching children ܕܕ

consequences and helping them to develop, rather than just trying to

control and punish them.

Let them test their own limits and work things out. Be there to catch ܕܕ

children if they fall but allow them to feel that you trust them enough to

give it a go.

Teach children that failure is simply a lesson and a stepping-stone to ܕܕ

their goal.

Teach them that they don’t have to be good at everything. If they are ܕܕ

struggling, point out all of the things they can do that others can’t and

tell them that it is okay to find some things difficult.

Respect them. Look at your expectations, the way you speak to them ܕܕ

and your actions and ask yourself how you would feel if you were

on the receiving end of it. Children are little and need our guidance.

However, they are still people with their own mind and should be

treated respectfully.

Children become what they

experience, if we want them to be

respectful, we have to show them

respect. If we what them to be polite

and kind, we have to be polite and

kind to them. If we want them to

have confidence and feel good

about themselves, we have to show

them that they are worthy. It is also

important to be mindful of how we

treat ourselves in front of children. Do

we put ourselves down? Are we kind

to ourselves? Do we respect ourselves?

Children are watching and their model

of the world also comes from what

they see.

None of us are perfect and we all have

bad days and get things wrong. If we

do, this is a great opportunity to teach

children about taking responsibility

by owning our mistakes and

apologising. The key word in all of this

is consistency and it is important to

make sure that our actions and words

on a whole are building children up and

planting positive seeds that can flourish

later in life.

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 January 2020 | | January 2020 33

Blue Monday Blue Monday

January 20th – argh! Christmas is over, you can’t get into your new jeans because you

put on a half a stone; you’ve maxed out your credit card; it’s still 10 days till payday, and

to top it all, it’s freezing and the trains are cancelled due to a snowflake on the line!! This

has got to be the most depressing day of the year!!!

Or so the media would have us

believe! Since 2005, the third Monday

in January has been dubbed ‘Blue

Monday’ by newspapers, TV shows and

magazines alike; the day when we in

the Northern hemisphere feel at our

lowest ebb.

What is Blue Monday?

It’s really a marketing gimmick, dreamt

up by Sky Travel to boost sales in a

2005 press release, which has really

captured the imagination. The company

claimed to have calculated the most

depressing day of the year based on

several factors, including the:

• Weather (W)

• Delays or monthly salary (D)

• Travel time (Tt)

• Time sleeping (ZZ)

• Time relaxing (R)

• Motivation (M)

• Time packing (P) and time

preparing (Pr) (presumably for a


• Debt (d)

• Stress time (St)

• Time spent on cultural activities (C)

They even invented some equations to

convince us that this day really would

be the most depressing!


(C x R x ZZ)

((Tt + D) x St)

[W + (D - d)] x T Q

M x N a

+ (P x Pr) > 400

For the unobservant mind (and that

might be many of us in January),

they may look effective, but they’re

just a pretty distraction to the more


Just a bit of fun or a selffulfilling


Obviously Blue Monday is a marketing

success – it got lots of people talking

about Sky Travel and thinking that

they really needed a holiday. But on

a deeper level, it also has us asking

ourselves if there isn’t some truth in the

suggestion that people can feel more

depressed at certain times of the year

for a variety of reasons. Some have

even suggested it is a self-fulfilling


So, we’ve listed a few potential things

that may cause upset at this time of

year, and given you some suggestions

of how to chase those blues away...

Mental health and SAD

There is well documented evidence

that some people do actually feel more

depressed during the winter months,

and the NHS website lists Seasonal

Affective Disorder (SAD) as a type of

depression that “comes and goes in

a seasonal pattern.” Also known as

‘winter depression’, most people who

suffer with it, have symptoms that are

worse in the winter months than in the

summer. It can be a debilitating illness

with symptoms that include:

• persistent low mood

• loss of pleasure or interest in

normal everyday activities

• lethargy (lack of energy)

• feelings of despair, guilt and


• irritability

• sleeping for longer than normal

and during the day

• craving carbohydrates and gaining


Ways to boost your mood

1. Put on your favourite song and dance to it

2. Try some meditation, mindfulness or yoga

3. Go for a walk and get out into nature

4. Exercise

5. Visit friends

6. Volunteer at a local homeless centre or senior citizens centre

7. Start a new hobby

8. Stroke your cat, dog or other cuddly pet

9. Declutter your house

10. Read an amusing book

Whether Blue Monday is real for you or not, don’t ‘do nothing’. Take some

positive actions to help yourself, and that will, in some small way, start the

process of feeling better.

we’d rather forget, and for many, this

causes stress. Household financial debt

(excluding mortgages) was recently

revealed to have risen by 11% in the

last recorded 2 years, according to

the Office for National Statistics 1 . It

reported a staggering £87bn in loans,

credit cards, hire purchase agreements,

overdrafts and arrears, which equated

to approximately £9,400 per household

(a rise of 9%).

Debt in itself is not always bad; most

governments around the world use

borrowing to fund their policies, but

the problem comes when you feel that

you cannot pay back what you owe,

or when you begin to “rob Peter to pay

Paul” as the saying goes, which can

lead to debt repayments spiralling out

of control.

charities such as Stepchange or the

National Debt Line, all of whom offer

free advice.

The weather and that ‘stuck in a

rut’ feeling

None of us can change the weather,

and we often feel stuck in a rut if we

feel we lack control of our lives. The

best advice here is to try to reframe

your feelings about the things you

cannot control and focus instead on

the things you can control - like your

emotional state. Instead of focusing

on negative things, make a list of all

the things you can control. Think about

what you’d really like to have, do or

achieve, and then set yourself some

SMART goals about these, breaking

them down into small, achievable tasks

and you’ll soon see things improve.

No one really knows what causes SAD,

but theories suggest that the reduced

exposure to sunlight may affect the

functioning of the hypothalamus,

which affects the production of

hormones (melatonin and serotonin),

and can disrupt a person’s body clock.

Symptoms can be severe and have a

significant impact on people’s dayto-day

activities, but treatments are

available so you should see your GP if

you feel that your mood is deteriorating

and that you cannot cope.


After Christmas, many of us are faced

with credit card bills and overdrafts

Many people avoid talking about

debt and it has been shown to be a

major factor in relationship problems,

but help is available and it’s best

to seek help early if you feel under

pressure. Solutions can range from

simply creating a monthly budget,

to more formal solutions such as

debt management plans, individual

voluntary arrangements (IVAs) or

bankruptcy, but in the majority of cases,

if help is sought early enough, this can

be avoided.

The first step is to seek advice from

either the Citizen’s Advice Bureau or

other specialist debt management

Resources and more information

• Mind – the mental health charity

• The Samaritans

• Citizen’s Advice Bureau

• Stepchange

• National Debt Line


1. Office for National Statistics

34 January 2020 | | January 2020 35

Tips for easier and

happier transition times

easier and happier

transition times

It’s great watching children get deeply involved in their play. However, problems can

occur when it is time for children to stop what they are doing and change activity or task.

For some children, moving around causes a lot of stress and anxiety, especially if they

don’t know or understand what is expected of them next. Here are some ways that you

can make daily transition times happier and less stressful for both you and the children.

Give warnings

Let children know that it is

nearly time to stop. If you

were engrossed in making

something and you got told to

stop immediately you would feel annoyed,

or you might just take a bit more time. Don’t

expect children to be able to stop what they

are doing without giving them a warning

that the end is approaching. A sand timer is

great for this – it allows a child to see how

long they have left.

Tips for

Have a routine

This isn’t always possible, but

if you can try to stick to the

same routine, then as children

spend more and more time in

your setting, they are going to

learn what to expect next, and

what is expected of them.

Use your imagination

Just like above, this links

closely to movement. Get

children thinking. Can they

pretend to be an astronaut

walking on the moon? What is

it like? Question the children

along the way and find out

what they are imagining.

Object of reference

visual timetables

Another great visual tool is to show an option

linked to what you are going to do next,

again to help the child understand. If you are

about to take a child for a nappy change,

what better way to help them understand

than by showing them a clean nappy as you

take them? Better still, get them involved by

letting them carry the nappy and

collect their change bag etc.

Showing a child visually what

is happening next relieves

their anxiety because they can

understand what is coming next.

It must be really scary to leave

the safety of an activity you like

to move to something else when

you don’t understand what it is.

You can really help with this by

displaying some simple pictures

showing the schedule for the day.

This is particularly important for

any child with communication


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.




As an early years

practitioner, you will already do

this a lot. Now apply singing to your

transition times. Sing as you tidy up, as you get

in a line, as you moved around the setting. Sing

as you choose groups of children to go to their

next activity. Include actions to stop little fingers

from fiddling with things that they shouldn’t be.

Not only does this improve transition times but

you are then also working towards Phase 1 of

Letters and Sounds and giving children all of the

benefits that they get from songs such as rhyme

and alliteration.

Use movement

in different ways

Standing silent and still in a line is

very unnatural to children. We’ve

already talked about using our

voices, now think about how you

can get children to move as they

transition from one topic to another.

Can they pretend to be a jungle

animal? Can they move as quietly

and gracefully as a snowflake? Can

they be a little mouse as they tidy

all the things away?

Plan for transition times

You plan most other aspects of the

children’s curriculum; now think

about ways to incorporate your

transition times into your planning

too. This isn’t intended to add to

paperwork – just jot down

some transition ideas

whilst you think about

your topic and share with

other staff.

Remain calm!

Finally, it sounds obvious, but remain

calm and try your best not to get

frustrated if things aren’t going to

plan. Children will pick up if you are

not calm and therefore will not be

calm themselves.

As always, understanding is key. If a child understands what is happening, they are far less

likely to resist the change. Keep calm, have fun and you should see happier transition times

throughout your day. Good luck!

36 January 2020 | | January 2020 37

Invest in the development

of your team...




What our customers say

What our customers say

By providing training for your staff, you will:

Improve morale

Support children’s safety

We help hundreds of childcare providers train their staff every year.

Investing in staff training and development is essential for not only

upskilling your workforce, but reducing recruitment costs, attracting top

talent and helping to prevent skills shortages.

On the 1 st April, the contribution that you pay when you are a non-levy

employer dropped to 5% - it could be as little as £100 for 19+ or free for

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Let us help you with your training needs – call us today!

0800 002 9242

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I have had many dealings with

Lilly over time and she has always

been incredibly supportive, helpful,

professional and really nice to deal

with, so I know that you will all be

in safe hands.

Laura Borner - Lynmore

House Nursery


I am writing to give feedback for my

remote assessor, Jeanette Arnold,

who has been so supportive and

helpful in helping me complete my

Level 3 in childcare. Every time I

needed help or had any questions,

she was available for me to call

or e-mail her. She provided me

with lots of help and guidance

for my coursework and she has

been such an amazing tutor, as

during the beginning, I had few

disappointments from Parenta but

Jeanette helped me complete Level

3 on time. Many thanks, to her and

your team.



Just wanted to feedback, I spoke to Molly today (think this is

the first time I have spoken to her) and just wanted to say she

was lovely. She was really helpful and talked through the next

steps of what will happen next with my enquiry.

I want to congratulate Parenta on all their fabulous teams

throughout the company. They are always upbeat when I call

and are always keen to solve any questions or concerns I have.

Parenta, you have a fabulous workforce and they all deserve

a pat on the back (or massive pay rise! That comment should

get me some brownie points). Honestly as a manager and

head of business I congratulate you on your recruitment.

Keep up the good work everyone.

Linda Innes - St John’s Nursery Group


Excellent, the course was delivered

and followed through well, with

continuous support and encouragement

to achieve the goal. The standards of

teaching and learning are 5 star and I

was always made to feel that I can do it!

Elizabeth Clements - Julie’s


38 January 2020 | | January 2020 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.

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

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