Parenta Magazine April 2020

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Issue 65<br />

APRIL <strong>2020</strong><br />

FREE<br />

Industry<br />

Experts<br />

10 benefits of<br />

outdoor learning<br />

How to help children<br />

understand time<br />

Talking about difference:<br />

Profound disability<br />

+ lots more<br />

Write for us<br />

for a chance to win<br />

£50<br />

page 31<br />

The benefits of animals for<br />

children’s development<br />

Scientifically-researched benefits, anecdotal reports, and scientific<br />

studies confirming some measurable benefits in children.<br />


Difference<br />

Joanna Grace’s second<br />

article: Talking about<br />

difference. This time she<br />

talks about profound<br />

disability.<br />

hello<br />

welcome to our family<br />

Hello and welcome to the <strong>April</strong> edition of the <strong>Parenta</strong> magazine!<br />

<strong>April</strong> is the month where we would normally be starting to enjoy the lighter evenings that we’ve been waiting so long for,<br />

going for walks with friends and family; and generally beginning to feel more sociable … and even, looking forward to<br />

the summer!<br />

Of course, normality doesn’t really exist for us at the moment, and although we know that our lives have been turned<br />

upside down only temporarily, the effects on us personally and for our businesses, will almost certainly be longer term.<br />

Not losing sight of that fact that we are trying our utmost to deal with a global health crisis, we would still like to bring you<br />

a magazine full of articles that, although may not feel completely relevant right now, at least will help you look ahead to brighter<br />

times when we will all be able to do the things that, up until very recently, we took for granted.<br />

So, for this month, we bring you some ideas for when we are able to enjoy being outdoors with the children. Industry expert Tanith Carey<br />

shares her wealth of knowledge and helps us to help our children understand the concept of time. We explore the variety of ways we can<br />

involve parents with their children’s learning which, now more than ever, is proving incredibly important; and look at some wonderful, heartwarming<br />

ways that animals can help with children’s development.<br />

Whilst you’re scanning the internet for news and advice about how the current crisis is affecting the industry, check out the Facebook page of<br />

Champagne Nurseries on Lemonade Funding (CNLF) - a campaign group for the early years sector, which is packed with guidance and sector<br />

opinions.<br />

Joanna Grace is guest author of the month for February. Her article “Neurotypical narratives” draws on her own experience and asks if<br />

neurotypical paradigms are damaging people on the autistic spectrum. If you’ve got a topic you’d like to write about, why not send an article<br />

to us and be in with a chance of winning a £50 voucher!<br />

All the news stories, advice, and craft activities in your free <strong>Parenta</strong> magazine have been written to help you with the efficient running of your<br />

setting and to promote the health, happiness and wellbeing of the children in your care. Please feel free to share with friends, parents and<br />

colleagues.<br />

We hope that <strong>April</strong> is a month that shines some sunshine on our cloudy days.<br />

Please stay safe everyone,<br />

Allan<br />

12<br />

APRIL <strong>2020</strong> ISSUE 65<br />


Regulars<br />

26 International Mother Earth Day<br />

31 Guest author winner announced<br />

31 Write for us for a chance to win £50!<br />

32 The Big Pedal<br />

34 Apple doughnuts<br />

35 Mother Earth terrarium<br />

News<br />

4 Early years news & views<br />

5 Covid-19, the latest developments all in one<br />

place<br />

7 Standards are here<br />

Advice<br />

6 How to discuss the Coronavirus<br />

8 Electronic devices & online safety<br />

14 How our inner child affects us (as parents,<br />

practitioners & teachers)<br />

22 How to avoid spreading disease in your setting<br />

24 The importance of immunisation in fighting<br />

disease<br />

28 How to involve parents with children’s learning<br />

38 Take yourself from ‘distress’ to<br />

‘de-stress’ during stress awareness month<br />

Industry Experts<br />

10 Opening gateways - The role of the adult<br />

engaging in sustained shared thinking<br />

10 benefits of outdoor learning 16<br />

The importance of immunisation to fight disease 24<br />

The benefits of animals for childrens development 36<br />

Gateways<br />

Tamsin Grimmer<br />

discusses ‘Opening<br />

gateways. The role of<br />

the adult engaging<br />

in sustained shared<br />

thinking.<br />

10<br />

Understanding time<br />

Tanith Carey explains how to help<br />

children develop their concept of time<br />

up to the age of seven.<br />

20<br />

12 Talking about difference: Profound disability<br />

16 10 Benefits of outdoor Learning.<br />

18 The benefits of storytelling in music<br />

20 How to help young children understand time<br />

36 The benefits of animals for children’s<br />

development<br />

The benefits of storytelling in music 18

Early years news & views<br />

Early years<br />

news & views<br />

Education Secretary thanks our<br />

schools for their “incredible<br />

resilience and flexibility”<br />

Education secretary, Gavin Williamson,<br />

has written to schools to thank them<br />

for the “incredible resilience and<br />

flexibility they have shown in the face<br />

of unprecedented challenges” and asks<br />

them to go to exceptional lengths in the<br />

fight against coronavirus.<br />

The letter comes amid criticism from<br />

school leaders that the Government<br />

isn’t doing enough to keep them safe<br />

but states that schools are “central to<br />

this country’s fight against coronavirus”.<br />

Here is the transcript of the letter<br />

in full which he has also posted on<br />

Twitter:<br />

“Over recent days, the government<br />

has taken steps that are simply<br />

unprecedented in the history of this<br />

country. The decision to close all<br />

schools, except to a minority of pupils,<br />

is an essential part of our fight against<br />

the spread of Covid-19.<br />

“I have enormous appreciation for<br />

the work you do every single day and<br />

recognise that, with these extraordinary<br />

measures, I am asking you to go<br />

to exceptional lengths to rise to the<br />

challenge we face.<br />

“The weeks and months ahead will<br />

undoubtedly be testing for everyone.<br />

As we move further into uncharted<br />

waters, I wanted to express my deepest<br />

gratitude for the absolutely vital service<br />

that you are providing for our children,<br />

young people and communities.<br />

“By maintaining school provision for<br />

those who need it most, leaders of<br />

our schools and colleges – and your<br />

staff – rightly take their place next to<br />

our NHS staff and other critical workers<br />

as central to our country’s efforts in<br />

battling this virus.<br />

“Thank you for stepping up to this<br />

challenge with such dedication and<br />

determination. I know that you have<br />

moved quickly to implement last week’s<br />

announcement. Over the last few days,<br />

I have heard extraordinary examples<br />

of school leaders and teachers<br />

responding with flexibility, pragmatism<br />

and creativity – demonstrating true civic<br />

spirit in unparalleled circumstances.<br />

“Thanks to you, and particularly those<br />

of you working in our special schools,<br />

our most vulnerable children and young<br />

people will still have the support, care<br />

and constancy of school environments if<br />

they need it.<br />

“You are also the reason critical workers<br />

across the country can continue to<br />

deliver the crucial frontline services<br />

that are central to our national effort to<br />

tackle Covid-19.<br />

“I know this will be a difficult time. I’m<br />

aware that the challenge of delivering<br />

these measures sits alongside<br />

considerations about your own health<br />

and that of your families.<br />

“I recognise that you will also be<br />

anxious about the wellbeing of your<br />

staff and about the longer-term impact<br />

of this crisis on the children and young<br />

people you care for and educate every<br />

single day.<br />

“We have published initial guidance<br />

on how best to keep your staff and<br />

students safe, and will continue to work<br />

with the sector to answer you concerns.<br />

I will do everything in my power to<br />

support you.<br />

“On behalf of the Prime Minster and<br />

the entire Government, thank you once<br />

again for all your hard work.”<br />

Gavin Williamson<br />

• Number of coronavirus (COVID-19)<br />

cases and risk level in the UK.<br />

This information is updated daily.<br />

• Guidance for schools and other<br />

educational settings in providing<br />

advice about the novel coronavirus,<br />

COVID-19.<br />

• Implementing social distancing in<br />

education and childcare settings.<br />

Covid-19, the latest<br />

developments<br />

all in one<br />

all<br />

place<br />

in one place<br />

• Information for parents and carers<br />

about the closure of schools and other<br />

educational settings following the<br />

outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19).<br />

Covid-19<br />

the latest developments...<br />

Keep up-to-date with all the latest news from the Government’s<br />

general guidance, advice from the Department for Education<br />

and also from Ofsted.<br />

Here are all the handy links you need, all in one place.<br />

• Department for Education Coronavirus<br />

helpline. The Department for Education<br />

has launched a new helpline for early<br />

years providers, schools and colleges<br />

– as well as parents, carers and young<br />

people – who have questions about<br />

coronavirus.<br />

If you have specific questions about<br />

the virus, you can contact the helpline<br />

on: Call: 0800 046 8687<br />

Email: dfe.coronavirushelpline@<br />

education.gov.uk<br />

• Information about routine Ofsted<br />

inspections suspended in response to<br />

coronavirus can be found here.<br />


You can find a huge amount of really<br />

useful information and can request<br />

and offer help too on this official NHS<br />

Coronavirus Facebook page here:<br />

4 <strong>April</strong> <strong>2020</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>April</strong> <strong>2020</strong> 5

How to How discuss to discuss the Coronavirus<br />

coronavirus with children<br />

in your setting<br />

Possibly one of the most common new words in our daily vocabulary; the<br />

children in your setting cannot fail to have heard the word coronavirus,<br />

both at home and within your setting.<br />

We want to help you prepare because<br />

Standards are here<br />

Apprenticeship<br />

Standards are here<br />

We want to help you get ready to plan ahead – because Apprenticeship<br />

Standards are here. To secure funding to train your staff or even<br />

to recruit a new apprentice, you need what’s called a ‘Government<br />

Gateway Apprenticeship Account’ to be able to request funds to pay<br />

for your training requirements.<br />

Set up your Government Gateway Account without delay! Follow our simple<br />

steps here which will help you through the process.<br />

Why are Standards replacing<br />

Framework?<br />

• Standards are replacing<br />

Framework across all<br />

apprenticeships which is a<br />

requirement from both ESFA and<br />

Ofsted and affects all training<br />

providers.<br />

When deciding how to tackle the<br />

subject, one of the most important<br />

things is to talk about it naturally and<br />

try not to make a really big thing of<br />

it. Talk about why some people might<br />

need to stay away from others and why<br />

“nursery might need to have an extra<br />

holiday for a while”... If things escalate,<br />

be prepared to have conversations<br />

with children around death and<br />

bereavement; but at this stage, children<br />

need adults to be supportive, honest<br />

and explain things in a simple way that<br />

reassures and doesn’t panic them.<br />

Industry expert, Tamsin Grimmer<br />

shares her top tips for talking to the<br />

children about the virus:<br />

Have an ethos of permission within<br />

the setting so that if children want to<br />

talk about the virus they are welcome<br />

to, whilst remaining sensitive to any<br />

children who find it upsetting.<br />

• Use this virus as an opportunity to<br />

reinforce the importance of hygiene,<br />

e.g. handwashing.<br />

• Make handwashing into a fun game<br />

- there are now some online videos<br />

to help with this, new songs to sing<br />

etc.<br />

• Engage in socio-dramatic play in<br />

which children role-play events from<br />

their lives.<br />

• Read stories and books which<br />

include illness and hygiene<br />

practices... (e.g. “I don’t want to<br />

wash my hands” by Tony Ross,<br />

“Germs are Not for Sharing” (Board<br />

book) by Elizabeth Verdick and Why<br />

Must I Wash My Hands? by Jackie<br />

Gaff).<br />

• Storytelling – making up stories in<br />

which a character gets poorly, or<br />

sneezes etc...<br />

Provide opportunities for children<br />

to make up their own stories (e.g.<br />

helicopter stories).<br />

• Use puppets and role play to<br />

prompt discussion.<br />

• Answer any questions about the<br />

coronavirus as honestly as possible<br />

….remembering that it’s OK to say,<br />

“I don’t know!”<br />

• Use correct language with the<br />

children, e.g. virus.<br />

• Explain that most children do not<br />

get very poorly but some people<br />

who have other illnesses or people<br />

who are very old, might find it<br />

harder to get better.<br />

• Try not to hype up the issue - some<br />

children will be hearing very scary<br />

stories at home, so be a calm<br />

reassuring presence.<br />

• Don’t talk about it to other adults<br />

over the children’s heads - they will<br />

pick up on anxiety or worries.<br />

• Go to HMRC’s website here:<br />

bit.ly/37IuVYF<br />

• Click the GREEN sign-in<br />

button<br />

• Click “Create sign-in details”<br />

• Enter your email address<br />

where asked<br />

• You will now be emailed a<br />

confirmation code. Use this<br />

code to confirm your email<br />

address<br />

• You will now be issued with a<br />

User ID for your Government<br />

Gateway account<br />

• Please save this and keep<br />

it somewhere safe because<br />

losing it can create a lot of<br />

work in the future<br />

Once you receive your<br />

Government Gateway ID, please<br />

create an account to manage<br />

your apprenticeships<br />

You’ll use your account to:<br />

• Get apprenticeship funding<br />

• Find and save<br />

apprenticeships<br />

• Find, save and manage<br />

training providers<br />

• Recruit apprentices<br />

• Add and manage<br />

apprenticeships<br />

Set up your Government Gateway<br />

Apprenticeship Account here: bit.<br />

ly/32fYHmm<br />

Please don’t hesitate to contact our training team via email if<br />

you have any questions at all: trainingadmin@parenta.com<br />

• The main purpose is to place<br />

greater emphasis on the teaching<br />

and learning (T&L) time between<br />

apprentice and tutor and to involve<br />

the employer in a greater capacity.<br />

What are the key differences<br />

between Standards and Framework?<br />

• The employer is more involved<br />

in the learning plan of their<br />

apprentice.<br />

• The key focus is based around<br />

skills, knowledge and behaviours<br />

(SKB) of an apprentice, which<br />

they acquire throughout their<br />

apprenticeship.<br />

• The entire learning plan is set out<br />

to prepare apprentices for their<br />

End Point Assessment (EPA).<br />

• Course duration will increase<br />

to potentially 18 months, which<br />

includes a 3 month allocation for<br />

(EPA) End Point Assessment.<br />

• The EPA includes a knowledge<br />

test as well as a professional<br />

discussion underpinned by the<br />

learner’s portfolio.<br />

6 <strong>April</strong> <strong>2020</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>April</strong> <strong>2020</strong> 7

Electronic devices<br />

& online safety<br />

in the early years<br />

Electronic devices & online<br />

safety<br />

Back in 2010, when iPads and other comparable tablets first appeared, their<br />

potential to change the way children were educated was revolutionary.<br />

What made them so attractive<br />

was that they had three<br />

noticeable features which<br />

had the potential to make<br />

a positive difference to<br />

education:<br />

• They are portable and<br />

lightweight<br />

• They eliminate the need for<br />

separate input devices (such<br />

as having an extra mouse or<br />

keyboard)<br />

• They are designed to house<br />

large numbers of applications,<br />

many of which are designed<br />

specifically for children.<br />

Unlike previous technologies,<br />

electronic devices give the user the<br />

opportunity to create their own content,<br />

simultaneously using texts, pictures<br />

and sounds, to create dynamic and<br />

engaging learning environments.<br />

It’s common practice now that schools<br />

and colleges are using the latest<br />

technology, to improve teaching and<br />

make lessons more interactive and<br />

engaging. That extends to the early<br />

years sector, too.<br />

Victoria Short, managing<br />

director of Randstad Public<br />

Services, who have, over the<br />

years, conducted research<br />

into the use of technology in<br />

early years education, said:<br />

“Teaching tools have<br />

come a long way since<br />

the days teachers used to<br />

write on chalkboards and<br />

present using an overhead<br />

projector”.<br />

“The introduction of the<br />

use of electronic devices<br />

into early education has<br />

facilitated the social<br />

aspect of the classroom.<br />

An article found in The<br />

International Journal of<br />

Education in Mathematics,<br />

Science and Technology<br />

states<br />

‘…using electronic devices<br />

like the iPad frequently<br />

becomes a social activity<br />

for young children as<br />

they often talk and work<br />

together while using<br />

the tool. It is possible<br />

that the mobility of the<br />

iPad contributes to the<br />

socialisation that takes<br />

place, because children<br />

can see the screens of<br />

other children easily<br />

and can manipulate the<br />

touchscreen in groups’.”<br />

Clearly, electronic devices can be<br />

used as great learning tools in early<br />

years. But how can we ensure the<br />

safe use of such devices?<br />

• In this case, prevention really is<br />

better than cure. It is important to<br />

talk to children about potential online<br />

dangers and how they can stay safe<br />

online.<br />

• Educating children so they feel<br />

comfortable alerting an adult when<br />

something unusual happens. For<br />

example, do they know how to deal<br />

with an unexpected pop-up? In this<br />

instance, the child should tell an<br />

adult who can remove it and should<br />

never click on it.<br />

• It is imperative these rules are<br />

reminded regularly and are in place<br />

to keep them safe, as children are<br />

naturally inquisitive.<br />

• Displaying posters around your<br />

setting about online safety can act<br />

as a visual reminder, but early years<br />

providers should ensure they verbally<br />

remind children on a regular basis.<br />

• Parents should always be aware of<br />

what children are doing/accessing<br />

online. Social networking, chat rooms<br />

and unsuitable websites should be<br />

off limits and specialist software<br />

should be installed to ensure children<br />

are blocked access to inappropriate<br />

sites. Start by setting boundaries<br />

around online use. For example, time<br />

limits on how long they can use an<br />

internet-enabled device each day.<br />

Download a child-friendly browser<br />

like Kiddle and ensure children only<br />

have access to apps or online games<br />

you have authorised.<br />

• Boundaries should be consistent, so<br />

share these with anyone, such as<br />

friends and family who look after or<br />

spend time with your child.<br />

Learning through technology, although<br />

growing, is just one small part of a<br />

child’s early years education. When<br />

used alongside a varied curriculum,<br />

technology can complement a child’s<br />

development. Technology must be<br />

used safely; both early years providers<br />

and parents must protect children by<br />

educating them on potential online<br />

dangers.<br />

8 <strong>April</strong> <strong>2020</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>April</strong> <strong>2020</strong> 9

Opening gateways<br />

The role of the adult engaging<br />

in sustained shared thinking<br />

“Sustained Shared Thinking” (SST) is a<br />

term describing effective interactions<br />

that arose from two influential UK<br />

research projects back in the early<br />

noughties: The Effective Pre-school<br />

and Primary Education (EPPE) and<br />

the Researching Effective Pedagogy<br />

in the Early Years (REPEY) projects.<br />

Both projects define sustained shared<br />

thinking as “where two or more<br />

individuals ‘work together’ in an<br />

intellectual way to solve a problem,<br />

clarify a concept, evaluate activities,<br />

or extend a narrative.”<br />

So what does this look like in practice? It’s<br />

when adults and children think together or<br />

ask questions about why things happen<br />

the way they do, or how things work.<br />

For example, when Zenya asks you why<br />

• Reciprocating<br />

Opening gateways<br />

sensitively with children or interfering<br />

- The<br />

in<br />

role • Asking open of questions the<br />

their play. Clearly we want it to be the<br />

• Modelling thinking<br />

former. She also talks about how adults<br />

can continue the learning momentum for<br />

adult engaging sustained shared<br />

children, through the way we interact.<br />

(Siraj-Blatchford, 2005)<br />

thinking<br />

the rain is wet or when Harry begins<br />

investigating how the internet works.<br />

Sustained shared thinking happens when<br />

your key group decide to tell their own<br />

story at home time and make up the<br />

characters, setting and whole narrative,<br />

with only a few prompts from you. It’s also<br />

when you pose ‘I wonder...’ or ‘What if…’<br />

questions and when one of your children<br />

decides to ‘teach’ another how to make a<br />

car out of blocks.<br />

Sustained Shared Thinking may be a fairly<br />

new term, having only been around for<br />

under twenty years, but sustained shared<br />

thinking is, in my view, not a new concept!<br />

Children have always questioned things<br />

and investigated the world, and educators<br />

have always enabled children to come to<br />

their own conclusions, or prompted them<br />

to think again about certain concepts<br />

to clarify or correct misconceptions. We<br />

could talk about scaffolding children or<br />

supporting them in the zone of proximal<br />

development, but perhaps it is easier to<br />

think about engaging with children and<br />

responding sensitively.<br />

So our role as the adult is to tune in to<br />

the child, listen to them and respond<br />

appropriately. We need to be interested<br />

in what the children are exploring or<br />

engaging with and notice how they are<br />

interacting. The best way to do this is to<br />

literally get down onto our hands and<br />

knees and become engrossed ourselves!<br />

To not just play alongside, but instead be<br />

a co-player, someone who can offer ideas<br />

in leading the play, but also someone who<br />

can be led by the children.<br />

We must remain sensitive however, of not<br />

hijacking the children’s play, or always<br />

trying to extend and challenge children’s<br />

thinking. Yes, this is part of our role, but<br />

not all of the time and certainly not in a<br />

forced way. Julie Fisher challenges us to<br />

think about whether we are interacting<br />

A metaphor that I have found useful, is<br />

the idea that our role as educator is “to<br />

open gateways to new understandings for<br />

children as they participate in the world<br />

around them” (Anning and Edwards,<br />

2006). I love the imagery of this: opening<br />

gateways is a gentle way of showing<br />

children possibilities. A gateway can act as<br />

a doorway into new and exciting learning<br />

opportunities or even as a way of seeing<br />

the bigger picture, but an open gateway<br />

is an invitation. Children can choose to go<br />

through or not.<br />

So let’s engage in sustained shared<br />

thinking with our children and open<br />

gateways to possibilities that they have<br />

never even dreamed of.<br />

How adults can engage in<br />

sustained shared thinking<br />

interactions:<br />

• Tuning in<br />

• Showing interest<br />

• Elaborating<br />

• Recapping<br />

• Offering own experience<br />

• Clarifying ideas<br />

• Suggesting<br />

• Reminding<br />

• Encouraging<br />

• Offering an alternative viewpoint<br />

• Speculating<br />

Continuing the learning<br />

momentum:<br />

• Commenting<br />

• Pondering<br />

• Imagining<br />

• Connecting<br />

• Thinking aloud<br />

• Talking about feelings<br />

• Reflecting back to children<br />

• Supporting the child to make<br />

choices and decisions<br />

• Explaining and informing<br />

• Posing problems<br />

• Staying quiet<br />

(Fisher, 2016)<br />

Tamsin Grimmer<br />

Tamsin Grimmer is an<br />

experienced early years<br />

consultant and trainer and<br />

parent who is passionate about<br />

young children’s learning and<br />

development. She believes<br />

that all children deserve<br />

practitioners who are inspiring,<br />

dynamic, reflective and<br />

committed to improving on their<br />

current best. Tamsin particularly<br />

enjoys planning and delivering<br />

training and supporting<br />

early years practitioners and<br />

teachers to improve outcomes<br />

for young children.<br />

Tamsin has written two<br />

books - “Observing and<br />

Developing Schematic<br />

Behaviour in Young Children”<br />

and ”School Readiness and<br />

the Characteristics of Effective<br />

Learning”.<br />

Website:<br />

tamsingrimmer.com<br />

Facebook:<br />

facebook.com/earlyyears.<br />

consultancy.5<br />

Twitter:<br />

@tamsingrimmer<br />

Email:<br />

info@tamsingrimmer.co.uk<br />

References<br />

Siraj-Blatchford, I. and Taggart, B. (Eds) (2010). Early childhood matters evidence from<br />

the Effective Pre-school and Primary Education project. Abingdon, United Kingdom:<br />

Routledge. P. 157<br />

Anning, A. & Edwards, A. (2006) Promoting Children’s Learning from Birth to Five<br />

Maidenhead: Open University Press<br />

Fisher, J. (2016) Interacting or Interfering? Improving interactions in the early years.<br />

Maidenhead: Open University Press<br />

10 <strong>April</strong> <strong>2020</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>April</strong> <strong>2020</strong> 11

Talking about difference:<br />

profound disability<br />

In our settings, we explore many differences with the children we support: we talk<br />

about the changing seasons, we explore different cultures and ethnicities, we celebrate<br />

festivals and we talk about growing up and growing old.<br />

Talking about difference:<br />

Profound disability<br />

This is my second article in a series<br />

of four, talking about difference<br />

through the lenses of disability,<br />

neurodivergence and social and<br />

emotional wellbeing. Difference<br />

is always immediately relevant to<br />

children, because all children are<br />

different. When we learn to recognise<br />

and understand difference in others,<br />

we are better equipped to recognise<br />

and understand our own differences.<br />

Teach children to embrace difference,<br />

and you teach them to embrace<br />

themselves.<br />

My first article talked about children<br />

with Down’s syndrome. It is very<br />

likely that the children in your setting<br />

have, or will, encounter someone with<br />

Down’s syndrome. In this article, I am<br />

going to be talking about children<br />

who have profound and multiple<br />

learning disabilities. It is much less<br />

likely that the children in your setting<br />

have encountered someone with a<br />

profound physical disability, but it is<br />

no less important to talk about them.<br />

Difference is a part of life; a very wonderful part.<br />

The reason the children in your setting<br />

are unlikely to have met someone<br />

with a profound and multiple learning<br />

disability is because they lead hidden<br />

lives. A long time ago these people<br />

would have been locked away from<br />

society in institutions on the outskirts<br />

of town. Today, the institutions have<br />

closed but we do little better than<br />

before. Take toilets for example:<br />

Imagine if I suggested to you that you<br />

take the children in your setting out to<br />

a place that had no toilets? You would<br />

be unlikely to go. Very unlikely!<br />

Children with profound and multiple<br />

learning disabilities cannot use<br />

disabled toilets, they need a<br />

Changing Places toilet – this has a<br />

large changing bed and a hoist to<br />

lift the person onto the bed. Over a<br />

quarter of a million people in the UK<br />

need a Changing Places toilet, but<br />

they remain few and far between,<br />

even hospitals do not have them!<br />

Consequently, the families of people<br />

with profound disabilities are less<br />

able to get out and about. We may<br />

think of these lives as being very far<br />

removed from our own, but a twist of<br />

fate, and they could become ours. We<br />

are not so far away from their reality.<br />

Imagine being the parent of a child<br />

with profound and multiple learning<br />

disabilities and taking them to the<br />

supermarket. Imagine all the logistics<br />

this would entail, how much harder<br />

it would be than your regular trip to<br />

the supermarket. Now imagine that<br />

when you get there, people stare at<br />

you, parents pull their children away<br />

from your child, children make faces<br />

of disgust at your child.<br />

This rejection of your child is by no<br />

means the biggest burden that you<br />

have faced, but you are braced for<br />

the big attacks and are ill prepared<br />

for the small ones. It is the straw that<br />

breaks the camel’s back, not the load<br />

it was already carrying.<br />

Preventing that hurt is simple,<br />

because it comes about through a<br />

lack of understanding. People stare<br />

because they want to learn more.<br />

Parents pull their children away<br />

because they understand staring is<br />

rude (but in that pull is the message<br />

that the other child is something bad).<br />

Children make faces because they do<br />

not know what they are looking at.<br />

Once people understand (adults and<br />

children) they will respond to people<br />

with profound disabilities in much the<br />

same way as they respond to anyone<br />

else.<br />

As we did with children with Down’s<br />

Syndrome show the children in your<br />

setting some pictures of children with<br />

profound disabilities and ask them<br />

to describe what they see. Accept<br />

answers about clothes and hair<br />

colour, etc. in the same way that you<br />

accept answers about twisted limbs<br />

and mobility equipment. Help them to<br />

shape their answers so that they are<br />

factual not judgemental, e.g. if a child<br />

says “Her legs are wrong,” shape this<br />

to “Her legs look small, or twisted, or<br />

have a support on the outside.” They<br />

are not wrong, they are different.<br />

My own son is five. He has been<br />

helping me with my work with<br />

children with profound disabilities<br />

since he was 18 months old. He talks<br />

about them as “my friends whose<br />

bodies do not work properly.” He is<br />

fascinated by their differences, not<br />

afraid of them. I am always clear with<br />

him about what his friend’s bodies<br />

can and cannot do, and what they are<br />

interested in. Together we find ways<br />

they can play together and everyone<br />

has a lot of fun.<br />

Engaging children’s curiosity and<br />

wonder is a great way to approach<br />

differences that are too complex<br />

for them to fully understand yet. I<br />

write sensory stories for children<br />

with profound and multiple learning<br />

disabilities: these are concise<br />

narratives in which each sentence<br />

is partnered by a rich and relevant<br />

sensory experience. Sharing a<br />

sensory story can be a fun way to<br />

explore how someone with a complex<br />

disability might learn and have fun.<br />

Explain to the children that the<br />

children with profound disabilities<br />

they have seen pictures of, often<br />

have sensory impairments as well as<br />

mobility impairments. Ask them, “If<br />

you couldn’t see a picture, how could<br />

I show you what was happening in a<br />

story?” See if someone says “make a<br />

noise” or “touch something”. Share a<br />

sensory story to gain an insight into<br />

how much fun it can be to learn in a<br />

different way.<br />

End by asking the children if they<br />

would be interested in getting to<br />

know someone who had a profound<br />

disability. What might they do if<br />

they met someone with a complex<br />

disability when they were out and<br />

about? Teach them to smile and say<br />

hello. When you do this, you turn<br />

the straws that break the camel’s<br />

back into lifelines of hope for a more<br />

inclusive, friendly world.<br />

For more information about Changing<br />

Places see www.changing-places.org<br />

For more information about Sensory<br />

Stories see www.thesensoryprojects.<br />

co.uk For more information about<br />

people with profound and multiple<br />

learning disabilities go to<br />

www.PMLDlink.org.uk<br />

“<br />

Sharing a sensory story can be a fun<br />

way to explore how someone with a complex<br />

disability might learn and have fun.<br />

”<br />

Joanna Grace<br />

Joanna Grace is an<br />

international Sensory<br />

Engagement and Inclusion<br />

Specialist, trainer, author, TEDx<br />

speaker and founder of The<br />

Sensory Projects.<br />

Consistently rated as<br />

“outstanding” by Ofsted,<br />

Joanna has taught in<br />

mainstream and specialschool<br />

settings, connecting<br />

with pupils of all ages and<br />

abilities. To inform her<br />

work, Joanna draws on her<br />

own experience from her<br />

private and professional life<br />

as well as taking in all the<br />

information she can from the<br />

research archives. Joanna’s<br />

private life includes family<br />

members with disabilities and<br />

neurodivergent conditions and<br />

time spent as a registered<br />

foster carer for children with<br />

profound disabilities.<br />

Joanna has published four<br />

practitioner books: “Multiple<br />

Multisensory Rooms: Myth<br />

Busting the Magic”, “Sensory<br />

Stories for Children and Teens”,<br />

“Sensory-Being for Sensory<br />

Beings” and “Sharing Sensory<br />

Stories and Conversations with<br />

People with Dementia” and<br />

two inclusive sensory story<br />

children’s books: “Voyage to<br />

Arghan” and “Ernest and I”.<br />

Joanna is a big fan of social<br />

media and is always happy<br />

to connect with people<br />

via Facebook, Twitter and<br />

LinkedIn.<br />

Website:<br />

thesensoryprojects.co.uk<br />

12 <strong>April</strong> <strong>2020</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>April</strong> <strong>2020</strong> 13

How our inner child<br />

affects us<br />

(as parents, practitioners & teachers)<br />

I talk a lot about early childhood programming and how a child’s consistent<br />

experiences form subconscious belief systems that then silently guide them<br />

throughout life. There’s always a big focus on how our actions as parents,<br />

practitioners and teachers impact children, but what about our own childhood<br />

programming and how that is now impacting us?<br />

We are all walking around, looking at the<br />

world through a lens that is influenced<br />

by the internal programming we received<br />

in our formative years and in order to be<br />

the best that we can be, both personally<br />

and professionally, it is important to<br />

understand this programming and how it completely subconscious. This means that<br />

How our inner child affects us (as<br />

affects us on a daily basis.<br />

most of the time we are on autopilot with<br />

our subconscious mind in the driving seat.<br />

How we consistently felt as children, the<br />

parents, messages that were given to us practitioners by the & teachers)<br />

One of its main jobs is also to keep us<br />

‘safe’. Now, safe to you and me would be<br />

actions and words of those around us<br />

and any major incidents that we went<br />

through will have likely created beliefs<br />

within us that now subconsciously impact<br />

our actions, reactions and decisions. If we<br />

grew up feeling valued and empowered,<br />

there’s a good chance that we will look<br />

at the world through a lens influenced<br />

by this belief and feel (more often than<br />

not) this way. However, if we grew up<br />

feeling like we weren’t good enough or<br />

unimportant, we will most likely view the<br />

world and ourselves in the same light or<br />

find ourselves in situations that reaffirm<br />

this belief.<br />

Example<br />

I always give the example of two people<br />

seeing a larger than life character who<br />

is dominating the room. One person<br />

might think they are inspirational and<br />

admire how they are commanding their<br />

audience. However, the other person<br />

might think they are ‘too big for their<br />

boots’ and be convinced that they were<br />

looking down their nose at them.<br />

Both people entered the same<br />

room but viewed it through a<br />

completely different lens. This is<br />

because each and every one of us has<br />

our own set of beliefs that almost put a<br />

filter over how we see the world.<br />

Neuroscientists have done studies<br />

showing that up to 95% of what we do is<br />

to make good decisions, to react well and<br />

to surround ourselves with good people.<br />

However, ‘safe’ to our subconscious mind<br />

means keeping us in alignment with<br />

our beliefs no matter if they are good or<br />

bad. If we have a belief that we are ‘not<br />

good enough’, it is more than likely that<br />

the world around us will reflect this. We<br />

might be surrounded by critical people or<br />

feel that others look down their nose at<br />

us. Either way, what we experience will<br />

probably link to this belief in some way,<br />

shape or form because that is what we<br />

are programmed to see or feel.<br />

Although what we experience is our<br />

truth, it is also important to realise that<br />

it is not necessarily the actual truth or<br />

the truth of others because we are all<br />

seeing the world through our own unique<br />

lens. It’s like one person saying that 5 +<br />

5 = 10 and being adamant that they are<br />

right. However, another person argues<br />

that they are wrong because 6 + 4 =<br />

10. Both are correct, each of them is just<br />

seeing it from a different perspective. Just<br />

because we are right does not mean that<br />

someone else is wrong, which is why it is<br />

important to try to view the world through<br />

other people’s lenses as well as our own.<br />

Beliefs are created over time. However,<br />

two people who experience the same<br />

circumstances might react differently to<br />

the same belief. People who were put<br />

down a lot as children might get the<br />

belief that they are not good enough.<br />

However, one person might learn that<br />

they have to do as they are told and to<br />

acquiesce in order to get by, yet another<br />

person might learn that they have to<br />

be a bully in order to be heard. In my<br />

experience, in adulthood, we either mirror<br />

the main influencers that were in our life<br />

as children, or we rebel against them.<br />

If we grew up feeling less than we might<br />

make a vow to never make anyone else<br />

feel that way and therefore conduct<br />

ourselves with kindness at all times.<br />

However, someone else might mirror<br />

what they experienced and become<br />

forceful and brash in a subconscious<br />

attempt to be someone powerful and<br />

significant. Either way, it’s important to try<br />

to understand our inner programming<br />

and to gain an understanding of how this<br />

can impact us as a parent, practitioner or<br />

teacher.<br />

“ ”<br />

If we have a belief that we are ‘not good enough’, it is more<br />

than likely that the world around us will reflect this.<br />

If we felt inadequate growing up and<br />

rebelled against what we experienced<br />

making a subconscious vow to never<br />

make anyone else feel this way, we<br />

might:<br />

- Struggle to assert ourselves and set<br />

boundaries because we subconsciously<br />

don’t want to see children feeling sad<br />

- Struggle to allow children to fail because<br />

we subconsciously don’t want them to<br />

feel like they aren’t good enough<br />

- Struggle to follow through with<br />

consequences because we don’t want<br />

to make children feel bad<br />

With or without this vow, we can still<br />

also be personally impacted by a ‘not<br />

good enough’ belief. We might:<br />

- Struggle to accept criticism of any kind<br />

because it hooks into this inner feeling<br />

of not being good enough<br />

- Have a default setting that makes us<br />

feel that people don’t like us or judge us<br />

in some way<br />

- Doubt ourselves a lot<br />

- Put ourselves down<br />

Either way, our childhood can impact us a lot. If we are struggling with anything<br />

personally or professionally, it can help to look at what belief might be linked to the<br />

scenario and where this came from in our own childhood. Self-awareness is crucial in<br />

life and by looking inwardly at our own programming, we can not only gain a better<br />

understanding of who we are and what drives us, but also avoid any of our own<br />

negative beliefs from being passed down to the little ones that look up to us so much.<br />

Stacey Kelly<br />

Stacey Kelly is a former<br />

teacher, a parent to 2<br />

beautiful babies and the<br />

founder of Early Years Story<br />

Box, which is a subscription<br />

website providing children’s<br />

storybooks and early years<br />

resources. She is passionate<br />

about building children’s<br />

imagination, creativity and<br />

self-belief and about creating<br />

awareness of the impact<br />

that the early years have<br />

on a child’s future. Stacey<br />

loves her role as a writer,<br />

illustrator and public speaker<br />

and believes in the power of<br />

personal development. She is<br />

also on a mission to empower<br />

children to live a life full of<br />

happiness and fulfilment,<br />

which is why she launched<br />

the #ThankYouOaky Gratitude<br />

Movement.<br />

Sign up to Stacey’s premium<br />

membership and use the<br />

code PARENTA20 to get 20%<br />

off or contact Stacey for an<br />

online demo.<br />

Website:<br />

www.earlyyearsstorybox.com<br />

Email:<br />

stacey@earlyyearsstorybox.com<br />

Facebook:<br />

facebook.com/earlyyearsstorybox<br />

Twitter:<br />

twitter.com/eystorybox<br />

Instagram:<br />

instagram.com/earlyyearsstorybox<br />

LinkedIn:<br />

linkedin.com/in/stacey-kellya84534b2/<br />

14 <strong>April</strong> <strong>2020</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>April</strong> <strong>2020</strong> 15

10 benefits<br />

of outdoor learning<br />

We know that children love to be outside and most will play happily for hours in the<br />

fresh air. As the weather begins to change for the better, you will find more and more<br />

opportunities to get the children outside. At this time you are liking to see some of the<br />

best learning that a child can experience – both physically, mentally and emotionally.<br />

10 Benefits of outdoor Learning.<br />

Show them how to look after our environment<br />

by letting them practise it in real life<br />

“ ”<br />

We know outdoor play is great for children, but why?<br />

Here is a list of 10 great benefits of outdoor play:<br />

Outdoor learning<br />

1<br />

2<br />

3<br />

4<br />

5<br />

6<br />

7<br />

8<br />

9<br />

10<br />

Gives new and exciting learning opportunities. Picking up a rock<br />

and finding lots of mini-beasts underneath, for example, is such<br />

an amazing opportunity to develop language, understanding of<br />

the world and to learn about caring for living things.<br />

Improves physical health. Children are able to exercise on a<br />

much greater level than they can inside, plus they breathe in<br />

fresh air whilst doing so. Win/win.<br />

Boosts social and communication skills – when outside, children<br />

are likely to be moving around a lot more, navigating one<br />

another and negotiating the toys they are playing with. What<br />

better opportunity to get them interacting with their peers and<br />

solving any problems. This also boosts self-esteem.<br />

Allows you to make the most of wet/windy weather. Teach<br />

children that it can be fun to splash in puddles, play under an<br />

umbrella and fly ribbons and scarves in the wind. Don’t forget<br />

that many parents will just stay indoors in such weather so if you<br />

don’t let children experience this, then they may not ever get the<br />

chance. This is also yet another opportunity to develop language<br />

and understanding of the world.<br />

Encourages good mental health. As adults we are told that fresh<br />

air and exercise is good for our mental health. It’s the same for<br />

children.<br />

Gives the opportunity to develop gross motor skills as well as fine<br />

motor skills. When you are indoors, it is a lot easier to provide<br />

activities that develop fine motor skills than gross motor skills,<br />

but they are both extremely important. Many outside play areas<br />

give children the opportunity to climb/swing/throw – all of which<br />

are developing gross motor skills. Children are also able to markmake<br />

on a large scale, for example using chalk on the ground or<br />

painting water on the walls.<br />

Teaches children how to look after our environment. We can tell<br />

children about this from outdoors but we know the best way for<br />

them to learn something is to experience it. Show them how to<br />

look after our environment by letting them practise it in real life.<br />

You get to take learning to a child’s favourite activity. If you have<br />

a child that is reluctant to engage in a particular activity, then try<br />

taking it outside and mixing it in with something that they love.<br />

Teaches about the local area - Going for a walk teaches children<br />

about their community, plus they will also begin to learn the<br />

basics of road safety.<br />

Offers different sensory experiences – this can be both things<br />

specific to outside, such as digging in the mud, or it could be<br />

bringing an indoors activity outside, but experiencing it in the<br />

wind or sunshine.<br />

Gina Smith<br />

Gina Smith is an<br />

experienced teacher with<br />

experience of teaching<br />

in both mainstream and<br />

special education. She<br />

is the creator of ‘Create<br />

Visual Aids’ - a business<br />

that provides both homes<br />

and education settings with<br />

bespoke visual resources.<br />

Gina recognises the fact<br />

that no two children are<br />

the same and therefore<br />

individuals are likely to<br />

need different resources.<br />

Create Visual Aids is<br />

dedicated to making visual<br />

symbols exactly how the<br />

individual needs them.<br />

Website:<br />

www.createvisualaids.com<br />

Email:<br />

gina@createvisualsaids.com<br />

The important thing to remember<br />

is that some children won’t get<br />

these opportunities at home, so<br />

make sure you provide them in<br />

your setting. It might be that they<br />

live somewhere that doesn’t have<br />

a garden, or that their parents just<br />

don’t take them out. If you don’t<br />

have a large outdoor area (or even<br />

if you do!) get out and about for<br />

walks or visits to the local library.<br />

In these vital early years, you can<br />

give children a love of the outdoors<br />

that they can carry with them into<br />

adulthood.<br />

16 <strong>April</strong> <strong>2020</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>April</strong> <strong>2020</strong> 17

The benefits of<br />

storytelling in music:<br />

using royalty & magic<br />

Stories are a natural way of communication. They have been used as far<br />

back as human records have been found, in all cultures and communities. A<br />

little like music. To start this series, I am going to share how the pre-school<br />

story-theme of magic and royalty can be used to develop musical skills. You<br />

may be inspired to create your own musical story!<br />

The story<br />

Royalty and magic are guaranteed<br />

winners for children because they<br />

suggest escape, power and freedom.<br />

There are few things in life that<br />

children can control, so this idea is<br />

very appealing.<br />

The story is in 10 parts, with 10 characters and 10 musical skills. This allows for<br />

the story to be told over 10 weeks, introducing a new character along with a<br />

new musical skill. This mirrors the benefit of gradually building skills through<br />

regular practice.<br />

Rhythm planning<br />

The benefits of storytelling in<br />

music<br />

A good and noble King lives in a<br />

castle with his Queen. They live<br />

with a Knight who is married to<br />

a Lady. The King’s daughter, a<br />

Princess, meets and marries a<br />

Prince. A naughty music-hating<br />

Goblin steals the King’s jewels (in<br />

the storybook for older children,<br />

Elfen steals the Princess). The<br />

Knight went in search of the<br />

jewels (Princess) and found Goblin<br />

hiding them in a dragon’s lair. In<br />

the meantime, a passing Fairy<br />

heard about this, looked for<br />

Goblin, found his gold, and hung it<br />

out of reach, on a moonbeam. As<br />

the Knight was about to get back<br />

the jewels (Princess), the Dragon<br />

trapped both him and Goblin in a<br />

tower. A beautiful unicorn heard<br />

about this, came to the rescue<br />

and brought them all back to the<br />

castle where they had a big party<br />

(Goblin went back to his cave,<br />

and Dragon went back to his lair).<br />

“And at night, when the moon is<br />

right, you can still catch a glimpse<br />

of Goblin’s gold in the moonlight.”<br />

Rhythms are the building blocks of music. Like Lego, they can be long or<br />

short, with different shapes added on that make them more interesting.<br />

Being familiar with the core rhythms makes learning music much easier,<br />

and these can be easily introduced through movement. Dalcroze Eurhythmic<br />

movements are perfect because they use specific actions for different rhythms.<br />

A crotchet (quarter) note is walking; a quaver (eighth) note is jogging; a dotted<br />

rhythm is skipping. The focus skill can be easily introduced as a warm-up at<br />

the beginning, clarified during the character song, and reinforced at the end.<br />

Week Music Note Character<br />

1 Pulse / crotchet / quarter note King Crotchet<br />

Casual walk to the beat<br />

Melody planning<br />

In order to make these rhythms clear, I either made up my own songs, or used<br />

traditional songs (with changes in the lyrics to fit the story). Songs in the minor<br />

third (nee-naw ambulance sound) and songs in the pentatonic anhemitonic<br />

scale (black notes on a piano) help children to successfully match notes and<br />

sing in tune. (All songs are available free on YouTube on the Musicaliti channel;<br />

the CD is available on Amazon.com.)<br />

Age planning<br />

For infants 0–2 years, all songs focus on the pulse using a variety of instruments<br />

to shake and tap, and the storyline is introduced through toys or puppets.<br />

Children 2–4 years alternate between walking and jogging, using instruments<br />

to beat including drums and triangles, and transition from toys or puppets to<br />

dressing up and playing/acting.<br />

Children 4–6 years use walking and jogging, introducing skipping to their<br />

movements. They use cymbals and glockenspiels and dressing up to play<br />

games and dances.<br />

Craft:<br />

Week 1: King Crotchet<br />

Physical Warm-up<br />

As we begin, shoes off, we calmly<br />

listen to instrumental music as we walk<br />

around the room, any direction, either<br />

holding baby, or holding hands with our<br />

new walker or pre-schooler.<br />

Vocal Warm-up:<br />

We then warm up our voices: Do<br />

you have your whispering voice?<br />

Yes, I have my whispering voice. Do<br />

you have your speaking voice? Yes,<br />

I have my speaking voice. Do you<br />

have your singing voice (singing like<br />

an ambulance tune)? Yes, I have my<br />

singing voice. Ready to sing!<br />

Song 1: Old King Glory (game)<br />

“Build” a mountain of scarves, blankets<br />

or pillows in the middle of the room,<br />

and take turns leading each other<br />

around the mountain while singing the<br />

song. When you get to the last line, the<br />

person at the back goes to the front as<br />

the new leader.<br />

Song 2: I am King (instrumental)<br />

This original song uses one word per<br />

note. This makes it great for tapping an<br />

instrument, like a drum or a pot!<br />

Make and decorate a paper crown. Walk around the room, singing the song!<br />

Story:<br />

A long time ago in a magical musical<br />

kingdom far, far away, there lived<br />

King Crochet. King Crotchet was big<br />

and strong and when he walked<br />

past, everyone stopped to watch him<br />

because he was so loud and took such<br />

big steps. King Crotchet ruled wisely<br />

and justly and had a great crown full<br />

of every precious stone in the world.<br />

People loved King Crotchet so much<br />

that they travelled far and wide to find<br />

the most precious stone, and every<br />

week, he would choose the best new<br />

precious stones to add to his crown.<br />

The rest of the precious stones were<br />

added to the walls of his magnificent<br />

castle that shone each morning on the<br />

magical hill. Every day, King Crotchet<br />

loved to play croquet, a game where he<br />

would hit four balls though four hoops<br />

in the ground.<br />

Activity:<br />

Play a modified version of croquet by<br />

taking turns standing up, legs wide,<br />

and rolling a ball between them.<br />

Music extension:<br />

Find instrumental music with a royal<br />

sound and a clear beat. Children can<br />

walk to the beat wearing their crowns,<br />

acting out the story.<br />

The next article includes the<br />

development of the next sessions,<br />

showing how different rhythms can<br />

be introduced at these early stages by<br />

musicians and non-musicians alike!<br />

Frances Turnbull<br />

Musician, researcher and<br />

author, Frances Turnbull, is<br />

a self-taught guitarist who<br />

has played contemporary<br />

and community music from<br />

the age of 12. She delivers<br />

music sessions to the early<br />

years and KS1. Trained in the<br />

music education techniques<br />

of Kodály (specialist<br />

singing), Dalcroze (specialist<br />

movement) and Orff (specialist<br />

percussion instruments), she<br />

has a Bachelor’s degree in<br />

Psychology (Open University)<br />

and a Master’s degree in<br />

Education (University of<br />

Cambridge). She runs a local<br />

community choir, the Bolton<br />

Warblers, and delivers the<br />

Sound Sense initiative aiming<br />

for “A choir in every care<br />

home” within local care and<br />

residential homes, supporting<br />

health and wellbeing through<br />

her community interest<br />

company.<br />

She has represented the<br />

early years music community<br />

at the House of Commons,<br />

advocating for recognition for<br />

early years music educators,<br />

and her table of progressive<br />

music skills for under 7s<br />

features in her curriculum<br />

books.<br />

Frances is the author of<br />

“Learning with Music:<br />

Games and Activities for the<br />

Early Years“, published by<br />

Routledge, August 2017.<br />

www.musicaliti.co.uk<br />

18 <strong>April</strong> <strong>2020</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>April</strong> <strong>2020</strong> 19

How to help young children<br />

understand time<br />

As grown-ups, we spend much of our time thinking about time, whether it’s<br />

seconds, minutes and hours - or yesterday, today and tomorrow.<br />

But as Dr Angharad Rudkin and I reveal in our recent book,<br />

“What’s My Child Thinking?”, time is an abstract concept for<br />

young children – and it will take a few years of their own<br />

personal life experience, along with thoughtful guidance from<br />

adults, for them to start to understand it.<br />

Although it can feel challenging, helping children<br />

understand time is always worth it.<br />

Explaining the sequences of events and<br />

the passage of time from the past to the<br />

present - and the future - will not only help<br />

them make sense of their world, but will<br />

also make it feel like a safer, and more<br />

predictable place.<br />

How<br />

Here’s the “What’s my Child thinking?”<br />

guide to helping children develop their<br />

concept of time up to the age of seven.<br />

Ages 2 to 3<br />

At this age, children only really<br />

understand what they can<br />

touch or feel. They have<br />

not yet developed the<br />

higher brain functions<br />

to understand how<br />

to count minutes<br />

and hours. They<br />

also live mainly<br />

in the moment.<br />

Their concept of<br />

the passage of time is<br />

based on knowing that things<br />

happen at roughly the same<br />

times in their day, like getting<br />

up when it’s light, eating<br />

breakfast, lunch and dinner,<br />

and going to bed when it<br />

gets dark.<br />

By hearing you link these<br />

events to words, like ‘before’<br />

and ‘after’, a child will start to<br />

understand that things happen<br />

in a predictable sequence.<br />

However at this stage, when you say ‘tomorrow’, that’s a<br />

concept which is still too far away and abstract for most<br />

children this age to imagine. As children are still developing<br />

self-control and so find it hard delaying gratification, this<br />

can also make them seem very impatient to adults. This<br />

is because in a child’s mind, they want an event they are<br />

looking forward to, like a visit to the zoo, to happen right<br />

now - so that’s when they think it should happen.<br />

How to help:<br />

Avoid telling children about events too far<br />

in advance: At this stage, save the news of<br />

exciting upcoming events until a few days<br />

or hours before, so they do not get too<br />

to overexcited help too soon. young children<br />

understand time<br />

Use lots of time words: Nursery-age children<br />

are ready to understand concepts like ‘before’<br />

and ‘after’, so work these words into<br />

your descriptions of their day.<br />

Show how time passes: As<br />

they get a little older, you<br />

can use visual tools to<br />

help children understand<br />

time. For example, you<br />

could stick a timetable<br />

of the week on the<br />

wall. If you are<br />

planning a zoo visit<br />

for example, you could<br />

move a picture of an animal<br />

along as it gets closer to the<br />

day you are going.<br />

Age 4 to 5<br />

By this age, a young child’s<br />

understanding of time is<br />

starting to evolve.<br />

They have experienced<br />

enough of the routine<br />

of life to start to<br />

understand that days<br />

add up into weeks<br />

and months. This<br />

means they can now<br />

refer to events that happen as ‘last<br />

week’ or ‘next week’, though they may<br />

not get these descriptions quite right.<br />

So a child who says “yesterday” may be<br />

talking about an event that happened<br />

two of three days ago. By now, children<br />

are also gradually developing a concept<br />

of the years passing. So a four-year-old<br />

may now hold up four fingers to show<br />

you what age he is. The same child<br />

may also have enough experience of<br />

the world to relate activities to different<br />

times of year.<br />

So he may understand that Christmas<br />

happens when it’s cold in winter, while<br />

Halloween takes place when the leaves<br />

fall off the trees in autumn. This means<br />

children can start to look forward to<br />

events, like birthdays, several months in<br />

advance.<br />

How to help:<br />

Listen to memories: Pay attention when<br />

children talk about the past and ask<br />

for more details. Ask a child what they<br />

were feeling or thinking at the time. This<br />

sort of interaction makes a child feel<br />

important and validates the way they<br />

experience the world.<br />

Introduce concepts of smaller units to<br />

time: Help them learn to divide up time<br />

into minutes and seconds. Try an egg<br />

timer, which takes one minute to empty,<br />

to show how long it lasts.<br />

Help them notice the weather:<br />

Watching the weather can help children<br />

understand the passage of the days.<br />

Making a weather chart in which<br />

youngsters can mark their observations<br />

will enable them to better understand<br />

the ideas of ‘yesterday’, ‘today’ and<br />

‘tomorrow’ better.<br />

Age 6 to 7<br />

By now, children, understand that<br />

clocks represent the symbolic passing<br />

of time. They also understand that time<br />

passes in a predictable way - in the<br />

same units of seconds, minutes and<br />

hours - for everyone. This is partly due<br />

to the fact that children’s frontal lobes<br />

are now more efficiently wired up to the<br />

rest of their brains, so they are able to<br />

start viewing the world in a more logical<br />

way. This allows them a better grasp<br />

of what numbers can symbolise, while<br />

their working memory allows them to<br />

hold numerical ideas in their heads.<br />

This higher-order thinking also allows<br />

them to plan more for the future and<br />

have a better memory, so they are now<br />

better able to understand the broader<br />

concepts of the past, present and<br />

future.<br />

How to help:<br />

Teach kids the value of time: Set start<br />

and end times on a timer to show<br />

children how to estimate how much<br />

time an activity, like putting away toys,<br />

will take. Make it fun by turning it into a<br />

race. This is not to pressure them, but<br />

to help them estimate time and develop<br />

planning skills.<br />

Read clocks with them. Start with the<br />

short hand. Tell them look at where it’s<br />

pointing first to find out what ‘o clock’ it<br />

is. Explain that when the big hand goes<br />

all the way round and back up to the<br />

top again, an hour has gone by. Show<br />

them how to make a basic clock out of<br />

a paper plate and write the numbers<br />

round the edge in the same order so<br />

they start to understand the concept of<br />

‘clock-wise.’<br />

Show them how time relates to their<br />

day: Talk about what a clock face will<br />

look like – and where the little hand<br />

and big hand will be - when their<br />

favourite things in the day happen, so<br />

they start to notice how time passes.<br />

Taken from “What’s My Child Thinking?<br />

Practical Child Psychology for Modern<br />

Parents”, by Tanith Carey and clinical<br />

psychologist Dr Angharad Rudkin,<br />

which uses child development to look<br />

at more than 100 different scenarios<br />

for two-to-seven-year-olds. Available in<br />

book shops and on Amazon.co.uk.<br />

Tanith Carey<br />

Tanith Carey writes books<br />

which offer a lucid analysis of<br />

the most pressing challenges<br />

facing today’s parents and<br />

childcarers – by looking at the<br />

latest research and presenting<br />

achievable strategies for how<br />

to tackle them. Her books<br />

have been translated into 15<br />

languages, including German,<br />

French, Arabic, Chinese and<br />

Turkish. Her 2019 publications<br />

are “What’s My Child Thinking?<br />

Practical Child Psychology for<br />

Modern Parents” and “The<br />

Friendship Maze: How to<br />

help your child navigate their<br />

way to positive and happier<br />

friendships”.<br />

An award-winning journalist,<br />

Tanith also writes on parenting<br />

for the Daily Telegraph, The<br />

Times, the Guardian and the<br />

Daily Mail, in which she also<br />

serialises and promotes her<br />

books. She is also a regular<br />

presence on TV and radio<br />

programmes, including the NBC<br />

Today Show in the US and Radio<br />

Four’s Woman’s Hour and You<br />

and Yours.<br />

Her full bio can be found on her<br />

website at www.cliomedia.co.uk<br />

and you can follow her on social<br />

media channels @tanithcarey.<br />

20 <strong>April</strong> <strong>2020</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>April</strong> <strong>2020</strong> 21

How to<br />

Tip:<br />

avoid spreading disease<br />

in your setting<br />

Why not have<br />

posters above sinks<br />

as a reminder of your<br />

handwashing routine to<br />

encourage consistency<br />

in handwashing<br />

practice?<br />

It’s a foregone conclusion that wherever young children are together in a group, there is a high<br />

chance that infections will spread. It’s an occupational hazard if you work in a childcare setting<br />

where they are touching each other and the toys - at the same time as wiping their noses and<br />

rubbing How their eyes to with avoid their little hands! spreading disease in<br />

your setting<br />

Illness spreads so quickly and easily We give our top tips on how to avoid<br />

in these conditions as children can spreading disease in your setting.<br />

be contagious for a day or more (or Viral and bacterial infections are spread<br />

longer in some cases) before they have in the same ways. A child with a cold<br />

symptoms. For the first few years of can spread the infection by coughing<br />

their lives, their bodies are building up and/or sneezing. Similarly, touching<br />

immunity to infections and they will food with dirty hands will also allow<br />

neither have completed their<br />

viruses or bacteria from the intestine to<br />

vaccination programme, nor have spread.<br />

developed good hygiene habits!<br />

Tip:<br />

Your health and safety<br />

policy should include the<br />

exclusion of staff as well as<br />

children while they are infectious.<br />

They may return to work when<br />

they are no longer infectious,<br />

provided they feel well<br />

enough to do so.<br />

The three main ways to prevent and<br />

manage infectious disease in your<br />

setting are to:<br />

Promote good hygiene at all times<br />

It may sound obvious, but by constantly<br />

encouraging good hygiene in your<br />

setting, you really could prevent<br />

infection spreading. It’s never too early<br />

to start teaching personal hygiene to<br />

children and it’s a good idea to remind<br />

staff of your health and safety policy at<br />

each team meeting.<br />

Top of the list is handwashing. Effective<br />

handwashing should be carried out<br />

routinely by staff and children: on<br />

arrival at the setting, after handling<br />

food, using the toilet or changing<br />

a nappy. Helping a child wipe his<br />

nose or mouth or tending to a cut or<br />

sore, playing in the garden and after<br />

touching an animal. In fact, in almost<br />

every situation that you find yourself<br />

as you are carrying out your day-today<br />

duties! Always use warm running<br />

water, together with a mild liquid soap,<br />

not a bar of soap, and always use<br />

disposable paper towels which can be<br />

thrown away in a foot-operated waste<br />

paper bin.<br />

Promote immunisation<br />

Some parents have strong feelings<br />

regarding immunisation, particularly<br />

surrounding the controversy in recent<br />

years around the MMR vaccination.<br />

Although it is important to support and<br />

respect parents’ wishes wherever<br />

possible, it is also the setting’s<br />

responsibility to safeguard the health<br />

of the children in your care by ensuring<br />

the vast majority are immunised. This<br />

also applies to staff!<br />

Remove the sick child from the<br />

immediate environment<br />

Even if you follow all the best health<br />

and safety procedures, and with<br />

every best will in the world, you will<br />

experience sick children in your care,<br />

at some point. Symptoms develop<br />

swiftly, and even the most<br />

conscientious parent may drop off a<br />

child who is ill. If, during the day, you<br />

notice runny noses, coughing, fever,<br />

or other signs of illness, you must act<br />

quickly as the virus or infection will<br />

easily spread to other children.<br />

In most settings, staff are not able to<br />

individually care for a sick child due to<br />

lack of space, or staff-to-child ratios<br />

(or both). In some, the child can be<br />

kept comfortable and allowed to rest<br />

in a separate area of the room where<br />

the other children have already been<br />

exposed.<br />

In certain cases, it is even better for the<br />

child not to be moved to another area –<br />

this is to prevent their illness from<br />

spreading around the setting and<br />

also to allow good supervision of the<br />

child. When the child is waiting to be<br />

picked up, they should be kept in an<br />

area where there is no contact with the<br />

children who have not already been<br />

exposed to their infection.<br />

Most settings have a 24-hour waiting<br />

period before children who are getting<br />

over fevers can return. This policy not<br />

only prevents the spread of illness but<br />

ensures that children feel well enough<br />

to participate in fun activities.<br />

Get parents on board<br />

As well as the health and safety<br />

aspects, another really important<br />

factor in preventing illness<br />

spreading in your setting is to<br />

build a trusting relationship with<br />

parents – encourage them to share<br />

important and relevant health<br />

or illness information with you. If<br />

you are informed in plenty of time<br />

about illnesses in the children or<br />

their families, you will be in a good<br />

position to reduce anxiety which<br />

other parents may have about their<br />

own children’s health and wellbeing,<br />

as well as being equipped to be able to<br />

prevent the spread of disease.<br />

Keep healthy!<br />

There are also lots of ways in which you<br />

can help yourself and your staff stay as<br />

healthy as possible to try and reduce<br />

the risk of staff illness. Go outdoors as<br />

often as possible, boost your vitamin C<br />

and D intake, drink plenty of water and<br />

try and get enough sleep!<br />

More information about staff health<br />

and wellbeing can be found on the<br />

<strong>Parenta</strong> blog.<br />

As well as these three main<br />

areas, there are many other<br />

things that you can do to help<br />

reduce the spread of infection.<br />

We’ve listed a few here – some<br />

of which you could incorporate<br />

into posters around your<br />

setting.<br />

• Sanitise toys and furniture<br />

daily.<br />

• Wipe changing mats with<br />

soapy water or a baby wipe<br />

after each use and disinfect<br />

nappy changing areas at the<br />

end of every day.<br />

• Encourage children and adults<br />

to cover their mouth and nose<br />

with a tissue and wash hands<br />

after using or disposing of<br />

tissues.<br />

• Clean spillages using a product<br />

which combines detergent and<br />

disinfectant – this is essential<br />

for working against both<br />

bacteria and viruses.<br />

• Clean children’s skin with a<br />

disposable wipe. Flannels<br />

should not be used to clean<br />

bottoms. Label nappy creams<br />

and lotions with the child’s<br />

name and do not share with<br />

others.<br />

With the Coronavirus in the news daily,<br />

there’s no better time than to remind<br />

ourselves about the importance of<br />

avoiding spreading germs. Download<br />

this handy poster, created just for our<br />

settings and learners.<br />

22 <strong>April</strong> <strong>2020</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>April</strong> <strong>2020</strong> 23

The importance of<br />

immunisation in<br />

fighting disease<br />

Media coverage of the current global health crisis has, understandably, been<br />

unprecedented. The Covid-19 pandemic is a new strain of virus, although other forms<br />

of the coronavirus itself have been known to cause common colds and flu for years.<br />

The importance of immunisation<br />

in fighting disease<br />

Interestingly, whilst the world has been engaged in<br />

containment, delay, quarantine and lock-down measures,<br />

many other illness and diseases, which are potentially as<br />

serious, have failed to gain headlines, yet some of these<br />

diseases pose as great a threat to certain sections of the<br />

population, especially young children, and the fight to eradicate<br />

these diseases needs to be highlighted again to tackle rising<br />

incidence rates.<br />

There are many pathogens that cause infections in humans:<br />

bacterial infections such as Staphylococcus aureus or<br />

Streptococcus pneumoniae (commonly treated with antibiotics<br />

e.g. penicillin); fungal infections such as athlete’s foot or thrush<br />

(treated with anti-fungals); and viruses which can cause things<br />

such as colds and flu, herpes and encephalitis and which<br />

cannot be treated with antibiotics. Protozoa, parasites and<br />

prions are other pathogens that can cause disease.<br />

The golden rule is that “prevention is better than cure”.<br />

It’s more cost-effective to vaccinate people than to treat a<br />

developed illness, because once people are ill, they can<br />

develop debilitating or even life-threatening symptoms<br />

that need to be treated with more expensive medicines.<br />

There’s also a economic/social cost that needs to<br />

be counted in terms of loss of productivity and<br />

potentially loss of life.<br />

Vaccines have been developed for many illnesses,<br />

all but eliminating certain infections in some<br />

countries, such as smallpox, polio and diphtheria<br />

in recent years, which caused great suffering and<br />

death in the past. But there’s a worrying trend<br />

emerging elsewhere as there are still nearly 20<br />

million children in the world today who are not<br />

getting the vaccines they need 2 – and we are<br />

not just talking about children in third-world or<br />

“<br />

No parent should be in any doubt of the devastating<br />

impact of these diseases. It’s vital that everyone recognises<br />

the value of vaccines and takes up this life-saving offer.<br />

”<br />

developing countries.<br />

In 2019, the World Health Organisation<br />

(WHO) withdrew the UK’s measles-free<br />

status because of a fall in the rates of<br />

MMR (measles, mumps and rubella)<br />

immunisations. MMR1 coverage at 5<br />

years of age was only 94.5% in 2018–19<br />

which is below the 95% target for the<br />

second year running. MMR2 coverage<br />

at 5 years, was also down at 86.4%,<br />

putting lives at risk.<br />

Measles is a “highly contagious, serious<br />

disease caused by a virus. Before the<br />

introduction of measles vaccine in 1963<br />

and widespread vaccination, major<br />

epidemics occurred approximately<br />

every 2–3 years and measles caused<br />

an estimated 2.6 million deaths each<br />

year.” 3<br />

More alarmingly, in 2018, there were<br />

close to 10 million cases of measles<br />

worldwide, and more than 140,000<br />

people died – mostly children under the<br />

age of 5 years, despite the availability<br />

of a safe and effective vaccine. 3<br />

Mumps and rubella (German<br />

measles) are other diseases that can<br />

be immunised against in the MMR<br />

vaccine, and although most children<br />

recover from mumps after a couple<br />

of weeks without any serious side<br />

effects, it causes painful swellings in<br />

the face, headaches, joint pain and<br />

a fever. In a few, rare cases, it has<br />

led to viral meningitis 4 . Rubella is the<br />

leading vaccine-preventable cause of<br />

birth defects and in pregnant women,<br />

and can cause foetal death or other<br />

congenital defects. 5<br />

But it’s not just MMR. Worryingly,<br />

experts have expressed alarm at<br />

the drop in take-up of ALL routine<br />

childhood vaccination rates in the<br />

UK, with a marked decline in rates<br />

against 13 different diseases including<br />

whooping cough (pertussis), diphtheria<br />

and meningitis, which leaves many<br />

thousands of children under-protected. 6<br />

Health officials have previously<br />

warned that children are being put<br />

at risk by the decision to shun these<br />

routine vaccinations. Public Health<br />

England’s head of immunisations,<br />

Dr Mary Ramsay, said last year that<br />

while the percentage changes might<br />

seem small, the impact should not be<br />

underestimated.<br />

World immunisation week runs<br />

from 24–30 <strong>April</strong> with the aim of<br />

raising awareness and take-up of<br />

immunisations across the world. The<br />

theme this year is #VaccinesWork<br />

for All and the campaign will focus on<br />

how vaccines – and the people who<br />

develop, deliver and receive them – are<br />

heroes by working to protect the health<br />

References<br />

1. https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/<br />

country/uk/.<br />

2. https://www.who.int/news-room/events/<br />

detail/<strong>2020</strong>/04/24/default-calendar/worldimmunization-week-<strong>2020</strong><br />

3. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/<br />

detail/measles<br />

4. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/mumps/<br />

5. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/<br />

detail/rubella<br />

6. https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/<br />

publications/statistical/nhs-immunisationstatistics/england-2018-19<br />

of everyone, everywhere.<br />

What you can do<br />

One of the things that has caused a<br />

drop in the take-up of vaccines in recent<br />

years, is misinformation about the<br />

perceived risks associated with some<br />

vaccines, and a misconception that the<br />

diseases being vaccinated against,<br />

are only mild childhood illnesses.<br />

Tackling these problems, by raising<br />

awareness of the suffering and deaths<br />

caused by illnesses such as measles<br />

and rubella, as well as disseminating<br />

correct information about the vaccines<br />

themselves, is key. Remember that once<br />

vaccinated, most people develop a lifelong<br />

immunity.<br />

The vaccination pages on the NHS<br />

website offer lots of information and<br />

advice about the need for vaccinations,<br />

what they do, and how they protect<br />

people, especially young children.<br />

With World Health Day (<strong>April</strong> 7th), also<br />

falling this month, and current concerns<br />

about the spread of illnesses globally, it<br />

is more important than ever that every<br />

precaution possible is used to stop the<br />

spread of potentially life-threatening<br />

diseases.<br />

Things to do:<br />

1. Research vaccinations via<br />

the NHS website<br />

2. Talk to parents, staff<br />

and children about<br />

the importance of<br />

immunisation<br />

3. Encourage everyone<br />

to have the free NHS<br />

vaccinations at the<br />

appropriate time<br />

4. Implement health advice<br />

on the prevention of<br />

disease i.e. “Catch it, Bin<br />

it, Kill it”<br />

5. Teach the children in your<br />

setting the correct way<br />

to wash their hands and<br />

include pictures to help<br />

them follow the steps<br />

6. Seek medical attention at<br />

an early stage if serious<br />

illnesses are suspected<br />

such as meningitis or<br />

measles<br />

24 <strong>April</strong> <strong>2020</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>April</strong> <strong>2020</strong> 25

International<br />

Mother Earth Day<br />

<strong>April</strong> 22nd<br />

There’s a famous quote that has been attributed to US<br />

Native Americans, which has been modernised and<br />

translated as:<br />

“When the last tree has been<br />

20 million Americans (10% of the U.S.<br />

population at the time) took to the<br />

streets, protested on college campuses<br />

and across hundreds of cities to rail<br />

against the environmental ignorance<br />

of the time, and demand a new way<br />

forward for the planet. As support for<br />

the movement grew year on year, the<br />

environment became an important<br />

agenda item across the globe at<br />

cut down, the last fish caught,<br />

International Mother Earth Day<br />

the last river poisoned, only<br />

then will we realise that one<br />

cannot eat money.”<br />

summits and inter-governmental<br />

meetings, until the UN adopted the day<br />

as International Mother Earth Day in<br />

2009, throwing the weight of the UN<br />

behind the movement.<br />

What you can do in your setting<br />

There are so many things that you can<br />

do to help return our planet back into<br />

balance, and to protect it for future<br />

generations. We can all do something,<br />

and little things add up to create<br />

big changes. After all, what use will<br />

nurseries be in 20–50 years’ time if our<br />

planet becomes uninhabitable?<br />

The United Nations also have a global<br />

call to individual action, known as “Act<br />

Now”. They say that “even a small<br />

gesture can help fight climate change<br />

and accelerate the implementation of the<br />

Paris Agreement on climate change.<br />

You can register on the Earth Day<br />

website for ideas of things you can do<br />

under 5 different headings. There are<br />

free toolkits, posters and resources to<br />

download, so no one will run out of<br />

ideas. You can register your own events<br />

or join in with others, and with over<br />

half a million events worldwide, there’s<br />

something for everyone.<br />

The main categories of action are:<br />

• Climate action<br />

• Science and education<br />

• People and communities<br />

• Conservation and restoration<br />

• Plastic and pollution<br />

Things you could do include:<br />

• Run an education session<br />

• Organise a litter-pick<br />

• Shop more locally<br />

• Plant a tree or wildflower garden<br />

• Reduce the amount of single-use<br />

plastic in your setting<br />

• Tidy your garden space or that of an<br />

elderly neighbour<br />

• Commit to using less energy<br />

• Invest in solar power<br />

• Host a climate discussion<br />

• Create a recycling station in your<br />

setting<br />

• Reduce your water waste/install a<br />

water butt<br />

• Raise awareness by sharing the free<br />

posters and logos on social media<br />

Facts from the United<br />

Nations<br />

• More than 33% of the<br />

earth’s soils are already<br />

degraded and 90% could<br />

become degraded by 2050<br />

• Insects, vital for pollination of<br />

crops and plants, are likely<br />

to lose half their habitat at<br />

a rise of temperatures by<br />

1.5°C, but this becomes<br />

almost twice as likely at a<br />

rise of 2°C<br />

• By 2050, there will be more<br />

than 9 billion humans on<br />

earth, and we will need to<br />

produce 60% more food<br />

Some people call it a prophesy, others<br />

say it is ancient wisdom, but whatever<br />

you call it, the sentiment has an eerie<br />

resonance as the human race tries<br />

to come to terms with some global<br />

problems facing it in the 21st century.<br />

Climate change, global warming,<br />

increased pollution, deforestation, soil<br />

erosion, pandemics, globalisation,<br />

energy crises, the availability of<br />

resources, ageing populations,<br />

monoculture, decreasing biodiversity and<br />

sustainable living are just some of major<br />

issues currently facing the world!<br />

At some point, humans will have to come<br />

to terms with our place in the world and<br />

the responsibility we have to our home<br />

planet, which many countries lovingly<br />

refer to as, ‘Mother Earth’.<br />

The term ‘Mother Earth’ or ‘Mother<br />

Nature’ was known to the ancient<br />

Greeks, who revered the planet as<br />

a goddess named Gaia, meaning<br />

Mother Earth. Gaia, it’s said, created<br />

herself out of primordial chaos and<br />

is the source of all life, and the place<br />

where all living things must return<br />

after death. She personified the entire<br />

ecosystem of planet earth - a nurturing,<br />

healing, female energy promoting<br />

harmony, wholeness and balance<br />

within the environment. If the balance is<br />

maintained, then life can be maintained<br />

and is sustainable forever.<br />

Nowadays, Mother Earth is a common<br />

expression in a number of countries<br />

and regions, and is recognised by the<br />

United Nations (UN), as reflecting the<br />

“interdependence that exists among<br />

human beings, other living species and<br />

the planet we all inhabit”.<br />

The problem is that humans have<br />

recently caused an imbalance in Mother<br />

Earth due to an accumulation of actions<br />

we have taken, which have at best,<br />

been short-sighted or misinformed, and<br />

at worst, have been downright selfdestructive.<br />

The earth and its ecosystems<br />

are our home and we need to achieve<br />

a balance in the economic, social, and<br />

environmental systems for present and<br />

future generations to promote harmony<br />

with nature and the earth and ensure<br />

sustainability.<br />

Fifty years ago, on 22nd <strong>April</strong> 1970, in<br />

response to the increasing pollution they<br />

faced, a group of American activists set<br />

up the very first Mother Earth Day with<br />

the aim of creating a unified response to<br />

the environmental crisis they faced – oil<br />

spills, smog and rivers so polluted they<br />

literally caught fire!<br />

As the Earth Day<br />

website says:<br />

“The time is long overdue for<br />

a global outpouring of energy,<br />

enthusiasm, and commitment<br />

to create a new plan of action<br />

for our planet. Earth Day <strong>2020</strong><br />

can be the catalyst that<br />

galvanizes an unparalleled<br />

global collaboration”.<br />

The Earth Day Mission today strives “to<br />

build the world’s largest environmental<br />

movement to drive transformative<br />

change for people and planet”. It aims<br />

to diversify, educate and activate the<br />

environmental movement worldwide and<br />

works with over 75,000 partners in over<br />

190 countries to drive positive action for<br />

the planet. The <strong>2020</strong> event will mark 50<br />

years since the first Earth Day with the<br />

theme being climate action. To coin an<br />

old phrase, “The world needs you” but it<br />

especially needs action at an individual,<br />

local, national and global level to tackle<br />

the climate change crisis.<br />

26 <strong>April</strong> <strong>2020</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>April</strong> <strong>2020</strong> 27

How to<br />

involve parents with<br />

children’s learning<br />

In today’s modern society, when parents are often working full-time (and<br />

subsequently short on time!) it’s not uncommon for their children to be placed<br />

in childcare for up to 50 hours a week. More often than not, your setting is the<br />

prime provider of early years education for these children. This, of course,<br />

is in contrast to years gone by when children would mainly learn the about<br />

the world - and their place in it - through conversations, play activities and<br />

routines with parents and families in a home environment.<br />

By working in collaboration with<br />

parents, you can enhance children’s<br />

learning and development in ways<br />

How that would not to be possible involve without understanding parents of the children in with their children’s Top Tip learning<br />

them.<br />

A ‘partnership approach’ of sharing<br />

information to improve the children’s<br />

learning outcomes can prove really<br />

valuable in the long term.<br />

What are the benefits of parents<br />

and childcare practitioners working<br />

together?<br />

• It gives parents a better<br />

understanding of how you are<br />

helping to prepare their children for<br />

success in school.<br />

• Parents learn how well their children<br />

are progressing in developing the<br />

building blocks of learning.<br />

• Parents learn ways to help their<br />

children at home.<br />

• You will have a better understanding<br />

of children’s backgrounds and<br />

experiences.<br />

• Children will see that the adults in<br />

their life care about them, and their<br />

learning and development.<br />

When parents see you make the<br />

effort and involve them in the dayto-day<br />

education of their children,<br />

they can feel valued and respected,<br />

they become aware of their children’s<br />

experiences outside the family home<br />

and can then use this information to<br />

support their learning and development<br />

more effectively by reinforcing these<br />

experiences at home.<br />

It works both ways too: practitioners<br />

can benefit from parents’ skills and<br />

expertise, they can gain a better<br />

setting and use this information to<br />

make learning more enjoyable and<br />

rewarding for all children. After all,<br />

the parents are the experts on their<br />

own children and so their feedback is<br />

invaluable!<br />

With increasing emphasis on, and<br />

changes to EYFS, parents care more<br />

than ever about the education path of<br />

their child and we know they want to<br />

engage.<br />

But how?<br />

Collaboration<br />

When you engage with parents,<br />

you automatically build a stronger<br />

“practitioner-family” partnership. This,<br />

in turn, leads to a better understanding<br />

of the child, increased feedback from<br />

parents on how things are going<br />

and ultimately, a happier and more<br />

successful learning experience for the<br />

child.<br />

You could suggest new ways that<br />

parents can get involved and support<br />

their child’s learning at home, for<br />

example: when they are reading a<br />

bedtime story, they can ask their child<br />

to make predictions about what will<br />

happen next. This will help strengthen<br />

the child’s reading comprehension and<br />

reinforce their reading ability.<br />

A good way to engage parents<br />

and make them part of your<br />

extended learning team is<br />

to make your passion shine<br />

through – enthusiasm is<br />

contagious and parents will<br />

want to continue their child’s<br />

learning at home if they see<br />

how engaged you are!<br />

Communication is key!<br />

Keep parents up-to-date as much<br />

as possible with what’s going on in<br />

your setting and what events or other<br />

activities are coming up. If you produce<br />

a newsletter, you could suggest<br />

conversation topics so parents can<br />

ask their children about what they’re<br />

learning and then this learning can<br />

continue at home, after the event. Even<br />

if you only produce a short newsletter,<br />

it’s really important to thank parents for<br />

all the ways they’re currently helping<br />

your setting and how this is impacting<br />

on the lives of the children.<br />

Cutting through the barriers<br />

Busy lives, financial worries, language<br />

barriers and time pressures are just<br />

some of the obstacles practitioners<br />

can be faced with which hinder the<br />

development of an open, honest and<br />

trusting relationship with parents.<br />

However, parents really do want to hear<br />

from you… they do want to get involved<br />

with their children’s learning outside<br />

your setting.<br />

Say “cheese”!<br />

A great way to communicate a child’s<br />

learning journey with their parents<br />

and carers is by sending updates that<br />

bring the learning to life. What parent<br />

wouldn’t love an update from you that<br />

includes a picture that catches their<br />

child in the act of learning something?<br />

If parents understand and are excited<br />

by the value of an activity, they are<br />

more likely to continue the learning at<br />

home and also provide feedback that<br />

you can use for future staff training.<br />

Engage and educate with family<br />

learning<br />

Here are a few examples of family<br />

learning which can easily be started in<br />

the childcare setting and then continued<br />

and extended at home:<br />

• Family history and culture sharing<br />

Demonstrating what a ‘family tree’<br />

is can encourage the children to talk<br />

about where they come from – they<br />

can work at home to make their<br />

own family tree and share it with the<br />

others at their childcare setting.<br />

• Extended storytime<br />

During storytime, they can learn<br />

about different cultures and<br />

then discuss at home and bring<br />

something in which relates to their<br />

particular surroundings – e.g. a<br />

pebble from the beach where they<br />

live, or a leaf from a walk in the<br />

woods, or something that symbolises<br />

their particular culture.<br />

• Counting the pennies<br />

Playing ‘shop keepers’ at nursery<br />

can easily be put into practice while<br />

out shopping with family. Counting<br />

coins and pointing out groceries is<br />

an excellent example of fun, family<br />

learning.<br />

If you would like to find out<br />

how the team at <strong>Parenta</strong><br />

works in partnership with<br />

thousands of settings,<br />

helping them to engage with<br />

parents, involving them with<br />

their children’s day-to-day<br />

learning, talk to us about<br />

‘Dayshare’ – an online daily<br />

diary software. Dayshare<br />

captures all of the day’s<br />

activities and allows you<br />

to upload photos and give<br />

parents a detailed insight into<br />

their child’s day of learning<br />

through play.<br />

Call us on 0800 002 9242<br />

or email<br />

hello@parenta.com<br />

28 <strong>April</strong> <strong>2020</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>April</strong> <strong>2020</strong> 29

PARENT<br />

PORTAL<br />

Parent Portal is a FREE APP that works<br />

hand-in-hand with <strong>Parenta</strong>’s other software<br />

solutions and it gives parents:<br />

A newsfeed of their child’s day<br />

including photos and videos<br />

Their account balance and invoice<br />

breakdown<br />

The ability to download invoice and<br />

payment receipts<br />

FREE<br />

Training with Linden<br />

Early Years<br />

Keeping children at the heart of<br />

early childhood education and care<br />

Tamsin Grimmer is the early years director for Linden<br />

Learning. If you have enjoyed reading Tamsin’s<br />

articles every month, why not invite Linden Early<br />

Years to deliver bespoke training at your setting?<br />

Linden Early Years associates regularly share their<br />

expertise at conferences, INSET meetings, CPD<br />

sessions, workshops and seminars.<br />

Twitter: @LindenEY<br />

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Lindenearlyyears/<br />

Website: https://www.lindenearlyyears.org/<br />

Email: tamsin.grimmer@lindenlearning.org<br />

Linden Learning’s early years team has built up a reputation in<br />

the sector for a deep knowledge of how young children learn<br />

and develop. Many of our associates are published authors and<br />

have written regularly for popular early childhood magazines.<br />

We also work regularly in settings and have a real appreciation<br />

of current issues facing staff working in settings across the<br />

country. We look forward to hearing from you!<br />

A calendar view of past, present and<br />

future sessions booked<br />

View and request changes for<br />

information about their child including<br />

allergies, illnesses and medication<br />

+ lots more!<br />

We’ve worked with thousands of settings, so we<br />

know exactly what tools you need to make your<br />

business successful. We believe that delivering<br />

great childcare means working closely alongside<br />

parents; and with Parent Portal, they can stay<br />

involved in their child’s day.<br />

Interested? Speak to our team to find<br />

out more on 0800 002 9242 or email us<br />

at hello@parenta.com.<br />

Write for us for a chance to win £50!<br />

Write for us!<br />

We’re always on the lookout for new authors to contribute<br />

insightful articles for our monthly magazine.<br />

If you’ve got a topic you’d like to write about, why not send an article to<br />

us and be in with a chance of winning? Each month, we’ll be giving<br />

away a £50 voucher to our “Guest Author of the Month”. You can find<br />

all the details here: https://www.parenta.com/sponsored-content/<br />

Guest author winner announced<br />

Congratulations<br />

to our guest author competition winner,<br />

Joanna Grace!<br />

Joanna’s article in the February edition of the <strong>Parenta</strong> magazine<br />

“Neurotypical Narratives” was very popular with our readers.<br />

Well done, Joanna!<br />

A massive thank you to all of our guest authors for writing for us.<br />

You can find all of the past articles from our guest authors on our<br />

website: www.parenta.com/parentablog/guest-authors<br />

30 <strong>April</strong> <strong>2020</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>April</strong> <strong>2020</strong> 31

The Big Pedal<br />

It’s that time of year again: when the clouds part (hopefully) and the spring<br />

bulbs are in full bloom, so it must be time for the annual push to encourage<br />

people to be fitter, get out and tell them to get on their bike!<br />

“Our society faces some profound challenges. From climate change<br />

and air pollution to physical and mental health crises, the pressures<br />

on communities across our four nations are growing. There is no silver<br />

bullet but the work of Sustrans and our partners provides an essential<br />

contribution to tackling the challenges of our time.”<br />

Lynne Berry – Sustrans Chair of Trustees.<br />

Each year, Sustrans, a charity with the<br />

aim of making it easier for people to<br />

walk and cycle around the country,<br />

organise a week called The Big Pedal<br />

which has become the UK’s largest interschool<br />

cycling, walking and scooting<br />

challenge. It supports staff, pupils and<br />

parents and encourages them to use<br />

human power to get themselves to and<br />

from school. The charity connects people<br />

and places with the aim of creating<br />

“liveable neighbourhoods, transforming<br />

the school run and delivering a happier<br />

and healthier commute”.<br />

The Big Pedal<br />

And since this is a challenge, there are<br />

some great prizes to be won for eligible<br />

schools too.<br />

<strong>2020</strong> is the tenth year of the challenge<br />

which runs for 10 days from the 22nd<br />

<strong>April</strong> to the 5th May. It is open to all<br />

primary and secondary schools in the<br />

UK, including SEN schools. Schools in<br />

England and Wales need to have a DfE<br />

number to apply. Schools in Scotland<br />

should use their SEED number and in<br />

Northern Ireland, they should use their<br />

Inst Ref number. You can still participate<br />

in your own version of the challenge as<br />

a nursery or other setting if you don’t<br />

have one of these numbers, but you will<br />

not be eligible to win prizes. However,<br />

there is nothing to stop you from<br />

creating your own in-house competition<br />

and you can compare how you are<br />

doing to the schools registered on the<br />

website.<br />

So what’s involved?<br />

On each day of the challenge, schools<br />

compete to see who can accumulate<br />

the highest percentage of pupils,<br />

staff and parents who cycle, walk or<br />

scoot to school. By 9am, schools must<br />

log journeys that their staff, parents<br />

and pupils take to school on the days<br />

they wish to enter. There is a daily<br />

competition, as well as a five-day<br />

challenge in which the best five day’s<br />

results from a school are totalled and<br />

compared to others. If over 15% of the<br />

school community registers an eligible<br />

journey, then the school is entered into<br />

a prize draw to win some cool prizes<br />

such as bikes, including equipment and<br />

accessories, but you can always give out<br />

some free fruit or a book token as well!<br />

There are currently over 1500 schools<br />

registered, representing over half a<br />

million pupils.<br />

Another aim of the week is to get<br />

authorities and planners to sit up and<br />

take notice and to raise awareness of<br />

the changes that pupils, parents and<br />

staff would like to see in their local<br />

areas, so Sustrans also asks people<br />

to think about the changes they’d<br />

like to see and how these could be<br />

implemented.<br />

The charity provide a host of free<br />

resources on their website at https://<br />

bigpedal.org.uk/ which are available<br />

to download, even if you have not<br />

registered your school, including:<br />

• An introductory PowerPoint<br />

• Information and top tips posters<br />

• A general poster advertising the week<br />

• A parent letter template<br />

• A family guide to the week<br />

Calling all superheroes!<br />

One fun and exciting way to participate<br />

in the week is to join in on Superhero<br />

Day. The final challenge day is a day<br />

which is also used to raise money for<br />

the charity as well as awareness, and<br />

participants are encouraged to dress up<br />

as their favourite superhero for the day.<br />

But you can use any of the 10 days as<br />

your Superhero Day if you want to. There<br />

are 4 main steps to joining in:<br />

1. Download the parents’ letter and<br />

send it out to advise parents about<br />

the day<br />

2. Encourage everyone to dress up for<br />

the day – the theme is superheroes<br />

but if you have your own ideas,<br />

then that’s fine too. You can print a<br />

superhero mask template from the<br />

website here<br />

3. Decorate your setting and get on your<br />

bikes!<br />

4. Collect the money – the suggested<br />

donation is £1 for dressing up but<br />

you could hold other fundraising<br />

opportunities too, such as a cake sale<br />

or ask people to be sponsored for<br />

their journeys.<br />

Additional ways to celebrate the<br />

week include:<br />

• Hold a ‘best decorated scooter’ or<br />

‘best decorated bike’ competition<br />

• Get the children to draw their journey<br />

to school and create a Big Pedal<br />

collage<br />

• Ask children to draw their own<br />

superhero avatar and then describe<br />

their superpower to the group. You<br />

could enhance this activity by having<br />

the children act out their power or<br />

make up a story about their character<br />

too<br />

• Post your stories and photos on your<br />

social media channels – use the<br />

hashtag #BigPedal<br />

• Practice safe road travel in line with<br />

last month’s road safety campaign<br />

Where does the money go?<br />

Sustrans uses the money raised to<br />

help them with their charitable aims<br />

including:<br />

• Creating places that are walkable and<br />

cycle-friendly<br />

• Supporting people, in their<br />

communities, to have the opportunity<br />

and ability to walk, cycle, scoot or<br />

wheel<br />

• Working with decision-makers to<br />

create policies that make walking and<br />

cycling a more attractive choice<br />

One of the main things that Sustrans<br />

coordinate and promote is the National<br />

Cycle Network, a UK-wide network of<br />

signed paths and routes for walking,<br />

cycling, wheeling and exploring<br />

outdoors. The routes are free to use<br />

and offer cycle lanes and paths that<br />

are traffic-free making them safer for all<br />

users, especially children.<br />

The Big Pedal is a great opportunity for<br />

you to help make a real difference to the<br />

community and environment that you<br />

work in. Due to current restrictions, you<br />

may not be able to do this immediately,<br />

but you could set up a Big Pedal day<br />

later in the year. So go on,<br />


For more information, see<br />

https://bigpedal.org.uk/<br />

which is also available in Welsh.<br />

32 <strong>April</strong> <strong>2020</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>April</strong> <strong>2020</strong> 33

Apple doughnuts<br />

Apple doughnuts<br />

You will need:<br />

170g of cream cheese, softened,<br />

cut into thirds<br />

1 tsp honey, divided<br />

20g melted chocolate<br />

1 drop pink food colouring<br />

2 apples<br />

Sprinkles<br />

Extras: cutting board, knife,<br />

cookie cutter (or round cutter<br />

to remove the core)<br />

Mother Earth<br />

terrarium<br />

This craft was created to celebrate Mother Earth Day on the<br />

22nd of <strong>April</strong>. We always encourage the children to spend as<br />

much time outside as possible, and this craft is perfect for<br />

that! Children can spend hours trying to find the best looking<br />

moss and wild plants. And they might even get lucky and<br />

find some amazing earth creatures! Just remember to teach<br />

children to be respectful and only take what they need<br />

Mother Earth terrarium<br />

Instructions:<br />

1. Divide cream cheese in 3 little bowls.<br />

2. In the first bowl, add 1 teaspoon honey<br />

to the cream cheese and mix together.<br />

3. In second bowl, mix cream cheese<br />

with melted chocolate.<br />

4. In the third bowl, add pink food<br />

colouring and mix in the remaining<br />

honey.<br />

5. Slice apples into rings and using the<br />

cookie cutter, remove the core so they<br />

take on the shape of a ring doughnut.<br />

6. Carefully spread the mixture on<br />

the apples and decorate them with<br />

sprinkles.<br />

7. You are done!<br />

These ‘doughnuts’ don’t taste like the real thing,<br />

but they are super fun to make and help children to<br />

eat their portion of ‘5-a-day’.<br />

You will need:<br />

• Plants – we used a shop bought plant, but<br />

you can use any plants you’d like. If you<br />

have enough time, you could get a cutting<br />

of an English Ivy and keep it in water until it<br />

sprouts roots. Another fantastic activity to do<br />

with the children!<br />

• Moss<br />

• Gravel<br />

• Stones<br />

• Compost<br />

• Plastic fishbowl<br />

– you could also use glass jars<br />

Instructions:<br />

1. Start with filling the bowl with gravel,<br />

followed by compost.<br />

2. Pick a spot in your bowl where you would<br />

like your plants to grow, then carefully insert<br />

the plant in that spot.<br />

3. Use some more compost to secure the<br />

plant in place, then add moss on top of the<br />

compost.<br />

4. Add stones, or any decorative pieces you<br />

like. If children want, they can put one of<br />

their tiny toys in there. Imagine a T-Rex<br />

standing under the plants!<br />

5. You have now finished! Don’t forget to water<br />

it from time to time!<br />

34 <strong>April</strong> <strong>2020</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>April</strong> <strong>2020</strong> 35

The benefits of<br />

animals for children’s<br />

development<br />

There’s no doubt that the UK is a nation of animal lovers! You only have to look around<br />

at the number of us who co-habit with pets of every shape and size, the predominance<br />

of pet shops, and the amount we spend on our pets each year, which currently runs into<br />

the tens of billions of pounds. Pets are big business, but we rarely count their worth in<br />

money. In fact, most of us have admitted we would rather reduce spending on ourselves<br />

than our pets, because our pets can melt the heart of even the toughest cynic, remind us<br />

of our humanity, our unity and our underlying need for unconditional love.<br />

Perceived benefits<br />

Animals have anecdotally been<br />

reported as being of benefit to children<br />

by parents, teachers and childcare<br />

professionals for a number of years.<br />

The Some of the benefits reported include: of it is an animals essential one, especially if dealt for children’s<br />

Improving confidence and learning<br />

development<br />

about unconditional love – pets<br />

do not judge children with any moral<br />

compass; they simply give love and<br />

affection regardless of the child’s<br />

mood or recent behaviour (provided no<br />

negative behaviour has been directed<br />

towards the animal). Children often find<br />

animals comforting if they are feeling<br />

sad or low as the pet is always there to<br />

‘listen to’ and ‘accept’ problems, when<br />

adults may not be.<br />

Teaching empathy and respect –<br />

animals need to be treated with love,<br />

empathy and respect, just like humans.<br />

And whilst they may enjoy a cuddle<br />

sometimes, at others, they may need<br />

space, feeding, grooming or walking.<br />

Children can learn to be empathetic<br />

to the needs of the animal and to<br />

recognise these needs without using<br />

words. This is an excellent skill to have<br />

in dealing with humans who may not<br />

be able to express emotions too well<br />

themselves.<br />

Understanding the circle of life<br />

– watching a pet be born, grow up,<br />

reproduce and eventually die, helps<br />

children learn about life and death. It<br />

may be a difficult lesson for most, but<br />

with in a sensitive manner by the adults<br />

around them. It may be a cat or dog,<br />

hamster, fish or worm; the process of<br />

grieving and learning that ‘life goes on’<br />

and memories will remain, is one that<br />

we all need to learn at some point.<br />

Learning to appreciate nature<br />

and the natural world – by<br />

observing animals, children can get<br />

an understanding and develop an<br />

appreciation for the natural world<br />

around them. They can observe<br />

different animal lifecycles and learn<br />

about reproduction by watching a<br />

caterpillar turn into a butterfly or seeing<br />

the lambs being born at a local farm.<br />

With the right encouragement, it can<br />

also lead to an interest in the natural<br />

world and an appreciation for all forms<br />

of life on earth.<br />

Teaching responsibility – although<br />

most animal species have been<br />

around on the planet a lot longer than<br />

humans, and as such, are very selfsufficient,<br />

the ones we have spent time<br />

domesticating, or those we keep in<br />

captivity, need our help to survive. This<br />

means they need feeding, cleaning out<br />

and exercising regularly, depending on<br />

the animal. This is a great way to teach<br />

children about looking after others and<br />

although no pet should be the sole<br />

responsibility of a child, they can learn<br />

to take on certain responsibilities (such<br />

as feeding or refilling water bottles)<br />

with the aid of a supervising adult.<br />

Helping with communication –<br />

we might not all be Dr Doolittle, but<br />

animals can still be useful in helping<br />

children communicate. Dogs are<br />

currently used in schools to help boost<br />

the confidence of children learning to<br />

read. The children read aloud to a dog,<br />

who listens without judgement and<br />

the children learn to feel calmer whilst<br />

reading. The very presence of animals<br />

can help children to start to speak as<br />

they learn to communicate with another<br />

living being.<br />

Scientifically-researched benefits<br />

As well as anecdotal reports, there<br />

have also been a number of scientific<br />

studies confirming some measurable<br />

benefits in children. Pets have been<br />

shown to 1,2 :<br />

• help lower blood pressure<br />

• reduce stress and anxiety<br />

• make recovery times shorter<br />

• improve social interactions<br />

• improve self-worth<br />

• reduce loneliness and depression<br />

In children with autism spectrum<br />

disorder (ASD), researchers found the<br />

children demonstrated more social<br />

behaviours and received more social<br />

approaches from their peers when<br />

animals were present, compared to<br />

when toys were present. 3<br />

What you need to consider<br />

Bringing animals into your setting either<br />

as pets or with occasional visitors can<br />

have many benefits, but also requires<br />

careful planning and the safety of all<br />

children and adults is paramount.<br />

Therefore, before you consider bringing<br />

animals in, ensure that you have<br />

thought everything through, have<br />

the approval of parents, staff and<br />

governors and have suitable policies,<br />

risk-assessments and insurances in<br />

place. Remember to consider any<br />

allergies that children and staff may<br />

have, costs such as food costs or vet<br />

bills, and if bringing in a class pet<br />

such as a fish or hamster, determine<br />

who is going to look after it during the<br />

weekends and holidays.<br />

Ways to introduce more animals<br />

into setting<br />

Here are some ways you can<br />

introduce more animals, without<br />

breaking the bank.<br />

• Visit a local farm or petting zoo<br />

– this can be an easy way to get<br />

children to pet animals and<br />

discover more about the natural<br />

world<br />

• Incubate some fertilised chicken<br />

eggs and raise some chicks<br />

• Order a butterfly nursery and teach<br />

the children about their lifecycle<br />

• Set up a fish tank – this can offer<br />

sensory and visual stimulation too<br />

• Introduce some rabbits and/or<br />

guinea pigs but ensure they can be<br />

properly looked after<br />

• Start a worm farm – another great<br />

way to introduce children to natural<br />

science<br />

• Feed the birds/local wildlife – set<br />

up some feeding/watering stations<br />

to welcome some British wildlife to<br />

your garden<br />

• Go on a bug or mini-beast hunt –<br />

you can do this in your outside<br />

space or at a local park<br />

However you choose to introduce more<br />

animal interactions in your setting, we’d<br />

love to hear from you and see your<br />

pictures. Please email us at marketing@<br />

parenta.com.<br />

References<br />

1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/<br />

pubmed/3236382<br />

2. https://habri.org/research/child-healthdevelopment/<br />

3. https://www.relias.com/blog/animalassisted-therapy-for-autism<br />

36 <strong>April</strong> <strong>2020</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>April</strong> <strong>2020</strong> 37

Take yourself from ‘distress’<br />

to ‘de-stress’ during<br />

stress awareness month<br />

Stress. n. “A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from<br />

adverse or demanding circumstances”.<br />

A definition that almost certainly resonates with many – particularly during<br />

this unprecedented period of dealing with the outbreak of the new coronavirus.<br />

Even without a global health crisis to contend with, most of us at some point<br />

are likely to have found ourselves in a situation where we feel stressed.<br />

Take Stress can be debilitating, yourself and can cause Practice from meditation ‘distress’ to<br />

and/or aggravate health problems. One of the most effective ways to deal<br />

And since is a normal part of<br />

‘de-stress’ human life - nobody is immune to it during stress awareness<br />

with stress is to learn how to silence<br />

the mind. Meditation is one of the most<br />

- it’s important to arm ourselves with<br />

knowledge so that we recognise the<br />

month<br />

signs ahead of the times when stress is<br />

going to rear its ugly head. The problem<br />

can be that sometimes we don’t even<br />

see it in ourselves if we are inwardly (or<br />

‘blindly’) stressed.<br />

Stress Awareness Month has been held<br />

every <strong>April</strong>, since 1992 and aims to<br />

increase public awareness about both<br />

the causes and cures for this modern<br />

mental epidemic. According to the<br />

Mental Health Foundation, 74% of UK<br />

adults have felt so stressed at some<br />

point over the last year that “they felt<br />

overwhelmed or unable to cope.” That<br />

is a worrying statistic, particularly as we<br />

are in an industry where the wellbeing<br />

of the children in our care is paramount.<br />

The Stress Management Society, which<br />

founded Stress Awareness Month, has<br />

many resources and ideas to help you<br />

during times of stress, including how<br />

to understand stress itself and different<br />

coping mechanisms you can use.<br />

You can even take a stress test here!<br />

https://www.stress.org.uk/individualstress-test/<br />

Here are our top tips for alleviating<br />

stress – you could try discussing these<br />

in your next team meeting. You may be<br />

surprised how many people actually do<br />

some of these things already!<br />

popular methods of achieving this quiet.<br />

Mindworks is a blog for meditation<br />

novices and has some great tips which<br />

you can share with your colleagues.<br />

Exercise<br />

A proven way to battle the debilitating<br />

effects of stress is to exercise. Whether<br />

you’re a jogger, cyclist, or just like to<br />

take long walks, be sure to get some<br />

fresh air and exercise into your daily<br />

routine. You may spend a lot of time<br />

cooped up indoors, either at work during<br />

the day or at home during the evening.<br />

But, going outside to get some fresh air<br />

can work wonders for relaxing you. Try<br />

taking a short walk around the block on<br />

your lunch break, or spending time in<br />

green spaces when you come back from<br />

work.<br />

Focus on your breathing<br />

Taking just a few minutes out of your<br />

day to focus on deep breathing can help<br />

you feel calmer and more relaxed. Find<br />

somewhere you can sit quietly without<br />

being disturbed, then focus on breathing<br />

in deeply through your nose and out<br />

through your mouth. See if you can<br />

make each inhale and exhale last for a<br />

count of 4 seconds, and adjust the count<br />

until you feel at your most comfortable.<br />

Listen to music<br />

Music feeds our mood and can affect<br />

our emotions, so listening to a few of our<br />

favourite tracks can make us instantly<br />

feel much better. If you feel like getting<br />

up and dancing around the room whilst<br />

listening to music, indulge yourself. If<br />

you’d prefer to sit and close your eyes<br />

whilst you listen on your headphones,<br />

that’s okay too! Do whatever works best<br />

for you.<br />

Discover your creative side<br />

Taking part in an activity which requires<br />

you to be creative can help you instantly<br />

de-stress. Try writing in a journal,<br />

doing an adult colouring book, learning<br />

an instrument, drawing or baking.<br />

Experiment with whatever feeds your<br />

creativity, and enjoy the process rather<br />

than focusing too much on what the<br />

outcome will be.<br />

Have a technology detox<br />

Although designed to destress, just<br />

the mention of those words can have<br />

the ability to make some people even<br />

more stressed than they already were!<br />

Checking social media is often the first<br />

thing we do when we wake, and the<br />

last thing we do before we go to bed.<br />

However, finding out what’s happening<br />

in everyone else’s life often conflicts with<br />

our own wellbeing; leaving us under<br />

constant pressure to check newsfeeds<br />

and scroll through new photos. Take<br />

a step back from your phone and<br />

make sure the last hour before bed<br />

is technology-free – this will help you<br />

unwind and get to sleep much quicker.<br />

“<br />

One of the most effective ways to deal with<br />

stress is to learn how to silence the mind.<br />

”<br />

Top tips for<br />

learners!<br />

Get plenty of sleep<br />

Sleep is essential – make<br />

sure you’re getting at least<br />

8 hours a night and if you’re<br />

feeling tired, you could even<br />

think about squeezing in a<br />

short nap if you’re at home!<br />

Making sure that you get<br />

enough sleep will set you<br />

up for the day and give you<br />

more energy to put into your<br />

studies; feeling energised<br />

will only make you feel<br />

happier and healthier.<br />

Take a bath<br />

Bathing is one of the most<br />

relaxing things you can do:<br />

chuck in a bath bomb, put<br />

on some music and let the<br />

hot water take away your<br />

stresses. You’ll feel 100 times<br />

better when you get out.<br />

Listening to music at the<br />

same time as having a bath<br />

releases endorphins in your<br />

body (hormones that make<br />

you happy), so what could<br />

be more de-stressing!<br />

Drink water<br />

Staying hydrated is essential.<br />

If you haven’t been drinking<br />

enough, you’ll feel groggy<br />

and tired; leaving you unable<br />

to study when you need to.<br />

It’s recommended that you<br />

drink at least 8 glasses of<br />

liquid day. Water, tea, coffee<br />

and fruit juice all count<br />

towards your fluid intake.<br />

Make a study schedule<br />

If you can plan your time<br />

down on paper you’ll be<br />

able to see exactly when<br />

you do and don’t have time<br />

to study, and where you<br />

can get some extra revision<br />

in. Planning how much you<br />

have to do and knowing how<br />

long you have to do it will<br />

make you feel a lot better.<br />

38 <strong>April</strong> <strong>2020</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>April</strong> <strong>2020</strong> 39

Continuing<br />

Professional<br />

Development<br />

eLearning<br />

courses<br />

During these<br />

uncertain times,<br />

and with many staff<br />

at home, you can<br />

continue to develop<br />

skills and knowledge<br />

with one of our many<br />

online courses. By<br />

ensuring your team<br />

undergoes relevant<br />

refresher training,<br />

they can keep up-todate<br />

with the latest<br />

policies, procedures<br />

and practices –<br />

and it certainly<br />

doesn’t need to be<br />

expensive.<br />

Our full list of<br />

eLearning and eBook<br />

courses can be found<br />

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parenta.com<br />


parenta.com/parenta-online-courses<br />

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