Parenta July 2020 Magazine


Issue 68

JULY 2020




More men needed

in early years

World Youth

Skills Day

Ways to support young

children with English as

an additional language

+ lots more

Write for us

for a chance to win


page 7

What does school readiness

mean during a pandemic?

How to prepare children for school after the gap they

have had in their education during the pandemic



JUNE JULY 2020 ISSUE 68 67

welcome to our family

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



We’re not quite sure how it can be July already, but the summer solstice has happened; we’ve had the

longest day - and so summer is officially declared!

78 Write Child-friendly for us for smoothie a chance to win £50

715 Guest Write for author us for winner a chance announced to win £50

After five months of the coronavirus being in the UK, the pandemic may be just starting to wane - finally -

and the last few weeks have revealed some unexpected benefits for our planet. Air pollution levels dropped

during lockdown and nature seemed to breathe easy for a short while as we stopped travelling and polluting

the air. In the hope that we will continue with this trend (at least as much as is feasible) Plastic Free July is one

initiative which aims to get everyone around the world doing their bit to help the environment, however small. Turn to page 24

for some ideas to help you get involved both at home and in your setting.

As we go through July, parents will be turning to you, as practitioners, to advise them on how they can help with their child’s

transition if they are due to start primary school in September. Bearing in mind they may have not been to nursery since March,

many parents will be anxious that they may have lost valuable pre-school hours since lockdown. Industry expert, Tamsin

Grimmer, gives some reassuring advice in her article “What does school readiness mean during a pandemic?”

32 15 Egg Guest box author bee craft winner announced

33 39 Dark starf chocolate ish craf t bark


Preparations for the ‘new normal’ and










6 Update from Ofsted

How to demonstrate love to young children

during the coronavirus pandemic


We also take a look at the subject of male practitioners (or the lack of) in early years which highlights the continuing problem of

the gender imbalance in the sector – less than 3% of the early years workforce are male, and despite various initiatives to try to

recruit more male staff, statistics show little improvement so far. We spoke to a few of our Parenta male learners to find out how

they came to choose childcare as their career; and what they think about the lack of men in early years.

Turn to page 32 for some super crafts for you and the children to do this month! To celebrate National Don’t Step on a Bee

Day on 10th July, we’ve done a cute bee craft which will be fun to make and will also help raise awareness of these little hard

workers! Those who have a sweet tooth will love our food craft this month – dark chocolate bark to celebrate World Chocolate

Day on the 7th. As well as being delicious (we’ve tried it and it really is!) this tasty treat highlights the benefits dark chocolate


All the news stories, advice, and craft activities in your free Parenta magazine have been written to help you with the efficient

running of your setting and to promote the health, happiness and wellbeing of the children in your care.

Please feel free to share with friends, parents and colleagues – they can sign up to received their own copy here!

Please stay safe everyone.


Anxieties of


How to understand

and respond to some

of the most common

childhood anxieties.



early years



How to encourage

mark-making to

develop creative skills.

More men needed

in early years

The issue of gender imbalance in

the early years practitioners.



612 Father’s World Youth Day at Skills home Day

10 16 Children’s How to demonstrate Art Week our love to young

12 World children Oceans during Day the coronavirus pandemic

20 Child How to Safety treat Week burns and scalds

26 24 Bike Plastic Week Free 2020 July

34 28 Growing Mark-making for wellbeing early years Week

36 34 National More men Writing needed Dayin early years

38 36 Diabetes World Population Week Day

38 Six and a half reasons to go paperless at

your nursery

Industry Experts

Industry Experts

16 Talking about difference: behavioural



Anxieties of childhood and how best to



Storytelling in music: using royalty and



What does school readiness mean during a

22 Furlough: The new ‘f’ word




Three ways to reduce meltdowns

Consequences vs punishment



Promoting positive behaviour in pre-school

Ways to support young children with


English as an additional language

26 Positive emotional regulation practice

30 Helping siblings when the new baby arrives

Plastic Free July 24

Positive emotional regulation practice 26

Helping siblings when the new baby arrives 30

‘Daddy Day Care’

increases by over 50%

during lockdown

A recent survey has revealed that on

average, fathers in the UK are spending

longer - 58% longer - looking after their

children in lockdown than they would

usually do.

In the run up to Father’s Day, The

Fatherhood Institute revealed that

research from the Office for National

Statistics show that fathers, given

shorter hours and more homeworking,

have dramatically increased their

contribution to childcare.

The survey of 1,300 families was

conducted between 28 March and

26 April and also found that men’s

weekly working hours (including their

commute) has fallen by an average of

11% in the same period of time.

In 2015, men spent 39% of the time

that women spent on childcare and

in lockdown, this figure has risen to

66% – a rise of 58%.

The Institute calculated that in order to

maintain the amount of time fathers are

spending on childcare post-lockdown,

they would need an additional eight

hours of free time each week.

The think tank suggests this could be

achieved by reducing the time spent

commuting to and from work, working

remotely more often, and cutting a few

hours from their working week.

The Fatherhood Institute is now calling

for the government to encourage

fathers to embrace remote working

if they can in order to enable them to

spend more time on childcare.

Adrienne Burgess, co-chief executive of

the Fatherhood Institute, said:


news & views

“The Government’s figures show that

fathers, given shorter hours and more

homeworking, dramatically increase

their contribution to childcare.

“It’s time to end workplace

discrimination against involved

fatherhood so that dads can play their

part as they wish to – and will do.”

The study comes after research

found that full-time working

mothers suffer from high stress


A team of researchers from the

University of Manchester and the

University of Essex analysed data from

more than 6,000 individuals collated

by The UK Household Longitudinal

Study. The nationwide study, published

in the British Sociological Association

journal, “Sociology”, gathers various

information from households across the

country including the working life of the

inhabitants, their hormone levels, blood

pressure and experiences with stress.

According to their findings, the overall

levels of biomarkers associated with

chronic stress are 40 percent higher

among women who have two children

and are working full-time jobs, in

comparison to women who have no

children and are also working full-time.

Read the survey here and the full

story, as reported by the Independent

newspaper here.

Childcare providers warned

they may have to raise fees

in order to survive

As childcare providers prepare to

reopen, they face huge financial losses

and could well have to recoup these

from parents or risk going bust, experts

have warned.

Parents may be forced to pay up to

10% more for childcare or potentially

quit work to look after their children,

as experts are calling for emergency

funding to save the early years sector.

Around 25% of childcare providers are

predicted to go out of business in the

next 12 months due to huge losses

sustained during lockdown.

Neil Leitch of the Early Years Alliance,

said it was inevitable that many

providers would be forced to raise

fees in order to survive. “They will be

reluctant, as they know most parents’

finances have been hurt by the crisis,

but they don’t have a choice,” Mr Leitch

added. “If parents can’t afford it, they

will have to quit their jobs instead.”

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic,

parents paid on average £127 per week,

or over £6,600 a year, for a part-time

nursery place, according to charity

Coram Family and Childcare. This was an

increase of 5% from 2018. If prices go up

by another 10%, the cost for 25 hours of

childcare a week would rise to £140, or

£7,264 a year.

Providers have suffered huge losses

already while closed during lockdown,

as many are having to still cover running

costs in full and charging parents a

reduced fee. Some have been unable

to furlough staff, after the Government

said they could not use the job retention

scheme if they were also being paid by

the state for the free hours of childcare

parents are entitled to. Most have now

reopened, but with fewer children

in order to meet social distancing

requirements, causing further losses..

The Local Government Association,

which represents councils, is calling for

emergency funding to rescue the ailing

childcare sector. The LGA’s Judith Blake

said that without it, there was a risk that

parents would be forced out of work to

care for children.

“Having enough childcare places will be

essential to support families and get the

economy moving again as emergency

measures are eased. Yet while childcare

providers have been asked to step-up

in the same way that schools have, their

costs have not been covered in the same

way,” she added.

Schools have been given up to £75,000

each to cover the cost of reopening

safely, for example to pay for extra

cleaning. Meanwhile, nurseries and

childminders have had no extra support.

A Government spokesman said: “We

are providing significant financial and

business support to protect childcare

providers – this includes the coronavirus

job retention scheme, which providers

can access for employees whose salary

is not covered by public funding – and

we have continued early years funding

to councils, worth a planned £3.6bn


Read the full story as reported in the

Daily Telegraph here.

Early years sector misses

out on Government’s

‘catch-up’ funding plan

A £1bn fund to help England’s children

catch up on what they have missed

while schools have been closed has

been announced by the Prime Minister.

However, nurseries, pre-schools and

childminders are not included in this

‘catch-up’ funding plan. This is a

double blow for the sector because

(together with the FE sector) it was

included in the initial announcement

of £700 million – the decision of

which was revoked just 2 hours later.

This rejection for early years will be

felt even harder as the news of the

funding plan included a statement from

the Prime Minister thanking childcare

workers for their support during the


Boris Johnson said, “I want to once

again thank teachers, childcare workers

and support staff for the brilliant work

they have been doing throughout the

pandemic. This includes providing

remote education for those not in school,

as well as face-to-face education for

vulnerable children and the children of

critical workers.

“This £1 billion catch-up package

will help head teachers to provide

extra support to children who have

fallen behind while out of school. I

am determined to do

everything I can to get all

children back in school

from September, and we

will bring forward plans

on how this will happen

as soon as possible.”

Neil Leitch, chief

executive of the Early

Years Alliance said,

“Given that quality early

years provision plays a

pivotal role in children’s

long-term learning and

development, it beggars

belief that the early

years sector has been excluded from

this ‘catch-up’ package.”

NDNA chief executive, Purnima Tanuku

said, “Yet again the Government fails

the early years sector and very young

children who are most in need of

support in their early development

and learning. Decision makers

have demonstrated a total lack of

consideration in the crucial role that

early years practitioners play in a child’s

life, for their families and the wider

economy. Nurseries and other childcare

providers have been the 4th emergency

sector during this crisis, ensuring critical

workers can do their vital jobs. And

now they face a serious financial crisis

themselves. We have been lobbying

the Treasury hard for a recovery and

transformation package to support these

providers to remain sustainable now and

into the future.

“Many nurseries have reopened to very

few children and their businesses are

just not financially viable. And yet, if they

have to close, young children will be left

with no support for their burgeoning

development and parents will be unable

to work.

“The Government must now show that

it takes a child’s early learning seriously

and invest urgently to support young

children and ensure nurseries are

sustainable to support families before

it’s too late.”

Read the full story, as reported by

Nursery World here.

4 July 2020 | | July 2020 5

Update from Ofsted

“What’s My Child Thinking?”

Practical Child Psychology for Modern Parents

By Tanith Carey and clinical psychologist, Dr Angharad Rudkin

Statistics show 33% rise in childcare closures

New statistics released by Ofsted show that an average of 735 early years providers closed each month between

September and December 2019.

This figure shows a 33% increase in the number of childminders, nurseries and pre-schools in England closing compared

to the same period last year.

The increasing number of closures is driven largely by childminders, with 543 closing in the final three months of last year,

compared to 192 nursery and pre-school providers.

Last year’s figures were provided in response to a Parliamentary Question from then Shadow Early Years Minister, Tracy

Brabin. The figures showed that between September and December 2018 an average of 390 providers left the early years

register each month.

The extract from the official Ofsted letter and statistics below was released in response to a Parliamentary Question from

Conservative MP, Steve Brine:

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many Ofsted registered (a) nurseries and (b)

childminders have closed in each of the last 12 months

Ofsted publishes information about providers who have left the early years register. This has been used as a proxy for

providers that have closed.

This invaluable book uses child development

to look at more than one hundred different scenarios

focusing on two- to-seven-year-olds


From all good booksellers, published by DK books.

Table 1: The number of providers who left the Early Years Register between 1 JAnuary 2019 and 31 December 2019, by

reporting period and provider type

1 Sep 2019 - 31 Dec 2019

1 Apr 2019 - 31 Aug 2019

1 Jan 2019 - 31 Mar 2019

Number of nurseries

and pre-schools

Total leavers

in period



Number of childminders

Total leavers

in period



767 192 2170 543

985 197 1818 363

536 179 1203 401

Write for us!

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

insightful articles for our monthly magazine.

If you’ve got a topic you’d like to write about, why not send an article to

us and be in with a chance of winning? Each month, we’ll be giving

away a £50 voucher to our “Guest Author of the Month”. You can find

all the details here:

I draw your attention to the following caveats:

1. The data represents the average number of providers who left the Early Years Register in each month based on the

reporting period.

2. Most of these are resignations, but some are also providers that have had their registration cancelled or have

changed provider type or register.

3. For providers who have had their registration cancelled, this is most likely due to non-payment of fees. These

providers are likely to be reinstated once their fees are paid, as long as the appeal period against cancellation has

not passed.

See the full official letter and statistics here.

6 July 2020 |


to our guest author competition winner,

Joanna Grace!

Congratulations to guest author of the month Joanna Grace for

her article “Talking about difference: Autism”. This was the third

article in her “about difference through the lenses of disability,

neurodivergence and social and emotional wellbeing” and really

struck a chord with our readers.

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

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


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Anxieties of childhood

and how best to respond

When they are babies, children rely on parents and primary carers to help make them feel safe.

But as they grow and become more independent, their exciting exploration of the world

also means they develop fears of the world beyond. This serves a protective role and helps

little ones learn to look after themselves. But these worries can bring with them powerful

feelings. Our role as adults is to help children manage these emotions - and put

them in perspective - so they don’t loom larger in their minds than they need to.

Tanith Carey, author of “What’s My Child Thinking? Practical Child Psychology” with

clinical psychologist, Dr Angharad Rudkin, talks about how to understand some of the

most common anxieties of childhood - and how best to respond.

“I’m scared of the dark”

Fear of the dark when it’s time for

lights out at bedtime affects about

half of children up to the age of five.

When dealing with this worry, it helps

to imagine how darkness looks from

a child’s perspective. When a room

goes black, all the toys and objects a

child is used to having around them

suddenly disappear and even look

as if they have been ‘swallowed up.’

When an adult switches the light

off, a child also feels suddenly out

of control of their surroundings. For

a few seconds, until their retinas

adjust, it can feel as if they are blind,

making some kids panic and dread

this moment. Another reason children

118 Your 4–5-year-old

“I’m scared of

the dark.”

As your child’s imagination takes flight and he becomes more aware

of the wider world around him, your 4- and 5-year-old is starting

to have fears that won’t make much sense to you as an adult.

One of the most common is fear of the dark.

Your child won’t go to sleep because he’s scared when


his bedroom light is turned off.


“I’m scared of

the dark.”

Fear of the dark affects about half of

children at this age. Although it’s not helpful for

modern parents, such fear once served a useful

evolutionary role: stopping mobile and curious

children from wandering off at night and getting

lost or, worse, eaten by a predator.

don’t like the dark is because they

worry they can no longer see the way

out to the door to find a grown-up if

they feel upset or lonely. So they can

feel ‘trapped’ by the darkness around


How to respond

During the day, talk about the child’s

fear and listen out for any signs it’s

rooted in other worries, whether it’s

losing a parent or something they’ve

seen on-screen which they don’t

understand. Listen without dismissing

their fears.

Together, read stories in which the

child is the main character and


“There’s nothing to be

afraid of. H e’s making

excuses not to go to sleep

now and vying for our


Usually such a fearful phase fades away

within a few months. So, avoid dismissing your

child’s fears as a cry for attention. If his worries are

dismissed or met with anger and frustration, he

may become more scared.







“If I want Mummy or

Daddy, I won’t be able to

find them in the dark.”

To your child, darkness feels like a big

hole that could swallow him up. His fear is real

because the darkness means he can’t see familiar

objects or environments that reassure him he is

safe. What’s more, his anxiety may make him alert

to every creak in the house or noises from outside.

“I’m scared of the dark.”


In the moment…


Listen to him Get him to talk about his feelings.

Summarize and repeat back to him what he’s saying, so

he knows you have heard and understood. By helping to

name his worries, he will feel more in charge.


Make his room a haven Your child’s room needs to feel

like a safe place, so never send him there as a

punishment. A regular bedtime routine creates certainty

of what comes next and when the room light goes off.

Keep his door open so that there aren’t any barriers

between him and you, which will offer him extra comfort.


Adjust the lighting Children don’t need total darkness

to sleep but even hall lights can keep a child awake. Buy

your child a night-light, possibly in the form of a friendly

animal, who will make him feel safe and will cast a warm

glow within his room, so he can see his familiar things

around him and feel reassured.

In the long term…

Check his viewing history Has your child seen older

siblings or friends play older-age video games or has he

seen scary films that are feeding his fears? Sometimes

overhearing or catching a glimpse of TV news can also

be enough to trigger worries in children this age.

Help him change the story At other times of the day,

not before bedtime, read him a story in which he is the

main character who overcomes a fear, such as a monster

or the darkness. Find a story that can help him process

fears during daylight hours.


10_See_page_text_ X-ref tbc later: pp. 000–000;

10_See_page_X-ref tbc later: pp. 000–000

ED: TC/AR to suggest two

useful other spreads for

parent here

overcomes a worry, like darkness, to

help them process their fears during


Allow some control. Give them a dim

nightlight, which gives off a warm

glow and which they can adjust when

it’s time to turn the main light off. That

way they will still be able to make out

the outline of the room, the things

around them and also see where the

door is if they want to go and find a


“I’ve had a bad dream”

Although we often wish children

sweet dreams at bedtime, most

will have the occasional nightmare.


Children tend to have more nightmares

than adults, partly because they have

more deep REM sleep, when dreams

take place.

Their developing imagination, and the

fact they are finding out so much more

about the world, but not necessarily

understanding it all, means they may

also be processing their discoveries

during the day at night, and these

worries can sometimes take the form

of scary monsters in their dreams.

At this stage, a child may not yet

understand that a dream is something

that only they can see. They may

believe that other people have

exactly the same dreams – and may

not realise that what happened in a

nightmare didn’t happen in real life.

How to respond:

If the child wants to tell you about a

dream, listen without interruption. If

they talk about their emotions with

a grown-up, it will allow a child to

process their experiences during

the daylight hours when it feels less

disturbing. Validate any fears they

have. Don’t say, “That doesn’t sound

that scary!” or “What is there to be

afraid of?” Instead say, “That does

sound frightening!” or, “I know other

children worry about that too.”

Without dismissing how they feel, at

the same time explain dreams are not

meant to be deliberately terrifying.

They are like a film running through

their brains where the normal rules of

life don’t apply.

Discuss how in some cartoon films

a child will have seen dreams and

they are like a pretend place where

anything can happen and where they

are in control. Help them see dreams

as a sign that their imagination is

getting bigger and more daring.

You can also help a child manage their

nightmares by suggesting they draw

out what they saw. Or see if they’d

like to pretend to be the scary monster

during their make-believe games so

they can play out their fears.

“Will you get ill from


Before the age of three, most young

children don’t have an understanding

of being ill, beyond their own

experience of having a mild illness like

a cold or chickenpox.

At this age, rather than be afraid of

the illness itself, they are more likely to

respond to a change in the behaviour

of the adults around them – or regress

by throwing more tantrums.

If they see adults being anxious, they

may respond by regressing, using

more baby-talk or wetting the bed.

From the age of about four or five,

young children also engage in

‘magical thinking’ in which they believe

they are the centre of the world and so

they are responsible for anything that

happens. So they may imagine if you

get Covid, it’s something they did.

How to respond:

If they are asking you questions about

Covid-19, a child will by now have

picked up that there’s an illness adults

are worrying about. If they seem

concerned, ask what they’ve heard

about the virus or how it spreads to

clear up any misunderstandings.

If they ask the question “Will you die

from it?’ tell them that you will one day

die of something, as everyone does.

But make it clear you don’t expect that

to happen to you for a long time and

by then, they’ll be grown-up.

Talk about the things you are doing to

keep yourself strong to defend your

body against it, whether it’s eating

healthily, getting sleep or taking daily


Stay patient and keep answering their

queries about the virus. Read the most

authoritative sources of information so

you answer calmly until their curiosity

is satisfied.

Most of all, children will be taking their

cues from you, so process your own

fears with another adult, so you can

stay calm and rational.

Without making them feel responsible,

or anxious, help them feel more in

control by telling them they are part

of a big team winning the war on the


Tell them: “Lots of people are catching

this germ - but for most it’s like a really

bad cold.

Tanith Carey

Tanith Carey writes books which offer

a lucid analysis of the most pressing

challenges facing today’s parents and

childcarers – by looking at the latest

research and presenting achievable

strategies for how to tackle them. Her books

have been translated into 15 languages,

including German, French, Arabic, Chinese

and Turkish. Her 2019 publications are

“What’s My Child Thinking? Practical Child

Psychology for Modern Parents” and “The

Friendship Maze: How to help your child

navigate their way to positive and happier


An award-winning journalist, Tanith also

writes on parenting for the Daily Telegraph,

The Times, the Guardian and the Daily Mail,

in which she also serialises and promotes

her books. She is also a regular presence

on TV and radio programmes, including the

NBC Today Show in the US and Radio Four’s

Woman’s Hour and You and Yours.

Her full bio can be found on her website at and you can follow

her on social media channels @tanithcarey.

“Scientists and doctors are learning

more about it all the time and most

people who catch it get better.”

Help them get the virus in perspective

too. Explain that there are good germs

in our bodies - as well as bad ones

and this is just an especially tough one

we are all working hard, together, to


“What’s My Child Thinking: Practical

Child Psychology for Modern Parents”,

by Tanith Carey with Dr Angharad

Rudkin, is on sale now at all good

booksellers, published by DK books.

World Youth Skills Day

What are you good at? DIY? Cooking? Construction? Designing? Or are you great at

customer service or organising things? Everyone is good at something and we all possess

at least one skill or talent that we can share with the world and use to not only enhance

our own lives, but those of our families and communities too.

On Wednesday 15th July, people

across the world will celebrate World

Youth Skills Day – a day set aside to

help to build confidence, empower

communities and fuel economies. It’s

organised by WorldSkills, a worldwide

organisation supported by the United

Nations and various countries and

industry partners, who see a role for

education, industry, government and

policy makers to raise the profile and

recognition of skilled professionals

around the globe. Their vision is to

improve the world through the power

of skills and their mission is to raise

the profile and recognition of skilled

people, and show how important

skills are in achieving economic

growth and personal success, as well

as addressing the challenges of youth

unemployment in the world. With the

Covid-19 pandemic set to adversely

affect the employment prospects of

many young people in particular,

there has never been a better time to

champion their skills, join in and help.

How did it start?

At the end of the Second World War,

many country’s economies, especially

in Europe had been devastated by

6 years of brutal war. There was a

huge skills shortage which needed

to be addressed if the world was

to get back on its feet, not only to

rebuild the infrastructure that had

been destroyed, but to avert a new

economic depression. Spain and

Portugal recognised the need to

promote skills in their youth and

Francisco Albert Vidal was charged

with creating a skills contest to inspire

and motivate them.

This led to a small competition in

Madrid in 1950, and although small

compared to today’s standards, it

started an international movement.

In 1958, the competition moved

abroad for the first time, to Brussels,

Belgium and in 1965 it came to

Glasgow, UK. As more and more

countries joined the movement,

different skills were added and new

outreach programmes included. The

competition returned to the UK in

1989 in Birmingham, and by 2007,

the Japanese hosts at Shizouka

introduced the “One School, One

Country” initiative which paired each

country’s competition team with a

local school in the host country. The

teams worked with the schools over

the week to introduce them to a

variety of vocational skills and diverse

cultures. Currently, there are now over

84 member organisations, potentially

reaching two-thirds of the world’s

population and the competitions are

bigger than ever. Competitors need

to be 22 or under, but in certain team

events, the age limit is to 25.

Competitions, conferences

and collaboration

Although July 15th is celebrated each

year as World Youth Skills Day, there

are competitions, selections, trainings

and other country-led initiatives going

on throughout the year in individual

countries and regions. The worldwide

international competition is held every

two years, with the next one being in

China in Shanghai in 2021, and there

are European competitions every

second year too.

But it’s not all about competition

– it really is about motivating and

encouraging young people to learn

skills that can potentially change their

lives. The WorldSkills website says:

“We believe #SkillsChangeLives.

Through the power of skills,

individuals, communities, and

countries are propelled towards a

more prosperous future.”

WorldSkills UK is the official WorldSkills

member for the UK and is recognised

by the United Nations. It has been

influential in raising awareness

of the need for young people to

acquire new skills to advance their

socio-economic conditions since its

inception. They have a lot of free

resources on their website including

a careers advice toolkit, tutorials and

skill demonstration videos, and the

opportunity to have a Skills Champion

(a young person who has proven their

skill in a competition) visit a school or

college to talk about their experiences

and teach some skills.

Whilst this may not seem as relevant

for early years children as for older

young people, there are many settings

across the UK who employ apprentices

which could benefit from learning

new skills or enhancing the skills

they already have. As a responsible

employer, it would be advantageous

to empower your workforce right

across the board. The range of skills

promoted by WorldSkills is diverse;

from aeronautical engineering to

floristry; fitness training to web

design; and stonemasonry to digital

merchandising to name just a few, so

there really is ‘something for everyone’.

In the UK, there are 4 main


• Engineering and Technology

• Digital, Business and Creative

• Health, Hospitality and


• Construction and Infrastructure

New skills are being added as they

develop and competitors can now

compete in health and social care

categories, so we, at Parenta, are

keen to see if early years or nursery

practitioner skills make it into the

competition arena soon.

All of these events and competitions

raise the awareness of youth skills

and can help you in your recruitment

drives whether there are competitions

or not because attending events

will ultimately bring you into contact

with careers advisers, trainers and

young people who are interested

in apprenticeships, training and

upskilling themselves.

WorldSkills UK LIVE 2020

The UK’s largest skills, apprenticeships

and careers event is planned to take

place on November 19-21, 2020 but

obviously this cannot be confirmed

at present due to current lockdown

restrictions. However, you can sign

up on the website here to register

your interest and receive updates

and relevant information about the

event and other related WorldSkills UK


To show your support for the day,

WorldSkills UK are encouraging

people to use the hashtag

#SkillsRuleTheWorld on their social

media accounts and share a behindthe-scenes

photo of how they develop,

share and get young people to develop

their skills at work. Why not inspire the

young people in your setting to learn

some new skills such as cooking, some

DIY or basic construction? You never

know when they might come in handy!

12 July 2020 | | July 2020 13

What does school readiness

mean during a pandemic?

As the author of “School Readiness and the Characteristics of Effective Learning” I am

often asked by parents whose children are due to go to school in September, how they can

prepare their children for school now that they have had a gap in their education or

have not attended pre-school or nursery during the pandemic. Have our expectations

relating to school readiness changed? The easy answer is …”no!”

If you are an early years

practitioner, please reassure

parents that the only

preparation for school children

need is for them to have time

to play. And time is what

many children now have in


Play is a very natural way for young

children to learn and whilst they may

not have been attending a setting,

these children will still have been

learning so much during the day.

They have plenty of opportunities

to actively learn, play and explore

and think critically at home. For

example, making mud pies in the

garden can teach us about capacity,

solids, liquids, changing properties

of materials, or building with blocks

can offer us opportunities to problem

solve, teach us about structures,

how things fit together and practice

our fine and gross motor skills, and

having a tea party with a teddy

enables us to practise conversation

and social skills.

So parents do not need to try to

teach their children anything specific

to help them to be ready for school.

Instead, they need to play with them,

sing together, read lots of stories,

talk with them about anything and

everything and play lots of games.

There are so many opportunities

to chat during the day: sort out the

washing, count the stairs when you

walk up or down together, face time

or video call a grandparent, discuss

what you’re going to have for lunch

or dinner and then, if possible,

involve them in making it. Make use

of other opportunities to have fun

together, such as writing a secret

message to your child and hiding

it in the house then using picture

clues to help them find and read it.,

e.g. Giving them a picture of a table,

means the message is on the table,

then the message could say, “There

is a strawberry in the fridge’ with a

picture of a strawberry and a fridge!”

Messages like this demonstrate to

children the importance of learning to

read without trying to teach them!

Other ideas parents can try at

home include:

• Play with the noises your voice

can make, for example, pretend

to go down a slide – “wheeeeee”

or make the sound of a police car

– “Nee naaa nee naaa...”

• Create an obstacle course in your

living room using cushions and

the coffee table – pretend that the

carpet is hot lava and you’re not

allowed to step on it!

• Play mirror-me games in the

garden by inviting your child to

copy your actions, then swap over

and copy your child.

• Have a dance off – when you

take it in turns with your child to

make some groovy moves to your

favourite music.

• Encourage your child to practise

getting dressed in the morning

without much help, or have a

getting dressed race!

• When you go out in the garden or

for your daily exercise, encourage

your child to put on their own

shoes or wellies.

• Support your child to go to the

toilet independently, including any

wiping needed and demonstrate

how to wash their hands. I guess

many children will be starting

school as experts in this!

• Encourage your child to find out

about wildlife and be interested in

the world around them, or create

a weather board together.

• Create a drum kit out of

saucepans and use wooden

spoons as drum sticks and try to

play a rhythm or steady beat on

the drums.

• Cook or bake together, sharing

the opportunity to measure the

ingredients and follow a recipe,

and of course, if appropriate, lick

the spoon!

• Play hide and seek or create

treasure hunts in the house

and garden, with clues such as

‘hot’ when your child is near the

treasure or ‘cold’ when then are

further away.

Most reception class teachers are not

worried about whether or not a child

recognises their name or can count

to 10 or say some letter sounds. But

they care very much about how many

of them can wipe their own bottom

or nose, or can put on their shoes

and coats independently. In a class of

30 four-year-olds these independent

skills are worth more than gold to

a busy reception teacher! Teachers

expect to teach children to read, write

and count when they begin in school

and will do so, when the children are

ready, but in those early days of term

and school life, a little independence

will certainly go a long way.

As early years practitioners, we

can share these sorts of ideas with

parents and carers and reassure

them that they do not need to worry

that their child will start school

behind, now that they have missed

several months of nursery. You can

explain about the importance of the

characteristics of effective learning

and how children learn best through

play and first-hand experiences and

reiterate the value of learning through

everyday activities at home.

So what does school readiness

mean in a pandemic? It means

children being children and

naturally being interested,

excited and motivated to learn

through anything and everything!

Children who try and try again.

Children who can get dressed by

themselves, can use the toilet

alone or help their parent at

tidying up. Children who learn

through play!

Tamsin Grimmer

Tamsin Grimmer is an experienced

early years consultant and trainer

and parent who is passionate

about young children’s learning and

development. She believes that all

children deserve practitioners who

are inspiring, dynamic, reflective

and committed to improving on their

current best. Tamsin particularly

enjoys planning and delivering

training and supporting early years

practitioners and teachers to

improve outcomes for young children.

Tamsin has written two books –

“Observing and Developing

Schematic Behaviour in Young

Children” and “School Readiness

and the Characteristics of Effective


You can contact Tamsin via

Twitter @tamsingrimmer, her

Facebook page, website or email

14 July 2020 | | July 2020 15

How to demonstrate our love

to young children during the

coronavirus pandemic

Research tells us the importance of touch and how it contributes to our positive mental

health and wellbeing. But what do we do now that we need to be more socially distant?

Firstly and most importantly, children may feel very anxious about the many changes

that have taken place in recent months and their setting is likely to look very different when

they return. Even though staff may themselves feel anxious about working, we know that we

need to ensure that the children feel welcomed and that things are as normal as possible.

We asked industry expert,

Tamsin Grimmer, to share her

thoughts about developing

a loving pedagogy during a

pandemic and how we can go

about showing the children in

our care that we love them -

while adhering to government

advice and guidelines.

As the DfE guidance doesn’t

specifically mention close contact and

touch, we must do what we feel is

appropriate and fits within our ethos,

whilst protecting our children and

staff as much as possible.

We may need to think of alternatives

to a hug or a cuddle that are more

appropriate in the moment, e.g.

offering a gentle squeeze to a

shoulder or having a fun elbow bump


However, there may still be times with

very young children when, within your

bubble, you feel it is appropriate for

close physical contact. At these times,

ensure that you carefully follow your

setting’s policies and usual strict

hygiene and hand washing principles.

However, there are still many ways

that we can demonstrate our love

without necessarily getting too close.

A loving pedagogy is about keeping

children’s best interests at heart and

holding them in mind - in addition to

building positive relationships and

secure attachments with them. So, we

can build nurture times into our routine

when children can re-fuel emotionally

and we can take a genuine interest in

their lives, for example, by commenting

on their t-shirt or smile!

I believe that love needs to be

redefined within early childhood

education to make the term more

readily used and accepted. By kind

and caring actions, holding children in

mind and wanting the best for those

in their care, early years practitioners

are already demonstrating love on

a daily basis. This pedagogy of love

will demonstrate love’s power in these

children’s lives and help them to grow

into loving citizens of the future.

Top tips

• Read stories and books which

include love, such as “When we

can’t hug” by Eoin MacLaughlin

and “The Invisible String” by Patrice


• Use positive, affirming and

encouraging language, e.g.

labelled praise and words that

build self-esteem.

• Listen to children, value their ideas

and, whenever possible, act upon


• If your bubble can see another

bubble of children, encourage

socially distanced interaction such

as waving, joining in with songs

together, working on the same

theme, playing instruments and

even pulling funny faces at each


• Create mini-me photo people and

give a set to each bubble so that

they can still play with their friends.

• Take part in community initiatives,

e.g. drawing a rainbow together

and displaying it in your window.

• Play some music and dance

together, copy each other’s moves

albeit from a distance!

• Create resources or plan activities

with specific children in mind,

reminding them they are special.

• Do something to help the children

e.g. finding their shoes, or the

specific block they were looking


• Give children appropriate ‘gifts’,

e.g. a daisy or special stone in the

outside area.

• Help children to understand the

concept of love, talking about

people who love them and how to

act in loving and caring ways.

• Role model acting in a loving and

caring way ourselves.

• Make pictures for other people.

• Create letters and cards for others

and send them in the post.

• Video call members of staff and

children who are still shielding or

who have not yet returned to your


Lastly, have fun together and

enjoy each other’s company!

Risk assessments and information

shared with parents and carers

should be specific and explain things

clearly, e.g. how nappies will be

changed, if we will allow children

to sit on our laps for a story or how

we will respond when their little one

initiates a cuddle or falls over and

hurts themselves.

We all love and feel loved in different

ways (Chapman and Campbell, 2012)

for example, some people feel loved

if they are given a gift, whilst others

feel loved if they are told in words.

For others still, actions speak louder

than words and they prefer to spend

time with someone they love or do

something for them. Some people will

always want to hug those they love. It

is important that we think about how

our children feel loved so that we can

still demonstrate our love throughout

this pandemic.

16 July 2020 | | July 2020 17

Consequences vs


It’s our job as parents, practitioners and teachers to set boundaries with children and to teach

them right from wrong. However, it is natural for them to push against these boundaries and to

challenge them. Although this can be frustrating, it is important to remember that it is a normal

part of their development and this behaviour is just their way of learning how to have a voice,

how to have autonomous thought and how to assert themselves. Our response and reaction

to their behaviour will contribute to their ability to do all of these things in a balanced way.

There are generally 2 ways to

address behaviour. One is through

punishment and the other is through

consequences. Both will eventually

result in a child behaving in a way

that is deemed acceptable. However,

one way will achieve this through

control and/or fear and the other will

teach a child to intrinsically make the

right choices and take responsibility.

What is punishment?

The definition of the verb ‘to punish’

is ‘to make someone suffer because

they have broken the law or done

something wrong’.

Punishments are often unrelated to a

child’s actions and are usually based

on retribution for an unacceptable

behaviour. They are often driven by

an aim to control the way a child

acts, but rarely teach them to take

responsibility for the impact of their

actions on another. Rather than

adjusting their behaviour due to the

morality of a situation, a child will

likely do it in fear of what will happen

to them.

Using punishment will often give quick

results. However, it can be detrimental

to a child’s self-esteem and lacks the

important lessons that are needed

for them to develop empathy and a

deeper understanding of right from

wrong. Everything a child sees, hears

and experiences in their early years

creates a blueprint and programming

that then guides them subconsciously

later in life. Punishment teaches a

child that they can be dominated and

overpowered. This quite often goes

one of two ways in later life.

Either they learn to control others and

have an uncompromising attitude,

or their default setting is to be

controlled and they struggle to assert

themselves in certain situations.

Dealing with a child’s behaviour

can be challenging. However, it is

important to ask ourselves what we

want a child to learn and to ensure

that our reaction to their behaviour is,

above all, teaching them this.

What are consequences?

Consequences teach children cause

and effect and lead to them making

positive choices based on what’s right

and wrong. They show children the

impact of their actions and allow for

them to learn a better way for the

future. This is because consequences

directly link to a child’s actions/

behaviour. They don’t come from a

place of control or fear and focus

more on teaching children, rather

than overpowering them.

How to deliver consequences


1. Stay calm

One of my favourite sayings

is “you are only as good a

communicator as the response

you get”. If a person is reacting

badly to what you are saying, it

is a sign that you need to deliver

the message in a different way.

The same goes for children. The

way that we communicate will

contribute to how they respond.

They probably won’t like facing

consequences and will no doubt

push against them. However, by

staying calm, we lead by example

and give children a safe space

to regulate more quickly, which

will in turn mean that they have

the capacity to hear what we are

trying to teach them.

2. Connection and understanding

Just because a child has

misbehaved does not mean that

we need to withdraw our love.

Connection is crucial in a child’s

development therefore showing

understanding, giving eye contact

and getting down on their level

can help. There will usually be a

reason for a child’s behaviour and

explaining that you understand

their frustration will make it easier

for them to listen to you and

to address their actions in the

future. If they hit a child with a

toy because they were trying to

snatch it off of them, explain that

you understand how frustrated

they must have felt and that you

would have felt the same, but that

hitting is not the answer.

Discuss why this is and what

they could have done instead (for

example, tell you, walk away etc).

3. Consistency is key

If you say something, make sure

you follow through. This goes for

positive and negative situations.

If you are busy and tell a child

that you will play with them in 5

minutes, make sure you do just

that. Even if they have forgotten,

remind them what you said and

honour your word. Likewise, if you

tell a child that they can’t have

their toy back for 5 minutes, make

sure you give them it back after

that time – no sooner, or later.

Our word is important to children

and they need to know it can be

trusted. Over time, consistency

and honesty develops respect and

reinforces boundaries.

4. Allow them to rectify their


Everybody makes mistakes and

should be allowed a second

chance. Giving children the

opportunity to rectify their

behaviour allows them to take

responsibility for their actions from

that point. They absolutely should

face the natural consequences.

However, if we give them a ‘get

out’ it reinforces the message

that mistakes are just lessons if

we change our actions and move

forward in a different way. For

example, if you take a toy off a

child because they hit someone

with it, tell them that they can have

it back in 5 minutes if they show

you that they can use it nicely. By

taking it away for the day, you

take away the chance for the child

to truly see the positive impact of

changing their behaviour.

5. Be realistic

Be mindful of a child’s age and

their level of understanding. Make

sure that the lesson you are trying

to teach them is within their grasp

and also make the consequence

age-appropriate. Also, take note

of a child’s intention. What seems

obvious to us, may not be to them

so they may have made a mistake

without even realising it.

6. Teach the lesson

Finally, it is important for us

as parents, practitioners and

teachers to be self-aware and to

ask ourselves if our response to

a child’s behaviour is a) leading

by example and b) teaching

them the lesson that they

need to learn in order to move

forward in a different way. We

want children to grow up to be

empathic, balanced adults who

know right from wrong. We also

want them to be kind, to know

their worth and to know their

own mind so that they aren’t

easily led. It is important for

us to set strong boundaries.

However, it is important that our

own actions as we are doing

this are instilling these values.

Delivering consequences over

punishment takes time and patience

because it is a deeper and more

meaningful approach. It is easier

to control a child than it is to delve

into their behaviour, explain it

and then give them the freedom

to rectify it. They will probably

challenge boundaries and make

the wrong choices a few times

before they learn the lessons we are

trying to teach them. However, with

consistency, love and empathy they

will slowly learn cause and effect

and will make the right choices due

to an intrinsic desire to do the right

thing. If we want children to take

responsibility and to show love and

empathy to others, we have to lead

by example and teach them how

to do this. It’s not a quick fix and it

most definitely takes time. Let’s face

it, we all know some adults who

still haven’t perfected this skill! One

thing I do know though, is that a

person who feels empowered and

loved, will be more driven to want

to do the right thing towards the

people around them, than someone

who feels controlled and shamed.

Consequences are not the easy

option, but they are, by far, the most

effective long-term.

Stacey Kelly

Stacey Kelly is a former teacher, a

parent to 2 beautiful babies and the

founder of Early Years Story Box, which

is a subscription website providing

children’s storybooks and early years

resources. She is passionate about

building children’s imagination,

creativity and self-belief and about

creating awareness of the impact

that the early years have on a child’s

future. Stacey loves her role as a

writer, illustrator and public speaker

and believes in the power of personal

development. She is also on a mission

to empower children to live a life full

of happiness and fulfilment, which is

why she launched the #ThankYouOaky

Gratitude Movement.

Sign up to Stacey’s Premium

Membership here and use the code

PARENTA20 to get 20% off or contact

Stacey for an online demo.


or Telephone: 07765785595

Facebook: https://www.facebook.




Instagram: https://www.instagram.




18 July 2020 | | July 2020 19

How to treat


and scalds

Burns are one of the most common

accidents that can befall a child, so it

is vital that the people in your setting

not only know how to prevent them

in the first place, but understand

how to treat them with first aid if

they do occur. Burns and scalds are

slightly different but they both result

in damage to the skin usually caused

by heat. A burn is caused by dry

heat, such as an iron, fire of touching

something hot such as a kettle or

curling irons. A scald is caused by

something wet such as hot water,

steam or hot tea/coffee. Both can be

very painful and result in blistering

or peeling of the skin, swelling and

white or charred skin which can leave

permanent scars.

Many young children do not know that

touching hot things can hurt them, so

it is imperative that you teach them to

stay away from potentially dangerous

things, such as kettles, cups and fires.

Both burns and scalds are treated in

the same way and you should ensure

that all your staff know how to treat

them with first aid.

First aid for burns and scalds

1. Make sure the person is away

from the heat source and is at

no further risk. Ensure that no one

else is at risk either.

2. Cool the burn with cool or

lukewarm running water for

20 minutes. Do not user ice, iced

water or any creams or greasy

substances like butter or honey.

These can cause further damage

when trying to remove them later.

3. Remove any clothing or

jewellery that is near the burnt

area of skin, including nappies

but DO NOT remove anything

that is stuck to the skin as this

can cause further damage or


4. Keep the person warm using a

blanket or coats, to help avoid

the person going into shock, but

be very careful not to catch or rub

the burnt area.

5. Cover the burn using cling film

or a clean plastic bag to help

prevent infection. Be gentle when

applying this. The cling film will

not stick to the burn.

6. If allowed, painkillers such as

paracetamol or ibuprofen may

be administered to alleviate

pain, but this will depend on

your setting’s permissions on

administering medicines and you

should always check with parents

regarding this if in doubt.

Acid or chemical burns

Some burns can be caused by

corrosive chemicals such as acids.

If this is the case, you should dial

999, carefully and safely remove

any residue of the chemical and

contaminated clothing and rinse the

infected area with as much water as


Burns to the face and/or


If the infected area is in the eyes or

on the face, try to sit the person up

rather than lying them down as this

helps to reduce swelling due to the

upright position.

When to seek medical


With most minor burns, it is often

possible to treat these at home or in

the setting provided that the burn is

not serious and the correct first aid

(as above) has been applied in time.

You should:

• Always keep the burn clean

• Never burst any blisters that form

on the skin

• Seek professional medical

attention in the burn gets worse

or the person suffers any side

effects and ALWAYS SEEK


AND BABIES after applying first


Always go to A&E for:

• chemical and electrical burns of

any kind

• large or deep burns – which

means something larger than the

injured person’s hand

• burns that cause white or charred

skin of any size

• burns that cause blisters on the

face, hands, arms, feet, legs or


• where a person has inhaled

smoke or fumes

• people at greater risk from the

effects of burns and this includes

children under 5 and pregnant


• Remember to call 999 if burns are

severe or if the person goes into

shock. Shock is a life-threatening

condition which occurs as the

body begins to shut down various

organs to preserve life, resulting

insufficient oxygen supply to

certain parts of the body.

Categorising burns

Burns are assessed and categorised

by how seriously the skin is damaged

and which of the 3 layers of skin are

affected: the outer epidermis layer;

the dermis which is just beneath

the epidermis and contains nerve

endings, sweat glands, hair follicles

and blood capillaries; or the deep

subcutaneous fat layer, the subcutis.

Depending on the extent of the

damage, the burn will result in

different symptoms and be classified

as a:

1. Superficial epidermal burn

2. Deep dermal or partial thickness


3. Superficial dermal burn

4. Full thickness burn

Prevention is always better

than cure

Last month we celebrated Child Safety

Week and there are many charities

and associations which can help give

advice on how to reduce your risk of

burns and scalds just by being more

aware of the dangers and keeping

little people out of harms way.

Remember to:

• Keep children out of areas where

there are hot things are, e.g.

kitchens – use safety gates

• Keep hot handles turned inwards

and away from surface edges

and use short or curly leads on

kettles so children cannot reach

up and pull them

• Use the back rings on a cooker if


• Keep hot drinks away from

children – better to use a cup with

a lid to minimise any spills in case

of accidents

• Always test the bath water using

your elbow and never leave

children alone even for a moment

• Fit thermostatic valves to control

water temperature

• Fit fireguards to all fires/heaters

• Do not pick up children whilst

carrying a hot drink

• Do not allow children to drink hot

drinks through a straw

• Test the heat of food and bottles

before offering them to a child

• Keep all matches, lighters, and

lit candles out of sight and out of

the reach of children – in locked


For further advice:

• See the NHS website on burns

and scalds

• Contact the Red Cross

• Call NHS 111

• Go to a walk-in or minor injuries


20 July 2020 | | July 2020 21

Ways to support young

children with English as an

additional language

In your early years childcare setting, you are likely to have many children for whom

English is not their first language. You are going to experience a range of fluency across

the children you encounter. It is important that as practitioners we do all we can to support

children with English as an Additional Language (EAL) so that they can feel safe and

secure at your setting and therefore reach their full potential during their time with you.

Gina Smith

Starting in a new nursery or with a

new childminder for the first time is

likely to be an anxious experience for

any child, even if they are also feeling

excited. Combine this with the fact

that a child might not understand

the language that is being spoken

to them, and that language doesn’t

sound familiar at all. You can imagine

how unsettling this could be for a

young child.

As you get to know a living in a multilingual

home, be aware that they may

be hearing not just two, but many

different dialects in their lives. For

example, a child who has an English

mother and, say, a Polish father could

be hearing English from Mum, Polish

from Dad, plus Dad’s English and

Mum’s Polish. Here is an example of

where a child could be hearing four

different dialects at home before they

then come to your setting and hear

even more.

Below are a few tips to help ease the

transition into a childcare setting for a

child with EAL:

• Use minimal language

Give a child the chance to learn

key vocabulary by using just key

words and very simple sentences

until they become more confident

at speaking English. If you use too

many words it will hinder them

as they won’t be able to learn the

key words.

• Communicate using


Any child who struggles with

understanding will benefit from

you showing them things visually.

Show them a card with a picture

of a toilet, clearly say the word

“toilet” and then lead them to the

toilet. Here you are using visual,

as well as verbal cues to help

them learn key words. Following

this, have the visuals available

so that if a child can’t remember

the word, they can use that card

to communicate to you when they

need the toilet. This will make a

huge difference in calming their

anxiety levels because you have

instantly given them a way to


• Use sign language

Using simple sign language such

as Makaton once again reinforces

the words visually, and also gives

the child a way to communicate

back to you.

• Encourage learning

through play

You will already know that play is

key in a child’s learning. Now take

the opportunity to extend a child’s

language by engaging in their play

and modelling the language e.g.

“the car is on the road”.

Tell them what they are doing “you

are painting” – this is how they will

learn new language.

• Celebrate a child’s culture

Celebrating a child’s culture is

going to make them feel welcome

and valued. Make not just the

child, but the whole family feel

welcome by taking the time to

find out about their culture and

celebrate it. This will help the

whole family feel at ease which

will have a positive knock-on

effect on the child. Furthermore,

by celebrating the culture of your

EAL child, you have a fantastic

opportunity to gather observations

of the other children’s personal,

social and emotional development

and their understanding of the

world. It goes without saying that

the more respect that peers show

towards your child with EAL, the

happier they are going to be.

• Use local support

You should find that your local

council have a team dedicated to

supporting children with EAL.

They may be able to lend you

books in the child’s home

language for you to have in your

setting, again helping the child to

feel more at home.

Gina Smith is an experienced teacher

with experience of teaching in

both mainstream and special

education. She is the creator of ‘Create

Visual Aids’ - a business that provides

both homes and education settings

with bespoke visual resources. Gina

recognises the fact that no two children

are the same and therefore individuals

are likely to need different resources.

Create Visual Aids is dedicated to

making visual symbols exactly how the

individual needs them.



Of course, before any of these tips

the most important advice is to have

patience, as you would with any child.

Be supportive and take time to speak

directly to, and listen to a child with

EAL. We know that happiness and

confidence is key in order for a child

to learn. Let’s do everything we can

to boost the self-esteem of children

with EAL so that you can start to see

real progress, not just in their spoken

language and understanding, but in all

areas of their development.

22 July 2020 | | July 2020 23

Plastic Free July

In the children’s film, “WALL-E”, the waste pollution on planet earth grows so bad

that it forces all the humans to evacuate on a spaceship, leaving behind robots to clear up

the mess, periodically sending back probes to see if the planet has recovered enough to

support life again. Whilst this is a charming children’s story on one level, on another, it

could be viewed as a dystopian view of humanity’s future – a doomed, everlasting existence

floating round space because we couldn’t solve our planet’s pollution problems!

Perhaps we should all see it as a warning and put all our efforts into finding

a practical solution before it genuinely is, too late.

Their website hosts a free

downloadable poster for getting

started called, “My challenge choices”

which gives suggestions on how to

begin. Whether it’s using beeswax

covers instead of plastic cling wrap,

or shopping at the deli counter

instead of always opting for the

pre-packed bacon, the website is full

of great ideas and resources.

Over the last few years, nurseries and

their clients have become more and

more aware of the impact that plastic

pollution has on the environment, as

well as the large contribution that the

early years sector makes to this, with

its use of disposable nappies, plastic

cutlery/straws/plates and plastic toys

and games. We’ve run several articles

in the magazine over the last few

years to promote alternatives, and

you too can join in the crusade and

get on board now with Plastic Free


Here are a few ideas from

the website to get you


As an individual

1. Refill water bottles

2. Buy and use a reusable drinks

cup for your take-away drinks

3. Look at alternatives to disposable

tampons and pads for plastic-free


In your setting:

1. Set up a water refilling station

and advise the parents

2. Buy refills for everyday supplies

rather than new bottles - things

such as hand soap, washing-up

liquid and cleaning products

3. Buy food supplies in bulk and

decant into reusable containers

rather than buy pre-packaged


4. Reduce or eliminate your use of

balloons and glitter

5. Use alternatives to plastic straws

such as paper or reusable ones

6. Organise a park or beach cleanup

(following social distancing

rules of course)

7. Link up with other nurseries

or groups who want to reduce

plastic waste too, to see if you

can make savings together (once

we are fully out of lockdown, of


8. Hold an awareness event or

encourage the parents to get

involved in Plastic Free July too

by using your influence and your

social media connections

9. Challenge your staff to join you in

your commitment

10. Campaign in your local area by

writing to your MP or local council

for better recycling facilities,

policies and practices to reduce


There are many useful resources on

the Plastic Free July website which you

can find and download here. These

include posters, informative videos,

promotional products and social

media assets to help you promote the

event. Even if your setting is not fully

back from lockdown, this is a great

time to begin planning for your future,

which should include reducing your

setting’s impact on the environment.

Remember that 12.7 million tonnes

of plastic end up in the ocean each

year, and we absolutely have a

duty to protect the environment for

the benefit of future generations.

What will be the point if we spend

all our time raising a generation of

responsible, well-rounded and caring

individuals and then let them inherit a

waste mountain? Surely they, and we,

deserve better? Which means taking

action NOW.

We’d love to hear your ideas for

reducing your plastic consumption –

email us at

to let us know what you’re doing and

the impact you’re having

For more information, see:

4. Switch to reusable nappies

5. Exchange liquid soap for bars

of soap to reduce packaging, or

choose brands that will refill old,

cleaned-out bottles

The Covid-19 pandemic may be

waning, but it has revealed some

unexpected benefits for our planet

as air pollution levels dropped during

lockdown and nature seemed to

breathe easy for a short while as we

humans ceased our non-essential

activities. So, there is hope, and we at

Parenta believe there is also the will

– and as the old adage says, “where

there’s a will, there’s a way!”

Plastic Free July is one initiative which

aims to get everyone around the

globe doing their bit, however small.

It’s not so much about pressuring

governments or making grand

gestures (although no one would

disapprove of that), it’s more about

getting a ground swell of support for

small changes that have a big impact.

What is Plastic Free July?

Plastic Free July is a global movement

started by the Western Metropolitan

Regional Council in Australia in 2011

as a way to reduce waste. They

started by replacing disposable coffee

cups and moved on from there. So

far, their ideas has inspired over a

quarter of a million people in over 177

countries to make a difference and

reduce their reliance on single-use


Often, we as consumers feel that we

are presented with a fait accompli

regarding plastics, as food comes

ready-packaged, alternatives seem

costly, or we simply cannot see

another option. But the organisers

of Plastic Free July use the tagline

“choose to refuse” in an attempt to

educate us and show us that we

really do have the ability to redress

the balance in our shopping choices

and everyday decisions. They

recommend everyone starts small –

by choosing one thing such as plastic

water bottles, single-use coffee cups,

or plastic cutlery, and go from there.

6. Seek out plastic-free alternatives

to toothbrushes and toothpaste

such as bamboo ones or refills

7. Visit the deli counter and only buy

the amount you need, wrapped in

biodegradable packaging

8. Always take reusable bags with

you when you shop

9. Refuse single-use plastic straws

or bring you own reusable


10. Avoid teabags that use plastic

– you’ll be surprised how many

there are

24 July 2020 | | July 2020 25

Positive emotional

regulation practice

How often have you told a toddler to “calm down”? Or asked a child to “stop crying”?

Usually when we get to this point, it is often us that needs to calm down, or us who feels

like bursting into tears. What we are requesting from children in these moments of

crisis is that they regulate their own emotions.

Emotional regulation is a tricky skill

to learn, trickier still at moments of

emotional stress. Yet it is in these

moments that we normally ask

children to practice the skill of shifting

between emotional states.

In order to move between emotional

states, children need to know what

they feel like. If you can support a

child to recognise how their body

feels when they themselves feel calm,

then at least they have a target to

aim for when you say “calm down.”

Without this, your request can come

across as very abstract.

In my work, I support people from

a wide range of backgrounds with

a wide range of needs. Some of the

people I work with are in very stressful

jobs, others are recovering addicts.

I have supported children with special

educational needs and disabilities,

and I have supported the staff who

care for these children. For everyone,

“checking-in” with your body is a really

handy way of understanding how you

are feeling.

You might think that you know how

you are feeling as you are feeling

it, but quite often we can become

stressed without noticing it, or our

mood can drop and we only notice

when we get to the point of feeling

sad. Checking-in regularly with your

physical self, and knowing your own

personal warning signs is really


For you, a check-in could be doing

a quick scan of your body and

noticing the tension around your

neck and shoulders as if a head ache

is building, or noticing that you’re

moving around a lot but not getting

much done. Perhaps you bite your

fingernails or fuss with your clothes,

maybe you eat more sugary foods?

Whatever your warning signs are they

will be unique to you. Knowing what

they are is key to supporting your own

emotional awareness.

If we think about this for young

children, we might notice them

becoming more clingy, or withdrawing

from social contact. They might

get frustrated more quickly than

usual and throw a toy or reject an

activity. Most likely we would notice

their facial expressions: children’s

expressions are much less guarded

than adults so it is easier for us to

see what they are feeling, as it is not


To support children in checking-in

with their bodies, we can ask them

simple questions. Wording these

question so that they are about the

body will help to direct their attention

to their physicality, so for example

“is your body feeling cuddly?” “Do

your hands feel grabby?” “How does

your face feel?” Providing visuals to

go with these questions can help

children to frame their answers, or

simply to be able to point to the visual

of something they are not yet able to

express in words.

Generally, when we ask a child to

emotionally regulate, what we are

requesting is calm.

Children know what happy, sad and

excited are because these states

are frequently labelled for them and

reinforced in our language. They know

what these feelings are, but what is

calm? Calm is just something adults

say when children are feeling anything

other than calm!

Try working into your routine a regular

opportunity for children to feel their

bodies in a state of calm. The game of

‘Sleeping Dragons’ is a lot of fun: Ask

the children to sit down and pretend

they are dragons about to go to sleep.

Begin with fingers clawed up and

take a deep breath in, as the dragons

relax into sleep their claws uncurl,

their eyes close, and they blow out all

the fire that is left in their bellies. (You

want this blowing out to be a long

and continuous breath). After a three

deep slow breaths in and out, instruct

the children to put one hand on their

bellies and one hand on their chests

to feel the dragon’s breathing as it


Make sure you join in as well. Narrate

for the children what you feel as your

body enters a state of calm, e.g. your

shoulders are down, your tummy

comes out as you breathe in, your

chest goes down as you breathe out.

Slow your voice and use its tone to

reflect the state you want them to

achieve. When everyone is peaceful

tell them “You feel calm”.

You can emphasise this, “This is what

your body feels like when you feel

calm”. If you think the children might

be able to provide it you can ask

them to describe how their bodies are

feeling to you. This will give you their

language to use when talking to them

about feeling calm in the future. For

example a child might say “My arms

feel tired” you could then reflect this

back to them on another day when

things are not going their way and

say, “Do you need to feel tired arms


Here is another quick example of a

way to teach emotional regulation

skills through play. There are a great

many more and I am always happy

to be contacted by parents and

professionals looking for more ideas.

Being excited balloons and

calm balloons

Ask the children to pretend that

they are balloons being blown up.

Have them breathe in, in three short

breaths. As they do so they can puff

their bodies out and hold out their

arms to show that they are full of air.

(You can use a real balloon to model

this to them). What happens when

you let go of a balloon that is full of

air? Yes that’s right, have them race

around the room making ‘farting’

noises! (We often avoid situations

where children are likely to get a bit

silly or over excited, providing these

opportunities in a managed way is

further support to their development

of emotional regulation skills). Once all

their air is expended they have to fall

to the ground in a little heap, just like

the balloon.

Tell the children they are

going to be balloons

again, but this time

they will be calm

balloons - with

tubes in them! If

you are using a real

balloon to model

this to the children

make a little tube of

cardboard and once

the balloon is

Katie White

Katie Rose White is a Laughter

Facilitator and founder of ‘The Best

Medicine’. She works predominantly

with carers, teachers and healthcare

professionals - teaching playful

strategies for boosting mood,

strengthening resilience and

improving wellbeing. She provides

practical workshops, interactive talks

and training days - fusing therapeutic

laughter techniques, playful games

and activities, and mindfulness-based

practices. The techniques are not

only designed to equip participants

with tools for managing their stress,

but can also be used and adapted to

the needs of the people that they are



inflated, insert the tube into its neck so

that it blows around the room without

making a noise. Have the children

copy this by blowing out all their air in

one continuous stream and swooshing

around the room in the loops that the

balloon makes. As before, they can

drop to the floor when they have run

out of air. Ask the children to describe

the difference between how it feels

to be an excited balloon and to be a

calm balloon. As you do this you are

drawing their attention to their own

internal emotional states.

26 July 2020 | | July 2020 27

Mark-making in

early years

• Have sharp pencils and good

quality pens for children to use

and plenty of water based paints!

• If a child is struggling to hold a

pencil properly, encourage them

to hold a much shorter, thicker

pencil or a broken off bit of

chalk – this naturally encourages

a proper grip, rather than a

‘technically correct’ grip.

What is mark-making?

The term ‘mark-making’ refers to the

creation of different patterns, lines,

textures and shapes – in effect, the

‘scribbles’ - that young children make

with various tools (pens, pencils,

chalk, paintbrushes, crayons etc.) It is

one of the earliest stages of writing

and helps to form an essential part of

developing both gross and fine motor

skills in children.

Why is it important?

Writing is a skill that we take for

granted as adults. Like so many other

skills acquired in our early childhood,

writing is something that must be

learnt gradually. Mark-making isn’t

just about ‘teaching children to write’.

It’s so much more than that. It is

crucial for children’s development

because as well as enabling a child

to learn to write, making marks can

benefit a child physically, and also

help to develop their imagination and

creative skills.

Children can mark-make using a

variety of implements – ranging from

a finger to a paintbrush, stick, pen,

pencil or piece of chalk – whatever

they like! As long as they are using

the muscles in their hand and arm to

make different shapes, then they are

on their way to becoming a writer.

Top tips

• Always try and offer fun,

interesting, engaging and

multisensory ways to mark-make

and your children will be on their

way to mastering the physical

side of writing!

• A child is far more likely to want

to mark-make if it feels good –

and is messy too!

Apart from the obvious developmental

benefits that mark-making brings, it

also gives children the opportunity to

express themselves in a non-verbal

way. Generally, between the ages of

2 and 3, the marks children make in

this way start to have meaning. They

use it as a way to share their thoughts

and feelings, giving practitioners a

new insight into their lives that they

didn’t have before. It builds on their

understanding of the world and

allows them to tell a story, or create a

‘gift’ for someone or record what they

see. This could be the first time that

you have seen the children express

themselves, other than verbally or

with body language.

Physical development

To be able to control a writing

implement, children must first develop

their hand-eye coordination. Then,

they must build up the muscles in

their hands, their arms and even

in their shoulders. Throwing balls,

climbing, running and jumping will all

help to refine the large muscle groups

that children need in order to write.

There is no rush!

Learning to write is a gradual process.

It needs to be taught in an active and

engaging way over a period of time.

We know that children develop at

different rates so they will all learn to

write at a different pace.

Skills and abilities needed for


To be able to write, children need the

following skills and abilities which

can take time to develop which is why

mark-making is so important:

• Gross and fine muscle control

• Hand-eye co-ordination

• A positive attitude and interest in


• Ability to grip a pencil

• Ability to recognise and recreate

patterns and shapes

• Knowing how and what to write,

according to the defined purpose

A good sign that children are

progressing well through their markmarking

journey is when they progress

to being able to use thick felt tips or

crayons to make circular or straight

lines on a piece of paper. Then, at

around 4 years old, children begin to

write their first words, starting with

their name. Some of the letters may

be reversed or missed out of the word

completely, but this is an important

milestone. From now on, children

can proudly sign their name on the

drawings and artwork that they’ve

created – and you can pass these on

to proud parents!

Here are some top tips and games

that you can use in your setting to help

the children on their mark-making and

writing journey:

• Make sure you always have plenty

of pens, crayons, chalks etc. and

paper too so the children can

mark-make whenever they feel

like it, not just at allocated times

of the day. Children who have the

freedom and opportunity to make

marks and draw are more likely to

engage in the process of writing.

• Non-permanent mark-making

using different coloured chalks

and allowing the children to draw

on patios, walls and pavements

is great fun, particularly in the

warmer weather.

• Using mud, sand, paint (and snow

if you have an outside space) will

stick in the children’s minds and

will motivate them to want to do


• Using scarves and ribbons to

make letters and numbers in the

air can be made into a dancing

game and will keep the children

engaged for hours!

• A firm favourite is a game where

the children use their fingers to

draw on their friend’s backs – it is

sure to bring many giggles to your


• Although not mark-making,

supporting children to manage

buttons, zips and put on their

clothes will help them master their

hand control.

• Doing jigsaw puzzles, building

Lego and threading beads on

to laces will also help children

develop those fine motor skills

which are so crucial for writing.

And finally…

Praise effort rather than outcome.

Children who are corrected frequently

may become exasperated or lose

interest in the writing process.

Conversely, those who receive praise

for their mark-marking and efforts to

write will naturally want to keep trying

and will inevitably get better over time.

Remember that it’s important for

children to see adults making the

effort to write and mark-make. This

helps them to realise that we live in a

world where marks are valuable and

provide meaning. Ensure that you role

model this and you will have a setting

full of children who can’t wait to start

their writing journey!

28 July 2020 | | July 2020 29

Helping siblings when

the new baby arrives

Our children are used to love, attention, and relationships - and anything that rocks that boat

can have a big impact. We have the language and comprehension to understand that changes

may be temporary, or for a reason, whereas our children do not. This can be what happens

when a parent becomes pregnant again, and when things change at home, our settings need to

remain the oasis of consistency that our children need.

Our children are used to love,

attention, and relationships - and

anything that rocks that boat can have

a big impact. We have the language

and comprehension to understand

that changes may be temporary, or

for a reason, whereas our children do


The arrival of a new baby in the family

is a cause for excitement, joy, and

oftentimes, a lot of frustration and

confusion for young children, who

have to suddenly shift from being

the baby of the family to being a big

brother or sister. The family dynamics

and relationships change, which

can cause anxiety and unwanted

behaviours from the older sibling,

both at home and in our settings.

30 July 2020 |

I’d like to share a few examples of

children that I have worked with.

• Joshua overheard his parents

talking about a hospital trip on

the way to nursery. In nursery

he was withdrawn and clearly

worried. A chat with his key

worker revealed he thought

his mum was ill, because you

only go to hospital when you’re

sick. It was soon explained that

mummy was having a pregnancy


• Charlotte’s dad was doing the

nursery drop off as mum was

at home with their new baby.

Without her normal goodbye

routine, Charlotte was distraught.

• Sami, a usually gentle threeyear-old,

was showing a lot

of aggression towards other

children. When asked to share

toys he became very upset. A chat

with dad explained that Sami’s

cousins were visiting for a while,

and sharing Sami’s room.

For Joshua, Charlotte and Sami, there

were a few common themes:

1. Adults didn’t expect their actions

to have an impact on the children.

2. Change to routines was upsetting

and difficult to process without


3. The children were unable to

communicate their emotions in a

way that was understood.

So as early years settings, how can

we support children through these


First and foremost is open & trusting

communication. When parents feel

they can share personal information

with staff, this should be respected -

not shared unless necessary, recorded

if appropriate, and acted on when


Secondly, encouraging and modelling

how to talk about our feelings is really

important. Whether this is 1:1 or in

group sessions, quickly checkingin

with each child helps them to

understand that they are valued and

there is someone who wants to listen

to them. This doesn’t have to be a

verbal activity - though it does help

language development if you can

provide the words a child might not yet


Other than communication, there are

lots of other activities you can plan

to support the emotional needs of

children with a new baby in the family:

• Create a role-play area with dolls

and various accessories to go

with them. Make sure you have a

diverse selection so that children

can choose the most appropriate

doll for their family. Adults can

then model how to safely and

gently take care of babies. This is

great even for the younger babies.

• Invite the pregnant person into the

setting to give a regular update

on their bump. If they are willing,

you could create a display with

photos, ultrasound pictures, and

create a chart of measurements…

This is something I did in my own

pregnancy - the group of SEN

children I was working with loved

using a tape measure to measure

my bump and carefully add to our


• Invite the family to bring the new

baby into the setting. Give the

older child the chance to proudly

show off their sibling and answer

any questions! This is a great

opportunity to talk about growth,

and differences & similarities.

• Work with the child to create a

book of pictures, stories and other

treats for them to give to the new


• Talk about what to expect when

the new baby arrives - they will

cry lots, not because they’re

unhappy, but because they can’t

talk. They eat a lot, and they poo

a lot! They won’t be able to play

just yet, but they love listening to

you sing, etc.

You’ll notice that most of these

activities are focused on the new

baby, rather than the older child.

It’s critical that we also plan time

for the older child to have time for

them to be themselves, without

being the older sibling. Could you

have a talent show in your setting?

Make a display of artwork? How else

could you encourage pride in their

achievements and abilities? As the

attention at home turns to the new

baby, our children will more than

ever appreciate a simple hug, or the

intimacy of sharing a book on their

own with an adult in a quiet corner.

Lastly, I want to talk about the

importance of supporting new

parents, as this will have a direct

impact on children too. I recommend

that as a setting, you make yourselves

aware of the signs and symptoms of

postnatal depression and anxiety,

which can affect both mothers and

fathers, for months and years after

the birth of their baby. Have you got

a quiet place for parents to sit and

talk if they need to? A private area

where they can breastfeed in peace

if their little one wakes up and needs

a feed? Even a gentle “How are you

doing?” and the offer of a cup of

tea and a biscuit can go a long way

to supporting new parents. Where

possible, consider whether you can

be flexible on things like drop-off

and pick-up times, and how you can

sensitively bring up concerns such as

behaviour, without adding too much

stress for the parents who already

have their hands full.

Ultimately, children adjust, and they

adapt. But while their home life is in

the midst of changing, our settings

can be the calm in the storm, with

just a little time and attention. Get to

know your children, and their families,

so you can spot the signs that they

need a helping hand - not only will

Rosie Das

Rosie Das is the owner of ‘The

Plymouth Doula’, where she

supports families in their transition

to parenthood through birth &

postpartum doula services, and

childbirth education. As a qualified

teacher, she specialises in the early

years as well as having a passion

for working with children with

Special Educational Needs. She

has worked in the UK, USA, France,

India, and most recently a 3 year

stint in a large international school

in Malaysia where she was the


When not working with new families,

she can be found tending to her

chickens or digging in the family

allotment. Rosie has a mischievous

toddler called Max, and is married

to Giresh, who keeps her topped

up with his amazing food creations

whilst she’s working.

Rosie loves talking about all things

pregnancy, birth and baby related,

and is always excited to meet

and support pregnant people

and their families. You can find

out more on her website, www. . The

Plymouth Doula can also be found

on Facebook:


they love you for it, but you will gain a

reputation for being a supportive and

nurturing provider, which can only be a

good thing for your business. | July 2020 31

Egg box bee craft

Dark chocolate bark

On Sunday 10th July we celebrate National Don’t Step on a Bee Day, which was

created to raise awareness of our amazing bees! Not only do our bees help

provide the honey, they also help to keep us all fed and watered! So there’s

never a better time to recognise our little hard workers!

You will need:

• 1 Egg box

• Child-friendly scissors

Tuesday, 7th July is World Chocolate Day. Most people (and especially

children!) love chocolate! To celebrate the day we have created dark

chocolate bark to highlight all the benefits dark chocolate has.

It is loaded with nutrients, healthy fats and anti-oxidants. And although

there are a few effects that we know are beneficial in children when it comes

to eating dark chocolate, a good quality dark chocolate can help improve

your child’s circulation, improve blood pressure, and help prevent white

blood cells clogging up artery walls. It can also help guard against

cardiovascular disease in the future.

• Yellow and black paint and


• Googly eyes

• Glue

• White construction paper

• Black marker pen


1. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

2. Chop the chocolate finely and put it in a

microwavable bowl.

3. There are two ways of melting the chocolate:

- Set the bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering

water and keep stirring until all the chocolate melts.

You will need:

• Good quality dark chocolate

• White chocolate

• Any topping you want! We used dried

cranberries and blueberries, Rice Krispies

and marshmallows

• Baking tray

• Baking paper or tin foil


1. Cut your egg box into single sections. You’ll need one section

per bee.

2. Paint your sections with yellow paint and allow to dry.

3. Once dry, paint black stripes on the top part of your egg box

section and allow to dry.

4. Using white paper, cut out small wings and glue them on top of

the ‘bee’.

5. Add googly eyes, or alternatively you can paint the eyes if you


6. Using the black marker pen, draw a mouth.

7. You are done!

- Put the bowl in a microwave and set the timer to

15 seconds at a time. In between timing, stir the

chocolate to make sure it doesn’t burn.

4. Pour the melted chocolate on to the baking paper

and using a spatula, spread the chocolate in a nice

even layer.

5. Pour the while chocolate on top and using a

toothpick, swirl it around.

6. Add your prepared toppings and sprinkle them on

top of the chocolate.

7. Put your baking tray in the oven for about 30

minutes. Once set, break it into desired pieces and

enjoy it!

• A bowl and a spatula

• Toothpick – or anything you can swirl with

32 June 2020 | | July 2020 33

More men needed

in early years

In December 2018, we reported on Wright and Brownhill’s

book, entitled “Men in Early Years Settings: Building a Mixed

Gender Workforce” which highlighted the problem of the

gender imbalance in the early years practitioners. At the time,

less than 3% of the early years workforce were male, and

despite various initiatives to try to recruit more male staff, the

statistics show little improvement so far.

However, that does not mean

that nothing has been done, but

parliamentary infighting over

Brexit (remember that?!), a quick

general election and the coronavirus

pandemic, have somewhat stalled

the progress that might have been

made. The problem has not gone

away though, and we wanted to

revisit the issue to keep it in the minds

of recruiters, trainers and owners of

early years settings.

It is thought that a lack of male staff

is due to a combination of factors

such as prevailing attitudes, gender

stereotyping and low wages, but the

impact is the same – many children

are not getting as a balanced an input

in their early years as they might.

For some children, whose fathers

are absent from their home life for

example, males working in early years

may be that child’s only positive male

role model.

In April 2019, the then Children

and Families Minister, Nadhim

Zahawi, announced a £30,000

grant to support a scheme run by

the Fatherhood Institute, as part of

a wider funding initiative to develop

the general skill level of early years

practitioners. The FI grant is to help

provide more male role models for

children in the early years.

At the time, Nadhim Zahawi said:

“Every child needs a role-model to

guide them – whether that’s a parent,

a close family member or friend, or

someone at nursery or pre-school

that makes a difference in their life.

“The early years staff who support

children in the first few years of their

education equip them with important

skills before they reach the classroom,

getting them on track to succeed as

they get older.

Just as parenting is a shared

responsibility, so is kickstarting

a child’s love of learning. I want

more men to play a positive role

in educating and caring for our

next generation. That’s why we’re

supporting the Fatherhood Institute

to encourage men from all walks of

life into early years careers, to give

children the best start in life and be a

part of this important and rewarding


The Fatherhood Institute is already

providing a number of practical

resources such as the ‘MITEY’ (Men

In The Early Years) campaign which

is run with help from a steering

group of academics, employers

and practitioners. The MITEY

network includes male early years

practitioners, supportive female

colleagues, managers and owners

and others with an interest in gender

equality and early child development.

The MITEY website has information,

advice and input from existing and

new male practitioners including

‘myth busters,’ case studies, and

conference information, and acts as

a virtual resource to connect likeminded

individuals and organisations

doing their best to make Britain’s

early years education workforce more

gender-diverse. They are encouraging

everyone to sign up to the MITEY

Charter which “sets out a series of

statements clarifying signatories’

commitment to working towards a

mixed-gender workforce.”

One of its recent publications, “The

MITEY Guide To Recruiting Men”,

available from their website, is a

20-page guide calling on all early

years employers to take an active

role in recruiting more men, not only

because it doubles the talent pool

from which to recruit, but because

it begins to breakdown barriers and

gender stereotypes, showing that

men can be professional caregivers

and educators for the early years too.

And not just in early years education

– there is a gender disparity within

general teaching, social care and

other caring professions as well.

One thing that the team behind

MITEY recognise is that they cannot

change things on their own and so

they are actively seeking out anyone

who can make a difference and

contribute to the cause. It might be

a careers adviser that challenges

preconceptions about early years

roles, or a trade union that helps fight

discrimination, or an employer who

is willing to confront gender bullying

within its own establishment. If there

are to be more men working in early

years, it will take a concerted effort

from everyone and MITEY want to

hear from you.

Some longer-term research being

undertaken by Dr Jo Warin from

Lancaster University, in conjunction

with The Fatherhood Institute, aims

to “improve understanding about the

barriers that stand in the way of more

men taking up employment in the

Early Childhood Education workforce;

to learn about possible solutions;

and to harness this evidence-based

knowledge in ways that can help the

UK diversify the gender of its workforce

in the most efficient and effective ways


This research is set to run until the end

of January 2021 and its findings and

recommendations will be published

once collated.

But what can be done now?

Whilst we wait for more researchbased

recommendations to emerge,

there are some fundamental things

that can be done at grass-roots level,


1. The positive promotion of male

early years practitioners in

booklets, promotional materials

and websites including images

and case studies

2. Challenging gender bias with

parents, staff and the public – for

example if they express concerns

just because you have a male

employee, or if they assume that

‘some jobs are only for women’.

Research suggests that tackling

this early in a child’s school

education can have a significant


3. Making sure your setting’s policies

and procedures are relevant and

do not assume any particular

gender bias

4. Promoting case studies of both

male and female practitioners

when talking to potential recruits

5. Raising awareness and promoting

early years careers at all relevant

opportunities - by visiting local

schools and colleges, including all

boys schools for example

6. Campaigning for better training,

pay and recognition of the

professionalism of the early years


7. Joining the MITEY network

We spoke to a few of our

Parenta male learners to find

out how they chose childcare

as their career; and what

they thought about the lack

of men in early years.

“I’ve completed my Level 3 with

Parenta Training and not looked back

since. I really do feel that the childcare

industry is lacking male role models

and I would encourage anyone who

has an interest in looking after children

to take up an apprenticeship - you

won’t regret it! What my childcare

training has shown me is the

importance of these young children

having a male role model during their

time in childcare, not just at home.”

George Ross

– Level 3 childcare practitioner

“If you have enjoyed babysitting

younger siblings then definitely

consider childcare! I’m looking forward

to starting my Level 3 so that I can

continue my learning journey with

Parenta. One of the main benefits of

having a male apprentice in a setting

is that so many of the children enjoy

and benefit having a male presence,

particularly when doing the more

physical activities.”

Callum Griffiths

– Level 2 completer

“I’ve completed my Level 2 with

Parenta and really looking forward

to doing my Level 3 and then Level

5 too! Ideally, I would like to run my

own childcare setting. I would really

encourage any guys that are thinking

about going into childcare to do it!

There is probably not enough exposure

for males working in early years and I

feel like the children get so much out

of a male carer, especially when doing

sports activities.”

Michael Baulk

– Level 2 completer

34 July 2020 | | July 2020 35

World Population Day

On Saturday 11th July the United Nations marks World Population Day, an initiative to

focus attention on the urgency and importance of the population issues which threaten

our planet, our resources and ultimately, our very survival.

“All our environmental problems

become easier to solve with fewer

people, and harder — and ultimately

impossible — to solve with ever more


Sir David Attenborough,

Population Matters Patron



It took 200,000 years for the human population of the earth to grow to 1 billion,

another 200 years to reach 5 billion, and only 25 years to reach a massive 7.7

billion people. Approximately 83 million people are being added to the world’s

population every year and our population is more than double today what it

was in 1970. The UN says that even assuming that fertility levels will continue to

decline, the global population is expected to reach 8.6 billion in 2030, 9.7 billion

in 2050 and 10.9 billion in 2100, according to the projections – that’s half as

many people again, by the end of the century.

(Source: United Nations World Population Prospects 2019)

Six and a half reasons to go

3. Do your bit for the


paperless at your nursery

Think of all the invoices, records

and letters you’ll no longer need to

print on paper! Not only will this be

money-saving for your business,

it’s good for the environment too.

The chances are, you didn’t want to work in childcare to spend hours doing paperwork.

However, the reality is that many nurseries are still heavily reliant on paper-based

administration to manage their data. As the number of children in your setting grows

– so does the number of files, and with that comes the time it takes to manage them all.

In addition, as settings are trying

to adapt to ‘the new normal’, they

are striving to be as hygienic as

possible in all areas of the business.

Managing data, pulling reports and

communicating with parents are all

areas that must not be compromised;

so finding a new way to manage

these areas of the business can be

challenging. If you’re used to this

way of working, it’s difficult to know

exactly where to start when it comes

to moving away from paper – it’s hard

to find the time to do the research,

and quite often, difficult to know

where to start. We look at many of the

common questions relating to going

paperless and give six and a half

really good reasons why you should

take the plunge!

1. Get back to providing

great childcare

All those minutes spent updating

different systems and folders

soon add up, until you’ve spent

many hours each month carrying

out tasks which could have been

completed at a few clicks of a

button. Updating data in this

way is a long and manual

process, open to errors that

can easily take 2 days to

complete. Many nurseries

report that they save

days of staff time

every month

with the invoicing

capability of nursery


software alone.

A system

that enables you to produce

professional looking invoices at

the click of a couple of buttons

can save you those 2 days, which

is 24 days, or a whole working

month, every year! That alone is

worth the investment for most

childcare businesses.

Good nursery software will

limit the time you spend on

administration, by reducing the

number of steps it takes to carry

out something like changing

a booking pattern. When you

update one part of the system, all

the other areas will automatically

update as part of the process,


2. Keep all your data secure

by storing it ‘in the cloud’

Paper documents are not nearly

as secure as you’d think. They

can be lost, stolen or even have

a cup of coffee spilt over them!

If the very worst was to happen,

such as your nursery being

damaged by floods, toys can

be replaced. However, the data

relating to children and families

that you’ve worked hard to build

up over the years can be lost


Using software means that

all your data can be stored

online and securely accessed

by you, even if your computer

is damaged or stolen. Secure

nursery management software

is built on platforms similar to

online banking and you’ll even be

able to lock down certain areas

so they’re only visible to selected

members of staff.

Although the primary concern

for any parent is the quality of

childcare they’ll receive, green

credentials may provide your

nursery with an edge over your

competitors. Plus – you’ll be

able to improve the working

environment for staff as you can

clear shelves and reduce the

number of filing cabinets in your


4. Strengthen your

partnership with parents

Nursery software should do more

than just make your life easier,

it should actively improve the

service you give to parents. To

start with, your system should

be delivering professionallooking

invoices and enable you

to send letters to any group of

parents you need. There should

be a choice of printing these, or

sending them by email, based

on each parent’s preferences.

Many systems can also be linked

to a secure online parent portal,

enabling them to see a read-only

version of their child’s data. This

means that parents can check all

the important information related

to their child (like contact details,

allergies and medication) is


But more than this, parents

love to know how their children

are getting on at nursery.

Great systems will allow you to

strengthen that connection by

recording activities during the day,

along with things like meal times

and nappy changes, and record

them against the children that took

part. Some systems will offer an

app you can download and view

this key information, together with

photos and videos. You can then

email a daily report to parents at

the end of each day, which they

browse through at their leisure

and share with family and friends.

5. Save money for your


On the face of it, investing in

nursery software when money

is tight seems like an option not

worth taking and the preference

would be to stick with paperbased

administration. Most

systems require an initial set-up

fee, as well as a subscription fee.

However, when you look at the

savings you can make, the value

of that investment soon becomes

clear. A web-based system

allows you to keep records on

children, staff and suppliers, and

to send invoices by email instead

of paper. You’ll also be able to

make use of that extra space

in your office without all those

folders and filing cabinets.

Successful cash flow is the key

to running a thriving nursery,

and this is where the investment

in a quality nursery software

really starts to pay off. By simply

capturing everything that’s

being delivered, and billing

it accurately, many settings

report a 5-7% increase

in turnover. Add to this a

comprehensive debt tracking

solution and the savings really

start to pile up! The best

systems even have an option to

automatically add late payment

fees, which encourages timely

payments and means less of

those awkward conversations

with parents.

6. Reach the people that


In the past, leaflet drops and

posters have been great for

drumming up interest in your

nursery. Nowadays, however, most

people start their search for local

businesses online. Save on the

cost of paper by creating a simple

website, with some well-written

information about your nursery

and some vibrant images. Instead

of spending money on advertising

that will reach people who aren’t

looking for childcare, you’ll only be

presenting yourself to those with a

genuine interest – it’s a win win!

Remember….The real benefit of using

nursery software is the gift of time.

Spending just one day a week on

administration equates to well over 2

months of the year wasted on nonproductive

activities. Just think what

you could achieve by having all those

extra hours back and spending all that

extra time doing the things you love;

looking after the children in your care!

Discover how Parenta’s nursery

management software can really

change the way you run your

setting - helping you gain more

hours during the week to enrich

children’s learning opportunities.

38 July 2020 | | July 2020 39

Invest in the development

of your team...




By providing training for your staff, you will:

Improve morale

Enhance your setting’s reputation

Support children’s safety

Reduce staff turnover

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

Investing in staff training and development is essential for not only

upskilling your workforce, but reducing recruitment costs, attracting top

talent and helping to prevent skills shortages.

ALL furloughed staff qualify for a funded

training course

We have secured funding available and are enrolling

learners on to our courses every day!

Take advantage for you or your staff TODAY before furlough ends!

Payment plan available for your 5% contribution

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

0800 002 9242

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