September complete mag


Issue 70





Childhood Cancer

Awareness Month:

be bold, go gold

Supporting new leaders

with the capability

learning cycle

Nurturing shy


+ lots more

Write for us

for a chance to win


page 6

Three ways to

greater playfulness

There are many benefits to being a playful adult, and as someone who supports children,

if you become more playful yourself, both you and the children will reap the benefits.



welcome to our family

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

September is here already; and a “new normal” academic year awaits the education sector.

All children will now return to our schools and settings to lots of change which may be difficult for some. With

this in mind, this month we take a look at different aspects of ‘attachment’ from two industry experts. Tamsin

Grimmer shares her wealth of advice on how children learn, and the importance of using an attachment

and trauma-based approach in teaching; and Stacey Kelly gives us invaluable guidance on how children need

attachment and security before they can become independent.

One of the things that lockdown has taught us is that we either ‘fit’ into the ‘keeping fit’ or the ‘not keeping fit category’! Almost

1 in 5 children are overweight or obese when they start primary school, rising to 1 in 3 when they start secondary school. Since

lockdown, parents have reported that 36% of children are doing less physical activity, although 30% are also doing more, so it’s

not all doom and gloom! This year, we celebrate National Fitness Day on 23rd September – turn to page 24 for some fantastic

ways in which you can get involved and really educate the children about the importance of fitness – it’s never too early!

We were spoilt for choice for craft topics this month. Our cute animal bookmarks have been inspired by no less than three

special occasions: Recycling Week, International Literacy Day and Roald Dahl Day! We hope this will help you teach the children

about recycling and help them to choose more stories! Our little helpers had so much fun making them – don’t forget to send us

your photos of your wonderful creations to

Congratulations to one of our new guest authors, Katie White. who is our winner for July! Her article, which focuses on the

difficult subject of how we can help children practice the skill of shifting between emotional states, really struck a chord with our

readers. Well done Katie!

We hope you enjoy our magazine this month – please feel free to share with friends, parents and colleagues – they can sign up

to receive their own copy here!

Please stay safe everyone.





Join in to raise

awareness, fund support

programmes and

research for Childhood

Cancer Awareness



shy children



Innately shy children

often come into the

world with more

sensitive temperaments.

Find out how to nuture

shy children.

National Fitness



National Fitness Day can be lots of

things to lots of people – you may

want to run your own event, host a

sports day or invite a P.E. specialist

into your unit to give a workshop in

your setting.





68 Write Child-friendly for us smoothie for the chance to win

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

615 Guest author winner winner announced announced

20 39 Pink starf ish pancakes craf t craft

21 Animal bookmarks craft


Preparations for the ‘new normal’ and

4 Childcare news and views

returning to your setting

8 A round up of some childcare news

stories that have caught our eye

over the month



6 Father’s Day at home

10 Children’s Art Week

12 World Childhood Oceans Cancer Day Awareness Month:

20 Child be bold, Safety go Week gold

26 16 Bike European Week 2020 Day of Languages

34 24 Growing National for Fitness wellbeing Day Week

36 28 National International Writing Literacy Day Day

38 32 Diabetes Raising Week awareness of sepsis

36 Migraine Awareness Week

Industry Experts

16 14 Talking Supporting about difference: new leaders behavioural with the

difficulties capability learning cycle

18 18 Storytelling Storytelling music: in music: using using royalty royalty and



magic part 4

22 Nurturing shy children

22 Furlough: The new ‘f’ word

26 Three ways to greater playfulness

28 Three ways to reduce meltdowns

30 How children learn and the

30 Promoting positive behaviour in pre-school

importance of using an attachment


and trauma based approach

34 How attachment leads to


38 Building on relationships and

communication with parents

How children learn and the importance of using

an attachment and trauma based approach 30

Raising awareness of sepsis 32

How attachment leads to independence 34

Building on relationships and communication

with parents



news & views

Here is a recap of key news stories from the past month!

CMA issues open letter to the

early years sector

In response to alleged unfair practices

caused by Covid-19 disruptions, the

Competition and Markets Authority

(CMA) published an open letter to the

early years sector, on the subject of

dealing with parents (consumers) during

the pandemic.

The guidance has been released so

that childcare providers understand

their obligations, under common law,

towards parents.

In summary, charging parents

cancellation fees, retainers and usual

fees during lockdown when nurseries

were unable to open, are some of the

areas addressed in the letter; and in

conclusion, the CMA has decided not to

take any enforcement action. However, it

will continue to monitor the sector.

The letter also states that the Authority

is unlikely to challenge any voluntary

arrangements which were agreed

between parents and settings, providing

parents weren’t pressured into agreeing

out of fear that they may risk losing their

child’s place or even that the setting

may go out of business.

The story on can be found


Refunds denied for childcare

voucher scheme

Parents who have paid into childcare

voucher schemes are being denied

refunds by their employers, despite not

being able to use the vouchers during

lockdown. Some say they have built up

balances of more than £1,000.

Although the tax-efficient scheme closed

to new applicants in October 2018, those

who have already signed up are able to

continue to buy the vouchers. In financial

terms, if two parents contribute the

maximum, vouchers could cut the cost of

childcare by £1,866 a year, according to

the scheme.

But with childcare providers closed over

lockdown, many parents have built up

a surplus of vouchers they now can’t

use in the future - this could be because

their children are starting school in

September. It has been reported

that when some parents have asked

employers for their money back, they

have been told ‘no’.

The story on can be found


The full story, as reported by can be found here.

Labour warns of ‘perfect

storm’ for working parents

A “perfect storm” of rising childcare

costs and providers closing down could

make it “impossible” for some parents

to return to work amid the coronavirus

pandemic, Labour says.

The opposition party says childcare

costs in England have risen up to three

times as fast as wages since 2010

and is calling on the Government to

“urgently provide targeted support” to

the childcare sector.

In response, the Government said

the sector had received “significant”


Since 1st June, when early years

providers have been allowed to open to

all children, the Government has said

people who can, no longer have to work

from home. However, Labour warns that

many parents will struggle to return to

workplaces without adequate childcare,

particularly if families cannot rely on

grandparents for help due to the virus.

It says “long-term underfunding and

a lack of targeted support during the

coronavirus pandemic, will make it

impossible for many providers to remain


The story on can be found


The full story, as reported by the BBC

can be found here.

Ofsted to start visits from


Ofsted has announced that from

September this year, it will start to

re-visit nurseries and childminders to

ensure standards are being maintained

and “well-run, safe and effective

childcare is available for all who need


It has published its guidance on interim

visits which details how these visits will

work in practice and which childcare

providers inspectors will be visiting.

The visits are part of its phased return

to routine inspection, details of which

can be found here and it emphasises

that they are not ‘inspections’ and

will not result in an inspection grade,

though inspectors will still be able to

use regulatory or enforcement powers if


Routine inspections of early years

settings will not start before January


The story on can be found


The news story, as published on the

Government’s Ofsted website can be

found here.

Early years practitioners

leave the industry feeling

‘underpaid and undervalued’

A report out on 5th August from the

Social Mobility Commission reveals

that early years childcare workers are

leaving the industry, blighted by low

pay, long hours and poor prospects.

The study says the workforce is

“increasingly unstable”, with not enough

new entrants to replace those who

leave. The Government says it has

boosted funding to childcare providers,

in order to help parents get back to

work, but the Commission urges a total

overhaul of early years careers.

It states that good quality early

years provision is key to reducing the

attainment gap between children from

disadvantaged families and their betteroff

peers, but this provision is at risk as

committed professionals find themselves

undervalued, underpaid and unable to

make ends meet.

The story on can be found


The full story, as reported by the BBC

can be found here.

The Social Mobility Commission Report

can be found here.

Care workers to benefit from

new childcare costs grant

A new ‘childcare costs grant’ up to the

value of £2,000 has been launched

exclusively for care workers.

This grant is available from the Care

Workers Charity (CWC), as part of the

charity’s Coronavirus Emergency Fund,

launched in March for care workers

financially hit by the pandemic.

The grant can be used retrospectively

covering childcare costs from 23 March

up to the value of £2,000.

Care workers can apply for childcare

costs for children up to five years

old – for up to £125 per week and for

childminder costs for six to twelve-yearolds

during term time – up to the value

of £70 per week. They can also apply for

holiday childcare costs up to the value of

£150 per week.

The story on can be found


The full story, as reported in homecare. can be read here.

The CMA letter can be read in full on the

government website here.

4 September 2020 | | September 2020 5

Write for us!

“What’s My Child Thinking?”

Practical Child Psychology for Modern Parents

By Tanith Carey and clinical psychologist, Dr Angharad Rudkin

We’re always on the lookout for new authors to

contribute insightful articles for our monthly


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:


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.


to our guest author competition winner, Katie White!

Congratulations to Katie White who is our guest author

winner for July! Her article which focuses on the difficult

subject of how we can help children practice the skill of

shifting between emotional states really struck a chord

with our readers. Well done Katie!

A massive thank you to all of our guest authors for

writing for us. You can find all of the past articles from

our guest authors on our website:

Lead the Way with Success

If you have enjoyed reading Ruth’s articles about leadership

through a coaching approach, why not consider inviting her

to work with you and/or your setting?

With a career background in Early Education and Leadership, Ruth works

as a coach and consultant across the Early Years’ sector. She can offer

the following:

1:1 coaching for head teachers/leaders/managers

1:1 coaching for senior leaders

Small group coaching for leaders/teams

Action Learning sets

Introductory courses on coaching and mentoring for you and

your team

Leadership learning course (6 half day sessions) for EYFS

leads or nursery managers

With Covid 19 impacting on schools and settings,

Ruth can offer her services on a virtual online

platform, tailored to your needs.

If you would like to know how Ruth can support you,

please get in touch for an initial conversation:



6 September 2020 | | September 2020 7

A round up of some childcare

news stories that have caught

our eye over the month.

Nursery Retailer, Kiddies

Kingdom, Donates 50 Cot

Mattresses To Local Baby


Children’s book pays tribute

to ‘health heroes’ of Covid-19


Malton Montessori School

and Nursery embraces the

outdoors: colourful festival

tents for classrooms

Duchess launches Tiny

Happy People scheme

Children enjoy emotional

send off from Little Peeps


Thatcham’s Pied Piper

Preschool delivers message

bags to children in lockdown

The much-needed donation, which

consisted of 50 brand new cot

mattresses, will be distributed by the

charity to local families in need of


A new children’s book tells the stories

of people who have helped keep

health and care services afloat during

the coronavirus crisis, from paramedics

and physiotherapists to care home

staff and social workers.

Within days, a tented community of

colourful festival tents popped up

in the new meadows, each having

roll up and vented sides allowing for

continuous circulating air flow.

The Duchess of Cambridge has

launched a new BBC programme to

support parents and carers nurture

children’s language development.

The children have one last get-together

before next chapter of starting primary

school in September.

Pied Piper Preschool staff created bags

containing activities for children to help

them prepare for school, as well as

guidance for parents.

Nursery goes wild for

Chester Zoo animal adoption


Bracknell nursery children

learn about outer space and

write letters to Tim Peake

Frugi readies next generation

of eco-warriors

The UK’s leading ethical and organic

children’s clothing brand, Frugi, is

looking towards the future with a

new partnership with educational

programme, Eco-Schools.

Heyford nursery plans to

throw belated party for

anniversary when it’s safe to

The Old Station Nursery Heyford, in

Heyford Park, near Bicester had its

second year anniversary in April, but

has delayed the celebrations.

Hartford nursery raffle raises

1100 GBP for Chester Zoo

There was a very real fear that the zoo

would be forced to close permanently

due to the funds required to feed the

animals. But this donation will ensure

the zoo can care for the animals.

To give the zoo a financial boost, Kids

Planet staff and children are adopting

as many of the attraction’s animals

as they can in a ‘Summer Stampede’


Children learned about the planets

and made their own ones and aliens

using paint, shaving foam and

more. The children wrote their very

own letters to the renowned British


Story source and image credits: NDNA,, Oxford Mail,

Gazette Standard, Newberry Today, Northwich Guardian, Business Up

North, Bury Times, Bracknell News, The Guardian

8 September 2020 | | September 2020 9

What our customers say

My assessor is Jane

Purnell and I have been

really happy with the

whole process and felt

completely supported.

Tracey James, Jemima

House Day Nursery



£3000* TO HELP PAY



This is a personal statement to say that, I have

finally completed my course with Parenta. But I

feel that there is only one person to thank here.

And that is Jane Purnell. She has been there

through my whole experience and helped me

constantly through tough times, has given me the

motivation and encouragement I’ve needed

through these hard times. And persevered with

me. An absolute professional at her job, and an

exceptional ability of being able to explain things

I didn’t totally understand. Without Jane’s guidance

and knowledge, I wouldn’t have been able to do it

so I thank her solely for all of her help and

support through the whole year.

Helen McCauley, Little Lanes

Linda (Alexander) was honestly the most helpful

assessor - she understood the way I learn and am

able to complete assignments and was always

available for any help or assistance! She was

so warm-natured and honestly cared about my

course and progress. Couldn’t thank her enough,

I feel like without her help I would have fallen

really far behind.

Kayla Cooke, Aspire Day Nursery

I am writing you this email

to inform you about my

experience with Jackie

McDowall during my course.

Jackie has been truly amazing

and showed so much support

and patience, she made me

really at ease to contact her

about any worries I may have.

Jackie has been an enormous

help and I was really lucky to

have her as my assessor. I

am forever grateful to her for

helping me achieve my goals.

Many thanks.

Safia Abdullahi




Before you know it, you will have a new

team member and up to £3000* to help

pay your staff wages!

The government is giving money to employers

who hire new staff. Start recruiting in August

and earn up to £3000* per apprenticeship!

Let Parenta Training take the strain and help you

find your perfect apprentices - completely free

of charge. We have hundreds of candidates,

just waiting to start their childcare course.


We can help you get up to £3000 for each member who undertakes a

training course, even if they are fully qualified in childcare.

10 September 2020 |

*£2,000 for each apprentice aged 16-24; £1500 for apprentices aged over 25.

This is in addition to the existing £1,000 payment the government already

provides for new 16 to 18-year-old apprentices, and those aged under 25 with an

Education, Health and Care Plan – where that applies.

0800 002 9242

Childhood Cancer Awareness

Month: be bold, go gold

Imagine having to tell someone that they

have cancer, and that they may or may

not recover. It would be difficult, heartwrenching

and you’d know that your words

would change that person’s life forever.

Now imagine that person is only a child,

who may not even have reached an age

yet where they can read or write, let alone

comprehend the larger concepts of their

short-lived life, and potential death. Or a

young person who’s excited because they

have their entire life ahead of them. It’s

not an enviable position to be in and yet,

that’s the reality for some UK healthcare

professionals as 12 children and young

people receive a cancer diagnosis every

day. And of those 12 diagnosed, two will

not survive.

Childhood Cancer Awareness


September is Childhood Cancer Awareness

Month, where cancer charities, health

services and children’s hospitals join

together to highlight the impact that cancer

has on children, young people and their

families. It was founded by former US

President, Barack Obama, in 2010 and is

designed to raise awareness and money

to fund support programmes and research

into children’s cancers such as leukaemia,

neuroblastoma, lymphoma, brain and

spinal tumours, and bone cancer amongst

others. The aim is to ultimately save lives

and keep families together.

Be bold, go gold

The internationally recognised symbol

for childhood cancer is a gold ribbon,

and campaigners encourage supporters

to wear their gold ribbons throughout

September to help start conversations

about childhood cancer. Most cancer

charities sell their own version of the gold

ribbon to help raise funds too.

Facts about childhood cancer

Although childhood cancer is rare,

accounting for 0.5% of all cancers in the

UK, there are still around 1,900 cases

diagnosed every year in children aged up

to 14 years, equating to about one child in

every 500. Leukaemia is the most common

form, and cancer is more prevalent in

boys than girls, but the actual rates vary

by tumour type. Incidence rates increased

by 38% between 1966 and the year

2000, thought to be related to diagnostic

improvements and data colllection

methods although the UK has one of the

lowest childhood cancer rates in Europe,

though the reason for this is not clear.

One thing that is clear, is the devastation

that a diagnosis of cancer can have on

families. It can disturb a child’s growth and

development and place additional stress

on family and friends as parents have to

make difficult decisions about their child’s

therapy and medications, and watch

their little ones undertake a gruelling

treatment regime. Cancer can have a

negative impact on the child’s behaviour

and their mental wellbeing too, and just

when they should be seeing their children

run free in the park or play blissfully with

their friends, they instead, have to see the

suffering that the disease, and sometimes

the treatments, bring. And if the child

ultimately does not survive, then the grief

is often inconsolable.

That’s where the cancer charities can step

in and ease the burden to become, not

only a ‘shoulder to cry on’, but somewhere

to turn for information, advice and support

when the rest of the world can seem like a

dark and unforgiving place.

One positive thing about childhood

cancers is that some forms are mainly

or only exclusively seen in children, and

children can be much more resilient to

treatments and the disease itself than

adults, meaning that there are many cases

where children recover completely and

grow up to lead normal, healthy lives. You

can read some of these stories on many

of the cancer charities’ websites since they

help to put a personal face on the statistics

and also give hope to others facing similar


Cancer and Covid-19

The pandemic that is currently sweeping

the world has also affected cancer care:

1. It is thought that there are

many cancers that are currently

undiagnosed due to people

either not going to their doctors

during the pandemic, or delays to

diagnostic assessments. Healthcare

professionals are urging people to

come forward as soon as possible

and not to delay treatments which

could have a negative effect on

survival rates.

2. Patients who are currently being

treated with anti-cancer drugs will find

themselves in a high-risk group due

to compromised immunity, so may

be facing months of social isolation,

affecting their mental health further.

3. Cancer charities have seen their

incomes greatly reduced due to

lockdown as well as the closing of

many of their shops, and the social

isolation of many of their employees

and volunteers. This affects their ability

to continue research and help patients.

We all know someone who has been

affected by cancer, such is the prevalence

of the problem, and the need to raise

awareness of these issues at this time

has never been greater, so Childhood

Cancer Awareness Month needs to be on

everyone’s calendar in some way.

Childhood cancer charities

There are many childhood cancer charities

that need support right now; below is just

a small list of those aimed primarily at

helping children:

• Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia


• Children’s Cancer Research Fund

• Children with Cancer

• Make a Wish Foundation

• Childhood Eye Cancer Trust

• CLIC Sargent Cancer Care for Children

These are just a few and you might find

some more local charities in your own

area set up in the memory of local children

who may need your help. For a list of other

relevant charities for children with cancer,

click here.

Ideas for marking the month in

your setting

1. Wear a gold ribbon to show your


2. Visit some charity websites – there are

many which have free resources and

fundraising packs to download and


3. Share your support on your social

media sites

4. Write to your local MP asking for more

funds for charities at this time

5. Send a card to the local children’s

hospital/hospice thanking them for

what they do

6. Raise some money for a national or

local charity of your choice

7. Organise a donation of clothes and

bric-a-brac and deliver it to your local

charity shop

8. Support your local cancer charity shop

by purchasing something from them

We’d love to hear what you’ve decided to

do, so send us your pictures and stories to

12 September 2020 | | September 2020 13

Leadership learning through a coaching approach

Supporting new leaders with

the capability learning cycle

I recently I had a conversation with Saima

about the reopening of her nursery school

for September. Saima is an excellent early

years teacher with a highly principled

approach to her work. She works with a

talented and committed staff team. She

recently became the Headteacher.

Saima expressed her astonishment at the

complexity of her new role. A leadership

position certainly provided a new lens

through which to view her work and she

was on a steep learning curve. Just as

she was settling into her role, the Covid-19

pandemic hit.

Saima felt out of her depth. She said “Being

in this leadership position has really made

me question myself and my ability to do

the job. With the Covid crisis, everything

has got worse. Some of my key staff are

rebelling! What is happening?”

The whole world is currently responding

to the pandemic in collective and

individual ways. There is an emerging

body of documentation on the impact of

coronavirus at many levels – our physical

and mental health, families, early years

settings, schools, the economy, and more.

We remain in a climate of uncertainty, of

not knowing.

Saima was facing something completely

new. She was struggling to accept

resistant behaviours of her middle leaders

who she thought she could depend on,

alongside emergent information about


I introduced Saima to the ‘capability

learning cycle’ (Schratz and Walker 1995).

It makes the valuable distinction between

conscious and unconscious operations –

in other words, between actions we take

with full self-awareness and those we take

without consciously having to think about

them. It is particularly helpful for leaders in

relation to their professional development.

Development and growth require us

to move through the stages shown in

figure 1. The key for leaders is being

able to intervene, to activate ‘capability

awakening’ rather than ‘incompetence

panic’, with the damage associated with

feelings of anger, guilt, shame and a

sense of not being good enough (Pen

Green Research Base, 2008).

Unconscious incapability

I am not aware of what I do not know or

cannot do until I become aware of a need

or deficiency; then I move to:

Conscious incapability

I am now aware of something I do not

know or cannot do. I can now choose

whether I want to gain new understanding

or knowledge of it: develop a new skill,

or not. If I do, then as I undertake new

learning, I am aware of being in a state of:

Conscious capability

I need to concentrate and think in order to

understand new knowledge or to perform

the new skill. As I absorb new knowledge

and I become skilful, I move into a state of:

Unconscious capability

New knowledge takes its place alongside

other acquired knowledge and I am able

to apply the new skill without deliberate

attention to the techniques involved.

Saima’s self-reflections

on the cycle

Unconscious incapability – Saima

had missed that during the Covid-19

outbreak, each of her staff would be on

their own personal journey. She could not

assume that they would behave as she

would normally expect them to yet she

couldn’t keep in mind everyone’s individual

responses. She admitted she might have

downplayed the sensitivity of the situation,

especially with some genuine family crises

and strong union intervention with her

middle leaders. When they revolted, she

was completely shocked.

Conscious incapability –This situation

offered a real test to her leadership.

No one had time to prepare for the

lockdown, either mentally or physically. She

had not realised how important personal

contact to the staff was, she had been so

busy dealing with children, families and the

premises, that she had not engaged the

staff as well as she might. She found her

middle leaders were being led away from

the vision and ethos of the setting by a strict

health and safety focus, to the detriment of

everyone’s wellbeing. The demands being

made on her were beyond her control e.g.

the R rate in the UK.

Conscious capability - Once she identified

key staff who held most influence, Saima

enlisted her trusted deputy and between

them they made a conscious decision

to telephone each person individually.

She acknowledged that teams were

using social media to create informal

support groups and that her leadership

communication needed to be stronger.

Saima found out how each person was,

what was worrying them, what they

needed from her and ways forward. The

direct personal communication started to

make a difference as each staff member

felt ‘kept in mind’ and the refocusing of the

core purpose of their work came back into


Unconscious capability - Saima

recognises she is already leading and

managing the staff much better and she

has embedded some good practice. There

are individual check-ins and regular online

meetings for all staff. She has reclaimed the

trust in the staff. Saima noticed that as they

started to come into school as lockdown

eased in the summer term, their confidence

and commitment was rebuilding.

Saima knows there is still a long journey

ahead with both maintaining the

confidence of the team and responding well

to the Covid-19 guidelines. She is keeping

in touch with her staff over the summer

and making sure the school is open for

practitioners to prepare their rooms for a

full reopening in September, should they

choose to come in.

Top tips for new leaders:


Explore where you are on the capability

learning cycle, every new challenge could

put you back to unconscious capability.

Accept this is part of your learning.


Remember to awaken your capability

rather than dwell on feelings of being out

of control.


Reflect on your own behaviours during the

Covid-19 pandemic – they have probably

surprised you at times, and it will support

you in valuing your staff’s unexpected

responses too.


Be transparent with staff about the

challenges you all face – listen and learn

from each other. Active listening is a great

skill to prevent issues spiralling out of

control. If people are heard, they are more

likely to come on board.


Use consultation as an approach to moving

your actions forward. This should be at all

levels. Make sure your senior staff are on

board first. Problem solving together leads

to ownership by all involved.


Be mindful of the use of social media

amongst staff. Rumours and inaccuracies

can fly between informal groups of anxious

staff and create much unsettlement. You

may not know what is being said. Clear

messaging from you as the leader is



Regular checks with individuals from you as

the leader are important. Make time and

effort to engage with every member of staff

before their return – this helps them feel

valued and connected to the core purpose

of the nursery’s work. They are worth it.


Take a break yourself – remember you

have a responsibility to look after your own

wellbeing, so that you can be available to

lead others effectively. How do you relax

Ruth Mercer

Ruth Mercer is a coach and

consultant, with a career

background in early education.

Ruth is committed to creating a

positive learning environment for

staff, children and families. She

has a successful track record of 1:1

coaching for leaders and group

coaching across the maintained and

PVI sector. She supports leaders

and managers in developing a

coaching approach in their settings

through bespoke consultancy and

introductory training on coaching

and mentoring for all staff.

Ruth is currently writing about

coaching with a playful approach.



and have fun? Make time for this, it is an

investment in your leadership.


• Schratz, M & Walker, R (1995) “Research

as Social Change”, London, Routledge

• NPQICL booklet, “Leadership concepts

and analytical tools” (NCSL) originally

designed by Pen Green Research Team


14 September 2020 | | September 2020 15

European Day of Languages

If someone came up to you and said “Snak med mig”, what would

you do?

a) Run?

b) Eat what they offered you?

c) Be offended?

d) Answer “Jeg ville elske at” and continue with a conversation

in Danish?

“Snak med mig” means “talk to me” in Danish, so the correct

response would be d, which means “I would love to”.

1-b, 2-True, 3-c, 4-a - ‘Kiss’ in Swedish means a pee! 5-b, 6-a, 7-a BSL evolved at Thomas

Braidwood’s schools for the deaf in the late 1700s and later spread to Australia and New

Zealand. 8-c, 9-a, 10-c.

16 September 2020 |


If you’re a little rusty on your Danish and

didn’t know that, don’t worry, on our

European continent, there are over 200

languages spoken and no one could

possibly know them all! However, every

year on 26th September since 2001, the

Council of Europe organises the European

Day of Languages, an initiative to promote

plurilingualism across the continent. The

Council of Europe includes 47 member

states, 27 of which are members of the

European Union. Members extend as far

north as Iceland, east to Russia, south to

Cyprus and west to Portugal. The idea

arose out of the 2001 European Year of

Languages, and the Council believes that

linguistic diversity can be useful in achieving

greater intercultural understanding and is

a key element in exploring the rich cultural

heritage of the European continent.

Activities on and around the

day are designed to:

1. Promote life-long language

learning for all ages and for all


2. Raise awareness of the importance

of language learning and diversify

the languages learnt

3. Encourage Europeans to speak

more than one language

(plurilingualism), even if only at a

basic level

4. Promote the rich linguistic and

cultural diversity of Europe with the

aim of preserving and fostering it

The main website can be found at

European Day of Languages and is packed

full of useful information, games, quizzes

and resources that are free and fun to use

for all different levels. You can download

images and logos, add your own events

and find lots of ideas to promote language

learning in your own setting. Everyone is

encouraged to join in in some way, be

they a national policy-maker, educational

establishment or the voluntary sector and

general public.

We’ve put together some useful ideas to

help you promote the day in your setting

and devised a fun quiz for you to test

your language knowledge too, so there

are “niente scuse” or ‘no excuses’ for not

getting involved!

Ideas to use in your setting:

1. Research and promote the

languages around you

Language is one of those topics that often

surprises you when you get talking to

people about it. You suddenly discover

that your postman speaks Greek or your

local hairdresser speaks Welsh, so you

might find lots of people on your doorstep

who can help you out when if comes to

promoting languages. Ask around and

see what languages are spoken by your

colleagues, your children and your parents

– you might be pleasantly surprised about

the rich culture around you, so why not

ask people to come and give a short talk

or demonstration about their language or


2. Create a language map

Create a map showing some local, national

or international languages spoken around

you. You could find different words for

“hello”, “nursery” or “children”, for example;

or put up simple phrases in different

languages and practice saying them out

loud. You can have a lot of fun practicing

different accents too.

3. Learn some foreign songs or

nursery rhymes

Learning languages is always more fun

when there’s a song or game attached,

so why not use this to your advantage and

promote your language day using songs

or nursery rhymes from around Europe?

There’s an excellent resource at mamalisa.

com which has nursery rhymes and songs

from around the world too, including games

and music to sing along with.

4. Practise writing or mark-making in

different languages

Most mark-making does not start out as

any form of language, but you could have

some fun with the students trying to draw

or trace in some different languages. Look

up different alphabets and see what you

can come up with. You could start with

the Greek alphabet which is often used in

maths and science such as:

• Alpha - ɑ

• Beta -

• Gamma - ɣ

• Delta - δ

5. Learn some British Sign Language


BSL is the preferred language of around

145,000 people in the UK. You could learn

some basic words and teach them to the

1. How many languages are

spoken in the world?

a. Between 3,000 and 4,000

b. Between 6,000 and 7,000

c. Over 10,000

2. Most of the world’s

languages are spoken in

Asia and Africa. True or


3. How many languages are

spoken in London?

a. 100

b. 200

c. 300

4. If a Swedish person wanted

a ‘kiss’ what would they


a. A toilet

b. A shower

c. A cuddle

5. Speaking several

languages has been shown

to postpone the onset of:

a. Hair loss

b. Alzheimer’s disease

c. Arthritis

6. Which word is a plant in

English, but means ‘hello’ in


children and staff in your setting. Other sign

languages include Sign Supported English,

Makaton and Social haptic communication.

See or for

more details and an online course. You

might also find this useful if you have

children with sensory needs.

Whatever you do - spraoi a bheith agat

(“have fun” Irish!)

Try our fun quiz to test your

language knowledge

a. Privet

b. Pansy

c. Packera

7. There are many different

sign languages. Which

country’s sign language

is closest to British Sign


a. Australian

b. American

c. Irish

8. A Dutch child making the

sound of a cow would say:

a. Moo!

b. Meh!

c. Boeh!

9. There are 3 broad groups

of European languages:

Germanic, Slavic and

Romance. Which group

does English belong to?

a. Germanic

b. Slavic

c. Romance

10. Which is the only European

language in the Afro-Asiatic

family (which includes

Arabic, Hebrew, Berber,

and Hausa)?

a. Russian

b. Turkish

c. Maltese | September 2020 17

using royalty and magic part 4

We finish up our royalty and magic storytelling in music series this month by

introducing the last of the characters in the Magical Musical Kingdom, and their related

rhythms. The follow-up activities are suggestions of ways that help to reinforce these introductory

concepts of music, helping to establish this natural activity in the most natural way!

And as always, all songs are available on


As a quick reminder, our

background planning to the

Magical Musical Kingdom


Time: 10 parts, 10 characters, 10

musical skills

Rhythms: movement-based (gross

motor), progressively halving or

doubling note lengths

Melodies: pentatonic-based (5

notes), progressively using more


Ages: non-walkers, toddlers and

walkers (broadly, birth to 7)


Character: Flying Fairy

Music note: Semiquaver-dotted quaver/

sixteenth note-dotted eighth note

Skip (long-short steps): long-short,

long-short, long-short, long-short

Physical warm-up:

Shoes off, calmly (no talking) listen to

instrumental music while skipping (skip-ty,

skip-ty) around the room, any direction,

either holding baby, or holding hands with

our new walker or pre-schooler.

Vocal warm-up:

Warm up our voices: Do you have

your whispering voice? Yes, I have my

whispering voice. Do you have your

speaking voice? Yes, I have my speaking

voice. Do you have your fairy voice? Yes,

Storytelling in music:

I have my fairy voice! Do you have your

singing voice (singing like an ambulance

tune)? Yes, I have my singing voice

(ambulance tune). Ready to sing!

Song 1: Goblin (game)

Scatter scarves, pages, small things that

can easily be gathered around the room,

and take 2 slow steps to reach them and

collect them up as you sing the song.

Song 2: Goblin Protector (instruments)

Use instruments with a long sound, like

bells, and tap them as you sing the song.

Story part 8:

Queen Quaver and Lady Minim asked

Knight Quaver-Crotchet to please find

the Jewels so Knight Quaver-Crotchet

left immediately to search every tower in

the land to find the hidden jewels. While

Knight Quaver-Crotchet was searching

every tower in the land, he came across

Flying Fairy, who flew everywhere. He

searched her tower, but the jewels just

were not there. When he told Flying Fairy

what Goblin had done and how sad Frog

Prince was, Flying Fairy got very cross

indeed. She never spoke, but played music

because she was surrounded by every

instrument in the world. She wanted to

play a trick on Goblin so using her special

magic, she flew to his dark cave and saw

all the broken instruments. Right at the

back of the cave was a very shiny pot of

gold, hidden behind a tree stump. Flying

Fairy picked it up and flew right to the

moon and hung it on a moon beam as



Make and decorate a paper pot of gold.

Find somewhere to hang/stick it, singing

the song!


Make a pot of gold out of shiny things to

give to someone special!


Character: Dragon

Music note: Semibreve/whole note

1 slow step equivalent to 4 walk steps:

very slow walk

Physical warm-up:

Shoes off, calmly (no talking) listen to

instrumental music while taking long, slow

steps (very long step) around the room, any

direction, either holding baby, or holding

hands with our new walker or pre-schooler.

Vocal warm-up:

Warm up our voices: Do you have

your whispering voice? Yes, I have my

whispering voice. Do you have your

speaking voice? Yes, I have my speaking

voice. Do you have your dragon voice? Yes,

I have my dragon voice! Do you have your

singing voice (singing like an ambulance

tune)? Yes, I have my singing voice

(ambulance tune). Ready to sing!

Song 1: Dragon (game)

Choose a spot in the room to be the tower,

and take turns being the big, slow, strong

dragon, and trapping everyone in the

tower, as you sing the song.

Song 2: Do, Do Pity My Case (instruments)

Use instruments that you rub or scrape as

you sing this song, and make up jobs that

the dragon must do when he gets home,

like “my food to cook when I get home”, or

“my floor to clean when I get home”, or “my

toys to clear when I get home”!

Story part 9:

Now Knight Quaver-Crotchet was getting

further away from the Kingdom, the castle

was far away because he was getting

nearer to the lair of Dragon Semibreve.

Everything Dragon Semibreve did was

slow because he was so big. He opened

his eyes slowly, he walked slowly and

even blew fire out slowly. When Dragon

Semibreve blew fire out, everything would

start shaking altogether, his arms and legs,

tummy and tail, until he stopped. Dragon

Semibreve didn’t like things that moved

fast, so when Goblin took the jewels to the

tower, he had to creep very quietly. Knight

Quaver-Crotchet moved very quickly and

before he knew what had happened,

Dragon Semibreve had trapped him in the

tower with the jewels and Goblin.


Make and decorate a paper tower. Walk

around the room with it, singing the song!


Place toys around the room to knock down

with a big ball, like the dragon!


Character: Unicorn

Music note: 3/4 waltz timing

(crotchet/quarter note)

Waltz feel: step-tip-toe, step-tip-toe, steptip-toe,


Physical warm-up:

Shoes off, calmly (no talking) listen to

instrumental music while taking waltzing

steps (step-tip-toe, step-tip-toe) around the

room, any direction, either holding baby,

or holding hands with our new walker or


Vocal warm-up:

Warm up our voices: Do you have

your whispering voice? Yes, I have my

whispering voice. Do you have your

speaking voice? Yes, I have my speaking

voice. Do you have your unicorn voice? Yes,

I have my unicorn voice! Do you have your

singing voice (singing like an ambulance

tune)? Yes, I have my singing voice

(ambulance tune). Ready to sing!

Song 1: The Dragon and the Unicorn (game)

March in one direction as the dragon, then

change direction as you march as the

unicorn. Keep changing direction as you

march around the town, singing this song.

Song 2: Song 2: Beautiful Unicorn


Tapping sticks or cups together like unicorn

or horse hooves, sing the unicorn song.

Story part 10:

The dreadful news travelled over the

Magical Musical Kingdom until a beautiful

dancing Unicorn, alone in a field, heard the

sad tale. She always played on her own,

dancing every single day, but when she

heard the news, Unicorn’s horn began to

glow, which meant that she was very cross.

Shaking out her golden wings, she flew

straight to Dragon Semibreve’s tower and

very quickly, Knight Quaver-Crotchet took

the jewels and jumped on her back. Goblin

took so long to creep to the window that he

could only hold onto Unicorn’s tail, as they

flew through the fiery mountains and back

to the castle. King Crotchet was so pleased

to have his Magical Musical Kingdom

restored that he threw a huge party. There

was so much music that Goblin crept away

back to his cave and sometimes, when

the sky is right, you can see that the moon

still looks a little golden, where Flying Fairy

hung Goblin’s gold on the moonbeam.


Make decorations for the Magical Musical

Kingdom party. Decorate the room with



Have a party to celebrate!

Hoping this has inspired you to start

your own series!

Frances Turnbull

Musician, researcher and author,

Frances Turnbull, is a selftaught

guitarist who has played

contemporary and community

music from the age of 12. She

delivers music sessions to the early

years and KS1. Trained in the music

education techniques of Kodály

(specialist singing), Dalcroze

(specialist movement) and Orff

(specialist percussion instruments),

she has a Bachelor’s degree in

Psychology (Open University) and

a Master’s degree in Education

(University of Cambridge). She

runs a local community choir, the

Bolton Warblers, and delivers the

Sound Sense initiative “A choir in

every care home” within local care

and residential homes, supporting

health and well-being through her

community interest company.

She has represented the early

years music community at the

House of Commons, advocating

for recognition for early years

music educators, and her table of

progressive music skills for under 7s

features in her curriculum books.

Frances is the author of “Learning

with Music: Games and activities

for the early years“, published by

Routledge, August 2017.

18 September 2020 | | September 2020 19

Pink Pancakes

Animal bookmark

13th September is World Sepsis Day. If you download the sepsis awareness toolkit from you can find out why you should wear pink for the day and

even hold a pink picnic! To raise awareness we are making pink pancakes!

Our craft is inspired by three occasions happening this month: Recycling Month,

International Literacy Day and Roald Dahl Day!

This is why we are asking you to use scraps of paper and anything you already have to hand!

As you can tell from our photos, we have created a Fantastic Mr Fox and The Enormous Crocodile.

We hope this craft will teach the children about recycling and will encourage them to

read more fantastic stories!

You will need:

• Construction

paper (or any

thicker paper) in

different colours

• Scissors

• Glue

• Black marker

• Sticky tape


You will need:

• 175g plain flour

• 1 tbsp cornflour

• ½ tsp baking powder

• 1 beetroot cooked, not in


• 300ml dairy-free milk

• 2 tbsp vegetable oil plus

more for frying

• 1 tbsp maple syrup

• 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

• 1 tsp vanilla extract


1. Place all the ingredients in a blender and mix until you have a smooth


2. Heat a little oil in a frying pan over a low-medium heat and add a

spoonful of the batter. Move the pan around to spread the batter to

your desired size.

3. Cook the pancake until you start seeing bubbles on the surface then flip

the pancakes and do the same on the other side.

4. You are done!

5. Serve the pancakes with your favourite toppings. We used maple syrup

and fresh raspberries.

1. Prepare your paper by cutting

it in your desired shapes. We

decided to create our animals

by using simple shapes like

a triangle, a rectangle and a


2. Firstly, cut the long

rectangular shape for the

body in your chosen colour

which will be the base of

your animal. Then cut out

two small triangles to create

ears. You will then need to cut

two smaller triangles for the

inside of the ears (we used

white paper for that, so there

is a nice contrast between the

colours). You will then need to

make a circle and then cut it

in half to create sides of the


3. Using our photos as

examples, glue all the parts in

the right places.

4. To finish the head, use a black

marker and add dots to create

eyes and the nose.

5. Turn the head around and put

the body underneath it. Using

sticky tape, connect the two

parts together.

6. Flip the head back to front

and there you have it, a cute

animal bookmark!

7. You can create different

animals and add loads of

decorations to the body if you

would like to!

20 September 2020 | | September 2020 21

Nurturing shy


The image of a shy child has long been of

a youngster hiding behind an adult’s legs,

barely looking up and being excused for

their timid behaviour.

But a growing body of research is now

challenging the idea that shyness is a

negative trait that will hold a child back in


It is true that innately shy children often

come into the world with more sensitive


Even in the womb, scientists have found

that the hearts of children who turn out

to be temperamentally shy tend to beat

faster than those of other babies.

Between 10 to 20 percent of infants are

born with these more aroused nervous

systems, which can make them jumpier in

new situations.

These may be the babies who are not as

quick to smile at strangers and who, as

they grow, are more hesitant with people

they don’t know.

In these children, it’s been found that the

amygdala, the brain’s antennae for threat,

is more easily aroused and triggers more


But further research has found that

far from being a problem to ‘fix’, these

children tend to grow into good observers

who are just slower to warm up with new


While these youngsters may have ‘a

slower take-off’ when they meet new

people, over time, they can be shown how

to get used to unfamiliar situations.

Indeed, start from the position of seeing a

shyer child’s qualities more positively.

Shy children often grow into thoughtful,

empathetic adults who like to listen more

than they talk. They also end up with just

as many friends. Their friendship circle

may just take a bit more time to grow.

How to nurture shy


Avoid the label

If a child is fearful in a new situation, don’t

excuse them as ‘shy’ to others. Labelling

them as such will sound like it’s a negative

fixed character trait which they cannot


Reframe shyness

Adults will often label a child shy too,

to explain away the reason they are

not friendly. If you feel the need to say

something, reframe it by saying this is a

child who likes to take their time observing

new situations first.

Tell shyer kids you

understand how they feel

Rather than try and force a child out of

their shell, show your understanding. You

can tell them that sometimes joining in

and talking to new people takes practice

and in some new situations you feel shy

too, but the feeling always eases after

you’ve said a few words. Stress that lots of

other children feel the same way, so they

do not feel isolated.

Teach basic introduction


Shyness is only a barrier to forming

friendships when a child first meets a new

person. To help a child work around it,

show them easy ways to look friendly - like

smiling, using open body language, and

introducing themselves by name.

Role play

Shy children are particularly worried about

saying or doing the wrong thing. Help your

child feel more confident by role-playing

games with toys about meeting new

people at school or going to a birthday


Be a good role model

Children learn social skills by watching

their parents and caregivers. Mirror

neurons in your child’s brain are especially

adapted to help her copy what she sees.

Give a good example by being friendly to

new people and using manners to show

your consideration for others.

Encourage a shy child to

practice being sociable

Without implying there’s something wrong

with being reserved, explain that being

social is like a muscle. It gets stronger each

time you use it.

Help them reciprocate

When meeting new people, show a child

how to respond to friendly overtures by

asking questions back and learning how

to join in games, by showing interest, and

offering to help.

“What’s My Child Thinking: Practical

Child Psychology for Modern Parents”

is published by DK, https://amzn.

to/2UdN0aG .

By Tanith Carey, author of “What’s My Child

Thinking? Practical Child Psychology for

Modern Parents”, with Dr Angharad Rudkin.

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.

22 September 2020 | | September 2020 23

National Fitness Day

Six months ago, the state of the nation’s

fitness industry was looking good. The

2019 State of the UK Fitness Industry

Report revealed that 1 in every 7 people

belonged to a gym, the total market value

was £5.1 billion, and the number of fitness

facilities in the UK was up from 7,038 to

7,239. The future looked rosy – at least for

the fitness industry.

Statistics about personal fitness told a

slightly different story - in the 12 months

to November 2019, only 67% of adults

were considered active according to

government guidelines and 21% were

classed as ‘inactive’ doing less than

30 minutes physical activity per week.

Perhaps more alarmingly, in the academic

year 2018/19, only 47% of children

and young people were meeting the

guidelines for 1 hour taking part in sport

and physical activity each day, although

that figure was up from only 43% in


Then came Covid-19, lockdown, and most

recently, a new initiative to tackle rising

obesity….the picture is no longer quite

so rosy! Physical activity levels have been

affected - one site suggested that adults

spent more time on the toilet each week,

than exercising! Since lockdown, parents

report that just over one third of children

(36%) are doing less physical activity,

although 30% are also doing more as

reported by NHS data sources. We are

facing an activity crisis as lack of

physical activity leads to more than

20 long-term health conditions such

as Type-2 diabetes, some cancers

and osteoporosis.

But it’s not all doom and gloom! One

encouraging thing to emerge from

lockdown however, is that parents are

valuing the time at home, and are doing

more activities with their children; 53%

of parents reported doing more physical

activity with their children than they did

prior to lockdown and 61% felt that playing

sport and keeping fit was helping maintain

their family’s physical and mental


That’s where National Fitness Day can

help, by highlighting issues concerned with

the nation’s fitness and raising the profile

of fitness campaigners and the fitness

industry in an attempt to improve our

general health. The NFD website describes

the day as:

“ the most active day of the year and

the day to celebrate the role that physical

activity plays across the UK. It is a day

when people of all ages, backgrounds

and abilities come together to

celebrate the

fun of fitness.”

This year, National Fitness Day will be

celebrated on Wednesday 23rd September

and fitness providers will be encouraged to

offer free events to get everyone involved in

their local communities. The theme for this

year is ‘Fitness Unites Us’ and the aim is to

celebrate the inclusive power of physical

activity and the ability it has to bring whole

communities together.

What can you do in your setting?

National Fitness Day can be lots of things to

lots of people – you may want to run your

own event, host a sports day or invite a P.E.

specialist into your unit to give a workshop

or demonstration. You are only constrained

by your imagination…(and any Covid-19

restrictions in your area) but don’t let those

stop you doing something for the benefit

of your physical and mental health! As the

saying goes….”where there’s a will, there’s

a way!”

Here are a few suggestions to

get you started:

1. Hold a socially-distanced sports day

and set up some individual activities

which you can do against the clock;

how about an egg and spoon

race, or a long-jump or a squat

challenge? You can get the staff

to join in the fun too!

2. Join an online fitness event such

as a Joe Wickes workout, a yoga

class or a virtual dance class.

3. Go for a power walk or a run – start

slowly and work your way up. You

can do ‘scout’s pace’ too, where

you alternate between running and


4. Set up a contact-free obstacle course

in your setting. You can use tape on

the floor rather than real obstacles and

ask the children to jump over the lines,

balance whilst walking on them, or

zigzag between crosses on the floor.

You can run team relay events

against the clock if you’re

feeling competitive or just do

everything for fun!

5. Make a fitness diary

with the children to show

them what they are actually

doing over a week. You can

create some visual stickers to use

such as running, jumping, playing or

participating in different sports.

6. Create a fitness bingo or dice game.

Choose 6 different activities and

allocate them a number. When the

dice lands on that number, the children

have to do that activity.

7. Encourage parents to do some

physical activity with their

children at home and send

in a short video or photo to

show what they’ve done. It

could be anything – from

a walk in the park to some

major footballing action.

8. Use the hashtag #Fitness2Me

on your social media channels,

saying what fitness means to you and

how it’s helping you unite and come

together with others!

What are the Government

recommendations for activity?

In 2019, new guidelines recommended:

• Adults (aged 19 and over) should aim

to be active daily. Over a week, activity

should add up to at least 150 minutes

(2.5 hours) of moderate intensity

activity or 75 minutes (1 hour, 15

minutes) of vigorous intensity activity

per week, or a combination of both,

with strength building on at least 2


• Children and young people (aged 5 to

18) should aim to be physically active

for at least 60 minutes per day across

the week.

• Pre-schoolers should spend at least

180 minutes (3 hours) a day doing a

variety of physical activities spread

throughout the day, including active

and outdoor play. The more the better.

• Toddlers should be physically active

every day for at least 180 minutes

(3 hours). The more the better. This

should be spread throughout the day,

including playing outdoors.

There’s something out there for everyone,

so make sure you get out there and find it!

You should always check with your

doctor before starting any physical

activity if you are concerned about

your health or have not exercised for a


Data sources and useful links







24 September 2020 | | September 2020 25

Three ways to

greater playfulness

probably going to be more effective than

sitting at your desk and trying to fight

your way through it. Play isn’t outcome

dependant, which is one of the reasons

it is so useful for gaining a better

perspective of a problem and finding

solutions for it.

We all know play is a wonderful thing, and more than just fun it is important for our

cognitive development and our wellbeing. As children, play helps us to learn social signs

and signals, through playing we build an active imagination, we make sense of our

surroundings and we strengthen ourselves both physically and emotionally. But play does

not need to stop in childhood! There are many benefits to being a playful adult, and as someone

who supports children, if you become more playful yourself, both you and the children

will reap the benefits. Play is fundamental for a healthy brain, so why do we tend to stop

playing when we become adults?

When you are tasked with a

never-ending list of responsibilities,

and you’re busy keeping everyone clean,

meeting assessment targets, managing

staff, or simply managing a shopping list,

its hard to feel playful. Flopping on the

sofa in front of Netflix often seems more

inviting than the effort of doing something

playful. Whilst remembering to be playful

as an adult can be another thing on the

to do list, play itself is not effortful, it is


I take play very seriously. On Thursday

evenings I can be found, come rain or

shine, in the grounds of my local university

alongside a small group of people from

all walks of life making up a game to play.

It is silly, ridiculous, joyful, fun and I love it.

Each week we make up and play a new

game. Normally there is an object to start

us off, we’ve had a ladder, a melon, even

scented candles, all can be inspiration for

a game. Since the start of lockdown we

have adopted social distancing into our

games, there’s always lots of wacky

rules so keeping two meters distance

just adds another element to our


I recognise that the exuberance of my

Thursday nights is not everyone’s cup of

tea, but I know from experience that even

the most serious of people, if willing to give

a playful approach a go, will reap physical

and mental benefits from an investment in

being playful.

I have turned being playful into a

profession; one of the ways I do this is

through running laughter workshops. In

my workshops I teach people techniques

for generating laughter. I do explain the

science behind my approach, but nothing

is a more powerful than the experience

itself. I’m always excited to witness the

transformation in participants from the

start to the finish of a workshop. People

arrive uptight, sceptical or anxious,

and leave with a huge smile on their

faces, feeling lighter, relaxed and

more connected with one another

and with themselves. I was once

candidly told by a participant “I

did not want to do this, I felt

awkward doing it, but I feel

SO much better now.”

Their willingness to

give it a go was

what made

the difference

for them.

The difference between

a stressed person and a

person at ease is palpable. I am

often told by workshop participants

that the effect of an hour’s play

lasted for days. Some insomniacs have

told me they have been able to sleep

more soundly, others report a release of

physical pain or tension in their bodies. Of

course, just as lockdown has adjusted my

Thursday night games, so it has changed

the way I run workshops and I’m currently

offering workshops online via Zoom.

Play aids creativity; if you’re struggling

with a mental block about a piece

of work, taking a break to play is

Playing with others strengthens

our relationships. You will

know how true this is for

children, but it is equally true

for adults. When we play, we

have to let down certain barriers;

I love it when a manager of a

team really throws themselves into

the activities on my courses; you can

see the people they manage looking at

them in a new light and the team goes

away with a better understanding of one

another. It’s like a night out but without the

messiness of alcohol.

So how can you play more? Well you could

turn up to your local park with a melon

and some scented candles and see if

someone wants to make up a game with

you! Or you could logon to one of my

online Playful Presence workshops. Or, if

you want to approach play a little more

gently, try adding in one or two of the

following into your day:

1. Movement

Getting out of your head and into

your body is a great way to feel

more playful. When we connect

with our body we remind ourselves

that we are a living thing, not just a

collection of worries. You can add

movement into your day in small

doses, just getting out of your chair

now and jumping up and down

a few times counts. Or dancing

whilst you wait for the kettle to

boil, lunging to open the door for

the delivery person, celebrating a

finished task with a click of your

fingers, a punch in the air of a high

five with someone!

2. Novelty

Be alert to novelty in the world

and revel in it. I saw a dog

wearing a baseball cap earlier

this week! Try to spot the

peculiar things and delight in


3. Change

Take an aspect of your routine, like

putting your shoes on or making

your toast and do it differently. I am

currently getting out of bed differently.

I’ve been rolling onto my tummy,

scooting my legs out of the blanket

and standing up like that, or I’ll get

out of the bottom of my bed instead

of the side, I’ll roll the blankets up

like a sausage and do a kind of

crowd surfing move over them.

You cannot start your day stressed

if you’ve just crowd surfed your

own duvet! Taking ourselves too

seriously is one of the biggest

dangers in adulthood.

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



Play is even more important

in a time of crisis; we need

to build our emotional

resilience in order to

endure difficult periods in

life. Being around playful

adults helps children to

feel safe and secure. So why

not join me in a workshop, or

give my playful tips a go? You’re

bound to feel the difference!

26 September 2020 | | September 2020 27


Literacy Day

If you are reading this, you are one of the lucky ones, because

it means you have a good level of literacy which unlocks

many aspects of life that you probably take for granted, such

as being able to decipher a menu, read a road sign or get the

news headlines from a paper or magazine.

Literacy is the ability to read, write,

speak and listen in a way that lets us

communicate effectively and make sense

of the world. Unfortunately, 16.4% of

adults in England can be described as

having ‘very poor literacy skills’, which

equates to about 7.1 million people who

may find themselves locked out of the job

market, struggling to claim benefits they

are entitled to, and if they are a parent,

they will be unable to effectively support

their children’s learning. Lacking these vital

literacy skills holds people back at every

stage of life.

But having poor literacy can also affect life

expectancy. A report from 2018 found that:

“A boy born in Stockton Town Centre

(which has some of the most serious

literacy challenges in the country) has a life

expectancy 26.1 years shorter than a boy

born in North Oxford (which has some of

the fewest literacy challenges)”.

Figures related to girls showed a 20-year

difference. Even people within 2 miles of

each other showed a significant reduction

in life expectancy related to differing

literacy levels - 11.6 years for boys and 9.4

years for girls.

Reports from KPMG suggest that low

levels of literacy can also undermine the

UK’s economic competitiveness, costing

the taxpayer approximately £2.5 billion

each year. With a third of businesses

complaining about the literacy skills of

young people entering the work place,

and another third organising remedial

training for new recruits to increase their

literacy and communication, successive

governments inevitably ask what can be

done to improve the situation?

It’s not just the UK though – literacy levels

vary across the world although progress is

being made generally. From 1985 to 2018,

the number of illiterate youths (ages 15

to 24) decreased from 177 million to 100

million. But that’s still a significant amount

of people. There are regional differences

and literacy rates are higher among males

than females with women accounting for

59% of the illiterate youth population.

Interestingly though, in developed

countries such as the UK, boys perform

less well than girls by an average of nine

months of schooling.

So literacy matters, which is why the

United Nations Educational, Scientific

and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, have

been promoting the 8th of September

each year as International Literacy Day

(ILD) since 1966. The day is now part of

the UN’s sustainable development goals

programme, adopted in 2015, which aims

to raise global awareness of child and

adult literacy issues, and highlight the

changes and improvements being made

in literacy worldwide.

In the UK, literacy skills are embedded

into the curriculums followed by England,

Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales,

although their means of delivering and

testing these skills vary since education

is one of the devolved powers - meaning

each country is responsible for its

own educational policies, laws and


• In England for example, the Early

Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)

framework identifies the standards

that all providers must meet

across 7 key areas of learning

and development, which include

standards for reading and writing

(literacy). In 2018, 77% of five-yearolds

met the minimum standard for

reading, 74% for writing, 86% for

speaking and 86% for listening.

• In the same year, 64% of students

achieved a good grade in their English

language GCSE or equivalent (grades

A*-C or 9-4)

And whilst these figures are broadly in

line with other developed nations, there is

clearly still room from improvement. Due

to lockdown, almost all our young people

have already missed out on months of

their education, from early years to key

stage 5, so it is more important than ever

that we start to help our children catch up.

This year, the focus on ILD will be on

“literacy teaching and learning in the

Covid-19 crisis and beyond” with a further

emphasis on the role of educators and

changing pedagogies to highlight the need

for greater support for lifelong literacy

learning. If 64% of GCSE students passed

their English language paper in 2018, that

leaves 36% who did not ‘make the grade’

for whatever reason, leaving them at a

serious disadvantage at the tender age of

just 16!

At the same time, it must not be forgotten

that we live in a digital age, and our

recent home-schooling experiences have

perhaps made each one of us appreciate

our nursery and teaching professionals a

little more. Lockdown saw a burgeoning

of online learning platforms and a myriad

of virtual lessons, but if you can’t read a

sentence, what hope is there of reading or

accessing material online?

The problem is a complex one and more

research needs to be done to weigh up the

benefits of technology as a learning tool

versus concerns about language gaps,

mental health and safeguarding associated

with digital platforms.

But what can you do in your settings to

encourage literacy, digitally or not? The

answers are remarkably simple for early

years. You will have your own ways of

introducing literacy into your curriculum, but

perhaps the best thing you can do at this

time is to encourage parents to take up the

baton and really set their child on the road

to success at home. is a pilot project from the

National Literacy Trust and the DfE to help

parents encourage literacy at home. It has

advice, games, songs and stories online to

help parents and nursery professionals too.

Both these websites are full of resources

which are all free to download. They don’t

need lots of specialist equipment or fancy

programs since their advice is very simple:

chat, play and read with children as much

as possible.

And sometimes the best advice is the

simplest. We have all gone through a

very difficult time in the last 6 months, and

who knows what the future will bring? So

perhaps, for the time being, the advice

should be as simple and easy to manage

as possible – chat, play and read – seems

like something that we, as professionals,

can all do every day, to improve the

prospects for our children.







28 September 2020 | | September 2020 29

How children learn and the

importance of using an attachment

and trauma based approach

While the world is still in the grip of a pandemic, children are returning to our schools and

settings to lots of change which will be very difficult for them. Some of these children will have

faced traumatic times over the past six months and all of them have lived through the biggest

upheaval society has seen for decades. We need to ensure that we are ready to offer them the

nurture and support that they need. Children need to feel safe and secure and have a positive

sense of wellbeing before they are ready to learn.

What is going on in our


To help us support children’s emotional

development and wellbeing, it is helpful

to know what is happening in our brains.

When we feel calm the thalamus sends

the information from our senses to the

thinking part of our brain, which Dan

Siegel calls the ‘upstairs brain’. We are

calm and able to make decisions, be

resilient, and stay in control of our body

and mind. However, when we feel very

stressed or anxious, the thalamus sends

the information straight to our amygdala

and our ‘downstairs brain’ takes over. We

are overpowered by our emotions, have

an increase in the stress hormone cortisol

and are unable to think clearly (Siegel &

Bryson, 2012). You may have heard this

referred to as ‘Freeze, Fight or Flight’ mode.

This response is designed as a survival

technique to save us from threat or

danger, but many children (and adults)

live in this state of red alert all of the

time leading to long term physical and

mental health problems. Children need

to grow up with healthy attachments

and educators who can help them to

co-regulate their emotional states, so

that they can be resilient when they face

danger, threat, anxiety or even a possible

local lockdown.

Many of our children will have had

increased cortisol during the past few

months and as Mine Conkbayir says, “In

small doses, it is very useful in helping

children and adults alike to cope with

threatening or stressful situations by

preparing the mind and body to fight

or flee” (2017, p.46) however, if a child

is exposed to too much cortisol on an

ongoing basis, they will “develop a

hyper-reactive stress response” (2017,

p.47). Even if there is no longer any

danger, their brain will react as if there

were, resulting in children who may be

irrational, overly-emotional, fearful or


Being trauma and

attachment aware

An important first step for us as educators

is to become more aware of the impact

that trauma can have on our children

and families. We cannot become trauma

and attachment aware overnight but we

can begin to reflect upon these issues

and adopt an approach informed by this

growing area of neuroscience. Here are a

few ideas of how we can encourage our

settings to grow in awareness:

• Ensure all members of staff

understand about Adverse Childhood

Experiences (ACEs), trauma and

attachment through engaging in

professional development.

• Include being trauma and attachment

aware in policies and procedures.

• Get to know children and families and

be aware of their backgrounds, whilst

avoiding making assumptions about

their upbringing or ACEs.

• Re-frame ‘attention-seeking’ children

as ‘attachment-seeking’ children

(Brooks, 2020).

• Use strategies like emotion coaching

and problem solving.

• Offer times in the daily routine to checkin

with children.

• Prioritise wellbeing for staff and


• Provide calming areas, e.g. a den or

pop-up tent filled with cushions and


• Use sensory resources and engage in

sensory play, like bubble blowing.

• Have calming strategies up your sleeve

and get to know which work well for

specific children.

• Provide a visual timetable and Now/

Next boards to help children to

understand the routine of the day.

• Be a role model by having a calm

attitude and demeanour.

• Use natural consequences for children

when possible. For example, if a child

has deliberately broken a toy, do not

replace it immediately, instead let them

play without it for a while. This helps

them to develop an understanding of

cause and effect.

• Avoid public praise or reward systems

built on social compliance, instead use

labelled praise and encouragement.

Looking to the future

Where do we go from here? Well, for me

it’s not about a recovery curriculum for our

returning children, it’s about a nurturing

environment keeping children central to

our provision, planning around them and

focusing on their wellbeing. It’s about being

trauma and attachment aware and also

keeping the characteristics of effective

learning in mind. These skills will help our

children to be good learners and become

more resilient.

So start with the child: what they know

and can do. Spend time getting to know

them really well, consider their emotional

development and attachment needs,

keeping transitions to a minimum and

routines consistent. Practice empathy and

offer additional support to those who need

it, whether children, families or staff. Ensure

that, regardless of how confusing our own

guidance from the government can be, we

offer clear guidance to the families and

children ourselves. If we adopt a more

trauma and attachment aware approach

this will prioritise wellbeing and ensure that

our children feel nurtured, safe and secure

and ready to learn.

Getting back to the new


• Avoid the deficit model of ‘catching

up’ for everyone. Instead start with the

child and what they know and can do.

• Spend time getting to know each other

again and learning any new routines.

• Consider emotional needs – plan staff

rotas around key children and their

attachment needs.

• Offer security and safety by keeping

routines consistent and limiting

transitions during the day.

• Practise empathy – it has been a

difficult time for everyone.

• Offer additional support and time for

settling in and re-introducing children

to our settings.

• Offer clear guidance to families and

explain any changes to children.

• Remember that all behaviour is

communication – what are your

children and families trying to tell you?

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 three books

– “Observing and Developing

Schematic Behaviour in Young

Children” , “School Readiness

and the Characteristics of

Effective Learning” and “Calling

all Superheroes: Supporting and

Developing Superhero Play in the

Early Years” and is working on a

fourth looking at “Developing a

Loving Pedagogy in the Early Years”.

You can contact Tamsin via Twitter

@tamsingrimmer, her Facebook

page, website or email info@

References / Further reading

• Brooks, R. (2020) The Trauma and Attachment Aware Classroom: A Practical Guide

to Supporting Children Who Have Encountered Trauma and Adverse Childhood

Experiences. London, Jessica Kingsley Publishers

• Conkbayir, M. (2017) Early Childhood and Neuroscience: Theory, Research and

Implications for Practice. London: Bloomsbury Academic

• Siegel, D. & Bryson, T. (2012) The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Proven Strategies to Nurture

Your Child’s Developing Mind. London: Robinson

30 September 2020 | | September 2020 31

Raising awareness

of sepsis

When a child (or indeed adult) has an infection, the body’s immune system automatically kicks

into gear to fight it off. When faced with a viral infection (like a cold or flu) or a bacterial

infection (like ‘strep throat’) a child, in particular, may experience symptoms like fever, sore

throat, body aches and a headache. In your experience as a childcare practitioner, you will

have probably seen these symptoms many times; and know that they are usually manageable;

and that a healthy immune response in the child would ensure full recovery within a few days.

• Low temperature (below 36 o C – check

three times in a 10-minute period)

The statistics

Sepsis affects between 27–30 million

people each year, and of those, between

6 and 9 million people die as a result. But

the most worrying statistic is that sepsis

is the most preventable cause of death

worldwide. Unfortunately, only between

7% and 50% of people are aware of sepsis

globally. This varies, depending on the

country and education level, but many are

unaware of the simple measures that can

be undertaken to prevent it, and many also

do not know that the risk of death can be

significantly reduced by early recognition of

the symptoms and early effective treatment.

The best way to prevent sepsis is to prevent

infections in the first place through the use

of vaccinations and good hygiene practices

- plus for some countries where sanitation

is an issue, having access to clean water

and hygienic birth situations.

How can we learn more and

raise awareness?

September 13th each year is recognised

as World Sepsis Day - an initiative formed

in 2012 by the Global Sepsis Alliance. You

can find so many useful resources on their

website, including a toolkit which enables

you to run educational sessions for parents

and a very informative short video, plus

lots of ideas on how to get involved to raise


• Cycle in fancy dress and share your

photos online!

• Cycle food to vulnerable people

– again, taking care of the social

distancing guidelines.

Here’s what you can do in your


1. Download the toolkit from www. and run

an education session for your parents

and staff. There is a comprehensive

toolkit on the website consisting of

information, resources and a “What

is sepsis?” video which runs for just 3

minutes, which you can use to get the

main messages over.

2. Sign the Sepsis Declaration and

share the link to it on your social media

channels asking your parents to sign

it too.

3. Wear pink for the day and tell

everyone why you are doing it.

4. Hold a pink picnic with the children

and serve all manner of pink food

such as fairy cakes, raspberries, pink

grapefruit and watermelon. You can

always make some pink bread for

sandwiches using some pink food

colouring – the children will love it!

5. Participate in the photo challenge

and share your photos on social media

using the hashtag #WorldSepsisDay.

Keep parents engaged

Getting involved in World Sepsis Day and

Cycle4Sepsis is a great way to keep that allimportant

engagement going with parents

and lets them know that you are aware of

and thinking about key health issues.

Why not ask them to send you their photos

from their activities so you can upload on to

your website, your social media pages or

even include in a newsletter?

Download our handy “how to avoid

spreading germs in your setting” poster


For the month of September, get

30% discount on our CPD online

learning course for your staff -

Infection Prevention Control

However, on occasion, when the

immune system releases chemicals into

the bloodstream to fight an infection,

those particular chemicals can attack

normal organs and tissues. This immune

overreaction is called sepsis and can

cause inflammation, blood flow problems,

low blood pressure, breathing problems

and vital organ failure. Sepsis in

children – and adults – can be


We know that sepsis is rare - but it

can be extremely serious if not treated

immediately and much work is still to be

done to raise awareness of this potentially

fateful infection. If you suspect a child in

your care has sepsis, then you should seek

medical help immediately, as it could be


Here are the symptoms to look

out for in children under five

years old

• Mottled, bluish or pale complexion

• Very lethargic - or difficult to wake

from a nap

• Abnormally cold to the touch

• Fast breathing

• A rash that does not fade when you

press it

• Fit or convulsion

Additional symptoms can


• Temperature over 38 o C in babies

under three months

• Temperature over 39 o C in babies

aged three to six months

• Any high temperature in a child

who cannot be encouraged to show

interest in anything

On a national level, the UK Sepsis Trust is

marking World Sepsis Day with a campaign

called Cycle4Sepsis – and is asking the

nation to cycle for the duration of the month

– either fundraising or just for fun - and this

year it’s a virtual challenge for everyone to

take part! More information on this can be

found here.

Here are some ideas that you

can share with parents and on

your social media channels:

• Head out on a cycling picnic, taking

care of the social distancing guidance.

• Go on a cycling ‘treasure hunt’ – round

the garden or outdoor space in your


32 September 2020 | | September 2020 33

How attachment

leads to independence

and inspired and there will be others who

make you doubt yourself and feel less than

your best. Which of those people are more

likely to make you feel confident and like

you can take on the world? Those closest

to us have a big impact on us. If we want

children to fulfil their potential and live

a happy life, it is crucial that they have

positive and strong attachments with the

people around them. If we focus on making

a child feel safe and secure, instead of

trying to make them independent, we will

automatically give them the foundation

they need in order to step into their own

brilliance. Independence comes in time.

However, it is the strong attachments

that we have in early childhood and

beyond that contribute to our ability to

metaphorically spread our wings and fly

into a happy and fulfilled future.

When my children were born it always

amazed me how many people were

of the opinion that you could spoil a

baby or ‘make a rod for your own back’

by cuddling them too much. I never

understood it. Imagine being inside your

mother’s womb where you felt warm and

safe. You were never hungry and every

need you had was met on demand. You

could hear her voice and would fall asleep

to the sound of her heartbeat. Then all of

a sudden you were born. The feeling of

her around you vanished and for the first

time you were a separate being. There

were new sounds and smells that were

unfamiliar, you felt hunger and the cold

for the first time and you no longer had

the safety of your mother’s body around

you. It was scary. You yearned for human

connection and to be on your mother’s

chest because that is where you felt the

safest. The familiar sound of her heartbeat

kept you calm, and the warmth of her

body made you feel safe again, like you

did before you entered the world. At

first, you needed that physical contact all

of the time. However, after a while, the

unfamiliarity of the world became a little

bit more normal and you felt safer in your


Over time, your confidence grew, and you

would feel secure knowing that at any

moment the people closest to you would

scoop you up if you needed them to. This

gave you the confidence to try different

things and to step out into the world

because you knew there was always a

safety net if you fell. You felt accepted and

loved, which made you feel empowered

and confident, but sometimes you doubted

yourself and needed to be back in your

mother’s arms. You would return there

for a while knowing that it was okay

to feel this way and then once your

confidence was restored, you

would give things another try.

You see, independence comes in time.

Children need attachment and security

before any of that. A person who feels

safe and loved, will show up in the world

very differently to someone who doesn’t.

Even as an adult we sometimes need an

arm around us and some reassurance

from the people we love. Children are

no different. They need to build up their

confidence and feel safe before they step

out into the world. They need to know

that there is someone in their corner who

they can rely on and trust. Once they have

this, they will then naturally become more

independent. Every child is unique though.

Some children are innately more cautious

and that’s okay. We are all different and

shouldn’t be made to feel like there is

anything wrong with that. Once a child

feels secure, they can be encouraged to try

new things in the knowledge that there is

always someone there for them who has

their back.

The early years in a child’s life shape who

they are and how they respond to the

world and themselves. A consistent,

loving environment is crucial in

a child’s development and

has a physical impact on

the wiring of their brain.

We know as adults that the quality of our

relationships has a huge impact on our

life. When we feel loved and supported by

the people around us, we automatically

feel more confident in who we are. As

much as we shouldn’t care what other

people think, we often do. Think about

your own life. There will be people who

make you feel


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.

Email: stacey@earlyyearsstorybox.

com or Telephone: 07765785595

Facebook: https://www.facebook.




Instagram: https://www.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.


34 September 2020 | | September 2020 35

Migraine Awareness Week

At some point in our lives, we have all had a headache, and know how painful and debilitating

they can be. But if you are one of the 1 in 7 people in the population who suffer from migraines,

then you will understand the misery caused by this disabling lifetime condition. Migraine is the

third most common, and sixth most disabling disease in the world although the understanding

of the condition is still low.

Migraine Awareness Week is held

every year to try to raise awareness of

the condition, highlight its impact and

the understanding of it in the general

population, and raise funds for the

Migraine Trust, an organisation committed

to helping support the millions of people

affected. One of the main aims of

the week is to “work together to raise

the profile of migraine as a complex

neurological condition and dispel any

ideas that it is ‘just a headache’.”

This year, the week runs from the 6th

to the 12th September and everyone is

encouraged to get involved in some way.

Below are some ideas about things you

can do to help out, and some facts and

information about the condition to help

increase everyone’s understanding.

What is migraine?

Migraine is a complex neurological

condition with a wide variety of symptoms.

A migraine is usually a moderate or severe

headache felt as a throbbing pain on one

side of the head although many people

also have symptoms such as feeling sick,

being sick and increased sensitivity to light,

smells or sound. Many people need to lie

still for several hours in darkened spaces,

and attacks can last from 4 to 72 hours.

The symptoms vary with individuals and

can be very frightening for them.

Types of migraine

There are several types of migraine, as

listed on the NHS migraine webpage,

which include:

• migraine with aura – where there

are specific warning signs just before

the migraine begins, such as seeing

flashing lights

• migraine without aura – the most

common type, where the migraine

happens without the specific warning


• migraine aura without headache, also

known as silent migraine – where an

aura or other migraine symptoms are

experienced, but a headache does

not develop

Who suffers from


Anyone can be affected although there is

a higher incidence in women than men. It

can begin at any age but usually begins

early. Children as young as 18 months

have been reported with it, and about

10% of school-aged children and 28% of

adolescents aged 15 to 19 are affected by

it. Half of all sufferers experience their first

migraine before they are 12.

What causes migraine?

The causes of migraine are not fully

understood as it differs widely between

individuals. There may be some genetic

involvement since it seems to run in

families, and many people think that

their migraines are caused by a trigger

such as a food/drink, stress, or changes

in their hormones. A good way to help

identify triggers is for people to keep a

detailed diary of what they eat/drink, any

mood swings, external factors such as the

weather and the room temperature which

can be used to build up a detailed picture

of how these things affect their migraine.

How can you treat


There is no cure for migraine, but many

people treat the symptoms of pain and

headache with over-the-counter painkillers

such as paracetamol, ibuprofen or

codeine. Another class of drugs called

triptans work to reverse the changes in

the brain causing migraine. They quieten

down overactive pain nerves and work

in a similar way to the brain chemical,

serotonin. However, they are not suitable

for everyone due to their vasoconstrictor

properties (narrowing of the arteries) and

everyone should check with their doctor

or pharmacist first before taking any

medications since some medications such

as codeine are also age-restricted.

How can you raise

awareness in your


1. Talk about it – hopefully, the very

fact that you are reading this article

means that you will have a little more

knowledge about the condition at

the end of it, than you had at the

beginning. Do you know anyone who

suffers from migraines? Have you ever

just thought they are ‘putting it on’ or

dismissed it as ‘another headache’?!

Why not instigate a conversation

about migraines and try to find out

how things really are? There is a lot

of negative stigma around migraines

and many sufferers literally do ‘suffer

in silence’ because they do not

think other people will understand.

This is where talking openly and

honestly about it can help. If you

know someone who suffers from

migraines, you could tell them about

the Migraine Trust, or other relevant

charities and the work they do.

2. Follow the Migraine Trust on

Facebook and Twitter and use the

hashtags #letsbeatmigraine and

#migraineawarenessweek on your

own social media sites to show that

you are supporting the week. There

is also a Migraine Trust YouTube

channel which you could share via

social media to help get people

talking and thinking more about


3. Help others by sharing your own

story – if you have migraines, then

the Migraine Trust would love to hear

your own personal story – you never

know how many people might be

inspired by your experiences to either

get help themselves or understand

the condition more.

4. Raise some funds – money allows

the charity to continue with their

important research and support work.

There many fun charity activities you

can do to help raise some pennies (or

some pounds!) Things like sponsored

walks, cake sales, art events might

be your expertise, or you could tackle

more strenuous activities such as the

2021 London Marathon.

5. Give something up – a lot of people

with migraine believe their migraine

is triggered by certain things, such

as hormones, alcohol, stress or

certain foods and drinks. They

often avoid these things to prevent

their migraine. The idea behind the

#GiveUpForMigraine campaign is

that people give something up for a

month to help raise money – it should

be something they like (chocolate and

alcohol are usually good candidates)

and then they donate the money they

save to the Migraine Trust.

Whatever you do, the next time someone

says they have a migraine, you can show

empathy and support.

References and further



• https://www.nationalmigrainecentre.

• https://migraineresearchfoundation.




36 September 2020 | | September 2020 37

Building on

relationships and


with parents

Our world has changed a lot in the last few months. It’s hard

enough being a parent or carer but now that life has changed

somewhat, parents may have lots of additional concerns

about leaving their child in childcare. There is no doubt that

you already work hard to build relationships with parents -

life is always going to be much easier if everyone gets along.

But how can we build on the partnership even further?

What are the benefits of

strong relationships with


Some of a child’s most important cognitive

development happens during their

pre-school years. If parents and carers

take an active role in their child’s early

education, they are helping to give the

child the support they need to reach their

full potential.

Parents that are the most in tune with what

is happening in their child’s setting are

able to establish a connection between the

learning that takes place in your setting

and learning that takes place at home.

They can then extend the learning that

has taken place into real-life experiences,

further boosting the child’s learning.

Looking beyond the child’s days at your

setting, research shows that family

engagement in a child’s education can

lead to them achieving better at school,

having better social skills, and improved


On a more day to day note, a child is

likely to settle a lot better where there is

a strong relationship between home and

your setting. Furthermore, getting parents

involved boosts their confidence in you, as

they see you do what you do best.

This will help build a positive reputation for

your setting.

As you can see, parents, families and

educators need to work together in

partnership to give a child the best

possible experience.

How can you build your

relationships with

parents to make them ever


In order for a child to really thrive the

responsibility for the parent/setting

relationship belongs to both sides.

However, the parent may not recognise

this so it may be down to you to

encourage it.

Firstly, take time to find out about the

child’s past. Talking to parents about a

child’s early experiences can help you

plan for effective learning, plus it helps you

offer support to parents in continuing their

children’s learning at home.

Continue with daily communication.

You are probably already using a daily

diary or communication book, but you may

be tempted to stop this as the child gets

older. Consider keeping it going for those

hard-to-reach parents that perhaps have a

grandparent or friend collect.

Collect ‘wow’ observations from

home (either on paper or on an online

system such as Tapestry). The children

at your setting are going to have other

experiences outside of your setting that

you can’t offer, such as swimming. Allow

parents to share any achievements

with you. Not only does this keep

communication open and help you get to

know each child, but it will also help add to

your assessment of them.

Encourage contributions from parents

by really valuing anything they have to

offer. They may be able to help out, talk to

the children about their job or a skill they

have, or share information about their

culture. By welcoming them in, the children

in your setting will benefit from what they

have to share, the child of the parent will

get a massive boost, you show the parent

that you have nothing to hide, and they get

to see what a brilliant job you do. Win win!

Set goals with parents and work

together to help their child achieve them.

This is particularly important if a child is

struggling with something particular such

as separation anxiety.

Make resources available to parents.

Many parents may want to continue the

fantastic learning that you do at home but

simply don’t have the tools to do so, or just

don’t know what to do. Consider a lending

library so that parents can see the sort of

thing you do and so that the link between

your setting and home can be as strong as

possible. If you don’t think lending things

out is feasible, then how about suggesting

a list of activities for parents to do at home.

You could put these out on your social

media which gives you lots of content ideas.

Consider home visits. Where you may

have a particularly tricky situation such

as a child that is extremely anxious or

a child with additional needs, it may be

worth offering a home visit. Home visits are

widely used to help settle children into their

reception class at school and have brilliant

positive effects. If you are going, don’t go

alone and make sure your colleagues know

exactly when you’re going.

Cater for ‘hard-to-reach’ parents. In

any setting you are going to find that some

parents are easier to reach than others.

You might find that fathers, parents who

live apart from their children, and working

Gina Smith

Gina Smith is an experienced

teacher with experience of

teaching in both mainstream

and special education. She is the

creator of ‘Create Visual Aids’

- a business that provides both

homes and education settings

with bespoke visual resources.

Gina recognises the fact that no

two children are the same and

therefore individuals are likely to

need different resources. Create

Visual Aids is dedicated to making

visual symbols exactly how the

individual needs them.



parents are included in this group. You will

need to use different strategies for involving

them – talk to them to find out what works

best for them. Don’t forget to provide

information in a way that is accessible to

all. Some of your parents may not be able

to read, or struggle to read English because

it is an additional language. You may need

to go that extra mile to make any contact

accessible for all.

Make a strong effort to involve parents and

carers and you will go a long way to having

children that reach their full potential. If both

parent and setting recognise and respect

what the other does, then a child can really

thrive in the best possible way.

38 September 2020 | | September 2020 39




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solutions and it gives parents:

A newsfeed of their child’s day

including photos and videos

Their account balance and invoice


The ability to download invoice and

payment receipts

A calendar view of past, present and

future sessions booked

View and request changes for

information about their child including

allergies, illnesses and medication

+ lots more!

We’ve worked with thousands of settings, so we

know exactly what tools you need to make your

business successful. We believe that delivering

great childcare means working closely alongside

parents; and with Parent Portal, they can stay

involved in their child’s day.

Interested? Speak to our team to find

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