October magazine 2020


Issue 71





The importance

of circle time

Speech and Language Therapy

and International Stammering

Awareness Day

Sensory adventures

of a newborn

+ lots more

Write for us

for a chance to win


page 8

COVID-19 - a chance to

reconnect with nature

and the outdoors?

Limit the spread of coronavirus and help to combat the lack of nature in our

children’s lives to promote a healthier outlook and lifestyle.



welcome to our family

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

Autumn is well and truly here: the leaves are changing colour and the clocks go back this month. What better

time than now to be able to go outdoors and reconnect with nature?

Understandably, many nursery managers are now planning their childcare provision around trying to be

outside more of the time. Hopefully, this will not only limit the spread of coronavirus, but will help to combat

the lack of nature in our children’s lives. Within her article this month, industry expert, Tamsin Grimmer, includes

some excellent practical ideas of how we can connect with nature this autumn and promote a more healthy outlook

and lifestyle to the children in our care.

We were all certainly feeling autumnal when we did the crafts with our Parenta juniors on pages 10 and 11. The clocks go

back on 25th at 2am, so what better way to remember this - and to introduce telling the time to the children - than making

a Halloween-inspired pumpkin clock! We also baked apples – they were delicious! It’s not only National Baking Week this

month, but Apple Day on 21st and educating the children in health and wellbeing is more important now than ever: it has been

estimated that malnutrition affects over 3 million people in the UK. Turn to page 32 for some startling facts about malnutrition

and obesity; and things we can do to educate our children to start making healthy choices – it’s never too early!

Congratulations to guest author, Stacey Kelly, who is our winner for August. Her article, which focuses on looking at the world

through the eyes of a child, gave us some great insight into seeing things from a child’s perspective. Well done Stacey!

We hope you enjoy our magazine this month – it really is packed with so much advice from our wonderful guest authors, and

all the articles have been written to help you with the efficient running of your setting and to promote the health, happiness and

wellbeing of the children in your care.

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

Please stay safe everyone.


Teach our

children to

be perfectly



Help our children to

overcome perfectionism

The Big


The world’s biggest

drawing festival is



National Baking


“Ready, steady. BAKE!”

Have you missed hearing these

words over the summer?





8 Write Child-friendly for us smoothie for the chance to

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

815 Guest author winner winner announced announced

10 39 Halloween starf ish craf tpumpkin craft

11 Baked apple craft


4 Childcare Preparations news for the and ‘new views normal’ and

returning to your setting

6 A round up of some news stories

that have caught our eye over the




6 Father’s Day at home



Children’s Art Week

The Big Draw – the world’s biggest

12 drawing World Oceans festival Day

18 20 World Child Safety Space Week Week

22 26 National Bike Week Baking 2020 Week

26 34 Speech Growing and for wellbeing Language Week Therapy

36 and National International Writing DayStammering

38 Awareness Diabetes Week Day

32 Malnutrition Awareness Week and

the need for better nutrition

36 Crisis management

Industry Experts

Industry Experts

16 Talking about difference: behavioural


12 18 Teach Storytelling our in children music: using to be royalty perfectly and

imperfect magic

16 22 COVID-19 Furlough: The – a new chance ‘f’ word to reconnect

28 with Three nature ways to and reduce the meltdowns outdoors?

20 30 Sensory Promoting adventures positive behaviour of a newborn in pre-school

24 Forming, storming, norming,


performing…developing your teams

28 The importance of circle time

34 Connected communication through

the COVID-19 crisis

38 Singing in nurseries

Forming, storming, norming, performing…

developing your teams



The importance of circle time 28

Malnutrition Awareness Week and the need for

better nutrition 32

Connected communication through the COVID-19 crisis 34


news & views

Job retention scheme

replaced with new measures

On 24th September, The Chancellor of

the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, presented

the government’s Winter Economy Plan to

Parliament to outline how the government

will support jobs and the economy over

the coming months.

Central to the plan is a new Job Support

Scheme and extension of the Self

Employment Income Support Scheme

and over one million businesses will get

flexibilities to help pay back loans.

Delivering a speech in Parliament, the

Chancellor announced a package of

measures that will continue to protect

jobs and help businesses through the

uncertain months ahead as the country

continues to tackle the spread of the virus.

The package includes a new Jobs Support

Scheme to protect millions of returning

workers, extending the Self Employment

Income Support Scheme and 15% VAT cut

for the hospitality and tourism sectors,

and help for businesses in repaying

government-backed loans.

The announcement comes after the

Prime Minister set out further measures

to combat the spread of the virus over the

winter, while preserving the ability to grow

the economy.

The news story and plan in full can be

found on the government’s website here.

DfE publishes EYFS

‘Development Matters’


In September, the Department for

Education published its EYFS Development

Matters guidance as some early adopter

schools start the updated EYFS curriculum

ahead of its wider release next year.

For clarification, the guidance states:

“The non-statutory curriculum guidance

supports the delivery of the revised

early years foundation stage statutory

framework. It offers a top-level view of

how children develop and learn, and

guides, but does not replace, professional

judgement. The guidance can be used by

schools participating in the EYFS reforms

early adopter year to support changing

their curriculum and practice.”

It stresses that the framework is for

schools participating in the EYFS reforms

early adopter year from September

2020 to August 2021. All other schools

and childcare providers should follow

the current early years foundation stage

statutory framework (EYFS).

Read the press release on parenta.com


New IFS report: many

childcare providers face

further financial difficulties

Many early years settings face a difficult

time ahead and are bracing themselves

for further financial problems as a result

of the virus crisis, with more at risk of

closure, a new report warns. A total loss of

income from parent fees would have put

one in four private sector nurseries at risk

of running a significant deficit during the

lockdown, with less than £4 of income for

every £5 of costs, it was suggested.

While childcare settings were allowed

to open to all children from the start

of June, by the start of the summer

holidays, demand for childcare places

remained 70% below pre-crisis levels,

said the report. It warned there was a

risk that some childcare providers will

close, creating a shortage of places once

demand returns.

Lack of COVID-19 tests

causing childcare industry

staff shortages

The media has reported that there have

been a number of cases of childcare staff

being unable to work after experiencing

difficulties getting coronavirus tests, which

has caused widespread staff shortages

within the industry.

According to government guidance,

practitioners working in nurseries,

pre-schools or childminding settings

are supposed to gain priority access to

tests, the same as other critical workers.

However, childcare providers have

reported being unable to access any test

at all.

All schools and further education providers

have been supplied with an initial supply

of 10 home testing kits to be used for staff

and children who “may have barriers

to accessing testing elsewhere”, with

the ability to order further kits from 16

September onwards.

Read the press release on parenta.com


New legislation planned to

help redundant apprentices

finish their qualification

The government is intending to put

new legislation in place to help more

apprentices that have been made

redundant complete their course and

achieve their qualification.

A Statutory Instrument (SI) has been laid

in Parliament that will allow the ESFA to

continue to fund apprentices to complete

their training, providing they are at least

75% of their way through their course

when they were made redundant.

The current legislation states that the

ESFA will continue to fund apprentices to

completion, if they are made redundant

within six months of their final day of


This new SI must be debated in both

the House of Commons and House of

Lords before it can become law. Once

the legislation has come in to force, it will

apply to apprentices made redundant

from that day onwards – it will not apply


Read the press release on parenta.com


New parents urged to have

their say on available early

years support

New parents are being invited to have

their say – via a new online survey - on

what support they need, and how it is

best delivered, so that every baby is given

the best start in life, no matter what their


New parents, health service professionals,

charities and volunteer groups are being

asked to share their views to help shape

the outcome of the review, by completing

an online questionnaire which went live on

GOV.UK on Friday 18 September.

This major new review into improving

the healthy development of infants was

launched by the Department of Health

and Social Care (DHSC) in July, aiming to

break down the barriers that can impact

on early years development and level up

the opportunities given to every newborn.

Read the press release on parenta.com


The research, funded by the Nuffield

Foundation and carried out by a team

of researchers at the Institute for Fiscal

Studies (IFS), the University of Birmingham,

Frontier Economics, Coram Family and

Childcare, and the University of Surrey,

indicated the virus crisis had exacerbated

issues within the childcare sector.

Read the press release on parenta.com


4 October 2020 | parenta.com

parenta.com | October 2020 5

A round up of some news

stories that have caught

our eye over the month

Story source and image credits to:

Daily Echo, Ham & High, Early Years Alliance, Day Nurseries,

Hastings & St Leonards Observer, Huffpost, News Break,

Teesside Live, Nursery World, About Manchester

Happy Days in Poole wins a gold

award from the Woodland Trust

The nursery brings green issues and

outdoor learning into the classroom

with different Woodland Trust

activities including making woodland

playdough, planting

and exploring

Camden’s proposals for

‘outstanding’ nurseries set for

critical meeting

Locals wait for a decision on Camden

Council’s plans to narrow educational

inequalities, saving the council

£600,00, but impacting 4 of the local

‘outstanding’ rated nurseries.

Bexhill nursery closures: group of

parents submit takeover proposal

After two nurseries are earmarked

to close at the end of the year some

of the parents have grouped together

and submitted a proposal to take

them over.

Nursery workers reveal the

devastating stories of children

hard-hit by lockdown

Staff working during nurseries

reopening have seen many children

returning hungry, wearing wellies in

the summer heat and feeling

very anxious to be outside again.

Time to listen to the effect

lockdown has had on our

children’s verbal skills

Children under five may be struggling

with a speech delay after spending

all day watching a computer screen

rather than being in nursery or at their

childminders’ during lockdown.

A quarter of small

businesses say that

childcare is key for reopening

The nurseries which offer

London’s vulnerable children

football, yoga and bird song

Chancellor Rishi Sunak visits

nursery to thank them for vital

role during Covid-19 crisis

Nursery group of 34

settings awarded Silver status

from Soil Association

Parents forced to choose

between childcare and careers

if schools re-close

New research from the Federation

of Small Businesses (FSB) shows that

many of the 16 million employees in

small businesses rely on reopening

childcare providers to be able to work.

Some of the UK’s most vulnerable

children have been supported by two

London based nurseries, offering free

holiday clubs during the summer.

During the coronavirus crisis,

Rosedene Nurseries stayed open

providing free 24-hour childcare to

support the key workers.

The ICP nurseries have received the

early years Food for Life Served Here

Silver award from the Soil Association

in all 34 settings based in London.

A study of 500 British parents shows

that if the schools reclosed over three

quarters would struggle to balance

work and childcare.

6 October 2020 | parenta.com

parenta.com | October 2020 7

Write for us!

We’re always on the lookout

for new authors to contribute

insightful articles for our

monthly magazine.

If you’ve got a topic you’d like to write about,

why not send an article to us and be in with

a chance of winning? Each month, we’ll be

giving away a £50 voucher to our “Guest

Author of the Month”. You can find all the

details here: https://www.parenta.com/



to our guest author competition winner Stacey Kelly!

Congratulations to Stacey Kelly, our guest author

of the month! Her article “Looking at the world

through the eyes of a child” gave us some great

insight into looking at things from a child’s

perspective. Well done Stacey!

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:


8 October 2020 | parenta.com

Training with Linden

Early Years

Keeping children at the

heart of

early childhood education and care

Tamsin Grimmer is the early years director for Linden

Learning. If you have enjoyed reading Tamsin’s

articles every month, why not invite Linden Early

Years to deliver bespoke training at your setting?

Linden Early Years associates regularly share their

expertise at conferences, INSET meetings, CPD

sessions, workshops and seminars. Training is also

available through online sessions and webinars.

Linden Learning’s early years team has built up a reputation in

the sector for a deep knowledge of how young children learn

and develop. Many of our associates are published authors and

have written regularly for popular early childhood magazines.

We also work regularly in settings and have a real appreciation

of current issues facing staff working in settings across the

country. We look forward to hearing from you!


We understand


that time for professional development is

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Lindenearlyyears/

precious and will work with you to make sure that all our

Website: https://www.lindenearlyyears.org/

training Email: tamsin.grimmer@lindenlearning.org

is engaging, purposeful and enjoyable. We offer a range

of packages to suit differing priorities and are keen to discuss

individual needs to tailor support to each setting.

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:

Email: ruthmercercoaching@gmail.com

Website: www.ruthmercercoaching.com

parenta.com | October 2020 9

Halloween pumpkin craft

Baked apple craft

The clocks go back this month (25th at 2am)! What better way to remember;

and to introduce telling the time to the children than making this cute

Halloween-inspired clock!

You will need:

• Paper plates

• Paints, crayons or coloured

pencils – we used orange

paint and a black marker

• Green and black craft

paper (green need to be

thicker to use for handles)

• Split pins

• Scissors

This month we are baking apples as it’s not only National Baking Week (14th

to 20th), but Apple Day as well on 21st! We also want to raise awareness about

malnutrition as it has been estimated that malnutrition affects over 3 million people

in the UK and of these, about 1.3 million are over the age of 65. And with apples

being full of vitamins, we thought this easy and quick recipe would be a great way

to help! And of course, it’s healthy too!

You will need:

• Baking apples

• Brown sugar

• Cinnamon

• Currants, raisins or any

similar dry fruit – we used


• Butter

• Boiling water



1. Paint the paper plate orange and allow to dry.

2. Cut out triangles for eyes and mouth using black

paper and glue them onto the paper plate.

3. Add numbers around the edge of the face in the

layout of a clock. You can use stick-on numbers or

simply write them on.

4. Cut out clock ‘hands’ with green paper. You can

even label them as ‘minutes’ and ‘hours’ if you

want to.

5. Use the split pin to attach the hands to the middle

of the face.

6. You can also cut out extra parts for the pumpkin,

like leaves, and glue them on top of the paper


7. Set the hands to different times and off you go!

1. Preheat your oven to 190°C.

2. Wash and dry your apples.

Using a sharp knife or an

apple corer, cut out the cores,

but leave the bottom 1/2 inch

of the apples intact.

3. Mix brown sugar, cinnamon

and dry fruit together and

stuff the apples with the

mixture. Add a little bit of

butter on top of it.

4. Put the apples in a baking

dish and pour boiling water

into the dish just so it covers

the bottom.

5. Put the apples in the oven

and bake at 190°C for 30 to

45 minutes.

6. Once the apples are cooked,

take them out of the oven and

baste them with the juices

from the pan.

7. You are done – enjoy your

baked apples!

10 October 2020 | parenta.com

parenta.com | October 2020 11

Teach our children

to be perfectly


Perfectionism is a common trait and many of us experience

varying levels of it throughout our lives. It can make us strive

for more and work hard, but it can also be a hindrance

and prevent us from moving forward through fear of

getting things wrong.

Stacey Kelly

Some children have no problem with

trying new things and making mistakes

until they get it right. However, some are

perfectionists and struggle when they don’t

live up to the high standards that they have

set for themselves. Perfectionism can make

us knuckle down and produce high quality

work, but it can also come at a price and

be linked to feelings of inadequacy and

worry. Children (and adults) who display

perfectionist tendencies might:

• Struggle to try something new through

fear they might get it wrong

• Get upset and overreact when they

make a mistake

• Have extremely high standards for


• Find it difficult to make decisions or

choose what to do next

• Embarrass easily

• Put themselves down or feel like they

are not good enough

• Be very sensitive to criticism

• Stay within their comfort zone and

struggle to step into unfamiliar


• Be critical of others

Personally, I have always been a

perfectionist and it hasn’t been easy

making the inevitable mistakes that I’ve

had to make in order to get to where I

am today. I have always known that in

order to succeed, I need to step outside

of my comfort zone. However, in order to

do that, I have had to risk failing because

each time I do, I’m in unfamiliar territory.

Not easy when you like everything to be

perfect and just so!

I write and illustrate storybooks that are

given as gifts to children from nurseries,

childminders and primary schools and

I remember years ago getting my first

ever batch of 1000 books printed. I was

so excited! I had proofread the books

about a million times and couldn’t wait

to see physical copies of them. The day

finally arrived and as I turned the books

over to look at the cover, I realised that I

had forgotten to put pupils on the eyes

of the little superhero character on the

back! I was absolutely mortified and felt

like it had ruined everything. After about

a 2-hour meltdown on the phone to my

mum, she managed to convince me

that it wasn’t the end of the world and

that I had still achieved a lot despite this

minor mistake. Since that moment, I have

added a thorough illustration check to my

proofreading regime and touch wood,

although many other mistakes have been

made over the years, that particular one

hasn’t been made again.

The problem with what happened wasn’t

that I was upset about making a mistake.

It was the size of the reaction along with

the overwhelming feeling of not being

good enough that stemmed from it that

was out of balance. In that moment, I

couldn’t see all of the good I had done

because that tiny error erased my ability

to acknowledge anything but that. Taking

pride in our work is one thing but being

consumed with negative feelings when

we make mistakes is only ever going to

hold us back and delay how long it takes

to move forward onto better things. In that

moment, I realised that I had a choice.

I could either dwell on the mistake, or I

could learn from it and move forward.

I chose the latter and since then, have

consciously done what I can to prevent my

perfectionist traits from holding me back.

We are programmed in our early

childhood and our experiences shape

our future and how we view the world.

In order to help our children to overcome

perfectionism, we can do the following


Avoid comparing them to others

We are all individuals and have our own

strengths and weaknesses. Children need

to learn to focus on their own progress,

rather than measuring themselves against

someone else’s. Forward is forward.

Some of us move faster than others, but

as long as we are moving forward, we

are growing and developing, which is


Praise effort

It is better to try something new and

fail, than to stay safe and be great at

something we have always done. If we

want children to try new things, we need

to put as much emphasis (if not more)

on their effort and courage, as we do on

the outcome of what they are trying to


Teach them that failure is good

In life, we either win or we learn. By

teaching children that there is a lesson in

every mistake, we will build up their ability

to grow and develop. Failure is a part of

success so in order to fulfil our potential, we

need to be able to fail and move forward.

Allow children to fail

If we always let children win, or put them

in situations that are easy, they will never

learn how to fail or build their resilience to it.

Show your own imperfections!

Children learn from what they see. If adults

around them never make mistakes, we

automatically set a standard of perfection.

By saying sorry when we get things wrong

and by telling children when or how we

have made mistakes, we make it okay for

them to do the same.

Encourage them to try their best

There is nothing wrong with having high

standards and trying our best. However,

that is very different to being perfect. If we

can get children to see the brilliance in their

efforts and to show pride in how hard they

tried, they will automatically do things to a

high standard as well as accept their flaws.

The power of ‘YET’

A great tool that we can give children is the

word ‘YET’. Whenever they say they can’t

do something, add the word ‘YET’ to it. This

changes the dynamic from being defeatist,

to being empowered. Encourage children

to use this word and to explore what they

need to do in order to get where they want

to be.

At the end of the day, we are all imperfect

by nature and if we expect ourselves or

others to never make mistakes, we are in

for a lot of disappointment. Children are

constantly learning and growing and their

ability to see the lessons in failure will only

ever help them to step into the next level

of their brilliance. Will we ever be perfect?

No! But we can be better than we were

yesterday. If we teach children this and

make them feel perfectly imperfect, they

will be more likely to succeed in life because

instead of letting mistakes define them,

they will use them as a stepping-stone to

better things.

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.com/


Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/


Instagram: https://www.instagram.


LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/


12 October 2020 | parenta.com

parenta.com | October 2020 13

What is ‘The Big Draw’?

‘The Big Draw’ festival is a month-long

worldwide celebration of drawing held

each October which aims to “promote the

universal language of drawing as a tool for

learning, expression and invention.”

The festival itself is made up of a collection

of thousands of creative events, activities

and workshops across the globe, run

by organisations big and small; from

individuals to entire cities, and you can take

part in your setting, in any shape or form

that you like!

How did it all start?

The Big Draw

– the world’s biggest

drawing festival

Reach for the children’s chalks and paint pots, sharpen your colouring pencils and check your

felt tip pens are shipshape…the world’s biggest drawing festival is here!

This international festival, which celebrates

its 20th anniversary this year, has grown

from one day (in October 2000) to an

annual month-long festival of drawing

across the UK and the world. The first

Big Draw in 2000 attracted 180 partner

organisations. By October 2011, the number

had risen to 1,300, with over 260,000

people taking part. 2014 was a record year

with 1800 events from 1000 organisers.

Events are run by galleries, museums,

heritage and other cultural sites, schools,

colleges, local authorities, libraries and

other community agencies – individually

or in collaboration. It aims to encourage

people of all ages to explore ideas and

express their creativity and as a result

of this, drawing is now integrated into

year-round learning programmes at many

cultural and education centres.

This year, The Big Draw is called “The Big

Green Draw: Climate of Change” – and

offers a great opportunity for those who

are responsible for educating our future

generations about climate change, our

planet, and environmental issues... all in a

fun and creative way!

National Geographic Kids has some

excellent resources and information to

get some imaginative ideas to draw with

the children. The Big Draw website itself

has some fantastic ideas and information

here regarding climate change and

endangered species that can be used in

your activities.

Ideas to help you

celebrate The Big Green

Draw in your setting

• Let the children each

choose a toy car out

of the toy box, and

using sticky tape,

stick a felt tip pen to

the front or back of

the car and allow

them to freely push

the car around on

the paper. Watch

their faces as they

begin to see the

marks and shapes

that their car has


• Place large sheets of paper on the

floor (you can ask parents to donate

any spare wallpaper they might have).

Put some music on and give the

children some chalks or crayons to

draw with – drawing to their favourite

nursery rhymes can give even the

most reluctant mark-makers some fun


• Place a large sheet of paper (or

wallpaper) on the floor. Pour different

colours of paint into some kitchen trays

and place them on the floor. Offer the

children different items to paint with

e.g. sponges, brushes, toothbrushes.

Sit back and watch the marks the

children make with the paint.

• Get messy with your tuff spot! Squirt

some shaving foam and encourage

the children to make different shaped

clouds and oceans with the foam,

getting some inspiration from National

Geographic Kids. Why not add other

implements to make marks with

such as animals, bricks, washing-up

brushes etc.

• Vegetable painting - Cook some peas,

swede, and carrots separately, mash

them to puree consistency. Place

each one of the vegetable mixes on

a kitchen tray and place these on a

hard floor. Encourage the children to

either use their hands or paint brushes

to make marks on the floor using the

vegetable paint – you can teach the

children about their veggies at the

same time!

• You can use mud, sand and paint

to make some wonderful works of

art – this fun, messy play will stick in

the children’s minds and will motivate

them to want to do more.

• A firm favourite is a game where the

children use their fingers to draw on

their friend’s backs – it is sure to bring

many giggles to your setting!

The Big Draw has notched up two world


One for the longest drawing in the

world of one kilometre and another for

the greatest number of people drawing

at one time, over 7,000!

Whatever you decide to do in your setting

to celebrate The Big Green Draw this

year, don’t forget to post pictures of your

wonderful arty creations on your social

media channels, using the hashtags

#BigGreenDraw or #ClimateofChange and

also send them to us to at marketing@

parenta.com. Happy drawing!

You can find out about all the events that

are happening in your area – suitable for

all ages of children - on the official website

here – and let parents know too, so they

can visit with the children and take part!

14 October 2020 | parenta.com

parenta.com | October 2020 15

COVID-19 – a chance to

reconnect with nature

and the outdoors?

Many of us are planning our provision around being outside more of the time. It is my view that

this will do more than just limit the spread of coronavirus, but it will also help to combat the lack

of nature in our children’s lives and promote a more healthy outlook and lifestyle.

According to the Office for National

Statistics, 12% of households have no

garden or shared outdoor space, which

rises to 21% in London and Black people

are nearly four times as likely as White

people to have no access to outdoor space

at home. This will have made lockdown

for those families very difficult, so the time

is ripe for us to get outside. You may have

heard the phrase ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’,

coined by Richard Louv, which despite

sounding like a medical condition, is a

metaphor to describe children who are,

quite literally, deprived of nature and the

freedom to play outdoors. This can even

have an impact on their physical and

mental health and wellbeing (Louv, 2010).

My colleague, Annie Davy addresses

this issue in her recent book, “A Sense of

Place: Mindful Practice Outdoors” (2019).

It provides excellent ideas about how to

spend time outdoors and use nature as

a resource for teaching young children. It

explains how children learn through their

senses, and the importance of linking with

the outdoors whilst being mindful and

more available to our children. Nature is

all around us and children have a natural

curiosity about the world which we can

foster as we explore together.

Annie reflects upon the terms ‘biophilia’,

meaning that we have an innate affinity

with the natural world, and feel happier

when immersed in it, and ‘ecophobia’

which is perhaps not so much a phobia,

but an irrational fear of things like climate

change or natural phenomena, such as

hurricanes or lightning. The difference

between someone feeling anxious or

worried about the natural world versus

someone who loves to be in nature, will be

the amount of time they spend connecting

with nature. She states, “What seems to

turn people on to nature in a positive sense

is hours spent in a wild or semi-wild place

as a child and/or a teacher who had led

them to understand, respect and love

nature” (Davy, 2019, p.35).

This was certainly true for me. In addition

to spending a lot of time on the coast or on

Dartmoor, I also remember one particular

teacher’s passion for nature and having

nature study lessons at school where I

learned to love our natural world. We need

to ensure that we become those teachers

that our children will remember in the

future. Awe and wonder used to form part

of the curriculum and one of the changes

to the EYFS that I welcome is the inclusion

of the ‘natural world’, which may help

inspire settings to explore nature. The early

learning goal in the EYFS reforms early

adopter version states,

Children at the expected level

of development will:

• Explore the natural world around

them, making observations and

drawing pictures of animals and


• Know some similarities and

differences between the natural

world around them and contrasting

environments, drawing on their

experiences and what has been read

in class;

• Understand some important

processes and changes in the natural

world around them, including the

seasons and changing states of

matter (DfE, 2020, p.15).

However, it is interesting to note that going

outdoors or studying nature first-hand is

not mentioned! We must ensure that we

take our children outside. If we want them

to think about the changing seasons,

what better way to teach them than to

feel the autumn wind, see the leaves

blowing around as they fall from the trees,

and to experience the seasons changing

for themselves. One lovely activity we

often do as a family every autumn is to

go on a welly walk and see how many

different coloured leaves we can find. We

sometimes thread them onto a stick to

make almost a rainbow of colour.

Many children are not allowed to pick up

and play with sticks due to safety concerns,

however, it is my view that such concerns

should not prevent this exploration. Instead,

we can use it as a learning opportunity

and encourage the children to play safely,

offering them guidance to keep them safe,

for example, remind them where the end

of the stick is and to always ensure they

are in a space before waving it around. As

educators supervising children outside, we

must remain vigilant and safety conscious

whilst enabling them to still engage with

nature, and risk-assess as appropriate.

Here are some practical ideas

of how we can connect with

nature this autumn:

• Go on a welly walk in the local

neighbourhood, try to find some mud

to jump in!

• Whilst outside, take a moment to

encourage the children to notice the

fresh air and fill their lungs.

• Collect some sticks and leaves and

use them to create stick-man and his


• Make some wild art using any natural

materials available (leaves, bark,

twigs, petals, conkers).

• Collect conkers and use them as


• Go on a mini-beast hunt and find out

everything you can about where they

live and what they might eat.

• Create a leaf shape out of card and

stick a strip of double-sided tape on it.

Children can collect items on their walk

and stick them straight on the card.

• Invite the children to find as many

different coloured leaves as they can

and thread them onto a stick.

• Take photographs of different aspects

of the natural environment, we can

refer to these when back in the setting

and remember our walk…

• Talk to the children about poisonous

berries, seeds, plants, and other

hazards (e.g. litter) and explain to them

what they can and can’t pick up and

that they must not put anything in their


• Go on a senses walk whilst outside to

think about what we can see, hear,

smell and touch.

• Bring the outside in to help connect the

children with nature, e.g. set aside one

of our tuff trays to be an exploration

tray and include a different selection of

natural materials to explore each week.

• Position a bird feeder near a window

outside and fill with seed or fat balls,

it is surprising how many birds can be

encouraged to feed even in heavily built

-up areas, then create some simple

spotter guides to help children to

recognise the different birds.

• Find some sycamore seed ‘helicopters’

and throw them into the air to watch

them spin.

• Replace plastic toy food with real seeds,

fruit and vegetables in the role play

area. There is a world of difference

between a plastic pumpkin and a real


• Encourage the children to see where

fruit and vegetables grow, change the

varieties to match the seasons and use

for cooking or snack time.

It would be easy to feel negative about the

situation we find ourselves in, the changes

that have taken place and the things we

have to live without at the moment. So let’s

try to see the silver lining here and embrace

the wonderful opportunity to re-connect with

nature and practice mindfulness outdoors.

Further reading and


Davy, A. (2019 “A Sense of Place:

Mindful Practice Outdoors”, London, UK:


Louv, R. (2010) “Last Child in the Woods:

Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit

Disorder”. Atlantic Books.



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


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@tamsingrimmer.


Office for National Statistics (2020)



DfE (2020) “The Early Years Foundation

Stage” - EYFS reforms early adopter version

July 2020



16 October 2020 | parenta.com

parenta.com | October 2020 17

World Space Week

One word that you currently see

everywhere nowadays is “space”. Only

last month, the Government in England

changed their coronavirus tagline to read

“Hands, Face and Space”. We are told to

maintain our distance between each other

at every possible moment in order to stem

the spread of coronavirus. But the 2m

distance we are currently using to socially

distance ourselves from one another, is but

a ‘drop in the ocean’ in the vast cosmos

that we normally refer to as ‘space’. That

version of space is infinite – has been

expanding since the Big Bang and is likely

to continue to do so indefinitely. And it’s


From the 4 – 10th October, World Space

Week will be celebrated across the world

(and possibly the galaxy!) as the UN

General Assembly declares the week “will

celebrate each year, at the international

level, the contributions of space science

and technology to the betterment of the

human condition”. Originally started

in 1999, the United Nations General

Assembly began World Space Week,

organised under the guidance of the UN

Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer

Space (COPUOS) and the UN Office for

Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) based in

Vienna, Austria.

The World Space Week Mission

Statement states their aim:

”to strengthen the link between space

and society through public education,

participation, and dialogue on the future of

space activity using World Space Week as

a focus.”

Anyone can help them achieve their aim

by joining in with the week, organising

events or just raising awareness of the

week with friends and family. In 2019 there

were more than 8,000 events from 96

countries with the theme of “The Moon:

Gateway to the Stars”.

This year, the theme is “Satellites Improve

Life”, so the world will be coming together

(albeit virtually and with much ‘space’

between us) to celebrate the way these

remarkable feats of engineering have

helped us in so many aspects of our life.

From pinpointing our position on a satnav,

to communications and weather, satellites

make a difference. And if you have ever

sat up late and night to watch the ‘camel

train’ of Space X satellites move gracefully

across the night sky, you will know the

wonder and amazement of appreciating

these remarkable flying objects.

World Space Week is the largest space

event in the world and attracts interest

from astronomy clubs, museums,

aerospace companies, space agencies,

schools, colleges and nursery schools

alike. Who doesn’t like an exciting space

story, science fiction film or real-life drama

like Apollo 13 or the latest launching of

American astronauts from US soil over the


What have satellites ever done

for us?

To parody another famous film, answering

this question will show us just how

much we rely on satellite technology in

our everyday life and you can do some

research with the children in your setting

to expand both your and their knowledge.

Satellites are used for communications,

entertainment, environmental monitoring,

weather forecasting, telemedicine,

science exploration, defence, financial

transactions, and social media. In fact, just

about every aspect of modern daily life

has some element of satellite technology

behind it, yet all too often, we take them all

for granted. Think back 30 years – to the

start of the internet, what changes have

you seen in that time?

The children in our settings were born into a

very different world than we were. The pace

of change is accelerating and who knows

what will be available even in the next 50,

20 or even 5 years. We are living in exciting

times with regard to technology and space

and that is worth shouting about.

Ideas to celebrate World Space

Week in your setting

• Make a space mobile showing

satellites, moons, stars and space

stations and hang it in your setting

• Create a miniature space station in

one corner of your setting – use tin foil

to cover pipes and/or boxes to look like

the inside of the station

• Read some stories about space

exploration at storytime. There is a

good list of suitable stories here which

can be used with pre-schoolers

• Learn some nursery rhymes to do with

space – “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”

and “Hey Diddle Diddle” are a couple

to start with

• Explain what satellites do for us in

everyday life and make a display to

show some of the things we use them

for – you could put phones, maps, TV

listings and anything else you research

as part of your display

• Have a dress-up day where children

can dress up as something to do with

space – they could be a star, a satellite,

a whole space station, or you could

open it up to more fictional things such

as aliens or Star Wars

• If anyone has access to a telescope,

and they are willing to bring it in or

lend it to you, see if you can see the

moon which is sometimes visible

during the day. Be sure to keep social

distancing and wipe any equipment

down between different children/


• Play some socially-distanced

educational games to help children

understand about the cosmos – for

example, have one child stand in the

middle representing the sun, and have

others pretend to be the planets in

their orbits. Get the children to move

at different speeds to represents and

in different patterns to explain their


Space holds something ethereal for us;

we are not really sure what’s out there,

and the sheer expanse of it is all is

mind-blowing. And despite our best

efforts, on our small planet, we have

only just begun to scratch the surface at

understanding it. “Space” as they say,

really is “the final frontier.” Whatever you

do in your setting, add it to the World

Space Week calendar at www.

worldspaceweek.org to register your event,

however large or small. And remember

to send us your photos to marketing@

parenta.com to show us what you’ve been

up to.

18 October 2020 | parenta.com

parenta.com | October 2020 19

Sensory adventures of

a newborn

Regular readers will probably have

come to expect an article from me within

Parenta’s pages, and may even have

noticed my absence from the previous

issue or two. Well, I have a good excuse:

I was busy having a baby! My new

“little assistant” at The Sensory Projects,

joining his brother the “small assistant”

who, at aged six now, is anything but


The little assistant is currently asleep,

and the small one is happily occupied

making paper uniforms for some

wooden monkeys…don’t ask! So I

thought I would grab a few minutes to

write about the sensory adventures we

have been having. Forgive me if it is not

as clearly presented

as usual, I am a little sleep-addled:


The calming sound, a sound I make once

every three hours at the moment. Why

is it calming? Well, it reminds him of the

time, only a matter of days ago when

he was wrapped up safe in my womb

and the amniotic fluids were whooshing

around him. Our brains develop in the

womb as well as after birth. The feelings

of security we experienced before birth

stay with us as sensory memories

through life. White noise sounds

(like the shhh sound, or the sound of a

hairdryer, or the sea gently rolling the

shingle of a beach) are calming for us

all. You can get white noise apps on

your phone or you can ball up lots of

newspaper and get a group to pretend

to be the sea rolling onto the shore as

a part of a storytelling experience – ask

them to swish their arms through the

paper on cue to make the noise of the

waves: swish, pause, swish, pause.

Encourage them to breathe in on the

pause, and slowly out to add to the

swish. It is a very calming activity.

All wrapped up

Another sensation we all return to,

which has its origins in the womb, is

that of being curled up and wrapped

up. If you’re having a rough time of

things, do you hole up on the sofa, or

wrap yourself up in bed? You may see

children retreat to small corners, or

hideaway if upset or worried. Children

will also enjoy playing in small spaces

when not distressed (good things do

not have to be kept for times of trouble).

I have a photo of my sister and myself

each curled up into a cardboard box

and happy as anything. Making dens is

great fun, throw a blanket over a table

and hide underneath, get a big box and

climb inside, it’s easy. And within this

fun is a feeling of safety and security.

Brains that feel safe and secure learn

quicker than brains that are concerned

about what is going on.

Keep the beat

As he drifts off to sleep, I tap the flat of

my palm rhythmically against the little

assistant’s back or against his gigantic

cloth nappy bottom. A short while ago

he felt a similar rhythm as my heartbeat

above him inside my body. I have not

enough room here to explain what a

fantastic sensory wonder keeping a

beat is. It supports him in developing

an understanding of time, it develops

his communication skills, and it soothes

and reassures him, and so much more. I

once read that the ability to keep a beat

in early childhood was more predictive

of a child’s later literacy skills than even

the literacy skills of their mother.

All the clapping games you play,

support this development. Why not

try some marching games? Make up

call and response marching songs and

have a stomp about the place together.

If you cannot think of lyrics why not try

the alphabet, it works well as call and

response broken up into the following


A B C D E F G (a b c d e f g) H I J K L M N (h

I j k l m n) O P Q R S T U (o p q r s t u) V W

X Y Z (v w x y z).

*My only warning with this one is to watch

where you are going. As a supply teacher,

I once marched a whole class of year

one students off some steps chanting the

alphabet in this way. I thought they would

be watching where their feet went…they

were not! Three grazed knees later I had

called “Company HALT!” to prevent further


Rock and roll

I rock the little assistant as he transitions

from the confusing world of awakeness

back into the peaceful land of nod. Try

and sit down a moment too soon, and

however asleep he looks, he will spring

back into alertness and we must start

again. The rocking is the memory of me

walking when he was in the womb. We all

rock at times when we are distressed and

need to


If you have a child in your setting who

needs to rock, resist the urge to tell them

to stop. I was once advised by a senior

teacher that if the child in my care rocked,

I should place a reassuring hand on their

shoulder and hold them still!

Instead, look to make changes to the

environment and the expectations upon

them so that they do not have such a

need to rock. You can also introduce

rocking experiences to help children

to calm down, swings are an obvious

example, but things like hammocks that

will cradle you as well are even better,

or just simple games like sitting feet to

feet with a partner and holding hands

to rock back and forth together whilst

singing “Row, row, row your boat, gently

down the stream, merrily, merrily, merrily,

merrily, life is but a dream!”

Playtime sensations

It’s not all sleep of course, when the

little assistant wakes we have been

singing “Incy Wincy Spider”, adapted

to be a massage story (inspired by the

wonderful book “Once Upon a Touch”,

by Mary Atkinson). He is just beginning

to anticipate the sensations, take a

peek at his responses here (and do feel

free to pop me a friend request if you

are interested in following more of our

sensory adventures). If the little assistant/

sleep thief permits, we may pop up in the

next issue to talk about just how fantastic

anticipation is for cognitive development.

To learn more about Story Massage, like

their page on Facebook: https://www.




Joanna Grace is an international

Sensory Engagement and Inclusion

Specialist, trainer, author, TEDx

speaker and founder of The Sensory


Consistently rated as “outstanding” by

Ofsted, Joanna has taught in

mainstream and special school

settings, connecting with pupils of all

ages and abilities. To inform her work,

Joanna draws on her own experience

from her private and professional life

as well as taking in all the information

she can from the research archives.

Joanna’s private life includes family

members with disabilities and

neurodiverse conditions and time

spent as a registered foster carer for

children with profound disabilities.

Joanna has published four practitioner

books: “Multiple Multisensory Rooms:

Myth Busting the Magic”, “Sensory

Stories for Children and Teens”,

“Sensory-Being for Sensory Beings”

and “Sharing Sensory Stories and

Conversations with People with

Dementia”. and two inclusive sensory

story children’s books: “Voyage to

Arghan” and “Ernest and I”.

Joanna is a big fan of social media

and is always happy to connect with

people via Facebook, Twitter and




20 October 2020 | parenta.com

parenta.com | October 2020 21

National Baking Week

“Ready, steady, BAKE!”

Have you missed hearing these words over the summer? Are you wondering where the next

‘soggy bottom’ will come from or which overbaked celebration cake could be the cornerstone of

your foundations? Or have you indulged yourself in the kitchen over lockdown, practicing some

amazing new recipes or whizzing up your nan’s tried-and-tested favourites?

• Oats are easy to bake with and

sometimes don’t even need to

go in the oven but they are also

high in fibre and good sources

of slow-release carbohydrates.

They are also higher in protein

and fat than most other grains

and high in many vitamins

and minerals. You can make

oat cookies or flapjacks, which

are easy and there are lots of

healthy alternative recipes which

use natural syrups or fruit syrups

instead of sugar

Since lockdown, baking has become one

of the nation’s best-loved home activities,

even leading in the first few weeks of

lockdown to shortages of eggs and flour

as we all reached for our pinnies and

dusted off the baking trays. According to

grocerytrader.co.uk, the total home baking

market in the UK is worth £988.4m and

has a value growth of +0.5%. Sweet cake

mixes are worth £38m and growing at

4.1% per year. So, it doesn’t seem as if

our love of baking is going away anytime


But if you haven’t been baking recently

and need an excuse to get back into the

kitchen and bake, here are three:

1. 14th – 20th October is National Baking


2. The Great British Bake Off is back on

our TV screens on Channel 4 (started

on 22nd September)

3. The nights are drawing in and there’s

now plenty of flour in the shops!

National Baking Week was

started by Pyrex in 2007, to

encourage people of all

abilities to bake at home.

It was a simple idea

promoted nationally by

the company, bloggers,

recipe writers and

baking enthusiasts

alike. Although the

Pyrex official webpage

seems to have vanished

quicker than a meringue

in a microwave, others have

picked up the ‘baton’ (get it?)

and run with the idea.

Why bake?

Baking is fun, creative and you end up

with something edible (hopefully) at the

end of it.

Baking also stimulates the senses such

as touch, taste and smell, making it great

for children who like sensory activities.

Many people also consider cooking

as a meditative practice saying it

helps them relax and unwind.

And baking your food can

also be a great way to be

more mindful and careful

about what you eat,

as well as being a

cost-effective way to

feed the family or

the children in your


The internet is full of recipes and ideas

of things that are suitable for younger

children to make, from cupcakes to easy

pizzas, chocolate brownies to volcano

cakes, so there really is no excuse for

not taking some time to inspire children

with baking. And with National Baking

Week running almost straight on from

Malnutrition Awareness Week, we thought

it would be a good time to highlight some

healthy tips and tricks to make your baking

not only fun, but also extra nutritious too.

• Hide some of your 5-a-day fruit and

veggies into your bakes. You can

add carrots, onions and avocados

to savoury cheese muffins which are

perfect for lunch boxes, or blueberries

and raspberries also go well in

muffins instead of chocolate chips;

spinach is full of iron and nutrients

and is great to add because it can

colour the food green, to add to the

fun; and of course everyone loves

banana bread

• Use wholemeal flour instead of white

flour to increase your fibre intake or

make a half-and-half mixture

• Use unsaturated fat in your baking

to reduce your saturated fat intake.

There are several brands that are

suitable but make sure they say

they can be used in baking as the

ingredients, emulsifiers and fat

content of some spreads make them

unsuitable for some baking tasks

• Instead of using thick butter icing

for cake toppings, switch to drizzling

some glacé (water-based) icing

instead. You can still use food

colouring to make it interesting, but it

is much lower in fat than butter icing

• Experiment with substituting healthy

options for common ingredients. Try

using apple puree or Greek yoghurt

instead of oil in recipes to reduce the

fat but keep the moisture content;

use bananas, honey, maple syrup,

agave, coconut sugar or dates as an

alternative to sugar, depending on

the recipe – but don’t go overboard –

they’re still sugars

• Be careful

of your portion

sizes – try to reduce

the size of muffins or biscuits

you bake by 10-20% to reduce calorie

intake, but make sure you don’t then

fall into the trap of simply eating


• Sometimes we all love a treat, so

don’t deny yourself everything

you love or you will end up feeling

miserable. The trick to sticking to a

healthy diet is to make the everyday

things you eat healthy and nutritious,

and allow yourself the occasional treat

– just make sure your ‘occasional’ is

just that!

You can find some healthy recipes on the

BBC Food website here which are perfect

for baking with pre-schoolers,

and there are both sweet

and savoury options

to keep everyone

happy. So what are

you waiting for?

Ready, steady,


Facts about this year’s Great

British Bake Off.

• The show returned to Channel 4 on 22

September, a month later than usual,

after filming was delayed because of

the coronavirus pandemic.

• The show was filmed in a new venue

at Down Hall Hotel in Essex where

the production team, bakers, hosts,

judges, hotel staff and cleaners lived

together for 6 weeks instead of filming

over 3 months at weekends.

• There are 12 contestants - one fewer

than the baker’s dozen from last year.

• Matt Lucas replaces Sandi Toksvig as

host, joined by Noel Fielding.

• Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith judge

the best bakes in the famous white


• The winner is still a secret!

22 October 2020 | parenta.com

parenta.com | October 2020 23

Leadership Learning through a Coaching Approach

Forming, storming, norming,

performing…developing your teams

3. Norming - Gradually, people get

used to and more accepting of each

other’s ways and begin to work on the

individual strengths of the team. Staff

start to socialise more naturally and

can provide constructive feedback to

each other to support the team and

organisational goals.

Top tips for new leaders

1. Remember to use the Tuckman model

of team development when faced with

staff difficulties in your setting. Forming,

storming, norming and performing

are powerful words that create strong

imagery and are easily remembered.

This month I thought it might be helpful to focus on group development within the nursery

setting. As the new terms get underway, we have all faced a lot of recent change and uncertainty.

I recall working with Rosa, a nursery manager who, last year, started the term with her known,

established staff, who were facing an organisational change. She had reshuffled the teams to

reflect the new restructuring of classes for 2-4-year-olds. She expected it to be plain sailing

as everyone knew each other well. She noticed that after the first few weeks there were some

grumbles in the staff room. Rosa was concerned that other staff and ultimately the children in

her nursery would be affected by negativity that was palpable at times.

As part of a leadership training course (see

below), we had talked through thoughts

on how she could manage the situation.

Tuckman’s Team and Group Development

Model (1965) can help us understand

the stages of development a team goes

through. Learning about this model can

help leaders support their team members

through the process of building effective

working relationships.

Tuckman identified there

were four necessary phases

for a team to develop and


1. Forming

2. Storming

3. Norming

4. Performing

In an early years setting, we know how

important it is for staff to build positive

working relationships with team members

so they can act as excellent role models

for the children in their care. The leader

needs to know at what stage their teams

are, to help practitioners process and

acknowledge likely conflicts and changes

during the developmental stages.

Tuckman’s Team and Group

Development Model

1. Forming - In this stage, most team

members are positive and polite.

Some are anxious as they might not

yet fully understand the way their

team works with the established room

leader. Others are eager to get going

and set the room up and meet the


As a leader, Rosa recognised she needed

a strong presence, setting the scene, being

clear about vision and line of direction.

The restructure of mixed-age classes

had included wide staff consultation and

buy-in. It was well planned. Much of the

communication at this forming stage is

about providing information on policy

and procedure, which team members will

try to absorb and follow. For Rosa, this

phase had lasted quite some time so she

was feeling relaxed that the teams were

working well.

2. Storming - This is an inevitable

phase, where people can start

to push against the boundaries

established in the forming stage.

Team members are more familiar with

each other, they know each other’s

working styles and they may become

frustrated with certain behaviours in

the group.

Rosa considered one of her teams in

particular and could see there were strong

personalities, jockeying for position, and

an emerging disagreement about the

needs of two-year-olds vs three-yearolds.

When a staff member appeared at

Rosa’s door to complain about another

person, she gently reminded them of

Tuckman’s process and asked if they were

perhaps still getting to know each other’s

practice. Rosa was delighted to hear that

very evening that the two staff members

agreed to go for a drink to get to know

each other a little better. That was an

unusual, yet highly effective solution they

created for themselves.

Rosa noticed that routines were in place,

and there was a general air of competence

and satisfaction as the staff and children

found their balance for teaching, learning

and caring for the environment. She

reflected on past, petty squabbles over

things such as toys being left in the garden

by ‘the others’ but there was certainly less

of this now the age groups of children were

combined. There was humour in the teams

as they recognised past competition, and

they also recognised they had all had the

expertise to share new learning within the


4. Performing - This stage is reached

when the hard work leads to the

achievement of the organisational

goal. The structures and systems are

embedded and support the goal well.

Rosa was expecting an inspection visit at

the end of the year. When the day came,

she was proud to see all practitioners

rise to the occasion to demonstrate the

excellent work they had invested over the

past nine months. She now has time to

develop individual staff further, helping

them develop deeper insight into their

key children’s successful learning and

outcomes, and as a whole team, has

ambitious plans for the future.

Image from teambuildingactivity.com

accessed online 09/09/2020

2. Whilst experiencing the Covid-19 threat

and current government guidelines in

your setting, individual team members

may well be displaying behaviours

outside of your usual expectations.

This can contribute a new layer to team


3. Provide staff training on the Tuckman

model, so you and the teams have

a shared language to draw on. For

example, if a practitioner ‘storms’ in to

see you because of a disagreement

with another staff member, ask them

to think about what stage they might

be at, and what their learning from this

might be.

4. Be mindful that if a new person

leaves or joins a team, there will be

a period of adjustment for everyone

and Tuckman’s model might be worth

considering to help understand team

dynamics again.

5. The environment and atmosphere you

create will impact everything, and will

ultimately affect the outcomes for the

children in your setting. It is worth the

investment to do all the right things to

secure the best learning environment




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.

Virtual course forthcoming:

Onwards and Upwards - Becoming an

Effective Leader in the EYFS (6 half-day

sessions over 6 months). Suitable for

EYFS leads in school, nursery school

teachers and reception teachers.

Please email ruthmercercoaching@

gmail.com for further details, to book a

space or request a bespoke option for

your school/setting.

Contact: ruthmercercoaching@gmail.


Website: www.ruthmercercoaching.



Tuckman, Bruce W. (1965) “Developmental

sequence in small groups”, Psychological

Bulletin, 63, 384–399.

Associated reading:

“Understanding the Stages of Team

Formation” mindtools.com accessed online


24 October 2020 | parenta.com

parenta.com | October 2020 25

Speech and Language

Therapy and International

Stammering Awareness Day

Question: What do Michael Palin, Ed Balls and Colin Firth have in common?

Answer: They are all Vice Presidents of the charity, Action for Stammering Children

AND… they have all been affected personally by stammering – Michael’s character, Ken, in “A

Fish Called Wanda” was based on his own father, who stammered; Ed Balls has lived his whole

life with a stammer; and Colin Firth brought the plight of people who stammer to the attention of

millions with his portrayal of King George VI in “The King’s Speech.”

Stammering, dysfluency or stuttering as it

is known in the US, is a highly complicated

problem that is still not fully understood.

Approximately 8% of children will stammer

at some point in their life, with 1%

continuing this into adulthood. This means

that approximately 150,000 children

and young people across the UK have a

stammer, with boys outnumbering girls 4:1.

October 22nd each year is designated

International Stammering Awareness

Day and exists to highlight the problems

and to raise awareness of the condition.

Stammering associations, support groups,

Speech and Language Therapists (SLTs)

and individuals use the day to organise

events, share stories and raise funds. We

have previously published an article on

things that you can do in your settings

to help children who stammer and you

can find the article here so this article will

focus more on the role and importance

of Speech and Language Therapy in

stammering, but also in other speech and

language disorders.

Nearly 20% of the population may

experience communication difficulties

at some point in their lives and 7% of

children aged 5, have specific speech

and language impairment and it is the

most common special educational need

in children aged 4 – 11. Some settings

and educational establishments are lucky

enough to have specialist units set up to

help children, others may have visiting

professionals on an ‘as-needed’ basis,

but nursery staff and educationalists

alike need to have an awareness of

speech and language difficulties so that

timely interventions can be identified

and accessed. In some socially-deprived

areas of the country, 50% or more of the

reception intake may have impoverished

speech, language and communication

skills, affecting their ability to access the

curriculum and leading to gaps in their

learning widening as they get older. Eighty

percent of children with emotional and

behavioural disorders have significant

language deficits.

There are generally 4 areas

of speech and language

communication needs to look out


Speech – which includes where

speech is difficult to understand or a

child might have difficulties in making

certain sounds or using intonation to

add to the meaning of what is being


Language – this can include problems

finding the right words, or linking

words to form sentences, limited

vocabulary for emotions, thoughts or

feelings, or misunderstanding idioms

or the meaning of more complex


Social communication – this

category includes people who give

limited eye contact and have difficulty

in starting or ending conversations.

They can also find it difficult to respond

to feedback or the body language/

facial expressions of another person,

so may misinterpret what is said or

really meant.

Dysfluency/stammering –

stammering is characterised outwardly

by a person repeating certain syllables

or letters, prolongation of pauses and

the blocking of sounds, but these core

behaviours are often accompanied

by more inwardly-felt characteristics

such as feelings of frustration, isolation

and embarrassment. These are often

exacerbated by others’ impatience,

teasing and/or bullying which can

make the child’s life difficult, affecting

their mental health, confidence and


Many common speech, language and

communication problems are typically seen

initially between the ages of 2 and 5 years,

at the time when children’s language skills

are developing. Stammering may also start

when there are rapid developments in their

mental processes and physical skills too. For

some people, stammering develops slowly

and comes on over a number of years,

whereas for others it can almost seem to

appear overnight for no apparent reason.

For all though, it can lead to a worrying

time for both the child and the family. Many

people find that their stammering comes

and goes in stages, which can add to the


Social communication problems can

become worse as a child gets older if they

don’t get help to ‘close the gap’, helping

them to access the curriculum of their peers

and understand the world around them.

What is Speech and Language


Speech and Language Therapists (SLTs)

provide children (and adults who have

difficulties with communication, or with

eating, drinking and swallowing such as

stroke victims), with support and care.

There are about 12,000 practicing SLTs in

the UK with the majority working within

the NHS, although with an increase in

demand for services, has come an increase

in people working for charities and in

individual practices.

SLTs work not only with the children or

adults affected, but with their families,

carers, educational establishments and the

wider workforce to assess needs and plan

personalised therapy programmes. They

can work with adults as well as children,

especially after strokes which can affect a

person’s speech or ability to swallow.

Following an initial assessment

to determine need,

the SLT will usually


• Discharge the child

giving advice

• Give an onward

referral to other

specialist services

• Offer advice and

review progress

within an agreed


• Offer workshop sessions for parents/

other professionals within the child’s


• Recommend one-to-one or group


Many children grow out of conditions such

as stammering, but not all. Identifying and

addressing these issues at an early stage

is important to give everyone the best

possible chance of success.

How to contact a SLT

If you are concerned about the speech

or language development of a child, and

think they should see a SLT, then if they are

within your setting, you could discuss your

observations with the parents and advise

them of the SLT service which is available,

asking them to either contact their GP,

district nurse or health visitor. As nursery

professionals, you can also put in a referral

directly with their legal guardian’s consent.

If the concern is for yourself, you can put in

a referral to the service yourself and do not

need to wait for someone else to refer you.

Call your local NHS number and ask about

the local speech and language services.

For more information, see:

• Action for stammering children

• Stamma.org

• Royal college of speech and language


• NHS/stammering site

26 October 2020 | parenta.com

parenta.com | October 2020 27

The importance of

circle time

I’m sure that circle time will already be a regular part of your nursery routine. It offers

such a wonderful time for getting to know one another, chatting about different things,

playing games and singing songs. But what are the main benefits of circle time?

Teaches social skills

We can’t assume that children just ‘get’

many social situations, especially those

around friendships and sharing. These

need to be taught and circle time is the

perfect time to do this. Use puppets and

people to model different situations that

might arise and involve children in helping

them to figure out the next steps. The

children can then go and practise the skills

they have learned in real-life situations.

Builds on emotional understanding

This is another area of development that

needs to be taught as well as experienced.

Young children will experience some

strong emotions during their day. Use

circle time to help them make sense of

these by talking about different feelings,

showing pictures of different emotions,

getting children to show different emotions

with their faces and, most importantly,

encouraging children to talk about how

they feel in different situations. All of these

will help a child begin to make sense of

their feelings and, in time, manage them.

Can be used to address certain

issues and sensitive subjects

Many will use circle time to address issues

that arise during the day such as noise

levels or using kind hands. This is also

the time to raise more sensitive or topical

issues such as acceptance of one another

and coping with the changes bought about

because of coronavirus.

Prepares children for school

School is always likely to be a big step

for young children, but giving them the

opportunity to prepare will help make the

step that much easier. The quiet and calm

expectations of circle time will mirror those

that the children will experience a few

times each day during their carpet time at

school, assembly and class circle time itself.

By teaching children the expectations of

circle time, they will already have the skills

needed for sitting and listening at school.

What a great tool to give them! You can

also use circle time to address any concerns

the children have about starting school.

Offers a great calming and

transition activity

There are always times of day when you

need to bring the noise and excitement

level down and circle time is a great way to

do this. It is a perfect tool to transition from

a noisy play environment to lunch or home


Helps ease anxiety

Some children are going to find the noisy

parts of the day a little bit too much to

handle, and therefore are going to find

calm and security in the quieter, more

settled parts of the day. This, combined

with all the confidence-boosting aspects

discussed above, is going to help reduce

a child’s anxiety and help them feel more

settled in their time with you.

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





Here is a list of some of the more obvious

benefits of circle time but also some of the

hidden gems:

Helps develop positive


Circle time is a great time to get to know

one another. It lets children learn about

their peers, and also learn about the adults

in their setting. It really helps children to

find out their similarities and differences to

their friends, and to realise that they are

not the only ones that feel the way they

do. As they get to know one another, they

will have more confidence to chat to one

another and build on their relationships.

Builds confidence

Speaking in front of others can be very

daunting, especially when the room is

quiet and everyone else is listening to

you. This is where making circle time part

of your regular routine is vital. In time

hopefully, the quietest child will realise

that this is a safe place where they can

speak, if only a couple of words, and that

everyone will value their contribution. As

soon as a child finds the confidence to

speak and realises that their contributions

are valued, this is going to boost their

confidence and self-esteem. Make sure

circle time involves every single child. Even

if the child chooses not to speak, make

sure they are given the opportunity.

Improves listening skills and

teaches respect

Just as children are encouraged to speak

in circle time, they are also encouraged to

listen and are given a fantastic opportunity

to develop their listening skills at this time.

This is also a great chance to teach respect

- when it is not their turn to speak, each

child needs to show respect to their friends

by listening. A great way of teaching this is

to pass a toy around the circle and tell the

children that it is their turn to speak when

they are holding the toy. You could then

ask gentle questions about what was said

so that children learn the value of paying

attention. Furthermore, adults can model

respect by showing genuine interest and

sensitivity to what has been shared.

Alongside the benefits for children

listed above, circle time also gives you

a fantastic opportunity to gather some

wow observations about your children,

particularly around those subjects that it

can be harder to gather evidence of such

as showing an awareness of different

cultures. You may also find it raises some

safeguarding concerns so be prepared to

respond to those in the appropriate way.

Circle time is going to be one of the most

valuable times in your setting, so make

the most of it and you will really reap the

benefits of having children that can share,

listen and respect one another.

28 October 2020 | parenta.com

parenta.com | October 2020 29

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Awareness Week

and the need for

better nutrition

When we think about malnutrition, what

comes to mind often are images from

news reports of starving children across

the world. We automatically think about

those harrowing images in which children

appear little more than ‘skin and bone’

as their parents look hopelessly on,

desperate for some help. These are indeed

disturbing images of the inequalities that

still exist across the world regarding food

availability and are a reminder about the

fragility of life when the most basic needs

are not met. But it’s not just other parts

of the world where this problem exists.

It has been estimated that malnutrition

(or “undernutrition”) affects over 3 million

people in the UK and of these, about 1.3

million are over the age of 65.

Contrast that with images of children and

adults from other parts of the

world – paying the price of overindulgence

in food, or rather, overindulgence in the

wrong type of food as they struggle with

mobility, mental health issues, or

co-morbid conditions such as Type 2

diabetes, cancer or insulin resistance.

We’ve all seen news reports showing how

in the Western world, the incidence of

childhood obesity is rising at an alarming

rate. One recent Government survey

reported that 20% of year 6 children in

England were classified as obese, with the

prevalence over twice as high in the most

deprived areas than the least deprived

areas. Other parts of the UK report a

similar picture.

Neither malnutrition nor obesity are

outcomes that successful economies would

wish for their people, so whether children

are under-nourished, malnourished, or

obese, clearly, something needs to be


What is malnutrition?

Malnutrition is a term generally used to

describe a state of nutrition in which there

is “a deficiency or excess (or imbalance)

of energy, protein and other nutrients

causing measurable adverse effects on

tissue/body form (body shape, size and

composition) and function and clinical


According to the World Health

organisation, malnutrition includes obesity,

which is measured by body mass index

(BMI) and is a measure of whether you are

a healthy weight for your height. A body

mass index of 25 – 29.9 means a person

is overweight; 30 – 39.9 is classed as

obese and BMIs above 40 are classed as

severely obese.

WHO figures report 47 million children

under 5 years of age are wasted, 14.3

million are severely wasted and 144

million are stunted, while 38.3 million are

overweight or obese.

Clearly neither the malnourished nor the

obese will be at their healthiest and this

can lead to the development of other

conditions, costing the healthcare systems

billions each year. Tackling problems

related to diet are considered preventative

measures that can help reduce long-term

complications. But it’s often easier said

than done.

Malnutrition Awareness Week is a

campaign which has been run by BAPEN

(the British Association of Parenteral and

Enteral Nutrition) for the past 3 years with

aims (amongst others) of:

• raising awareness of malnutrition and

dehydration among the public

• helping health and social care

professionals understand their role in

the prevention of malnutrition

• demonstrating what good nutritional

care is and helping organisations and

individuals to achieve it

The week runs from 5 – 12 October.

And whilst obesity is not covered under

BAPEN’s malnutrition remit, clearly, the

two conditions are linked. In August 2016,

the then government published a plan

for tackling childhood obesity, with the

aim of reducing the rate within 10 years.

Only last July, the current Government

published another document setting out

the actions it intends to take to tackle

obesity and help adults and children to live

healthier lives. And the pandemic we are

now living through has brought the need

to tackle the problem into even sharper

focus, since new evidence indicates that

being overweight of living with obesity

is associated with an increased risk

of hospitalisation, severe symptoms,

advanced levels of treatment or admission

to ICU and death from Covid-19.

What can be done?

For both malnutrition and obesity,

recognising and addressing the problem

is key to better nutrition and health, and

educational and healthcare professionals

have a role to play in helping identify those

at risk. There are several treatments for

malnutrition including simple things such

as increasing food intake, fortifying foods,

giving nutritional supplements and enteral


Nurseries have a role in the prevention of

obesity in the ways that they encourage

healthy eating and exercise. Actions are

needed at different times in a child’s life

to make an impact on childhood obesity

to promote positive behaviour changes

including during:

• preconception and pregnancy

• infancy and early childhood

• older childhood and adolescence

• transition into independent adulthood

The Government has pledged to make

it easier for us to eat a healthier diet by

introducing a number of initiatives such as

improved nutritional labelling, limiting the

promotion of foods high in fat, sugar or

salt; expanding services aimed at helping

people lose weight and introducing a callto-action

for those who need to take steps

towards a healthier weight.

But what can you do in your

nursery to help?

1. Ensure you are leading by example

and are offering healthy and nutritious

food in your setting. The governments

of all 4 UK nations have published

guidelines for the early years sector on

healthy food and the English guidelines

include example menus and recipes

that you can download here

2. The NHS publish an Eatwell Guide

which is available here

3. Promote healthy eating and physical

activity within the families in your

settings – perhaps have a food

awareness campaign or a physical

activity monitoring week to help

promote the two together

4. Ensure your portion sizes are suitable

for children

5. Have a healthy eating policy within the

school such as bans on fizzy drinks,

allergens and suggest limits to sugary

foods; or better still, advise about

healthier alternatives

6. Work with your local healthcare

providers, nutritionists, and nurses to

promote an overall healthy lifestyle

which includes healthy eating and



7. Visit the Change4Life website (see

below) for some great games to help

children get active using some of their

favourite characters

Other helpful resources and


• Malnutrition Awareness Week

• NHS obesity site

• Change4Life

• WHO malnutrition site

32 October 2020 | parenta.com

parenta.com | October 2020 33

Connected communication

through the COVID-19 crisis

As children return to your setting, you will all be going through a period of adjustment. How we

communicate and relate to each other is key to our collective wellbeing. Being alert to signs of

stress is important as you seek to support children in this transitional phase.

Signs of stress

You may notice children engaging more

frequently in behaviours like:

• Twiddling hair

• Sucking fingers or hair

• Chewing on clothing

• Rocking on chairs

• Wanting to hold onto toys

If you are supporting children you knew

prior to the crisis, your assessment

of changes in their behaviour will be

important: are they their usual selves? Or

have they become quieter or more defiant?

These changes could be signs of stress.

The children need to feel safe, and

ensuring we connect and communicate

effectively will help them to feel secure in

our settings.

Do not be afraid to talk about the

pandemic with children, they will be aware

of it at some level, and having adults avoid

the topic can make it scarier. Listen to the

children, through what they say and how

they act and try to acknowledge their

fears. Hearing an adult say what they are

feeling is very reassuring to children as it

lets them know it’s been understood and

helps them to feel like they don’t have to

deal with it alone.

The pandemic is providing us with an

opportunity to teach a very important

emotional lesson to children. One that

will equip them for mental wellbeing

throughout life. It is this: we are allowed to

feel the emotions typically characterised as

negative. There are situations in which it

is right to feel sad, right to feel frightened.

Allowing children to have these emotional

responses without attempting to distract

them from those feelings enables them

to be their authentic selves and express

their emotions fully. Approaches that seek

to distract, subconsciously teach children

that they are not allowed those emotions

and in time they will learn to supress them

in order to seek approval from you. Long

term suppressing negative emotions can

lead to things like depression and anxiety


Linking the children’s fears to the strategies

they have to protect themselves can

help them to feel strong and resilient

as they face this pandemic. Making the

implementation of the strategies playful

is a way of inviting children back into the

joyful play-filled world of childhood, whilst

still allowing them to bring their fear with


Here are some playful

ways of approaching some

of the things recommended

in the current guidance.

Hand washing – Children may have been

taught to sing “Happy Birthday” as they

wash their hands, as this song tends to

last about 20 seconds, the recommended

amount of time we are being told to wash

our hands for. You can play with this song

as they sing it, point out how funny it is

to be singing “Happy Birthday” when it

isn’t someone’s birthday, suggest silly

things to sing “Happy Birthday” to, why not

sing it to the taps, to the plughole, to the

spider on the wall, to the flowers outside.

Ask children “who are you going to sing

“Happy Birthday” to this time as you wash

your hands?”

Mask wearing – Children are not required

to wear masks under current guidance

but playing with masks can help them

to feel less worried by adults wearing

them. As they play you can talk about the

protective role the masks have in the crisis,

helping them to shift their understanding

from the worrying sight of adults looking

strange in masks, to the more reassuring

sight of adults using masks to keep them

safe from the virus. You can have fun

decorating masks, making masks for

teddies, making displays of masks, you

could even stick little post it note masks on

photos in the room.

Antibac gel – Children may forget to

disperse the gel between their fingers

and on to the backs of their hands. To

make it more playful, why not make up

a 1950s hand jive, that everyone can do

together? Get creative, adding all of the

relevant moves for dispersing the gel with

a few extras to get them giggling. Choose

a favourite song, a good one to get you

started is “Do You Love Me?” by The

Contours. Have some fun, get everyone


Avoiding the topic of COVID-19 won’t help

children to feel safe, helping them to

understand what’s going on will help them

to feel safe. The serious stuff is there for a

reason but there’s always room to make it

more playful!

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






Of course, we do not want young children

overwhelmed by fear so we are not going

to ask them not to be afraid of something

which is indeed, and rationally, very scary.

We are going to seek to teach them how to

use that feeling of fear to keep themselves

safe, which is precisely what that emotion

is for from an evolutionary perspective.

It is okay to feel sad, it is okay to feel

frightened, but those feelings do not need

to incapacitate us.

34 October 2020 | parenta.com

parenta.com | October 2020 35

Crisis management

In a recent magazine, we covered the topic of how to respond to accidents, injuries

and emergencies. We follow this up with a more in-depth look at crisis management and

how you can plan for it.

What is crisis management and

why should you bother?

The way you manage a crisis will reflect on

your setting for years. Research suggests

that in crisis situations, people generally

fall into two categories: the winners or

the losers. In order to be a winner, it is

important that you protect the value and

reputation of your business and respond in

ways that reflect a professional, organised

and prepared approach. This means being

able to respond quickly, taking effective

decisions when needed, and having the

resources and knowledge to act under

pressure and in escalating situations.

Many businesses, however, are slow to

respond, either because they do not know

what to do, or they are unprepared and

lack leadership and direction in these

situations. This often results in them having

‘knee-jerk” reactions making a further

drama out of a crisis.


Nobody wants to think the worst, but if you

don’t, and the worst happens, you will not

respond effectively and could potentially

exacerbate the situation. So, the key to

managing the unthinkable, is to think

about it beforehand.

Crises that you might face in your setting


• An irate parent/staff member

• Threats from strangers or intruders

• Terrorism e.g. bomb threats

• Criminal activities such as hostage


• Community disasters such as floods/

landslides/pandemics etc

The list is not exhaustive, but it will give you

a starting point.

For each situation, you need to think

through what might happen, and how you

plan to respond. For example, if you have

an irate parent who makes it past security,

and begins threatening staff or children

in the setting – do you have protocols in

place to:

a. Get the children to a safe place?

b. Prevent staff from being hurt or


c. Remove the parent from the site?

If a suspicious package was thrown over

your fence and landed in your play area,

do you have protocols in place to:

a. Investigate the package either closeup

or from a distance?

b. Evacuate the site safely?

c. Inform the parents about the situation

from another venue?

Or if there was a local criminal activity such

as a knife attack/terrorist alert, how would


a. Ensure the safety and wellbeing of all

the staff and children in a prolonged

siege situation?

b. Alert the parents to the plight of their

children if lines of communication are


c. Deal with the impending onset of

media attention?

If you don’t have the answers to these

questions, or you are not confident your

staff would not know what to do if you

were not there, then you will probably

need to write, review or rethink your crisis

management policies.

As we talked about in the last article,

preparing for emergencies is an ongoing

process involving:

• risk assessment

• planning

• practicing the protocols

• reporting and reviewing

• managing long-term effects

Throughout each stage of this process, it is

important to consult members of staff and

any governors to gain their involvement and


Stages of crisis management

There are generally acknowledged to be 4

main stages of a crisis:

1. Prodromal stage – this is the point

where someone in your setting or

organisation discovers a critical

situation and usually brings it to the

attention of their line manager or

superiors. At this stage, the situation is

usually only known to a few individuals

inside the setting.

2. Acute stage – this is where a critical

situation moves from a pre-crisis to

an acute stage that becomes known

outside the organisation or setting.

When a crisis reaches the acute stage,

managers must address the situation

head-on and it is too late to take

preventative action to avoid the crisis,

although there is still time to implement

damage control or limitation.

3. Chronic stage – this usually lasts the

longest of the four stages and is the

follow-on once the immediate acute

problem has been resolved. It could

involve legal action or internal/external

investigations or negligence claims

and can go on for years.

4. Resolution – this is the part where

things eventually return to normal.

Effective resolutions are implemented

in the hope of preventing a recurrence

or limiting the impact via lessons


Identifying the key staff roles for all stages

will be crucial to your success. There are 3

main roles that you will need to assign:

1. Crisis leader – The crisis leader is

responsible for dealing with the crisis

at a strategic level which would mean

making decisions about whether the

nursery can stay open or what might

need to be changed to keep things

running, albeit on a different footing.

This is usually your nursery owner or

top manager who has the authority to

make strategic decisions.

2. Incident manager(s) – The incident

manager(s) could be considered

as the people in the ‘incident room’

coordinating your response. They have

an overview of what has happened

and will allocate jobs to others in the

response team as needed. They will

report to the crisis leader and act as a

communications hub for the incident.

These are usually people who are

good at planning and assessing the

needs of the situation who can remain

calm and keep a clear head.

3. Response team – The response team

is made up of individuals who will

respond ‘at the coal face’. They will

be marshalling or looking after

children, administering first

aid or evacuating people in

an orderly and practiced

fashion. They report

directly to the incident

manager and will be

allocated jobs as

necessary. These

are usually

people with


skills such

as first


people skilled in managing other

people’s behaviours (especially if

children are likely to panic) or able to

do physical or manual tasks to keep or

make areas safe.

Make sure your plans list all the roles and

responsibilities of each tier and it is a good

idea to create printed checklists or protocols

that people can access easily and run

through in the event of a crisis occurring.

You may also wish to allocate specific roles

to people within the incident management

tier, such as those with responsibility for:

• Pastoral care or child/staff wellbeing

• Facilities or site maintenance/safety

• Teaching and development

• Managing communications (with staff/


No one wants to face a crisis, but if you do,

make sure you are well prepared.

Useful links:

• https://www.gov.uk/guidance/


• https://www2.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/






• https://www.cdc.gov/


36 October 2020 | parenta.com

parenta.com | October 2020 37

Singing in nurseries

Singing is the one musical activity in which

almost everybody can participate – all

you need is your voice. Through the ages,

singing has been a way to unite people

through anthems and war cries. It allows

us to express devotion, whether religious

or romantic. And it helps us to manage

and process overwhelming emotion to

celebrate or mourn, to soothe and calm.

Many nurseries use singing for activity

transitions, helping both verbal and preverbal

children to manage themselves.

However, at the moment, singing is still

under intense scrutiny due to SARS-CoV-2,

otherwise known as coronavirus or


The focus on singing is due to the

distribution of particles, and it is thought

that the louder we sing, the further the

particles spread, with some venues

insisting on a 3-metre distance. This

extreme distancing is now thought to be

unnecessary based on a previous study

on tuberculosis, also an airborne condition

that affects the lungs. This is because the

study found that although 6 times more

particles were generated during singing

than talking, larger particles dispersed into

the air or dropped to the ground, so were

not actually transmitted. As a result, they

may not actually result in infection, which

is why the government requested studies

from music and physics specialists.

Despite the risk, singing can manage panic

and disruption, and promote physical,

mental and social health in times of crisis

(2). Increasingly, the arts in general and

music specifically, has been recognised

for not only its health but medical benefits,

as evidence shows that it can reduce

high blood pressure and cortisol levels,

symptoms of many conditions including

heart and lung disease, as well as mental

health, like anxiety and depression. This is

why a balance had to be found between

risk and delivery.


Coronavirus has brought about significant

change and disruption to a lifestyle that we

had all taken for granted. With the initial

awareness of the effect of the virus on the

lungs and mouth/nose, the natural activity

of singing was bound to be affected. A

few choir rehearsals then hit the news (4),

with one choir rehearsal resulting in 20

possible and 32 confirmed coronavirus

cases out of 61 people, (3 hospitalised,

2 deaths); and another choir with 102

infected (3 hospitalised and one death) out

of 130 people. Our current understanding

about and explanation for the choir

transmissions is that the they were

either due to the increased production

of respiratory droplets or interpersonal

behaviour – hugging, kissing, sharing

cups and standing near each other – all

familiar nursery and early childhood

behaviours. Understandably, all choirs

were immediately closed to live rehearsals

(and performances) in March, but what are

the implications on nurseries and young


The science behind the


In June 2020, Dr Naunheim et al (5)

considered the data available on

respiratory particles and droplets in the

transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Because the

virus has been found in the respiratory

tract, it was assumed that transmission

occurred through aerosols which can

survive on multiple surface types. The

source of infection may be unknown, as

non-symptomatic individuals are able

to transmit it. Droplets and aerosols

appeared to be produced through speech,

sneezing and coughing, but these did not

actually guarantee spread or infection.

Compared to normal-volume speech, both

louder and whispered speech increased

aerosols, but professional singers manage

this through breath-control training. The

use of microphones also reduced the

potential for transmission, and it is not yet

known how aerosol production changes

according to voice type, register or style,

or whether shallow breaths/shorter vocal

tract impact aerosol production.

Transmission appears to occur from

person to person after close contact,

with 82% decreased risk with physical

distancing of 1 meter or more. There is no

scientific proof that transmission increases

due to close quarters, and there is no

clear guidance for minimum ventilation

standards – although open doors and

windows appears to be more effective

at dispersing droplets and aerosols

than mechanical ventilation. Findings

suggest that high temperatures and

humidity decrease infection rates. Other

coronaviruses show that high quality

(N95, surgical) masks protect against

SARS-CoV-2 infection, and recent findings

show that cloth masks are effective when

used with several layers of water-resistant

fabric. Although little has been said about

PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)

when singing, it is reasonable to assume

that it will allow for safer interaction. Eye

protection has not been identified as

necessary or beneficial yet, but it has been

beneficial in other outbreaks.

High risk groups include the underlying

conditions of obesity and diabetes, as

they have been correlated with worse

outcomes, and the increased infection in

black and Asian communities is linked

with historic inequalities rather than a

genetic predisposition. These factors must

be accounted for in risk assessments

(Performing Arts - Working Safely during

Coronavirus (6).)

Choir advice

With the effect of coronavirus on choirs –

groups that sing together – it would be

reasonable to consider their guidance.

Choirs have been advised to reduce

numbers and rehearsal/performance time

significantly, to increase room size, allow

for open doors and windows, and wear

PPE (cloth masks). Technological options

could eliminate risk of transmission but

are difficult in real time as they reduce

the sound quality and body language

cues between performers. Because of the

general age and health demographics,

professional and community choirs would

benefit from COVID-19 testing before each

rehearsal as well as temperature and

other (symptom questions) screening,

although the testing may not be practical.

Many countries are actively researching

the use of music in health as music

medicine. The Institute of Music Medicine

at the German University of Freiberg (8)

recommend a three-prong approach

to risk reduction: Entrance screening,

to determine risk history, potential

infection contact and current symptoms

with an addition of track and trace

app subscription; room parameters, to

consider music performance outdoors, or

if indoors, ensure sufficient room space,

regular ventilation, shorter time, with an

addition of CO 2 measurement; and PPE, to

address distance between people, mouth/

nose protection, plastic partitions and an

addition of any instrument-specific aspects.

These principles have helped to inform the

guidance available.

Government guidance

The UK government guidance (1) prevented

indoor group singing from March until 1

August while researchers trialled safe ways

to sing. Initially, trained/professional singers

were permitted to sing to groups outdoors

only, but people within groups could not

sing at all, along with wind instruments like

trumpets, flutes and recorders. Gradually,

safe ways are being found to reintroduce

music safely within society.

One of the leading organisations for music

teaching, the Incorporated Society of

Musicians, summarised the government

guidance (2). It recommends a return to

previous activities as far as possible, with

clear risk assessments in place.

Risk assessments should


• risk of infection

• room layout

• cleaning and hygiene arrangements

• parent communication

• timing of measures

Risk of infection should


• social distancing (2 metres between

adults, minimise time within 1 metre of


• ventilation (at least 10 litres per second

per person)

• regular natural airflow

• appropriate protective equipment

• group lessons (limit number singing/

playing together/social bubbles), and

• appropriate timetabling (cleaning,

fresh air, handwashing)

Lockdown nursery singing in


An article on “lessons learned” (7)

considered the experiences of nursery

singing in a three countries. Norwegian

pre-schools mentioned the “continuation

of reading and singing” to children as

normal, although in smaller groups, while

pre-schools in the United States referred

to a “daily routine of music and movement

sessions”. All used extra hand washing,

smaller group sizes, lower teacher-child

ratios, restricting parent access and social

distancing (between 1-1.83m). Adults in

nurseries in Norway and Sweden used

masks, and recognised education as a

fundamental value of society, while mask

use varied in the United States, where

teachers were more concerned with

children “falling behind”. All were concerned

about personal health, duty to children, lack

of preparation for disease control (despite

previous protocols in place) and the ability

to sustain new hygiene protocols. Teachers

also identified positive outcomes, including

greater opportunities for personalisation

and following up individual interests,

learning new technological skills, and a

need to continue occasional updates in the

future to prepare for similar circumstances.


With close interactions with children, it is

recognised that PPE poses a significant

impact on the ability to communicate (3),

where alternatives have been offered

including perspex shields and transparent

facemasks (plexiglass screens have

only been found effective if completely

surrounding individuals’ airspaces).

However, research recommends that

singing should not stop but be continued as

safely as possible using risk assessments,

PPE, social distancing and limiting numbers,

reducing time, and increasing natural

airflow as much as possible.

Please contact Frances for

a list of academic references

used in this article



Musician, researcher and author,

Frances Turnbull, is a self-taught

guitarist who has played contemporary

and community music from the age

of 12. She delivers music sessions to

the early years and KS1. Trained in the

music education techniques of Kodály

(specialist singing), Dalcroze

(specialist movement) and Orff

(specialist percussion instruments), she

has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology

(Open University) and a Master’s degree

in Education (University of Cambridge).

She runs a local community choir, the

Bolton Warblers, and delivers the Sound

Sense initiative “A choir in every care

home” within local care and residential

homes, supporting health and wellbeing

through her community interest


She has represented the early years

music community at the House of

Commons, advocating for recognition

for early years music educators, and

her table of progressive music skills

for under 7s features in her curriculum


Frances is the author of “Learning with

Music: Games and activities for the

early years“, published by Routledge,

August 2017.


38 October 2020 | parenta.com

parenta.com | October 2020 39

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