December 2020

parentamarketing

Issue 73

DECEMBER 2020

FREE

Industry

Experts

A model for change -

neurological levels

of learning

Control struggles -

how to help young

children feel more secure

Benefits of sensory

rooms for children

with autism

+ lots more

Write for us

for a chance to win

£50

page 8

Christmas around the world

As we approach the end of 2020, many of us are now wondering what Christmas will

be like this year. To cheer us up, we’ve taken a festive trip around the 7 continents to

see what other families would traditionally be doing at Christmas.

HUMAN RIGHTS DAY • LULLABIES FOR SLEEPY EYES • THE NEW EDUCATION CURRICULUM


hello

welcome to our family

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

The season of ‘peace and goodwill’ is upon us; and this month, we take a festive trip around the seven continents of

the world to discover how families would usually celebrate Christmas. However, it has certainly been a strange year

in so many ways and as we approach the end of 2020, people across the globe are wondering whether they will be

able to see their families during the festive period, or will many seasonal traditions be put on hold for a year?

Something that will definitely happen - pandemic or not - is the shortest day of the year (the Winter solstice) falling on 21st

December. Winter Solstice traditionally marks the start of the days becoming longer meaning it will start to get lighter again – a welcome

sight for us all!

It is also ‘Human Rights Day’ in December, and there is no better time than this season of peace and goodwill to teach the children in our

care about working together to build a more equal world and to embrace diversity. We have a wonderful ‘circle of hands’ craft for the

children to do on page 35 which symbolises unity and connection – and will look great as a decoration in your setting!

The nature-nurture debate is one that often divides opinions and will never wane: are our children a result of genes – who they are born

into - or are they mostly influenced by their environment? Industry expert Tamsin Grimmer looks at supporting children post-lockdown

using the six principles of nurture in her article on page 10.

We hope you enjoy our wintery, festive 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 do send in pictures of your festive decorations!

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

Please stay safe everyone and we wish you season’s greetings and a happy new year.

Allan

Human

Rights Day

“All human beings are

born free and equal in

dignity and rights.”

The impact of

self-reflection

in early years

12

16

At difficult moments we

need to view children’s

behaviour as a symptom

of a deeper issue.

Celebrating Winter

Solstice

22

Winter Solstice falls on December

21st 2020 marking the shortest day

of the year. There are lots of fun

things to do to celebrate the day.

JUNE DECEMBER 2020 2020 ISSUE ISSUE 67 73

IN THIS EDITION

Regulars

8 Write

Child-friendly

for us for

smoothie

the chance to

win £50!

15 Write for us for a chance to win £50

8 Guest author winner announced

15 Guest author winner announced

34 ‘Pierogi’ dumplings

39 starf ish craf t

35 Human rights hand craft

News News

4 Preparations for the ‘new normal’ and

4 Childcare returning to news your setting and views

6 A round up of some news stories

that have caught our eye over the

Advice

month

Advice

6 Father’s Day at home

10 Children’s Art Week

12

12

World Oceans Day

Human Rights Day

20

18

Child Safety Week

Christmas around the world

26

22

Bike Week 2020

Celebrating Winter Solstice

26 34 Countdown Growing for wellbeing to the new Weekeducation

36 curriculum National Writing requirements Day - part 1

38 National Diabetes Week Christmas card recycle

Industry Experts

10 Supporting children post lockdown

16 Talking about difference: behavioural

using the six principles of nurture

difficulties

16 The impact of self-reflection in

18 Storytelling in music: using royalty and

early years

20

magic

A model for change - neurological

22 Furlough: The new ‘f’ word

levels of learning

24 28 Lullabies Three ways for to sleepy reduce eyes meltdowns

28 30 Control Promoting struggles positive behaviour – how to in help pre-school

young children children feel more secure

30 Benefits of sensory rooms for

children with autism

32 My Mummy is Autistic

36 Three ways to embodied resilience

Lullabies for sleepy eyes 24

Benefits of sensory rooms for children with autism 30

Three ways to embodied resilience 36

National Christmas card recycle 38


Childcare

news & views

Last year’s attendance figures

to decide distribution of

childcare funding from DfE

Early years childcare funding will be

distributed based on 2019’s attendance

figures, to avoid punishing schools and

other providers that saw a “small fraction”

of normal attendance because of Covid-19.

One in six childcare settings

fear closure by Christmas

without emergency funding

Nearly 17% of childcare settings fear they

will have to close their doors by Christmas,

with just over half saying they will need

emergency funding to stay open for the

next six months.

The survey by the Early Years Alliance

also found that only a quarter of childcare

providers expect to make any profit

between now and March, while two thirds

said that the government had not done

enough to support providers during the

Covid-19 pandemic.

The Alliance is calling for an emergency

Early Years Sufficiency Fund targeted at

those childcare providers at risk of closure.

Based on analysis of the 2,106 responses

to the survey, independent early years

research analysts Ceeda estimate that

around £240 million in total would be

needed for the fund over the next six

months.

Childcare settings have been hit by a fall

in demand this year due to the pandemic

with providers seeing a 21 per cent fall in

occupancy levels compared to this time

last year.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Early

Years Alliance, said: “We are now at a

critical moment for the early years sector.

With demand for places still significantly

below what would typically be expected,

and no sign of things returning to normal

any time soon, many nurseries, preschools

and childminders are reaching the

point of no return.

He added that “there is absolutely no

excuse for the government’s continued

indifference towards the early years sector”

saying “quality early years provision is a

central part of our social infrastructure,

and should be treated as such. It’s not

too late for the government to show that it

recognises the value of the sector – both

to the young children who benefit from

quality early education, and the parents,

and particularly mothers, who benefit from

accessible care – and make the investment

needed to safeguard the many thousands

of providers in desperate need of support.”

This story can be read on parenta.com

here.

“Digital and remote support

can be ‘vital’ for new parents”:

Andrea Leadsom

Andrea Leadsom MP, chair of the Early

Years Healthy Development Review has

told Nursery World that new parents,

struggling to get the help they need during

the pandemic would benefit from ‘vital’

digital and remote support.

The Early Years Healthy Development

Review is considering ways in which the

power of technology can help give every

baby the best start in life.

For example, a digital version of the

traditional ‘Red Book’, which records

information on birth weight and

immunisations, ‘is on its way’ and ‘play

dating’ apps, using similar technology to

dating apps, are also being looked into.

Although digital support should ‘never

replace vital face-to-face support’, Ms

Leadsom said that the COVID-19 lockdown

has shown that it can ‘significantly add

to it’. She added; ‘We’re looking at much

better shared data and recordkeeping, and

the digital red book is potentially a key part

of that.’

Five options, in which technology could

really enhance and support the first 1001

critical days of a baby’s life were outlined in

a joint article with Ms Leadsom and Miriam

Cates, MP for Penistone & Stocksbridge, in

Conservative Home (12 November). These

include a new digital red book, digital

medical notes which can be ‘owned’ by

parents, a ‘play date’ app, a dedicated

early years section of the NHS website and

a dedicated early years helpline for NHS

111.

This story can be read on parenta.com

here.

Latest data released covering

attendance in education and

early years settings during

the coronavirus (COVID-19)

outbreak

The government has released it latest

figures for attendance in England’s

education and early years settings

from Monday 23 March to Thursday 12

November (excluding out of term dates).

The statistics, in their entirety can be found

here in the full publication, but the headline

figures for early years settings are as

follows:

Number of children attending early years

settings: 801,000

Up from 754,000 the previous week

(5.11.20)

Number of vulnerable children attending

early years settings: 30,000

Up from 26,000 the previous week (5.11.20)

Notes to these figures:

The 801,000 children which are currently

attending early years childcare settings is

approx. 61% of the number of children who

usually attend childcare in term time (1).

Due to many children attending early

years settings on a part-time basis, not all

children would have been in attendance on

the day of the data collection.

On a typical day in the autumn term

attendance is expected to be 887,000,

due to different and part-time patterns of

childcare during the week (2).

It is estimated that the 801,000 children

currently attending early years settings is

approximately 90% of the usual daily level.

(1) The number of children in term time was

estimated using outputs from the Childcare

and early years survey of parents: 2019 and

ONS National Population Projections: 2018

based.

(2) LAs are asked to send attendance in

EY settings on a typical day of the week.

The normal expected daily attendance has

been calculated based on estimates of the

average number of days a child spends in

formal childcare on any given day, using

the Childcare and early years survey of

parents: 2019.

This story can be read on parenta.com

here.

In a report for Telford and Wrekin’s Schools

Forum, Group Accountant Tim Davis

explains that the funding, given by the

local authority to the childcare provider, is

usually based on a headcount of eligible

children, but the Department for Education

is recommending January 2020 figures be

used next year because the coronavirus

may still be depressing attendance next

spring.

*UPDATE*

The government has confirmed that it is

planning to go back to basing funding

levels on actual attendance numbers as of

January 2021, though this remains under

review.

The Early Years Alliance, as part of its

ongoing lobbying and campaign work,

would like to gain a more detailed

understanding of what impact this planned

change would have on registered early

years providers and have produced a brief

survey on this issue. Here is the link

This story can be read on parenta.com

here.

4 December 2020 | parenta.com

parenta.com | December 2020 5


A round up of some news

stories that have caught

our eye over the month

Story source and image credits to:

Nursery World, Worcester News,

Salisbury Journal, The Leader,

Real Fix

The opening of Bright Little Stars

Nursery in Barnet with guest,

the RT Hon Theresa Villiers MP

Prior to the second lockdown, Bright Little

Stars officially opened the doors to their

newest nursery in Barnet, with special

guest, the RT Theresa Villiers MP.

Little Adventurers teach children

– “It’s not all about the carving!”

The pre-school children from Little

Adventurers Nursery, Upminster had

fun celebrating Halloween by not just

carving the pumpkin but also working

out how to get the pumpkins from the

car and into their pre-school rooms.

Autumnal Joining Generations

Programme begins in Winchester

Children at Tops Day Nursery,

Winchester, have got in contact with St

Catherine’s View Care Home residents

after not being able to visit in person.

Tops Day Nurseries to remain

open during lockdown 2.0

In line with Government guidelines,

Tops Day Nurseries have pledged to

remain open where possible to ensure

stability and care for the children after

seeing early signs of anxiety after the

first lockdown was over.

Lest We Forget: Honouring

Remembrance Day

Milton Hall Montessori Nursery

School celebrated Remembrance Day

with the children. They listened to

stories about the war during a service

and laid their wreath as a mark of

respect.

Diwali -The Festival Of Lights

At Milton Hall Montessori

Nursery School…

At Milton Hall Montessori, the teachers

made Diwali celebrations special by

decorating the school with beautiful

hand-made diyas, making colourful

cards and dancing.

Ofsted sets out inspection plan

changes to every six years

The new plans will mean that

all nurseries, pre-schools and

childminders will have inspections

within six years of their last inspection..

Worcester nursery helping key

workers with 24/7 childcare

during the second lockdown

Open 24 hours a day throughout the

week, 365 days a year. The nursery

supports parents and families by

providing care out of normal hours.

Research project on COVID-19

impacts for childcare

A team of universities are wanting

to speak to childcare workers to

understand COVID-19 impacts on the

childcare sector to help influence a

future policy.

15 hours free childcare for parents

that apply with 2-year-olds

Better 2gether Funding will be available

for parents that have children who will

be turning 2 years old on/before 31st

December. The funding can be used

at local nurseries, pre-schools and

childminders.

Wrexham Nursery supporting

struggling families this winter

with food hamper donation

Rebbrook Day Nursery children

and parents all put together a food

hamper delivered to their local

foodbank to help the local families

struggling this year.

Six-year-old becomes Britain’s

youngest published author after

writing a book on how to handle

an autistic mum

Joanna Grace, and her son, have hit

the national headlines! Heath, 6, has

published a book called “My Mummy is

Autistic” – an original book which shows

his understanding of Jo’s autism.

6 December 2020 | parenta.com

parenta.com | December 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/sponsored-content/

Congratulations

to our guest author competition winner, Tamsin Grimmer!

Congratulations to Tamsin Grimmer, our guest

author of the month! Her article “COVID-19

– a chance to reconnect with nature and the

outdoors” encouraged us to enjoy the nature

around us, and promote a healthy outlook and

lifestyle. Well done Tamsin!

Online Training

courses with Linden

Early Years

Keeping children at the heart of

early childhood education and care

Linden Early Years are building up a selection of

online courses which Parenta readers can access for

60% off using code LDOFFER during the whole of

lockdown!

Go to https://bit.ly/3jVGZwm and type in the

discount code LDOFFER at the checkout!

A massive thank you to all of our guest authors

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

articles from our guest authors on our website:

www.parenta.com/parentablog/guest-authors

Twitter: @LindenEY

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

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

Email: tamsin.grimmer@lindenlearning.org

8 December 2020 | parenta.com

parenta.com | December 2020 9


Supporting children post

lockdown using the six

principles of nurture

The nature-nurture debate can often divide

opinions; are our children a result of genes

(whom they are born into), or are they

mostly influenced by their environment?

Whatever your opinion on this, I think most

people accept that the environment can

have a positive impact on our children and,

as educators, we do our best to ensure

that it is as nurturing as possible. And there

has never been a time when nurturing

children and supporting their wellbeing is

more important. In the midst of a global

pandemic, we must ensure that we support

our children and hold them in mind and

keep them in the centre of our practice.

So with this in mind, I find it helpful to reflect

upon the six principles of nurture which

were designed for use in nurture groups

in schools and settings (Lucas, Insley, &

Buckland, 2006). Within our early childhood

settings, we tend to adopt a nurturing

approach where we act as co-regulators

and help children to become more resilient

and it, in turn, raises their self-esteem and

contributes to a higher level of wellbeing.

I’m going to briefly touch on all six of these

principles now and share a few strategies

that we can use to support our children.

The six principles of

nurture

1. Children’s learning is understood

developmentally

2. The classroom/setting offers a safe

base

3. The importance of nurture for the

development of wellbeing

4. Language is a vital means of

communication

5. All behaviour is communication

6. The importance of transition in

children’s lives.

(Adapted from Lucas, Insley, & Buckland,

2006)

1. Children’s learning

is understood

developmentally

Our first nurture principle is about

developmentally-appropriate practice so

we need to start with the child and think

about individual children and their age

and stage of development. Bear in mind

the principles of the EYFS - every child

is a unique child, children learn to be

strong and independent through positive

relationships, children learn and develop

well in enabling environments and children

develop and learn in different ways and

at different rates. So at this time, when we

need to provide a nurturing curriculum,

rather than a catching up curriculum, we

must focus on children’s wellbeing and

provide activities and experiences which

begin with the child and are based on

what they can do. We can also include

opportunities to support children’s

wellbeing such as access to calm, safe

spaces, breathing techniques, sensory

play, mindfulness and yoga activities and

ensure that our settings openly talk about

our emotions and feelings.

2. The classroom/setting

offers a safe base

The second principle is referring to

attachment theory and ensuring that

our settings are nurturing places and

spaces. We want our settings to act as

a secure base for our children, however,

sadly, this is not the case for all children.

How securely attached a child feels will

have a direct influence on their behaviour.

Research has shown that children and

young people who have a good start

in life have significant advantages over

those who have experienced adverse

childhood experiences or trauma, or

those who have had difficulty forming

secure attachments. The environment that

children grow up within, or the nurturing

environment makes all the difference.

These children tend to do better at school,

attend regularly, form more meaningful

friendships and are significantly less likely

to be involved in crime or experience

physical or mental health problems.

Understanding attachment theory can

help us to understand why children

behave the way they do and help us to

remain more sensitive to their needs.

We can better understand how external

influences (relationships, stress, poverty,

neglect, emotional environment) can

affect children and this will then help us

to plan more effectively for them and use

appropriate strategies to support them –

intervening early if needed. Being aware of

this can help us to adapt our expectations

accordingly and use a range of strategies

to intervene sensitively.

3. The importance

of nurture for the

development of

wellbeing

When considering wellbeing, I find it

helpful to think about the whole child, so to

look at learning and wellbeing holistically

and provide a supportive emotional

environment. Here are a few ideas of how

to do this in practice:

• Ask about children’s experiences

during lockdown, perhaps families

may want to share photos or videos of

pictures or dens made of duvets and

airers!

• Respect children’s feelings and give

a clear message that all children are

valued and emotions accepted.

• Provide a predictable and secure

environment in which all adults

are consistent in their approach to

children’s behaviour.

• Support children with behavioural,

emotional and social difficulties

by reflecting on and meeting their

individual needs.

• Act as a role model and encourage

positive behaviour using emotion

coaching techniques.

• Provide activities and opportunities

that support children to recognise and

articulate their feelings and emotions.

• Use key person systems to ensure we

build strong, authentic relationships

with children and families.

• Offer understanding, reassurance

and security to all children at this time

and do not chastise any regression in

behaviour (wetting themselves, thumb

sucking or becoming excessively

clingy to a carer). This will pass with

time as the child feels more safe and

secure.

4. Language is a vital

means of communication

When nurturing children, we need to

reflect upon how we communicate with

them in ways that they fully understand.

In addition to spoken words we should

use gestures, pointing, body language,

posture, eye contact and movement (this

links with behaviour in principle 5). We

mustn’t assume that children know and

understand any new rules we may have

in place and we must share these with

them offering them reasons why we need

to change things. Children can be very

resilient and how we communicate with

them and their families will make a big

difference.

5. All behaviour is

communication

In addition to language, we communicate

through our actions and behaviour. If you

imagine an image of an iceberg – the

behaviours that you see are just the tip

and underneath what we see there is a lot

more going on. You might want to make

a note of a behaviour that you see and

try to unpick what is under the surface…

So the behaviour we see on the tip of the

iceberg could be hitting, biting, shouting,

screaming, aggressive behaviour, fighting,

a very quiet child or a child who appears

very clingy and tearful… but underneath

the waterline, the child could be trying to

get a message across. I feel angry, I am

hurt, I am hungry, I am tired, I need love,

I’m overwhelmed, I need a break, I want

that toy, I want a friend, I want to connect

with you and this works, I have these big

emotions and don’t know how to deal with

them…

We need to empathise and try to unpick

the behaviour and work out what our

children are trying to communicate with us.

6. The importance of

transition in children’s

lives

It would be easy for us to underestimate

the impact that transitions have. I really

like this quote by Daly, “Something adults

may consider to be a small or insignificant

event can be quite traumatic for children”

(Daly et al., 2004:111). So we have the really

BIG things like COVID-19 to worry about,

but sometimes it’s not the really big things

that will have the biggest impact on our

children, it can be the small things that are

really big for them. For example, having

to go through a different door into our

setting, or not being able to sit next to their

friend…

Therefore, we need to see the world and

our settings through our children’s eyes to

really try to understand how they will feel

and what will affect them most.

Looking to the future

If we bear in mind these six principles,

we will help to keep our children and

their wellbeing central to our practice. It

has been, and continues to be, a difficult

time for everyone, so we need to practise

empathy and using the principles of

nurture can enable us to do this. It will

take time for us all to get used to new

routines, rules and a new normal that

keeps changing. So let’s support our

children and families by providing a

nurturing environment that focuses on their

wellbeing.

References

• Daly, M., Byers, E. & Taylor, W. (2004)

Early years management in practice:

a handbook for early years managers

Oxford, UK: Heinemann.

• Lucas, S., Insley, K. and Buckland,

G. (2006) Nurture Group Principles

and Curriculum Guidelines Helping

Children to Achieve, nurtureuk.

Tamsin

Grimmer

Tamsin Grimmer is an experienced

early years consultant and trainer and

parent who is passionate about young

children’s learning and development.

She believes that all children deserve

practitioners who are inspiring,

dynamic, reflective and committed

to improving on their current best.

Tamsin particularly enjoys planning

and delivering training and supporting

early years practitioners and teachers

to improve outcomes for young

children.

Tamsin has written three books –

“Observing and Developing Schematic

Behaviour in Young Children” , “School

Readiness and the Characteristics

of Effective Learning” and “Calling

all Superheroes: Supporting and

Developing Superhero Play in the

Early Years” and is working on a

fourth looking at “Developing a Loving

Pedagogy in the Early Years”.

You can contact Tamsin via Twitter @

tamsingrimmer, her Facebook page,

website or email info@tamsingrimmer.

co.uk

10 December 2020 | parenta.com

parenta.com | December 2020 11


Human Rights Day

What do you consider to be the most

important words ever written? Are they

in the Bible, the Quran, the Torah, The

Vedas or other holy book? Or are they the

words used in your marriage service, at a

family member’s funeral, or those in your

passport, allowing you to travel to foreign

places under the protection of your home

nation?

Everyone will have their own answer to

that question, but have you considered

how the following words might be

considered as the most important words

for ALL people?

“All human beings are born free and equal

in dignity and rights. They are endowed

with reason and conscience and should

act towards one another in a spirit of

brotherhood.”

These are the words from Article 1 of

the Universal Declaration of Human

Rights, a document written in 1948 which

sets out “the fundamental rights and

freedoms inherent to all human beings

without distinction of race, colour, gender,

language, religion, political or other

opinion, national or social origin, property,

birth or any other status.”

In other words, it helps define a set of

principles for how human beings should

treat other human beings and is the

basis for human rights law. At the end

of the Second World War, the nations of

the world came together to try to ensure

peace and security across the globe and

with the atrocities of memories of two

world wars behind them, they established

the international organisation of the United

Nations as mechanism for governments

to “find areas of agreement and solve

problems together.” Various committees

and councils were formed, one of which

looked at the issue of human rights and

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

was born out of their collaborations. It was

adopted by the United Nations General

Assembly, made up of representatives

from different Member States around the

globe, on 10th December 1948. And whilst

it is not a legally binding document, it has

inspired more than 60 other human rights

agreements, accords and legislation.

It was drafted by eight men and one

woman, Eleanor Roosevelt, former First

Lady of the USA, who chaired the first

Human Rights Committee and it has been

translated into more than 500 languages,

making it the most translated document in

the world.

Explaining human rights to

children

One of the challenges in explaining

human rights to younger children is how

do you do so without scaring them about

the world they live in? Human history

is unfortunately full of cases of human

rights abuses perpetrated by humans on

other humans and there are still many

instances of inhuman degradation and

abuse occurring every minute of every

day. But we do not need to linger on this in

order to make the point. You can start by

looking at a simple topic, such as where

our food comes from, or how different

people live around the world, or what

education is like in other countries and you

will soon be able to explain that things

are not yet equal for everyone around

the world. Some of these differences are

due to varying culture and are celebrated

(like national foods such as pasta, curry

and croissants). Other differences are

due to inequalities, and that’s where

organisations like the United Nations are

trying to make the world a fairer place for

everyone by highlighting the inequality

and encouraging governments to tackle it.

Human Rights Day 2020

There are now 193 Member States of

the United Nations, and each year they

celebrate December 10th as Human Rights

Day. This year, the theme is “Recover

Better – Stand Up for Human Rights”

which obviously relates to the COVID-19

pandemic. The theme aims to make

human rights central to all recovery efforts

and to tackle “entrenched, systematic and

intergenerational inequalities, exclusions

and discrimination”.

The pandemic has wrecked lives across

the world, not just in exacting a heavy

death toll, but also by affecting the

economies, health systems, people’s

mental health and the way of live of

communities across the world. And as

is often the case, it is the poorest, least

educated, and least represented people

who suffer the most. By using the Universal

Declaration of Human Rights as a

standard to work to, we can work together

to build a fairer, more just world.

So in 2020, the UN is focusing on 4 basic

ideas to lead the pandemic recovery

process:

• End discrimination of any kind.

• Address inequalities, especially those

which have been exacerbated by the

pandemic.

• Encourage participation and solidarity

in the recovery process. “We’re all in

this together” after all.

• Promote sustainable development

which links in with the UN’s

Sustainable Development Goals.

Ways to celebrate Human

Rights Day in your setting

1. Create a ‘circle of hands’ wreath

to symbolise unity and connection.

Ask the children to do handprints

on pieces of paper using different

colours. Cut them out and stick them

into a circle to display.

2. Use the hashtags

#Standup4humanrights and

#HumanRightsDay on your social

media messages and posts to raise

awareness.

3. Teach the children about human

rights through story books. The

human rights charity, Amnesty

International has a list of books for

younger children on their website

or you can use others such as “For

every child, a better world” by Kermit

the Frog,”, “Horton hears a Who” by

Dr. Seuss or “My Little Book of Big

Freedoms” by Chris Riddell.

4. Make a blessings tree. Take a dried

tree branch and paint it white. Then

ask the children about things they

value and write these on sticky notes

that you then attach to the tree. You

can use this to start up a conversation

about what is important to them.

5. Invite a leading member of your local

community in to give a talk to explain

what human rights means for them

and how it affects everyday life.

6. Model respect for human rights in

everything you do; from the way

you deal with colleagues to showing

respect, patience and empathy for all.

7. Download some campaign resources

to use here.

As ever, remember to send us your photos

too.

12 December 2020 | parenta.com

parenta.com | December 2020 13


What our customers say

I have been in contact with all the team members at

Parenta on a regular basis and from start to finish the service

has been second to none. The team are very friendly, professional

and efficient. No issues raised have ever been left unresolved and

this has all resulted in a great partnership.

The team have always provided me with excellent customer service which in

my opinion is your core strength. The process has always been easy due to

their clear instructions.

I was particularly impressed with the service during lockdown as the Parenta

Team were always available. Their excellent service never faltered and the

team continued to respond in a very timely manner. This provided me

with a welcome stress and worry free process during a difficult time.

Samantha

has worked with

Squirrels Nursery for

many years and has

consistently provided an

excellent service. She is very

professional and friendly

as well as going the extra

mile to help and nothing is

too much trouble. Highly

recommended!

Penny, Scott,

Squirrels Nursery

and Preschool

Anita, Littlebrook Nurseries

I am so

glad that I had

the chance to do my

Level 3 childcare course

with Parenta, it has been

a delightful experience very

smooth and efficient. Thanks

to Tina Butler everything was

always on time, from setting new

assignments to marking them. Tina

was very helpful during my course

and was always easy to contact

when needed. I had set goals for

myself and we have spoken about

this with Tina Butler that I wanted

to become a room leader, I am

happy and proud to say I have

become the baby room

leader!!

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Davulcular

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been really happy

with the support that I

have received when I have a

query regarding Fee Planner. It

is quick & efficient and the query

is always answered in full. The

customer service administrators

are always friendly and very

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Jungle Tots Day

Nursery

I just want to say

a massive thank you

to Jeanette for getting me

through my apprenticeship

after having such a struggle

with the many assessors I have

had. She has got me through

my apprenticeship in 8 weeks

and finally taught me in a way

that I could understand. I am

extremely thankful to her.

Sarah Long

Pippa Cain - amazing -

always had a fantastic

experience doing courses.

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Prospect House

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The impact of

self-ref lection

in early years

Like many parents (and practitioners) there are times when

things go smoothly with my children and then there are other

times when I honestly feel like I’m wading through mud. It’s like

we go in cycles of things going really well for so long and then

all of a sudden everything feels like a battle. At these difficult

times, our instinct can be to judge children’s behaviour as

unacceptable and to adopt new strategies to ‘fix’ it. However,

in my opinion, it is at these exact moments that we need to view

their behaviour as a symptom of a deeper issue.

For me, I have an ‘inside-out’ approach

to life. If something isn’t working, I believe

I need to look at myself first instead of

pointing the finger at anyone else. Through

challenging situations, as hard as they

can be, there are always lessons to learn

if we look for them. If someone is taking

advantage of me, the lesson might be that

I need to learn to say ‘no’ more and have

stronger boundaries. If someone makes

me feel inadequate, the lesson might be

that I need to build my own self-worth and

look intrinsically for validation, rather than

getting it from others. If someone is getting

frustrated with me, the lesson might

be that I actually need to communicate

more effectively. Now this approach to life

doesn’t mean that I take responsibility for

someone’s else’s bad behaviour. It simply

means that I look to see what the situation

is teaching me about myself so that I

can move forward in a different way and

hopefully avoid the same thing happening

again.

I also use this ‘inside out’ approach with

my parenting and teaching. If a child

is displaying challenging behaviour,

rather than just looking at their actions

and deeming it as ‘bad’, I would try to

gain an understanding of why they are

feeling or acting this way. I would also

dig deep and ask myself honestly if there

are any external factors (such as my

own behaviour or actions) that might be

contributing to the situation.

An example of this was when afternoons

with my children became stressful and

hard work. They were arguing constantly,

whining and generally being quite defiant.

In moments like this it is easy to fall into

the trap of seeing their behaviour as

the problem. However, it’s important to

remember that this is merely a symptom

of a deeper-rooted issue and as a

parent (or practitioner) I believe it is our

responsibility to see the bigger picture

and then provide everyone (including

ourselves) with an opportunity to learn

and grow.

On the surface, it looked like my children

were just acting up. However, when I did

some self-reflection, I realised that wasn’t

the case. As much as I was with my

children in an afternoon, I had become

distracted. I had a lot going on with my

business, Early Years Story Box, and had

lots of deadlines looming so my head

was in a spin. When I looked at things

closely, I realised that even though I was

with my children, I wasn’t actually being

present. My thoughts were focused on my

to-do list and I was trying to multi-task,

rather than giving them my full attention.

As hard as it was to admit that my own

behaviour was the problem, it was

necessary for things to get better. Sure

enough, as soon as I left my work at the

door and gave them my full attention, the

bickering and meltdowns reduced and

peace was restored. Like many people,

I was on autopilot juggling a million things.

However, by digging deep and looking

inwardly, rather than looking outwardly

at their behaviour, we not only solved the

problem, but we deepened our connection

in the process.

Another example of behaviour being a

symptom of a deeper issue was on my

daughter’s birthday. I’d arranged for her

friend to come over in the morning to play

for a bit before we went out. Everyone

was excited and we thought this would

be a lovely start to her day. As soon as

her friend arrived, my little girl became

unhappy and refused to let her play with

her new toys. It was an awful situation and

one that if I’m honest I didn’t really know

how to navigate. I felt bad for her friend

because she’d done nothing wrong and my

instant reaction was to feel upset that my

daughter had been mean. However, once

I stepped back, I could see exactly why this

had happened and how I could have done

things differently.

My daughter had got a new toy that she

had been wanting for ages. She hadn’t

been playing with it long before her friend

arrived and wanted to play with it too. Now

this doesn’t seem like a big deal, but if

we put ourselves in her shoes, I think we

would feel the same. Whenever I am faced

with conflict, I always try to see things from

the other person’s point of view and think

of a comparative situation relating to my

own life. Her desire and excitement about

her new toy was equal to the feeling I had

when I was getting my new MacBook Pro.

I had wanted it for ages so when it arrived

it was the best feeling ever. If at that point

my friend came up to me and said she

wanted to use it too, I most certainly would

say that I wanted to use it properly myself

before I let anyone else get their hands on

it! When we get something new, it is human

nature to feel more protective of it because

we almost need to establish our own

possession of something before we share it

with anyone else.

After this realisation, my daughter’s

irrational behaviour made perfect sense.

With hindsight, I should have given her

time in the morning to explore her new

things before inviting her friend over. We

have since talked calmly about how she

spoke to her friend and how this made

her feel sad. However, by acknowledging

that I understood why she reacted the way

she did, it made her feel safe and heard,

which in turn meant that she too could

learn her own lesson through this about

communication and kindness.

Once we know better, we do better. It isn’t

about blame and reproach, but about

growing and developing. Looking inwardly

isn’t always easy, but the only thing we

can control in life is our own behaviour and

reactions. If we strive to be the best version

of ourselves, take responsibility for the part

that we play and treat people with kindness

and compassion we won’t go far wrong.

We will always make mistakes because

we are human. However, if we view our

mistakes as lessons and learn as we go,

we will always wake up the next day better

than we were the day before.

Stacey

Kelly

Stacey Kelly is a former teacher, a

parent to 2 beautiful babies and the

founder of Early Years Story Box, which

is a subscription website providing

children’s storybooks and early years

resources. She is passionate about

building children’s imagination,

creativity and self-belief and about

creating awareness of the impact

that the early years have on a child’s

future. Stacey loves her role as a

writer, illustrator and public speaker

and believes in the power of personal

development. She is also on a mission

to empower children to live a life full

of happiness and fulfilment, which is

why she launched the #ThankYouOaky

Gratitude Movement.

Sign up to Stacey’s Premium

Membership here and use the code

PARENTA20 to get 20% off or contact

Stacey for an online demo.

Email: stacey@earlyyearsstorybox.com

or Telephone: 07765785595

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

earlyyearsstorybox

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

eystorybox

Instagram: https://www.instagram.

com/earlyyearsstorybox

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

stacey-kelly-a84534b2/

16 December 2020 | parenta.com

parenta.com | December 2020 17


Christmas around

the world

It has been a strange year in more ways than one and as we approach the end of 2020, many of us are

now wondering what Christmas will be like this year; will we be able to see our families or will the

traditional British Christmas, be the latest victim of the coronavirus pandemic?

But if the traditional British Christmas is in jeopardy, how about Christmas in other countries and on

other continents? To cheer us all up, we’ve taken a festive trip around the 7 continents to see what other

families would traditionally be doing at Christmas.

Europe

We know how we celebrate in the UK,

but Finland is a snowy place for much of

the year, and you can be guaranteed a

white Christmas if you visit the country

in December. Many Finnish people (and

others) believe that Father Christmas lives

in the north of the country, in Lapland, so

a lot of children send letters to him each

year, which are delivered by the Finnish

post office.

Christmas Eve is the most important day

at Christmas and people traditionally eat

a porridge made from rice and milk, often

topped with more milk, cinnamon or butter.

Sometimes parents hide an almond in the

puddings and children love it if they ‘win’

the almond.

Finland gets dark at around 3pm on

Christmas Eve and a growing Christmas

tradition here is to visit the graves of

family members and light candles of

remembrance. Cemeteries are often lit up

with hundreds of candles burning brightly

as Christmas Eve turns into Christmas Day.

And what do the Scandinavian people do

after that? Well many of them warm up in

the traditional way – in the sauna!

Australasia

In the southern hemisphere, Christmas

comes at the height of summer, so many

people in New Zealand and Australia

celebrate Christmas with a BBQ on

the beach. Towns hold parades and

there is a carnival-like atmosphere with

marching bands and decorated floats.

Santa still traditionally visits with his

reindeer and many people leave out some

refreshments, but it is just as likely to be

a bottle of beer and some pineapple

chunks as some sherry and a mince pie!

One Christmas present that has gained

popularity in this part of the world in recent

years are ‘jandals’ which are New Zealand

sandals - even Santa is seen wearing

them at times!

North America

Christmas in North America is like the one

we know in the UK, with similar traditions

of Santa Claus delivering presents to

children who leave out their stockings by

the chimney. Many people decorate their

houses with lights and groups go around

the neighbourhood singing carols to raise

money for charities. Some communities

place lit candles on their pathways to

signify ‘lighting the way’ for Mary and

Joseph to find a safe place to rest for the

night (or to help Santa find his way too of

course!)

South America

South America is predominantly a Catholic

continent, so Christmas celebrations here

revolve around celebrating the birth of

Jesus. Many people attend Midnight Mass

on Christmas Eve which can end at 1am on

Christmas morning. Fireworks are also big

ways to celebrate Christmas too. In Brazil,

many people get a 13th month salary or

bonus at Christmas, so they get double

their salary at this time of year. The 6th of

January is also widely celebrated in South

America as Three Kings Day or Epiphany,

when the Three Kings traditionally visited

Jesus and left him gifts, and many children

do not get their Christmas presents until this

time, celebrating with a special Christmas

sponge cake called the kings’ cake.

Asia

In many Asian countries, Christmas is

celebrated as a secular holiday rather than

with any religious significance. However,

traditions are emerging, nevertheless.

In Japan for example, Christmas Day

is largely ignored but Christmas Eve is

considered a day for romantic couples akin

to Valentine’s Day here, where couples eat

out in restaurants. An advertising campaign

in Japan by KFC in recent years has also

made this a popular choice of Christmas

dinner too!

In other parts of Asia, such as Bali,

Christmas trees are made from chicken

feathers and fireworks are part of the

traditional Christmas fun.

Africa

There are many different religions in

Africa, and Christianity is only one of them.

Many Africans practice Islam and so do

not traditionally celebrate Christmas in

the same way that we do in Christian

European countries. However, in countries

like Nigeria, Zambia and South Africa,

where Christianity is the majority religion,

Christmas is celebrated by going to church,

exchanging gifts and a chance to spend

time with family, and share special meals.

Ethiopia and Egypt celebrate Christmas

on January 7th as they follow the Julian

calendar (introduced by Julius Caesar) as

opposed to the Gregorian calendar we use.

And in Senegal, which is mostly a Muslim

country, Christians celebrate Muslim

holidays and vice versa so Muslims often

put up Christmas trees in the mosques,

complete with tinsel and Santa Claus.

Antarctica

Finally, in Antarctica, Christmas comes in

the middle of summer, characterised by 24

hours of daylight. Even in the most northerly

parts of Antarctica, there is only about 1

hour of ‘dusk’ at this time of year and the

only people living here are scientists or

tourists. However, Christmas does not go

unmarked although the celebrations are

more muted since most people are on

working contracts, and there isn’t the same

commercial build up that exists in more

populated areas – (after all, what would

the penguins do with wrapping paper?)

Antarctic research also tends to be a

multinational affair, so Christmas traditions

can change with the research crews but

simple gifts are exchanged and there

may be a special meal and crew party.

Snow is guaranteed and the wildlife can

make Christmas in Antarctica a ‘once-ina-lifetime’

experience, connecting humans

together with their home planet in a simple,

communal way that is unrivalled anywhere

else on earth. But shh, rumour has it that

this is what Christmas is really all about

anyway!

We hope you have enjoyed our sojourn

around the world – perhaps you could

find out about the Christmas traditions of

families at your setting and share them with

the children.

Whatever you do, Happy Christmas!

18 December 2020 | parenta.com

parenta.com | December 2020 19


“How can we improve parental engagement during this pandemic?”

A few weeks ago I was invited to work

with a nursery school leadership team for

a strategic planning workshop. Known for

excellent parental engagement, the school

had been struggling to engage some

families since the COVID-19 crisis. This

was partly because absence from nursery

had increased due to family anxiety and

ill health. Parents were not allowed on site

due to social distancing arrangements.

The SENCo was particularly concerned for

families who had children with complex

needs, including those with challenging

behaviours and family stress.

During a workshop, I introduced the model

of neurological levels of learning. This

model comes from Robert Dilts, a leading

A model for change -

neurological levels of learning

Neurological level

Environment

Place and time, where the team works,

sensory level

Behaviours

What each member does

Capabilities and skills

A combination of behaviours

Beliefs and values

Values are the emotional drivers; beliefs

are what we hold true

figure in the field of Neuro-linguistic

Programming (NLP). He recognised that it

is important for team leaders to operate

at multiple levels to achieve change. As

Albert Einstein quoted:

“You can never solve a problem with the

same kind of thinking that created the

problem in the first place.”

The six W questions are integral to the

model, to allow people to ask themselves

questions in different ways:

Where? When? What?

Why? How? Who?

The

question

Where/

when?

What?

Why?

How?

Founderstone nursery school

- what the team said

A seventh W question could be ‘For

whom?’ to determine the greater purpose/

mission.

I invited the team to consider their parental

engagement issue through this model.

The question asked was “How can we

improve parental engagement during this

pandemic?” The leaders recognised they

had done lots of work at the ‘environment’

level, making the school as safe as they

could. They had also informed parents of

the new safety guidance through a range

of communications (behaviour level).

However, as they attributed their question

further up the pyramid, they raised some

deeper, reflective questions for themselves

(in bold).

The welcoming building, COVID-19 safe, the families living in the

community, green outdoor space, happy voices, lots of 2-4 year-olds,

known people on site, safe place, large garden, smell of toast and

lunch cooking, school day and extended day.

Staff attendance remains excellent, children play and explore with

confidence, staff friendly with parents and visible on the gate, strong

information sharing from staff and leadership time regarding the

COVID-19 pandemic and nursery guidance.

Highly skilled and committed teachers and practitioners, family support

and children’s centre to provide effective early help, children learn well,

strong safeguarding culture, effective at parental engagement… or

are we?

School is important and children should learn. Everyone should come to

school. Our vision and strap line for the school talks about ‘possibilities

and opportunities for children and families’ but are we getting the

buy in from all families?

Once they got to the top I asked them to go

back down the order of the pyramid to gather

further reflections. The discussion continued

in earnest as they raised lots of questions

and assumptions about their practice:

These are some of the challenges the team

identified:

1. Purpose

Although our vision statement is visible in

every room, we cannot remember it, so it is

unlikely our stakeholders will!

2. Identity

The nursery has been a consistent resource

over the past 50 years, yet so much has

changed in the local community that our

newer families may not know who we are.

3. Beliefs and values

The internal beliefs and values of the school

are clear from the school perspective – that

education is important and children are

expected to attend every day. Do our families

feel the same way, or might we just be a

childcare service that allows the families to

work. Or is there an image that we are a

place where the most vulnerable children

attend? Or both?

4. Skills and capabilities

We have a strong reputation for supporting

families with complex social and educational

needs. But how do we get the buy-in

from families who won’t or don’t come or

disappear as soon as there is an issue, with

the COVID-19 crisis being a current and far

reaching one?

As a result, the team came up with some

reflective points to action. They produced 5

top tips:

1. Early years settings can never be still.

Constant challenge to your own practice

is an effective tool to make your practice

flexible and move with the times.

2. Parental engagement often follows

the 80/20 rule – 80% of families who

engage take up 20% of your time, and

20% of your families take up 80% of

your time. It is usually the same 20% of

children and families who you struggle

to make a difference with, and you can

invest in an individualised approach with

each of them.

3. Families with children with disabilities

or special needs can be particularly

sensitive during the current climate

– find out what they need to trust that

their child will be safe in your nursery.

4. Each family has its own set of beliefs and

values and these may not quite match

with yours or your schools. Parents

always want the best for their child, so

how can you help them get this? Do their

expectations align with those of your

setting?

5. Only send necessary communications

and keep them simple. Gather

perspectives on how your

communications are received by

engaged families from a range of

backgrounds – multi-cultural and

socio-economic, established and new to

area.

If you would like to try this model to create

change in your school, remember the six Ws

(+1, What?):

Where/when will you meet? (environment/

time) What will you focus on? (behaviours)

Why will you do it? (capabilities/skills)

How might you make it happen? (beliefs/

values)

Who will make it happen? (identify)

For whom are you doing it? (purpose/vision/

mission)

Ruth

Mercer

Ruth Mercer is a coach and

consultant, with a career background

in early education. Ruth is committed

to creating a positive learning

environment for staff, children and

families. She has a successful track

record of 1:1 coaching for leaders and

group coaching across the maintained

and PVI sector. She supports leaders

and managers in developing a

coaching approach in their settings

through bespoke consultancy and

introductory training on coaching and

mentoring for all staff.

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.com

Website:

www.ruthmercercoaching.com

Identity

Who the team think they are

Who?

We are a safe place for children, a community hub, we are educators

and supporters of families but does everyone think so – what

about those we cannot reach?

References:

Purpose/mission

Part of something bigger

For

whom?

To provide service for the local authority and the community, to ‘narrow

the gap’ between the more advantaged and those with barriers to

learning, to remove barriers to learning; our vision for the school but

is the vision memorable and accessible for everyone who might

use our school and services?

• Diagram from NLPschool.com

• Dilts, R. (2003) From Coach to

Awakener (Appendix A ) Dilts Strategy

Group

20 December 2020 | parenta.com

parenta.com | December 2020 21


Celebrating Winter

At the North Pole, there is continual night

from early October to early March so

there is little to define the changing days

other than knowledge that the days will

eventually get lighter, and Winter Solstice

traditionally marks the start of the days

becoming longer again.

Since the solstice is an astronomical event

rather than a calendar event, the exact

day and time of the solstice varies slightly

from year to year, but it generally falls

between the 21st and 23rd December.

People have been celebrating Winter

Solstice for thousands of years, and in the

Pagan religion, it forms one of the 8 main

festivals, known as Yule, or the rebirth.

At the end of the longest night, the sun is

promised to return, bringing back the light,

hope and promise of life. It has also been

celebrated as a turning point in the year by

many cultures around the world including

those in China, Iran, Peru, Japan and New

Mexico to name but a few.

Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain,

Newgrange in Ireland and Machu Picchu

in Peru and just 3 ancient places

which are thought to be built with

astronomical principles in mind as

the placement of the stones and

the entrances are aligned to the

sun’s position on the Winter and

Summer Solstices.

Solstice

Winter Solstice falls on December 21st, 2020 marking the shortest day of the year in the northern

hemisphere and corresponding with the Summer Solstice or the longest day of the year in the southern

hemisphere. Of course, the actual length of the 21st December is exactly the same in both hemispheres,

but we are referring to the number of hours of ‘daylight’ rather than the number of hours in the day.

In the UK, the sun is at its lowest point in the sky and will be seen for just over 6 hours and 35 minutes

in Inverness, and a few more precious minutes the further south you head. It marks the time when the

North Pole is tilted at its furthest point from the sun, which will be at 10.02am.

How to celebrate Winter

Solstice in your setting

There are lots of fun things to do to

celebrate Winter Solstice and we’ve listed

a few to get you started.

Make an evergreen Yule wreath

Wreaths were traditional Yule decorations

long before commercial Christmas wreaths

and were made using evergreen leaves

and branches from different trees believed

to have healing or protective powers.

You can choose from things like pine

(healing and joy), mistletoe (healing and

protection), ivy (resurrection and rebirth),

yew (regeneration) and holly (protection

and everlasting life energy). You can also

decorate your setting by draping pieces

of evergreens around doorways and on

the walls. If you don’t want to use actual

pieces of greenery, you can make some

using green paper/card to represent the

different shrubs.

Decorate a Yule tree

The Yule tree was also a tradition long

before Prince Albert popularised the

Christmas tree for the masses in the 1800s.

They represented life in the depths of

mid-winter and were often thought to

house wood spirits. People brought them

into their houses for good luck (giving a

place for the wood spirits to keep warm for

the winter) and decorated them with food

and treats for the spirits too.

Celebrate the light

Winter Solstice celebrates the return of

the light and candles were traditionally

burnt to bring ‘back the light’ and remind

people that the sun would return. We don’t

recommend burning real candles in your

setting for obvious reasons, but you could

create a display of images and pictures

if the children draw some or make some

craft-candles by rolling up different pieces

of coloured paper. You can also make

paper lanterns similar to Chinese lanterns

using some pieces of coloured paper to

create a colourful, light-inspired display.

Celebrate with a circle or sun

dance

The Zuni native Americans celebrate

Winter Solstice as the beginning of their

year with a ceremonial dance called

Shalako. It a very spiritual ceremony lasting

for a number of days to give thanks, ask

for blessing from the gods, and celebrate

the sun returning. Other cultures around

the world celebrate with other dances,

such as the circle dances of English folk

dancing. You can lead the children in a

traditional circle dance, getting them to

hold on to piece of coloured ribbon (as

opposed to hands) and dance around a

pretend bonfire or the Yule tree. The circle

represents togetherness and can also

represent the returning sun.

Bake some Yule treats

As a midwinter feast, Yule has its fair

share of goodies to tuck into

including a chocolate Yule log,

plum pudding, and wassail,

a traditional apple cider

drink. Although wassail

traditionally contains

alcohol so is not

suitable for children,

there are nonalcoholic

versions

you can make too

which are quick and

easy and contain fruit

so are a great way to

increase your children’s

fruit and vegetable intake.

There are some delicious

Yule recipes here or a quick

search on the internet will bring

up many other wonderful winter

warmers.

Create some Yuletide crafts

If you don’t have the facilities to make a

real chocolate Yule log, why not make

a craft one using the inside of a kitchen

roll and some imagination? You can

also make some Yule cards, a model

of Stonehenge or its equivalent in card,

building blocks or paper or anything else

you can think of.

Share the love

Winter Solstice celebrates a connection

with the natural world, so remember

your local nature and make your own

bird feeders using nuts, seeds, dried fruit

and fat. You can even make them out of

cleaned out recycling objects such as old

plastic bottles, unused building blocks

and old cups and saucers. There are

some great ideas here with plenty

of different suggestions to keep

everyone happy. Remember to

put out water for birds in winter

too and to break the ice on

frozen water to help other

wildlife.

We hope you enjoy

celebrating Winter Solstice

in your setting. Remember

to send your photos to us at

hello@parenta.com.

For some more ideas see:

• https://www.backwoodsmama.

com/2017/12/7-wonderful-ways-tocelebrate-winter-solstice-with-kids.

html

• https://www.patheos.com/blogs/

naturessacredjourney/2016/12/kidfriendly-earth-friendly-yule-crafts/

22 December 2020 | parenta.com

parenta.com | December 2020 23


Lullabies for sleepy eyes

It can be tricky getting little ones to sleep at any time. No excuse is needed, no reason

is necessary – they want to stay awake to stay near you. During uncertain times, when

routines go out of the window, it can be tricky to get ourselves as adults to settle, let alone

our little ones. And throw in a holiday like Christmas, Hannukah or Diwali, and it can be a

long, long month of family sleeplessness, agitation and upset.

Cue a cure: Musicaliti’s Lullaby Month! This December 2020, every day for 25 days, Musicaliti will release a lullaby that

you can use with your littlies at bedtime. Just like the Christmas carols of last year (still available on our YouTube Musicaliti

channel!), each day will feature a different lullaby – links will be available from our Facebook, Twitter, Insta and LinkedIn

pages. And as an added bonus, this link will take you to the free Musicaliti Lullaby ibook for a link to all of the lyrics of each

song: https://books.apple.com/us/book/lullabies-for-sleepy-eyes/id1539038332?ls=1

1. All The Pretty Little Horses

(American Lullaby)

Hush-a-bye, don’t you cry

Go to sleep, little baby

When you wake, you shall have

All the pretty little horses

2. All Through The Night

(Welsh lullaby)

Sleep, my child, and peace attend thee

All through the night

Guardian angels God will send thee

All through the night

Soft the drowsy hours are creeping

Hill and vale in slumber sleeping

I my loving vigil keeping

All through the night

3. Toora Loora Loora

(Irish Lullaby)

Over in Killarney many years ago

Me mother sang a song to me

In tones so sweet and low

Just a simple little ditty

In her good old Irish way

And I’d give the world if she could sing

That song to me this day

4. Sleep, baby, sleep

(German Lullaby)

Sleep, baby, sleep,

Thy papa guards the sheep;

Thy mama shakes the dreamland tree

And from it fall sweet dreams for thee,

Sleep, baby, sleep

5. Frère Jacques (French lullaby)

Frère Jacques, Frère Jacques

Dormez-vous? Dormez-vous?

Sonnez les matines! Sonnez les matines!

Ding, dang, dong! Ding, dang, dong!

6. Sleep, little one, sleep

(Dutch Lullaby)

Sleep, little one, sleep

Out of doors, there runs a sheep

A sheep with four white feet, that drinks its

milk so sweet

Sleep, little one sleep

7. Hava Nagila (Jewish Lullaby)

Hava Nagila, Hava Nagila

Hava Nagila, ve-nis-me-gha

Hava Nagila, Hava Nagila

Hava Nagila, ve-nis-me-gha

8. Nina Nana (Italian Lullaby)

Nina Nana Coco lo del la Mama,

Nina Nana Coco lo del Papa

Nina Nana Coco lo del la Mama,

Nina Nana Coco lo del Papa

9. Thula Thul (Zulu Lullaby)

Thula thul, thula baba, thula ‘mntwana

Tul’ubab ‘uzobuya ekuseni

Thula thul, thula baba, thula ‘mntwana

Tul’ubab ‘uzobuya ekuseni

10. Ally Bally Bee

(Scottish Lullaby)

Ally Bally, Ally Bally Bee

Sitting on your mummy’s knee

Greeting for a wee penny

To buy some Coulter’s candy

11. Lavender’s Blue

(English Lullaby)

Lavender’s blue, dilly dilly, lavender’s

green

When you are King, dilly dilly, I shall be

Queen

Who told you so, dilly dilly, who told you

so?

‘Twas my own heart, dilly dilly, that told

me so

12. Mummy Loves

(South American Lullaby)

Mummy loves and daddy loves and

Everybody loves little baby

Brother loves and sister loves and

Everybody loves little baby

13. Golden Slumbers

Golden slumbers kiss your eyes,

Smiles await you when you rise,

Sleep, pretty baby,

Do not cry,

And I will sing a lullaby

14. Hush Little Baby

Hush, little baby, don’t say a word,

Papa’s gonna buy you a mockingbird

And if that mockingbird won’t sing,

Papa’s gonna buy you a diamond ring

15. Rock a bye baby

Rock-a-bye baby, on the tree tops

When the wind blows, the cradle will rock

When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall

And down will come baby, cradle and all

16. Little Boy Blue

Little boy blue, come blow your horn,

The sheep’s in the meadow, the cows in

the corn

Where is the boy who looks after the

sheep?

He’s under the haystack, fast asleep

Will you wake him? No, not I

For if I do, he’ll surely cry

17. Wee Willie Winkie

Wee Willie Winkie runs through the town

Upstairs and downstairs in his nightgown

Knocking at the windows, crying at the

locks

Are the children in their beds for it’s past

eight o’clock

18. Girls and boys come out to

play

Girls and boys come out to play

The moon is shining bright as day

Leave your supper and leave your sleep

And join your playfellows in the street

19. Twinkle Twinkle

Twinkle, twinkle, little star

How I wonder what you are

Up above the world so high

Like a diamond in the sky

Twinkle, twinkle little star

How I wonder what you are

20. Baa Baa Black Sheep

Baa baa black sheep, have you any wool?

Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full

One for the master and one for the dame

And one for the little boy who lives down

the lane

21. Little Bo Peep

Little Bo Peep has lost her sheep

And doesn’t know where to find them

Leave them alone

And they’ll come home

Wagging their tails behind them

22. You Are My Sunshine

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine

You make me happy when skies are grey

You’ll never know, dear, how much I love

you

Please don’t take my sunshine away

23. Somewhere over the rainbow

Somewhere over the rainbow way up high

There’s a land that I heard of once in a

lullaby

Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue

And the dreams that you dare to dream

really do come true

24. When you wish upon a star

When you wish upon a star

Makes no difference who you are

Anything your heart desires

Will come to you

25. Brahms’ Lullaby

Lullaby, and good night

With pink roses bedight

With lilies o’erspread

Is my baby’s sweet head

Lay you down now, and rest

May your slumber be blessed

Lay you down now, and rest

May your slumber be blessed

Wishing you a festive season, whichever holiday you celebrate,

with the hope that you get to Dream A Little Dream!

Frances

Turnbull

Musician, researcher and author,

Frances Turnbull, is a self-taught

guitarist who has played contemporary

and community music from the age

of 12. She delivers music sessions to

the early years and KS1. Trained in the

music education techniques of Kodály

(specialist singing), Dalcroze

(specialist movement) and Orff

(specialist percussion instruments), she

has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology

(Open University) and a Master’s degree

in Education (University of Cambridge).

She runs a local community choir, the

Bolton Warblers, and delivers the Sound

Sense initiative “A choir in every care

home” within local care and residential

homes, supporting health and wellbeing

through her community interest

company.

She has represented the early years

music community at the House of

Commons, advocating for recognition

for early years music educators, and

her table of progressive music skills

for under 7s features in her curriculum

books.

Frances is the author of “Learning with

Music: Games and activities for the

early years“, published by Routledge,

August 2017.

www.musicaliti.co.uk

24 December 2020 | parenta.com

parenta.com | December 2020 25


Countdown to the new education

curriculum requirements

– the revised Early Years Foundation Stage coming in 2021 – Part 1

In our new series, we look at the changes coming to the EYFS, what it means for you and your

staff, your setting and the children you look after.

Where are we now?

Change is a part of life. Some would

argue that changes are what drives

society forward, improving life one

small step at a time. In early years and

education, we are used to changes;

last year the Government made

changes to the Ofsted Inspection

Framework and prior to that, there

were changes to the GCSE grading

system, abandoning the decades-old

A – G grades in favour of 1 – 9. Before

that there were levels, the introduction

of the National Curriculum and so on

and so forth.

In early years education, we have had

Birth to 3 and the Curriculum Guidance

for the Foundation Stage (3-5 years),

Stepping Stones and in reception there

was the Foundation Stage profile.

The current statutory requirement, the

Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)

was first proposed in 2008, and has

been revised and updated several

times since (2012, 2014 and 2017).

With each successive update, there

have inevitably been changes to daily

practice; policies have been rewritten,

staff retrained, and paperwork or

technology altered in some way.

Some have welcomed the reforms;

others have suggested improvements

and yet others have resisted change

throughout.

The reality is, however, that in

September 2021, early years settings

in England will need to comply with a

revised EYFS Framework and this will

apply by law to all settings in England.

There are 9 months to go.

So where are we with the changes,

and what do you need to know? Over

a series of articles in coming months,

we look at some of these changes in

more detail, what it means for your

setting and what you should be doing

to prepare, starting with the current,

changeable situation.

According to the DfE, the new

EYFS Framework will outline “the

standards that school and childcare

providers must meet for the learning,

development and care of children from

birth to 5”.

The reforms are designed to:

• improve outcomes at 5 years old

• improve language development

for all children but particularly

for children from disadvantaged

backgrounds

• reduce workload for teachers and

childcare practitioners

The initial document proposing

changes was first published in

October 2018 and, as with any major

change of this nature, the Government

launched a consultation period

between October 2019 and the end

of January 2020, seeking input from

various stakeholders on the changes

they proposed to make, and many

industry bodies, nursery settings and

childminders gave feedback on the

proposed changes.

The consultation covered:

• proposed revisions to the

educational programmes

• proposed revisions to the Early

Learning Goals

• proposed changes to the

assessment and moderation

process for the Early Years

Foundation Stage Profile

• and a proposed change to

the safeguarding and welfare

requirements to promote good oral

health

In October 2019, the ‘early years

coalition’ published its response to the

Government EYFS consultation which

you can read here and the consultation

process officially began.

A response to this EYFS Reforms

consultation was published on 1st

July 2020. However, many early

years organisations have been

‘disappointed’ with the response to the

consultations, and there have been

petitions set up to revoke the proposed

changes.

Several industry organisations have

concerns about the changes going

ahead. Kinderley.co.uk sums them up

as:

• worries about the reforms leading

to a narrow curriculum with high

pressure for children to learn and

reception teachers to teach to the

Early Learning Goals (ELGs)

• claims that the goals are not

developmentally appropriate for

five-year-olds (never mind the

summer-born children, or those

with EAL or SEND), especially in

areas such as mathematics and

literacy

• concerns about retaining the

Characteristics of Effective

Learning and that the reforms

will lead to children learning from

books or by rote

The Early Years Alliance published

its response to the changes here,

summarising the changes for the

different documents and its response

to them.

Alongside the consultation, the

Government also asked for some

settings to become “early adopters”

meaning that these settings would

adopt the new framework a year early

(from September 2020) and feedback

their experience of it before the final

publication of the revised document

later in 2021.

There were 2 separate areas which

settings could choose to adopt early,

and they could choose one or both of

the areas, depending on their setting,

the age of their children, and their

preferences. These were:

• Revised EYFS Framework (From

birth to 5)

• Reception Baseline Assessment

(for settings with reception

classes)

The Government also published the

Early years foundation stage profile

2021 handbook EYFS reforms early

adopter version June 2021 to help

settings implement the changes.

Approximately 20% of the sector

(2800 schools) chose to become early

adopters of the new framework and

have been effectively trialling it since

September 2020. But with coronavirus

affecting all aspects of daily life and

nurseries having to introduce COVIDsecure

practices, along with the

challenges faced if staff are off sick or

self-isolating, the introduction of this

has not been without its problems.

How has COVID affected the

changes?

The new framework is still due to

come into force in September 2021,

and the early adopters are using

this framework currently. However,

due to concerns about coronavirus,

the Government also published 2

documents earlier in the year that are

relevant to childcare settings and their

fulfilment of the current EYFS.

These were:

• Actions for Early Years and

Childcare Providers during the

Coronavirus Outbreak which

includes new, temporary changes

to the EYFS requirements and

which has most recently been

updated on November 5th.

Amendments are intended to

give the early years sector some

flexibility to respond to changes in

workforce availability and potential

fluctuations in demand while

ensuring children are kept safe

and allow for some changes in a

setting’s compliance with certain

areas of the existing EYFS

• Early Years Foundation Stage:

Coronavirus Disapplications, which

contains full details of the changes

and what this means in practice

for settings

The guidance states that early years

providers should fully familiarise

themselves with these changes to

ensure they understand the flexibilities

available to them and are meeting

the modified requirements during the

coronavirus outbreak.

The following areas of the EYFS

statutory requirements are affected

by the temporary changes during the

pandemic.

Section 5.1 – disapplication

of learning and development

requirements - early years providers

should use reasonable endeavours

to meet the existing learning and

development requirements, instead of

this being something they ‘must do’.

Section 5.2 – Assessment progress

check at age 2 - the progress

check at age 2 will not need to be

undertaken during any period of

intervention related to coronavirus

(COVID-19).

Section 7.1 – staff qualifications

and ratios – these may be adjusted in

certain circumstances.

Section 7.2 – Paediatric first aid

– the requirements for the provision

of qualified staff in some age

groups may be altered in certain

circumstances.

As some point in the future, these

disapplications will cease and at that

point, providers will need to again

follow existing EYFS statutory guidance.

You can also read a summary of

disapplication changes here.

Look out for part 2 of this series

looking at the changes to

“Development Matters.”

26 December 2020 | parenta.com

parenta.com | December 2020 27


Control struggles –

how to help young children

feel more secure

As adults we are currently experiencing more uncertainty than we have perhaps ever known

before. Due to the global pandemic things are getting changed at the drop of a hat – events

are cancelled, the rules regarding whether or not we can socialise can change, and we don’t

know when life will begin to go back to normal, if ever. The complete lack of control we are

experiencing is leaving adults feeling angry, frustrated, stressed and many are suffering high

levels of anxiety.

Gina

Smith

That feeling that comes from lack of

control is what life can be like for a lot of

children. Without realising it, it is so easy

to give our children no control. We choose

what is going to happen in their day, who

they are going to be with, what they are

going to eat and what activities they will

get to choose from. Before arriving at

your setting, a child will very often have

had somebody else choose what they

are going to wear, what they are going to

have for breakfast, who is dropping them

off and who is picking them up. When

they arrive at your setting they don’t know

for certain what adults are going to be in

today and which children are going to be

in. Can you imagine how frustrating and

unsettling that is? Especially if you are not

told or don’t understand what is going

to be happening. Now throw COVID into

that mix: all the cancellations, change in

routine, not seeing people you are used to

seeing. Everything in young children’s lives

is out of control. Some children deal with

this by trying to take back control, and this

presents itself as them trying to have their

own way and becoming very angry or

upset when it doesn’t happen.

Many of the events described above are

things that we cannot give children a

choice over – they don’t get to decide who

takes them to and from your setting. We

can, however, help support them through

the feelings that this lack of control can

bring, and help them feel control in other

ways. If there is a particular child in your

setting that is becoming very angry, it may

be that they are struggling with the lack of

control in their lives. Here are some ways

you can help them with this:

• Recognise their feelings – how do you

feel when there is a power struggle?

Frustrated? Angry? Well, children feel

the same. We need to help them

recognise this feeling if they are going

to have a chance of dealing with it.

Label it for them – ‘I can see that you

are feeling angry’ and empathise – ‘it

is hard when you have to stop doing

something that you are enjoying’.

• Remain calm, yet assertive to

demonstrate a sense of safety. As

we’ve just established, the child is

likely to be feeling some big, strong

emotions. If you meet them with

similar emotions, the situation will only

escalate. You need to remain calm.

At the same time, remaining firm with

your decision will give the child the

security that they need.

• Tell them or show them what is

happening in a way that they can

understand, so that their day isn’t

an unknown. The child will have

been hearing your voice all morning

and may find it hard to process

language. Using a different method

of communication can work wonders

when you are trying to show them

what is happening. This might mean

showing them using visual symbols,

photos, through signing or by

physically walking them through the

steps. A visual timetable on the wall is

brilliant at helping a child understand

what is happening in their day and

therefore feel more in control.

• Give warnings before transition.

Imagine that you were really enjoying

an activity and then you got told to

stop what you were doing straight

away to change to doing something

less fun. How would that make you

feel? Don’t expect a child to just stop

what they are doing as soon as you

ask them to. They need time to prepare

for the transition, just as you would.

Communicate to them what is going to

be happening, and then use a visual

timer such as a sand timer to show

them how long they’ve got before they

need to change activity.

• Give them some control. This is really

important. You need to let go of

the things that don’t really make a

difference to you and allow the child to

have some control over the little things

that mean the world to them. If you

can, let them choose what colour cup

they will have, what song we will sing

today, which activity they do first. They

don’t have bills to worry about and a

family to support – the colour of their

cup might be massively important to

them so, where possible, let them have

control over it.

• Show them respect by asking their

opinion – showing them that their

feelings really matter and will affect

the outcome. This will help them feel

valued and let them know that they do

have some control in your setting.

• Offer choice. If you are facing a battle

because the child really doesn’t want

to do what you have asked, offer them

a choice. You can do this, or that – that

way they get an element of control but

ultimately will still have to do what you

asked.

Gina Smith is an experienced

teacher with experience of teaching

in both mainstream and special

education. She is the creator of

‘Create Visual Aids’ - a business that

provides both homes and education

settings with bespoke visual

resources. Gina recognises the fact

that no two children are the same and

therefore individuals are likely to need

different resources. Create Visual Aids

is dedicated to making visual symbols

exactly how the individual needs

them.

Website:

www.createvisualaids.com

gina@createvisualsaids.com

• Give responsibility/ask for their help

– there is no better way of making

a child feel valued than by showing

them how much you need their help.

If you can give them an element of

responsibility, no matter how small, it

will make all the difference to helping

them feel more settled and secure.

As always, the biggest step in helping a

child is understanding. If you and the staff

around you can take time to understand

the reasons behind a behaviour, we can

go a really long way toward supporting

that child. At the end of the day we just

need to remember that behaviour is a form

of communication so if we can understand

what is bothering the child, we can help

address the behaviour.

28 December 2020 | parenta.com

parenta.com | December 2020 29


Benef its of sensory

2

TIP: It’s a great bonding opportunity for

parents with one or more children. Playing

with them will help you learn what they do

and don’t like.

rooms for children

They are stimulating

5

Six benefits of sensory rooms

A sensory room is a specially designed,

safe space that provides children and

people affected with autism with the right

environment that helps stimulate their

neural development. For many people,

sensory development is, mostly, fully

achieved by the age of 5. However, children

under this age bracket have a difficult time

managing their sensory information. They

may need these types of safe spaces

to help them get acquainted with and

manage such sensory information.

with autism

These rooms are also great for individuals

diagnosed with any form of autism that

may hinder their ability to perceive and

process sensory information.

Benefits of having a sensory

room

Sensory rooms have been around

since the 1970s in the Netherlands, and

they were known as Snoezelen. Aptus

Treatment Centre for Adults and Children

with Complex Disabilities and many other

institutions found out through studies

that adults with autism and children, by

extension, can significantly benefit from

an environment that offers regulated and

integrated sensory inputs.

Setting aside a playroom for your kid is

great. However, you could also design it

in such a way that your child gets to learn

critical cognitive abilities while having

fun at the same time. Doing this will put

them one step ahead of their peers and,

at the same time, make it a pleasurable

everyday experience. Here are some of the

benefits of having a sensory room as your

child’s play area.

1

Sensory rooms are calming

Noise pollution is a huge deal, especially if

you live around cities. Sometimes the noise

you encounter in your daily routine can be

overwhelming, making you wish you got a

few hours of quiet to get your thoughts in

order. This experience is multiplied tenfold

when it comes to your child.

Children find it very difficult to process

all this information at once and, as a

result, become quite agitated in this type

of environment. Providing them with a

safe space with soft lighting and proper

ventilation can keep them calm and

concentrate more on playing and

problem-solving skills.

TIP: Soundproof your sensory space to

keep out any loud noises that may scare

your child.

While most adults have learned to tune

their attention to these sensory inputs as

they need them, children can’t because

they haven’t learned how to. You could

incorporate a few items in your sensory

room, such as toys that they can play with

and colourful, stimulating lighting patterns

that can help them explore the world

around them.

TIP: Have enough sensory-stimulating toys

in your child’s sensory room to encourage

them to play and keep them occupied.

3

It can improve your child’s

focus

Many children are hyperactive and can find

it difficult concentrating on one task over

an extended period, which is also true for

autistic individuals. Setting aside a sensory

space for children will help them learn how

to interact with the environment, which will

equip them with skills to help them in

real-life situations.

TIP: Guide your children while they play and

help them stay focused until they complete

tasks.

4

Improve socialisation skills

Sensory areas can be great places for

children to interact, socialise, and bond.

They provide a free environment where

children can run around and play safely

with other children while bonding.

Given the right tools, this can help them

improve their motor skills, verbal skills,

hand-to-eye coordination, and many other

skills that will help them become healthier

both physically and mentally.

Help in cognitive development

Sensory spaces expose your child to

cognitively-stimulating experiences that

help them process sensory inputs from

the environment and learn how to react

to them. Acquiring these skills will help

them explore and learn about cause and

effect and how their actions affect the

environment.

TIP: Include pieces that your child can use

to play cognitive games to improve their

cognitive understanding.

6

Motor skills development

Muscle development can be a significant

challenge for people with sensory

problems. Providing a safe space where

they can practice balancing through

jumping, bouncing, and being stable can

be useful for their development.

TIP: Help your child develop motor skills

by encouraging them to perform simple

exercises such as running.

Ava

Wadaby

Ava is a contributing writer for

Autism Parenting Magazine. She

researches and writes about autism

as she works to understand the

challenges of her son who was

diagnosed with Autism and ADHD. She

also regularly conducts activities with

children in her neighbourhood, focusing

on their learning and development.

Conclusion:

Your child’s sensory system is very delicate.

It helps them learn and sort out critical

sensory data to better relate to their

environment. Providing them with access

to a controlled sensory area will help them

have fun safely and learn how to manage

their sensory skills when they get out into

the real world.

30 December 2020 | parenta.com

parenta.com | December 2020 31


My Mummy is Autistic

the trolley. I was still two sentences back

and didn’t hear his “stop.” Consequently I

caught his foot as he dismounted.

perfect. In his simple drawing I could see

he understood how overwhelming that

crush of words can be for me.

I am autistic. The pertinence of this to you

is that having an autistic brain means I

am capable of taking in vast amounts of

information and organising this. A skill I

use when I write articles about the sensory

world for Parenta.

Experience has taught me to introduce

my autism in that way. At the doctors I

explain the significance of differences in

my language processing. On a night out, I

might explain the apparent lack of filter in

what I am willing to talk about.

If I do not introduce myself in this way

then people’s pre-existing presumptions

of what autism means will colour how

they view me. I often worry that prejudices

will undermine what people think of me

professionally.

When my son was 4 years old, the

pertinence of my autism to him became

apparent in a supermarket when I ran over

his foot with a trolley!

He and I have a system when we go

shopping: he writes a list, and I push

the trolley. Originally this was my way of

keeping him entertained. He would carry

a list of scribbles around and I would chat

to him about it, encouraging him to cross

things off the “list” as we went.

My playing his shopping list stopped when

one day I happened to ask him at the

checkout if we had forgotten anything.

(I wanted the checkout lady to see how

cute he looked checking his list). He read

through his list of scribbles and informed

me that we had forgotten the cucumber.

The checkout lady regarded the items on

the belt. He was right!

Once I knew the list was real I milked it.

He writes the list, he rides on the front

of the trolley directing me, grabbing

things, checking them off. Basically I am

a princess when I go shopping, all I have

to do is push the trolley, he does the rest!

He loves the power. It has led to some

puzzling conversations in the aisles.

Another parent looked at me like I had

grown a third head as I asked my then

3-year-old whether we could get crisps

and was told very firmly “No, they’re not on

my list.”

I process language slower than a

neurotypical might. In a conversation, it

is as if I have skim read what is said, I do

take in everything but often only after the

conversation has ended. Like everyone,

when I am tired, this slows further.

One day I was tired. I was gratefully

pushing the trolley whilst my son dealt with

the shop. I was newly home from being

away for a couple of nights delivering

training and he had exciting news to tell

me. I was watching him closely from my

end of the trolley. Trying to keep up with

the story. At some point, mid-sentence, he

saw an item we needed, broke from what

he was saying to say “stop” and leapt off

He wasn’t badly hurt, more offended. “But

mummy I said stop.” I apologised, and

made a fuss over his foot. We continued

the shop. I realised I couldn’t promise

him I wouldn’t do the same again. As

we were leaving the shop I explained to

him how words queue up in my head

and have to wait their turn to be heard.

He had recently started school so the

notion of lining up meant a lot to him. He

looked at me suspiciously. It was the sort

of nonsense an adult makes up to excuse

their misdemeanours.

The next morning I checked his

understanding, asking him if he

remembered what had happened. “Yes

you ran over my foot” (oh good! He

remembered). I asked if he knew why,

“Your brain is broken.” “Not broken”

I corrected “it works differently.” He

sighed, “Yes I know….” (This was not our

first conversation about disability and

difference) He began to explain and draw

his explanation to prove his understanding

to me. The drawing of words in the air

squashing up against each other as they

jostled for a position in my brain, was

The summer holidays were just starting. I

am a primary school teacher by trade so

of course I was worried his writing skills

might fade over the long break. “That’s

really good,” I told him “I think you could

explain my brain to other people, shall

we make a book?” And so a small project

began, with him writing a page each

day. I expected us to stick them together

ourselves at the end and have a ‘book’,

but as it grew I wondered about sending it

to a publishers.

I never imagined it would be published by

Routledge and foreworded so beautifully

by Chris Packham. It is unusual in the

world of books about autism. It is not a

‘capable’ adult talking about a ‘disabled’

child. It is a child clearly explaining and

understanding a difference in an adult.

People connected with me on Facebook,

will know that in the land of social media

I refer to my son as “the small assistant.”

The stated aim of The Sensory Projects is

to contribute to a world where people are

understood in spite of difference. Perhaps I

should rename it The Sensory Projects and

Sons!

20% Discount Code

BSM20

Joanna

Grace

Joanna Grace is an international

Sensory Engagement and Inclusion

Specialist, trainer, author, TEDx speaker

and founder of The Sensory Projects.

Consistently rated as “outstanding” by

Ofsted, Joanna has taught in

mainstream and 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”. There is

new book coming out soon called ‘”The

Subtle Spectrum” and her son has

recently become the UK’s youngest

published author with his book, “My

Mummy is Autistic”.

Joanna is a big fan of social media and

is always happy to connect with people

via Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Website:

thesensoryprojects.co.uk

32 December 2020 | parenta.com

parenta.com | December 2020 33


‘Pierogi’ dumplings

In this month’s magazine we look at how people celebrate Christmas around the

world. And what better way to celebrate than with food?! From Panettone in Italy

and Tamales in Costa Rica to Melomakarona in Greece!

We have decided to make pierogi, as our ‘in-house’ chef is Polish, and she loves

making them! We hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Human Rights

hand craft

This year you might have heard about human rights violations in the news. It’s a

hard topic to discuss in your setting or at home, but we believe that children should

be made aware of basic human rights. So, this December we wanted to create a

craft that will show how human rights are important, and make them easy for the

children to understand.

You will need:

• 300g Plain

flour

• 200ml Warm

water

• 500g Potatoes

– boiled and

cooled down

• 1 Small white

onion -

chopped

• Butter

• Salt and

pepper

• 150 – 200g

Full fat Polish

curd cheese

(twarog)

Instructions:

1. Add butter to a frying pan and fry

the onion until soft on a medium

heat.

2. Put flour into a bowl and slowly

start adding water and keep

mixing it until it’s all combined.

3. Take the flour mixture out of the

bowl and put it on a clean kitchen

surface. Start working on the flour

mixture with your hands until

you create a nice soft ball and

the flour no longer sticks to your

hands. Once you are done with

the mixture, put it aside and cover

it with a clean cloth so it doesn’t

dry out.

4. Now we’re going to do the filling.

Put potatoes into a clean bowl

and mash them – make sure the

mixture is all nice and smooth.

Add fried onion and curd cheese

and continue to mix.

5. Split your flour mixture into 2 and

roll it out until quite thin.

6. Using a glass, cut circles out of

the mixture.

7. Now you can add a bit of filling on

top of the cut-out circle and gently

bring the edges of it together to

create a semicircle. Make sure

the edges are sticking properly to

avoid the filling coming out during

boiling.

8. Pour water into a pan with some

salt. Once boiling gently add your

pierogi to the pan and boil them

for 3- 5 minutes. Once done, take

them out and make sure there’s

no water around them.

9. You can serve them on their own

or you can choose from different

way of serving, eg. pouring

melted butter on them or frying

them with some onion.

You will need:

• Coloured craft paper

• Scissors

• Pens/markers

Instructions:

1. Pick the coloured paper you’d like

to use and then draw an outline

of your hand.

2. Carefully cut out the outline of

your hand with scissors.

3. Using the pen or marker, let

children write words that they

associate with human rights –

you could do this after an activity

or story time where this topic has

been introduced.

4. You can attach all the hands on

the wall and display them.

5. Send us your pictures!

34 December 2020 | parenta.com

parenta.com | December 2020 35


Three ways

to embodied

resilience

During the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, lots of changes

have happened within our environments and our working

practices. Even though we understand these changes and the

reasons for them, they can still be unsettling. Some people may

have felt unsupported or overwhelmed; having to adapt in

order to protect children and their families from a very real

threat. This all takes an emotional toll.

Katie

White

We are very good at using the word

resilience, but maybe feel less able to

promote resilience on a daily basis. I’m

going to give you three simple strategies

for feeling more resilient, strategies that

can help both adults and children.

Have you found yourself feeling more

tired than usual after a day at work? No

surprise! Not only are you managing the

daily stresses of life, (paying bills, meeting

deadlines, tending to family), you also feel

under threat by something that is beyond

your control. Living in survival mode can

leave us feeling exhausted. Stress clouds

our ability to think clearly, be present or

have perspective.

Giving time for mindful moments

throughout the day can help to get you,

and the children you support, out of

the whirling chatter of the brain (where

all the worries live) and into your body,

which exists in the present moment. In

other words, mindfulness helps you to

feel embodied, and in feeling embodied,

you will feel more resilient. When you

are present, you signal to your body that

you’re feeling safe, if this is practiced

daily it can give your brain and body a

rest from the stress and an opportunity to

recalibrate.

Try practicing these exercises for yourself

alongside the children, modelling the

behaviour for the children will help them to

connect with the present moment too.

The pat down

1

Tell the children that all our worries are like

little bubbles on our bodies and to get rid

of them we are going to burst each and

every one of them!

Use the flats of your hands and pat firmly

all over your body. Do not be afraid to pat

yourself quite hard. Obviously we do not

want any injuries but a good firm pat will

stimulate your deeper tissues and really let

you know that you are here. You can direct

the children “Let’s burst the worry bubbles

on this leg, now on our other leg” pat

down your body from top to toe.

Once all the worry bubbles have burst.

Show the children how to wipe them off.

Cup your hands around your arms, legs

etc and wipe firmly as if cleaning your skin

of muck.

This practice really brings you into an

awareness of your body. It acts like a self

massage and the process of consciously

separating yourself from the worries is a

great reminder that we are bodies, not

worries.

2

The self-soother

This is a cuddle that everyone can give

themselves, it works well at the start of a

circle time or when children are lining up to

wash their hands.

Simply get them to place one hand under

their armpit, and cup their other hand on

top of their opposite forearm. Then get

them to give themselves a big squeeze,

mimicking the feel of a big cuddle.

This exercise generates a comforting

feeling of security, as well as embodied

presence.

Circle of calm

3

In this exercise you breathe in slowly

and deeply through your nose and then

smoothly and steadily out through your

mouth, in response to a circle drawn in the

air. Have the children watch you for their

cue and model what to do.

Extend your arm so that you are drawing a

really big circle, breathe in as you draw the

upwards arc of the circle and out as you

draw the downwards arc. Aim to breathe

out for slightly longer than you breathe in.

A nice variation is to start off with a

relatively small circle and gradually make it

bigger following the rhythm of your breath.

When we control our breathing, it helps

to control our heart rate and regulate our

autonomic nervous system making us feel

calm (even if we are anything but calm!)

All of these exercises help to bring you

out of your head and into an embodied

presence.

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

supporting.

thebestmedicine@outlook.com

www.twitter.com/bestmedicine1

http://www.facebook.com/

thebestmedicinecornwall

When I have facilitated these exercises

with teachers and parents on my

training days, they have been able to

feel a physical difference immediately.

Supporting your own wellbeing as well

as the wellbeing of the children, is all the

more important in strange times like these.

If you are curious to learn more, I offer

a range of training sessions and online

workshops for teams and individuals.

36 December 2020 | parenta.com

parenta.com | December 2020 37


National Christmas

card recycle

Did you know?

• The first person known to receive

a written Christmas greeting was

James I in 1611. He and his son were

sent a decorated manuscript with a

Christmas and New Year greeting by

Michael Maier, a German physician

• Over 200 years later, the

celebrated inventor, Sir Henry Cole,

commissioned some Christmasthemed

greeting cards, illustrated by

John Callcott Horsley in May 1843.

Cole had been instrumental in setting

up The Post Office 3 years earlier, so

this was a shrewd business move, as

some 2,050 cards sold that year for a

shilling each, distributed by the new

postal service for one penny

• By the 1860s, Christmas cards were

common and by 1870, the cost of

sending a postcard or Christmas card

had dropped to only half a penny,

meaning even more people could

send them

• In the early 1900s, it was popular to

send handmade cards which were

often delivered by hand because of

their delicate decorations

• In 2001, one of Cole’s original cards

(sent to his grandmother), sold for a

record £22,500 at auction

• According to the Greeting Card

Association, every year the UK spends

£1.7 billion on 2 billion greeting cards

to plant over 140,000 trees – the

equivalent, in carbon emission terms,

of taking more than 5,000 cars off the

road

• Charity Christmas cards originated in

Denmark and now raise an estimated

£50 million each year for charities

We Brits love to send greetings cards, and

despite sales declining in recent years, we

still all love to send each other a traditional

Christmas greeting. But what happens to

all those Christmas cards, packaging boxes

and wrapping paper once the lights on the

Christmas trees have finally faded? And

where does the paper come from in the

first place? How can we be sure we are not

adding to the problems facing our world as

we come together in celebration?

The answer to these questions lies in the

choices we make both before, during

and after the festive season. The hard

truth is that our reliance on consumerism

and physical goods is costing a lot more

than money, and we are currently in a

climate emergency that threatens not just

Christmas, but our entire way of life. Global

warming is happening at a faster rate than

ever:

• Global annual temperature has

increased at an average rate of 0.07°C

(0.13°F) per decade since 1880 and

over twice that rate +0.18°C (+0.32°F)

since 1981

• From 1900 to 1980, a new temperature

record was set on average every 13.5

years; since 1981, it has increased to

every 3 years

And whilst some politicians still argue about

the cause, their rhetoric does nothing to

stop the polar ice caps from melting, our

sea levels rising and our forests from being

destroyed. We are all being called upon to

‘do our bit’ to limit our impact on the natural

world, to try to reverse the changes and

save our planet before it is too late. And

what better time to make a change than

at Christmas, a time of love, tolerance, and

hope for the future?

Start small, start with YOU!

Many of us are concerned about global

warming and the impact we have on the

environment and we may find ourselves

talking to our friends and family about it,

possibly even getting into an argument

or two about the merits of one possible

solution over another. But then how many

of us leave the light on unnecessarily at

times? Or forget our shopping bags and

need to buy new ones, or turn the heating

up instead of putting on a jumper? We

may feel small and insignificant on our

own, but when we work together, we can

create a momentum of change that can not

only ‘move mountains’ but the seas, rivers,

forests and everything in between too.

Recycling Christmas cards is one easy way

to make a difference. With no Woodland

Trust initiative currently, the onus is on

us as consumers to choose cards that

are sourced sustainably and recycle our

wrapping paper and cards through the

proper channels such as a local council

recycling centre. So here are our top tips for

‘going greener’ this Christmas.

1. Buy cards and packaging which carry

the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council)

kitemark which certifies products that

are made with materials from wellmanaged

forests and/or recycled

sources. It applies to wood, paper and

other forest products too.

2. Why not try making your own cards

and wrapping paper using old

magazines, newspapers or reusing

delivery packages?

3. Collect all your recycling together

and either put into your recycling

bin or make a trip to your local

recycling centre. You may need

to check opening times and

what they recycle now,

as a lot of centres have

consolidated operations to comply with

COVID-secure requirements. Reducing

the number of times you travel also

helps the environment, so you might

want to organise a collection of old

Christmas cards and wrapping paper

at your setting to help get the little

ones involved too. Children will model

adults’ behaviour, so this is a great

opportunity to set a good example.

4. If you want to recycle the cards

yourself, you can cut them up to make

gift tags for next year. You can even

reuse those bows and ribbons too.

This is a lovely craft activity which helps

get the children into good habits.

5. Remember you can’t recycle things

that have glitter or embellishments

such as ribbons, bows, or jewels so

remove these items before recycling.

6. Folded up paper takes up less

space than scrunched up paper so

encourage everyone to fold up their

discarded paper to help with storage.

Remember to recycle your Christmas trees

too and to plan your Christmas shopping

to reduce waste. Zero-waste shops are

becoming more popular nowadays so

do a search online to find out where your

nearest one is and how it can help you cut

down on packaging generally.

Finally, remember that ‘every little helps’

to coin a well-known phrase, but when it

comes to saving the environment, it is so

true.

• The conservation charity, the

Woodland Trust, in conjunction with

Marks and Spencer ran a recycling

campaign (2008 – 2016) which

recycled more than 600 million

Christmas cards and

raised enough money

38 December 2020 | parenta.com

parenta.com | December 2020 39


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