January 2021

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Issue 74<br />

JANUARY <strong>2021</strong><br />

FREE<br />

Industry<br />

Experts<br />

Removing the<br />

stigma of poverty<br />

Music and the<br />

brain: how music<br />

helps us learn<br />

Mouthing -<br />

at all ages<br />

+ lots more<br />

Write for us<br />

for a chance to win<br />

£50<br />

page 8<br />

How to raise a kind child<br />

Kindness is not just a feeling. It is a skill that takes children years to develop.<br />

The strong expectation for children to be kind can override the vital support we<br />

should be giving children in order to build their capacity for kindness.<br />


hello<br />

welcome to our family<br />

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

The year <strong>2021</strong> is upon us and for many, 2020 has not been an easy year. However, we shall begin <strong>2021</strong> with<br />

optimism and hope!<br />

Even in the best of times, <strong>January</strong> is often a difficult month financially, but with so many people struggling with<br />

reduced incomes due to the pandemic restrictions and lockdowns, it is more important than ever to raise awareness<br />

and support those in need.<br />

With this in mind, this month we look at ways in which you can save energy in your home and setting for Energy Saving Week running<br />

from 18th to 24th <strong>January</strong>. We also tackle the subject of poverty and how we can help to take steps to remove the stigma attached to<br />

such a sensitive topic.<br />

Educating the children in our care to grow up with kindness and without prejudice is fundamental to early years childcare. We are<br />

delighted to welcome back guest author Helen Garnett who gives her expert advice and guidance on how to do just that. Turn to page 18<br />

to learn how to “build kind children” – a skill that takes the little ones years to develop.<br />

Following the same vein, Tamsin Grimmer’s article on page 12 “I’m not prejudiced, am I?” gives us an insight to our ‘unconscious bias’<br />

and how this has a significant impact on people’s lives - and our work with children - without us really knowing, which in turn can lead to<br />

prejudice.<br />

We really hope you enjoy our New Year’s magazine, full of so much advice from our wonderful industry experts. All the articles have been<br />

written to help you with the efficient running of your setting and to promote the health, happiness and wellbeing of the children in your<br />

care.<br />

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

Please stay safe everyone and we wish you a Happy New Year.<br />

A New Year ... 12<br />

A chance to<br />

reflect upon<br />

unconscious bias<br />

I’m not prejudiced, am I?<br />

Unpicking unconscious bias.<br />

Veganuary<br />

14<br />

<strong>January</strong> is often a time<br />

when people make New<br />

Year resolutions, often to<br />

get fitter and healthier.<br />

Veganuary fits well into<br />

this personal drive and<br />

we have tips to help.<br />

Burns Night 22<br />

Burns Night suppers have become<br />

a traditional <strong>January</strong> celebration in<br />

Scotland, continuing the legacy of<br />

poet, Robert Burns. Read more to<br />

find out how you could celebrate.<br />

JUNE JANUARY 2020<strong>2021</strong> ISSUE ISSUE 67 74<br />


Regulars<br />

8 Write Child-friendly for us for smoothie the chance to<br />

15 win Write £50!<br />

for us for a chance to win £50<br />

8 15 Guest author winner announced<br />

10 39 Congratulations starf ish craf t to our learners<br />

36 Best ever biscuits<br />

37 Burns Night thistle<br />

News<br />

4 Childcare news and views<br />

6 A round up of some news stories<br />

Advice that have caught our eye over the<br />

month<br />

6 Father’s Day at home<br />

Advice<br />

10 Children’s Art Week<br />

12 World Oceans Day<br />

14 20 Veganuary<br />

Child Safety Week<br />

16 26 EYFS Bike Week series: 2020 Development Matters<br />

34 and Growing changes for wellbeing to assessment Week and<br />

36 moderation<br />

National Writing Day<br />

22 38 Burns Diabetes Night<br />

Week<br />

28 Removing the stigma of poverty<br />

32 Big Energy Saving Week … Month …<br />

Industry Winter!<br />

Experts<br />

Industry Experts<br />

16 Talking about difference: behavioural<br />

difficulties<br />

12 A New Year ... A chance to reflect<br />

18 Storytelling in music: using royalty and<br />

upon unconscious bias<br />

magic<br />

18 How to raise a kind child<br />

22 Furlough: The new ‘f’ word<br />

24 Mouthing - at all ages<br />

28<br />

26 Three ways to reduce meltdowns<br />

Helping children of different<br />

30 Promoting positive behaviour in pre-school<br />

ethnicities to feel a sense of<br />

belonging<br />

children<br />

30 Music and the brain: how music<br />

helps us learn<br />

34 Do you teach phonics in nursery?<br />

38 Story massage<br />

Mouthing - at all ages 24<br />

Helping children of different ethnicities to feel a<br />

sense of belonging<br />

26<br />

Music and the brain: how music helps us learn 30<br />

Do you teach phonics in nursery? 34

Childcare<br />

news & views<br />

November Spending Review:<br />

Further Education - government<br />

apprenticeship incentive<br />

scheme extended<br />

Bigger fall in nursery attendance<br />

prompts call for ‘pre-pandemic’<br />

funding until spring<br />

Nurseries, led by the Early Years Alliance,<br />

are urging the government to continue<br />

basing funding for ‘free childcare’ places<br />

on pre-pandemic attendance levels until<br />

the end of the spring term, after the<br />

Department for Education (DfE) revealed a<br />

bigger fall in childcare attendance than it<br />

had previously estimated.<br />

In the DfE’s latest figures published in its<br />

‘Attendance in education and early years<br />

settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19)<br />

outbreak’, the DfE admitted it had to ‘adjust’<br />

its estimate for pre-pandemic childcare<br />

attendance levels because of an error.<br />

A £375 million skills package was<br />

announced by chancellor Rishi Sunak<br />

in November’s spending review - which<br />

includes £138 million of funding to<br />

deliver the Lifetime Skills Guarantee, £127<br />

million to continue the Plan for Jobs skills<br />

measures and more great news for<br />

employers as Mr Sunak confirmed that<br />

the Kickstart scheme will be extended<br />

to the end of March.<br />

Announcing the package in the House of<br />

Commons, he said: “We’re also committed<br />

to boosting skills, with £291 million to<br />

pay for more young people to go into<br />

further education, £1.5 billion to rebuild<br />

colleges, £375 million to deliver the prime<br />

minister’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee and<br />

extend traineeships, sector-based work<br />

academies, and the National Career<br />

Service, as well as improving the way<br />

the apprenticeship system works for<br />

businesses.”<br />

Mr Sunak also promised £2.9 billion over<br />

three years for a new Restart scheme,<br />

which the Treasury says will help more<br />

than a million unemployed people find<br />

jobs. As part of the scheme, people who<br />

have been out of work for more than<br />

a year will be provided with “regular<br />

intensive support” tailored to their<br />

circumstances. There will also be £1.4<br />

billion of funding to increase the capacity<br />

of Job Centre Plus.<br />

Read the full story on the Parenta website<br />

here.<br />

November Spending Review:<br />

Early Years Funding - Treasury<br />

announces £44 million<br />

additional funds<br />

The Treasury announced that it will be<br />

spending an additional £44 million on<br />

funding to “increase the hourly rate paid to<br />

childcare providers” for the government’s<br />

funded childcare offers.<br />

The announcement came as part of the<br />

Treasury’s Spending Review which outlined<br />

the government’s spending plans for the<br />

next year.<br />

The Spending Review also confirmed<br />

that the National Living Wage (NLW) will<br />

increase to £8.91 an hour and will be<br />

extended to all employees aged 23 and<br />

over – currently only employees aged 25<br />

and over are entitled to NLW.<br />

The National Minimum Wage for younger<br />

workers and apprentices will also be<br />

increasing as follows:<br />

• 21-22 year olds - up 2% from £8.20<br />

an hour to £8.36 an hour<br />

• 18-20 year olds – up 1.7% from £6.45<br />

an hour to £6.56 an hour<br />

• 16-17 year olds – up 1.5% from £4.55<br />

an hour to £4.62 an hour<br />

• apprentices – up 3.6% from £4.15 an<br />

hour to £4.30 an hour<br />

Read the full story on the Parenta website<br />

here.<br />

Ofsted announces phased<br />

return of early years inspections<br />

Ofsted has announced a phased return to<br />

early years inspections in <strong>2021</strong>, as a result<br />

of the continuing challenges facing the<br />

industry, caused by COVID-19.<br />

The phased return means that no graded<br />

inspections will be carried out before the<br />

summer term.<br />

Ofsted’s Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman,<br />

said: “The usual level of scrutiny within<br />

the education and care system has been<br />

absent since last March, so it’s important<br />

that it returns next year as we all hope<br />

for a greater level of normality. But we<br />

understand the pressure that everyone in<br />

education and social care is working under<br />

and we want to return to our usual work in a<br />

measured, sensitive and practical way.<br />

“We will not re-introduce graded inspections<br />

to schools and colleges before April. During<br />

the spring term, we will use supportive<br />

monitoring inspections to help those<br />

that most need it, focused on how well<br />

pupils and students are learning. Routine<br />

inspections in early years and social care<br />

are also planned for the summer term, but<br />

regulatory work will continue in the interim.<br />

Read the full story on the Parenta website<br />

here.<br />

National Apprenticeship Week<br />

<strong>2021</strong>: ‘Build the Future’<br />

The theme for the 14th annual National<br />

Apprenticeship Week (NAW<strong>2021</strong>) has<br />

been revealed by the Education and Skills<br />

Funding Agency (ESFA).<br />

‘Build the Future’ – running from 8th<br />

to 14th February, will focus on how<br />

employers train, retain and achieve<br />

with apprenticeships and is aimed at<br />

encouraging everyone to consider how<br />

apprenticeships help individuals to build<br />

the skills and knowledge required for a<br />

rewarding career.<br />

The annual week-long celebration of<br />

apprenticeships, taking place across<br />

England, will showcase the impact<br />

apprenticeships can have on communities,<br />

local businesses and regional economies<br />

and how they all benefit from the impact of<br />

apprenticeships.<br />

As a result of the pandemic and many<br />

individuals relying on technology and<br />

virtual meetings more than ever, National<br />

Apprenticeship Week <strong>2021</strong> will be different,<br />

but just as exciting.<br />

Read the full story on the Parenta website<br />

here.<br />

The DfE admitted the mistake, stating:<br />

‘From December 2020 we no longer make<br />

an adjustment to the survey data to take<br />

into account expected usual sickness<br />

absence’.<br />

Read the full story on the Parenta website<br />

here.<br />

Duchess of Cambridge<br />

reveals findings of her early<br />

years survey<br />

The Duchess of Cambridge has unveiled<br />

findings from the biggest UK survey on the<br />

early years, revealing that many people do<br />

not recognise the critical importance of the<br />

first five years in a child’s life.<br />

The Duchess has made the early years one<br />

of her key priorities in recent years, looking<br />

at how difficult experiences in childhood are<br />

often the root of social challenges.<br />

In <strong>January</strong>, she asked the general public<br />

for their views on the early years. The ‘5<br />

Big Questions on the Under Fives’ survey,<br />

commissioned by the The Royal Foundation<br />

of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and<br />

conducted by Ipsos Mori, received over half<br />

a million responses.<br />

Read the full story on the Parenta website<br />

here.<br />

4 <strong>January</strong> <strong>2021</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>January</strong> <strong>2021</strong> 5

A round up of some news<br />

stories that have caught<br />

our eye over the month<br />

Story source and image credits to:<br />

Hartlepool mail, Grampian online, Glamour,<br />

Banbury Guardian, Grantham Journal, CYPN,<br />

Nursery World, inews, Henley Standard, In<br />

Your Area and Worthing Herald<br />

Woodstock Day Nursery supports<br />

local families at Worthing Food<br />

Foundation by donating groceries<br />

After a tough year, the nursery decided<br />

to directly support the local community<br />

rather than fundraise for Children in Need.<br />

They asked parents to kindly donate items<br />

of food and had a great response.<br />

Brabyns Preparatory School raise<br />

over £1500 for Millie’s Trust<br />

The charity has worked with the school<br />

to ensure full first aid training. Due to this,<br />

it only felt right for the preparatory school<br />

to give back by fundraising, helping the<br />

trust to provide more training for people<br />

in basic lifesaving skills.<br />

St Mary’s Nursery, Henley,<br />

encourages play to support<br />

learning for a happy start to life<br />

The award winning nursery gets the<br />

children involved in whole school<br />

activities, allowing them to feel supported<br />

and inspired by older pupils for a smooth<br />

transition to school.<br />

Local authorities join government<br />

programme to support children<br />

with developmental gaps<br />

The early years local government<br />

programme, evaluated at £8.5m, has<br />

supported local services to better support<br />

for families, leading to improved speech<br />

and language outcomes.<br />

Arts and crafts & YouTube<br />

videos are top rated for keeping<br />

children busy during lockdown<br />

After most of this year being spent in<br />

lockdown, arts and crafts, along with<br />

YouTube videos have been voted ‘the<br />

most engaging resources’ by nurseries in<br />

a national parents survey.<br />

Grantham nursery make<br />

charitable donation to help<br />

the local disadvantaged and<br />

homeless<br />

Albion House Nursery children and<br />

families group together with bumper<br />

donation to support local people in need<br />

of help this Christmas.<br />

Click here to send in<br />

your stories to<br />

hello@parenta.com<br />

Tragic nursery fire results in<br />

Banbury mother organising<br />

online fundraising<br />

After finding out Smart Tots Day<br />

nursery and preschool had a fire, Kirsty<br />

Cothier started a group to support her<br />

daughter’s nursery with donations of<br />

clothes, books and toys.<br />

Clear advice on what COVID<br />

rules mean for childcare and<br />

explaining support bubbles in<br />

tier 2 and 3<br />

Many have found the constantly<br />

changing rules confusing with the new<br />

tier system. But are there exemptions to<br />

these rules for childcare support?<br />

Parents share top tips about the<br />

childcare lessons they learnt in<br />

lockdown<br />

Parenting hasn’t been easy this<br />

year, with many experiencing school<br />

closures/childcare difficulties, shielding<br />

grandparents and isolated pregnancies.<br />

But there has been a lot learnt too.<br />

North-east nurseries benefitting<br />

from 100% non-domestic rates<br />

The extended scheme was initially meant<br />

to end 31st March <strong>2021</strong>. But after the<br />

hard impacts of COVID, the extension has<br />

provided a relief of financial pressures<br />

many nurseries have been facing.<br />

Brave little Noah Griffiths met<br />

nursery friends for the first time<br />

since his brain tumour fight began<br />

Noah, from Hartlepool, played with his<br />

friends again and was also gifted the<br />

£1030 fundraising from Little Stars Day<br />

Nursery, to help get him to Disneyland.<br />

6 <strong>January</strong> <strong>2021</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>January</strong> <strong>2021</strong> 7

Write for us!<br />

We’re always on the lookout<br />

for new authors to contribute<br />

insightful articles for our<br />

monthly magazine.<br />

If you’ve got a topic you’d like to write<br />

about, why not send an article to us and<br />

be in with a chance of winning? Each<br />

month, we’ll be giving away Amazon<br />

vouchers to our “Guest Author of the<br />

Month”. You can find all the details here:<br />

https://www.parenta.com/sponsoredcontent/<br />

Congratulations<br />

to our guest author competition winner, Frances Turnbull!<br />

Congratulations to Frances Turnbull, our guest<br />

author of the month! Her article “Celebrating<br />

Remembrance Day in nurseries” encouraged<br />

us to show our respect and teach children the<br />

importance of the music and poems written in<br />

those tough times. Well done Frances!<br />

A massive thank you to all of our guest authors<br />

for writing for us. You can find all of the past<br />

articles from our guest authors on our website:<br />

www.parenta.com/parentablog/guest-authors<br />

8 <strong>January</strong> <strong>2021</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>January</strong> <strong>2021</strong> 9

Congratulations to all<br />

our Parenta learners!<br />

Congratulations to all these Parenta learners who completed their<br />

apprenticeship in November and have now gained their qualifications.<br />

These range from Childcare Level 2, Childcare Level 3 and Team Leading<br />

to Level 3 and Level 5 Management – that’s a huge achievement in the<br />

current climate.<br />

All that hard work has paid off – well done from all of us here at<br />

Parenta Training!<br />

Did you know ... Parenta has trained over 20,000 apprentices<br />

within the early years sector!<br />

Our Level 3 success rate overall is almost 10% higher than the national<br />

average. That’s down to great work from you, our lovely Parenta learners!<br />

November’s wall of fame!<br />

WAGES? ?<br />


£3000* TO HELP PAY<br />


This scheme has now been<br />

extended to 31st March -<br />

hire an apprentice today!<br />


The government is giving money to employers<br />

who hire new staff. Start recruiting and earn<br />

up to £3000* per apprenticeship!<br />

Let Parenta Training take the strain and help you<br />

find your perfect apprentices - completely free<br />

of charge. We have hundreds of candidates,<br />

just waiting to start their childcare course.<br />

A. Armstrong<br />

S. Ashton<br />

E. Bagnall<br />

A. Clark<br />

A. Cooper<br />

A. Cresswell<br />

A. Curtis<br />

A. Dady<br />

A. Daly<br />

C. Desai<br />

A. Donnelly<br />

A. Driver<br />

A. Egan<br />

A. Endersby<br />

A. Grunwell<br />

L. Ling<br />

P. McHale<br />

A. Montironi<br />

S. O’Neill<br />

A. Parton<br />

A. Redman<br />

A. Richardson<br />

A. Ross<br />

A. Shenton<br />

A. Stevenson<br />

A. Stobbs<br />

L. Swarbrick<br />

E. Tracey<br />

A. Tudor<br />

A. Turner<br />

A. Vickers<br />

A. Wilkes<br />

C. Williams<br />

A. Wright<br />



Before you know it, you will have a new<br />

team member and up to £3000* to help<br />

pay your staff wages!<br />


We can help you get up to £3000 for each member who undertakes a<br />

training course, even if they are fully qualified in childcare.<br />

10 <strong>January</strong> <strong>2021</strong> | parenta.com<br />

*£2000 for each apprentice aged 16-24; £1500 for apprentices aged over 25.<br />

This is in addition to the existing £1000 payment the government already<br />

provides for new 16-18-year-old apprentices, and those aged under 25 with an<br />

Education, Health and Care Plan – where that applies.<br />

0800 002 9242<br />

hello@parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>January</strong> <strong>2021</strong> 11

A New Year ...<br />

3. Review all aspects of our practice<br />

(including policies and procedures) and<br />

try to identify any hidden biases<br />

A chance to ref lect<br />

4. In our direct work with the children,<br />

focus on the unique child and their<br />

individual strengths and abilities<br />

upon unconscious<br />

5. Continue to develop empathy and<br />

perspective-taking skills<br />

bias<br />

6. Deliberately counter unconscious<br />

bias by sharing stories that challenge<br />

stereotypes<br />

I’m not prejudiced, am I? Unpicking<br />

unconscious bias<br />

The year 2020 has not been easy for<br />

many but as humans, we are very resilient<br />

and are beginning <strong>2021</strong> with optimism<br />

and hope. The coronavirus pandemic<br />

highlighted for me that phrase, “We’re all<br />

in the same storm but not all in the same<br />

boat.” Some of us are implicitly more<br />

privileged than others just because of<br />

when or where we were born, our home<br />

circumstances and the colour of our skin.<br />

Some of us have a head start in life. I<br />

was reflecting about this and relating it<br />

to unconscious bias and how this has a<br />

significant impact on people’s lives and<br />

our work with children without us really<br />

knowing, which can lead to prejudice.<br />

Let me explain. Everyday our brains are<br />

adding to our picture of the world by our<br />

experiences and knowledge that we<br />

acquire and, in order to make sense of<br />

this information, we unconsciously create<br />

mental structures which help to order our<br />

thinking. These are generalisations about<br />

the world and what it is like. These pictures<br />

tend to be very flexible as new learning<br />

often requires us to adjust our thinking to<br />

account for new information.<br />

When we are little, we use these<br />

frameworks to recognise and organise<br />

our thinking, for example, we may learn<br />

the ‘dog-ness of dogs’: dogs have 4 legs,<br />

a waggy tail and bark. This is a bit like<br />

a stereotype of a dog which helps us in<br />

our youngest years differentiate dogs<br />

from cats… These frameworks are very<br />

helpful and our brains continue to do<br />

this throughout our lives, however, they<br />

can be problematic when they become<br />

rigid and we are unable to stray from this<br />

thinking. This is when we can become<br />

prejudiced and discrimination can occur.<br />

For example, we might have a stereotype<br />

that helps us to recognise boys and girls.<br />

Our brains may sort out children we meet<br />

into the binary ‘boy/girl’ categories and<br />

then one day we meet a child who doesn’t<br />

easily fit into either. Our thinking needs to<br />

be flexible enough to cope with this and<br />

to accept that this child may not easily fit<br />

into our original thinking. If we then make<br />

assumptions based on our thinking or act<br />

less favourably toward this child, we are<br />

discriminating against them. This negative<br />

stereotype has become unhelpful and full<br />

of prejudice.<br />

How does this fit with unconscious bias?<br />

Imagine you are on the train and you<br />

need to pop to the toilet. You’ve really<br />

made yourself at home, unpacked your<br />

laptop and put your water bottle on the<br />

table. You think you have time to quickly<br />

pop to the washroom and be back before<br />

the train stops at the next station. So you<br />

look around the carriage at your fellow<br />

passengers so that you can ask someone<br />

to keep an eye on your things while you<br />

vacate your seat. Who do you choose?<br />

This is where your unconscious bias takes<br />

over. You are more likely to ask someone<br />

who you perceive to be trustworthy or ‘like’<br />

you. Our unconscious bias in this case<br />

would use mainly visual characteristics, for<br />

example, colour of skin, gender, clothing,<br />

and other cues, like accent, name or<br />

snippets of an overheard conversation<br />

to help us decide who to ask. Who is the<br />

safest person and the most likely to help?<br />

Unconscious, or implicit bias as it is<br />

sometimes called, is our automatic<br />

awareness or thinking that we do not<br />

have conscious control over. Research<br />

shows us that white people are more<br />

likely to trust white people, and we<br />

would be more likely to choose the<br />

clean-shaven businessman in a suit over<br />

the tattooed youth in a hoodie to mind<br />

our belongings. Our brains are making<br />

snap judgements about these people<br />

using the information it has available,<br />

which is mostly obvious characteristics<br />

like age, gender, race and cultural cues.<br />

Everyone is subject to unconscious bias<br />

and this is not discriminatory in itself,<br />

however, our unconscious bias can lead<br />

to discriminatory behaviour as there<br />

is potential for prejudice. For example,<br />

when reading CVs for a job we may be<br />

unconsciously influenced when reading<br />

a candidate’s name, age, sex, religion or<br />

other cultural reference before we have<br />

even met the candidates.<br />

So we have unconsciously organised our<br />

thinking in ways that help us to function<br />

on a daily basis and this can contribute<br />

to unconscious bias. It is this thinking that<br />

helps us to decide who to ask to mind our<br />

laptop. We probably have a mental picture<br />

of a ‘thief’ and we are choosing someone<br />

who is least like this picture. It would<br />

be impossible to remove this from our<br />

thinking and our unconscious bias can be<br />

very helpful, for example, when we see a<br />

red light, we know to stop without thinking<br />

about it. However, there are things that we<br />

can do which will reduce the potential for<br />

prejudice and keep our unconscious a little<br />

more in check. For example, if I know that,<br />

as a white person, research shows I might<br />

be biased towards black people, I need<br />

to consciously reflect upon my thoughts,<br />

words and actions in relation to race to help<br />

ensure that my unconscious bias doesn’t<br />

discriminate.<br />

Some theorists claim that talking about<br />

unconscious bias can, in reality, fuel racism<br />

rather than address it. “Unconscious<br />

bias is the acceptable face of racism, the<br />

phrase that a majority white sector feels<br />

comfortable with using and discussing to<br />

describe itself” (Tate & Page, 2018:142).<br />

This is because when we talk about the<br />

unconscious, we are moving beyond our<br />

responsibility, it is as if we are saying, ‘I<br />

have no control over this and cannot be<br />

held responsible for it’. However, this is not<br />

true. There are things that we can actively<br />

do to help to address this bias.<br />

Here are some ideas of how we<br />

can address unconscious bias:<br />

1. Allow time to reflect upon ourselves,<br />

become aware of our biases and<br />

identify them<br />

2. Be determined and motivated to<br />

address our bias and challenge the<br />

system<br />

7. Actively promote diversity, equality and<br />

inclusive practice<br />

8. Educate yourself and others in relation<br />

to unconscious and implicit bias<br />

It is worth bearing in mind that attending<br />

a short training session on unconscious<br />

bias will not adequately address this issue<br />

and could even be described as tokenistic<br />

or a box-ticking exercise. True change<br />

needs to come about through a thorough<br />

reflective review and impact on the whole<br />

culture of our setting. However, a training<br />

course might be a good place to start<br />

because I believe that education is key to<br />

understanding ourselves, our biases and<br />

acknowledging our difficulties in this area.<br />

We also need to avoid shaming or blaming<br />

ourselves or others for unconscious bias<br />

- this is unhelpful and will not address the<br />

cause. Instead, follow the above steps and<br />

open a dialogue about this issue, then we<br />

can help to break down barriers and make<br />

our settings more inclusive places.<br />

The year 2020 may have gone down in<br />

history as the year the world changed, but<br />

let’s make <strong>2021</strong> a revolutionary year where<br />

we truly tackle racism, sexism, ableism,<br />

homophobia and other discriminatory<br />

attitudes within early childhood. And<br />

it starts with each of us, reflecting on<br />

ourselves and actively addressing our<br />

biases.<br />

References and additional<br />

reading<br />

• Dee, T., & Gershenson, S. (2017).<br />

Unconscious Bias in the Classroom:<br />

Evidence and Opportunities. Mountain<br />

View, CA: Google Inc.<br />

• Tate, S. A., & Page, D. (2018).<br />

Whiteliness and institutional racism:<br />

hiding behind (un)conscious bias.<br />

Ethics & Education, 13(1), 141–155.<br />

Tamsin<br />

Grimmer<br />

Tamsin Grimmer is an experienced<br />

early years consultant and trainer and<br />

parent who is passionate about young<br />

children’s learning and development.<br />

She believes that all children deserve<br />

practitioners who are inspiring,<br />

dynamic, reflective and committed<br />

to improving on their current best.<br />

Tamsin particularly enjoys planning<br />

and delivering training and supporting<br />

early years practitioners and teachers<br />

to improve outcomes for young<br />

children.<br />

Tamsin has written three books –<br />

“Observing and Developing Schematic<br />

Behaviour in Young Children” , “School<br />

Readiness and the Characteristics<br />

of Effective Learning” and “Calling<br />

all Superheroes: Supporting and<br />

Developing Superhero Play in the<br />

Early Years” and is working on a<br />

fourth looking at “Developing a Loving<br />

Pedagogy in the Early Years”.<br />

You can contact Tamsin via Twitter @<br />

tamsingrimmer, her Facebook page,<br />

website or email info@tamsingrimmer.<br />

co.uk<br />

12 <strong>January</strong> <strong>2021</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>January</strong> <strong>2021</strong> 13

Veganuary<br />

What do Paul McCartney, Joaquin Phoenix and Chris Packham have in common?<br />

No, they are not doing a musical wildlife documentary remake of “Gladiator”, but they are all<br />

ambassadors for this month’s Veganuary campaign which aims to help people make the switch<br />

into veganism by starting off with a vegan month - <strong>January</strong>.<br />

After the excesses that many of us indulge<br />

in at Christmas, (and let’s face it, 2020<br />

was a difficult year and we deserved a<br />

few treats), <strong>January</strong> is often a time when<br />

people take stock of their lives and make<br />

New Year resolutions, often beginning<br />

with a drive to get fitter and healthier.<br />

Veganuary fits well into this personal drive<br />

for change, and increasingly, it is being<br />

understood that changes to people’s<br />

personal diets, can have a wider impact<br />

on the health of our planet too.<br />

What is Veganuary?<br />

The organisation also organises<br />

awareness-raising events throughout the<br />

year and is instrumental in increasing<br />

the amount of vegan options on the<br />

supermarket shelves and restaurant<br />

menus.<br />

Who is it for?<br />

Veganuary is for anyone and everyone!<br />

It’s for individuals, workplaces, businesses<br />

and restaurants alike. Many vegan brands<br />

are launched during the month, and last<br />

year, more than 1200 new vegan products<br />

were launched by over 600 brands,<br />

supermarkets and restaurants alone.<br />

There are four main aims:<br />

1. Increase participation<br />

2. Corporate outreach<br />

3. Raising awareness of animal suffering<br />

in farming and slaughter chains<br />

4. Growing the global movement<br />

The benefits of a vegan diet<br />

There are many anecdotal reports in the<br />

press, on health blogs and in bookshops<br />

of the improvements in health that can<br />

be achieved through a plant-based diet<br />

and people often say they feel better and<br />

healthier if they switch to a vegetarian<br />

or vegan diet. There is also a lot of<br />

research too. Healthline.com summarises<br />

16 randomised, controlled trials which<br />

looked at the impact and benefits of a<br />

vegan diet on a variety of factors, and<br />

whilst each trial should be viewed in detail<br />

for the participants and their starting<br />

characteristics before extrapolating any<br />

information, these studies reported a<br />

whole host of benefits including:<br />

• Reduced risk of heart disease<br />

• Weight reduction including for women<br />

with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)<br />

• Improved blood sugar and cholesterol<br />

levels<br />

• Increased antioxidant activity<br />

• Improved symptoms in people with<br />

osteoarthritis<br />

• Decreased symptoms of rheumatoid<br />

arthritis<br />

The benefits to the planet<br />

Some years ago, the mainstream media<br />

might have been accused of side-lining<br />

or not taking seriously, some of the<br />

arguments that people made about<br />

the benefits of plant-based diets for the<br />

planet. But as climate change hits the<br />

headlines more and more frequently, we<br />

are now seeing an increase in campaigns<br />

and adverts which link climate change<br />

and global warming directly to intensive<br />

farming practices, deforestation and meat<br />

production.<br />

Veganuary is making a difference though,<br />

and Dr Helen Harwatt from Harvard<br />

University’s Animal Law and Policy<br />

program has conducted research into<br />

the impact that Veganuary has had since<br />

2014. The figures are impressive, including:<br />

• 103,840 tonnes of CO2eq saved,<br />

equivalent to driving around the world<br />

almost 15,000 times<br />

• 405 tonnes of PO43-eq<br />

(eutrophication) saved, the same<br />

as 1,645 tonnes of sewage.<br />

Eutrophication is the process where<br />

a body of water such as a lake<br />

or coastal waters become overly<br />

enriched with minerals and nutrients,<br />

usually from the overuse of land<br />

fertilisers that pollute the water<br />

system. It causes algae blooms and<br />

affects fish and wildlife<br />

• 6.2 million litres of water saved, the<br />

same as flushing the toilet almost half<br />

a million times<br />

• Additionally, more than 3.4 million<br />

animals were saved according to<br />

the Vegan Society’s Veganalyser<br />

calculations<br />

Whether you want to go vegan for yourself,<br />

your family, your setting or the planet,<br />

the Veganuary website is full of useful<br />

information and advice. You can sign up<br />

to their 31-day pledge as an individual or<br />

a workplace, and they are aiming to beat<br />

last year’s record and get half a million<br />

people to sign up in <strong>2021</strong>. There are<br />

vegan recipes from all over the world and<br />

interestingly, there’s an emphasis on what<br />

you can eat as a vegan, rather than what<br />

you can’t. For example, the site points out<br />

that many of our most basic go-to foods<br />

are all naturally vegan anyway: such as<br />

most bread, pulses, fruits and vegetables,<br />

jams and marmalades, baked beans,<br />

dried pasta, rice, oven chips, breakfast<br />

cereals, porridge, pickles, jacket potatoes,<br />

tea, coffee and fruit juices to name but a<br />

few. When you look at it like this, there are<br />

a myriad of foods to choose from. And<br />

if you look at the recipes on the website,<br />

things such as smoky mac ‘n’ cheese,<br />

(yes, made without cheese), coronation<br />

chickpea sandwich, plantain flatbread<br />

and tarka dal, it won’t be long before your<br />

mouth starts to water.<br />

3. Have some fall-back favourites to rely<br />

on – jacket potatoes and beans, pasta<br />

and vegetables, for example<br />

4. Ease yourself in gently by using vegan<br />

alternatives to foods you like – there<br />

are vegan nuggets, sausages, pies,<br />

pasties, spreads and bacon! So you<br />

can still enjoy a vegan fry-up knowing<br />

you’re helping yourself and the planet<br />

5. Keep some vegan snacks to hand to<br />

satisfy those ‘wobble-moments’<br />

6. Download the HappyCow app which<br />

shows the nearest restaurant café or<br />

shop selling vegan food<br />

We’d love to know how you get on, so<br />

send us your pictures and stories to<br />

hello@parenta.com.<br />

Veganuary is a not-for-profit organisation<br />

which encourages people to be vegan<br />

for <strong>January</strong>, and hopefully, longer. They<br />

promote a move to “a plant-based diet<br />

as a way of protecting the environment,<br />

preventing animal suffering, and improving<br />

the health of millions of people.” In 2020,<br />

there were over 400,000 pledges from<br />

people keen to try a vegan diet, and since<br />

2014, more than one million people, in 192<br />

countries have supported the cause.<br />

Below are some tips to go vegan<br />

this Veganuary but check out<br />

the website for more<br />

1. Plan well – make sure you give plenty<br />

of thought to your shopping list and<br />

meal plans<br />

2. Veganise your favourite dishes<br />

14 <strong>January</strong> <strong>2021</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>January</strong> <strong>2021</strong> 15

EYFS series: Development<br />

Matters and changes to<br />

assessment and moderation<br />

In the second part of our new series, we take a closer look at the changes coming in the new EYFS and<br />

some of the key changes to the Development Matters guidance.<br />

What is the Development<br />

Matters guidance?<br />

Sitting alongside the EYFS, is the<br />

non-statutory guidance document,<br />

“Development Matters”, first published<br />

in 2012. This document supports<br />

early education practitioners in their<br />

practice, giving guidance on observing<br />

and assessing children, and can help<br />

practitioners to make summative<br />

assessments of individual children, to<br />

see if they are on the right track with their<br />

development in the key areas.<br />

Professional practitioners will always be<br />

assessing and checking up on the children<br />

in their care, feeding back to parents and<br />

keeping a close eye on how children are<br />

progressing, and this is often known as<br />

formative assessment or assessments<br />

that are made in everyday exchanges on<br />

an ongoing basis. In education settings<br />

for older children such as primary or<br />

secondary school, teachers are often<br />

involved in formative assessments such as<br />

checking the student’s understanding of<br />

the lesson, or giving them some exercises<br />

to do to show they can use and spell the<br />

words (e.g. English vocabulary) or can do<br />

the calculations (maths). These types of<br />

assessment allow teachers to see what<br />

is being retained (or not), and tailor their<br />

lesson accordingly.<br />

Similarly in the early years, practitioners<br />

will be looking out for whether children are<br />

interacting with them, how they socialise,<br />

their ability to mark-make etc, on a daily<br />

basis and may record this on IT or a daily<br />

log sheet.<br />

Summative assessments are those<br />

which essentially ‘sum up’ what children<br />

have learned at the end of a designated<br />

period. In the example of a secondary<br />

school pupil, it could be an end of term<br />

test, or ultimately a GCSE. In the case of<br />

the early years, the Development Matters<br />

document outlines some key assessment<br />

points that can be used to see how well<br />

children are doing, compared to expected<br />

developments.<br />

This guidance. however, was not intended<br />

to be a ‘tick-box’ exercise or ‘checklist’<br />

since the emphasis in early years is that all<br />

children are different and learn and develop<br />

at different rates, but in some settings,<br />

it has been used in this way, and some<br />

settings have been measuring their success<br />

on whether children reach the ‘milestones’<br />

along the way. The danger of this is that<br />

you can miss more holistic markers and<br />

developments as you focus in on ‘ticking off’<br />

things in the list.<br />

As part of recent changes therefore,<br />

the Development Matters document<br />

has also been revised (although still<br />

called “Development Matters”), and was<br />

published in September 2020, but similar<br />

to the new EYFS, the revision is not being<br />

rolled out nationally until September<br />

<strong>2021</strong>. Indeed, one of the main aims of<br />

updating the document was to address<br />

the data-driven workload that was<br />

becoming unmanageable in many settings,<br />

with a constant need to record data on<br />

development almost to the detriment of<br />

other areas. Other reasons for updates<br />

include a desire to improve children’s<br />

communication, especially their spoken<br />

language and the need to ‘close the gap’<br />

where children are at risk of falling behind<br />

their peers.<br />

It is recommended that practitioners<br />

understand the 7 key features of effective<br />

practice in depth as a priority.<br />

These are outlined as:<br />

1. The best for every child<br />

2. High-quality care<br />

3. The curriculum: what we want children<br />

to learn<br />

4. Pedagogy: helping children to learn<br />

5. Assessment: checking what children<br />

have learnt<br />

6. Self-regulation and executive function<br />

7. Partnership with parents<br />

It also recommends that practitioners<br />

are familiar with the 3 characteristics of<br />

effective teaching and learning:<br />

• Playing and exploring<br />

• Active learning<br />

• Creating and thinking critically<br />

The observation checkpoints under each<br />

heading say that children in each age<br />

group “will be learning to “ as opposed<br />

to saying “will have achieved” so that the<br />

emphasis is on individual development<br />

rather than getting all children to meet a<br />

particular benchmark at a certain age.<br />

Settings must develop their curriculums<br />

with these things in mind, and then,<br />

depending on the ages of the children<br />

in the setting, the document can then be<br />

read in age-stages, focusing on the needs<br />

of different age groups at different times.<br />

In the previous version, the demarcation<br />

of children’s development included<br />

overlapping age bands such as birth to<br />

11 months and 8 – 20 months, 16 – 26<br />

months for example. The new guidance is<br />

split into 3 main groups with subdivided<br />

“observation checkpoints” at various stages<br />

along the way. However, the age ranges<br />

are now less-specific with fewer defined<br />

periods in the ‘birth to 3’ age range. This<br />

is to reflect the research suggesting that<br />

children’s development is not linear, but<br />

‘more like a spider’s web with many<br />

strands’.<br />

The age ranges are now:<br />

• Birth to three - babies, toddlers and<br />

young children<br />

• 3-4-year-olds<br />

• Children in reception<br />

The observation checkpoints are to help<br />

staff notice whether a child is at risk of<br />

falling behind in their development, and<br />

not just data collection points for data<br />

collection’s sake. The document instead<br />

emphasises the value of ‘professional<br />

judgement’ which highlights the need to<br />

develop professional, reflective practitioners<br />

across the board.<br />

The Early Learning Goals (ELGs) are the<br />

goals or targets for children to achieve at<br />

the end of their reception year. However,<br />

children will be working towards these<br />

goals throughout their time in early years<br />

and therefore curriculums should be<br />

thought-through accordingly. There are<br />

currently 17 specific ELGs which span all 7<br />

areas of learning, including:<br />

• Communication and Language<br />

• Personal, Social and Emotional<br />

Development<br />

• Physical Development<br />

• Literacy<br />

• Mathematics<br />

• Understanding the world<br />

• Expressive art and design<br />

Some of the proposed changes to the EYFS<br />

affect these Early Learning Goals such as<br />

the deletion of the specific need to teach<br />

“Shape, Space and Measures” under the<br />

Mathematics section, although aspects of<br />

this would still need to be taught under the<br />

provision of a “well-rounded curriculum”,<br />

so there are still grey areas about what<br />

the impact of the changes will be for<br />

practitioners and how it will change what<br />

they do.<br />

It is also important to understand the<br />

difference between the ELGs and the<br />

provision of a full curriculum when<br />

designing educational material for early<br />

years, so that it is holistic and<br />

wide-ranging and does not just focus on<br />

the ELG assessment that is done at the end<br />

of the reception year. That would be akin to<br />

saying that a secondary school education<br />

should focus only on the information<br />

needed to pass GCSE exams, which would<br />

clearly be very limiting.<br />

There has also been criticism of the new<br />

Development Matters guidance from early<br />

years organisations and practitioners who<br />

feel that far from promoting a more holistic<br />

and varied curriculum, it instead creates a<br />

narrow and limited view of how children<br />

learn and develop which will not serve the<br />

children it is designed to help.<br />

What about assessment?<br />

With the emphasis on professional<br />

judgement, there is a clear attempt to make<br />

sure that assessment of children does not<br />

become just ‘something that needs to be<br />

done’ and therefore ineffective in promoting<br />

progress, or identifying children at risk of<br />

falling behind. Children would be served<br />

better if practitioners were able to use<br />

their professional judgement about which<br />

children need assessing, and in which<br />

areas, which may result in less assessment<br />

for some children and a greater amount<br />

of more effective, intervention-driven<br />

assessments for those who need it<br />

most. Only time will tell if this is a realistic<br />

expectation without greater funding,<br />

training or practical advice.<br />

For more information and<br />

industry comment, see:<br />

• https://www.twinkl.co.uk/blog/<br />

updating-development-matters-2020<br />

• https://www.eyalliance.org.uk/<br />

news/2020/09/government-publishesnew-development-matters-guidance<br />

• https://premieradvisory.<br />

co.uk/2020/09/11/dfe-guidance-forearly-years-change-and-continuity/<br />

Look out for part 3 next month.<br />

16 <strong>January</strong> <strong>2021</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>January</strong> <strong>2021</strong> 17

How to raise a<br />

kind child<br />

“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind;<br />

and the third is to be kind.” - Henry James<br />

Kindness is not just a feeling. It is a skill<br />

that takes children years to develop.<br />

All too often we talk about ‘sharing is<br />

caring’ with children, pressuring them<br />

into sharing or taking turns. This strong<br />

expectation for children to be kind can<br />

override the vital support we should<br />

be giving children in order to build<br />

their capacity for kindness. Sharing is<br />

only caring when a child understands<br />

kindness! Otherwise they are simply<br />

learning a social behaviour without the<br />

important heart and mind connection.<br />

Children can develop meaningful<br />

kindness when they are able to:<br />

• Understand their own feelings<br />

– 3-4 years<br />

• Understand other people’s feelings<br />

– 3-4 years<br />

• Understand other people’s<br />

perspectives – 4-5 years<br />

Until these skills are acquired, children<br />

will say and do kind things, but they will<br />

have learned to do these as a social<br />

behaviour rather than fully understanding<br />

what kindness really means.<br />

The science behind kindness<br />

There is motivation enough for kindness!<br />

Science demonstrates that being kind:<br />

• Boosts both serotonin and<br />

dopamine, neurotransmitters in<br />

the brain that give us a good sense<br />

of wellbeing or satisfaction. The<br />

‘reward centres’ in the brain literally<br />

light up when we are kind<br />

• Increases self-esteem<br />

• Improves mood<br />

• Decreases our blood pressure and<br />

cortisol, the stress hormone directly<br />

responsible for our stress levels<br />

We need to know calm to be<br />

kind<br />

Kindness is a skill that grows best in an<br />

environment of tolerance and compassion.<br />

At the same time, kindness occurs more<br />

frequently when we are in a calm state.<br />

When a child is overwhelmed by and<br />

unable to regulate feelings, kindness<br />

simply cannot develop as effectively. There<br />

is the story of a child who was unable<br />

to regulate his feelings effectively in his<br />

pre-school, and as a result, was lashing<br />

out to both children and teachers. After<br />

many months of careful co-regulation,<br />

the boy’s teacher was amazed to see him<br />

comforting another child. “This could not<br />

have happened while his feelings were<br />

so powerful,” said his teacher. “We had<br />

to support him through co-regulation,<br />

helping him regulate all overwhelming<br />

feelings he had. Only then could he reach<br />

out to others to help them.”<br />

Learning to cope with both our own<br />

feelings and the perspectives of others<br />

may not always be a pleasant process.<br />

With the help of loving adults, children<br />

learn - slowly, slowly - to manage<br />

unpleasant feelings and understand other<br />

perspectives. Co-regulation is the key word<br />

here, where children are helped through<br />

stormy, unpleasant feelings back to calm<br />

again, with loving strategies, over and over<br />

again.<br />

When does kindness begin to<br />

grow?<br />

Kindness can grow from birth! The<br />

presence of loving and responsive<br />

caregivers creates the groundwork<br />

for developing kindness. Warm and<br />

responsive interactions in a child’s early<br />

years are key in placing the foundations<br />

for every emotional skill we possess as a<br />

child and beyond.<br />

Steps in building kindness<br />

Step 1 - Be responsive and loving! When<br />

a child looks sad, respond lovingly, “You<br />

look sad, would you like a cuddle?”<br />

Step 2 - Acknowledge feelings; label<br />

them and then talk about them. “You<br />

look happy!” “You look cross. Tell me<br />

what happened.” “You love it here! Shall<br />

we come to the park again tomorrow?”<br />

Remember that by 3-4 years, most<br />

children are beginning to understand<br />

their own feelings more and more and to<br />

understand other people’s feelings.<br />

Step 3 - Acknowledge perspectives with<br />

your 4-5-year-old child, and label/talk<br />

about them.<br />

“Poor Tom, he’s not wearing a coat. He<br />

must feel so cold. Shall we find his coat for<br />

him?”<br />

“Mary has fallen over. Her knee must hurt.<br />

Let’s go and help her up.”<br />

Remember that by the age of 4-5,<br />

most children are able to see different<br />

perspectives of others in familiar<br />

situations, i.e. know that a sibling is cold<br />

because they are not wearing a coat.<br />

Step 4 - Read stories. Stories are a<br />

powerful vehicle for building kindness<br />

and empathy because children can<br />

clearly see and understand other people’s<br />

perspectives in an engrossing context that<br />

they enjoy. Such enjoyment gives them<br />

confidence to voice anything they’d like<br />

to share about the story. Talking about<br />

feelings and perspectives in this way is<br />

one of the most powerful ways to learn<br />

about how other people feel and think.<br />

Call to action<br />

Building a generation of kind children<br />

takes time, energy and emotional maturity.<br />

In short, we:<br />

• Support children in co-regulation<br />

• Notice kindness<br />

• Model kindness<br />

• Acknowledge kindness<br />

• Appreciate kindness<br />

Helen<br />

Garnett<br />

Helen is a mother of 4 and a<br />

committed and experienced early<br />

years consultant. She is Education<br />

Director at Arc Pathway, a sensitive<br />

profiling and next steps early years<br />

platform for teachers and parents.<br />

She has a wealth of experience in<br />

teaching, both in the primary sector<br />

and early years, co-founding and<br />

running her own pre-school in 2005.<br />

Helen has written books for the early<br />

years sector, including “Developing<br />

Empathy in the Early Years” (winner<br />

of the Nursery World Awards<br />

Professional Book Category 2018) and<br />

“Building a Resilient Workforce in the<br />

Early Years” (Early Years Alliance 2019).<br />

She regularly writes for early years<br />

publications such as Nursery World.<br />

Helen can be contacted via LinkedIn<br />

Children are more likely to be kind when<br />

they see kindness around them and when<br />

they are in a place of calm regulation.<br />

Genuine and repeated acts of kindness<br />

produce kindness. But like anything that<br />

grows, kindness needs to be seeded,<br />

cultivated and encouraged.<br />

This happens best in an environment<br />

where co-regulation is the norm, and<br />

where such kindness is seen, practised,<br />

talked about and most importantly,<br />

enjoyed.<br />

18 <strong>January</strong> <strong>2021</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>January</strong> <strong>2021</strong> 19

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Burns Night<br />

How well do you know our UK poets?<br />

Many English people will hotly debate<br />

that the world’s best poet and playwright<br />

is indisputably “The Bard of Avon”, aka<br />

William Shakespeare; and yet in Ireland,<br />

that honour may well be bestowed upon<br />

James Joyce, author of “Ulysses” and “A<br />

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”.<br />

The Welsh may hail Dylan Thomas as<br />

perhaps their most celebrated writer,<br />

extolling the virtues of “Under Milk Wood”<br />

and “Deaths and Entrances” as holding<br />

their own against anything that Joyce or<br />

Shakespeare could proffer. However, if you<br />

ask a Scot for the name of the greatest<br />

poet of all time, then you could bet your<br />

bottom Scottish ‘punnd’ that the name<br />

Robbie or “Rabbie” Burns would be at the<br />

top! For despite this most famous son of<br />

Scotland’s short-lived career, (he died at<br />

the age of only 37), he has become one of<br />

the most celebrated poets of all time and<br />

is remembered with revelry and tradition<br />

each year on 25 <strong>January</strong>, now known as<br />

Burns Night!<br />

Robert Burns and his legacy<br />

Burns died of rheumatic fever in 1796, on<br />

the same day his son, Maxwell, was born,<br />

and his remains lie in a mausoleum in St<br />

Michael’s Church in Dumfries. In 2009,<br />

Burns was dubbed “the greatest Scot of all<br />

time” by STV which is not a bad legacy for<br />

the son of a 18th century tenant farmer!<br />

Many people may know the songs or<br />

poems of Burns but be unaware that they<br />

are by the Scottish bard, so we’ve listed 10<br />

of his most famous ones here.<br />

1. Auld Lang Syne<br />

2. A Red, Red Rose<br />

3. Tam o’ Shanter<br />

4. A Man’s a Man for A’ That<br />

5. Address to a Haggis<br />

6. My Heart’s in the Highlands<br />

7. To a Louse<br />

8. To a Mouse<br />

9. Selkirk Grace<br />

10. Address to the Deil (devil)<br />

A Red, Red Rose<br />

O my Luve’s like a red, red rose,<br />

That’s newly sprung in June;<br />

O my Luve’s like the melodie<br />

That’s sweetly play’d in tune.<br />

As fair are thou, my bonie lass,<br />

So deep in luve am I;<br />

And I will luve thee still, my Dear,<br />

Till a’ the seas gang dry.<br />

(a savoury pudding with ‘sheep’s pluck’<br />

minced with onion, oatmeal, suet and<br />

spices, encased in a sheep’s gut). Neeps<br />

are mashed swede (or carrot) and turnip,<br />

and tatties are mashed potatoes! There is<br />

a tradition of reading some of Burns’ work<br />

including saying the ”Selkirk Grace”, having<br />

a toastmaster read the “Address to a<br />

Haggis” and some light-hearted fun when<br />

the men make fun of the girls in the ‘Toast<br />

to the Lassies’, whilst the girls get their own<br />

back in the ‘Reply from the Lassies’. No<br />

Burns Supper would be complete without<br />

a rendition of that homage to friends<br />

everywhere, “Auld Lang Syne”.<br />

Celebrate Burns Night in your<br />

setting<br />

Why not celebrate Burns Night and Scottish<br />

poetry in your setting this <strong>January</strong>? Here<br />

are a few ideas to try:<br />

1. Read some of Burns’ poetry<br />

2. Make your own tartan designs,<br />

drawing, painting or paper-weaving<br />

3. Learn the meaning of some Scottish<br />

words such as ‘neeps’ and ‘tatties’<br />

4. Create a display about Scotland<br />

5. Make some traditional Burns Night<br />

food<br />

6. Paint or draw some Scottish flags and<br />

decorate your setting with them<br />

7. Teach the children, the famous song<br />

“Auld Lang Syne” (or the chorus at<br />

least!)<br />

8. Try some Scottish dancing and run a<br />

ceilidh<br />

9. Print some Scottish-themed colouring<br />

such as a unicorn, a cartoon haggis<br />

character or some bagpipes<br />

10. Have a go at writing your own poetry –<br />

Burns style!<br />

The internet is full of resources to use for a<br />

Burns Night theme (see below). And if you<br />

want to read more of Burns’ work, head<br />

over to the Scottish Poetry Library or http://<br />

www.robertburns.org/. Whatever you do,<br />

have fun.<br />

For internet resources with a<br />

Burns Night theme, see:<br />

• DLTK-kids.com – free resources<br />

• ichild.co.uk – free resources but<br />

registration required<br />

• activityvillage.co.uk – lot so of<br />

resources available on different topics<br />

for a small membership fee<br />

• Twinkl.co.uk – more resources for every<br />

age group – subscription needed<br />

Robert Burns was born the son of a<br />

farmer in Ayrshire, Scotland in 1759, at a<br />

time when the country was undergoing<br />

great political and social change. In his<br />

short life, he wrote more than 550 poems<br />

and songs, many of which focused on<br />

the themes of love and nature and were<br />

written in the Scottish Ayrshire dialect,<br />

which was not particularly popular in<br />

Scottish literary circles at the time. Despite<br />

this, through his humour and ability to<br />

use small subjects to highlight big ideas,<br />

he was able to speak to the common<br />

man in ways they could understand and<br />

appreciate, and his work became popular<br />

across the country in all social spheres.<br />

He understood hardship and wrote of<br />

his Scottish life and times, becoming an<br />

everlasting inspiration to the founders of<br />

liberalism and socialism which followed.<br />

The journalist, Ruth Wishart said of him,<br />

“ it is in his celebration of international<br />

brotherhood, of social equality, of honest<br />

toil and just reward that his global<br />

adherents still rejoice more than two<br />

centuries after his death.”<br />

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my Dear,<br />

And the rocks melt wi’ the sun:<br />

I will luve thee still, my dear,<br />

While the sands o’ life shall run.<br />

And fare thee weel, my only Luve!<br />

And fare thee weel, a while!<br />

And I will come again, my Luve,<br />

Tho’ it were ten thousand mile!<br />

A traditional Burns Night<br />

celebration<br />

While the first Burns Supper was held only a<br />

few years after his death back in 1801, and<br />

modern times have brought new ideas,<br />

the basic celebration remains unchanged<br />

and revolves around paying tribute to Burns<br />

in whatever way feels most fitting. Burns<br />

Night suppers have become a traditional<br />

<strong>January</strong> celebration, not just in Scotland,<br />

but around the world. Bagpipes play as the<br />

diners enter and they enjoy a traditional<br />

Scottish meal which usually consists<br />

of some Cock-a-Leekie (chicken and<br />

vegetable) soup; haggis neeps and tatties<br />

22 <strong>January</strong> <strong>2021</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>January</strong> <strong>2021</strong> 23

Mouthing<br />

– at all ages<br />

I currently have a new little assistant to<br />

work with at The Sensory Projects, this<br />

week he has been reminding me of a<br />

skill I talk about often on my training<br />

days: mouthing. Mouthing is currently<br />

more interesting to him than anything<br />

else. My sensory wonders, his toys, even<br />

the flashing singing plastic kind do not,<br />

currently, hold a candle to mouthing for<br />

him. The things he wants to mouth above<br />

all others is his own hands.<br />

Joanna<br />

Grace<br />

Joanna Grace is an international<br />

Sensory Engagement and Inclusion<br />

Specialist, trainer, author, TEDx speaker<br />

and founder of The Sensory Projects.<br />

He is actually doing a very sensible thing.<br />

He has far more nerve endings in his<br />

mouth than he has on his fingertips, so<br />

when he puts things into his mouth he<br />

gets a lot of tactile information about what<br />

they feel like. He can build up this bank of<br />

knowledge about how things feel and then<br />

translate that detailed understanding onto<br />

the less detailed knowledge his fingertips<br />

give him as he explores.<br />

Children, and indeed adults, of any age<br />

who want to find out more about how the<br />

world feels can be drawn to mouthing.<br />

We can support them by finding a range<br />

of objects that are safe for them to mouth.<br />

For children in the early years, this is a part<br />

of their development, and telling them<br />

to stop putting things in their mouth can<br />

mean it takes them longer to acquire the<br />

information they are looking for.<br />

Other people mouth because conditions<br />

such as epilepsy act on their brain and<br />

wipe out the knowledge they acquired<br />

so they look to find it again. Sometimes if<br />

access to experience is limited, people can<br />

stay mouthing beyond the point where it is<br />

developmentally relevant for them, simply<br />

because it is an interesting and engaging<br />

activity.<br />

If you think someone is mouthing, not<br />

because they are developing their tactile<br />

knowledge, but rather because it is easier<br />

for them to gain stimulation in this manner<br />

than in other ways, you can try two things:<br />

• Create an environment where it is<br />

easy for them to independently access<br />

other stimulation. A simple way to<br />

do this is to create an activity rail.<br />

For my little assistant, I often lie him<br />

(supervised) under the clothes airer<br />

and dangle things from it. For a bigger<br />

child or an adult I use a clothes rail<br />

and dangle things from that.<br />

• Share activities that offer stimulation<br />

to other parts of the body, for example<br />

foot massage or exploring textures<br />

with bare feet.<br />

Mouthing is explorative. You may also<br />

have children who seem to need to bite<br />

things, sometimes other children, but often<br />

themselves or objects. The urge to bite<br />

down firmly can come from being in a state<br />

of heightened anxiety. A long time ago<br />

we were living in caves and our survival<br />

depended on the outcome of the hunt. If<br />

we had food we were safe, if we did not,<br />

our lives were under threat. The sensation<br />

of biting hard, and chewing, (the actions<br />

which historically would have signalled our<br />

safety) are reassuring to us.<br />

If you are supporting children who are<br />

feeling anxious, tackling the biting is a<br />

bit like sticking plasters over spots to<br />

tackle chicken pox i.e. you are treating the<br />

symptom not the problem. In my next article<br />

I will share some sensory support strategies<br />

for people who feel anxious.<br />

Consistently rated as “outstanding” by<br />

Ofsted, Joanna has taught in<br />

mainstream and special school settings,<br />

connecting with pupils of all ages and<br />

abilities. To inform her work, Joanna<br />

draws on her own experience from her<br />

private and professional life as well as<br />

taking in all the information she can<br />

from the research archives. Joanna’s<br />

private life includes family members<br />

with disabilities and neurodiverse<br />

conditions and time spent as a<br />

registered foster carer for children with<br />

profound disabilities.<br />

Joanna has published four practitioner<br />

books: “Multiple Multisensory Rooms:<br />

Myth Busting the Magic”, “Sensory<br />

Stories for Children and Teens”,<br />

“Sensory-Being for Sensory Beings”<br />

and “Sharing Sensory Stories and<br />

Conversations with People with<br />

Dementia”. and two inclusive sensory<br />

story children’s books: “Voyage to<br />

Arghan” and “Ernest and I”. There is<br />

new book coming out soon called ‘”The<br />

Subtle Spectrum” and her son has<br />

recently become the UK’s youngest<br />

published author with his book, “My<br />

Mummy is Autistic”.<br />

Joanna is a big fan of social media and<br />

is always happy to connect with people<br />

via Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.<br />

Website:<br />

thesensoryprojects.co.uk<br />

24 <strong>January</strong> <strong>2021</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>January</strong> <strong>2021</strong> 25

Helping children of<br />

different ethnicities to<br />

feel a sense of belonging<br />

Through social media and my business,<br />

Early Years Story Box, I had the pleasure<br />

of speaking to an early years professional<br />

who really gave me food for thought and<br />

made me question if we could possibly be<br />

doing more to support children who speak<br />

English as an additional language.<br />

As you may or may not know, I have<br />

created a range of storybooks called the<br />

Memory Box Collection. These books are<br />

given to children by nurseries, childminders<br />

and primary schools as welcome/<br />

leavers’ gifts and on special occasions like<br />

birthdays, Christmas and Easter. There<br />

are also books in the collection that teach<br />

children about cultural festivals such as<br />

Chinese New Year and it is was these<br />

storybooks that caught the attention of<br />

Kuen-Wah Cheung. He commented on<br />

one of my Facebook posts and questioned<br />

whether settings could do more to teach<br />

children about different cultures throughout<br />

the year, rather than just solely focusing<br />

on these festivals. His comment intrigued<br />

me and after commenting back and<br />

forth a few times, I asked if he would be<br />

interested in chatting about this in more<br />

detail and to my delight he said yes.<br />

Kuen-Wah is of Chinese heritage and<br />

grew up in Brighton in the 80s. His parents<br />

spoke very little English so when<br />

Kuen-Wah went to school, he too<br />

struggled with the language and had<br />

many times when he felt very alone and<br />

isolated. Each year, Chinese New Year<br />

would be highlighted and celebrated in<br />

his setting, but to Kuen-Wah this triggered<br />

ambivalent emotions because he felt that<br />

the only time people showed interest<br />

in him was once a year when he was<br />

‘relevant’. He did, however, say that it was<br />

better to be acknowledged once a year<br />

than not at all!<br />

I’m a big believer that when we know<br />

better, we do better, so when Kuen-Wah<br />

brought this to my attention, I wanted to<br />

find out more. He said that growing up<br />

he really struggled to have a sense of<br />

belonging.<br />

His family were Chinese, didn’t speak<br />

much English and very much lived by<br />

the Chinese culture. However, he lived<br />

in Brighton, surrounded by a majority of<br />

people who looked and acted nothing<br />

like anything familiar to him. He didn’t<br />

belong in China, because Britain was his<br />

home. However, he didn’t feel like he fit in<br />

where he lived because almost everything<br />

around him was nothing he could relate<br />

to. The food he ate at home was different<br />

to school. He looked different to almost<br />

everyone else he knew. His family followed<br />

different customs that didn’t translate to<br />

British life and on a whole, he struggled to<br />

find his place and to feel settled.<br />

There were also times throughout his life<br />

when Kuen-Wah experienced racism and<br />

negative comments about how he looked.<br />

Teachers generally tried to deal with this by<br />

instilling the message that we are all the<br />

same. However, this in itself was a conflict<br />

because in reality, Kuen-Wah was very<br />

different to almost everyone around him.<br />

He later realised that by not acknowledging<br />

his differences, this actually perpetuated his<br />

lack of confidence. It also made him want to<br />

be like everyone else so that he could fit in,<br />

and rather than embracing and celebrating<br />

his uniqueness, he shied away from it and<br />

felt even less in touch with who he was.<br />

As the conversation went on, I really tried<br />

to put myself in the shoes of Kuen-Wah<br />

as a child and could see how lonely and<br />

confusing it would have been. As teachers<br />

and practitioners, we always come from<br />

a place of love and care. However, it is<br />

hard to fully comprehend a situation like<br />

this when it is so far removed from our<br />

own life and reality. As much as we all<br />

make a conscious effort to be inclusive,<br />

our conversation did make me wonder if<br />

there was more that we could do to help<br />

children of different cultures and ethnicities<br />

to feel more of a sense of belonging and<br />

acceptance.<br />

Kuen-Wah spoke fondly about a lady in his<br />

school who took the time to learn a few<br />

key words and phrases in Cantonese. He<br />

said that this simple gesture made him feel<br />

really special and had a huge impact on<br />

him because it broke the language barrier<br />

down a fraction. It didn’t matter that she<br />

couldn’t always respond to Kuen-Wah once<br />

he had replied. Just the fact that she had<br />

said something in his native tongue was<br />

enough for him to feel more of a connection<br />

to her and his environment.<br />

Now, I’m not saying that we should learn<br />

a different language for every child in our<br />

setting. However, how amazing would it<br />

be if each practitioner had a laminated<br />

sheet for each language spoken with key<br />

words and phrases?! These words would<br />

be written phonetically so that they were<br />

easy to read/say and then throughout the<br />

day they could be used to create a deeper<br />

connection and to bridge the gap between<br />

the two cultures.<br />

Here’s a list of some phrases that could be<br />

included:<br />

• Hello/Goodbye<br />

• How are you?<br />

• Do you need the toilet?<br />

• Are you ok?<br />

• Are you happy/sad/angry?<br />

• Can I help you?<br />

• Are you hungry?<br />

• Mummy/Daddy is coming back soon<br />

• What do you want to play with?<br />

• Do you want a hug?<br />

• Show me<br />

This could also be good for parental<br />

involvement and links to home because you<br />

could ask children’s families for help with<br />

how to say certain phrases. You could also<br />

ask them about their culture and then think<br />

of ways to incorporate this into your daily<br />

topics. For example, if you are focusing on<br />

healthy eating, maybe include foods that<br />

these children eat at home too, rather than<br />

just British food.<br />

I do believe that teaching children about<br />

cultural festivals is important, which is why<br />

I added an Eid, Diwali and Chinese New<br />

Year book to my collection (and plan on<br />

adding more). However, my conversation<br />

with Kuen-Wah has really made me think<br />

about other things that we can do on a<br />

daily basis to not only include different<br />

cultures and customs in our teachings, but<br />

to also help children to feel more of a sense<br />

of belonging.<br />

If we can try our best to look at the<br />

world through these children’s eyes and<br />

limitations, we will see ways that we can<br />

support them to feel more included and<br />

accepted. One of my favourite quotes is<br />

‘Be the person you needed as a child’. If<br />

you were a child who was in completely<br />

unfamiliar territory surrounded by people<br />

who spoke and acted in a way that you<br />

didn’t truly understand, what would help<br />

you to feel safe and secure? If we answer<br />

this question, I think we will be able to think<br />

of lots of little ways to make a big difference<br />

in these children’s lives.<br />

Kuen-Wah has now been an Early Years<br />

Practitioner for 12 years and has used his<br />

own childhood experiences as a catalyst<br />

to make a difference to the children in his<br />

care. Knowing the impact that it had on<br />

his own life, he has taken the time to learn<br />

some basics in other languages such as<br />

Russian, Hungarian and KPK Pashto and<br />

has gone above and beyond to connect<br />

with every individual child he encounters.<br />

Life is full of lessons. Some stem from our<br />

own experiences and some stem from<br />

the experiences of others. Kuen-Wah is a<br />

shining example of someone who has used<br />

his pain and turned it into a positive. It may<br />

not have been the easiest road for him, but<br />

it has made him the practitioner that he is<br />

today and that truly is a positive outcome.<br />

Stacey<br />

Kelly<br />

Stacey Kelly is a former teacher, a<br />

parent to 2 beautiful babies and the<br />

founder of Early Years Story Box, which<br />

is a subscription website providing<br />

children’s storybooks and early years<br />

resources. She is passionate about<br />

building children’s imagination,<br />

creativity and self-belief and about<br />

creating awareness of the impact<br />

that the early years have on a child’s<br />

future. Stacey loves her role as a<br />

writer, illustrator and public speaker<br />

and believes in the power of personal<br />

development. She is also on a mission<br />

to empower children to live a life full<br />

of happiness and fulfilment, which is<br />

why she launched the #ThankYouOaky<br />

Gratitude Movement.<br />

Sign up to Stacey’s Premium<br />

Membership here and use the code<br />

PARENTA20 to get 20% off or contact<br />

Stacey for an online demo.<br />

Email: stacey@earlyyearsstorybox.com<br />

or Telephone: 07765785595<br />

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

earlyyearsstorybox<br />

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/<br />

eystorybox<br />

Instagram: https://www.instagram.<br />

com/earlyyearsstorybox<br />

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/<br />

stacey-kelly-a84534b2/<br />

26 <strong>January</strong> <strong>2021</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>January</strong> <strong>2021</strong> 27

Removing the stigma<br />

of poverty<br />

In Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”, Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by two charitable<br />

gentlemen who ask him to donate to help the poor at Christmas. The passage reads:<br />

“At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge,” said the gentleman, taking up a pen, “it is more<br />

than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the poor and destitute,<br />

who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries;<br />

hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.”<br />

Scrooge’s reply is less than charitable, asking “Are there no prisons? Are there no union<br />

workhouses?” He goes on to say that he “can’t afford to make idle people merry!”<br />

“Put aside all the noise, the digs, the party<br />

politics and let’s focus on the reality; a<br />

significant number of children are going<br />

to bed tonight hungry… We must stop<br />

stigmatising, judging and pointing fingers.<br />

We talk about the devastating impact of<br />

COVID-19 but, if projections are anything to<br />

go by, child food poverty has the potential<br />

to become the greatest pandemic the<br />

country has ever faced.”<br />

Marcus Rashford<br />

• Destitution levels are highest in the<br />

North East, London and the North<br />

West<br />

• Young adults (aged 34 and under) are<br />

most likely to be identified as living in<br />

destitution<br />

In addition, 14% of UK families with<br />

children have experienced food insecurity<br />

in the past 6 months which has led to a<br />

rise in food bank use. Between 1 April 2019<br />

and 31 March 2020, the number of threeday<br />

emergency food supplies given to<br />

people in crisis by Trussell Trust food banks<br />

in the financial year 2019-2020 was 1.9<br />

million. In the last five years, food bank use<br />

in the Trussell Trust distribution network<br />

increased by 74% from 1,112,395 in 2015 to<br />

1,900,122 in 2019.<br />

Food insecurity means that “access to<br />

adequate food for active, healthy living<br />

is limited by lack of money and other<br />

resources.” In cases of very low food<br />

security, at least one member of the<br />

household changes their eating habits,<br />

reducing their own intake, in order to make<br />

more food available for others.<br />

Over last summer and into the winter,<br />

Marcus Rashford, a footballer from<br />

Manchester, has been spearheading<br />

a movement to try to ensure that<br />

underprivileged schoolchildren have<br />

access to free food over the holidays,<br />

forcing a U-turn from the Government<br />

in the summer. What’s clear is that<br />

something needs to be done.<br />

The stigma<br />

One of the biggest problems is the stigma<br />

associated with poverty and food bank<br />

use, which, can stop people getting the<br />

help they need. A survey carried out by the<br />

East End Women’s project found that many<br />

people felt too ‘embarrassed’ or ‘ashamed’<br />

to visit a food bank because of the stigma<br />

associated with it, yet research also<br />

suggests that many people in the poverty<br />

trap have adults in the house who work;<br />

the problem is that their income is just not<br />

sufficient for their basic needs. According to<br />

the Trussell Trust, the top three reasons for<br />

referral to a food bank were low income,<br />

benefit delays and benefit changes<br />

which can result in cashflow problems.<br />

Sometimes people simple don’t know<br />

how to access food banks or where to get<br />

help.<br />

What can be done?<br />

Obviously, the pandemic has put a<br />

massive strain on the entire country and<br />

has exacerbated the problem as people<br />

have faced lockdowns, restricted work<br />

opportunities, reduced incomes and<br />

unemployment. Government borrowing is<br />

at a record high, and the level of support<br />

offered to help retain jobs and support<br />

incomes has been unprecedented. Yet<br />

children are still going hungry each day in<br />

the UK.<br />

You may know families in your setting<br />

who are facing destitution or on the<br />

edges of poverty and you may want to<br />

do everything you can to support them.<br />

We’ve listed some ways that you can raise<br />

awareness in your setting and try to tackle<br />

the stigma head on.<br />

1. Talk about the problems openly, but<br />

sensitively, and put-up posters raising<br />

awareness of child poverty using<br />

the latest statistics or the pandemic<br />

as a background to an awareness<br />

campaign<br />

2. Find out about your local food bank<br />

and how people can access it –<br />

usually people need a referral from<br />

an organisation such as the Citizens<br />

Advice, or a GP<br />

3. Ensure that families are aware of the<br />

free school meals which are available<br />

for all children in infant schools and<br />

for pupils who meet the eligibility<br />

criteria<br />

Now “A Christmas Carol” was first<br />

published in 1843, over 175 years ago, and<br />

yet some of the scenes he describes could<br />

well be describing places in the UK today,<br />

where many “suffer greatly” and lack<br />

“common necessaries” whilst “hundreds<br />

of thousands are in want of common<br />

comforts.”<br />

But is our response as individuals,<br />

communities, and a nation any better than<br />

that of the misguided Scrooge? Have we<br />

learned the lessons he did and helped<br />

our fellow humans back to the path of<br />

dignity and self-respect, or are we at risk<br />

of the same narrow-minded judgments,<br />

prejudices and stigmas that frequent the<br />

pages of Dickens’ many novels?<br />

The problem – poverty and<br />

destitution<br />

Even the word ‘destitution’ sounds like<br />

something from a Dickens novel, and yet<br />

the problem is a very real and modern<br />

one. A report published last month by the<br />

Joseph Rowntree Foundation, identified<br />

some alarming statistics. It measured<br />

destitution in two ways: 1) through lack<br />

of access to essentials (shelter, food,<br />

heating, lighting, clothing/footwear, and<br />

basic toiletries); and 2) extremely low or no<br />

income. It stated:<br />

• Destitution in the UK is rising and has<br />

been exacerbated by the pandemic<br />

• More than a million UK households<br />

experienced destitution at some point<br />

in 2019 – representing 2.4 million<br />

people, including 550,000 children<br />

4. Read the government guidance here<br />

which shows some of the extra help<br />

that the Government is supplying due<br />

to the pandemic<br />

5. Run a related anti-bullying<br />

programme<br />

6. Set up a food parcel service<br />

7. Donate to a food bank<br />

8. Volunteer to help at a food bank or to<br />

collect/deliver parcels<br />

Whatever you do, approach the situation<br />

with kindness and compassion and let’s<br />

confine poverty to the history books, where<br />

it belongs.<br />

For information on the impact of food<br />

insecurity, see here.<br />

For information on how to access food<br />

banks, see here.<br />

28 <strong>January</strong> <strong>2021</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>January</strong> <strong>2021</strong> 29

Music and the brain:<br />

how music helps us learn<br />

Why has music survived as long<br />

as it has?<br />

For the longest time, science has asked<br />

this question – why is music still a part<br />

of our lives today? Since the beginning<br />

of time, people have recorded their<br />

everyday activities: from the Egyptian<br />

hieroglyphics to writings on parchments<br />

and scrolls. There is evidence that people<br />

hunted, cooked, ate, procreated, clothed<br />

themselves, travelled, lived in dwellings,<br />

and interacted socially. Science has<br />

argued that all of these activities were<br />

essential because they supported our<br />

most basic need, as a species, to stay<br />

alive. But one other activity that we have<br />

in common with our ancestors is creating<br />

music. Up to now, scientists have not<br />

found an explanation for it.<br />

In the past, the only way to find out what<br />

was going on inside someone was by<br />

literally cutting them open – which either<br />

killed them or meant that they had died.<br />

But in the last century, new technologies<br />

have allowed us to see what has<br />

happened to bones through x-rays.<br />

Now we can see what is happening<br />

inside the brain through magnetic,<br />

electrical and computerised scans, e.g.<br />

MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging),<br />

PET (Positron Emission Tomography), CT<br />

(Computerised Tomography) and EEG<br />

(Electroencephalogram). While these<br />

scans cannot read our minds, they can<br />

identify illnesses to doctors. One scan<br />

that measures blood flow in the brain<br />

has been linked to specific activity. For a<br />

while, we have known that when people<br />

play music, every part of the brain has<br />

been shown to “light up” or increase<br />

blood flow – now we are beginning to<br />

explore what that means.<br />

For the past 20 years, more and more<br />

researchers have been looking into<br />

the academic benefits of music – can<br />

music improve our ability to learn? So<br />

far, scientists can confirm that the same<br />

areas of the brain are used in both music<br />

and language (Sammler & Elmer, 2020).<br />

The reason that we still use language is<br />

quite clear: it helps us to work<br />

co-operatively, ensuring that we continue<br />

our species. Since language and music<br />

use similar brain areas, like musical<br />

expression and speech expression, it<br />

seems as though these skills may have<br />

developed at the same time. Scientists<br />

are now using this similarity as a starting<br />

point to try to understand why people<br />

of all cultures, races, ages and genders<br />

continue to perform and listen to music.<br />

As of 2020, there are two big questions<br />

that scientists are asking about music and<br />

the brain:<br />

1. How do we know that there is a<br />

rhythm/beat: why do some people<br />

automatically match the beat while<br />

others cannot?<br />

2. How does sound make us move:<br />

what is it that makes babies start<br />

moving when they hear a rhythmic<br />

beat?<br />

How do we know there is a<br />

beat?<br />

The first question has interesting<br />

educational implications. There is evidence<br />

that people that can match a beat can also<br />

hear the rhythm or beat in speech. People<br />

who can hear this rhythm have been<br />

found to have higher level language skills.<br />

People that struggle to match a beat with<br />

music are often also unable to keep a beat<br />

in silence (Lagrois et al., 2019), and there<br />

have been suggestions of this being linked<br />

to dyslexia (Boll-Avetisyan et al., 2020). If<br />

this is so, then developmental language<br />

disorders may be due to not recognising<br />

the differences in prosody (intonation,<br />

tone, stress, rhythm) and syntax (rules of<br />

word order) in rhythmic children’s stories<br />

(Myers et al., 2019).<br />

What does this mean for<br />

education?<br />

The strongest way to train the brain to<br />

match rhythm was found to be using<br />

phonemes, syllables and phrases in<br />

songs and poems – crucial for normal<br />

language development. And to improve<br />

these, researchers recommend increasing<br />

the time allocated, and strengthening<br />

rhythmic abilities. Rhymes and poems that<br />

are helpful include “Engine Engine Number<br />

Nine”, “Apples Peaches Pears Plums”, “To<br />

Market To Market* – in fact, most children’s<br />

songs can be used as rhymes first and<br />

songs later. Chanting rhymes together can<br />

even create a united feeling, like being in<br />

a choir; building and strengthening social<br />

bonds. It has been found that six months<br />

of music training significantly improved<br />

the subconscious awareness of speech<br />

rhythms in nursery children with dyslexia,<br />

as opposed to six months of painting (Frey<br />

et al., 2019).<br />

How does sound make us move?<br />

The second question relates to<br />

strengthening rhythmic abilities.<br />

Researchers looked for links between<br />

perception and production (Daikoku, 2018),<br />

finding that the listening environment<br />

(whether listening to a song or speech)<br />

influenced the way listeners anticipated<br />

breaks in phrases. Another study explored<br />

how we learn to anticipate the beat, finding<br />

that repetition of actions led to anticipation<br />

and expectation (Mathias et al., 2019). The<br />

reason for mis-matching was explained<br />

as competing attentional resources (Lee et<br />

al., 2019) and reduced working memory<br />

(Christiner & Reiterer, 2018).<br />

What does this mean for<br />

education?<br />

In order to strengthen rhythmic abilities,<br />

repetition is key – we learn to anticipate<br />

what will happen by repeating experience.<br />

In music teaching, this means singing<br />

songs and chanting rhymes where we<br />

tap our partners knees or feet while they<br />

tap ours, helping them to feel the beat<br />

and learn to match the beat. In order<br />

to strengthen attention, we can create<br />

opportunities and time to focus on personal<br />

interests. Musical activities in strengthening<br />

working memory include songs that are<br />

cumulative (“Green Grass”, “Over In The<br />

Meadow”) or sequential (“Alice the Camel”,<br />

“Ants Go Marching”, “Ten Green Bottles*),<br />

using visual cues (pictures) as well as<br />

actions or movement. These are all key to<br />

strengthening rhythmic abilities.<br />

With young children, music is often used as<br />

a distraction, behaviour management tool,<br />

supporting activity transitions and meeting<br />

curricula requirements. Gradually evidence<br />

is being found to confirm that activities like<br />

chants and rhymes, poems and songs, can<br />

all work to improve not only general soft<br />

skills, but also academic skills like language<br />

development, and specifically, language<br />

developmental delay. Although early days,<br />

this is encouraging news for those caring<br />

and supporting children in the early years.<br />

* Songs and chants mentioned can be<br />

found online or the YouTube Musicaliti<br />

channel.<br />

References:<br />

• Boll-Avetisyan, N., Bhatara, A., &<br />

Höhle, B. (2020). Processing of Rhythm<br />

in Speech and Music in Adult Dyslexia.<br />

Brain Sciences, 10(5), 261. https://doi.<br />

org/10.3390/brainsci10050261<br />

• Christiner, M., & Reiterer, S. M. (2018).<br />

Early Influence of Musical Abilities<br />

and Working Memory on Speech<br />

Imitation Abilities: Study with Pre-<br />

School Children. Brain Sciences,<br />

8(9), 169. https://doi.org/10.3390/<br />

brainsci8090169<br />

• Daikoku, T. (2018). Neurophysiological<br />

Markers of Statistical Learning in Music<br />

and Language: Hierarchy, Entropy<br />

and Uncertainty. Brain Sciences,<br />

8(6), 114. https://doi.org/10.3390/<br />

brainsci8060114<br />

• Frey, A., François, C., Chobert, J., Velay,<br />

J.-L., Habib, M., & Besson, M. (2019).<br />

Music Training Positively Influences<br />

the Preattentive Perception of Voice<br />

Onset Time in Children with Dyslexia:<br />

A Longitudinal Study. Brain Sciences,<br />

9(4), 91. https://doi.org/10.3390/<br />

brainsci9040091<br />

• Lagrois, M.-É., Palmer, C., & Peretz,<br />

I. (2019). Poor Synchronization to<br />

Musical Beat Generalizes to Speech.<br />

Brain Sciences, 9(7), 157. https://doi.<br />

org/10.3390/brainsci9070157<br />

• Lee, D. J., Jung, H., & Loui, P.<br />

(2019). Attention Modulates<br />

Electrophysiological Responses to<br />

Simultaneous Music and Language<br />

Syntax Processing. Brain Sciences,<br />

9(11), 305. https://doi.org/10.3390/<br />

brainsci9110305<br />

• Mathias, B., Gehring, W. J., & Palmer,<br />

C. (2019). Electrical Brain Responses<br />

Reveal Sequential Constraints on<br />

Planning during Music Performance.<br />

Brain Sciences, 9(2), 25. https://doi.<br />

org/10.3390/brainsci9020025<br />

• Myers, B. R., Lense, M. D., & Gordon,<br />

R. L. (2019). Pushing the Envelope:<br />

Developments in Neural Entrainment<br />

to Speech and the Biological<br />

Underpinnings of Prosody Perception.<br />

Brain Sciences, 9(3), 70. https://doi.<br />

org/10.3390/brainsci9030070<br />

• Sammler, D., & Elmer, S. (2020).<br />

Advances in the Neurocognition of<br />

Music and Language. Brain Sciences,<br />

10(8), 509. https://doi.org/10.3390/<br />

brainsci10080509<br />

Frances<br />

Turnbull<br />

Musician, researcher and author,<br />

Frances Turnbull, is a self-taught<br />

guitarist who has played contemporary<br />

and community music from the age<br />

of 12. She delivers music sessions to<br />

the early years and KS1. Trained in the<br />

music education techniques of Kodály<br />

(specialist singing), Dalcroze<br />

(specialist movement) and Orff<br />

(specialist percussion instruments), she<br />

has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology<br />

(Open University) and a Master’s degree<br />

in Education (University of Cambridge).<br />

She runs a local community choir, the<br />

Bolton Warblers, and delivers the Sound<br />

Sense initiative “A choir in every care<br />

home” within local care and residential<br />

homes, supporting health and wellbeing<br />

through her community interest<br />

company.<br />

She has represented the early years<br />

music community at the House of<br />

Commons, advocating for recognition<br />

for early years music educators, and<br />

her table of progressive music skills<br />

for under 7s features in her curriculum<br />

books.<br />

Frances is the author of “Learning with<br />

Music: Games and activities for the<br />

early years“, published by Routledge,<br />

August 2017.<br />

www.musicaliti.co.uk<br />

30 <strong>January</strong> <strong>2021</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>January</strong> <strong>2021</strong> 31

Big Energy Saving Week …<br />

Month … Winter!<br />

Big Energy Saving Week runs from the 18th to 24th <strong>January</strong> <strong>2021</strong> and is a national campaign<br />

run to help people cut their fuel bills and get advice on their energy usage, as well as helping<br />

them to get any financial support they are entitled to. It is run as a partnership between the<br />

Energy Saving Trust, Citizens Advice and the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial<br />

Strategy, but is also supported by many NGOs, charities and companies. In fact, Citizen’s<br />

Advice have been running a campaign through the winter as well, called Energy Saving<br />

Winter, which culminates at the end of <strong>January</strong> and other partners run the campaign for a<br />

month instead of a week.<br />

<strong>January</strong> is usually a difficult month<br />

financially for a lot of people, coming after<br />

the expense of Christmas and the cold<br />

weather pushing up heating bills, but after<br />

the year just gone, when many people<br />

may be struggling with reduced incomes<br />

due to lockdowns and COVID-19, it is more<br />

important than ever to raise awareness<br />

and support those in need. Helping people<br />

with energy advice not only saves money<br />

but also has a positive impact on our<br />

carbon footprint and the wider world. In<br />

2018-19, the Citizens Advice Bureau and<br />

the Extra Help Unit delivered £1.3 million in<br />

savings to people, with an average saving<br />

of £232 per case, so reviewing energy<br />

usage can reap tangible rewards.<br />

Energy saving advice<br />

There is a lot of advice available if you<br />

look for it, both online, through the energy<br />

providers and other organisations such<br />

as the Citizens Advice Bureau or Citizens<br />

Advice Scotland. Some of this advice is<br />

general advice on saving energy, cutting<br />

your bills etc., and we have included<br />

some top tips below to help you save<br />

some money and reduce your energy<br />

consumption. The Energy Saving Trust has<br />

lots of information about energy efficiency<br />

in the home, as does the Governmentfunded<br />

Simple Energy Advice Website.<br />

If you don’t have access to the internet,<br />

you can call 0800 444 2020 and talk to<br />

someone in person.<br />

In Scotland, the Home Energy Scotland<br />

network of advice centres is useful or<br />

people can call 0808 808 2282; and for<br />

Wales, information is available on 0808<br />

808 2244 or via the Nest/Nyth website<br />

too. And for Northern Ireland, the Bryson<br />

Energy Advice Line on 0800 142 2865 can<br />

help.<br />

Whilst general advice is important, there<br />

is also a great diversity across the UK<br />

in everything to do with energy – some<br />

people live in modern houses designed<br />

with energy efficiency in mind; others live<br />

in rambling older houses which can be<br />

hard to heat and have little insulation;<br />

and others still live in rural communities<br />

where oil-fired heating is all that is on offer.<br />

The upshot of this is that energy advice<br />

often needs to be individualised to the<br />

household. Think about the people your<br />

own situation – is your house left empty<br />

all day, or do you need to maintain an<br />

ambient temperature 24/7 to support<br />

elderly or vulnerable people who are at<br />

home all day?<br />

Some organisations for example,<br />

specialise in focusing on different or<br />

specific needs, such as those who:<br />

• struggle to pay their bills<br />

• switch off the heat to save money<br />

• have electric only heating<br />

• have a pre-payment meter<br />

• are in debt to their fuel suppliers<br />

• live in a house which is difficult to heat<br />

• are unable to access online-only<br />

deals for whatever reason<br />

With the impact of COVID-19 starting to<br />

pinch people’s pay packets, employment<br />

opportunities and household incomes,<br />

more and more people need help with<br />

energy bills this year.<br />

Benefits and financial help<br />

Depending on where you live and<br />

the policies of the main or devolved<br />

government in that area, financial help<br />

may be available for energy-related<br />

issues. These include things like:<br />

• Winter fuel payments – Between<br />

£100 and £300 for people born<br />

before 5/10/54<br />

• Warm Home Discount Scheme – up<br />

to £140 one-off payment for eligible<br />

people<br />

• Cold weather payments – £25<br />

payment made to people on certain<br />

benefits if the weather is zero<br />

Celsius or less on 7 consecutive days<br />

between 1/11/20 and 31/3/21<br />

There are other benefits for people with<br />

disabilities, chronic illnesses or visual<br />

or hearing impairment and others may<br />

also be able to get help from their energy<br />

company themselves so it’s important<br />

to ask. It’s important also to check that<br />

people are claiming all the benefits that<br />

they are entitled to and charities like<br />

Turn2us can help with going through<br />

individual circumstances to check they<br />

are.<br />

Top tips for saving energy in<br />

your home or work setting<br />

1. Switch supplier to a cheaper one or<br />

ask your existing supplier if you are<br />

on the cheapest or most suitable<br />

tariff<br />

2. Organise a dual fuel discount by<br />

getting your gas and electricity from<br />

one supplier<br />

3. Check if you are eligible for any<br />

grants to make your home more<br />

energy efficient (e.g. by fitting a new<br />

boiler/heating or insulation)<br />

4. Change to direct debit which often<br />

offers a small discount over other<br />

payment methods<br />

5. Switch to energy-saving, or LED light<br />

bulbs<br />

6. Switch off items that you usually leave<br />

on standby like TVs or computers<br />

7. Use a smart meter to see when and<br />

where you are using most energy<br />

8. Switch off lights in rooms you are not<br />

using<br />

9. Fit a water efficient shower head and<br />

spend 1 minute less in the shower<br />

each time<br />

10. Reduce your washing by one load a<br />

week<br />

11. Switch off the radiators in rooms you<br />

don’t use<br />

12. Only fill the kettle with the amount of<br />

water you need to boil<br />

13. Turn the heating down by 1 or 2<br />

degrees<br />

14. Close doors to reduce draughts or use<br />

curtains and draught-excluders<br />

15. Compare oil prices on the<br />

oilsave.org website if you use oil to<br />

heat your home<br />

Remember that being energy efficient<br />

is not just about saving money, but if<br />

we all reduced our energy consumption<br />

even just a little, this might add up to a<br />

big impact on our planet too. Teaching<br />

your little ones is also part and parcel<br />

of the process to help them grow into<br />

responsible adults, so starting in the<br />

early years is crucial.<br />

32 <strong>January</strong> <strong>2021</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>January</strong> <strong>2021</strong> 33

Do you teach<br />

phonics in<br />

nursery?<br />

Should phonics be taught in Nursery? It is<br />

an interesting question.<br />

Some may say:<br />

• children of this age are far too young<br />

to learn phonics, let them play!<br />

• children have too much to do already<br />

without learning to read before they<br />

are 4<br />

• children do phonics at school not<br />

nursery<br />

• I have not been trained on how to<br />

teach phonics<br />

• children have more important things<br />

to learn<br />

The Rose Review (2006) found that early<br />

years educators are concerned about the<br />

important issue of when to start phonics.<br />

All are valid reasons which I will address<br />

in this article but firstly, we should take<br />

a closer look at what Phase 1 phonics<br />

actually is because there appears to be<br />

a misconception around phonics and the<br />

various phases.<br />

What is Phase 1 phonics?<br />

Phase 1 phonics concentrates on<br />

developing children’s speaking and<br />

listening skills and lays the foundations<br />

for the phonic work which starts in Phase<br />

2. Phase 1 is about getting children<br />

attuned to sounds around them ready to<br />

begin developing oral blending (putting<br />

sounds together to make a word) and<br />

segmenting (separating sounds to help<br />

read a word) skills. Therefore Phase 1<br />

phonics is Communication and Language,<br />

one of the prime areas of the EYFS. The<br />

prime areas are the most important to<br />

be taught in nursery. The aspects relating<br />

to Communication and Language are:<br />

responding to sounds, play with sounds,<br />

songs and rhymes, listening to others,<br />

understanding questions, developing<br />

a concept of things, understanding<br />

prepositions such as on top, under etc.<br />

What are the benefits of<br />

teaching this?<br />

After looking into what Phase 1 is, we can<br />

see that it is also actually extremely useful<br />

in teaching children the prime areas of<br />

the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)<br />

Physical Development, Communication<br />

and Language and Personal Social and<br />

Emotional Development. These areas<br />

are the basis of the EYFS. The statutory<br />

framework for the Early Years Foundation<br />

Stage (2017) states that the prime areas of<br />

learning are ‘particularly crucial for igniting<br />

children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for<br />

learning, and for building their capacity to<br />

learn, form relationships and thrive ‘.<br />

The EPPE research cited in the Rose Review<br />

(2006) found that attendance at<br />

high-quality, pre-school provision reduced<br />

the proportion of children entering<br />

school with low cognitive and language<br />

skills which put them at risk of a poor<br />

start to learning. With Phase 1 being<br />

the foundation for phonics and Phase<br />

2 predominantly being taught when<br />

children start school, it is crucial for this<br />

to be taught in nursery. Children are<br />

usually ready to learn Phase 1 phonics but<br />

ultimately, it is down to the professional<br />

judgement of the early years educator<br />

to decide if the child is ready to develop<br />

their communication and language skills<br />

or if they would benefit from developing<br />

other skills first. However, without a solid<br />

understanding of Phase 1 phonics, some<br />

children will ultimately struggle later in<br />

their education so it is vital not to miss this<br />

stage. This is where reception teachers<br />

need to focus on Phase 1 in reception if it<br />

has not been developed in nursery. Phase<br />

1 is not teaching letters, and letters should<br />

not be taught before Phase 1. As exciting<br />

as this may seem, children tend to plateau<br />

and need to go back to Phase 1, delaying<br />

their learning. Many teachers report that<br />

children in reception, year 1 and even year<br />

2 lack the Phase 1 skills that have been<br />

missed. Teachers also report a huge leap<br />

in progress when children have a solid<br />

understanding of Phase 1 when entering<br />

reception.<br />

How do we teach it?<br />

Singing every day will develop language<br />

and emotional wellbeing. Reading picture<br />

books with children, identifying objects<br />

and sounds and singing. A ‘singing apron’<br />

or ‘singing bag’ is really good fun where<br />

an object can be pulled out by a child for<br />

example a bobbin for the song; “Wind the<br />

bobbin up”, or a bus for the song; “The<br />

wheels on the bus”. To enhance learning<br />

opportunities of gross and fine motor<br />

skills, each song can have actions that you<br />

create with the children, you can do these<br />

standing up to help develop children’s<br />

balance, co-ordination, body awareness<br />

and rhyme.<br />

The key is to make it fun and exciting,<br />

which is why the early years staffroom<br />

have created the Phase 1 Phonics<br />

Program (also available to download for<br />

all members on the website) for all early<br />

years educators. It is a simple guide to<br />

teaching phonics Phase 1 through playing<br />

games such as mystery object, giant<br />

battleships and pirates’ loot. Many have<br />

reported that this has given them a greater<br />

understanding of Phase 1 phonics.<br />

Conclusion<br />

Peckham (2017) states that if not<br />

‘preparation for school’ what is the purpose<br />

of early years provision? I prefer to rephrase<br />

this to the purpose of early years education<br />

is to prepare children for further education.<br />

Phase 1 phonics is just one small; part of<br />

the EYFS, it is teaching essential speaking<br />

and listening skills that are an essential<br />

part of education. It is certainly possible<br />

to start early phonic work while still giving<br />

children access to the full range of learning<br />

and development opportunities in the EYFS.<br />

A short fun game outside geared to teach<br />

children these skills is not going to have<br />

a negative impact on the long periods of<br />

essential play that children need to acquire<br />

the characteristics to be effective learners<br />

in the future, for example, their creativity,<br />

imagination and problem-solving skills. If<br />

children can have it all, which they should<br />

be able to, they will have a solid start to<br />

their future learning.<br />

References<br />

• Department for Education and Skills<br />

(2006). Independent Review of the Early<br />

Teaching of Reading, Jim Rose.<br />

• Department for Education (2017)<br />

Statutory Framework for the Early Years<br />

Foundation Stage. Available at: https://<br />

www.gov.uk/government/publications/<br />

early-years-foundation-stageframework--2.<br />

• Peckham, K., 2017. Developing School<br />

Readiness. [Place of publication not<br />

identified]: Sage Publications.<br />

• Early Years Staffroom, 2002. Phase<br />

1 Phonics Program, Early Years<br />

Staffroom.<br />

If you would like to become a member of<br />

the Early Years Staffroom please join here.<br />

Katherine<br />

Houghton<br />

Katherine is a passionate and<br />

experienced Early Years Specialist with a<br />

business background. After eight years<br />

of working in the corporate world as a<br />

Project Manager, she had her first child<br />

which, as the cliché goes; changed<br />

her life. She began researching<br />

parenting techniques which led her<br />

to the amazing book “Unconditional<br />

Parenting” by Alfie Kohn. Following this<br />

she realised she wanted to make a<br />

difference in the world of early years.<br />

Katherine gained a Diploma in Childcare<br />

and went onto to do her Early Years<br />

PGCE. She now has over 10 years’<br />

experience in early years, teaching<br />

within schools with highlights including;<br />

writing a phonics program for Phase<br />

1 which is now published on Amazon<br />

and used in many nurseries around the<br />

country, setting up a nursery within a<br />

school and writing award winning blogs<br />

and articles about early years in her<br />

website www.earlyyearsstaffroom.com.<br />

Katherine currently runs Little Outdoor<br />

Explorers, writes books and is training<br />

to be a Forest School Leader as well<br />

as completing her Masters in Early<br />

Childhood at the University of Sheffield.<br />

Katherine is dedicated to making a<br />

difference and evolving the early years<br />

curriculum by researching about her<br />

passion; the most important years in<br />

education....the early years.<br />

34 <strong>January</strong> <strong>2021</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>January</strong> <strong>2021</strong> 35


Burns Night thistle<br />

We are delighted to welcome<br />

Early Years Staffroom to<br />

the Parenta family! Author<br />

Katherine Houghton will be<br />

teasing our taste buds each<br />

month with a scrumptious<br />

recipe from her “Early Years<br />

Recipes for Children” book,<br />

available to purchase here.<br />

This book would make a<br />

fantastic gift for anyone<br />

who works in early years<br />

or for any parent who loves<br />

cooking with their children<br />

- or even for children who<br />

love cooking without their<br />

parents!<br />

What do you need?<br />

• Plain flour<br />

• Caster sugar<br />

• Eggs<br />

• Vanilla essence<br />

• Unsalted butter<br />

This month we celebrate Scottish poet and lyricist Robert Burns. And we couldn’t think<br />

of a better way to do it than to create a popsicle stick thistle! You can find out more about<br />

Burns in our article on page 20.<br />

You will need:<br />

• Green craft paper<br />

• Popsicle sticks<br />

• Purple tissue paper<br />

• Glue<br />

• Scissors<br />

• Pencil<br />

Instructions<br />

What’s more...we have<br />

a copy to give away!<br />

Simply send an email to<br />

marketing@parenta.com<br />

with the subject line of<br />

“Cook Book Giveaway” by<br />

Wednesday 20th <strong>January</strong><br />

<strong>2021</strong>. Please include your<br />

name and your setting<br />

name and a winner will<br />

be drawn at random<br />

and announced in next<br />

month’s magazine.<br />

Good luck!<br />

1. Weigh 350 grams of plain<br />

flour and add to your<br />

bowl.<br />

2. Weigh 175 grams of butter<br />

and add to your bowl.<br />

3. Mix the butter and the<br />

flour with your hands.<br />

4. Weigh 200 grams of sugar<br />

and add to the bowl.<br />

5. Add a few drops of Vanilla<br />

Essence.<br />

6. Crack an egg in.<br />

7. Mix up with your hands<br />

until it is a nice dough.<br />

8. Sprinkle some flour onto<br />

the table and roll out with<br />

a rolling pin.<br />

9. Cut out the biscuits in a<br />

shape of your choice.<br />

10. Place on a baking tray.<br />

11. Pop into the oven on 180<br />

degrees, for 10 minutes.<br />

12. Let the biscuits cool, and<br />

sprinkle with sugar. Enjoy!<br />

Instructions:<br />

1. Draw the outline of your thistle leaves and<br />

head on the green paper and carefully cut<br />

it out.<br />

2. Take a strip of the purple tissue paper and<br />

cut a long rectangular strip. Fold the long<br />

part of the strip in half and then cut the top<br />

of the paper halfway through to create a<br />

petal look – see the image.<br />

3. Glue the tissue paper along the edge which<br />

hasn’t been cut and carefully wrap this<br />

around the top of the stick.<br />

4. Put some glue on the thistle head paper<br />

and glue it to the top of the stick, just<br />

underneath the petal, then put glue on the<br />

leaves-shaped paper and glue it about<br />

halfway down the stick.<br />

5. Your Scottish thistle is done! We hope the<br />

children will enjoy it and it makes a perfect<br />

little gift to send all the <strong>January</strong> blues<br />

away!<br />

36 <strong>January</strong> <strong>2021</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>January</strong> <strong>2021</strong> 37

Story massage<br />

Adding positive touch to<br />

stories and rhymes<br />

The enjoyment of stories and rhymes is as<br />

natural and intuitive as sharing the benefits<br />

of nurturing touch. The Story Massage<br />

Programme is a fun way of bringing<br />

storytelling and positive touch together<br />

with simple massage strokes (given<br />

through clothes) that are used to ‘illustrate’<br />

the words of the story. This powerful<br />

combination can encourage relaxation<br />

and wellbeing, emotional regulation and<br />

building positive relationships.<br />

The Story Massage Programme is a set of<br />

ten easy-to-follow massage strokes, each<br />

with a child-friendly name such as The<br />

Wave or The Sprinkle, and a symbol. These<br />

strokes are used to represent a range of<br />

actions, objects and emotions to really<br />

bring the words of a story or rhyme to life.<br />

Tracing a large circle on a child’s back, for<br />

example, can depict a sun while raking the<br />

fingers can illustrate lions’ claws. It is a fun<br />

and fully inclusive activity which is enjoyed<br />

in a range of settings with children and<br />

adults of all ages and abilities – from 0 to<br />

100 years.<br />

38 <strong>January</strong> <strong>2021</strong> | parenta.com<br />

The programme is wonderfully flexible<br />

and can be adapted to suit the particular<br />

needs of individuals, groups and<br />

occasions. No oil is used, and children do<br />

not need to remove any clothes. Massage<br />

stories can be shared as adult to child or<br />

peer massage – as a personalised session<br />

or a group activity. Children can sit (or<br />

stand), one-to-one, in a line or in a circle.<br />

Strokes can be given on any part of the<br />

body that is accessible and appropriate.<br />

You can choose favourite or<br />

curriculum-based stories, rhymes and<br />

books to adapt as massage stories, or<br />

write new ones as a fun and creative<br />

activity to reflect interests, activities or<br />

events.<br />

Integral to the programme is asking<br />

permission to touch, and respect is shown<br />

for the right to decline to take part. At the<br />

end of the session, the person giving the<br />

massage story should thank the recipient<br />

for the chance to share the activity. This is<br />

proving to be a very helpful and effective<br />

way of starting to discuss the important<br />

issues of consent for touch.<br />

Here are some of the key benefits<br />

of introducing the Story Massage<br />

Programme:<br />

Building respect and positive<br />

relationships<br />

The shared connection of massage stories<br />

can help children see the benefits of being<br />

kind and respectful to others. Children<br />

are nurturing and caring in a safe and<br />

positive way that some may not have been<br />

able to access or express before. They<br />

become more sensitive to how their own<br />

actions and emotions can influence those<br />

of others. Over time, it can encourage<br />

discussion of concerns or anxieties in a<br />

safe and nurturing context, helping to<br />

foster positive, trusting bonds.<br />

One-to-one sessions with an adult can<br />

enhance a child’s awareness of being<br />

valued and brings a sense of self-worth.<br />

Stories can be chosen on topics such as<br />

making friends or having a new baby in<br />

the family.<br />

Regulating difficult emotions<br />

Sharing a massage story can help to calm<br />

a child at stressful times such as leaving<br />

a parent at the start of the day or after<br />

an argument with a friend. This simple<br />

interaction can help soothe and focus<br />

children, so they are able to move on to<br />

the next activity in a more positive frame of<br />

mind. Children also start to recognise that<br />

sharing a massage story can be used to<br />

help others when they are feeling sad or<br />

need some time to relax.<br />

Learning co-operation skills<br />

The shared experience of writing and<br />

giving/receiving massage stories can help<br />

children to support each other. They will<br />

often work together to become more<br />

self-aware and develop self-esteem.<br />

Examples could be writing a personalised<br />

massage story for a child’s birthday,<br />

preparing for an outing or learning the<br />

‘rules’ of the group. Celebrating different<br />

cultural events though massage stories<br />

provides opportunities for respectful<br />

reflection on the ways in which people<br />

from different cultures mark special<br />

occasions on their calendar.<br />

Relaxation of mind and body<br />

Story Massage sessions can offer a<br />

dedicated ‘calming time’ helping children<br />

to learn the essential life skill of conscious<br />

relaxation through first-hand experience.<br />

Children learn to ‘switch-off’ and enjoy the<br />

benefits of recharging and refreshing mind<br />

and body. The shared activity of a Story<br />

Massage session promotes ‘feel-good’<br />

hormones including oxytocin which helps to<br />

boost general wellbeing.<br />

Promoting literacy and<br />

creativity<br />

The storytelling element of the activity<br />

helps encourage children’s imagination<br />

and desire to read and write simple stories.<br />

It offers a chance for children to explore<br />

topics from a new angle and develop a<br />

wider vocabulary.<br />

Hickory Dickory Dock<br />

This rhyme, adapted for a Story Massage<br />

activity, uses three of the ten massage<br />

strokes. It is taken from the book: “Once<br />

Upon a Touch… Story Massage for<br />

Children” by Mary Atkinson and Sandra<br />

Hooper. The instructions are given for<br />

massaging a child’s back but do remember<br />

that you can massage wherever is most<br />

suitable for the recipient.<br />

Action<br />

You can follow along with this favourite<br />

nursery rhyme on the Story Massage<br />

Programme You Tube Channel: https://<br />

youtu.be/dDhmliTTCds<br />

The three strokes that are<br />

used are:<br />

The Bounce – With both hands working<br />

at the same time, place the pads of the<br />

fingers and thumbs on your partner’s back.<br />

Gently squeeze the fingers and thumb<br />

of each hand together and lift off quickly.<br />

Repeat this ‘bouncing’ move all over the<br />

back.<br />

The Sprinkle – With both hands working<br />

at the same time, lightly tap the pads of<br />

your fingers in a random fashion up the<br />

back as if playing the piano. This is a light<br />

and gentle movement.<br />

The Circle – Rest one hand on your<br />

partner’s shoulder. With the flat of one<br />

hand, make a large, circular movement on<br />

the back. This can be in a clockwise or<br />

anti-clockwise direction.<br />

Rhyme line<br />

First: ask for permission to touch<br />

Hickory dickory dock,<br />

The mouse ran up the clock,<br />

The clock struck one,<br />

The mouse ran down,<br />

Hickory dickory dock,<br />

Say ‘thank you’ to the recipient.<br />

Mary<br />

Atkinson<br />

Mary Atkinson (left) and Sandra Hooper<br />

(right) are co-founders of the Story<br />

Massage Programme, launched in 2013<br />

and now an international success.<br />

Mary is a complementary therapist,<br />

tutor and author of four books on<br />

massage including “Healing Touch for<br />

Children”. She regularly writes articles<br />

for national magazines on the power of<br />

positive touch.<br />

Sandra is an experienced primary<br />

school teacher and massage therapist.<br />

She has worked with national parenting<br />

programmes whose main goal is to<br />

increase the knowledge and confidence<br />

of parents. They share a passion<br />

for enabling others to deliver safe,<br />

nurturing touch to enrich the lives of<br />

children of all ages and abilities. In<br />

November 2020, Mary was presented<br />

with the FHT Complementary Therapist<br />

of the Year Award for her work with<br />

live Story Massage sessions during<br />

lockdown (accompanied by her welldressed<br />

Teddy, Emmanuel) on social<br />

media, bringing comfort and connection<br />

to thousands of people in pre-schools,<br />

homes and schools.<br />

You can find details of all her resources<br />

including “Once upon a touch...story<br />

massage for children” here and her<br />

flexible online training courses open to<br />

all can be found here.<br />

You can contact Mary through her<br />

website: www.storymassage.co.uk<br />

parenta.com | <strong>January</strong> <strong>2021</strong> 39

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Benefits of solar panels<br />

Solar panels capture the sun’s radiation and convert the<br />

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Save up to hundreds of pounds off your annual<br />

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Sell excess energy produced back to the grid,<br />

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Benefits of electric vehicle chargers<br />

Electric vehicle charging points in your school or<br />

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