April 2021 Magazine


Issue 77

APRIL 2021




Slower processing

speed - what does

it mean?


difference and




+ lots more

Write for us

for a chance to win


page 8

Celebrating Easter

around the world

Easter Sunday is the traditional day on which the Easter Bunny delivers Easter eggs to children, marking both the

new life expected in the coming spring and the circle of life. So how does the rest of the world celebrate Easter?



welcome to our family

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

As spring dawns, many people will be relieved that they are able to venture out of the house and spend more time in

the fresh air, but for millions, the arrival of spring means one thing…allergies – of all sorts! With 1 in 3 of us in the UK

suffering from an allergy, we have one of the highest rates of affected people in the world. During Allergy Awareness

Week this month, we explore ways to help you deal with a variety of allergies within your setting and give our top

tips on how to make leaning about them fun for the children. Turn to page 10 to find out more and to download our

wonderful free allergy placemat templates!

On 4th April, around 95 countries and thousands of communities globally will celebrate Easter Sunday, albeit in a variety of different

ways. We have taken a whistle-stop tour around the world to discover just some of the ways in which this major Christian festival is

commemorated. In keeping with Easter traditions, our Parenta juniors have been having so much fun making hot cross buns – and

‘testing’ them, of course! Turn to page 32 for a delicious recipe from industry expert, Katherine Houghton, and on the next page, you will

find a wonderful natural dye Easter egg craft, inspired by International Mother Earth day.

Last month saw many of us celebrating World Book Day in our settings, with the traditional dressing up as our favourite book characters.

This month, we are again able to celebrate the wonderful world of books. International Children’s Book Day is on 2nd April, which is Hans

Christian Andersen’s birthday.

As always, our magazine is packed with so much more! All the advice and guidance from our wonderful industry experts has been

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


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

Please stay safe everyone.




Awareness Week

1 in 3 of us in the UK suffer

from an allergy. We have

some top tips for how you

can deal with allergies in

your settings.



difference and


This article provides activities

that get children talking

about the differences they

see between one another.

Movement is for ALL



Movement classes should be fully

inclusive for all children, no matter what

their physical and emotional needs.




8 Write for us for the chance to

win £50!

8 Guest author winner announced

32 Hot cross buns

33 Natural dye Easter eggs

37 Congratulations to our learners


4 Childcare news and views

6 A round up of some news stories

that have caught our eye over the



10 Allergy Awareness Week

14 EYFS series: Education revisions and

ELGs part 3

18 Slower processing speed – what does it


24 Celebrating Easter around the world

28 International Children’s Book Day

36 Understanding the World…part

two: myself, other people and the

environment around us

Industry Experts

12 The development of responsibility in

the early years

16 Celebrating difference and


20 Movement is for ALL children

26 6 ways to support children to step into

being their best self

30 Following the roadmap…

34 Music and Understanding the World in

the early years: past and present

38 Boosting self-confidence

6 ways to support children to step into being their


best self

International Children’s Book Day 28

Music and Understanding the World in the early years:


past and present

Boosting self-confidence 38


news & views

COVID home-testing kits to be

given to all nursery staff in


Early years chiefs have welcomed the

announcement by the Department for

Education that all staff from the private,

voluntary and independent nurseries

(PVI) sector will have access to lateral flow

device (LFD) home tests twice-weekly as of

22nd March.

Ofsted says assurance

inspections will not restart in


Ofsted has announced that it will

not restart its early years assurance

inspections in March as previously


Ofsted planned to return to inspections, to

monitor whether childcare providers were

meeting the EYFS requirements from 8th

March, but decided to instead concentrate

on the return of full Education Inspection

Framework (EIF) inspections as soon as

possible in the summer term.

This decision will be kept under review.

Regulatory work in early years will

continue, as stated by Ofsted: “This work

will sometimes require on-site visits, which

will be risk-assessed based on the nature

of the premises and the urgency of the

work. As always, the safety and well-being

of children is our priority and we will take

urgent action where we have concerns.”

Read the full story on the Parenta website


Government’s confirmation of

phase 2 of the vaccinations

At the end of last month, the government

announced that phase 2 of the vaccination

rollout will continue by age as advised by

the Joint Committee on Vaccination and

Immunisation (JCVI) and Public Health

England (PHE).

Following the first priority groups, the

vaccination will be offered to adults in the

following order:

• Adults aged between 40 and 49

• Adults aged between 30 and 39

• Adults aged between 18 and 29

The government added that they predict

all adults will receive their first vaccination

by the end of July.

COVID-19 Chair for JCVI, Professor Wei

Shen Lim, said: “The risk of hospitalisation

and death increases with age. The

vaccination programme is a huge success

and continuing the age-based rollout will

provide the greatest benefit in the shortest

time, including to those in occupations at a

higher risk of exposure.”

The Early Years Alliance has had meetings

with the government in which they raise

their concerns with regards to frontline

early years workers still being at high risk.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Early

Years Alliance said: “It is incomprehensible

that yet again, early years workers have

been overlooked by the government and

told to wait for the vaccine. This is in spite

of a spike in COVID case reports within

the sector and the fact that early years

providers have been open to all children

throughout this latest lockdown.

Read the full story on the Parenta website


Employers to receive £3,000

cash incentive for all


In his spring budget, Rishi Sunak

announced that the employer’s cash

incentive for all apprentices will double to

£3,000 as of 1st April 2021 and is set to

continue until September 2021.

The chancellor first introduced the financial

incentive for employers in August 2020

and offered firms £2,000 to take on

apprentices aged 16 to 24, and those who

chose to employ a new apprentice aged

25 and over would only receive £1,500.

This is the current incentive scheme which

is ending in March.

The DfE has reported that the take up

was considerably lower than they had

anticipated. Their data shows that 25,420

employers have submitted claims for the

bonus as of 1 February 2021. The Treasury

had budgeted nearly 4 times that amount

of incentive payments for new apprentice


Read the full story on the Parenta website


It is well known that PVI nursery settings

were previously advised to access COVID

tests at their local community test centres.

This caused logistical issues for many

PVI nursery settings because their local

community testing centres are located

miles away. The testing centres were also

only open during working hours which

often caused a timing issue for nurseries.

In an article published on daynurseries.

co.uk it is reported that the early years

sector has been campaigning for PVI

nurseries to be treated the same as school

nurseries and be given testing kits since

December, and that the announcement

was welcomed by the Early Years

Alliance and the National Day Nurseries

Association. However the sector is still

frustrated about waiting another month

before the home testing will be rolled out

across the country.

Read the full story on the Parenta website


Home-testing kits at last for

nurseries and pre-schools

Lateral flow devices for COVID-19 testing

are starting to make their way into

nurseries and pre-schools and staff have

been told by the DfE that they are able to

start using them from 22nd March.

The existing government guidance on

rapid lateral flow testing was updated on

16th March and now applies to nursery

staff, including anyone in the household

or support bubble of nursery children and

nursery staff. Households, childcare and

support bubbles of nursery children will

now have regular access to rapid lateral

flow tests.

Read the full story on the Parenta website


Cost of childcare increases by

4% due to COVID-19 pandemic

Figures from the recent Coram Family and

Childcare survey have revealed that the

cost of childcare has increased by 4% on

average due to the current pandemic. It’s

no secret that every industry has been

affected by the pandemic and the early

years sector has faced major trials and

tribulations during the past year.

The survey shows that childcare providers

are struggling to remain stable. Results

show that over a third (35%) of local

authorities reported an increase in the

number of providers permanently closing in

the last year, but the majority did not report

an increase in shortages of childcare – this

is perhaps due to a decrease in demand

during the pandemic. The survey further

reveals that nearly 40% of local authorities

in England have reported that providers

have increased their prices.

Megan Jarvie, head of Coram Family

and Childcare, said: “The pandemic has

reminded us all of the vital importance

of childcare, in enabling parents to work,

boosting children’s learning and narrowing

the gap between disadvantaged children

and their peers. However, the crisis has

also exacerbated the issues that exist in the

sector. For too many families, the system

simply isn’t working, and they are left

struggling to make work pay after childcare

costs, or are forced out of the workplace


Read the full story on the Parenta website


Childcare providers given

guidance by GCHQ to help stop

cyber attacks

Childcare providers have been offered

advice and guidance on how to protect

sensitive data and safeguard staff and

children by minimising the risk of a cyber

security incident.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC),

part of GCHQ – the UK’s intelligence, cyber

and security agency – has published

this guidance which offers early years

practitioners top tips on how to protect their

devices and data from cyber incidents.

The guidance, which has been produced

in consultation with major stakeholders,

covers topics including setting up strong

passwords on devices and accounts, how

to communicate with families safely, and

dealing with suspicious messages.

Sarah Lyons, NCSC deputy director for

Economy and Society Engagement, said:

“We know that incidents affecting the

education sector are increasingly common,

so it’s vital that all providers know how to

secure their devices and sensitive data.

“As many early years practitioners work on

their own without dedicated IT support, this

guidance sets out the practical first steps

they can take to protect themselves from

cyber incidents.

“By following our advice, they’ll not only be

keeping their businesses safe, but will also

be keeping those in their care and families

safe too.”

Read the full story on the Parenta website


4 April 2021 | parenta.com

parenta.com | April 2021 5

A round up of some news

stories that have caught

our eye over the month

Story source and image credits to:

Daily Record, Warrington Guardian, Barking and Dagenham Post,

South Wales Argus, Children and Young People Now, FE News,

Manchester Evening News, Derbyshire Times, Day Nurseries

Horn End Nursery superhero

activities and fundraising to

celebrate Captain Tom

Children at Horn End had been talking

about Captain Tom and had discussed

how all superheroes don’t wear cloaks!

Watermead Day Nursery

celebrates National

Intergenerational Week

A group of children and staff visited local

neighbours leaving a bunch of spring

flowers on every doorstep to cheer them

up on National Intergenerational Week.

First UK council to introduce

clothing and footwear grant for

nursery children

North Lanarkshire have extended

existing grants for school pupils to

include families with children in early

years settings.

Huge developments for Stepping

Stones Nursery, Great Sanjay

The nursery building will have space for

over 100 children aged 0-5. The twostorey

building will replace their current

building and will include sensory areas.

Kids Inc. Nurseries pledges to

raise annual £5000 donation for

children’s hospitals

The nursery pledge to raise money for

sick children at the King George and

Queen’s hospitals.

Raglan Nursery parents fundraise

for memory trees

To commemorate the hard work of

nursery staff in 2020, the parents of

children at the nursery decided to buy

trees as a memory of the year and to

create shade and attract wildlife.

A third of local authorities

increase childcare costs during

the pandemic

New apprenticeship project

to increase number of men

working in childcare

Vaccine confusion as some

nursery staff were vaccinated

whilst others turned away

Derbyshire Nursery use nursery

rhymes to help language


94 trauma teddies gifted to

children to boost mental


Click here to send in

your stories to


Research has found that on average

parents are paying four percent more

for childcare catering for children aged 2

and above.

Kids Planet create new project to

increase diversity in the early years

workforce by increasing male staff who

are poorly represented in the sector.

Frustration caused by confusion over

the eligibility of vaccines for nursery

workers within Greater Manchester

after incorrect guidance.

Derby Theatre created nursery rhyme

videos to encourage parents and carers

to help their children enjoy stories.

After not being able to hug their

grannies during the pandemic Papdale

Nursery use the donated teddies to

give added comfort and provide a

sense of belonging.

6 April 2021 | parenta.com

parenta.com | April 2021 7

We’re always on the lookout

for new authors to contribute

insightful articles for our

monthly magazine.

Write for us!

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

why not send an article to us and be in with a

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

away Amazon vouchers to our “Guest Author of

the Month”. You can find all the details here:


Revised EYFS

Training with Linden Early Years

Keeping children at the heart of early

childhood education and care

Tamsin Grimmer is the early years director for Linden

Learning. If you have enjoyed reading Tamsin’s articles

every month, why not invite Linden Early Years to

deliver bespoke training at your setting?

Training is currently offered through online sessions

and webinars.




Keeping chil

early childhoo

Tamsin Grimmer is the

Learning. If you have

articles every month,

Years to deliver bespo

Training is currently off


Tamsin is pleased to offer training on the revised EYFS. The

Tamsin is pleased to offer train

session considers the main changes to the statutory

framework whilst looking at what constitutes effective considers the main changes

pedagogy in the early years.

looking at what constitutes ef

Recent feedback:

Recent Feedback :

“This session felt a wonderfully

This session felt a wonderfully engaging and exciting with explorative adventure, learning throug

with explorative learning through multiple mediums, collecting our ideas, and sharing

collaboratively collecting our ideas, and sharing our own

perspectives. Thank you for a gr

“ experiences and perspectives. Thank you for a great session


Twitter: @LindenEY

Facebook: www.facebook.com/Lindenearlyyears/

Twitter: @LindenEY

Facebook: https://www.face

Website: https://www.linde

Email: tamsin.grimmer@lind

Website: www.lindenearlyyears.org/

Email: tamsin.grimmer@lindenlearning.org


to our guest author competition winner, Tamsin Grimmer!

Congratulations to Tamsin Grimmer, our guest author

of the month! Her article “Home-learning again!” was

extremely topical and included useful wellbeing tips

for parents to stay sane during those difficult times

of balancing work life and being a teacher at home.

Well done Tamsin!

A massive thank you to all of our guest authors for

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

from our guest authors on our website:


8 April 2021 | parenta.com

parenta.com | April 2021 9


Awareness Week

As spring dawns, are you kicking up

your heels in delight, rushing out into the

garden, gloves on and secateurs in hand?

Or are you one of the millions of people

who are instead, reaching for the tissues

and the antihistamines, staring out

longingly from behind closed windows

due to hay fever? But it’s not just hay

fever that is causing us problems. There

are around 21 million people in the UK

living with allergies to pollen, dust, food,

animals and many more things. There

are pollutants that can affect us in the

atmosphere, our homes, work and leisure

places. Even the people and animals we

love can be a potential source of irritation

and we’re not talking about what they say

and do here, it could be their perfume,

something they’ve touched or eaten, or

the fur off the pets they own.

With 1 in 3 of us in the UK suffering from

an allergy, we have one of the highest

rates of allergy-affected people in the

world. According to Allergy UK, the

number of us suffering from allergies

is on the rise. Half of the people who

suffer from allergies have more than one

allergy. Allergies are the most common

health condition in the whole of Europe.

What are allergies?

In people who suffer from allergies, their

immune system mistakes a substance

that is usually harmless to most people,

such as pollen or food, for something

that is dangerous and starts to attack

it. The normally harmless substances

are then called allergens. When these

allergens enter the body either through

the nose, eyes, mouth or skin, they trigger

a hypersensitivity reaction which can lead

to different symptoms depending on the

type of allergy, but can include itchiness,

sneezing, redness, weepy eyes, dry

throat, headaches, shortness of breath,

or in the case of a severe reaction,

anaphylaxis and even death.

Allergy Awareness Week

Monday 26th – 30th April 2021 is Allergy

Awareness Week. It is run by the charity,

Allergy UK, who aim to help organisations

and people who live with allergies, by

providing them with information and help

about allergies and raise awareness of

the issues that allergy sufferers face. This

year, they have partnered with Kleenex®

to “help the 13 million people in the

UK suffering with hay fever live more

comfortably - by sharing simple, easily

accessible advice on how to help manage

symptoms and make the most out of the


But it’s not just about hay fever as

we’ve learnt. There are many factsheets

available on their website including

information about:

• Hay fever (allergic rhinitis)

• Asthma and respiratory allergy

• Food allergy

• Anaphylaxis and severe allergy

• Childhood food allergy

• Eczema and dermatitis

• Peanut allergy

• Urticaria (hives) and other skin


• Drug allergies

And these are just the tip of the iceberg!

Allergens are everywhere; at home,

outside and in our settings. There are

many myths about allergies too. A lot of

people wrongly believe that if hay fever

sufferers just stay indoors, for example,

they will be fine, but this is far from the

case. Pollen can enter indoor spaces

through windows, doors, vents and on

clothing and pets and the pollen count is

often highest in the early morning and

at dusk. There is a fun and interactive

‘Allergy House’ on the website which you

can use to teach the little ones about

things in the house that might cause

allergies for people and about where

allergens can lurk.

Dealing with allergies in your


Information is key

It is important that you know if any of your

children, staff or volunteers suffer from

allergies and whether these are mild,

serious or potentially life-threatening, so

you need to make sure that your data

collection protocols are robust and that

once collected, the information is passed

on to the people who need to know. It is

no good being proud that you and your

office staff are aware of allergies, if the

key person and the catering staff do not!

Ensure your policies are

effective in relation to allergies

If you have people who suffer from

allergies, then you will need effective

health and safety policies in place to cover

the administration of any medications

needed both as prophylaxis and as first

aid. If a person’s allergy is severe, they

may need an epi-pen or equivalent in case

of anaphylaxis. Many older people can

administer these themselves, but obviously

younger children cannot, and your staff

need to be aware of how to treat this if it

happens, so will need regular and up-todate

first aid training.

Most settings also ban a lot of potentially

dangerous foods such as nuts because of

the risks to sufferers with severe allergies if

they come into contact with certain foods.

And again, making sure everyone knows,

and are reminded regularly, needs to be

something that is done routinely. If you

have events or opportunities for children

to associate with animals, ensure that you

have done your due diligence regarding

allergies first.

Keep a clean space

Obviously, you will be keeping your

settings and rooms hygienic and clean as

a matter of course, and with the advent

of coronavirus, we have all become much

more aware of potential ‘nasties’ in our

spaces. However, many people who suffer

with eczema or dermatitis have reported

their conditions getting worse due to

the increased hand-washing and use of

harsh, antibacterial hand gels, so you may

want to be sensitive to this too.

Make learning about allergies


As with all things, no one wants to be the

outsider, so helping children to understand

why some children can’t have certain

things is important, and you need to do

so in a way that doesn’t make the child

feel excluded or isolated. Why not hold an

‘allergen-hunt’ during the week to identify

potential allergens around the setting?

– cut out images of possible allergens

and hide them, asking the children to find

them. When they do, you can teach them

how to reduce the risk from that allergy –

e.g. if they find a dust mite image (make

it look friendly), you can tell them that

keeping houses and workspaces clean will


You can also find further support on the

Allergy UK helpline on 01322 619898.

Free Allergy placemat templates from

Parenta - Download here!

10 April 2021 | parenta.com

parenta.com | April 2021 11

The development of responsibility

2. Understanding the


in the early years

All too often we see responsibility as something children will automatically acquire as soon as

they are old enough. However, responsibility is a complex process. It is not simply about being old

enough or independent enough.

Responsibility is built on a series of skills and aptitudes accumulated during the early years and

beyond. Children develop responsibility best when these individual skills are actively encouraged,

and when teachers are intentional about supporting and modelling personal and social

responsibility in their practice.

Personal responsibility

Personal responsibility is about being

responsible for our belongings, our

time and our actions. The development

of personal responsibility, like selfregulation,

takes decades to develop,

with skill upon skill being built over the

years. These skills include:

• Self-awareness - helping a child

understand their own likes, needs

and feelings - I like football. I am

hungry. I feel sad

• Social awareness - helping a child

understand and be respectful of

other people’s feelings/perspectives

• Confidence - giving children a voice

and agency

• Self-regulation - giving children a

means to calm and soothe because

they understand/use a broad

emotional vocabulary, feel included,

and can engage and adapt to the

routines and rituals within their world

Social responsibility

Social responsibility is about children

recognising their role in the world

and learning to be proactive and


The benefits of social responsibility go

further than ‘doing good’ or ‘helping out’.

Social responsibility helps build vital social

and emotional skills.

A study in Kenya demonstrated that

young rural children who took twice as

much responsibility for work tasks as their

urban counterparts tended to be ‘more

sociable, less aggressive, and sought

fewer resources from their mothers’. 1 This

is extraordinary! Giving children small

acts of responsibility gradually expands

their sense of personal responsibility

beyond themselves. As a result, they

begin to become more self-reliant,

accountable and dependable.

The importance of

understanding our


There are two important components to

responsibility, without which it cannot


1. Understanding the


Children need to understand their world

and its countless routines and rituals.

This is because responsibility always has

a context. For example, when a child

knows that plates and utensils are used

at mealtimes, the ritual of laying the table

is clear.

Within such familiar frameworks, young

children learn and develop successful

strategies for small acts of responsibility.

They can choose what clothes to wear,

what book to take home, who/what to

play with, etc. The more they understand

these frameworks, the more opportunities

they have to demonstrate responsibility.

When children understand they are a part

of a wider community, they can begin to

recognise their bigger role within it. This

is influenced by their active participation

and relies on a particular set of skills.

These skills are foundational not only

for personal wellbeing, but also for the

health and wellbeing of the community.

These skills are:

• Building relationships with each

other, the community and beyond

• Learning about family, community

and culture in the wider world

• Understanding that everyone has

equal and significant value

• Understanding how their actions can

affect others

How do we teach


Responsibility is a skill that grows

and builds within the safe structure of

routine and a loving community. As with

any skill, we need to help children to

understand their role as a member of

the community, supporting them as they

carry out both personal and shared acts

of responsibility.

How can we best do this?

• Model responsibility

Children make thousands of decisions

each day. Being responsible involves an

important decision or choice – namely, do

I carry out this act of responsibility or not?

We can support this process by modelling

decision-making as the child encounters

that choice - for example, the decision to

tidy away a toy, wipe the table, carry the

book. We need to be explicit:

“The table needs wiping. Let’s find a

cloth”. “We’ve spilt the milk. Let’s clear it


• Giving choices

“The choices we make are ultimately our

responsibility.” 2

Making choices is part and parcel of

responsibility because responsibility

always comes with a choice. This

may be about personal responsibility,

“Shall I have milk or water?” Or shared

responsibility, “shall I put my toys away or

go outside?”

Children can only get better at choicemaking

if they are given numerous

opportunities to make choices. As they

actively see how making a choice benefits

them, their ability to take responsibility

will be positively influenced. For example,

when the child puts their bike in the shed,

it is dry when they next want to ride it.


The roots of personal and social

responsibility start to grow early in our

children’s lives, and it is our responsibility

to make sure we support its development.

It will not grow unless we encourage it!

Give children a strong framework

of familiar routines along with clear

guidelines about daily choices. Show

them what to do. Let them practise

over and over again these small acts

of responsibility that are the precursor

to social and global responsibility.

Responsibility grows in direct proportion

to the number of opportunities we are

given to be responsible.

Personal responsibility is the foundation

of civilisation, social responsibility equates

to progress and global responsibility is

the ultimate goal.

In short, when we teach responsibility, we

can build good citizens, effective leaders

and strong communities.

Let the work begin!

Helen Garnett

Helen Garnett is a mother of 4, and

a committed and experienced early

years consultant. She has a wealth

of experience in teaching, both in

the primary and early years sectors.

She co-founded a pre-school in 2005

where she developed a keen interest

in early intervention, leading her into

international work for the early years

sector. Helen cares passionately

about young children and connection.

As a result, she wrote her first book,

“Developing Empathy in the Early Years:

a guide for practitioners” for which she

won the Professional Books category

at the 2018 Nursery World Awards,

and “Building a Resilient Early Years

Workforce”, published by Early Years

Alliance in June 2019. She also writes

articles for early years magazines, such

as Nursery World, Early Years Teacher

Organisation, QA Education, Teach Early

Years, and Early Years Educator.

Helen is the co-founder and Education

Director at Arc Pathway, an early years

platform for teachers and parents.

Helen can be contacted via LinkedIn.


1. Weisner, Thomas S., Urban-Rural

Differences in Sociable and Disruptive

Behaviour of Kenya Children.

Ethnology, 18:2 (1979 Apr) p. 165

2. Eleanor Roosevelt

12 April 2021 | parenta.com

parenta.com | April 2021 13

EYFS series: Education

concept that some objects are bigger or

taller than other objects, then inevitably

you will be covering some area of space

and measure as well.

revisions and ELGs part 3

In this article we look at the upcoming

changes to the specific areas of the Early

Learning Goals, those for:

• Literacy

• Mathematics

• Understanding the world

• Creative art and design


The main change here is the addition

of “Comprehension” with ‘Reading’ and

‘Writing’. After all, what is the point of

learning to ‘read’ if you don’t understand

what you’ve read? That would be like

being able to read a foreign language,

but having no understanding of what it

means – it’s pointless. Ensuring children

comprehend and understand what

they read, or probably more precisely,

what the practitioner reads, is crucial.

Interestingly, the expectation that children

will demonstrate an understanding of

‘what they have read’ has gone, which

implies that reading independently by the

end of the Reception year is not realistic

for most children.

Paraphrasing the new ELG for Literacy

slightly, children at the expected level of

development will:

• Understand what has been read to

them, retell stories and narratives in

their own words

• Anticipate events in stories

• Use new vocabulary in discussions

and role plays

Last month we discussed the importance

of, and emphasis on oral communication

in early years, and is underlined in the

new ELGs for literacy too since there is

an obvious link to understanding and

vocabulary. The emphasis now is more

on the ability of students to understand

words they hear, and use them in their

own communication rather than stress

reading in early years. Clearly reading

is the ultimate end goal, but how this

is done is still up for discussion. Many

early learning educators choose to

support children in developing phonemic

awareness, phonological awareness

and phonics knowledge in the

pre-school years through a number of

different methods including purposeful

play, linking pictures, sounds and letters/

words or formal phonics. However, with

children, there is rarely a ‘one size fits all’

approach, and each setting will have their

own literacy challenges, and should tailor

their approach to the literacy curriculum

according to their own needs. Perhaps

your setting has a higher proportion of

disadvantaged children at risk of falling

behind in language, or a high proportion

of EAL children, or parents who push for

early phonics at the expense of other

learning areas. Only you will be able to

determine what is right for the literacy

development of the children in your


Whilst we have focused here on ‘reading’

and ‘comprehension’ mainly, the ‘writing’

element has remained consistent, so

encouraging mark-making in different

media and scenarios will also remain



Much has been written about the changes

to the Maths ELGs, especially with the

removal of “Shape, Space and Measure”,

replaced by “Numerical Patterns”. Some

people have been upset with the greater

emphasis on number bonds, counting

and patterns, however, within early years,

much of the Maths curriculum involves

teaching numeracy by using shapes,

space and measures anyway, so the

debate may be more about semantics

than practice. For example, when you

show a triangle to a pre-schooler, you are

not only teaching the name of the shape,

but also that triangles have 3 sides, and

usually, that it has fewer sides than a

square (4 sides). Children often play with

different-shaped polygons way before they

can count, therefore, it is difficult to see

how early years maths can really be done

without teaching shapes, spaces and

measures. Just because this is no longer

one of the requirements for assessment

at the end of the Reception year, doesn’t

mean it will be ignored.

Also, as early years practitioners, you will

already know that the ELG outcomes are

not the only thing you teach, so these

things should continue to be included

to give a well-rounded and balanced

curriculum. If you teach counting, or the

The inclusion of “Numerical Patterns” is

a significant change though because

when children recognise patterns in

maths (e.g. doubles/odd/even numbers/

things changing by a set amount), they

often find other concepts easier later on,

such as multiplication and division, and

square and cube numbers. However, it’s

also useful to remember that patterns

can also be to do with shape, colours,

symmetry and rotation as well as quantity

and numbers, so these things could be

incorporated to help children understand

numerical patterns too.

Understanding the world

This has been split into ‘past’ and ‘present’

and ‘Technology’ has gone, although

as technology is now abundant in many

educational settings, most children will

naturally grow up with using things like

computers, games, YouTube videos,

audio stories, animations etc, shown on

technology as a matter of course.

There is some extension to the “Natural

World” section which includes ‘other

important processes and changes in the

natural world’, as well as the seasons,

where you could consider teaching things

like life cycles - butterflies, bees, worms,

plants, frogs, hedgehogs are all good

candidates here, but you could also

consider changing weather, and habitats


Expressive arts and design

One of the changes in this section is

that ‘Performing’ has been replaced

with “Being Imaginative and Expressive’.

Perhaps this stems from an inference

that ‘performing’ somehow implies an

audience and this is not what is required

here. What is being encouraged is a

confidence in expressing ideas in different

forms and using their imaginations.

Moving in time to music can be

encouraged from very early on by rocky a

baby rhythmically, or through baby music

classes which help children recognise and

respond to different rhythms, picking out

the patterns that they hear. Music and

maths have long been connected, so there

are opportunities here to work across the

curriculum by listening for the numerical

patterns in musical rhythms, for example.

As with the other areas, it cannot be

stressed enough that your curriculum

should be matched to the needs of the

children in front of you, and that you

should be working everything backwards

so that your curriculum for babies and

younger toddlers is building towards the

later outcomes. And also keep in mind the

role of parents and the 3 characteristics of

effective teaching and learning, namely:

• Playing and exploring

• Active learning

• Creating and thinking critically

Further information

• Early adopter handbook

• Getting it right in the early years – a

review of the evidence

• Nursery World article

• Communication in the revised ELGs

14 April 2021 | parenta.com

parenta.com | April 2021 15

Celebrating difference and


We are different on the outside

This article is the first article in a series of six from Sensory Engagement and Inclusion Specialist,

Joanna Grace, the activities described in each article build up to form a toolkit for celebrating

difference and neurodivergence within your setting in a way that will benefit both the children and

the adults. Joanna runs online training courses focused on strategies for supporting differently-abled

children and promoting inclusive practice. Click here for more information.

The stories that people tell about us

have a powerful impact on our lives,

for better or for worse. The stories we

tell ourselves about ourselves affect our

mental health and productivity. In this

series of articles I am going to take you

through some simple activities you can

share in your settings that will help you,

and the children you support, construct

positive narratives around difference and


There will be a new activity each month.

I encourage you to start now, and to do

each one as it comes out. Over the course

of this series, they will build upon each

other giving you a framework to celebrate

difference and neurodivergence in a way

that is really meaningful to the children

you support.

Being in a place that has positive

narratives about difference is not only

good for those people who have an

identified difference, these could be the

children identified within your setting as

having additional educational needs,

it benefits everyone. We are all unique

individuals and in places where difference

is understood and celebrated we feel

freer to be our authentic selves. And

when we are free to be ourself, we are

happier and healthier, both physically and


The activities may look simple but they

will be good for the wellbeing of the

children in your setting and for you! So

let’s get started.

The aim of this article is to provide you

with activities that get children talking

about the differences they see between

one another. How you do this doesn’t

matter so much. The central thing isn’t the

activity, it is the language we use around


The important thing is to present

differences in a matter of fact way without

layering judgements on top of them. As

simple as that sounds, it can actually

be quite tricky to do. Be reflective as a

staff team as you attempt this, listen to

one another, do judgements slip in? For

example, when you describe your own

hair colour do you say something bad

about it, e.g. I’ve been known to say “Oo

you have ginger hair, I love ginger hair,

mine is just mousey brown.” You can see

where the judgement slips in.

There are differences for which you

might feel a judgement is appropriate,

perhaps you are struggling with your

weight and would label yourself as “too

fat”. Whilst of course it is important to

maintain a healthy weight, our aim for

these activities is to talk about differences

factually and in as unbiased a way as

possible and to support the children in

doing the same.

We are allowed to have preferences, I am

allowed to like ginger hair more than light

brown hair, but I am aiming to express

that as a preference not a judgement.

Now you are beginning to see where the

trickiness in this seemingly simple activity

lies! So I might say “I like ginger hair more

than I like light brown hair, but other

people like light brown hair more than

they like ginger hair.”

It is also important that we do not teach

children that some differences are not

allowed to be spoken of. For example a

child who says “You are fat” to an adult

might get told not to say such things. We

can teach the child a more sensitive way

of expressing themselves but we must not

teach them that differences are a taboo


Why on earth would we bother to faff

around and get ourselves tongue tied

talking in this super careful way? Well

as we carry out these simple activities

focused on external differences we are

laying the foundation stones on which

we will build a deeper understanding of

difference and neurodivergence. Take it as

a challenge and give it a go!

Here are some activities you could try to

get children talking about the physical

differences they see.

Mirror matching. Give each child a

hand mirror and have them look at their

own appearance and then look at the

appearance of their friends, can they find

similarities? If the children in your setting

know the game ‘snap’, you can get them

to shout “snap” when they see a similarity

and then identify it. So for example a child

might cry “Snap! My hair is the same

colour as her hair.”

Spectacle spot. Give children novelty

glasses to wear, tell them to look at each

other’s eyes. When you shout out “Same”

they must hold hands with someone who

has the same colour eyes as themselves.

When you shout out “Different” they must

hold hands with someone who has a

different eye colour to themselves. Make

sure you have mirrors around for people to

check their own eye colour in.

Aperture hunt. Print out photographs of

the children and glue them onto card. Cut

out one of their features. So you might cut

out someone’s hair, or someone’s eyes.

Have them hold up the aperture you have

created and hunt for the missing item on

someone else. So for example, a child

who has black hair who is given a photo of

themselves with their hair missing, holds

up their picture against the black hair of

another child. Then challenge the children

to use the aperture to find out what they

would look like if they had someone else’s

features. The child with black hair might

hold up their aperture picture against

the hair of a child with blonde hair to see

themselves as blonde.

Remember all of these activities are

intended to start conversations about

difference. Think about your own language

carefully and support the children as they

talk about difference to do it factually

without placing judgement on it. We

are entitled to our likes and dislikes

but we need to recognise them as just

that: personal preferences, not value

judgements. So no saying someone’s

hair colour is yucky! The narrative we

are promoting is “this is me, that is you, I

am like this, you are like that, I like these

things, you like those things, and all of

these simple differences are okay.”

This is just the start of our adventure!

Come back next month for the second

instalment. And meanwhile, if you do try

the activities above, or activities of your

own, I would love to know about it. Tweet

me at @Jo3Grace or tweet Parenta at

@TheParentaGroup and share your stories

with us!

Jo provides in-person and online training

to settings looking to enhance their

inclusive practice. For more information,

visit www.TheSensoryProjects.co.uk where

you can also find resources to help you

include children of all abilities. Jo is active

on social media and welcomes connection

requests from people curious about

inclusive practice.

Joanna Grace

Joanna Grace is an international

Sensory Engagement and Inclusion

Specialist, trainer, author, TEDx speaker

and founder of The Sensory Projects.

Consistently rated as “outstanding” by

Ofsted, Joanna has taught in

mainstream and special school settings,

connecting with pupils of all ages and

abilities. To inform her work, Joanna

draws on her own experience from her

private and professional life as well as

taking in all the information she can

from the research archives. Joanna’s

private life includes family members

with disabilities and neurodiverse

conditions and time spent as a

registered foster carer for children with

profound disabilities.

Joanna has published four practitioner

books: “Multiple Multisensory Rooms:

Myth Busting the Magic”, “Sensory

Stories for Children and Teens”,

“Sensory-Being for Sensory Beings”

and “Sharing Sensory Stories and

Conversations with People with

Dementia”, and two inclusive, sensory

story children’s books: “Voyage to

Arghan” and “Ernest and I”. There is

new book coming out soon called ‘”The

Subtle Spectrum” and her son has

recently become the UK’s youngest

published author with his book, “My

Mummy is Autistic”.

Joanna is a big fan of social media and

is always happy to connect with people

via Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.



16 April 2021 | parenta.com

parenta.com | April 2021 17

Slower processing

speed – what

does it mean?

Have you ever moved from the living room to the kitchen to

get something, only to find that when you get there you have

forgotten what you wanted? Or have you ever struggled to find

the words to finish your sentence, express yourself clearly or

been given a list of verbal instructions that, having completed

item 1, you can’t remember what items 2, 3 and 4 were?

Being honest, we have probably all

experienced these situations at some

point or another. Now imagine that this

was how you experienced most tasks,

add to that the frustrations of others when

you don’t complete the task at hand or

do so in the required amount of time; the

constant remarks made about how ‘slow’

and ‘lazy’ you are; and the feelings of

inadequacy you experience because you

find these things difficult. Imagine these

things and you will start to have some

understanding of what it might be like to

be a child with slower processing speeds.

We are all capable of experiencing things

like that, but for the person with slower

processing skills, this is the norm. This can

leave them feeling constantly frustrated

or anxious, just for being who they are

and doing things the way they need to.

And if you’re a pre-school child who can’t

express their emotions well yet, then

things can get even more challenging.

What is processing speed?

Processing speed is the speed at which

people are able to take in information,

process it in their brain, and create a

suitable response. Information can come

in different forms, for example, it may

be visual, (a ball coming towards you/

written instructions), or auditory (a verbal

instruction/alarm) or other information

such as that received through other

senses (touch, taste, smell, proprioception

etc.) It has nothing to do with how clever

or intelligent a child is, but everything

to do with the speed at which they are

decoding the information they receive and

processing it. A simple analogy might be

to imagine two people trying to interpret

a coded message. If one person is given

the key to the code, they would translate

and decipher the message, quicker than

someone who does not have the key, so

their response would be faster.

People who do have slower processing

speeds can take longer than normal to

do tasks or respond to requests whether

they are nursery related or general life.

In addition, children with slow processing

speeds often find it difficult to follow

multiple instructions. So if you say to them

“come downstairs once you’ve finished

brushing your teeth, and remember to

bring your school bag and homework

downstairs too”, they may struggle

to remember anything past the first


Quite often children with slower

processing speeds are working really

hard to try to keep up with others but

they may fall behind their peers – so it’s

not that the child can’t read, but they may

need a longer time to read and interpret

things than other children, but the delay

in speaking the words may cause adults

to think that they can’t read.

How do you recognise that

a child has slow processing


Just looking at children, you will find it

difficult to identify if they have slower

processing speeds or not. However, some

of the things below may alert you, such


• A child does not always respond to

instructions in the way you might


• They may take longer than other

children to complete tasks

• They may find it difficult to follow

conversations or TV programmes

• They may find mental maths more


• They may struggle to follow complex


• They may become easily

overwhelmed if given too many

instructions or too much information

at once

• They may need to read instructions

several times to understand them

• They may appear to ‘freeze’ every so


• All of the above may lead the child

to experience anxiety and frustration

and exhibit poor behaviour

In itself, slow processing speed is not

considered a learning disorder but it can

contribute to other difficulties such as

dyslexia, ADHD or dyscalculia and it can

have an impact on the child’s thinking

skills and their ability to read and write too.

Differential diagnosis

One thing that may be confused with slow

processing speed is another condition

called visual development delay. This

can sometimes be mistaken for attention

issues, anxiety and slow processing

speed since visual delay can result in poor

visual-related motor skills such as difficultly

copying letter or numbers, or an inability to

distinguish between similar shapes; or as

a learning delay. And of course, in some

children, multiple issues are present.

What can you do to help?

If you are concerned that a child may have

slow processing speeds or a visual delay,

then it is important to pass this information

on to the parents and to discuss your

concerns so that an assessment can

be made, and interventions started if

needed. There are several things that can

be done to help children and as always,

the earlier the diagnosis, the better. One

thing that all adults can do however, is

to show understanding, empathy and

patience. Getting frustrated with children

who have a slow processing speed will

only exacerbate the situation. Waiting for

answers and allowing the child time to

process the information they receive, will


Remember to:

• Allow children time to process… and

then give them even more time

• Use repetition to reinforce learning

• Speak slowly and clearly

• Give simple and clear instructions,

one at a time

• Use visual clues where possible, e.g.

a visual calendar or schedule

• For older students, practice

handwriting to gain fluency and

again, be patient

• Review information and learning


• Eliminate timed activities which can

stress children

• Think about where these children sit

– they may benefit from being closer

to the front or the teacher/nursery

worker because it may help them


• Provide additional or summary notes

which children can stick into books

rather than copy by hand, however,

remember that writing information

by hand helps students remember so

there is a fine line here

• Use word mats and practice phonics if

teaching this

• Some older students may benefit from

working with a computer or keyboard

• Consider using a reading or smart


• Be patient!

For further information, see:

• Understood.org

• Understanding, diagnosing and

coping with slow processing skills

• Introduction to slow processing


18 April 2021 | parenta.com

parenta.com | April 2021 19

Movement is for ALL children

I recommend the book ‘The talent code’

by Daniel Coyle for more information on

the importance of myelin in children’s


Because there is so much to think about ensuring movement is available for all children, this month, I

will cover ‘making movement engaging for all children’ and next month, I will look at sensory activities.

My experiences

I have spent many years teaching creative

dance and movement in different early

years settings and schools and have

always been passionate that movement

classes are fully inclusive for all children,

no matter what their physical and

emotional needs. Years ago, I attended

the Special Educational Needs and

Disabilities (SEND) dance teacher training

courses at LABAN Conservatoire of Music

and Dance and more recently, attended

the ‘Teaching dance to children with

special needs’ at the Royal Academy of

Dance in 2019. I have taught children

with SEND in mainstream settings, private

dance schools and on the Royal Ballet

School’s ‘Primary Steps’ programme. All

this experience was so helpful when I

started at Kingfisher School in Abingdon.

Kingfisher is a wonderful school that

caters for young people who have severe,

complex or profound needs, including

autism, aged between 2 and 19 years.

I have to admit, I spent the first few

weeks at Kingfisher running to keep

up! I started the sessions without any

expectations of outcomes, as I didn’t

know how the children would respond

to me, the music, or the session. This

allowed me to very rapidly evaluate and

adapt the sessions to their abilities to

engage them. With the mobile children

with mixed physical abilities, I initially kept

the pace fast, with different types of music

styles and rhythms. I ensured it wasn’t

too loud and didn’t over stimulate them

while using different movements and

props to engage them. For the children

with complex physical needs, I focused

on sensory with make-believe and

illustrations for engagement. This allowed

me create plans for future sessions, while

catering for the mood and needs of the

children on the day.

These sessions have changed as I have

learnt so much since I first started at

Kingfisher. I have experimented to find

the best way to engage the children,

whilst being sensitive to their needs and

feelings on the day.

My takeaways from this are that you need

to be flexible on the day as you may have

planned A, but the mood of the day is B.

The combination of make-believe with

music and movement really helps all

children’s engagement and participation.

All children are able to focus, point (with

help when required) at the illustrations

and engage physically, or with the

use of sensory props in the role-play

of becoming trains, sharks and many

different animals.

The importance of


Movement is vital for all children, no

matter what their physical abilities.

Movement helps all children develop the

large body movements known as gross

motor skills. These movements help

build and develop the muscles needed

to stabilise their core. Gross motor skills

need to be mastered before they can

refine their fine motor skills. Developing

their gross motor skills develops physical

literacy and gets them ready to write.

Movement and dance develop the key

‘school readiness’ skills that are needed

for writing and drawing. Movement and

dance improve concentration, listening

and attention skills, core control through

the development of their gross and fine

motor skills. There are so many benefits

for all children no matter what their

physical and emotional abilities.

To help children develop their skills,

teach movements in small bites. Repeat

the movements, at the speed and pace

that is best for them, by revisiting the

movements through role play and


This repetition enables you to continually

assess and differentiate as you scaffold

their learning using the Vygotsky theory,

the ‘Zone of Proximal Development’.

Scaffolding will be vital in your strategy

to help the children with the tasks

by simplifying the movement to fit

their current ability. It is important to

maintain motivation while managing

any frustration they may feel as they try

to master the movement, ensuring at

all times you demonstrate the idealised

version of what you want them to achieve

at that stage of their learning. The use

of make-believe and imagination really

helps, as you can revisit the movement

in so many different ways through new

storylines and music.

Repetition is not just about building the

connections in the brain, it is also about

the pathways being set with the myelin

wrapping around the nerve fibres. Myelin

is the key to increasing the speed of

processing and accuracy of movements.

Remember to manage your expectations

and allow the children to achieve their own

potential and progress in the time that

they need.

The biggest hinderance to children’s

movement is adults. Adults bring in their

own assumptions to the class of children’s

abilities and potential to progress and


Make movement engaging

A fun and engaging way to help children

engage and want to join in is through the

combination of make-believe, music and


Make-believe (role-play) helps children

build relationships with each other,

Improve their speech and language,

communication and listening skills. To

encourage this, the use of illustrations

is really helpful. They capture the

children’s imagination and give you many

opportunities for additional learning.

Role-play brings the movements you want

to focus on to develop gross motor skills,

to life. I have listed a just a few ideas and

the storylines I use, that can be linked to

the movement.


Diving ‘Under the sea’ to find your very

own turtle shell or crawling along the

seabed as turtle, on your hands and

knees, looking for some yummy seaweed



Go on an ‘African safari’ and put on your

zebra stripes and run as fast as you can

from the lions.


Put on baby bear’s wellies in ‘Visiting the

bears’ and see how many puddles you

can jump in.


Reaching up high, on tiptoe, putting the

washing on the line in our adventure



Join the flamingo on a ‘Visit to the zoo’ and

see if you can balance on one leg.

Importance of the right


I have been very fortunate as I have had

music created for my sessions and styled

to fit the stories and characters with added

layers of musical interest. We have a large

range of styles, tempos, metres, different

instruments and dynamics. In the music

you will find jazz waltzes, polkas jigs,

threes, fours and sixes. We have a twisting

jellyfish, galloping horse, sarabanding

turtle and even a jiving kangaroo. You will

hear a kazoo played like a squirrel and a

theremin, Otamatone, windchimes and

sound effects that have taken a lot of time

getting just right.

Gina Bale

Gina’s background was originally

ballet, but she has spent the last 27

years teaching movement and dance

in mainstream, early years and SEND

settings as well as dance schools.

Whilst teaching, Gina found the time to

has create the ‘Hi-5’ dance programme

to run alongside the Australian Children’s

TV series and the Angelina Ballerina

Dance Academy for Hit Entertainment.

Her proudest achievement to date is her

baby Littlemagictrain. She created this

specifically to help children learn through

make-believe, music and movement.

One of the highlights has been seeing

Littlemagictrain delivered by Butlin’s

famous Redcoats with the gorgeous

‘Bonnie Bear’ on the Skyline stage.

Gina has qualifications of teaching

movement and dance from the Royal

Ballet School, Trinity College and Royal

Academy of Dance.

Use the code ‘PARENTA’ for a 20%

discount on Littlemagictrain downloads

from ‘Special Editions’, ‘Speech and

Language Activities’, ‘Games’ and


Use different styles of music to engage

and motivate your children. We have used

influences and styles ranging from opera,

heavy metal, Scottish folk to Motown.

Image credit: Sessions at Kingfisher School

(part of the Propeller Academy Trust).

20 April 2021 | parenta.com

parenta.com | April 2021 21

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Plan – where that applies.

Celebrating Easter

around the world

the 1600s, the town vowed to perform a

Passion Play every decade if God would

spare the town. After the death rate

decreased following the performance, it’s

been a tradition there ever since.

On April 4th, many countries and

communities around the world will

celebrate Easter Sunday, a day which

serves as a reminder of the Christian

belief in the death and resurrection of

Jesus Christ nearly 2000 years ago. The

date of Easter changes each year as it is

linked to various religious dates and the

phases of the moon. There are a number

of days which are significant around

Easter where Christians celebrate different

traditions; Palm Sunday – celebrated

as the day Jesus rode into Jerusalem

on a donkey and named after the palm

leaves that were said to have been laid

on the ground before him. Next comes

Good Friday, which marks the day that

Jesus was crucified and died, his body

being laid to rest in a cave belonging to

Joseph of Arimathea. Many Christian

communities commemorate Good Friday

by holding processions, often following

a cross or a coffin to represent Jesus’s

death. Easter Saturday is part of Easter

but does not hold a major religious

significance but on Easter Sunday,

Christians celebrate the resurrection of

Jesus by going to church, sending cards,

exchanging Easter eggs and meeting

friends and family. They believe that Jesus

was resurrected, and this signifies a new

beginning, new life and new hope for the

world. Easter Sunday is the traditional

day on which the Easter Bunny delivers

Easter eggs to children, another tradition

marking both the new life expected

in the coming spring (in the Northern

hemisphere) and the circle of life. Easter

Monday is then the fourth day in the

Easter weekend and in the UK, is a bank

holiday, as is Good Friday.

So how does the rest of the world

celebrate Easter? Read on to discover

some interesting and potentially

surprising Easter customs and traditions.

On Easter Sunday in Australia, children

receive chocolate Easter eggs and

chocolate ‘bilbies’ instead of the

traditional chocolate rabbit. Bilbies or

rabbit-eared bandicoots, are nocturnal

marsupials with long pointed ears like

rabbits, but are preferred in Australia

because rabbits are viewed as pests so

don’t have the same cute appeal that

they do in Western countries.

In Germany, Easter Sunday is known as

‘Family Day’ and it’s traditional to burn

your Christmas tree on an Easter fire

reminding Germans that winter is over

and spring is coming. A lot of Germans

also decorate an Easter tree either inside

or outside their house using real

hard-boiled eggs, painted in bright


In Russia during the 1800s, the tradition

of decorating eggs became fashionable

and a jeweller and goldsmith called Peter

Fabergé was commissioned to create

Easter egg masterpieces for the Tsar and

other Russian nobles. Some of the eggs

took a year to create because they were

so intricate and decorated with precious

metals and stones. Needless to say, they

also cost a pretty penny too!!

Eggs in Greece are painted red to

represent the blood of Jesus and when

friends meet up, they often tap their eggs

together saying “Christos anesti” which

means “Christ is risen”. Other countries

often practice egg tapping too and it

is sometimes called egg fighting, egg

pacquering or egg jarping! In Marksville,

Louisiana, USA, there is an official egg

tapping competition each year and the

winners have to prove their eggs are

genuine by eating them at the end of the


In the French town of Bessières, they use

their eggs differently, making an omelette

at Easter – but it includes about 15,000

eggs and is cooked in a pan which is over

4 metres in diameter. Other European

countries and the USA enjoy eating a

traditional hot cross bun made with dried

fruit and spices decorated with a white

cross to represent the crucifixion.

Another American tradition is the annual

Easter egg roll on the lawn of the White

House. It was first held in 1878 when

President Rutherford B Hayes organised

the event after meeting some children on

his daily walk. Nowadays, it’s the job of

the First Lady and is usually held on Easter


A lot of European countries celebrate

Easter with a Passion Play, in which they

present the life and death of Jesus as a

play. This tradition dates back to medieval

times when the Catholic church used

the play format to educate people about

Christ in an accessible and entertaining

way. The plays are usually a promenade

performance in which the actors and

audience move from space to space

around a town. One particularly famous

version is held in Oberammergau,

Germany every ten years, with the next

presentation due in 2022. Legend has

it that during a plague at the start of

In Bermuda, the celebrations are higher,

quite literally - people fly colourful

homemade kites on Good Friday to

represent Jesus rising up from the grave

and eventually ascending into heaven 40

days after Easter - a time known as ‘the


If you’re up for something a little wilder

(and wetter), then in Hungary, Ukraine,

the Czech Republic or Poland, there is a

tradition called the ‘Watering of the girls’

or ‘Dousing Day’. Dressed in traditional

costumes, girls run down the street and

boys throw buckets of water over them in

a ‘cleansing’ and fertility ritual. They boys

are then ‘rewarded’ by being given Easter

eggs, flowers and coins by the girls but in

some countries, this tradition has evolved

into a massive community water fight!

And if that’s not enough, in Florence,

Italy, the town council pack a cart full of

fireworks and drag it through the streets

before setting them off outside the

cathedral in an event known as ‘Scoppio

del Carro” – literally the “explosion of the


So whether you’ll be having an egg hunt,

an egg/water fight, a sombre Passion

Play, a giant omelette or flying a kite this

Easter weekend, let us know by sending

your pictures to hello@parenta.com and

whatever you do, have fun!

24 April 2021 | parenta.com

parenta.com | April 2021 25

6 ways to support

children to step into

being their best self

ever before and because of this, the small

things in life can be underappreciated.

We also teach children to say, ‘thank you’,

but this is often just a word used without

much meaning or feeling behind it. The

practice of gratitude has been proven to

reduce anxiety and improve happiness,

so spending 5 minutes at the beginning of

the day to say what we are grateful for can

have a big impact.

Here are 6 things that I believe children need to learn in order to

step into being their best self…

As part of my business, Early Years Story

Box, I launched a campaign to help

settings use gratitude as a tool to improve

children’s emotional wellbeing. I’d love you

to join in!

1. To accept

imperfections and


Failure is a part of success and imperfect

moments give us an opportunity to learn

and grow. People who have phenomenal

success will have failed multiple times

before they hit the jackpot. If we can help

children to get comfortable with failure

and imperfection, they will be more likely

to step out of their comfort zone, which

is where their brilliance lies. It is also

better to move forward in life, than to wait

for things to be perfect. Perfection is an

unrealistic goal. If we can teach children

to put in their best efforts and to see the

lessons in their imperfections, they will be

more likely to succeed.


How much of a perfectionist are you?

Look at your own behaviour and the

words that you say and make sure that

your own actions are reinforcing that

children don’t have to be perfect.

2. To talk about


It is common for people to believe they

shouldn’t feel a certain way because

there are other people going through far

worse than them. However, problems

are relative, and we all have different

limits and triggers. Imagine 3 buckets.

One is made of steel, one is made of

wood and one is made of paper. Now

imagine putting fire in them. The steel

bucket will be fine, albeit a bit charred.

The wooden bucket will survive for a

while but will eventually burn away and

the paper bucket will go up in a puff of

smoke immediately. That’s like people.

We all have different abilities to cope

with ‘fire’. Just because one person has

more ‘flames’ around them, doesn’t

mean that the smaller ‘flames’ around

you aren’t damaging. We are all made of

different things. In order to teach children

to manage their feelings, we need to

acknowledge them and remember that

problems through a child’s eyes will

seem small to us, but massive to them.

By acknowledging how they feel on a

consistent basis, they will learn through

your actions that their feelings are valid

and that it’s okay to talk about them.


In a way that’s accessible, talk about your

own feelings to children and normalise

this process.

3. To ask for help when

they need it

It can be hard, at times, to swallow our

pride and ask for help because it can

make us feel like we’re not good enough.

However, we all have different strengths

and are on a continual journey of learning

and development. The great minds of this

world often had a team of people around

them, which allowed them to play to their

strengths. It’s important to teach children

to try their best, but that it’s also okay to

ask for help if they need it. It’s better to

get help and to move forward, than to

stay stuck.


Ask children for help with different things

throughout the day and specifically

say things like ‘I need your help please


4. To take responsibility

In life, we are always going to make

mistakes because we are human and

imperfect by nature. Mistakes are not the

issue – it’s how we deal with them that

matters. If we take responsibility for our

shortcomings, it gives us an opportunity

to learn from them and move forward

in a different way. Self-awareness is

key and the ability to acknowledge and

own our mistakes is important in life.

Children learn from what they see, so

it’s imperative to model this as much as

possible. Quite often people feel that they

need to have everything together in front

of children, or that they need to not show

weakness in order to have authority. I

totally disagree. By acknowledging our

mistakes and apologising to children we

pave the way for them to do the same.


Use every opportunity to model to

children how to take responsibility for

your actions.

5. To try new things and

be brave

Stepping out of our comfort zone can be

tough. However, the feeling of achieving

something beyond what we thought

we could, is second to none and builds

self-esteem. We need to give children the

opportunity to try new things as much as

possible. In order for them to experience

the exhilaration of having a breakthrough,

they also need enough freedom to be

able to risk failing. Allowing children time

to work things out is also important. Yes,

we want them to ask for help when they

need it, but they also, at times, need

to be stretched beyond what they think

they are capable of in order to build their

confidence and resilience.


Set up scenarios that will challenge

children (for example, a climbing frame or

obstacle course that is difficult). Make sure

that safety measures are in place so that

there is no real danger, but that there is

enough of a perceived ‘risk’ to put them

out of their comfort zone. If they say they

can’t do it or that they are scared, gently

remind them of their brilliance. Tell them

that you believe in them and give them

advice on how to move forward. If they do

need rescuing, make sure you don’t do

it too soon. The urge to quit is often at its

strongest just before a breakthrough.

6. To practise gratitude

In this fast-paced, digital world that we live

in, it can be easy to lose sight of what’s

important. Children have more ‘stuff’ than

Here are the steps

a. Stand in a circle with the children.

b. Model a few sentences saying what

you are grateful for and why (‘Thank

you for my eyes because I can see’

etc). By saying why we are grateful,

this generates a deeper feeling of

appreciation because it compounds

our understanding of why we are


c. Say the first part of this sentence

again but stop after the word

‘because’ so that the children can

finish your sentences. Use things in

your sentences like my arms, my toys,

my friends, my family, my house, the

flowers, food etc.

d. Ask if anyone wants to say their own


e. Finish your gratitude circle by all

shouting ‘Thank you, thank you, thank


I’d love for you to post about this on

social media and use the hashtag

#ThankYouOaky (Oaky Owl is one of my

storybook characters who teaches children

about gratitude). Don’t forget to tag Early

Years Story Box too so I can see how it is



A few times throughout the day, take the

opportunity to explain why you are saying

‘thank you’ to children so that they can

start gaining a deeper understanding of

why we use these 2 magic words.

Stacey Kelly

Stacey Kelly is a former teacher, a parent

to 2 beautiful babies and the founder

of Early Years Story Box, which is a

subscription website providing children’s

storybooks and early years resources.

She is passionate about building

children’s imagination, creativity and

self-belief and about creating awareness

of the impact that the early years have

on a child’s future. Stacey loves her role

as a writer, illustrator and public speaker

and believes in the power of personal

development. She is also on a mission

to empower children to live a life full

of happiness and fulfilment, which is

why she launched the #ThankYouOaky

Gratitude Movement.

Sign up to Stacey’s Premium Membership

here and use the code PARENTA20 to get

20% off or contact Stacey for an online


Email: stacey@earlyyearsstorybox.com or

Telephone: 07765785595

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


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


Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/


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


26 April 2021 | parenta.com

parenta.com | April 2021 27

International Children’s

Book Day

Last month saw many of us celebrating World Book Day in our settings, with the traditional

dressing up as our favourite book characters. This month, we have International Children’s Book

Day, (ICBDO) which his similar, but different in that the focus is only on children’s books, although

it has a similar aim to inspire a love of reading and to celebrate the writing and publication of

children’s books. The date is the 2nd April, which is Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday and it has

been celebrated since 1967.

The day is organised by IBBY, (The

International Board on Books for Young

People) which is an international

non-profit organisation founded in Zurich,

Switzerland in 1953 by the author and

journalist, Jella Lepman. According to

their website, they have a lot of aims

within their mission which revolve around

helping children have access to books

with “high literary and artistic standards”,

encouraging the publication of high

quality children’s books, stimulating

research and supporting training

for those involved with children and

children’s literature. Their mission also

includes a pledge to “uphold the Rights of

the Child” according to the UN Convention

on the Rights of the Child.

IBBY consists of 80 ‘National Sections’

from all over the world, so it is

truly international in its reach and

opportunities. Some countries have

established and well-developed

publishing and literacy programmes,

whilst others are involved in emerging

and pioneering work. What makes IBBY

important is that its members consist of

authors, illustrators, publishers, editors,

translators, journalists, critics, teachers,

students, parents and children so they are

well represented in all areas, and they

are actively involved in the production of

children’s books,

Each year, a different National Section

of IBBY has the opportunity to be the

international sponsor of ICBD. The

sponsoring nation decides a theme

and invites a prominent author from the

host country to write a message to the

children of the world, and a well-known

illustrator to design a poster. They then

promote the day through the media,

schools, competitions and awards and in

2021, it is the turn of the USA to host and

organise the events.

The theme this year is “The Music of

Words” which has been written by

Margarita Engler and the poster has been

designed by Roger Mello from Brazil.

How to celebrate ICBD in your


Authors write books to be read and as

early years practitioners, part of our remit

is to promote the lifelong love of reading.

But once it’s been written, a book can

take on a life of its own and there are

many different ways in which that book

can be enjoyed and a myriad of learning

opportunities that can be devised if you

begin to think of books as more than just

words on paper. Books create characters,

with lives and backstories, relationships

and problems. They increase our

vocabulary and develop our emotional

intelligence. They inform and inspire us

and allow us to explore new lands and

experience things that we might never

even have dreamed of, let alone have the

opportunity to physically sense. They teach

us how to respond in certain situations,

and how not to. And they can develop our

learning in so many more ways than by

just reading the book or hearing the story.

So why not take the opportunity this ICBD

to really think about how you can use your

favourite children’s books to develop and

enrich your curriculum? We’ve listed a few

ideas below to help you.

1. Read the book to the children. When

you read it, try to really bring it to life

using your voice and intonation to

deliver the emotions of the characters.

Think about changing the pitch of your

voice to create different characters,

and vary the pace and volume of your

voice to make it more exciting.

2. Make the experience a full sensory

story by planning things out. If there

is a seaside, can you incorporate a

sandpit or a bowl of water so the

children can experience the waves

and the beach? Think of some sound

effects that you could use and play

them during the storytelling. The BBC

has just opened up its sound effects

archive and you can search for and

download tens of thousands of sound

effects for free.

3. Once you have read the story, ask

the children questions about the

characters and what happened. Start

with simple questions such as “Who

was the main character?” and “What

happened?” but you can also move

on to things about their appearance

and background and eventually, even

more challenging questions such as

“Why do you think the character did

what they did?” Or “Would you do

the same if that happened to you?”

By doing this, you can introduce the

idea of social stories and start an oral

conversation about how these things

may help the children relate to their

own life and experiences, increasing

their understanding and vocabulary at

the same time.

4. Create a music-based activity

using the story. Think about how the

characters in the story move and

what they represent, then think about

what instruments or rhythms might

match those characters. Prokofiev’s

classic, “Peter and the wolf” is a great

example of using music to represent

different animals. You can even find

some interesting music clips online

or if you have instruments, get the

children to make their own. It will

stimulate their creativity and get them

thinking about sounds and what they


5. Dress up and improvise other

stories. Once you have explored the

first adventure in the book, get the

children to think about what other

things could happen. For example,

where else could the snail and the

whale go? What else might they

discover together? Or what happened

to Goldilocks when she got home?

You can help facilitate children’s play

by posing these kinds of questions.

You may be very surprised with some

of the innovative and inventive things

they come up with.

6. Do some arts and crafts. Use the

story as a stimulus for some arts

and crafts – it could be drawing the

characters, their clothes or houses,

or making a cardboard spaceship

inspired by a story.

So don’t stop at reading – explore,

create and inspire too!

28 April 2021 | parenta.com

parenta.com | April 2021 29

Following the roadmap…

Adjusting to the next ‘new normal’

I was interested to read an article on LinkedIn by Simon Barrington recently which suggested that

we need to be ready for ‘Reverse Culture Shock’ as we exit lockdown. I’ve heard of a culture shock

before – the uncomfortable, disorientated or even anxious or depressed feelings we might have when

we are suddenly faced with an unfamiliar culture or way of life – but I’ve never considered that it can

work both ways. When we re-enter the old culture again we can feel another culture shock at the

differences we are encountering.

I was also interested in this article because

it classed the COVID-19 pandemic as a

culture shock – and it was, wasn’t it! When

we were first introduced to a lockdown, it

was a major shock. Our familiar routines

and patterns of working were stopped

in their tracks, our favourite cafes and

restaurants were closed, our clubs and

societies stopped meeting in person, we

couldn’t even take the kids to the park

and many of us couldn’t go to work! This

was a major culture shock for us all. We

had to learn a new language too, as

our everyday vocabulary now includes

new words like ‘lockdown’, ‘shielding’,

’distancing’ and ‘support bubble’. Many of

us had to learn how to use online methods

to keep in touch with colleagues, family

and friends. On reflection, it was most

definitely a culture shock.

It took a while to adjust to the ‘new normal’

as we called it, although now wearing

masks in shops, standing back from other

people and hand-sanitising multiple times

per day feels normal in itself. It’s natural to

feel a little anxious about more changes

coming our way, even though these

changes are bringing us back towards our

old lives and ways of living. So it makes

sense to assume there will be another

culture shock as we follow the roadmap

out of lockdown, which Simon is calling a

‘reverse culture shock’. I’ve heard friends

say that they’re feeling anxious about

meeting up with others and wondering

how they will feel about returning to their

face-to-face activities. If I’m honest I’ve

quite liked turning up to work meetings in

my slippers, having a constant stream of

tea (and chocolate, oops!) and not having

to manhandle 3 children out of the house

to school everyday.

We have seen many changes in our

settings too. Some of us have limited soft

furnishings or removed lots of harder to

clean toys and resources, many have had

a one-way system in and out of buildings

and different groupings of children during

the day, not to mention the whole new

cleaning regime that we have meticulously

followed. Although we are still following

these changes, the general roadmap out

of lockdown has been shared, and the end

looks like it might be in sight. We can look

forward to a time when all our children can

share the whole outside area again, and

we can wander into each other’s rooms,

without fear of bursting a bubble.

Therefore, it is important to acknowledge

that we are currently going through a

period of great change, at home, at

work and in our social lives. So reflecting

upon how we can deal with change is

important. First we have to understand

that change can happen, although it

can feel uncomfortable and unsettling.

As Jane Cook says, “Change can be

exciting, invigorating and rewarding. It is

also a highly complex and often stressful

process, even when it’s something we are

reasonably comfortable with or looking

forward to” (Cook, 2013).

Here are some key principles to

reflect upon when considering

change in our settings:

• Change is a process that requires

adequate time, a commitment from

all involved and careful planning!

• Change can create havoc and feel

uncomfortable. Individuals may be

anxious and uncertain how to unlearn

old ideas and behaviours

• Unlearning is much more difficult than

learning. We might be moving back to

old ways of working, but we haven’t

worked this way for a long time and

it will be difficult to break our more

recent habits

• Uncertainty and anxiety are normal

and to be expected. It’s OK to feel

unsure at this time. We need to

reassure each other, and talk things

through to support everyone through

the next few months

When we experience a culture shock or a

reverse culture shock – our sense of what

is normal and appropriate is altered, the

familiarity of what went before has been

lost. We will have new routines to learn and

perhaps new relationships to foster. Our

expectations may also change alongside

this. We mustn’t underestimate the way this

might make us feel. We may feel anxious,

insecure and almost like we don’t belong

in this new world. I have experienced mild

panic in a supermarket queue during the

pandemic when the person behind me gets

too close for my liking… how will I feel if the

social-distancing rules are removed? What

if I don’t want people to get that close to


I want to visit and hug my family again, I

want to re-start my social life face-to-face

and I want to return to church. I even want

to return to the office! But I also have some

reservations about things moving too

quickly so I need to emerge from lockdown

at my own pace and in my own way. With

this in mind I have put together some top

tips of how we can manage the reverse

culture shock. I have considered the three

elements of William Bridges’ (1991) theory

on managing change which include:

• Ending, losing and letting go (when we

need closure and an end to what has

gone before)

• The neutral zone (when we know

things are changing but they haven’t

all changed yet - we are in this stage

at the moment in England)

• The new beginning (when we can

celebrate the past and be excited

about the new start)

Here are my top tips when

managing the reverse culture

shock at home and at work:

• We need to start with small steps and

go at our own pace. Although we must

follow the governmental guidelines,

they are about how quickly things can

progress – we can go much slower

than this if we need to

• Acknowledge feelings of all involved,

be aware that some may feel anxious

or worried and then do what we can

to bring comfort and reassurance to

them. The past year has been a very

difficult time for everyone: children,

families and staff

• Explain changes and the rationale

behind them and communicate

effectively – people are more likely to

change if the change fits with their

ethos and makes sense to them

• Understand the importance of

consistency and routine for everyone.

Use strategies like visual timetables to

support children and staff to learn or

relearn routines

• Action planning supports action so we

need to prioritise, delegate and write

our own clear roadmap which outlines

how our setting will respond to the

changes. Then we will feel in control

and prepared for any changes

• We must discuss as a whole staff

team and plan around our strengths

as well as identifying areas which we

want to develop. Remember that self

evaluation and review can support


• Avoid comparing how things were with

how things are now, or being overly

critical of the roadmap - some parts of

our lives will have changed significantly

and may not return to how they were


• Also avoid pinning too many hopes on

specific dates and events. Let’s learn

from our experience last Christmas, it’s

better to have fewer plans and be able

to complete them than too many plans

and have to change them

• Share stories about the pandemic

and our practice and lives during the

various lockdowns. Celebrate the

ending of this time period in some

small way. At home we intend to have

a family Zoom, present our children

with home learning certificates and

share some brownies together!

Whatever happens over the coming

months, we will journey this road together.

Remember - it’s easier to navigate with a

road map and thinking through our route

and the changes we may encounter will

help us adjust to the ‘reverse culture shock’

that our destination may bring.

Tamsin Grimmer

Tamsin Grimmer is an experienced early

years consultant, author and parent who

is passionate about young children’s

learning and development. She believes

that all children deserve practitioners

who are inspiring, dynamic, reflective

and loving. Tamsin particularly enjoys

planning and delivering training and

supporting early years practitioners and

teachers to improve outcomes for young


Tamsin has written four books –

“Observing and Developing Schematic

Behaviour in Young Children” , “School

Readiness and the Characteristics

of Effective Learning”, “Calling all

Superheroes: Supporting and Developing

Superhero Play in the Early Years”,

and “Developing a Loving Pedagogy

in the Early Years: How Love Fits with

Professional Practice”. She is currently

working on her next two, “Supporting

Behaviour and Emotions” and “Self-

Regulation in Early Childhood”.

You can contact Tamsin via Twitter,

her Facebook page, website or email



• Bridges, W. (1991) Managing

Transitions: Making the Most of

Change, Da Capo Lifelong Books

• Cook, J. (2013) Leadership and

Management in the Early Years,

Practical Preschool Books

30 April 2021 | parenta.com

parenta.com | April 2021 31

This recipe has been kindly

supplied by Katherine

Houghton, from her wonderful

cookbook “Early Years Recipes

for Children”, available to

purchase here.

Hot cross buns

Natural dye Easter eggs

What do you need?

It’s April already! This month we are celebrating Easter as well as other days, including

International Mother Earth Day. To celebrate both occasions, we have decided to create a natural

craft which not only creates beautiful eggs dyes, it also teaches children about chemistry!

• Milk

• Butter

• Bread


• Salt

• Caster


• Yeast

• Egg

• Sultanas

• Mixed


• Dried fruit


• Orange

• Cinnamon


1. Measure out 200 ml of milk

2. Put the milk into a saucepan

and boil. Then leave to cool.

3. Weigh 50 grams of butter and

add to the milk. Then take the

pan off to cool.

4. Weigh 500 grams of flour and

put into a mixing bowl.

5. Add 1 teaspoon of salt to the


6. Weigh 75 grams of sugar and

add to the bowl.

7. Weigh 7 grams of dry yeast

and add to the bowl.

8. Mix the dry ingredients

together and then add the

milk/butter and mix.

9. Crack 1 egg into the bowl.

10. Mix and then put into a bowl

with a tea towel over to rise

for 1 hour in a warm place.

11. After the hour, check if the

dough has doubled in size.

12. Weigh 50 grams of mixed

peel and put into the bowl

with the dough.

13. Weigh 80 grams of dried fruit

and put into the bowl with the


14. Add 2 teaspoons of


15. Grate the zest of 1 orange.

16. Add to the dough and mix,

then leave for 1 hour to rise

in a warm place with a tea

towel over the top.

17. Divide the mixture into 12 and

roll into bun shapes and then

leave to rise again for 1 hour.

18. For the crosses, mix some

flour and water together to

make a paste.

19. Make a pipe with some

grease proof paper and put

the mixture in. Squeeze the

pipe to make the cross.

20. Put the buns in the oven at

180 0 C for 10-15 minutes.

21. Meanwhile put some sugar

and water into a pan on the

hob and boil.

22. When all of the sugar has

melted leave to cool.

23. Brush on the sugar solution

until each bun is generously


You will need:

• Blueberries

• Spinach

• Onion skin

• Red cabbage

• Turmeric powder

• Vinegar

• Eggs

• Bowls or cups for dyes

• Spoon


1. Boil some water and add a

cup to a bowl or a cup. Add

your chosen ingredient into

each one.

2. For blueberries, red

cabbage and turmeric, add

1 teaspoon of vinegar and

mix. Skip the vinegar for

the rest.

3. Let your dyes cool down

while you prepare the


4. Boil some eggs until they

are hard (place eggs in

boiling water for about 8-10

minutes). Cool them down.

5. Dip the eggs into the

dye. Make sure the dye

completely covers the eggs.

6. Leave your eggs in the dye

for as long as you would

like. The longer the egg is

in the dye, the deeper the


7. Remove the eggs from the

dye baths, let them dry.

8. You are done!

32 April 2021 | parenta.com

parenta.com | April 2021 33

Music and Understanding the World

in the early years: past and present

Raising children involves sharing our everyday experiences with them. We gradually introduce

them to situations which they may face one day, providing them with skills for independent,

successful lives. By relating to children’s everyday experiences, it is possible to broadly cover

the goals of history, geography and science, even in the early years. Howard Gardner’s theory on

multiple intelligences (1983) indicates that presenting information in different ways creates more

opportunity for children to learn successfully. He suggested that people learn in different ways, and

may even have a preferred learning style. His later research confirms that this does not mean we

should be taught exclusively in one way, and external research agrees with this: we learn better

when information is presented in multiple ways.

Gardner originally described seven

types of intelligence, and 20 years later,

identified another two (Gardner, 2003).

Briefly, these are

• Verbal-linguistic intelligence:

well-developed verbal skills especially

in sounds, meanings and rhythms in


Skills: listening, speaking, writing,


• Mathematical-logical intelligence:

thinking conceptually and abstractly,

finding logical and numerical patterns

Skills: problem-solving, performing


• Visual-spatial intelligence:

thinking in images and pictures,

visualising accurately and abstractly

Skills: puzzle building, painting,

constructing, fixing, designing

• Bodily-kinaesthetic intelligence:

control body movements accurately,

handling objects skilfully

Skills: dancing, sports, practical

experiments, acting

• Interpersonal intelligence:

detecting and responding to others’

moods, motivations and desires


Skills: seeing other perspectives,

empathy, counselling, co-operating

• Intrapersonal intelligence:

self-aware and in-tune with inner

feelings, values, beliefs and thoughts

Skills: self-worth, reflective, aware of

inner feelings

• Naturalist intelligence:

recognise and categorise plants,

animals and natural objects

Skills: recognise connection to nature,

apply scientific theory to life

• Existential intelligence:

sensitivity and ability to consider

questions on human existence, e.g.

meaning of life, why we die, why we

are here

Skills: reflective deep thinking, design

abstract theories

• Musical intelligence:

produce and appreciate rhythm, pitch,

timbre (instrumental voice)

Skills: sing, play instruments,

compose music

All of these intelligences and skills can

be seen in the development of the Early

Learning Goals (‘Early Years Foundation

Stage Profile - 2021 Handbook’, 2020), with

various recommended approaches as to

how these may be achieved. Developing

an awareness of past and present

through a musical approach provides an

enjoyable, inclusive way to explore these

new ideas.

Early Learning Goal: past and


Talking about people in children’s lives

and the jobs they do gives children

opportunities to explore new interests.

Recognising differences between past and

present helps children to recognise the

process of change within the world. Stories

about people in the past help children to

become aware of the effects that change

has on individuals, and the power that

individuals have to create change. With

many potential songs that could be used

here, we have chosen a selection of

familiar and unfamiliar folk songs.

Baa Baa Black Sheep

Baa baa black sheep, have you any wool?

Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full

One for the master and one for the dame

And one for the little boy who lives down

the lane

This old favourite originally ended with

“one for the master, two for the dame,

none for the little boy who lives down the

lane”. This suggests that it developed

in the 1500s during the time of the old

English Wool Tax, paying the owners, but

not the shepherd doing the work. This

songs presents an opportunity to discuss

how farming has changed over time.

Mummy Loves

Mummy loves and daddy loves

And everybody loves little baby

Grandma loves and grandad loves

And everybody loves little baby

This lovely Russian lullaby is about

generations within families. It can be used

to rock little ones, either in your arms or

in a blanket between two adults. Older

children may like to rock a toy in blanket.

Cobbler Cobbler

Cobbler, cobbler mend my shoe

Get it done by half past two

Half past two is much too late

Get it done by half past eight

This chant-type song is an opportunity to

talk about old trades and ways of life. It is a

great song to develop rhythm, as children

can tap one person on the knee while

being tapped on the knee. This allows them

to feel the beat and also tap the beat at the

same time, perfecting their timing.

How Many Miles To Babylon?

How many miles to Babylon?

Three score and ten

Will I get back before you do?

Yes, and back again

Open the gates and let us through

Not without a beck and bow

Here’s a beck, here’s a bow

Open the gates and let us through

This call-and-response song uses old

language, like “score” for 20 and “beck”

for curtsey. It is played by both people/

groups standing opposite each other and

swapping sides by going through “gates”

– either raised hands or crawling through

legs (like “stuck in the mud” game).

Creating new opportunities in safe spaces

allows children to explore and play in

ways that they may not usually feel free

to do. Games provide a way to explore

characters and feeling, and once they

have ended, return to friends and daily

routines. Music holds a unique ability

in effortlessly attracting and holding

attention in an enjoyable way. Using these

three ingredients creates an opportunity

to develop a lifelong love for learning,

preparing children for school and beyond.

All songs can be found on Musicaliti’s

account on Soundcloud, and YouTube

as part of the Learning With Music series.


• Early years foundation stage profile -

2021 handbook. (2020). Department

for Education, 27.

• Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of mind:

The theory of multiple intelligences.

Basic Books.

• Gardner, H. (2003). Multiple

intelligences after twenty years.

American Educational Research

Association, Chicago, Illinois, 21. http://


Frances Turnbull

Musician, researcher and author,

Frances Turnbull, is a self-taught guitarist

who has played contemporary and

community music from the age of 12. She

delivers music sessions to the early years

and KS1. Trained in the music education

techniques of Kodály (specialist singing),

Dalcroze (specialist movement) and Orff

(specialist percussion instruments), she

has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology

(Open University) and a Master’s degree

in Education (University of Cambridge).

She runs a local community choir, the

Bolton Warblers, and delivers the Sound

Sense initiative “A choir in every care

home” within local care and residential

homes, supporting health and wellbeing

through her community interest


She has represented the early years

music community at the House of

Commons, advocating for recognition

for early years music educators, and her

table of progressive music skills for under

7s features in her curriculum books.

Frances is the author of “Learning with

Music: Games and activities for the early

years“, published by Routledge, August



34 April 2021 | parenta.com

parenta.com | April 2021 35

Understanding the World…

part two: myself, other people and

the environment around us

Understanding the World (UW) empowers children to explore their learning environment. We can

help by encouraging them to investigate, communicate, interact and talk about what they want

to do, and what they see and feel around them. In doing so, the children can relate the learning to

their own lives and the real world.

Last month we explored UW using expressive arts; this month we look at how the children see

themselves, other people and the environment around them. Here are a few activities that you can

do with the children in your setting – useful for parents at home too!

Life beyond the ‘baby room’

Multicultural tales of travel


Congratulations to all our

Parenta learners!

Congratulations to all these Parenta learners who completed their

apprenticeship in February and have now gained their qualifications.

These range from Childcare Level 2, Childcare Level 3 and Team

Leading to Level 3 and Level 5 Management – that’s a huge

achievement in the current climate.

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

Parenta Training!

Babies are naturally inquisitive so try and

provide as many opportunities as possible

for them to see people and things beyond

the baby room, including letting them

watch the activities of the older children

in your setting. This gives them an insight,

even at this early age, into the world

around them.

What’s my name and where do I

come from?

Help children learn each other’s names

and discover their different backgrounds,

cultures and family dynamics, through

songs, rhymes and storytelling. You can

take this simple idea one step further by

creating a ‘story book’ for each child which

lets them collect stories and photos about

themselves and their family. You ask the

children to pick their favourites and even

feature them on your website – this would

be really positive for promoting British


Think ‘global’

Use an atlas or globe to locate different

countries around the world – children can

take it turns to find where different animals

might live, for example, showing a picture

of a kangaroo, or an orca and exploring

where in the world that animal lives. They

will then start to discover about the wider

world around them.

Who doesn’t love to hear tales of travel

from around the world? During storytime,

you can incorporate tales, both fact and

fiction from cultures around the world.

You can ask the children from all countries

to bring in a story from their particular

culture. Again, this promotes British Values

and during circle time, you can lead a

discussion about different cultures.

Sensory treasure baskets

Making sensory treasure baskets will help

stimulate children’s senses and help them

to learn about the physical world. They

are fun to make and bring such pleasure

to the children – great for parents to do at

home too! The great thing about sensory

baskets is that they can be adapted to

all ages and environments, for example,

a mixed basket can contain a variety of

items, from a comb, to a ball, to a button

– the more varied the textures, the better.

You can apply the same principle to your

other sensory baskets, e.g. a natural/

nature basket, food basket,

a basket just for things

that feel soft or for

different colours and one

for just noisy things, like

keys or coins.

Composting is a great way to teach the

children about the environment, the

natural life cycle of plants and animals;

and reducing the amount of rubbish we

put out for collection. Having a compost

heap will provide a good habitat for

wildlife if you have an outdoor space in

your setting. The RSPB has a step-by-step

guide plus some great ideas here not just

for composting for many other garden

activities which will teach the children all

about their environment.

The BBC Bitesize website has some

fantastic early years resources for learning

at home which you can share with

parents. The Understanding the World

audio and video episodes are excellent

and can be found here. We hope you

enjoy this month’s EYFS activities about

Understanding the


Did you know?... Parenta has trained over 20,000 apprentices within the early

years sector!

Our Level 3 success rate overall is almost 10% higher than the national average.

That’s down to great work from you, our lovely Parenta learners!

If you have a learner with us who has recently completed their apprenticeship,

please send in a picture to hello@parenta.com to be included in the magazine.

S. Ali

C. Bryson

B. Butler

K. Colier

J. Fulcher

T. Hale

E. Harris

C. Heath

February’s wall of fame!

F. Lanigan

R. Leach

E. Martinez

C. Nightingill

L. Rostron

C. Saint

A. Shaikh

T. Smith

K. Stoakley

A. Straight

S. Thompson

C. Vanes

J. Vickers

R. Westbrook

A. Wriglesworth

36 April 2021 | parenta.com

parenta.com | April 2021 37

Boosting self-confidence

Starting with our ‘body talk’

It is fascinating that so many people in early years settings say they lack self-confidence. A

trusted colleague once said that although early years is a safe place where skilled adults enable

children to grow and flourish, so often these highly capable practitioners are unable to apply their

knowledge and understanding to develop their own learning journey. When explored, the reasons

behind this are often fear, which sits behind a lack of confidence.

Figure 1


(voice, tone, modulation,





(Body, movements, face,


• Governing your behaviour based on

what other people think

Ruth Mercer

Self-confidence is defined as

understanding that you trust your own

judgment and abilities, and that you value

yourself and feel worthy, regardless of

any imperfections or of what others may

believe about you.

Naomi is a room leader in a highly

established nursery. She has worked

at the nursery for ten years now and is

thinking about going to university. She

came to me because the thought of having

an interview and giving a presentation

filled her with terror. Even though we were

meeting online it was easy to see Naomi’s

issue. She spoke very quietly, could barely

look at me and seemed much younger

than her 27 years. Naomi said she had

avoided being an active participant her

whole life, because of what people might

think of her. She always believed she

would get it wrong if she tried anything

new. She never accepted the praise her

manager gave her about how well she

worked with the children and families.

Naomi was exhibiting several tell-tale

signs of low confidence, which can include:

• Staying in your comfort zone, fearing

failure, and avoiding risk

• Dismissing compliments offhandedly.

“Oh that display was nothing really,

anyone could have done it”

She told me she had been born without

confidence and did not know how to

manage her life. She had a self-limiting

belief that she was genetically programmed

to be like this and it was part of her

personality. I asked Naomi if she realised

that confidence simply comprised a set of

skills, techniques and attitudes that could

be developed. She was surprised to hear


Confidence is learned over our lifetimes.

From birth we receive messages from the

outside world and it is these messages

that create or drain us of our confidence.

How we were parented, our early years’

experiences and our relationships with

families, friends and teachers, all influence

our perception of ourselves. Your place in

society and external life events play their

part e.g. feeling isolated, marginalised, or

rejected. Coaching has a role in helping

people notice patterns of behaviour in

themselves but if there is deep trauma

or abuse that people are carrying, these

issues may need therapeutic support. A

good coach will know when to refer on for

more specialist help.

Walking the walk

For Naomi, our starting point was to

help her get ready for the interview and

presentation date. Even if she was feeling

really nervous, she could become more

aware of her own body presence and walk

into a room with a more confident manner.

The words she was going to use were not

as important as the impression she would

make on first meeting her tutors.

This chart (Fig 1) shows that initial

impressions are based more on our body

language (55%) and our voice (38%) than

the words we say (7%). I suggested Naomi

observe the people around her, on public

transport and at work. How are they

dressed? How do they sit or stand? What

do they do with their hands? What does

their facial expression tell you? What does

the tone or pitch of their voice tell you?

All this is really important when walking

into an interview, as the interviewers will

be looking at you. A terrifying thought for

most of us, and especially Naomi. So we

had a practice in the safety of the coaching


Raising selfawareness

of your

body language

Eye contact

Cultivate a warm, friendly direct gaze.

Eyes should meet 60-70% of the time.

Any more than this and we are probably

staring and any less we can appear timid.

It is important to practice this and Naomi

ended up in fits of giggles as we tried,

but after a few minutes she was looking

directly at me and then learned to look

slightly to the right of me, to reduce the


Facial expressions

Match what you are actually saying to the

mood of the conversation. A smile signals

approachability and friendliness, so if

someone smiles at you, smile back. Naomi

was warming up in the session. She smiled

at me and I smiled back. It worked!


When facing a person, stand squarely

in front of them with an appropriate

amount of ‘personal space’. (The COVID-19

pandemic has certainly made us much

more aware of this, and it is helpful.) Stand

relaxed, knees soft and arms in a relaxed

position by your side. Imagine a cord

attached to the top of your head which

pulls up and lengthens the back of your

neck. This open posture encourages others

to make contact. Leaning forward a little

indicates you are interested and is usually

taken as a compliment.


If Naomi is going for interview (in normal

circumstances) she will most likely shake

hands with the interviewer, or she might

just raise a hand, nod and smile. Be aware

of old habits of fidgeting e.g. playing with

your hair, sipping from your water bottle

– these give them impression of someone

lacking in confidence.

After our practice on screen, Naomi

pledged to go home and practice some

confident ‘body talk’ in the mirror. She

did. She further observed herself holding

her breath and then learned to take a

deep breath in and out which slowed

her down and further calmed her nerves.

Then without telling anyone, she tried the

techniques at work. She reported back

how these few conscious changes gave

her a secret ‘inner smile’ and suddenly her

confidence was growing. Her manager

Ruth Mercer is a coach and

consultant, with a career background

in early education. Ruth is committed

to creating a positive learning

environment for staff, children and

families. She has a successful track

record of 1:1 coaching for leaders and

group coaching across the maintained

and PVI sector. She supports leaders

and managers in developing a

coaching approach in their settings

through bespoke consultancy and

introductory training on coaching and

mentoring for all staff.

Contact: ruthmercercoaching@gmail.


Website: www.ruthmercercoaching.


noticed a difference in her behaviour and

commented how well she was doing at

work. Naomi just smiled at her and said

“thank you”, It was the first time she had

ever been able to accept a compliment

without shrugging it off.

Why not try these little tips for yourself and

see who notices?


Fig 1 The Open University accessed online


38 April 2021 | parenta.com

parenta.com | April 2021 39


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