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July 2021 Parenta magazine

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Issue 80<br />

JULY <strong>2021</strong><br />

FREE<br />

WIN A COPY OF ‘MY MUMMY IS AUTISTIC’ BY HEATH & JOANNA GRACE<br />

Industry<br />

Experts<br />

How to motivate<br />

your team to develop<br />

movement sessions<br />

Celebrating pride<br />

and LGBTQIA+ in<br />

our settings<br />

3 ways to cultivate<br />

a summer of play<br />

+ lots more<br />

Write for us<br />

for a chance to win<br />

£50<br />

page 8<br />

What links Chris Packham,<br />

a birdbox and a<br />

supermarket trolley?<br />

The answer is Heath Grace, regular guest author, Joanna Grace’s son who wrote “My Mummy is Autistic” just after his 5th<br />

birthday during his first summer holiday. In this article Joanna explores the process of making the book with Heath<br />

THE LANGUAGE OF RISKY PLAY • INTERNATIONAL FRIENDSHIP DAY • EXPLORING DIFFERENT PEDAGOGIES


hello<br />

welcome to our family<br />

JUNE JULY <strong>2021</strong> 2020 ISSUE 80 67<br />

IN THIS EDITION<br />

Regulars<br />

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

Summer is here at last – and that means lots of outdoor play opportunities for us as practitioners, for the children<br />

in our care, and for parents too! We know that the children certainly don’t need any encouragement when it comes<br />

to playing; this comes very naturally to these youngsters. However, there are times, as adults when we can be less<br />

enthusiastic – after all, playing is not a priority for us - and it’s not always something we feel the most confident<br />

about. Laughter specialist Katie White gives us the benefit of her experience and helps us overcome barriers when<br />

it comes to adult playfulness. Turn to page 36 to find out how to embrace your silly side in her article “3 ways to<br />

cultivate a summer of play”.<br />

Industry experts Gina Bale and Helen Garnett continue the topic of play – Gina looks at how we can motivate our teams and help with<br />

self-consciousness and embarrassment when it comes to delivering movement sessions with our team, and Helen gives some fantastic<br />

advice about how we can safely encourage and deliver ‘risky play’.<br />

We are so lucky to have another book giveaway this month! We have three signed copies of the acclaimed “My Mummy is Autistic” by<br />

Heath and Joanna Grace - turn to page 24 to read the fascinating story behind the story - and to find out how you can win one of these<br />

amazing books!<br />

Also inside this month’s issue, we learn about the art of mentoring, we discuss the resumed Ofsted inspections, we celebrate LGBTQIA+<br />

and look at how music can help build relationships in the early years – plus so much more!<br />

As always, all the advice and guidance in our <strong>magazine</strong> is written to help you with the efficient running of your setting and to promote the<br />

health, happiness and well-being of the children in your care.<br />

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

Please stay safe, everyone.<br />

Allan<br />

12<br />

The art of<br />

mentoring in<br />

the early years -<br />

part one<br />

In apprenticeships mentoring<br />

is common and trainees need<br />

high-quality mentors to help<br />

Celebrating<br />

difference and<br />

neurodivergence<br />

- part 4<br />

14<br />

There is a lot of confusion<br />

around sensory differences<br />

that can lead to harmful<br />

narratives<br />

Celebrating Pride and 18<br />

LGBTQIA+ in our settings<br />

We should acknowledge and celebrate<br />

the diversity that exists within our<br />

families and children as many in our<br />

settings may be part of this community<br />

8 Write for us for the chance to win £50!<br />

8 Guest author winner announced<br />

16 Feelie box<br />

17 Best ever chocolate nests<br />

21 Congratulations to our learners<br />

News<br />

4 Childcare news and views<br />

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

that have caught our eye over the<br />

month<br />

Advice<br />

12 The art of mentoring in the early years -<br />

part one<br />

26 EYFS and resumed Ofsted inspections<br />

30 National Marine Week<br />

34 International Friendship Day<br />

38 Exploring different pedagogies<br />

Industry Experts<br />

10 How to motivate your team to deliver<br />

movement sessions<br />

14 Celebrating difference and<br />

neurodivergence - part 4<br />

18 Celebrating Pride and LGBTQIA+ in our<br />

settings<br />

22 Music and building relationships in the<br />

early years<br />

24 What links Chris Packham, a birdbox<br />

and a supermarket trolley?<br />

28 The language of risky play<br />

32 10 ways to build children’s self-esteem<br />

36 3 ways to cultivate a summer of play<br />

Music and building relationships in the early years 22<br />

EYFS and resumed Ofsted inspections 26<br />

10 ways to build children’s self-esteem 32<br />

International Friendship Day 34


Childcare<br />

news & views<br />

Government announces £1.4bn<br />

in additional ‘recovery’ funding<br />

The government has pledged an<br />

additional £1.4 billion for the next<br />

stage of its ‘education recovery’ plans.<br />

Approximately £1 billion of this will be<br />

allocated to 6 million tutoring courses for<br />

disadvantaged schools and an expansion<br />

of the 16-19 tuition fund; and a total of<br />

£400 million will be offered to early years<br />

practitioners and school teachers for<br />

training and support. This is in addition<br />

to £1.7 billion already promised to help<br />

children catch up on missed learning<br />

during the pandemic, bringing the total<br />

spend on education recovery to a little over<br />

£3 billion.<br />

Education secretary, Gavin Williamson,<br />

said: “The package will not just go a<br />

long way to boost children’s learning in<br />

the wake of the disruption caused by<br />

the pandemic, but also help bring back<br />

down the attainment gap that we’ve been<br />

working to eradicate.”<br />

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance,<br />

commented: “It is encouraging to see the<br />

early years sector properly considered<br />

in this stage of the recovery plan, with<br />

a proportion of funding significantly<br />

higher than the government’s initial<br />

announcements. Additional training for<br />

early years practitioners is particularly<br />

welcome since tight budgets leave many<br />

settings with little money to invest in<br />

upskilling the workforce.<br />

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

here.<br />

“Apprenticeship wages should<br />

be paid in full by government”:<br />

Halfon<br />

Robert Halfon, chair of the education<br />

select committee and former skills minister<br />

is calling on the government to pay<br />

apprentice wages and fund their full cost<br />

of training “for at least a year” if they work<br />

for a small or medium-sized employer<br />

(SME).<br />

The influential MP believes the chancellor’s<br />

extra investment for apprentice incentives<br />

and kickstart programmes should not<br />

have “been given so much to the bigger<br />

companies”.<br />

Speaking at the recent Association of<br />

Employment and Learning Providers<br />

conference, Halfon said it would have<br />

been better targeted at smaller firms and<br />

went as far as to call for their apprentices’<br />

wages to be funded.<br />

Halfon said: “The number of<br />

apprenticeship starts has fallen steadily<br />

among all age groups since 2015/16, from<br />

509,000 to 323,000 in 2019/20. That’s<br />

an overall decline of 37 percent. This<br />

fall was particularly acute for the most<br />

disadvantaged young people aged under<br />

25 who fell by 52 percent.<br />

“So, to support SMEs, we should fund<br />

100 percent of training costs and<br />

salary, at least for the first year of an<br />

apprenticeship.”<br />

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

here.<br />

NDNA backs petition calling for<br />

independent review of early<br />

years childcare sector<br />

The NDNA has added its support to a<br />

petition which is calling for the government<br />

to commission an independent review of<br />

childcare funding and affordability.<br />

The petition is open to all parents,<br />

providers and staff working in early years<br />

and has already gained over 107,000<br />

signatures passing the 100,000 required<br />

for a debate in parliament. It highlights low<br />

pay, nursery closures and how ‘without<br />

good quality, affordable childcare the<br />

‘levelling up’ agenda will fail.’<br />

Stella Ziolkowski, NDNA’s Director of<br />

Quality and Training, said: “We know<br />

that the childcare policy has been<br />

underfunded for many years – a report<br />

from MPs in 2019 revealed a funding gap<br />

of £662 million. The survey by an All-party<br />

Parliamentary Group found serious doubts<br />

about the Government’s financial support<br />

for early years providers with just one in<br />

ten parents believing that current funding<br />

levels are enough for nurseries to remain<br />

sustainable.<br />

“Findings from our research with the<br />

Education Policy Institute reveals much<br />

lower occupancy levels whilst costs remain<br />

the same. There is also an additional<br />

cost burden associated with applying<br />

Government COVID-19 guidance and<br />

measures to keep everyone safe. We are<br />

concerned this financial strain will impact<br />

on the future sufficiency of early education<br />

for families as we are seeing more<br />

closures as a result.<br />

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

here.<br />

‘Landmark’ centre for childhood<br />

launched by Duchess of<br />

Cambridge<br />

The Duchess of Cambridge has launched<br />

her own Centre for Early Childhood, to raise<br />

awareness of the importance of early years<br />

and help “transform lives”.<br />

A spokesperson for the royal family said<br />

Catherine felt early childhood was the<br />

“social equivalent to climate change”<br />

but it was not discussed “with the same<br />

seriousness”.<br />

Kensington Palace described the centre as<br />

“a landmark step” in her work. The duchess<br />

said she wanted to “create a happier, more<br />

mentally healthy, more nurturing society”;<br />

and an aide said the development would<br />

shape her future focus as a senior royal.<br />

“The duchess has made the observation<br />

that the more you learn about the science<br />

of early childhood, whether it’s brain<br />

development, social science, what it means<br />

for our adult mental health, the more you<br />

realise that this is the social equivalent to<br />

climate change,” they said.<br />

“But it is not discussed with the same<br />

seriousness or strategic intent that that<br />

issue is.”<br />

In a video to mark the launch of the Royal<br />

Foundation Centre for Early Childhood,<br />

Catherine, wearing a necklace engraved<br />

with her children’s initials, said: “Working<br />

closely with others, the centre hopes to<br />

raise awareness of why the first five years<br />

of life are just so important for our future<br />

life outcomes, and what we can do as a<br />

society to embrace this golden opportunity<br />

to create a happier, more mentally healthy,<br />

more nurturing society.<br />

“By working together, my hope is that<br />

we can change the way we think about<br />

early childhood and transform lives for<br />

generations to come.”<br />

The centre will focus on research, working<br />

with people across the private, public and<br />

voluntary sectors on new solutions and<br />

campaigning to raise awareness.<br />

Early childhood has been a focus of the<br />

duchess’s decade as a member of the<br />

Royal Family, as she has looked at issues<br />

including family breakdown, mental health<br />

and the school environment. Last week,<br />

she joined US First Lady Jill Biden at a<br />

school in Cornwall to discuss early years<br />

development.<br />

The full story, as reported by the BBC can be<br />

read here.<br />

Early years underfunding not a<br />

surprise to ministers, new data<br />

shows<br />

Data obtained by the Early Years Alliance<br />

via a Freedom of Information (FOI) request<br />

shows that the funding rates paid to local<br />

authorities for ‘free childcare’ offer are just<br />

two-thirds of what the government itself<br />

estimated would be needed to fully fund<br />

the scheme.<br />

Following a two-year FOI battle with<br />

the Department for Education, the data<br />

reveals that civil servants estimated that a<br />

government-funded early years place for<br />

three- and four-year-olds would cost an<br />

average of £7.49 per hour by 2020/21.<br />

However, the average rate paid to local<br />

authorities for this offer is currently just<br />

£4.89, according to independent analysts<br />

Ceeda which shows a shortfall of £2.60 per<br />

child, per hour for every 30-hours place – or<br />

£2,964 over the course of a year.<br />

The FOI documents state that the<br />

government expects providers to “move,<br />

over time, to full use of statutory staff<br />

ratios” to accommodate the shortfall. This<br />

is despite low child-adult ratios being<br />

associated with higher quality early years<br />

provision.<br />

The documents obtained also reveal that<br />

ministers were aware that the inadequate<br />

levels of investment proposed would result<br />

in higher prices for parents of younger<br />

children as providers would be forced to<br />

cross-subsidise those on the 30-hours<br />

scheme.<br />

The Early Years Spending Review Scenarios<br />

document, obtained by the Alliance, also<br />

exposes a deliberate strategy of passingon<br />

costs to parents. It states: “We will<br />

strip out funding for consumables (food,<br />

nappies) – and set an expectation that<br />

providers charge parents for these.”<br />

This acceptance of inevitable price<br />

increases for families comes despite the<br />

fact that the document goes on to state that<br />

“a 10% reduction in the cost of childcare<br />

might lead to a 1.4% increase in the<br />

employment rate for married mothers with<br />

pre-school age children”.<br />

The FOI request – which asked for proof that<br />

the early years funding rates announced<br />

in 2015 and implemented in 2017 had<br />

been calculated to cover rising costs – was<br />

originally filed back in December 2018. The<br />

DfE rejected this request, even after a ruling<br />

by the Information Commissioner’s Office,<br />

appealing to the First Tier Tribunal against<br />

the ICO’s decision.<br />

The full story, as reported by Early Years<br />

Alliance can be found here.<br />

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

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


A round-up of some news stories that<br />

have caught our eye over the month<br />

Source and image credits to:<br />

Freepik, Vogue, Day Nurseries, The Mirror, Nursery World,<br />

The Bolton News, Birmingham Express, East Anglian Times<br />

<strong>Parenta</strong> FREE webinar -<br />

Exploring what ‘School<br />

Readiness’ means<br />

As we are heading towards the start of<br />

the new academic year it is important<br />

to prepare children for the next step in<br />

their education, and in this case, making<br />

sure nursery children are school-ready.<br />

Click here to watch all the advice and tips<br />

shared on how to successfully achieve<br />

‘School Readiness’ in your setting.<br />

The second most expensive<br />

childcare system in the world is<br />

the UK’s<br />

Women with paid employment are having<br />

to choose to either work less than they<br />

want to keep costs low or leaving work<br />

completely to look after their children.<br />

One of the UK’s largest nursery<br />

providers bought by Partou<br />

Just Childcare has 62 nurseries based all<br />

over the UK and was founded in 2004.<br />

The nursery group has now been bought<br />

by the largest childare provider in the<br />

Netherlands to help with expansion.<br />

How to claim £2,000 worth of<br />

free childcare which families are<br />

currently missing out on<br />

Recent figures from HMRC show that<br />

around 1.3 million homes qualify for<br />

childcare funding support but only<br />

282,000 families used it in March.<br />

Little People Nurseries has<br />

bought its third setting based in<br />

Hampton<br />

The family-owned nursery group<br />

purchased it’s third setting with the<br />

potential of taking up to 34 children.<br />

New campaign launched to help<br />

Grosvenor Nursery with funding<br />

shortages<br />

Nursery schools have lost on average<br />

over £70,000 of income due to the<br />

pandemic. Yasmin Qureshi has launched<br />

this new campaign to try and help.<br />

Click here to send in<br />

your stories to<br />

hello@parenta.com<br />

Early Days Nursery staff and<br />

children raise money for mum<br />

with breast cancer<br />

Over £2,700 has been raised for a<br />

nursery mum with breast cancer. The<br />

staff and children have been raising<br />

money with lots of raffles and cake sales.<br />

Birmingham toddler scores<br />

close to Einstein on Mensa test<br />

Dayaal Kaur, 3 years old, scored 142<br />

on the high IQ society’s admission test.<br />

Einstein is estimated to have had a score<br />

around 160. Dayaal has now been put in<br />

the top 99.9% for her age group.<br />

Parliament to debate the<br />

cost of childcare<br />

Pregnant Then Screwed, Grazia<br />

Magazine and The Juggle groups all<br />

secure the discussion of UK childcare<br />

costs as petition tops 100k.<br />

Climbing frame and new rooms<br />

to expand Cherry Blossom<br />

Children’s Centre, Hadleigh<br />

The expansion of the two rooms, means<br />

that the centre can now take 30 more<br />

children, making a total of 60 spaces in<br />

the setting.<br />

Achievement of ‘climate positive’<br />

status by Childbase Partnership<br />

Childbase nurseries have got this<br />

achievement by saving more greenhouse<br />

gas emissions than they generate in it’s<br />

44 nurseries and head office.<br />

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

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


Write for us!<br />

We’re always on the lookout<br />

for new authors to contribute<br />

insightful articles for our<br />

monthly <strong>magazine</strong>.<br />

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

why not send an article to us and be in with a<br />

chance of winning? Each month, we’ll be giving<br />

away Amazon vouchers to our “Guest Author of<br />

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

https://www.parenta.com/sponsored-content/<br />

Congratulations<br />

to our guest author competition winner, Katie White!<br />

WIN A COPY OF HEATH & JOANNA’S<br />

BOOK “MY MUMMY IS AUTISTIC”<br />

Congratulations to Katie White, our guest author<br />

of the month! Her article “A playful approach to<br />

difficult emotions” introduced three important steps<br />

to providing emotional support for children in our<br />

settings whilst cheering them up. Well done Katie!<br />

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

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

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

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

Even if you are not a lucky winner, you can still purchase Heath and<br />

Joanna’s book here and enjoy 20% discount too!<br />

Discount code: BSB20<br />

We have three signed copies of<br />

Heath and Joanna’s book to give<br />

away. Three lucky readers picked at<br />

random will receive a free copy of<br />

the book!<br />

To enter the competition email<br />

marketing@parenta.com by<br />

Friday 23rd <strong>July</strong> <strong>2021</strong><br />

8 <strong>July</strong> June <strong>2021</strong> | | parenta.com<br />

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


How to motivate your team to<br />

deliver movement sessions<br />

and engaging with the children, everything<br />

and everyone else in the room is forgotten<br />

except for the needs of the children.<br />

If you are not focused on the children and<br />

being there with them in that moment, in<br />

the session, mentally as well as physically,<br />

it allows space for anxiety and worry.<br />

The problem:<br />

So many adults working with children<br />

forget what it was like to be a child, and<br />

can’t always remember what it was about<br />

the teacher that captured their attention<br />

when they were very little. Having trained<br />

practitioners and teachers for years, I have<br />

seen how hard it can be for some to flick<br />

the switch to find their inner child. The<br />

child in you allows you to see the bridge<br />

between the imaginary and real world.<br />

The solution:<br />

Help your team to flick that switch and say<br />

hello to the child we all have inside!<br />

A question:<br />

Do you remember what you loved to do<br />

as a child or what it was about a certain<br />

teacher that you loved to have lessons<br />

with?<br />

That moment in time you are remembering<br />

means you were engaged and interested<br />

in what you were doing. You were the<br />

engaged child who:<br />

• Paid attention<br />

• Listened<br />

• Asked questions<br />

• Responded to questions<br />

What a difference it makes to have a group<br />

of engaged children! It is all down to you<br />

being engaged in what you are doing as<br />

well.<br />

If your team or children<br />

are unengaged you need<br />

to find the most effective<br />

strategies through:<br />

• Hands-on learning<br />

• Making learning fun<br />

• Giving them a purpose<br />

• Collaborating with them<br />

• Giving them choice<br />

• Giving them responsibility/ownership<br />

of the activity<br />

The key to motivation:<br />

We all need to be engaged and enjoy what<br />

we are doing no matter whether we are<br />

adults or children.<br />

How can I help them?<br />

If they are struggling to create their own<br />

sessions, let them choose the right product<br />

with you. Give them choice and ownership.<br />

Key things to remember:<br />

• If your team does not enjoy what<br />

they are doing, they will not want<br />

to deliver the sessions and they will<br />

lose motivation and whatever you<br />

purchased will gather dust on the shelf<br />

• Children will engage if the adults<br />

believe in what they are doing and<br />

enjoy the sessions as well<br />

• Adult and child engagement improves<br />

attention, focus, motivation, critical<br />

thinking skills and promotes a<br />

meaningful learning experience<br />

What should we look for in a<br />

product to help our team?<br />

Ensure the product you choose is multisensory<br />

to help all different learners and<br />

needs. The benefits of a multi-sensory<br />

movement activity are that it helps the<br />

children with as many areas of learning as<br />

possible.<br />

Don’t forget your team will be multi-modal<br />

learners, just like your children, and if it’s<br />

a multi-sensory product, you will reach all<br />

of them as well so they can learn to use it<br />

quickly and feel confident in their delivery.<br />

Look for a product that has additional<br />

activities and learning materials to help<br />

your team with planning, delivery and<br />

learning for the children.<br />

They lack confidence and<br />

don’t think they can run<br />

sessions – how can I help<br />

them?<br />

1. Source the best training for your team<br />

on how to have fun delivering the<br />

sessions and see the benefits for the<br />

children, with them having fun as<br />

well. This is important as once they<br />

understand this concept and see the<br />

benefits, they become engaged and<br />

motivated to continue.<br />

2. Ensure they are given post-training<br />

support to help with the sessions,<br />

problem-solve and feel confident.<br />

3. Talk to them to find out what they are<br />

struggling with and how you can help.<br />

4. Ensure all the adults in the room<br />

participate in the session with the<br />

children. This really helps them if they<br />

are feeling self-conscious as everyone<br />

will be doing it together.<br />

5. Give them ownership of the sessions to<br />

decide when they will run in the daily/<br />

weekly plan.<br />

6. Support them throughout by checking<br />

in weekly to see what they need to<br />

develop their skills and improve the<br />

sessions for the children. For example:<br />

how did it go? What went well? Are<br />

there areas you want to improve on?<br />

They feel embarrassed<br />

dancing and jumping around<br />

– what can I do?<br />

They may need help in finding their inner<br />

child hiding behind their adult self as we all<br />

get shy; I must admit I still get worried but<br />

once the session starts, and I am talking to<br />

Yes, you may think ‘hmmm that’s easy to<br />

say!’ I do understand it can be hard, but<br />

it just takes the right product, training,<br />

support, and time. Yes, the first few<br />

sessions may feel tricky, as it’s something<br />

new, but we learn best from “doing”. Have<br />

fun, if you’re having fun, the children will<br />

have fun with you and that’s the most<br />

important thing, as it means they are<br />

engaged and ready to learn.<br />

Don’t forget:<br />

1. Find the right multi-sensory product to<br />

engage your team and children.<br />

2. Give your team ownership of the<br />

activity.<br />

3. Support them with the products<br />

training.<br />

4. Ensure they have follow-on support<br />

to continue to build their skills and<br />

confidence.<br />

5. Ensure all adults in the room join in<br />

the session.<br />

6. Communicate with them regularly<br />

and join in some of the sessions<br />

yourself.<br />

Gina Bale<br />

Gina’s background was originally<br />

ballet, but she has spent the last 27<br />

years teaching movement and dance<br />

in mainstream, early years and SEND<br />

settings as well as dance schools.<br />

Whilst teaching, Gina found the time to<br />

create the ‘Hi-5’ dance programme to<br />

run alongside the Australian Children’s<br />

TV series and the Angelina Ballerina<br />

Dance Academy for Hit Entertainment.<br />

Her proudest achievement to date is her<br />

baby Littlemagictrain. She created this<br />

specifically to help children learn through<br />

make-believe, music and movement.<br />

One of the highlights has been seeing<br />

Littlemagictrain delivered by Butlin’s<br />

famous Redcoats with the gorgeous<br />

‘Bonnie Bear’ on the Skyline stage.<br />

Gina has qualifications of teaching<br />

movement and dance from the Royal<br />

Ballet School, Trinity College and Royal<br />

Academy of Dance.<br />

Use the code ‘PARENTA’ for a 20%<br />

discount on Littlemagictrain downloads<br />

from ‘Special Editions’, ‘Speech and<br />

Language Activities’, ‘Games’ and<br />

‘Certificates’.<br />

Something extra:<br />

Take a quick peek at this: https://youtu.be/<br />

TG4PqmShvHI (Prince: Starfish and Coffee<br />

on the muppet show). I am a massive<br />

“Prince” fan, and this song and video shows<br />

the colour that imagination can give to your<br />

world.<br />

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

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


The art of mentoring<br />

in the early years -<br />

part one<br />

Learning is a life-long activity and the old adage that ‘you<br />

learn something new every day’ is true – it could be something<br />

you read, heard on the news, or something from a more formal<br />

learning activity such as a course or book. If you undertake a<br />

more formal course, for example, an apprenticeship, or a CPD<br />

course, then you might expect there to be someone who can help<br />

you, who has been there, done it, and who can give you some<br />

tips and tricks and guide you on your learning journey. You may<br />

get a mentor – and if you’re really lucky, you’ll get a good one!<br />

Many of the world’s most successful people have been mentored:<br />

Sir Richard Branson had Sir Freddie Laker, Mark Zuckerberg had<br />

Steve Jobs, and Luke Skywalker had Yoda!!<br />

OK, in early years, you’re unlikely to come<br />

across Yoda, unless as a toy, but you may<br />

have opportunities to either become a<br />

mentor, or even be mentored yourself.<br />

Much of the training for the early years<br />

workforce is done through apprenticeships<br />

where mentoring is common and trainees<br />

need high-quality mentors to help them<br />

learn on the job. The job of the mentor is to<br />

help facilitate the learning of their mentee,<br />

but in truth, mentors are learners too, or<br />

they should be, as they will be learning<br />

alongside their partner, the best way to<br />

help that particular person succeed, and<br />

one in which the mentor can develop<br />

themselves and their own career too.<br />

Being a mentor is a responsible and<br />

important role that you can take on, but it<br />

should not be undertaken lightly or if you<br />

don’t have the time or motivation to do it<br />

properly. The trainees will expect proper<br />

training. They will need your time, your<br />

attention and your expertise and they<br />

will also need a great deal of empathy,<br />

understanding, care and patience too.<br />

Some mentoring roles, such as those for<br />

postgraduate courses, require the mentors<br />

to be trained themselves, although it is<br />

not the remit of this article to give specific<br />

advice for that type of mentoring. You can<br />

mentor your staff in any number of other<br />

roles for any number of training situations<br />

too.<br />

The problem is, that many mentoring roles<br />

are not well recognised, trained or funded<br />

either in terms of time or money, even in<br />

well-established professions like teaching,<br />

but that does not mean that they are not<br />

important. In fact, they could be one of the<br />

most important keys to success.<br />

Mentors should help trainees to plan and<br />

meet their targets, be a good role model<br />

for the job, offer advice and listen to their<br />

trainee’s concerns, observe their mentee<br />

doing the job, and give them high-quality<br />

feedback that will enable them to succeed.<br />

One of the least explored roles is that of<br />

giving feedback, but it is the quality of the<br />

feedback that is one of the main drivers of<br />

success.<br />

Giving feedback<br />

If you want to be a good mentor, you need<br />

to develop a way of putting things that<br />

gets the message across in a way that is<br />

enabling and empowering rather than one<br />

which is patronising or overly critical. Think<br />

about how you would like to be mentored<br />

and how you would prefer to get feedback.<br />

If your goal was to run a marathon, and<br />

you’d never done anything more than run<br />

for a bus, then you’d need to take things in<br />

stages. You’d want to know that you were<br />

reaching small milestones along the way<br />

and that you were getting more things<br />

right than wrong. That way you wouldn’t<br />

become overwhelmed or despondent, and<br />

you will eventually reach your goal.<br />

It’s the same for mentees (and pre-school<br />

and school-aged children, by the way).<br />

What they want to know first, is what<br />

they are doing well. If they hear and<br />

understand that, then they will be more<br />

open to listening to the ‘even better ifs’<br />

or the specifics of how they can improve,<br />

which make up the second part. Finishing<br />

your feedback with an overall positive,<br />

so that they go away feeling they are on<br />

the right track, is the final part of what has<br />

become known as the ‘feedback sandwich’.<br />

But it’s important that your feedback is<br />

sincere and appropriate too. It’s no good<br />

telling people they are doing well to their<br />

face, if you then fail them the following<br />

week without telling them why. And if we<br />

think about it, we all know people who<br />

make us feel empowered and positive and<br />

those who drain our energy and for whom,<br />

we can do nothing right. The job of the<br />

mentor is obviously to be the first person.<br />

Your feedback should be specific, offering<br />

them ways that they can succeed, and a<br />

few things at a time so that they are not<br />

trying to work on too many things at once.<br />

If a trainee needs to develop confidence<br />

in running a session on writing names<br />

for example, then it would be no good to<br />

just say “develop your confidence”. It is<br />

too general and doesn’t give the trainee<br />

anything to go on. If they are already<br />

feeling underconfident, they may nod<br />

nicely at you, but go away feeling that<br />

they are still getting nowhere.<br />

It would be better to<br />

give specific pointers or<br />

suggestions, such as:<br />

• Start with one child first and get them<br />

to draw different strokes<br />

• Make sure you are modelling what<br />

you want the child to do – so pick up<br />

a pen and draw things yourself<br />

• Let them know that it is the journey<br />

and effort that is important rather<br />

than the outcome. If the child can<br />

draw a circle to start, that’s good<br />

• Suggest they watch a few more<br />

sessions of other people leading a<br />

session<br />

• Suggest they talk to other members of<br />

your staff to learn how they cope<br />

These things may seem like common sense<br />

once you are an experienced professional,<br />

but to the trainee, they will need this level<br />

of guidance to start. Remember when<br />

you were learning to drive? Every action<br />

was followed by the conscious thoughts<br />

of ‘mirror, signal, manoeuvre’ and even<br />

those were tentative. After a time, they<br />

become second nature, but remember<br />

how scaffolded people need things in the<br />

beginning.<br />

In the next part, we’ll look at how to tackle<br />

difficult conversations.<br />

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

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


Celebrating difference and<br />

neurodivergence - part 4<br />

Other people sense different things<br />

This article is the fourth article in a series of six from Sensory Engagement and Inclusion Specialist<br />

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

difference and neurodivergence within your setting in a way that will benefit both the children and<br />

the adults. Joanna runs online training courses focused on strategies for supporting differently abled<br />

children and promoting inclusive practice. Click here for more information.<br />

In the first three articles in this series,<br />

we have explored simple craft activities<br />

you can do with children to help them<br />

explore and understand the differences<br />

between people, and we have challenged<br />

ourselves to support those explorations<br />

using non-judgemental language to<br />

describe those differences. The impact of<br />

doing this was explored in the last article.<br />

In this article, we are going to consider<br />

sensory differences; you can explore these<br />

with children using the feelie bag activity<br />

described as ‘Feelie box’ on page 16.<br />

You may have noticed a rise in children<br />

who have sensory differences in your<br />

setting. This is a phenomenon many<br />

settings are experiencing, it’s not just you!<br />

Knowledge and awareness of sensory<br />

needs and differences have grown in<br />

recent years which is leading to greater<br />

identification and the landscape of<br />

childhood has changed, which means<br />

children coming through your settings<br />

now may have different sensory skills<br />

compared to children ten or twenty years<br />

ago.<br />

There is a lot of confusion around sensory<br />

differences, and that can lead to the<br />

sorts of harmful narratives we’ve been<br />

discussing through this series. So in this<br />

article, I’m going to share an analogy<br />

I find useful for thinking about sensory<br />

processing differences.<br />

Imagine a child’s sensory systems are<br />

controlled by a set of volume controls in<br />

their brain. These are used to tune into<br />

the information in the world. If their sense<br />

organs work, they pick up the information,<br />

and if the volume is set correctly, it<br />

arrives at the brain at the perfect level for<br />

processing.<br />

Some children are born with broken<br />

volume controls. That is to say they have a<br />

physiological difference in their brain which<br />

means that sense information comes<br />

through either too quietly for their brain to<br />

hear, or too loud for it to bear. The result<br />

of this shows in their response to their<br />

sensory environment.<br />

Children have to learn how to operate their<br />

sensory volume controls. Actually watching<br />

a child play with a real volume control is<br />

perfect for cementing our understanding of<br />

this. At first, the sound is too quiet, so they<br />

turn it up. Only they haven’t got the fine<br />

motor control required and so they turn<br />

it far too far up and now the sound is too<br />

loud. It will take them a while of adjusting<br />

the volume up and down before they get<br />

to the perfect level, whereas someone with<br />

the relevant fine motor skills might be able<br />

to adjust straight there.<br />

The skill of tuning in and out to sensory<br />

information, one you use as you listen<br />

to a conversation against background<br />

noise, or read a sign on a busy high street,<br />

is developed through early childhood<br />

experiences. Some childhoods are rich in<br />

sensory experiences, and other childhoods<br />

are limited. If you were able to get out<br />

of the house, roll down a grassy bank,<br />

swing from trees, climb a climbing frame,<br />

bounce on a trampoline, you have had a<br />

very different set of sensory experiences<br />

from the child whose house was small<br />

and far from an outdoor play space who<br />

entertained themselves on a screen whilst<br />

seated.<br />

Some children present with sensory<br />

differences because they have missed<br />

out on the opportunity to develop sensory<br />

skills (to develop their operation of those<br />

volume controls) and some children present<br />

with sensory differences because their<br />

volume controls are broken. And there<br />

are different ways they could be broken,<br />

perhaps they are set too high, or too low,<br />

and just stuck there, or perhaps they have<br />

been overly greased so that no matter how<br />

carefully someone operates them, they<br />

slide around becoming too high or too low.<br />

It is important to think about these<br />

distinctions because an approach that is<br />

a supportive of one child could be cruel<br />

to another. If I am someone who needs<br />

practice to learn to focus on a visual<br />

stimulus, then asking me to engage in<br />

activities that have me practice that skill<br />

is going to be beneficial to me. However,<br />

if I am someone whose visual volume<br />

control is turned up full whack so that<br />

visual stimulus hurts my eye, being asked<br />

to engage in that activity isn’t going to help<br />

me, it’s going to hurt me. And again, the<br />

misunderstandings and narratives created<br />

around this are harmful. The risk is that<br />

the narrative will be that I didn’t try hard<br />

enough, or wouldn’t focus, that it was my<br />

fault that the therapy that supported my<br />

peer does not work for me.<br />

A parent recently asked me how their son<br />

could have struggled with loud noises when<br />

he was younger but now got into trouble<br />

at home for making loud noises. When you<br />

think of the volume control analogy this<br />

seemingly counterintuitive situation makes<br />

sense. When he was born, the volume on<br />

his hearing wasn’t right for his interaction<br />

with the world, so he’s adjusted it, only he’s<br />

gone too far in the opposite direction. With<br />

some children with sensory differences,<br />

you could witness changes like this hour<br />

to hour. It’s important we are sympathetic<br />

and do not judge their experience as being<br />

supposed to be like our own.<br />

Listen out for the judgement in things you<br />

say “You’re being too loud” – what you<br />

mean is “too loud for me”, they might be<br />

exactly the right volume for them! It is easy<br />

for us to think the sensory landscape as we<br />

experience it is fixed. We have made sure<br />

the room is lit appropriately, it is the right<br />

temperature, the music we are playing is<br />

not too loud, and so on. But what we have<br />

done is created a space that suits us and<br />

our sensory needs. The sensory needs of<br />

the children may be different.<br />

Using a feelie bag is a good way of<br />

exploring our sensory likes and dislikes<br />

and talking to one another about them. Try<br />

including items that are likely to highlight<br />

that experience is unique to the individual.<br />

A good one I often find is cotton wool,<br />

some people love the feel other people say<br />

it makes the hairs on the back of their neck<br />

stand on end! Remember as you talk about<br />

these differences, work hard to weed out<br />

the judgement from your language. Doing<br />

so can be enormously powerful!<br />

Jo provides in-person and online training to<br />

settings looking to enhance their inclusive<br />

practice for more information visit www.<br />

TheSensoryProjects.co.uk where you can<br />

also find resources to help you include<br />

children of all abilities. Jo is active on social<br />

media and welcomes connection requests<br />

from people curious about inclusive<br />

practice.<br />

Joanna Grace<br />

Joanna Grace is an international<br />

Sensory Engagement and Inclusion<br />

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

and founder of The Sensory Projects.<br />

Consistently rated as “outstanding” by<br />

Ofsted, Joanna has taught in<br />

mainstream and special school settings,<br />

connecting with pupils of all ages and<br />

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

draws on her own experience from her<br />

private and professional life as well as<br />

taking in all the information she can<br />

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

private life includes family members<br />

with disabilities and neurodiverse<br />

conditions and time spent as a<br />

registered foster carer for children with<br />

profound disabilities.<br />

Joanna has published four practitioner<br />

books: “Multiple Multisensory Rooms:<br />

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

Stories for Children and Teens”,<br />

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

and “Sharing Sensory Stories and<br />

Conversations with People with<br />

Dementia”. and two inclusive sensory<br />

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

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

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

Subtle Spectrum” and her son has<br />

recently become the UK’s youngest<br />

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

Mummy is Autistic”.<br />

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

is always happy to connect with people<br />

via Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.<br />

Website:<br />

thesensoryprojects.co.uk<br />

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

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


Feelie Box<br />

Best ever chocolate nests<br />

This craft is in relation to the “Celebrating difference and neurodivergence - part 4”<br />

article by Joanna Grace<br />

You will<br />

need<br />

• A large cardboard box<br />

This recipe has been<br />

kindly supplied by<br />

Katherine Houghton, from<br />

her wonderful cookbook<br />

“Early Years Recipes for<br />

Children”, available to<br />

purchase here.<br />

• An old T-shirt<br />

• A selection of different<br />

items to feel<br />

1. Cover the box with the<br />

T-shirt<br />

2. Cut two holes in the sides<br />

of the box, level with where<br />

the sleeves of the T-shirt<br />

meet the box<br />

3. The children will be able<br />

to reach down the T-shirt<br />

sleeves to feel the contents<br />

of the box and the fabric of<br />

the sleeves will stop them<br />

from being able to peek<br />

inside<br />

Instructions:<br />

4. Place something to explore<br />

inside the box and invite<br />

different children to feel it -<br />

and to describe what they<br />

feel and what they think<br />

about it<br />

5. You could try the<br />

following:<br />

Cotton wool, peeled<br />

soft fruit - like grapes or<br />

tomatoes (dropping them<br />

into boiling water makes<br />

their skin easy to peel off)<br />

something gooey or<br />

slimy, like slime, gak or<br />

a homemade playdough,<br />

feathers, polystyrene, ice<br />

cubes<br />

6. A feelie box is essentially a<br />

container that isolates our<br />

sense of touch. Consider<br />

how you could create a<br />

similar experience for other<br />

senses, like tasting with a<br />

blindfold on or closing your<br />

eyes and listening<br />

What do you need?<br />

• Shredded wheat<br />

• Chocolate<br />

• Mini eggs<br />

• Cake cases<br />

Instructions<br />

1. Weigh 85 grams of shredded wheat and add to your bowl<br />

2. Crush up the shredded wheat into a bowl with a wooden<br />

spoon<br />

3. Weigh 200 grams of chocolate and place into a crockery bowl<br />

4. Melt the chocolate over a bowl of water on the hob or you can<br />

use a microwave<br />

5. Pour the chocolate into the bowl of shredded wheat<br />

6. Mix it up until the shredded wheat is all coated<br />

7. Place a spoonful of mixture into the cases<br />

8. Place 3 mini eggs into the ‘nest’<br />

9. To reduce the risk of choking, cut the eggs in half first. Make<br />

sure you help the children do this<br />

16 <strong>July</strong> <strong>2021</strong> | parenta.com parenta.com | | <strong>July</strong> <strong>2021</strong> 17


Celebrating Pride and<br />

LGBTQIA+ in our settings<br />

In June we celebrated Pride Month, when many countries around the world celebrate LGBTQIA+ and<br />

promote their rights. In the UK, some Pride marches were postponed due to coronavirus, but that<br />

didn’t mean we had to halt our smaller celebrations!<br />

Here are some suggestions of<br />

how we can actively celebrate<br />

diversity and LGBTQIA+ in our<br />

settings:<br />

• Provide role models who have some of<br />

the same identity features as children<br />

and families, for example, race,<br />

religion, gender, sexual orientation, or<br />

languages spoken<br />

It is my hope that early years practitioners<br />

will not shy away from talking about<br />

LGBTQIA+ with their children and families.<br />

However, we need to be aware of how<br />

we use language describing gender and<br />

ensure that it remains positive. Terminology<br />

changes over the years and the most<br />

inclusive way to acknowledge this is to<br />

ask the person what language they would<br />

like us to use to describe their gender.<br />

Commonly used terms are explored below.<br />

Understanding terminology<br />

LGBTQIA+:<br />

L – Lesbian – a woman who is sexually<br />

attracted to other women.<br />

+ Plus - this means that the LGBTQIA+<br />

acronym intends to be inclusive and include<br />

everyone who doesn’t feel they fit in with<br />

the typical male/female or heterosexual<br />

groups. In addition, some people may<br />

add an additional letter, e.g. a second<br />

Q for Questioning their identity, a P for<br />

pansexual, when someone is attracted<br />

to another due to their characteristics<br />

rather than gender, or an additional A for<br />

Ally, meaning someone who supports<br />

the LGBTQ+ community. The plus sign<br />

encompasses all variations.<br />

Other terms used:<br />

Gender – gender is a social construction<br />

describing masculinity and femininity, this is<br />

different from sex.<br />

Gender identity – this is referring to which<br />

gender a person identifies with and uses to<br />

describe themselves.<br />

Tamsin Grimmer<br />

Tamsin Grimmer is an experienced early<br />

years consultant, author and parent who<br />

is passionate about young children’s<br />

learning and development. She believes<br />

that all children deserve practitioners<br />

who are inspiring, dynamic, reflective<br />

and loving. Tamsin particularly enjoys<br />

planning and delivering training and<br />

supporting early years practitioners and<br />

teachers to improve outcomes for young<br />

children.<br />

Tamsin has written four books –<br />

Most people are familiar with the rainbow<br />

flag, which has represented the gay civil<br />

rights movement since the late 1970s. The<br />

rainbow was chosen because it represents<br />

all colours and all genders. This year, the<br />

rainbow had even more significance as<br />

we have also used this symbol in the UK<br />

during the pandemic to represent hope<br />

and feeling connected to one another<br />

during a very tough time.<br />

I found myself talking to an educator<br />

the other day about whether we should<br />

celebrate Pride in our settings. I feel very<br />

strongly that we should acknowledge and<br />

celebrate the diversity that exists within our<br />

families and children and many children in<br />

our settings may be part of the LGBTQIA+<br />

community. Celebrating Pride is a way<br />

of enabling these children and families<br />

to feel included and welcomed. Many<br />

settings that celebrated Pride did so by<br />

creating rainbows together using a variety<br />

of different media or reading stories that<br />

represent different sorts of families. We<br />

did some rainbow baking in our house to<br />

celebrate.<br />

The new Birth to 5 Matters non-statutory<br />

guidance document has a really useful<br />

section on inclusive practice and equalities.<br />

It states, “A child may also be part of a<br />

family which is LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay,<br />

bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex,<br />

asexual, plus other variations). Early years<br />

settings have an opportunity to prevent<br />

prejudices from occurring by ensuring<br />

that these children and their families feel<br />

welcome and valued. In practice, this<br />

means that settings should ensure that<br />

their environments are welcoming and<br />

supportive and actively celebrate the value<br />

of diversity. Ultimately, supporting children<br />

to embrace and celebrate differences<br />

between them, their families and others,<br />

is “a crucial part of doing equalities work<br />

and fostering inclusive practice.” (Birth to 5<br />

Matters, <strong>2021</strong>, p25)<br />

• Ensure children can see themselves<br />

and their families reflected in the<br />

learning environment<br />

• Include books, posters and small<br />

world play materials which depict a<br />

range of families (for a list of books,<br />

look at the LGBTQ Early Years website<br />

resources section)<br />

• Display photographs of all the children<br />

and celebrate the unique child and<br />

their identity<br />

• Talk about differences and similarities<br />

in families, for example, mummies<br />

and daddies, single parents, samesex<br />

parents, grandparents raising<br />

children or adopted children<br />

• Challenge prejudice and<br />

discrimination and try to avoid<br />

tokenism<br />

• Allow children to play in genderflexible<br />

ways, for example allowing a<br />

boy to wear a princess dress<br />

G – Gay – a homosexual person, usually<br />

used to describe a man who is sexually<br />

attracted to other men.<br />

B – Bi-sexual – a person who is sexually<br />

attracted to both genders.<br />

T – Transgender (trans) – umbrella term<br />

for people whose gender identity does not<br />

match their sex as assigned at birth.<br />

Q – Queer – umbrella term for people who<br />

might identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or<br />

trans. In the past this term has been used in<br />

an offensive way, however, it is now being<br />

used by some members of the LGBTQ+<br />

community in a positive way.<br />

I – Intersex – a person who is born with a<br />

body that does not fully fit into either male<br />

or female.<br />

A – Asexual – used when someone isn’t<br />

sexually attracted to others of any gender.<br />

Pansexual – this refers to people who<br />

are attracted to other people regardless of<br />

their sex or gender identity – so they might<br />

say their romantic attraction is not based<br />

on sexual orientation but rather on who<br />

they fall in love with or have an emotional<br />

connection with.<br />

Sex – a person has a sex assigned to them<br />

at birth according to their reproductive<br />

organs.<br />

Heterosexual – a person who is sexually<br />

attracted to a person of the opposite<br />

gender.<br />

Homosexual – a person who is sexually<br />

attracted to a person of the same gender.<br />

Non-binary – this term is used when a<br />

person feels that they cannot describe<br />

themselves as either male or female.<br />

Cisgender – a person whose gender<br />

identity matches their sex as assigned<br />

at birth. Cisgender is the opposite of<br />

transgender.<br />

“Observing and Developing Schematic<br />

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

Readiness and the Characteristics<br />

of Effective Learning”, “Calling All<br />

Superheroes: Supporting and Developing<br />

Superhero Play in the Early Years”<br />

and “Developing a Loving Pedagogy<br />

in the Early Years: How Love Fits with<br />

Professional Practice”. She is currently<br />

working on her next two, “Supporting<br />

Behaviour and Emotions” and “Self-<br />

Regulation in Early Childhood”.<br />

You can connect to Tamsin via Twitter<br />

@tamsingrimmer, her Facebook<br />

page, earlyyearsconsultancy, website<br />

www.tamsingrimmer.com or email<br />

tamsingrimmer@hotmail.co.uk.<br />

Gender dysphoria – a person who<br />

experiences distress because there is a<br />

mismatch between their gender identity<br />

and their sex as assigned at birth. This term<br />

is often used in relation to children who are<br />

exploring their gender identity and do not<br />

feel they fit into their birth sex.<br />

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

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


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parenta.com | <strong>July</strong> <strong>2021</strong> 21


Music and building<br />

relationships in the early years<br />

Many songs are written about and inspired by relationships. From classical to pop, hip-hop to<br />

RnB, first loves, unrequited loves, and ending loves dominate the lists. It is not clear whether this is<br />

because songwriters are more inspired by relationships or whether their audiences relate more to<br />

relationships. Ultimately, people prioritise relationships above many other activities, and will move<br />

schools, jobs and even countries to fulfil this need. Music is therefore a natural way to introduce<br />

and support the development of healthy relationships in the early years.<br />

This lovely little tune may be a little<br />

stretching for young voices and new<br />

singers as it covers the whole octave – it<br />

is probably useful to start it low to hit the<br />

high notes properly! It is a great one for<br />

acting out, and interestingly, was a real<br />

story about the characters who went up<br />

the hill in Kilmersdon to secretly meet up.<br />

Although they had a sad end, this village<br />

celebrates the story with signposts: “Ames<br />

Lane leading to Jack and Jill Hill”. Another<br />

interesting point is that their surviving<br />

son, raised by the village, originated the<br />

surname Gilson – Jill/Gill’s son.<br />

A-Tisket A-Tasket<br />

The song selection is an important<br />

aspect in modelling healthy relationships.<br />

While we often switch on the radio while<br />

working, absent-mindedly sing the last<br />

song we heard in the car, children are<br />

noticing and listening and copying what<br />

they see. Depending on their level of<br />

understanding, they may or may not know<br />

the meaning behind the lyrics at the time,<br />

and it should be remembered that often<br />

it comes back to them in later life. This is<br />

particularly important to note with songs<br />

that have dubious or negative origins.<br />

One specific example is “Five Little<br />

Monkeys”, a song that has now been<br />

excluded in many early childhood music<br />

specialist’s repertoires. A quick Google<br />

search will clarify the background of this<br />

song, particularly with regards to race,<br />

and this creates identity issues later in<br />

life for all once it is known – how do you<br />

enjoy the memory of singing a song that<br />

you now know was written to celebrate<br />

bad practices? In contrast, “Baa Baa Black<br />

Sheep” had nothing to do with race but<br />

rather immoral tax practices – so it is<br />

worth researching, as often these histories<br />

are quick and easy to discover. “Lucy<br />

Locket” is one with questionable origins,<br />

so some music specialists have taken it<br />

out of their repertoire as it may have been<br />

about historical practices of well-known<br />

courtesans.<br />

Another genre of potentially controversial<br />

music is spirituals, like “Michael Row<br />

The Boat Ashore”. For many with slave<br />

ancestors, spirituals are a direct reminder<br />

of the memories that still circulate within<br />

the family, making them more than just<br />

‘songs’. Even more recently, Sting’s 80’s<br />

classic, “Every Breath You Take” is an<br />

instant reminder to those with histories of<br />

domestic abuse.<br />

There is the argument that eliminating<br />

controversial music eliminates history.<br />

One example of a controversial song that<br />

some have eliminated is “Jingle Bells”, yes,<br />

the popular Christmas carol. While the<br />

songwriter was simply writing about the<br />

New England fad of jingling horses over<br />

snow, there is controversy over the lyrical<br />

content suggesting courtesans. However,<br />

the biggest controversy is that the song<br />

writer earned his wage by selling the<br />

song to a minstrel group, where it gained<br />

popularity. Singing it is a tricky decision<br />

– does it celebrate the songwriter’s<br />

winter observations of Christmas time, or<br />

does it reward a minstrel group for their<br />

behaviour? Because it is so nuanced, you<br />

could consult those families who may have<br />

been affected, and if it upsets and offends<br />

them, avoid it. Others argue that if it has<br />

the potential to offend, avoid it completely.<br />

Not an easy decision.<br />

Thankfully, there are many more songs<br />

about relationships that have more<br />

straightforward origins, and these are the<br />

focus for this month.<br />

Jack and Jill<br />

Jack and Jill went up the hill<br />

To fetch a pail of water<br />

Jack fell down and broke his crown<br />

And Jill came tumbling after<br />

Then up Jack got and home did trot<br />

As fast as he could caper<br />

He went to bed to mend his head<br />

With vinegar and brown paper<br />

A-tisket, a-tasket<br />

A green and yellow basket<br />

I sent a letter to my love<br />

And on the way I lost it, I lost it<br />

This is a lovely chase game, like duck-duckgoose,<br />

but with a “letter” that is dropped<br />

behind the child chosen to be the chaser,<br />

made famous by Ella Fitzgerald.<br />

All Around The<br />

Buttercup<br />

All around the buttercup<br />

One, two, three,<br />

If you want a pretty maid<br />

Just choose me<br />

This lovely little song can be sung with little<br />

ones simply walking in a circle and on the<br />

last line, let go hands and find a friend.<br />

Older children may like to hold hands raised<br />

in a circle, while one child weaves in and<br />

out of the circle to swap places with the<br />

person in front of them when singing the<br />

last line. Many songs like these have origins<br />

of finding partners secretly in plain view,<br />

as polite society did not approve of public<br />

courting!<br />

Songs have meanings in ways that we still<br />

do not fully understand. We all have songs<br />

that we either turn up the volume when<br />

we hear them – or switch off completely,<br />

because of the association it has. And the<br />

association usually involves a significant<br />

relationship. Being aware that young<br />

children will be building their associations<br />

helps us to not only be more thoughtful<br />

and reflective providers but also helps to<br />

develop confident, resilient children, able<br />

to manage unexpected and new situations<br />

independently as they get older.<br />

References:<br />

• https://pancocojams.blogspot.<br />

com/2014/07/the-racist-roots-of-fivelittle-monkeys.html<br />

• https://www.sporcle.com/<br />

blog/2019/05/real-meaning-behindbaa-baa-black-sheep/<br />

• http://nurseryrhymesforbabies.com/<br />

the-history-of-lucy-locket-rhyme/<br />

• https://www1.cbn.com/<br />

churchandministry/the-origins-of-thespirituals<br />

• https://americansongwriter.com/thereal-story-behind-every-breath-youtake-by-sting/<br />

• http://www.<br />

theimportanceofbeingtrivial.com/<br />

where-jack-and-jill-really-did-go-upthe-hill.html<br />

• https://allnurseryrhymes.com/a-tisketa-tasket/<br />

Frances Turnbull<br />

Musician, researcher and author,<br />

Frances Turnbull, is a self-taught guitarist<br />

who has played contemporary and<br />

community music from the age of 12. She<br />

delivers music sessions to the early years<br />

and KS1. Trained in the music education<br />

techniques of Kodály (specialist singing),<br />

Dalcroze (specialist movement) and Orff<br />

(specialist percussion instruments), she<br />

has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology<br />

(Open University) and a Master’s degree<br />

in Education (University of Cambridge).<br />

She runs a local community choir, the<br />

Bolton Warblers, and delivers the Sound<br />

Sense initiative “A choir in every care<br />

home” within local care and residential<br />

homes, supporting health and wellbeing<br />

through her community interest<br />

company.<br />

She has represented the early years<br />

music community at the House of<br />

Commons, advocating for recognition<br />

for early years music educators, and her<br />

table of progressive music skills for under<br />

7s features in her curriculum books.<br />

Frances is the author of “Learning with<br />

Music: Games and activities for the early<br />

years“, published by Routledge, August<br />

2017.<br />

www.musicaliti.co.uk<br />

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

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


What links Chris<br />

Packham, a birdbox and a<br />

supermarket trolley?<br />

Well, the answer is my son’s book: “My Mummy is Autistic”, which he wrote just after his 5th birthday<br />

during his first-ever summer holiday from school. When it was published, one of the reporters who<br />

visited our garden to interview him asked “Do you suffer from having a mummy who is autistic?” My<br />

son looked puzzled. I interjected, “He suffers from having a Mummy who is a primary school teacher!”<br />

I have always sought out purposeful<br />

reasons for mark-making and writing for<br />

him. Ever since he’s been able to hold<br />

a pencil he’s written me shopping lists.<br />

Scraps of paper with scribbles on that<br />

we used in the supermarket to make<br />

shopping feel like teamwork, rather than<br />

something I was dragging him to do. It<br />

worked!<br />

Actually, it worked better than I realised.<br />

One day when the queue was particularly<br />

long I asked him (then aged around 2<br />

years) to check whether we had everything<br />

on his list. He studied it earnestly and said<br />

“cucumber”. I checked the conveyer belt<br />

with all our food on, to my amazement I<br />

realised he was right!<br />

From then on I didn’t worry about<br />

shopping, we would stand in the kitchen<br />

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

together and I would reel off a list of all we<br />

needed, he would write it down, and then<br />

in the shop, he rode on the front of the<br />

trolley directing me and leaping on and off<br />

to collect the produce. All I had to do was<br />

push!<br />

I am autistic. One of the many differences<br />

I experience being autistic has to do with<br />

my processing of language. It takes me<br />

longer to take in what has been said.<br />

On this particular day when we were<br />

shopping, he had exciting news to tell me.<br />

He was talking ten to the dozen and I was<br />

listening. (I didn’t need to concentrate on<br />

anything other than him, he was 5 years<br />

old and a shopping pro by this point).<br />

Somewhere in the midst of all the things<br />

he was saying, he spotted the next item<br />

on the list, called “stop” for me to stop the<br />

trolley and leapt.<br />

The only trouble was my brain was still<br />

several sentences back in his excited<br />

babble, trying to keep up. I did not stop the<br />

trolley. I ran over his foot. I hurt him. Not<br />

badly, but he was shocked. He stood alone,<br />

wide-eyed in the aisle and looked up at me<br />

“But Mummy,” he said, “I said stop!”<br />

I apologised and checked he was okay,<br />

and we continued on. All the while I was<br />

thinking: I can’t promise him I won’t do it<br />

again. And so as we walked out of the<br />

shop I explained to him how the words<br />

line up in my head, and if he has said lots<br />

then the one he wants me to hear might<br />

not yet be at the front of the queue. He<br />

had started school that year, lining up was<br />

a big deal! My explanation clicked in his<br />

head, but he still eyed me with the sort of<br />

suspicion of a child who suspects the adult<br />

is conveniently making up an excuse.<br />

The next morning I wanted to check he<br />

had understood, so I asked him about the<br />

day before. He sighed as I pressed him to<br />

explain (he suffers from having a primary<br />

school teacher as a mother!) And showing<br />

insight into his understanding of how I<br />

best take in information he got down from<br />

the breakfast table and retrieved a piece<br />

of paper and a pen, drawing me a picture<br />

of me standing with the words pressing<br />

against my head, waiting for their turn to<br />

get in.<br />

Thinking back to that picture makes me<br />

cry, to be so seen and so understood by<br />

someone so small when the rest of the<br />

world seems to find it so hard at times,<br />

was just remarkable.<br />

I praised him for his picture and said if<br />

he wrote a sentence underneath it then<br />

he could help explain to other people<br />

how his mummy’s brain works. Seeing a<br />

chance for purposeful writing I made a<br />

plan that we would draw a picture and<br />

write a sentence every day of the holidays<br />

(the poor child suffers from having a<br />

primary school teacher as a mother a lot!).<br />

I imagined that at the end of the holidays<br />

we would staple his pictures together and<br />

shows his grandparents.<br />

When the book was done I was taken<br />

aback by how clear it was. I thought<br />

it was wonderful. But of course I did!<br />

He’s my son, I think everything he does<br />

is wonderful. Looking for an unbiased<br />

opinion I sent it to Routledge where it<br />

went through all the usual committees.<br />

They thought it was brilliant, the unique<br />

perspective of the child explaining the<br />

adult, depicting autism as a difference to<br />

be celebrated not a condition to get better<br />

from.<br />

Already this was more than we had<br />

imagined would ever happen with his felt<br />

tip pen pictures and his oh-so-carefullydrawn<br />

letters. But then a friend of ours<br />

met Chris Packham at a conference and<br />

showed him the pictures. Chris agreed<br />

to write a foreword for the book, and<br />

instead of a fee, asked that we build him a<br />

birdbox. I hoped for a foreword along the<br />

lines of “I like this book – Chris Packham”<br />

but what we received was far more than<br />

that. Chris wrote a poignant essay, he saw<br />

things in the book I hadn’t appreciated.<br />

WIN A COPY OF HEATH & JOANNA’S<br />

BOOK “MY MUMMY IS AUTISTIC”<br />

To enter the competition email marketing@<br />

parenta.com by Friday 23rd <strong>July</strong> <strong>2021</strong><br />

Even if you are not a lucky winner, you can still purchase<br />

Heath and Joanna’s book here and enjoy 20% discount too!<br />

And once again I felt seen and understood<br />

in unexpectedly kind ways.<br />

The publication of the book saw my son<br />

become the UK’s youngest published<br />

author, and we have had messages from<br />

people saying that the book has enabled<br />

them to see themselves or a loved one in<br />

a new way, and thanking us for it. And to<br />

top it all off, as of a few weeks ago two<br />

beautiful great tits began building a nest in<br />

the birdbox!<br />

We have three signed copies of Heath and Joanna’s<br />

book to give away. Three lucky readers picked at<br />

random will receive a free copy of the book!<br />

Discount code:<br />

BSB20<br />

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


EYFS and resumed Ofsted<br />

inspections<br />

The so-called ‘freedom day’ of June 21st may have recently been postponed until <strong>July</strong> 19th, but one<br />

thing that nurseries and pre-schools should be aware of is that there are no more postponements<br />

of graded Ofsted inspections, which restarted again on May 4th <strong>2021</strong>. During the various stages of<br />

lockdown, Ofsted had visited a few settings but the grading system was suspended in favour of<br />

‘assurance inspections’ which were designed to find out the experiences of children attending the<br />

setting, and to provide assurance that providers were meeting the registration requirements of either<br />

the Early Years Register or the Childcare Register, and settings were only judged on whether they met<br />

the requirements or not.<br />

Since May 4th however, Ofsted have<br />

been carrying out full, graded inspections<br />

on-site after undertaking preliminary<br />

field work to ensure that visits can be<br />

carried out safely and with agreed safety<br />

measures in place. These include Ofsted<br />

Inspectors taking a lateral flow test before<br />

arriving and ensuring that interactions<br />

between Inspectors, practitioners and<br />

parents are socially distanced where<br />

possible. In some instances, videocalls<br />

are deemed acceptable for speaking to<br />

parents/carers or leaders who are unable<br />

to attend the setting.<br />

Since Ofsted are now behind with their<br />

usual schedule of inspections, they are<br />

prioritising providers who:<br />

• were judged less than good at their<br />

last inspection (including those who<br />

received an interim visit in the autumn<br />

term)<br />

• registered recently but have not been<br />

inspected<br />

• have an overdue first inspection<br />

• were not inspected in the last<br />

inspection cycle due to the pause in<br />

routine inspections<br />

Urgent inspections will be carried out if<br />

there are significant concerns about a<br />

provider but if your setting has cases of<br />

COVID-19 at the time of the inspection, you<br />

will be able to request a deferral.<br />

During lockdown, Ofsted changed from<br />

their usual 4-year cycle, to what they call<br />

an “inspection window” – providers have<br />

a 6-year window for inspections, but even<br />

this depends on when their last inspection<br />

was, the grading at that time, and what<br />

Ofsted know about the setting.<br />

Having piloted some changes to the 2019<br />

education inspection framework (EIF), they<br />

have published an updated handbook<br />

which they urge all settings to read. The<br />

changes take into account some of the<br />

difficulties and challenges faced due to<br />

coronavirus. However, the amendments<br />

are only ‘minor’ and the document<br />

remains substantially unchanged for most<br />

things. The 2 main changes are:<br />

1. inspectors will agree safety protocols<br />

to ensure the inspection is completed<br />

in a COVID-secure way; and<br />

2. inspection remit handbooks have<br />

been updated to reflect the COVID-19<br />

context that settings are operating in,<br />

and the disruption the pandemic has<br />

caused to them<br />

You can read the main changes here.<br />

Settings will again receive a judgement<br />

of either ‘outstanding’, ‘good’, ‘requires<br />

improvement’ or ‘inadequate’, but Ofsted<br />

says there will be “flexibility in recognition<br />

of current contexts”.<br />

The initial call<br />

In the initial phone call, Inspectors will now<br />

be asking questions about the specific<br />

impact of the pandemic on the setting,<br />

and how the provision has responded. In<br />

April 2020, the government temporarily<br />

modified and disapplied some elements<br />

of the EYFS especially under the “learning<br />

and development” heading, to account<br />

for the fact that some settings were<br />

closed, and children may not have been<br />

attending. Staff qualifications and ratios<br />

were adjusted, as was the progress check<br />

at age 2, and the validity of paediatric<br />

first aid certifications. Given that, the initial<br />

conversation will now cover questions on<br />

these areas, and Ofsted have said that it<br />

may take longer or be split into 2 different<br />

calls as mutually agreed. At this stage,<br />

the Inspectors will also agree any specific<br />

safety protocols with the provider.<br />

The handbook explicitly states that<br />

“Inspectors will always seek to understand<br />

the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic<br />

on providers and will take this into<br />

account when reaching final inspection<br />

judgements.” Therefore, it is in your<br />

interests to have already gathered as<br />

much evidence as you can about the<br />

way the pandemic has impacted your<br />

business. You might want to think about<br />

the effect on:<br />

• staffing levels<br />

• opening hours<br />

• attendance rates<br />

• how you supported learning and<br />

development – e.g. what did you do<br />

instead if you couldn’t use certain<br />

toys?<br />

• curriculum areas<br />

• assessments<br />

• any disapplication you made<br />

• how you supported vulnerable<br />

children<br />

• how you ensured your commitment to<br />

safeguarding<br />

A few things to bear in mind<br />

• Even if you were not able to stay open<br />

at times, settings should have been<br />

working flexibly with other agencies<br />

and the local authority to ensure<br />

the safety of children as part of their<br />

responsibility to safeguarding<br />

• The extension to the paediatric first<br />

aid (PFA) certificate was only until<br />

March 31st <strong>2021</strong>, so providers must<br />

have a valid PFA certificate now<br />

• If you have any confirmed cases of<br />

COVID-19 in the setting (either child<br />

or staff), or if your setting has been<br />

advised to close as a result, you<br />

should report this to Ofsted as soon<br />

as reasonably practical, and in any<br />

case within 14 days<br />

• Think about how you have supported<br />

your staff and their own mental health<br />

and wellbeing during the pandemic.<br />

One of the new additions to the latest<br />

EIF was a greater emphasis on staff<br />

mental health, so remember this in<br />

your preparations<br />

Which EYFS document are you<br />

using?<br />

If you are inspected before September<br />

<strong>2021</strong>, it is likely you will be using the<br />

older version of the EYFS, unless you are<br />

an early adopter of the new version.<br />

After September 1st <strong>2021</strong>, all settings are<br />

expected to use the new final version that<br />

was published on 31st March <strong>2021</strong>.<br />

What did Ofsted say in the<br />

recent <strong>Parenta</strong> webinar?<br />

If you missed the recent <strong>Parenta</strong> “Ask<br />

Ofsted” webinar, held on May 14th, you can<br />

access a recording here. It was full of lots of<br />

useful advice including:<br />

• The main thing Inspectors want to<br />

know is - what is it like to be a child in<br />

your setting?<br />

• Be prepared – read the inspection<br />

handbook<br />

• Don’t be nervous about an inspection -<br />

do what you normally do<br />

• They are more interested in what’s<br />

happened to children in your setting<br />

during the pandemic than paperwork<br />

– and what you are doing to help<br />

children you are concerned about<br />

• Don’t be afraid of talking about things<br />

you want to be better at – it shows<br />

reflective practice and a desire to<br />

improve<br />

Between now and September 1st, they<br />

will not judge your preparations for<br />

implementing the new EYFS<br />

Click here to download the<br />

poster below to make sure<br />

you’re prepared for inspections<br />

and the new academic year<br />

approaching.<br />

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

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


The language of risky play<br />

“We want our kids to develop the skills to pick themselves up when they fall, to<br />

know when to ask for help, but also to be confident that they can solve a lot of<br />

their problems themselves.” 1<br />

Risk, what does it mean to you? Do you<br />

watch every move and wince when a child<br />

gets a graze on their knee or falls off their<br />

bike? Do you perceive risk as a ‘bad thing’?<br />

In reality, children need to take essential<br />

risks. Wrapping children in cotton wool and<br />

hovering over their every move is not the<br />

healthy option.<br />

In fact, the removal of risky play should<br />

come with a warning sign of danger!<br />

The less risk our children are exposed to,<br />

the more risk-averse and less resilient<br />

they may become. ‘Helicopter’ parenting<br />

often forces children indoors, away from<br />

perceived danger, away from freedom and<br />

ultimately, away from learning. During the<br />

pandemic, opportunities for independence<br />

and creativity have been further and<br />

dramatically reduced.<br />

My childhood was spent with huge<br />

swathes of time outside, roaming<br />

round the countryside with siblings or<br />

friends. Such freedom was accompanied<br />

with warnings: Be careful! Don’t hurt<br />

yourselves! As both mother and teacher, I<br />

have found myself mirroring the language<br />

spoken over me as a child and have had<br />

to make adjustments as to how I speak<br />

about risk to children around me.<br />

1<br />

Type of<br />

risk<br />

Environmental<br />

risk<br />

2 Social risk<br />

Willing to have a go at a<br />

new challenge<br />

Happy to contribute to<br />

group settings<br />

3 Physical risk out a new or challenging<br />

Happy to have a go trying<br />

physical skill<br />

4 Emotional risk Confident to ask for help<br />

5 Intellectual risk Makes choices with ease<br />

“The creative and intelligent individuals<br />

we are going to need to solve the world’s<br />

problems in the future will only be able<br />

to rise to such challenges if the liberal<br />

attitudes they learn as young children<br />

are both creative and imaginative so that<br />

each child’s physical prowess expands<br />

alongside their independence and selfbelief.”<br />

2<br />

Our children need liberty, and liberal<br />

attitudes! Children need to learn open<br />

mindedness, and have the physical and<br />

mental freedom to explore, escape and<br />

have adventures. In this way, children<br />

learn vital things about their own<br />

capabilities and judgements - life skills that<br />

transform adulthood.<br />

Risk mindset<br />

Our own attitude towards risk will affect<br />

those around us. How risk-averse/<br />

confident are we? In what areas?<br />

Carry out the risk mindset analysis below<br />

on yourself. Then, observing the children<br />

in your setting, use the same quiz. Notice<br />

how some children may be more riskaverse<br />

in some areas and less so in<br />

others.<br />

Always Frequently Sometimes Seldom Never<br />

Language around risk<br />

Children need to hear both ‘supportive’<br />

and ‘challenging’ language when taking<br />

risks. As they test new waters and try out<br />

new skills, encouraging and reassuring<br />

language demonstrates faith and trust<br />

in children’s capabilities and skills, whilst<br />

challenging language encourages them to<br />

step out of their comfort zones.<br />

Language around risk can therefore be<br />

broken down into the following:<br />

Supportive language<br />

1. Identifying<br />

Look, a step!<br />

Look, sharp stones!<br />

Look, hot water!<br />

2. Thinking<br />

Do you need more room?<br />

Do you want me to help?<br />

Let’s find a place where we can throw<br />

these stones.<br />

3. Empathising<br />

Are you feeling ok?<br />

Are you having fun?<br />

This is the quiet zone. Come over here if<br />

you need a break.<br />

4. Encouraging<br />

Would you like to have a go?<br />

Would you like another go?<br />

Let’s see how we can make this work.<br />

5. Trusting<br />

I love how you are doing this<br />

You’re doing such a great job.<br />

You can do it!<br />

Challenging language<br />

1. Questioning<br />

Shall we try to balance on this?<br />

Could you try climbing over there?<br />

Could you ride your bike along here?<br />

2. Role modelling<br />

I’m going to have a go.<br />

Try it like this.<br />

Shall we try it together?<br />

3. Develop the risk<br />

Do you think you could go higher?<br />

Let’s cycle round again!<br />

Where shall we jump next?<br />

Encouraging bravery<br />

Risk and uncertainty are part and parcel<br />

of a healthy lifestyle. Protecting children<br />

from risk is not being protective! Instead,<br />

it allows anxiety and fear to build. Half of<br />

anxiety disorders begin before the age<br />

of 11. There are many reasons for this,<br />

with over-involved parenting being one<br />

of them. Anxious children are much less<br />

likely to take risks. In short, anxiety about<br />

risk-taking actively impacts the ability to<br />

confront risks.<br />

During the pandemic emotional disorders,<br />

particularly anxiety, have increased by a<br />

whopping 49%. Right now, more than ever,<br />

we need to provide plenty of supervised<br />

yet rich opportunities for children to step<br />

out and be brave; to create times for<br />

adventurous play where children can learn<br />

about coping with uncertainty and to offer<br />

long stretches of freedom. Such play is by<br />

nature both exciting and exhilarating, with<br />

an element of joyful fear. Bravery comes<br />

more naturally in this sort of environment,<br />

rewarded with satisfaction and fulfilment.<br />

And throughout this positive framework<br />

of risk and boldness, let’s speak support<br />

and challenge in equal measure as we<br />

encourage children to be brave.<br />

Let’s give children freedom to take risks,<br />

make mistakes and ultimately, make a<br />

difference! When children learn how to<br />

manage risk, their self-esteem soars, they<br />

start to embrace more opportunities and<br />

crucially, are able to become confident and<br />

independent learners.<br />

Helen Garnett<br />

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

a committed and experienced early<br />

years consultant. She has a wealth<br />

of experience in teaching, both in<br />

the primary and early years sectors.<br />

She co-founded a pre-school in 2005<br />

where she developed a keen interest<br />

in early intervention, leading her into<br />

international work for the early years<br />

sector. Helen cares passionately<br />

about young children and connection.<br />

As a result, she wrote her first book,<br />

“Developing Empathy in the Early Years:<br />

a guide for practitioners” for which she<br />

won the Professional Books category<br />

at the 2018 Nursery World Awards,<br />

and “Building a Resilient Early Years<br />

Workforce”, published by Early Years<br />

Alliance in June 2019. She also writes<br />

articles for early years <strong>magazine</strong>s, such<br />

as Nursery World, Early Years Teacher<br />

Organisation, QA Education, Teach Early<br />

Years, and Early Years Educator.<br />

Helen is the co-founder and Education<br />

Director at Arc Pathway, an early years<br />

platform for teachers and parents.<br />

Helen can be contacted via LinkedIn.<br />

References<br />

1. 50 Risks to Take with Your Kids”, <strong>2021</strong>.<br />

Daisy Turnbull<br />

2. Risk, Challenge and Adventure in the<br />

Early Years”, 2015. Kathryn Solly<br />

28 <strong>July</strong> <strong>2021</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>July</strong> <strong>2021</strong> 29


National Marine Week<br />

The UK is an island - an area of land surrounded by sea, and the sea has been instrumental in<br />

shaping modern Britain. Whether it’s brought Viking invaders, or helped Elizabeth I’s ships see off a<br />

Spanish invasion, or allowed Victorian explorers to establish an Empire on which ‘the sun never sets’,<br />

the oceans and seas around our islands have been critical to the success of our country for centuries.<br />

But now these oceans are being threatened and it is our responsibility to return the favour and<br />

protect the seas, oceans and marine life that has been so influential to our culture and way of life.<br />

Between the 25th <strong>July</strong> and the 9th August,<br />

the Wildlife Trust is organising a two-week<br />

celebration of all things marine, as part of<br />

their campaign to protect our oceans and<br />

marine wildlife. National Marine Week,<br />

will actually last 15 days to allow for the<br />

variation in tide times around the country,<br />

so there will be plenty of chance to get<br />

involved, be that a visit to the seaside to<br />

collect some fossils, a chance to create<br />

some beach art, or a lecture on ‘ocean<br />

giants’ via a Facebook page, there will be<br />

something fun for everyone.<br />

A visit to the webpage will reveal many<br />

activities which are being held at different<br />

locations around the country, many of<br />

which are specifically targeted at<br />

pre-school children. The Wildlife Trust is<br />

particularly interested in collecting data<br />

from a simple ‘shoreline spotting’ activity<br />

and they have produced a downloadable<br />

sheet to help, with pictures of marine<br />

wildlife such as wireweed, Chinese mitten<br />

crabs, common limpets and Pacific oysters<br />

but they’re also keen to hear about other<br />

sightings too.<br />

The seas around the UK are home to a<br />

myriad of oceanic life including a few you<br />

might not think of as living around our<br />

shoreline such as seahorses, porpoises,<br />

basking sharks and bottle-nosed dolphins.<br />

Our coast is home to more than 8 million<br />

seabirds made up of 25 different species,<br />

many of whom migrate many miles to get<br />

to their breeding or feeding grounds at<br />

different times of the year. There are also<br />

a lot of amazing sea mini-beasts such as<br />

nudibranchs (pronounced nudi-branks<br />

and meaning ‘naked gills’) which are<br />

colourful sea slugs which get their colour<br />

from the food they eat. They literally have<br />

frilly gills on their backs too which are their<br />

breathing apparatus, so they have their<br />

lungs on the outside of their body.<br />

One interesting fact about UK marine<br />

waters is that it’s not just the waters<br />

around the islands of the UK that we<br />

are involved with, since we still have<br />

a responsibility to many British or UK<br />

territories around the world too. In fact, the<br />

UK and our overseas territories together<br />

account for the fifth largest marine<br />

estate in the world. So we have a global<br />

responsibility to protect and nurture it<br />

and National Marine Week is the perfect<br />

opportunity to raise awareness of the<br />

issues and start to do something about<br />

them.<br />

There are five main challenges<br />

currently facing our marine<br />

habitats:<br />

1<br />

Lack of protected areas.<br />

2<br />

General fishing and especially over-fishing,<br />

which reduces fish stocks, disrupts the<br />

natural food chain and is unsustainable in<br />

the long-term.<br />

3<br />

Lack of adequate planning for competing<br />

interests – industries such as fishing,<br />

drilling, wind farms and seabed gravel<br />

extraction need to work together more<br />

closely to create a sustainable future.<br />

4<br />

Severe pollution from sewage, farming,<br />

chemicals, nonbiodegradable plastic and<br />

litter.<br />

5<br />

Human behaviour and apathy.<br />

One thing that everyone can easily do is<br />

sign the letter to the UK Government here<br />

encouraging them to support the creation<br />

and protection of Highly Protected Marine<br />

Areas (HPMAs) as soon as possible.<br />

HPMAs would offer the strictest possible<br />

protections for the marine environment.<br />

By removing all pressures from things such<br />

as fishing, sea angling and construction,<br />

shallow seas, shores and diverse seabeds<br />

can recover and be healthier, more<br />

productive, and full of life once more.<br />

There are many suggestions of things to do<br />

during the fortnight on the website here,<br />

but if you can’t find an official event to visit<br />

near you, don’t worry, we’ve listed some<br />

ideas below of how you can support the<br />

initiative in your own setting, promote some<br />

marine conservation, and engage the<br />

children in some exciting ‘understanding<br />

the world’ and other related, crosscurricular<br />

activities at the same time.<br />

Explore some rock pools<br />

You could complete the shoreline survey<br />

mentioned earlier, or if you don’t live by<br />

the sea, why not create a display using<br />

pictures of creatures that you would find in<br />

a rockpool such as crabs, sea anemones,<br />

limpets and sea snails? The National<br />

History Museum has some information<br />

here about how to get started and some of<br />

the things you can look out for. You could<br />

make it a sensory space too by thinking<br />

about the textures of the creatures and<br />

find a suitable substitute for the children<br />

to touch.<br />

Create some beach art<br />

You can use items that you collect from a<br />

beach if you live near one, or use some<br />

sand, shells, fossils, drift wood (sticks)<br />

and pebbles if not. See if you can create<br />

some unusual sea creatures using<br />

the items and let the children use their<br />

imaginations!<br />

Go on a litter pick<br />

A lot of our rubbish finds its way into the<br />

oceans damaging marine habitats and<br />

killing wildlife. Picking up litter wherever<br />

you live and disposing of it properly will<br />

help reduce this. Remember to wear<br />

protective gloves and clothing.<br />

Raise awareness on your<br />

social media channels<br />

Use #NationalMarineWeek and let others<br />

know what you are doing.<br />

Sing some songs about the<br />

sea<br />

How about “The big ship sails on the<br />

Ally Ally O” or “Five little seashells”? You<br />

can get the children to move around like<br />

different sea creatures as well. See here<br />

for some ideas.<br />

Share some sea stories<br />

Julia Donaldson’s “The Snail and the<br />

Whale” is a perfect way to introduce the<br />

notion of our human responsibility to<br />

marine creatures.<br />

Make some sea creature<br />

puppets<br />

You can make starfishes, crabs, snails<br />

and fishes. Then let the children make up<br />

stories about their adventures.<br />

Whatever you do, let us know by sending<br />

your pictures to hello@parenta.com<br />

30 <strong>July</strong> <strong>2021</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>July</strong> <strong>2021</strong> 31


10 ways to<br />

if they have support and love, rather than<br />

feeling rejected and backed in a corner.<br />

build children’s<br />

8<br />

self-esteem<br />

Building self-esteem in children is crucial because it ultimately<br />

underpins their choices and decisions in life. If we believe<br />

we have worth and value, we are more likely to take care of<br />

ourselves and explore our full potential.<br />

Here are 10 ways that can help build a<br />

child’s self-esteem:<br />

1<br />

Praise effort and attributes<br />

over ability<br />

It’s always great to achieve what you set<br />

out to do. However, there are times in life<br />

when we try our best and still fall short.<br />

Failure is a part of life and there are many<br />

lessons in failure that quite often become<br />

stepping stones to success. Children need<br />

to learn that things like effort, resilience<br />

& persistence are worth celebrating. By<br />

praising these attributes, you reinforce<br />

their importance and teach children that<br />

their greatness doesn’t just exist when<br />

they are winning or being perfect.<br />

2<br />

Focus on behaviour rather<br />

than character<br />

People are not their behaviour. Quite often<br />

challenging behaviour is a sign of a child’s<br />

struggles, and it is important for us to be<br />

the calm in their chaos. By linking their<br />

character to their mistakes, you imply that<br />

they are not good enough as a person,<br />

which is hugely detrimental to self-esteem.<br />

Just<br />

Just<br />

because<br />

because<br />

they<br />

they<br />

have<br />

have<br />

got<br />

got<br />

something<br />

something<br />

wrong<br />

wrong<br />

does<br />

does<br />

not<br />

not<br />

mean<br />

mean<br />

they<br />

they<br />

are<br />

are a<br />

bad<br />

bad<br />

person,<br />

person,<br />

so<br />

so<br />

our<br />

our<br />

language<br />

language<br />

needs<br />

needs<br />

to<br />

to<br />

reflect<br />

reflect<br />

this.<br />

this.<br />

When<br />

When<br />

addressing<br />

addressing<br />

behaviour<br />

behaviour<br />

always<br />

always<br />

refer to the action and not the child.<br />

refer to the action and not the child.<br />

3<br />

Give choices and autonomy<br />

Nobody likes to feel controlled, and it<br />

can be very disempowering when we<br />

feel backed into a corner. By giving<br />

children choice it empowers them to be<br />

in command of themselves and builds<br />

confidence because it gives them a voice.<br />

4<br />

Own your mistakes and<br />

apologise<br />

Just because we are adults does not<br />

mean that we always get things right. By<br />

owning our mistakes and apologising, we<br />

teach children about responsibility and<br />

model that it’s okay to get things wrong.<br />

Modelling perfection gives children a very<br />

high, if not impossible standard to live up<br />

to. However, by taking responsibility we<br />

pave the way for children to do the same<br />

and build their confidence in us because<br />

they know that we are authentic.<br />

5<br />

Let them take risks<br />

Our natural reaction is quite often to put<br />

out a hand to help children when they are<br />

in risky situations. Obviously if a child is at<br />

serious risk we should always help them.<br />

However, by allowing them to take small<br />

risks it can build confidence and selfesteem<br />

because it shows them that you<br />

trust their ability and it also gives them the<br />

opportunity to push their own limits and<br />

problem-solve.<br />

6<br />

Nurture their uniqueness<br />

Every child is unique and has their own<br />

strengths and weaknesses. When a child<br />

walks to the beat of their own drum, even<br />

if it’s a beat we don’t understand, it is<br />

important for us to see the greatness in<br />

their individuality and to advocate that<br />

being different is okay. Quite often, the<br />

people who change the world are the<br />

ones who don’t think the same way as<br />

everyone else.<br />

7<br />

Lead with love<br />

Behaviour is always communication<br />

and the children that are in need of the<br />

most love are often the ones displaying<br />

the most challenging behaviour. Setting<br />

boundaries should never equate to a<br />

withdrawal of love. You can still be firm<br />

and reinforce that you care. By doing<br />

this, children learn that despite their<br />

mistakes, you are still their safe space<br />

and that regardless of these mistakes,<br />

they are still loved and supported to<br />

move forward in a better way. Our job is<br />

to nurture and guide children. Everyone<br />

makes mistakes, however, people are far<br />

more likely to see the error of their ways<br />

Let them work things out<br />

It can be hard to watch children struggle,<br />

but if we rescue them too quickly, we are<br />

taking away the opportunity for them to<br />

problem-solve and to overcome difficulty.<br />

There is no better feeling than coming out<br />

the other side when you face a challenge<br />

and knowing that you achieved that<br />

outcome. Giving words of encouragement<br />

and telling children that you believe in them<br />

will inspire them to keep trying. Quite often<br />

the feeling of wanting to quit comes just<br />

before a big breakthrough. By allowing<br />

children to get to that point and gently<br />

supporting them through it, we are giving<br />

them the opportunity to step out of their<br />

comfort zone and into their greatness.<br />

9<br />

Make sure your expectations<br />

are age appropriate<br />

Children look at the world through a lens<br />

influenced by their age. What seems small<br />

to us will be huge to them, so it’s important<br />

to adjust our expectations and to make<br />

sure that they are realistic.<br />

Let them help<br />

10<br />

By allowing children to help us with different<br />

jobs we give them the opportunity to<br />

demonstrate their competence and we also<br />

teach them that their contribution is valued.<br />

This in turn builds self-esteem and selfworth<br />

because we are showing them that<br />

we trust their ability, value and appreciate<br />

their help.<br />

Stacey Kelly<br />

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

to 2 beautiful babies and the founder<br />

of Early Years Story Box, which is a<br />

subscription website providing children’s<br />

storybooks and early years resources.<br />

She is passionate about building<br />

children’s imagination, creativity and<br />

self-belief and about creating awareness<br />

of the impact that the early years have<br />

on a child’s future. Stacey loves her role<br />

as a writer, illustrator and public speaker<br />

and believes in the power of personal<br />

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

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

of happiness and fulfilment, which is<br />

why she launched the #ThankYouOaky<br />

Gratitude Movement.<br />

Sign up to Stacey’s Premium Membership<br />

here and use the code PARENTA20 to get<br />

20% off or contact Stacey for an online<br />

demo.<br />

Email: stacey@earlyyearsstorybox.com or<br />

Telephone: 07765785595<br />

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

earlyyearsstorybox<br />

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

eystorybox<br />

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

earlyyearsstorybox<br />

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

stacey-kelly-a84534b2/<br />

32 <strong>July</strong> <strong>2021</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>July</strong> <strong>2021</strong> 33


International<br />

Friendship Day<br />

Whatever experiences we’ve had in the last 18 months during the pandemic, one thing we can all<br />

agree on, is that we have missed out on seeing our friends and family, and that we will never take<br />

everyday acts, like being able to hug a loved one, for granted again. Friendships are important,<br />

they give some structure to our lives – some friendships last a lifetime, some are much briefer, but<br />

we remember the times we’ve spent together; the laughter, the tears, the embarrassing and the<br />

painful moments; all the support, love and encouragement that our closest friends give us, and<br />

above all, we always remember the positive way that our friends make us feel.<br />

• ensure equality between women and<br />

men<br />

• foster democratic participation<br />

• advance understanding, tolerance and<br />

solidarity<br />

• support participatory communication<br />

and the free flow of information and<br />

knowledge<br />

• promote international peace and<br />

security<br />

So International Friendship Day is not just<br />

about being good friends with people you<br />

already know. It’s also about positively<br />

reaching out to explore what friendships<br />

with others could be and could do.<br />

The recent G7 summit held in Cornwall<br />

highlighted some of the positive changes<br />

that can be achieved when nations<br />

come together in friendship and unity.<br />

By educating our pre-school children on<br />

the “positive ideals of friendship” and<br />

celebrating everything that is good about<br />

our friends, even at this early age, we<br />

can begin to learn to not just tolerate our<br />

differences, but to actively embrace and<br />

celebrate them.<br />

There are many ways to get involved: call a<br />

colleague, write to a long-lost friend, send<br />

some flowers, have a radio dedication – the<br />

list is endless, but we’ve chosen 3 ways<br />

below which we think are in the spirit of<br />

the UN’s aims, starting close to home and<br />

spreading out across the globe.<br />

3 ways to celebrate<br />

International Friendship Day<br />

1. In your setting - run a<br />

‘friendship workshop’<br />

In order to have friends, you must first BE<br />

a friend, so why not proactively teach the<br />

children how to be a good friend? Discuss<br />

with them what they think a good friend<br />

should be –you may need to help them<br />

to define some words around friendships<br />

such as:<br />

• Kind<br />

• Caring<br />

• Loyal<br />

• Loving<br />

• Honest<br />

• A good play mate<br />

• Someone who takes turns<br />

• Someone who shares<br />

Then go through the list with them and<br />

explain what that might mean in their<br />

world – so explain that they might be a<br />

friend to someone by being kind or when<br />

sharing something; or it might be when<br />

they help someone else with a task, such<br />

as picking up some toys, or fetching a<br />

book. Once you have defined some of<br />

the words associated with friendship, ask<br />

the children to practice being ‘friendly’<br />

to everyone for that day, not just the<br />

people they know. You could make some<br />

suggestions and model things such as<br />

holding the door open for someone,<br />

smiling at people, or giving someone a<br />

hug and saying ‘thank you’ for being my<br />

friend.<br />

2. In your community - reach<br />

out to others in need<br />

Being a friend to others in the community<br />

is a great way to extend the hand of<br />

friendship to those in your vicinity who<br />

may feel lonely, isolated of abandoned.<br />

After the last 18 months of coronavirus,<br />

there are many within our communities<br />

who have felt this way through no fault of<br />

their own. So why not use this as a way to<br />

establish or re-establish some links with<br />

a local care home or multigenerational<br />

group? The interaction of younger and<br />

older people has been shown to benefit<br />

both groups, and as we start to come out<br />

of lockdowns, this could be the ideal time<br />

to create a network close to home. You<br />

may not be able to visit in person, but you<br />

could write or draw some cards as an<br />

introduction saying, ‘Happy International<br />

Friendship Day’. You could also have a<br />

small collection of simple ‘treasures’ that<br />

you could send with them. This could be<br />

anything, from some cookies you baked<br />

to a daisy chain, or a drawing of a heart,<br />

sent with love.<br />

3. In the wider world - sponsor<br />

a child in another country<br />

So this year, on Friday 30th <strong>July</strong>, why<br />

not shout your appreciation of your<br />

friends from the rooftops, and celebrate<br />

International Friendship Day in the best<br />

way you can?<br />

According to some sources, the first World<br />

Friendship Day was proposed for 30 <strong>July</strong><br />

1958 by the World Friendship Crusade,<br />

an international civil organisation that<br />

campaigns to foster a culture of peace<br />

through friendship. Although they<br />

proposed the idea in the mid-20th century,<br />

it wasn’t until 2011, that the International<br />

Day of Friendship (<strong>July</strong> 30th) was adopted<br />

by the UN General Assembly, with the<br />

idea that friendship between peoples,<br />

countries, cultures and individuals could<br />

inspire peace and build bridges between<br />

communities. And it has been used to<br />

bolster peace efforts and promote the<br />

positive values of friendship ever since.<br />

To mark the day, the UN encourages<br />

governments, international organisations<br />

and civil society groups to hold events,<br />

activities and initiatives to promote<br />

dialogue, solidarity, mutual understanding<br />

and reconciliation. UNESCO has defined a<br />

‘Culture of Peace’ by setting out the values,<br />

attitudes and behaviours that they think, if<br />

established, will help promote friendship<br />

and prevent conflict. Many of these values<br />

have been adopted around the world.<br />

In the UK, we promote British Values in<br />

schools to ensure equality, respect and<br />

tolerance which are closely aligned to<br />

those in the UN’s Culture of Peace.<br />

UN actions to promote a Culture<br />

of Peace<br />

• foster a culture of peace through<br />

education<br />

• promote sustainable economic and<br />

social development<br />

• promote respect for all human rights<br />

There are many children in other countries<br />

who don’t enjoy the same privileges as<br />

the children in the UK. We, at least, have<br />

running water, free schools, free nursery<br />

places and free healthcare. But there are<br />

many countries in the world where this is<br />

just a dream. Part of the UN’s ideas behind<br />

International Friendship Day is to promote<br />

social and economic parity, so why not<br />

decide to extend the hand of friendship<br />

far and wide and sponsor a child? There<br />

are many child sponsorship programmes<br />

through different charities and <strong>Parenta</strong> run<br />

a sponsorship programme of their own<br />

which provides free nursery places for preschool<br />

children in Africa. You can find more<br />

details here.<br />

34 <strong>July</strong> <strong>2021</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>July</strong> <strong>2021</strong> 35


3 ways to cultivate a<br />

summer of play<br />

We all know the richness that play can offer our children, but some of us might not feel overly<br />

confident facilitating playful moments. This is no surprise, as playing in adulthood is not our<br />

priority. We’ve got bills to pay, work to do, washing to hang out, meals to cook, children to care for.<br />

We don’t need something else on our giant ‘to do’ list!<br />

Through my work as a play and laughter<br />

specialist, I have seen the transformative<br />

effects that playfulness can have on both<br />

adults and children. Participants leave my<br />

workshops feeling relaxed, connected and<br />

emotionally lighter. Equipped with tools<br />

that can be used immediately at home or<br />

work, to harness more laughter, joy and<br />

ridiculousness.<br />

I didn’t call my business The Best Medicine<br />

for no reason! Playfulness promotes<br />

connection, feeds the imagination, enables<br />

self-expression and builds self-confidence.<br />

The skills that we learn through play can’t<br />

always be measured or quantified; but<br />

we mustn’t forget that these skills are<br />

crucial to the emotional and physical<br />

development and wellbeing of our<br />

children.<br />

I truly believe that playfulness has the<br />

capacity to heal us as we face the<br />

aftermath of this pandemic. It is our<br />

duty as parents, teachers, playworkers,<br />

carers and family members to provide<br />

opportunities for play, laughter and<br />

reconnection. Yes, this may feel daunting;<br />

but I can guarantee that if you put some<br />

of these ideas into practice, it won’t just be<br />

the children having fun.<br />

Prioritise playfulness<br />

The best kinds of play are purposeless;<br />

which us adults sometimes find difficult<br />

to get our heads around. Why engage<br />

in something that has no end goal? But<br />

let me tell you, the unknown is where the<br />

magic happens. Prioritising play means<br />

enabling and encouraging children to fully<br />

explore and enjoy play without needing a<br />

final outcome.<br />

Here are a few tips to get<br />

you there:<br />

• Make time in each day where you<br />

can be present and playful. Put your<br />

phone down and leave your chores<br />

to one side. It could be for 10 mins, 30<br />

mins or a whole hour, just give your<br />

child your undivided play-tension<br />

• Invent your own game together, one<br />

that’s never been played before. This<br />

could be anything from making dots<br />

on a piece of paper to designing your<br />

own obstacle course. Let your child<br />

lead the way, support their creativity, it<br />

doesn’t need to make sense!<br />

• Create your own playful rituals. When<br />

someone in the house sneezes why<br />

not come up with a ridiculous dance<br />

move or word to yell? Again the ritual<br />

doesn’t need to be logical, silliness is<br />

key!<br />

Get outside<br />

There is no question that nature is the<br />

biggest playground of them all. Climbing<br />

trees, jumping in puddles and blowing<br />

dandelion heads all count as play to me!<br />

Connecting to nature has a multitude<br />

of health benefits for both adults and<br />

children. Natural environments provide<br />

an array of possibilities for physical play<br />

and games. There is room to roam and<br />

challenges around every corner. Hopping<br />

across stepping stones or climbing<br />

trees are the types of activities that build<br />

confidence and increase self-esteem.<br />

Here are a few tips to<br />

support outdoor play:<br />

• Set the parameters, this could be a<br />

physical boundary or a series of rules<br />

that help to keep your child safe<br />

• Don’t be afraid to go out in the<br />

elements. As a wise women once<br />

said ‘Skin is waterproof’, you can<br />

always get dry and warm again!<br />

• Facilitate a nature treasure hunt. Pick<br />

up some free paint sample strips<br />

from your local DIY shop and get your<br />

child to match the colour of the strip<br />

with the colour of something they can<br />

find in nature. This could be a plant,<br />

flower, seed or feather<br />

Don’t be afraid to look<br />

foolish<br />

Now this is one of the most important<br />

routes to playfulness. Looking silly is<br />

something we actively avoid as grownups,<br />

but what’s the worst that could<br />

happen?<br />

Here are some tips that will<br />

help you to embrace your<br />

silly side:<br />

• Create a play signal. This could be a<br />

word, phrase, action or even silly hat<br />

to wear. When the signal has been<br />

made, your child knows you’re ready<br />

to play!<br />

• Remember a moment in your day<br />

(mundane or memorable) and<br />

pretend that someone has pressed<br />

rewind on the activity. See if you and<br />

your child can act out what happened<br />

backwards<br />

• Laugh at yourself. The times when<br />

I embarrass myself (fall over in the<br />

middle of the street, talk to the shop<br />

assistant like a pirate or take the bins<br />

out early in my dressing gown only to<br />

be met with a passing dog walker),<br />

I laugh! Being able to loosen up and<br />

laugh at yourself will go a long way<br />

when facilitating playful moments<br />

with children<br />

Katie White<br />

Katie Rose White is a Laughter<br />

Facilitator and founder of The Best<br />

Medicine. She works predominantly<br />

with carers, teachers and healthcare<br />

professionals - teaching playful<br />

strategies for boosting mood,<br />

strengthening resilience and<br />

improving wellbeing. She provides<br />

practical workshops, interactive talks<br />

and training days - fusing therapeutic<br />

laughter techniques, playful games<br />

and activities, and mindfulness-based<br />

practices. The techniques are not<br />

only designed to equip participants<br />

with tools for managing their stress,<br />

but can also be used and adapted to<br />

the needs of the people that they are<br />

supporting.<br />

thebestmedicine@outlook.com<br />

www.twitter.com/bestmedicine1<br />

http://www.facebook.com/<br />

thebestmedicinecornwall<br />

36 <strong>July</strong> <strong>2021</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>July</strong> <strong>2021</strong> 37


Exploring different<br />

• Piaget (Jean) – known for developing<br />

his theory of early childhood stages<br />

and researching when children could<br />

developmentally do certain things<br />

pedagogies<br />

You may hear the word ‘pedagogy’ in educational circles, and there are many research articles<br />

which assess the effectiveness/importance of one pedagogy over another. But how do you<br />

know which ones are really relevant to the early years? In this article, we will take a look at what<br />

pedagogies are, and look at some of the most important ones for early years professionals.<br />

What is a pedagogy?<br />

If you look on the web, there are varying<br />

definitions of the word ‘pedagogy’. One<br />

of the easiest to understand is from the<br />

Merriam-Webster dictionary which says<br />

it is “the art, science, or profession of<br />

teaching”. In simple terms, a pedagogy<br />

can be thought of as something similar<br />

to a theory of how to teach something,<br />

so that knowledge or skill is imparted<br />

to the child (or adult in some cases) and<br />

which takes into account the current<br />

understanding of how children learn, and<br />

other things that might affect this. But to<br />

truly understand its meaning, you need to<br />

understand the context in which it is used.<br />

If you look at the history of UK education,<br />

much of it was based on rote learning<br />

or the old ‘chalk and talk’ method. The<br />

teacher stood in front of the class, wrote<br />

on the blackboard and the children copied<br />

it into their books and somehow ‘learnt<br />

it’. That constituted a methodical and<br />

regimented way of learning – a pedagogy.<br />

But it didn’t work well for everyone, so<br />

teachers researched, experimented and<br />

tried different things to see if they could<br />

improve their teaching. At the same time,<br />

other scientists researched how children<br />

learn and develop, and began assessing<br />

what worked well and some more<br />

pedagogies were developed.<br />

A recent example of a pedagogical<br />

approach coming into its own, is that of<br />

Forest Schools. They have a particular set<br />

of beliefs about how children learn best,<br />

and what adults should do to facilitate this.<br />

It’s a very practical, hands-on approach<br />

with the learning taking place in a<br />

woodland or forest environment. Teachers<br />

ensure the safety of the children whilst<br />

exploring or learning a new skill, but the<br />

children often lead the learning, choosing<br />

their activity and discovering nature in<br />

their own way – a far cry from looking at a<br />

picture of a stag beetle in a book!<br />

Teachers many prefer or teach according<br />

to a certain pedagogy, and in choosing<br />

a school for their children, many parents<br />

will seek a school that follows a certain<br />

pedagogy (e.g. Steiner/Montessori).<br />

Sometimes pedagogies strike a resonance<br />

with the needs of the time, and so<br />

seem to become a preferred, or even<br />

a ‘fashionable’ pedagogy. Others may<br />

disagree, and the debate continues.<br />

Many early years professionals will be<br />

using a mixture of different pedagogies,<br />

sometimes without knowing the theory<br />

behind it, but they do it because it works!<br />

So which pedagogies relate<br />

best to early years?<br />

A review of pedagogies 1 in several OECD<br />

countries reported some strengths in the<br />

pedagogies mostly being implemented in<br />

England. These were:<br />

1. England’s pedagogical approach put<br />

an emphasis on age-appropriateness<br />

and play as well as encouraging staff<br />

to employ different approaches and<br />

practices, flexibly<br />

2. It promoted continuous child<br />

development within its curriculum<br />

framework<br />

3. England was found to have<br />

favourable staff-child ratios which can<br />

positively impact the pedagogy<br />

It also reported that:<br />

“Research suggests that specific<br />

pedagogical approaches do not have better<br />

outcomes than more general pedagogical<br />

ones. In general, research has revealed<br />

a mixed picture in terms of the impact on<br />

children’s outcomes of approaches with a<br />

specific pedagogical programme, such as<br />

Montessori or Steiner.”<br />

It did report however, that certain<br />

pedagogical practices can stimulate<br />

children’s development better than others,<br />

with the “quality of the interactions between<br />

the adults and the children” scoring<br />

very highly. Some of the most important<br />

practices were where adults:<br />

• Are genuinely interested in what the<br />

child is doing<br />

• Listen to the children they care for<br />

• Extend their knowledge through<br />

scaffolding the work<br />

• Guide children’s play to some extent so<br />

that it has a meaningful purpose<br />

• Use ‘sustained, shared-thinking ways’<br />

where the children construct meaning<br />

from their experiences with the help of<br />

adults<br />

Some commonly discussed<br />

pedagogies<br />

It would be impossible, within the confines<br />

of one article to discuss each of these<br />

pedagogies in detail, be we have listed<br />

some of the most common ones that are<br />

used to inform early years practice. These<br />

include:<br />

• Athey (Chris) – built on Piaget’s early<br />

work and developed his ‘schemas’<br />

around them which are really patterns<br />

of repeated behaviours that we can<br />

recognise and work with<br />

• Bandura (Albert)– highlights the<br />

importance of adults being good role<br />

models for children since children learn<br />

to copy the behaviour of adults<br />

• Bowlby (John) – instrumental in<br />

developing the idea of attachment in<br />

childhood which has influenced the<br />

use of a key person<br />

• Dweck (Carol) – developed the<br />

idea of a growth and fixed mindset<br />

which can affect whether children can<br />

surpass their own ideas and beliefs<br />

• Forest Schools –started in Denmark<br />

where children learn through hands-on<br />

experiences in a wooded environment,<br />

developing a close relationship with<br />

nature through ‘risky play’<br />

• Froebel (Friedrich)– invented the idea<br />

of pre-school or kindergarten stressing<br />

the importance of play as a way of<br />

experiencing the world<br />

• Gardner (Howard) – developed<br />

his ‘theory of multiple intelligences’<br />

such as linguistic or intrapersonal<br />

intelligences<br />

• Montessori (Maria)– developed her<br />

own method of teaching based on<br />

her observations, focusing on each<br />

child’s individuality, and using specific<br />

resources in 5 curriculum areas<br />

(practical life, sensorial, mathematics,<br />

language, and culture) in a mainly<br />

self-guided, hands-on approach<br />

• Reggio (Emilia) – developed a<br />

child-centred approach focused on<br />

understanding how children learn and<br />

communicate and emphasises that<br />

adults should embrace children’s ideas<br />

rather than try to change them<br />

• Steiner (Rudolph)/Waldorf – offers<br />

a calm, peaceful and predictable<br />

environment in which children can<br />

learn in a homely, comfortable<br />

environment in a ‘Education for life’<br />

program<br />

• Vygotsky (Lev) – stressed the<br />

importance of a child’s environment<br />

and social interactions in their learning<br />

experience as well as the value of play<br />

Remember that some of these theories and<br />

research date back nearly 100 years, and<br />

the world is a very different place now. In<br />

addition, there are several other strategies<br />

that you could explore too, including:<br />

• Co-operative learning<br />

• Sensory learning<br />

• Social stories<br />

• Contextual learning<br />

• Reflective learning<br />

• Constructivist learning<br />

• Concrete, pictorial and abstract<br />

approaches<br />

References<br />

1. Early childhood education and care<br />

pedagogy review<br />

38 <strong>July</strong> <strong>2021</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>July</strong> <strong>2021</strong> 39


Paediatric First Aid Course<br />

<strong>Parenta</strong> is always looking at new ways to support the Early Years Sector. We<br />

are pleased to announce that we now offer Paediatric First Aid training to all<br />

those who work in early years, in partnership with Co-operative Childcare.<br />

The course meets the requirements of<br />

Ofsted, under DfE’s guidance (April 2017),<br />

complying with the framework for the Early<br />

Years Foundation Stage<br />

3<br />

The certificate is valid for 3 years from<br />

date of issue<br />

This course offers a blended approach<br />

(6 hours online + 6 hours face to face<br />

training)<br />

£<br />

It costs only £120 per learner<br />

Nationwide training venues are<br />

available. Alternatively, we can<br />

deliver the training in your setting<br />

(minimum 6 students)<br />

Support your staff by ensuring they<br />

have the right skill sets and training<br />

to maintain the safety of all children<br />

within your care.<br />

Book your Paediatric First Aid Training today<br />

For as little as £120 + VAT you can get the qualification you need to be Ofsted ready and<br />

maintain the highest level of safety within your setting.<br />

0800 002 9242 hello@parenta.com

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