September 2021 Parenta magazine

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Issue 82<br />

SEPTEMBER <strong>2021</strong><br />

FREE<br />

Industry<br />

Experts<br />

Celebrating difference<br />

and neurodivergence:<br />

part 6<br />

GROWing self-confidence<br />

as a leader... and getting<br />

your team ready for a<br />

new term<br />

Music and self-regulation<br />

in the early years<br />

+ lots more<br />

Write for us<br />

for a chance to win<br />

£50<br />

page 6<br />

Settling in to a new<br />

academic year<br />

It’s a new academic year and we are welcoming new people to our settings: children, staff and<br />

parents alike. To intensify matters, the new EYFS kicks in too. But what about the general things<br />

that you can do to help your new intake adjust to life in your setting?<br />


hello<br />

welcome to our family<br />

JUNE SEPTEMBER 2020 ISSUE <strong>2021</strong> 67 ISSUE 82<br />


Regulars<br />

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

The summer is drawing to a close, and the new academic year – not to mention the new EYFS - is upon us already!<br />

We have previously talked about practical preparations that you can do to ensure your setting is new term-ready, but<br />

how do you give your team the best start to the new year, particularly those who have been away from the setting for<br />

some time? We are focusing this month on ways in which you can help your staff build their confidence back up again<br />

and get up to speed with any new policies, procedures, industry news and training that they may have missed out on.<br />

Guest author Ruth Mercer delves into this in her article “GROWing self-confidence as a leader…and getting your team ready for a new<br />

term” giving us some invaluable advice as to the importance of looking after ourselves first and being a role model for our staff. Turn to<br />

page 22 for her easy to follow, step by step guide.<br />

We have an eclectic mix of fantastic advice this month from so many industry experts: Kathryn Peckham talks to us about understanding<br />

the children in our care as she introduces us to her “Nurturing Childhood” series, Gina Bale is “Looking for Pandas” in her article about<br />

kinaesthetic learners, Joanna Grace continues her “Celebrating difference and neurodivergence” series, Katie White shows us how to<br />

“Playfully support an avoidant child” and we welcome nurture consultant Sonia Mainstone-Cotton as she guides us on “Supporting<br />

children with social, emotional and mental health needs”.<br />

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

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 continue to stay safe, everyone.<br />

Allan<br />

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

6 Guest author winner announced<br />

18 Search jar<br />

19 Two-ingredient ice-cream<br />

33 Congratulations to our learners<br />

News<br />

4 Childcare news and views<br />

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

that have caught our eye over the<br />

month<br />

Advice<br />

10 Returning to work after time away<br />

14 Settling into a new academic year<br />

20 Organic <strong>September</strong><br />

28 Start living sustainably this <strong>September</strong><br />

36 International Day of Charity<br />

Playfully supporting an avoidant child 26<br />

Supporting children with social, emotional and<br />

mental health needs<br />

30<br />

Returning to<br />

work after time<br />

away<br />

10<br />

As restrictions have been<br />

steadily lifted over the last<br />

few months, people are<br />

gradually being encouraged<br />

back into work.<br />

Looking for<br />

Pandas<br />

12<br />

Combining elements of<br />

music, make-believe and<br />

movement for a multisensory<br />

approach as you<br />

follow the ‘Looking for<br />

Pandas’ adventure.<br />

Organic <strong>September</strong> 20<br />

We need to act now to avert a<br />

catastrophe on a worldwide scale.<br />

You can help with sustainability by<br />

getting involved in Organic <strong>September</strong>,<br />

a month-long campaign encouraging<br />

everyone to be more organic.<br />

Industry Experts<br />

8 Understanding children<br />

12 Looking for Pandas<br />

16 Celebrating difference and<br />

neurodivergence: part 6<br />

22 GROWing self-confidence as a leader…<br />

and getting your team ready for a<br />

new term<br />

26 Playfully supporting an avoidant child<br />

30 Supporting children with social,<br />

emotional and mental health needs<br />

32 Book review : Using stories to support<br />

learning and development in early<br />

childhood<br />

34 Nurturing Childhoods interview with<br />

Kathryn Peckham<br />

38 Music and self-regulation in the early<br />

years<br />

Nurturing childhoods interview with Kathryn<br />

Peckham<br />

34<br />

Music and self-regulation in the early years 38

Childcare<br />

news & views<br />

A round-up of some news<br />

stories that have caught<br />

our eye over the month<br />

Source and image<br />

credits to:<br />

The Times, Southern Daily<br />

Echo, Insider Media Limited,<br />

Cambridgeshire Live News, Daily<br />

Record, The Northern Echo<br />

Education minister urges parents to<br />

seriously consider apprenticeships<br />

over university for their children<br />

Education minister, Gavin Williamson, has<br />

urged middle-class parents not to rule out<br />

apprenticeships for their children as figures<br />

reveal that apprentices could be £50,000-<br />

plus better off than the average degree<br />

student after three years of studying.<br />

A record number of students are expected<br />

to apply for university this year - but up<br />

to a third could be rejected from some of<br />

the most oversubscribed courses amid<br />

fierce competition and grade inflation<br />

as places through clearing dry up. But<br />

Gavin Williamson has urged middle-class<br />

parents not to rule out apprenticeships<br />

for their children when they receive their<br />

A-level results.<br />

Self-isolation and ‘pingdemic’ causes<br />

nearly half of all early years settings<br />

in England to close<br />

‘Help educate parents to sign up for<br />

Government’s Healthy Start Scheme’:<br />

Marcus Rashford<br />

Families risk losing out under<br />

new childcare scheme<br />

Childcare services in disadvantaged<br />

communities are at risk of losing out<br />

after a reduction in subsidies for families<br />

without employment.<br />

Kingsmead Day Nursery children<br />

raise £600 for Marwell Zoo<br />

The nursery raised over 240% of their<br />

original target whilst taking part in the<br />

summer safari activities. During the<br />

week they dressed up, had a picnic and<br />

organised a Safari Sports Day!<br />

Burbage Day Nursery is snapped<br />

up by Kids Planet Nursery chain<br />

The family-owned nursery chain<br />

expands even further than existing<br />

76 nurseries in the UK by purchasing<br />

Burbage Day Nursery with the capacity<br />

for 73 children.<br />

The Education Secretary has previously<br />

slammed the ‘inbuilt snobbishness’ by<br />

some to further education other than a<br />

degree, blaming families who believe their<br />

children should go to university as a ‘rite of<br />

passage’.<br />

Analysis by MailOnline has found that<br />

when taking into account the debt<br />

accumulated by a degree student and<br />

other costs, an apprentice is £52,732<br />

better off on average after three years.<br />

In addition, some apprentices will enjoy<br />

a starting salary that is higher than the<br />

£24,000 average of an arts degree<br />

student who has attended a mid-ranking<br />

former polytechnic university, especially<br />

when compared to apprentices training to<br />

be accountants.<br />

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

here.<br />

Nearly 50% of childcare providers in<br />

England have had to either fully or partially<br />

close at least once since 1st June, due to<br />

self-isolation requirements, according to a<br />

new survey.<br />

The survey, published by the Early Years<br />

Alliance polled more than 1,000 early<br />

years providers and reveals that nearly a<br />

third of providers had to fully close at least<br />

once and more than nine in 10 providers<br />

believed the early years sector should be<br />

added to the self-isolation exemption list.<br />

In response to the findings of its survey,<br />

the Alliance has called for early years<br />

providers to be added to the list of sectors<br />

exempt from self-isolation requirements<br />

“as a matter of urgency”.<br />

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

here.<br />

In an open letter published by the British<br />

Medical Journal (BMJ), footballer and<br />

child food poverty campaigner, Marcus<br />

Rashford, has urged more low-income<br />

families to sign up for the Government’s<br />

Healthy Start Scheme.<br />

He is calling on health professionals to<br />

spread the word about the scheme, in a<br />

bid to increase take-up among eligible<br />

families. He says that many families do<br />

not realise they qualify for Healthy Start<br />

vouchers and are missing out on the<br />

scheme’s benefits.<br />

In the letter, Mr Rashford explains that<br />

nearly half of families eligible for the<br />

voucher scheme, i.e. those in receipt of a<br />

welfare benefit and who have at least one<br />

child under four or are pregnant, are still<br />

not registered.<br />

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

here.<br />

Cambridge nurseries in desperate<br />

need for staff<br />

With critical staff shortages fewer places<br />

for children are available. There are<br />

currently just under 30 vacancies across<br />

the Cambridge area.<br />

Lockerbie Academy plea for<br />

fundraising after fire destroys<br />

the nursery play equipment<br />

After the devastating news of the<br />

vandalism, a ‘Go Fund Me’ page was set<br />

up along with various bikes, trikes and<br />

toys donated by local parents.<br />

Nursery staff take part in<br />

fundraising walk after local<br />

one-year-old, Vinnie, suffers<br />

brain injury<br />

High Bank Day Nursery in Stapleton<br />

raised £1,810 after completing walk to<br />

support little Vinnie.<br />

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

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

Write for us!<br />


Supporting children with social,<br />

emotional and mental health needs in<br />

the Early Years<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, why<br />

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

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

vouchers to our “Guest Author of the Month”. You<br />

can find all the details here:<br />

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

www.soniamainstone-cotton.com<br />

Congratulations<br />

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

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

the month! Her article “3 ways to cultivate a summer<br />

of play” emphasised the importance of playfulness<br />

for adults and that we should make it a priority to<br />

encourage children to explore their emotions. Well<br />

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 />

Exclusive FREE<br />

‘Looking for Pandas’<br />

training session<br />

(RRP £60.25)<br />

A full FREE “Looking for Pandas” training experience from<br />

Littlemagictrain, that combines the elements of music,<br />

make-believe, and movement to give you a multi-sensory<br />

approach to reach all your children and help them learn.<br />

Perfect for children with additional learning needs. The<br />

sessions have been created in such a way to give you<br />

many opportunities for learning through play and the fun<br />

of “what next?”.<br />

“Looking for Pandas” is our new<br />

“special edition” and this month<br />

it is FREE just for <strong>Parenta</strong> readers.<br />

Visit www.littlemagictrain.com and<br />

use the code PARENTAPANDAS.<br />

100% Discount code<br />


Lead the Way with Success<br />

If you have enjoyed reading Ruth’s articles about leadership<br />

through a coaching approach, why not consider inviting her<br />

to work with you and/or your setting?<br />

With a career background in Early Education and Leadership, Ruth works<br />

as a coach and consultant across the Early Years’ sector. She can offer<br />

the following:<br />

1:1 coaching for head teachers/leaders/managers<br />

1:1 coaching for senior leaders<br />

Small group coaching for leaders/teams<br />

Action Learning sets<br />

Introductory courses on coaching and mentoring for you and<br />

your team<br />

Leadership learning course (6 half day sessions) for EYFS<br />

leads or nursery managers<br />

With Covid 19 impacting on schools and settings,<br />

Ruth can offer her services on a virtual online<br />

platform, tailored to your needs.<br />

If you would like to know how Ruth can support you,<br />

please get in touch for an initial conversation:<br />

Email: ruthmercercoaching@gmail.com<br />

Website: www.ruthmercercoaching.com<br />

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

Winner need updating<br />

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

Understanding children<br />

Whether you are a new practitioner, or managing a setting of 200 children, looking after children<br />

can be tough. No two children are the same, nor are any two days with them it would seem, and they<br />

certainly don’t come with personalised user guides. Despite this, well-intentioned advice will be<br />

coming at you from every angle, and it can be difficult to know who to turn to for trusted guidance,<br />

as you make decisions for the children in your care.<br />

While no two children are the same, the<br />

fundamental processes of growth and<br />

development that guide them are. But how<br />

do you begin to understand what children<br />

need?<br />

With the revised EYFS and supplementary<br />

guides, to anecdotal advice shared<br />

during a coffee break, there is no end of<br />

information coming your way. And let us<br />

not get started on any one of a hundred<br />

sites you may land on when looking to the<br />

internet for advice. But with the content<br />

of training being as changeable as the<br />

children, where can you go to for advice<br />

you can trust?<br />

While you may be surrounded by these<br />

influences, the truth is that in that moment<br />

when you make a decision, or engage<br />

with a child, it is your opinions, beliefs and<br />

actions that are what really count. And<br />

these will be informed by a mix of all these<br />

things, and more.<br />

When you have the knowledge and<br />

understanding of how children are<br />

developing, how their brain and body<br />

is maturing and the complex processes<br />

that are occurring, you can begin to trust<br />

in your own instincts. You can observe<br />

your children’s actions and behaviours,<br />

even in those difficult moments, and<br />

rely on your own science as you develop<br />

techniques that work for you and your<br />

setting. Regardless of what you may have<br />

read, or those recommendations that do<br />

not quite sit comfortably, you can begin to<br />

distinguish the techniques and practices<br />

you do want to follow.<br />

Children at every age and stage of<br />

development are facing a boggling<br />

world of depth and texture, sounds and<br />

emotions, relationships and expectations.<br />

Sometimes that can feel overwhelming for<br />

the best of us, however, in bodies that they<br />

are still learning how to manage, and that<br />

are changing daily, this can be a stressful<br />

ordeal. Especially for children who have<br />

not yet learnt to manage stress effectively.<br />

These skills are being learnt through every<br />

experience; within loving environments<br />

where stress levels are carefully managed,<br />

and appropriate responses are being<br />

demonstrated. Before this time, your<br />

children will have emotionally charged<br />

reactions whenever an experience<br />

becomes too stressful for them to manage<br />

effectively. This can be something as<br />

simple as a loud bang for a baby, raised<br />

voices for a toddler, or a disagreement<br />

over who will be ‘Mummy’ in the preschool.<br />

Whatever their age, this kind of<br />

reaction is a clear indication that the<br />

situation is simply more than they can<br />

handle.<br />

We must then look to manage the<br />

environment and the situation before<br />

things become too much – and it always<br />

helps to have a well-considered plan for<br />

when emotions do tip beyond the point of<br />

no return.<br />

Children need to feel a sense of love and<br />

security. They need to be sheltered from<br />

excessively negative experiences within a<br />

calm environment, that is at the same time<br />

steeped in sensory-rich experiences. Once<br />

these things are in place, children begin<br />

to develop an emotional stability. They<br />

learn to experience their emotions without<br />

becoming afraid of them or developing<br />

negative behaviours as a reaction to them.<br />

Children also need lots of opportunities<br />

to try different experiences, to engage<br />

for as long as they are interested and to<br />

be rewarded for their efforts. They need<br />

environments that are rich in language,<br />

surrounded by people who talk to them.<br />

They need to have conversations and<br />

really engage, using a wide range of<br />

words from the time they are born.<br />

And lots of opportunities for social<br />

interactions – with different ages in<br />

different situations. If you can provide<br />

these opportunities, and help your families<br />

to do the same, many of the difficulties<br />

experienced will resolve themselves.<br />

There is a limit however! Luckily, children at<br />

any age are particularly good at letting us<br />

know when they have had enough. When<br />

an experience becomes overwhelming,<br />

it begins to generate a negative level of<br />

stress within the body, causing them to<br />

employ any technique they can to get<br />

away from it. While you may experience<br />

this as the negative behaviours you or<br />

your parents are desperately seeking a<br />

quick solution to, the easy fix of the naughty<br />

step, time outs or raised voices do little to<br />

address the underlying issue. And all that<br />

happens is behavioural patterns are laid<br />

down, ready to be remembered next time.<br />

Negative experiences within any<br />

environment are enough to shut down the<br />

thinking part of a child’s brain – the cerebral<br />

cortex. When this happens, activity in this<br />

region of the brain decreases, leaving them<br />

functioning from the more emotionally<br />

reactive lower brain, where their primitive<br />

functions reside – this may sound familiar.<br />

And if you combine this with a situation that<br />

is demanding a particular response – such<br />

as getting them ready to go outside – or<br />

expectations that they are not mature<br />

enough to handle – such as sharing a<br />

favoured toy – you can see why emotional<br />

fallout can be expected. Unfortunately, this<br />

experience can be all too familiar when<br />

stressful demands are placed on children<br />

during their first experiences of, say, the<br />

school classroom. Just when they need<br />

their cerebral cortex the most.<br />

Children are hard-wired to develop in mind<br />

and body through every experience. It is<br />

only when something gets in the way of<br />

these natural instincts that we begin to<br />

experience problems.<br />

During the early years, children are<br />

growing and learning more rapidly than<br />

at any other time of their lives. But they are<br />

also laying down the expectations and<br />

responses towards every future learning<br />

experience. To do this effectively, they need<br />

adults around them who understand the<br />

importance of their early years, as well<br />

as their need for emotional stability. And<br />

it is only once a child is secure in their<br />

environment and their relationships, that<br />

their attentions can turn to other things. This<br />

is especially important at this time when all<br />

our emotions and sense of security have<br />

been hugely disrupted. So, enjoy time with<br />

your children, manage your expectations<br />

and take every opportunity to connect.<br />

Understanding Children is the first session<br />

in the new Nurturing Childhoods suite<br />

of talks and materials available for your<br />

parents to purchase. For your chance<br />

of winning a free Nurturing Childhoods<br />

module for one of your parents, check out<br />

this great new website and complete the<br />

questionnaire. Together we can really begin<br />

developing the potential of all children in<br />

their early years.<br />

Kathryn Peckham<br />

As Founder of Nurturing Childhoods,<br />

Dr Kathryn Peckham is a passionate<br />

advocate for children’s access to rich and<br />

meaningful experiences throughout their<br />

foundational early years. Delivering<br />

online courses, training and seminars, she<br />

works with families and settings to identify<br />

and celebrate the impact of effective<br />

childhood experiences as preparation for<br />

all of life’s learning. An active campaigner<br />

for children, she consults on projects,<br />

conducts research for government bodies<br />

and contributes to papers launched in<br />

parliament. Through her consultancy<br />

and research she guides local councils,<br />

practitioners, teachers and parents all<br />

over the world in enhancing children’s<br />

experiences through the experiences<br />

they offer. A highly acclaimed author and<br />

member of parliamentary groups, Kathryn<br />

also teaches a Masters at the Centre for<br />

Research in Early Years.<br />

Get in contact with Kathryn by emailing<br />

info@kathrynpeckham.co.uk.<br />

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

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

Returning to work after<br />

The last eighteen months have been<br />

difficult for all of us: lockdowns, selfisolation,<br />

furlough and social distancing<br />

are all unknown words back in 2019, yet<br />

are now in common parlance, even in<br />

our junior schools! Some industries have<br />

fared better than others too: everyone<br />

seemed to be hiring extra delivery drivers<br />

as our shopping habits moved even<br />

further online and the manufacturers of<br />

face masks must have thought it was<br />

Christmas when the orders for PPE came<br />

flooding in! However, many people were<br />

not so lucky and a lot of people were<br />

forced into furlough as their industries<br />

time away<br />

were closed by Government restrictions.<br />

As these restrictions have been steadily<br />

lifted over the last few months, people<br />

are gradually being encouraged back<br />

into work – theatres and cinemas have<br />

reopened and offices are starting to refill<br />

with workers. But is it that easy to return<br />

to work after time away, whether on<br />

furlough, for health reasons or having a<br />

family? And how will people returning to<br />

work in the early years sector cope? In<br />

this article, we look at some of the issues<br />

faced by people coming back to work for<br />

whatever reason, and give you and them<br />

some tips to help.<br />

What are the issues?<br />

Lack of confidence<br />

One of the main problems that a lot of<br />

people have when they return to work<br />

after a break, is feeling less confident<br />

about their role and what they know about<br />

their industry, so it is important to make<br />

sure that any returning staff are brought<br />

up-to-speed with any new policies, legal<br />

requirements or protocols as soon as<br />

possible. It would be a good idea to run<br />

through an induction programme again<br />

for returning staff and make sure they feel<br />

confident about anything they have missed<br />

in the interim. Feeling anxious and unsure<br />

about starting anything again is totally<br />

understandable and we all feel like this at<br />

some point in our lives. As an employer,<br />

you can ease this feeling in your employees<br />

by making sure you offer support and<br />

guidance and keep lines of communication<br />

open. You could offer the employee a<br />

mentor or a buddy who they can checkin<br />

with on a regular basis to discuss any<br />

problems or queries they have. If you<br />

do this though, make sure you set aside<br />

some protected time for these meetings to<br />

occur otherwise you may find that they get<br />

missed in the general melee of everyday<br />

work.<br />

You may also need to allay people’s fears<br />

for returning after COVID, so make sure<br />

your protocols are clear and published for<br />

keeping people safe.<br />

Lack of training/qualifications<br />

If you have people who are returning to<br />

work after having a family or later in life,<br />

you might find that they have qualifications<br />

that are now out-of-date or were taken<br />

some years ago. This could be an issue<br />

in because things such as Paediatric First<br />

Aid qualifications (and DBS checks) need<br />

to be renewed and up-to-date in order<br />

for them to be valid, so it is important that<br />

you check the validity of their qualifications<br />

before they start. Many people may not<br />

have studied or been in a formal learning<br />

environment for years either. If you need to<br />

upskill them, there are many CPD courses<br />

that are inexpensive and easy to study,<br />

often which are now online, which can help<br />

reintegrate staff and make them feel more<br />

confident too. <strong>Parenta</strong> has a lot of online<br />

CPD courses that are time and cost-effective<br />

covering many aspects of early years work<br />

from “Starting Work” to “Autism Awareness”<br />

which you can access here.<br />

Changes to working patterns<br />

You may find that when people return<br />

to work, your staffing requirements have<br />

changed and you may now need them to<br />

change their working patterns, for example<br />

cover early or late shifts or work different<br />

days than they did before. You cannot<br />

assume either that they will want to, or be<br />

available for exactly the same hours/days<br />

as before, because the staff member may<br />

also have had time to think about what<br />

works best for them. You may have the<br />

right to expect exactly the same hours as a<br />

previous contract if you furloughed staff, but<br />

negotiation is key here if you want to keep<br />

a happy and effective workforce, so talk to<br />

your existing or new staff about your needs<br />

and ensure these details are all sorted out<br />

prior to anyone restarting. If you can create<br />

a win-win scenario that suits everyone,<br />

you can create an atmosphere which will<br />

benefit your business.<br />

Management angst<br />

One of the issues of people returning<br />

to work after an extended period of<br />

time away, is that inevitably, it is often<br />

difficult to come back at the same level<br />

they left and they may find that younger<br />

or seemingly less experienced people<br />

have been promoted above them, who<br />

may have previously been below them<br />

in the management structure. This can<br />

be a tricky situation to deal with, but with<br />

understanding and good communication,<br />

these issues can be overcome. If people<br />

have been away, then inevitably, things<br />

in their work will have changed and they<br />

may not easily accept some of the changes<br />

that have occurred. If they were the room<br />

leader when they left, and a new room<br />

leader has been appointed in the time<br />

they were away, then it may be difficult<br />

to incorporate the returnee into the same<br />

room and it may be wiser to shift things<br />

around so that they have responsibility<br />

elsewhere. It is important here to have<br />

honest conversations with everyone about<br />

your expectations, their expectations,<br />

everyone’s roles and responsibilities and to<br />

agree these in advance.<br />

Top tips to help people returning<br />

to work<br />

• Plan for returnees and make sure<br />

they know what their roles and<br />

responsibilities will be, and what you<br />

are expecting from them<br />

• Run through an induction programme<br />

for returning staff<br />

• Consider having a mentor or buddy<br />

system to help<br />

• Consider a phased, or staggered<br />

return<br />

• Look at the training needs of all staff<br />

and ensure you have good CPD<br />

training available to upskill returning<br />

staff<br />

• Keep all lines of communication open<br />

and check-in with your staff on a<br />

regular basis<br />

• If you have staff taking a leave of<br />

absence or time off for other reasons,<br />

who intend to return to work at some<br />

point, make sure you keep them in the<br />

communication loop by sending them<br />

newsletters, meeting minutes or other<br />

staff communications as appropriate<br />

• Praise your staff often so they know<br />

how they are getting on and that they<br />

are valued<br />

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

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

Looking for Pandas<br />

Young children are kinaesthetic learners, and they need to move to learn!<br />

If you take advantage of this offer,<br />

you and the children will meet the<br />

Littlemagictrain. You will just need to get<br />

your magic sprinkles to help him grow so<br />

you can all fit inside and then it’s time to<br />

go “toot, toot” and off you go.<br />

In your adventure “Looking for Pandas”,<br />

the Littlemagictrain stops on Mount<br />

Everest and after looking at your map,<br />

together, you discover that you are in<br />

the wrong place.<br />

You come across a family<br />

of red cranes, who helps<br />

you fly to the Great Wall of<br />

China.<br />

On the wall, you accidentally wake up<br />

some very fierce and noisy dragons.<br />

Exclusive FREE ‘Looking for Pandas’<br />

training experience (RRP 60.25)<br />

Here for you, is a full FREE “Looking for Pandas” training experience from Littlemagictrain,<br />

that combines the elements of music, make-believe, and movement to give you a multisensory<br />

approach to reach all your children and help them learn. Perfect for children with<br />

additional learning needs. The sessions have been created in such a way to give you many<br />

opportunities for learning through play and the fun of “what next?”. The perfect way to help<br />

children with myelin building. Did you read the article last month?<br />

“Looking for Pandas” is our new “special edition” and this month it is FREE just for <strong>Parenta</strong><br />

readers. Visit www.littlemagictrain.com and use the code PARENTAPANDAS.<br />

You manage to get away from them and<br />

stumble over a very hungry pangolin<br />

looking for ants.<br />

Between his slurping and burping, he<br />

directs you to the Bamboo Forest where<br />

you and the children get a huge fright from<br />

the tiger hiding in the bamboo.<br />

The tiger is so sorry that he scared you that<br />

he helps you. You run with the tigers, all<br />

the way to the pandas who you find doing<br />

somersaults, climbing trees, dancing, and<br />

of course taking a well-deserved nap.<br />

When the pandas have fallen asleep<br />

it’s time to jump on board the<br />

Littlemagictrain and go “toot, toot!” all<br />

the way home. Once you have put him<br />

away safely, you can sit down with the<br />

children and ask questions about where<br />

you went, who you saw, what they did,<br />

how you felt – so many opportunities for<br />

additional learning.<br />

Did you know that throughout the session<br />

you will be helping the children improve<br />

their:<br />

• Speech and language skills<br />

• Personal and social development<br />

• Emotional regulation, self-esteem and<br />

confidence<br />

• Knowledge and understanding of the<br />

world and yourself<br />

• Physical literacy<br />

• Mathematical development<br />

If you are feeling a little anxious, don’t<br />

worry as you will receive all the information<br />

needed to run the session. As part of the<br />

giveaway, we will also include the training<br />

videos linked to the session. Don’t forget<br />

we are also here to help you if you need<br />

any assistance.<br />

And a little something extra for<br />

the children<br />

A certificate to present to the children at<br />

the end of the final session. This certificate<br />

has been designed so the children can<br />

retrace their journey along the train tracks<br />

at home with their family and friends.<br />

All you must do is go to www.<br />

littlemagictrain.com and go to “Shop” and<br />

in the category “Special Offer” pop the<br />

‘Looking for Pandas’ pack in your basket.<br />

Once in your basket, enter your details<br />

and then use the Discount Coupon Code<br />

PARENTAPANDAS and it will be 100% FREE.<br />

If you have any issues at all, please contact<br />

Littlemagictrain directly on 01865 321212<br />

or hello@littlemagictrain.com and we will<br />

sort it out for you.<br />

Don’t miss out get<br />

your FREE session<br />

today!<br />

A little bit about the music<br />

Music composed and performed by<br />

Jonathan Still with drums, mixing and<br />

mastering by Andrew Holdsworth. In the<br />

music for “Looking for Pandas”, they have<br />

used some traditional Chinese instruments,<br />

though not in a traditional Chinese way,<br />

more just as a way of signalling “this is<br />

where we are today, in this adventure”.<br />

In the red cranes, we tried to capture both<br />

the grace and flow of flying, as well as the<br />

epic grandeur of seeing a whole continent<br />

and its landmarks from a bird’s-eye-view.<br />

We love using sound effects, so you’ll<br />

hear recordings of tigers growling along,<br />

pangolins slurping (and occasionally<br />

burping, after eating too many ants), and<br />

the sound we think the pandas might make<br />

inside when turning somersaults.<br />

For absolutely no reason at all, except that<br />

we learned that Marlene Dietrich could play<br />

the musical saw, we decided to write a tune<br />

for the relaxing pandas on that instrument,<br />

which turns into a boisterous waltz for the<br />

somersaults. Although they look lazy and<br />

ponderous, we think that secretly pandas<br />

might enjoy dance parties, so we gave<br />

them an up-tempo final dance, followed<br />

by some music to chill, and meditate when<br />

it all gets too much, and they need a little<br />

rest.<br />

About the musicians<br />

Jonathan Still and Andrew Holdsworth have<br />

over twenty years of experience of music<br />

in the dance world, whether it’s working<br />

with pre-school children or with some<br />

of the biggest stars of the international<br />

ballet scene: Jonathan as pianist for<br />

ballet schools and companies, and music<br />

producer Andrew, playing for ballet classes<br />

and recording music projects for dance<br />

schools and companies.<br />

About the illustrator<br />

Anthony Shoreman created all the<br />

illustrations for this adventure, and we are<br />

so pleased that he continues to work on<br />

many other adventures and activities for<br />

Littlemagictrain.<br />

About the creator of<br />

Littlemagictrain<br />

Gina Bale has taught, for over 28 years,<br />

movement and dance in mainstream, early<br />

years and SEND settings as well as dance<br />

schools. Whilst teaching, Gina found the<br />

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

to run alongside the Australian Children’s<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 />

TV series and the Angelina Ballerina Dance<br />

Academy for Hit Entertainment. Her proudest<br />

achievement to date, apart from her<br />

daughter, is Littlemagictrain. She created<br />

this specifically to help children, including her<br />

daughter, learn through movement and play.<br />

Gina’s long-suffering daughter spent her<br />

formative years being a guinea pig, testing<br />

the format of the adventures, until they were<br />

just right.<br />

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

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

Settling into a new<br />

4<br />

5<br />

academic year<br />

It’s a new academic year and we are welcoming new people to our settings: children, staff and parents<br />

alike. To intensify matters, the new EYFS kicks in too. But what about the general things that you can<br />

do to help your new intake adjust to life in your setting? Read on to find some advice on things you<br />

can do to smooth the transition for everyone.<br />

1<br />

Give information ahead of time<br />

The more people know about your setting,<br />

how it works and what to expect when they<br />

get there, the less anxious they will be, so<br />

make sure you have given out as much<br />

information as you can ahead of time.<br />

Induction days help here so put yourself in<br />

your new recruits’ shoes and think about<br />

what you would want to know, be it things<br />

about the rooms, staff, food, changing nappy<br />

protocols, safety standards or curriculum.<br />

Make sure you have answered as many<br />

potential questions as possible and set up<br />

easy ways that people can contact you with<br />

any last-minute queries.<br />

2<br />

Be organised<br />

It is vital that you have organised everyday<br />

things, protocols and procedures in advance<br />

so that your staff can go straight into the job<br />

of looking after the children. Make sure that<br />

your rotas are set up and that you have cover<br />

for early and late sessions with the correct<br />

ratios and experience. Ensure that you also<br />

have plans in place for sickness or selfisolation<br />

cover since, although COVID cases<br />

are currently falling, we are still quite a way<br />

from being back to normal.<br />

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

3<br />

Support drop-off and pick-up<br />

One time of the day that you can ease new children into your setting more easily is at<br />

drop-off and pick-up, when anxieties are high. You might want to set up a slightly later<br />

or slightly earlier time for a new intake so that they are not caught up with the melee<br />

of established parents. Ensure too that you have enough staff around to support the<br />

children during these times. It may mean adjusting your working hours slightly so that<br />

staff and children are not all expecting to go home at exactly the same time, ensuring<br />

instead that your staff have time to talk to parents at the end of the child’s day, and then<br />

some extra time to tidy up and lock up the setting after that. Children are often keen to<br />

show their parents things they have done during the day, so establish routines to ensure<br />

things do not get forgotten.<br />

Get to know the children quickly – use your circle time<br />

The quicker you get to know the children in your care, the sooner you know what their<br />

needs are, and the better your care will be. Obviously, you will have spoken to parents<br />

and carers before admitting children, but your staff are well placed to observe things that<br />

parents might not, such as how children react in different social environments or how<br />

they play with new children. Circle time can be a great time to ask questions, pass on<br />

information about activities or your expectations, and generally understand what makes<br />

everyone tick. Don’t underestimate the information you can get from circle time, and make<br />

sure your staff are tuned in to what to look and listen out for, as well as who they should<br />

pass information on to if they are concerned for any reason.<br />

Consider too the impact that the pandemic may have had on the children coming into the<br />

setting this year. Many of them may be less well socially-adjusted than previous years,<br />

because they may not have had the same social interactions with their family,<br />

friends and other children that previous intakes have. They may well have<br />

spent most of their short lives with a limited number of people and may be<br />

more nervous about meeting, or socialising with larger groups. Circle<br />

time can be used to allay their fears, make new friends and ease<br />

and tensions that may develop. You can even use it to practice<br />

things like saying goodbye to parents or role-play other social<br />

scenarios to help educate them on these things.<br />

Allow emotions and help with<br />

them<br />

At this time of year, children will be feeling<br />

a lot of emotions that they may not have felt<br />

before. They may not have been separated<br />

from their parents/carers for long periods of<br />

time, they may not know how to share with<br />

others or how to express their frustration<br />

when things don’t go their way. This is all<br />

part of developing as a human being and<br />

little ones will need your expert guidance<br />

and support to manage new emotions,<br />

label and understand them. Spending<br />

some extra effort to watch out for signs of<br />

emotional distress will pay off in the long<br />

run as the children learn to adjust to new<br />

rules and expectations. It doesn’t mean<br />

relaxing your standards of behaviour or<br />

abandoning rules, but it does mean having<br />

the patience to look at the situations fully<br />

and to take time to understand any social<br />

or cultural aspects that may affect students<br />

too.<br />

6<br />

Explain what’s happening<br />

Find multisensory ways to explain what to expect each day, especially if you have SEN<br />

children. Use words if they are old enough to understand, but also make visual or auditory<br />

clues as to what is going to be next. This could be singing songs in transitions between<br />

activities or having a clapping rhythm to signal other sections in the day. The more they<br />

understand about what is happening, the less anxious they will be.<br />

7<br />

Be consistent<br />

One of the things that many humans of any age struggle with most, is change, even<br />

though it is the catalyst to new growth and new experiences. However, you can help<br />

people respond to the change and shock of starting nursery, by being consistent with a<br />

few things so their day has some certainty in it. Humans need a degree of certainty in<br />

their lives to feel secure. You can help parents too by liaising with and advising them about<br />

the things their child has achieved during the day and offering suggestions on ways to<br />

continue this at home, be that with potty training, vocabulary or developing fine motor<br />

skills. That way, the transition to nursery will be easier all round.<br />

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

Celebrating difference and<br />

neurodivergence: part 6<br />

Being different is brilliant!<br />

This article is the last 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<br />

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

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

We have come on such an adventure<br />

together! If you joined this article series<br />

part-way through, I encourage you to<br />

return to the start and explore them all.<br />

We have looked at how being open and<br />

frank about differences can help everyone<br />

achieve to their fullest, and explored<br />

how even the tiniest adjustments in the<br />

language we use to frame difference<br />

can make an enormous impact on the<br />

outcomes for a child in the long term, (and<br />

for ourselves and our colleagues).<br />

I have continually challenged you to try to<br />

talk about difference in a non-judgemental<br />

way. And I know, if you’ve gone on this<br />

journey with me, that you will have<br />

grown more and more reflective about<br />

what constitutes judgement within your<br />

language; it can be so much more subtle<br />

than labelling things as good or bad, tiny<br />

little turns of phrase can imply value and<br />

create judgement.<br />

On one hand, paying attention to the<br />

language we use in this way can seem<br />

fussy, pointless, petty, even irritating. But<br />

those feelings are often initial impressions.<br />

Once explored, adapting the language you<br />

use actually gets exciting, as you realise<br />

the power for good that you have at the tip<br />

of your tongue. All the more so in the early<br />

years as you are the start of the stories<br />

that carry children with them through their<br />

lives.<br />

Hopefully, you have also felt the benefit<br />

for yourself and your colleagues. If you<br />

can create a culture in your setting where<br />

differences are accepted, understood<br />

and not judged, then you will work in an<br />

environment where everyone feels able<br />

to be themselves. And I cannot underline<br />

enough how beneficial that is to people’s<br />

well-being, children and adults.<br />

The opposite is to work in a space where<br />

differences are judged. Even the judging<br />

of relatively minor differences can create<br />

this kind of atmosphere. And in such<br />

a setting, you might not see greater<br />

differences because people will hide them.<br />

Adults and children will suppress aspects<br />

of their character, withhold information<br />

about themselves. Trying to appear the<br />

same as others takes a toll on a person,<br />

it costs them energy and self-esteem. It<br />

diminishes people and makes your setting<br />

a grimmer place to be.<br />

Everyone wants to be somewhere where<br />

they are embraced as who they are and<br />

how they are right now, a setting that<br />

understands and accepts difference is<br />

just such a place. Tiny adjustments in our<br />

language can trigger big adjustments<br />

in attitude. The language we use<br />

fundamentally underpins the culture we<br />

create in our settings. It is so worth doing<br />

and you’ve been doing it! So this article is<br />

to throw a party for that, it is a big hurrah.<br />

Difference is brilliant. We are all different<br />

and my goodness what a fantastic thing<br />

that is, wouldn’t it be dull if we were all<br />

the same? Society needs different brains,<br />

people who approach things from different<br />

angles, who have different skill sets. The<br />

risk can be in education that we offer one<br />

way of succeeding, we measure particular<br />

aspects of achievement and miss the rest.<br />

We all know a ‘one size fits all’ approach fits<br />

one person and not the rest.<br />

The children in your setting have explored<br />

their external differences (using the activities<br />

in article one) and thought about how<br />

they have different thoughts and likes and<br />

dislikes to their peers (using the activities in<br />

articles two and three). They’ve investigated<br />

how we sense and feel things differently<br />

to one another (using the activity in article<br />

four) and begun to understand that one of<br />

the consequences of these differences is<br />

that they will each have different skills and<br />

abilities (using the activity in article five).<br />

How fantastic is that? How amazing is it<br />

that such little people can approach such<br />

big topics? Imagine a future where they are<br />

grown up and in charge and understand<br />

how to use their own unique skillsets! You<br />

are a part of creating that future. So, for<br />

now: celebrate!<br />

Talk to the children about all their<br />

adventures and activities so far and<br />

celebrate your differences by colouring<br />

in rainbow brains. All this time I’ve been<br />

challenging you on your language, well<br />

here is a new challenge, how blingy can<br />

you make those brains? How much glitter<br />

and paint, and collage material do you<br />

have in your setting? Decorate your brains<br />

and share them with me on social media.<br />

Let’s create a narrative of pride in our<br />

neurodiversity together!<br />

Joanna provides in-person and online<br />

training to settings looking to enhance their<br />

inclusive practice for more information visit<br />

www.thesensoryprojects.co.uk where you<br />

can also find resources to help you include<br />

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

social media and welcomes connection<br />

requests from people curious about<br />

inclusive 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 />

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

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

search jar<br />

Two-ingredient<br />

ice-cream<br />

You will need<br />

You will need<br />

• A transparent container – we<br />

used a 500ml drinks bottle but<br />

you can use something with a<br />

wider neck if you want to use<br />

larger objects inside.<br />

• Something ‘granular’ for the<br />

shaking part of the search jar,<br />

e.g. rice, lentils, small plastic<br />

beads, sand.<br />

• A range of objects small<br />

enough to pass through the<br />

neck of your container but<br />

varied enough to be easily<br />

and separately identifiable.<br />

Items could include coins, small<br />

plastic figurines, nuts and bolts,<br />

snippets of coloured thread,<br />

shells, brightly coloured beads<br />

or even parts of old jewellery!<br />

• Punnet of strawberries<br />

• 4/5 bananas<br />

• Zip seal freezer bags<br />

• Blender<br />

• Mixing bowl<br />

• Cones/bowls<br />

Instructions:<br />

Instructions:<br />

1. Place all your ‘search’ items into the container<br />

and cover with the granules. Top tip: Do this in<br />

layers to ensure they are spread out within the<br />

jar. Don’t just fill the jar with granules first and<br />

then try to fit them all in as that will end up in<br />

a mess.<br />

2. Secure the lid: depending on who you will be<br />

sharing the jar with, you may want to glue the<br />

lid shut, or simply ensure it is well screwed on.<br />

3. Label accordingly, either with a list of items<br />

or simply the number of items that are in the<br />

container. Top tip: Add a short instruction or<br />

question, e.g. “Find 6 items” or “What can you<br />

find in me?”<br />

4. Your search jar is complete – we hope it brings<br />

you and the children hours of fun!<br />

1. Prepare the fruit in advance by chopping up a<br />

punnet of strawberries and 4 or 5 bananas.<br />

2. The children can help by placing the fruit into<br />

zip-seal freezer bags and sealing them tight,<br />

being careful to squeeze out the air without<br />

squeezing out the fruit!<br />

3. Freeze for 6 hours, break up into chunks and<br />

blitz in a blender until it is the consistency of a<br />

smoothie.<br />

4. Pour it into a big dish, cover and freeze for a<br />

further hour.<br />

5. The children can then spoon the ice cream<br />

straight from the freezer and serve it to each<br />

other in a cone or in a cup.<br />

6. Don’t forget the sauce and sprinkles!<br />

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

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

Organic <strong>September</strong><br />

“In the face of climate change, diet-related ill-health, and widespread decline in wildlife, the need to<br />

change our food systems has never been greater.”<br />

Last month, the UN Climate Report made<br />

sobering reading for everyone, and it is<br />

clear that we need to act now to avert<br />

a catastrophe on a worldwide scale. In<br />

this <strong>magazine</strong> article, you can read some<br />

ideas to help with sustainability on page<br />

28, which links into this article on Organic<br />

<strong>September</strong> too, a month-long campaign<br />

by The Soil Association to encourage<br />

everyone to be more organic.<br />

The <strong>September</strong> campaign is run every year<br />

and it has never been more important<br />

for each of us to do our bit to help. You<br />

can sign up to a newsletter on the official<br />

website and also get some practical<br />

tips on how to make small changes to<br />

live in a more sustainable way. If one<br />

nursery setting makes a few changes and<br />

encourages their parents to do the same,<br />

think how much could be achieved if all<br />

nurseries did a little bit? It’s how change<br />

really happens.<br />

The Soil Association<br />

Did you know?<br />

There are 2,500 billion tonnes of carbon stored in the world’s soils - more than in the<br />

plants, trees and the atmosphere combined.<br />

Organic farming creates healthy, living soils and organic farmland is, on average,<br />

around 25% more effective at storing carbon in the long-term than non-organic land.<br />

Why organic?<br />

Farming organically, growing food<br />

organically yourself, and eating more<br />

organic food have many benefits to people<br />

and the planet, and if we want to live more<br />

sustainably on the earth to prevent climate<br />

change, it has to be at least one weapon<br />

in our arsenal. Some of the benefits<br />

include:<br />

• Increased biodiversity<br />

• More wildlife habitats<br />

• Higher standards of animal welfare<br />

• Reduction of pesticides and exposure<br />

to pesticides<br />

• Reduced reliance on artificial fertilisers<br />

• Increased storage of carbon in soil<br />

• Cleaner water systems<br />

• No genetically-modified (GM) foods<br />

• Reduced use of antibiotics in animals<br />

• Better tasting food<br />

• Reduced waste<br />

• Nutritionally better food<br />

• Better farming for the planet as a<br />

whole<br />

Did you know?<br />

Organic farms have around 50% more<br />

bees, butterflies and other pollinators.<br />

What does organic mean?<br />

According to The Soil Association,<br />

‘organic’ is “a system of farming and food<br />

production where organic farmers aim to<br />

produce high-quality food, using methods<br />

that benefit our whole food system, from<br />

people to planet, plant health to animal<br />

welfare”.<br />

In order to be classed as organic and<br />

gain the organic kitemark, farmers must<br />

work to a strict set of food-production<br />

standards, which must legally comply with<br />

strict EU regulations. Farms are inspected<br />

at least once a year by an authorised<br />

certification body, and need to show that<br />

they sustain the health of:<br />

• Soils<br />

• Ecosystems<br />

• Animals<br />

• People<br />

These standards are built on the key<br />

principles of organic agriculture:<br />

• Health<br />

• Ecology<br />

• Care<br />

• Fairness<br />

In practice, this means that instead of<br />

relying on chemicals designed to destroy<br />

weeds (weedkillers) and insects/other<br />

pests (pesticides), organic farmers aim to<br />

create a natural balance between plants<br />

and animals to prevent pests, and grow<br />

crops in rotation or in complimentary<br />

plantings to support the natural fertilisation<br />

and sustainability of the soil. Organic<br />

farmers also encourage birds, beetles and<br />

other ‘beneficial insects’ such as ladybirds<br />

on their farms to eat pests such as aphids,<br />

slugs and caterpillars.<br />

Did you know?<br />

How to support Organic<br />

<strong>September</strong> in your nursery<br />

On the Soil Association website, they have<br />

listed at least 30 ways in which people can<br />

get involved in Organic <strong>September</strong> in small<br />

ways, so you won’t be short of ideas to run<br />

in your nursery to join the campaign.<br />

We’ve listed some of our favourite ones<br />

here to help you make a small difference<br />

that can contribute to a greater whole.<br />

1. Swap your normal hot drink for an<br />

organic version. In the UK, we drink<br />

90 million cups of coffee and 100<br />

million cups of tea a day! That’s a lot<br />

of teabags! And a lot of differences<br />

that we could make if we all swapped<br />

to an organic version of our favourite<br />

cuppa!<br />

2. Release some ladybirds into your<br />

environment. You can purchase<br />

ladybirds and other organic products<br />

from www.organiccatalogue.com,<br />

teach the children about their lifecycle<br />

and beneficial effects, and make a big<br />

difference to the insect population of<br />

your local area.<br />

3. Set up a ‘nectar café’ in your garden<br />

space or even just in pots around<br />

your front door. Visit the Wildlife<br />

Trust’s website here for ideas<br />

on the best plants to encourage<br />

bees and butterflies including<br />

Adult ladybirds can eat about 5,000 aphids (greenfly and blackfly) and will<br />

lay 20-50 eggs a day, quickly building a large beneficial population.<br />

buddleia, honeysuckle and grape<br />

hyacinth. Many of these plants also<br />

have heavenly scents so you can<br />

incorporate them into a sensory<br />

planting area too.<br />

4. If you have space, why not grow some<br />

organic vegetables with the children?<br />

Potatoes and carrots are easy to grow,<br />

even in pots, and you can use them<br />

to make some easy, tasty treats when<br />

they’re ready such as jacket potatoes,<br />

potato salad or a hearty winter<br />

vegetable and carrot soup. You can<br />

get carrots in a whole host of colours<br />

other than orange too, which could be<br />

a great way to introduce the topic of<br />

diversity and inclusion into your setting<br />

as well.<br />

5. Link Organic <strong>September</strong> to a healthy<br />

eating session in your setting. You can<br />

use organic eggs to make omelettes<br />

or use other organic ingredients<br />

to create some organic cakes and<br />

biscuits. Why not shape them into<br />

ladybirds and decorate them with<br />

organic chocolate buttons or coloured<br />

icing too?<br />

6. Bake some organic bread. Baking<br />

bread is a fun thing to do with<br />

children and you can use a traditional<br />

sourdough recipe from Vanessa<br />

Kimbell with wild yeast, or there are<br />

other delicious recipes on the Soil<br />

Association site or via an internet<br />

search too.<br />

7. Finally, make your own organic beauty<br />

products. It’s not just our food that<br />

uses organic products. Much of the<br />

beauty industry still use ingredients<br />

that are either not organic or are not<br />

farmed sustainably. Check out how<br />

to make a natural organic face mask<br />

here, which you can use on the hands<br />

of your little ones instead of their faces<br />

if preferred to make them lovely and<br />

soft!<br />

Whatever you do to celebrate Organic<br />

<strong>September</strong>, we’d love to hear about it, so<br />

remember to send your stories and photos<br />

to us at hello@parenta.com.<br />

20 <strong>September</strong> <strong>2021</strong> | parenta.com<br />

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

GROWing self-confidence as a<br />

leader … and getting your team<br />

ready for a new term<br />

Petra, the manager of a day nursery, recently shared how worried she is about her team. She said<br />

“We have been through so much. The COVID-19 pandemic, working throughout the 2020 lockdown as<br />

keyworkers, a long-overdue inspection looming, and now the EYFS changes for <strong>September</strong>. I sense staff<br />

confidence has been knocked and they all need a boost to get them up and running again.”<br />

Petra asked what she could do to help boost the team’s confidence. As part of the<br />

coaching conversation, I introduced the popular GROW model (originated by John<br />

Whitmore, 1937-2017) to help frame Petra’s thinking.<br />

There is a logical process to asking<br />

coaching questions using this model:<br />

• Goal – what do you want?<br />

• Reality – where are you now?<br />

• Options – what could you do?<br />

• Will/wrap up – what will<br />

you do?<br />

(Fig 1)<br />

What do we want to<br />

achieve by the end of<br />

this meeting?<br />

What can we<br />

commit to, who will<br />

do it and by when?<br />

Goal<br />

will<br />

GROW<br />

As our first session progressed, Petra<br />

reflected that as the leader, she had been<br />

supporting everyone else for the past year<br />

and a half. She had been in fire-fighting<br />

mode since the pandemic hit and had just<br />

about managed the day-to-day operations<br />

of the nursery, including two COVID bubble<br />

lockdowns, very stressed families, reduced<br />

occupancy and a staff bereavement. When<br />

Petra recognised the enormity of what she<br />

had been carrying during this time, she<br />

let out a huge sigh. “I think I just need to<br />

What is happening now?<br />

What resources do we<br />

have/need?<br />

Reality<br />

options<br />

What ideas can<br />

we come up with<br />

to achieve our goal?<br />

take a break and relax for a while,” she<br />

declared. She planned two weeks off and<br />

took her young family on a camping trip.<br />

As a leader, it is important that you look<br />

after yourself first, and be a role model<br />

for those who work with you/for you.<br />

Initially, Petra wanted to make sure all the<br />

staff were ok but quickly realised her own<br />

confidence had been knocked. She was<br />

running on empty and needed to fill her<br />

tank.<br />

On her return, Petra was visibly more<br />

relaxed and her head was clear. She was<br />

pleased she had allowed herself a break<br />

and made sure that all her staff had a<br />

break over the summer too.<br />

I offered the GROW model to Petra again,<br />

and this time she started to put some<br />

plans in place. Here are some of the<br />

thoughts that arose from the session:<br />

Goal –<br />

What do you want to achieve?<br />

I want to re-engage with my staff so they<br />

are ready for a new start in <strong>September</strong>. By<br />

the end of today I want to have started a<br />

plan for a training week at the end of the<br />

month.<br />

Reality –<br />

Where are you in relation to your goal<br />

now?<br />

There has been so much stress with the<br />

impact of COVID, not least losing a longstanding<br />

member of staff to the illness.<br />

The practitioners have given so much<br />

they could not think straight and some of<br />

them have definitely doubted their ability<br />

to take on more changes right now. Their<br />

internal resources were low. Thoughts are<br />

emerging about how I can help everyone<br />

move forward. We do need to do some<br />

work on the EYFS changes, they are small<br />

but necessary for our practice.<br />

Options –<br />

Consider 5 options<br />

As we have a whole week together when<br />

the nursery is closed there are lots of things<br />

we can do.<br />

1. Everyone is worried about having<br />

to talk about their children to an<br />

inspector– I know they all know their<br />

children’s learning and development<br />

inside out, but they think they will forget<br />

everything they know in the moment if<br />

asked on the spot. We could put some<br />

informal practice conversations in.<br />

2. We could have a session on the EYFS<br />

statutory changes and build this into<br />

the week in the form of a quiz or a<br />

presentation from each team.<br />

3. We could do a session on how<br />

confident they are. I could ask them on<br />

a scale of 1-10 how confident they are<br />

in their role. This could be on several<br />

aspects e.g. confidence in engaging<br />

with parents, confidence with facing<br />

change, confidence with delivery of<br />

educational programmes. I could do<br />

this twice, at the beginning and end of<br />

our training week.<br />

4. The room leaders could lead a<br />

session on getting to know their team<br />

members more, their strengths and<br />

areas for development, or something<br />

fun like sharing a fact that no one else<br />

knows about you.<br />

5. We could have a fun day such as a<br />

treasure hunt in the community or<br />

making something for the nursery.<br />

Will/wrap up –<br />

What actions will you take? Who will<br />

help you?<br />

I will take these ideas away and work on<br />

each idea with my leadership team and<br />

from this we can make a timetable of<br />

events throughout the week. I am sure my<br />

deputies will have some great ideas too<br />

and I must remember I don’t have to do it<br />

all myself. I will aim to make some of the<br />

work entertaining and ensure there is time<br />

for staff to shape the learning. I will make<br />

sure there is time for them to enjoy being<br />

together in their rooms.<br />

I will make sure I am available to join in and<br />

be present if the staff just need to share any<br />

worries on concerns and I will make sure I<br />

am available to listen.<br />

What could you do?<br />

This session with Petra brought out some<br />

important points for nursery leaders and<br />

their staff in building confidence within the<br />

team:<br />

1. Revisit your vision for the setting with<br />

your team, to make sure your values<br />

and practices are aligned.<br />

2. Provide time to just be with each other<br />

during the nursery day – just 5-10 mins<br />

at the start or end of the day is enough<br />

for a check-in. Everyone has responded<br />

differently to the pandemic and<br />

everyone manages change differently<br />

so it is important to know how<br />

individuals are thinking and feeling.<br />

3. Use “on the scale of 1-10 how confident<br />

are you?” to help you appreciate<br />

where other people are, and respond<br />

appropriately, giving more time to<br />

those who are feeling less sure.<br />

4. If team members are worried<br />

about talking to others about their<br />

key children let them practice with<br />

someone they feel most comfortable<br />

with. Repeat this opportunity regularly<br />

so it becomes a natural part of the<br />

nursery week.<br />

5. Practice the GROW model with staff<br />

during supervision or introduce it as<br />

part of the training week. GROW can<br />

help you manage difficult conversations<br />

and also helps place the responsibility<br />

on the practitioner/team member to<br />

think through issues for themselves.<br />

6. Make sure you are looking after your<br />

own wellbeing and that someone else<br />

is keeping you in mind too e.g. your<br />

own supervisor/coach.<br />

Ruth Mercer<br />

Ruth Mercer is a coach and consultant,<br />

with a career background in early<br />

education. Ruth is committed to creating<br />

a positive learning environment for staff,<br />

children and families. She has a successful<br />

track record of 1:1 coaching for leaders and<br />

group coaching across the maintained<br />

and PVI sector. She supports leaders<br />

and managers in developing a coaching<br />

approach in their settings through<br />

bespoke consultancy and introductory<br />

training on coaching and mentoring for all<br />

staff.<br />

Ruth is currently writing about coaching<br />

with a playful approach.<br />

Contact: ruthmercercoaching@gmail.com<br />

Website: www.ruthmercercoaching.com<br />

7. Celebrate your learning together with<br />

a display or short film or a website<br />

update – everyone needs recognising<br />

for contributions made within their<br />

role.<br />

References:<br />

• https://www.coachingcultureatwork.<br />

com/the-grow-model (Fig 1)<br />

• Whitmore, J. (2015) Coaching for<br />

Performance (4th ed) NB Publishing<br />

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

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

CPD courses…<br />

Paediatric First Aid Course<br />

Whether you’re a manager looking to support your staff by enhancing<br />

their knowledge, or looking at developing your own career, when you<br />

study one of <strong>Parenta</strong>’s online CPD courses, you study in your own time<br />

and at your own pace – all from the comfort of your own home!<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 />

Improve staff morale<br />

and motivation<br />

Maximise individual<br />

potential and promote<br />

development<br />

Allows you and your<br />

team to gain brand new<br />

qualifi cations in many<br />

diff erent policies,<br />

procedures and<br />

practices<br />

Enables you to keep<br />

abreast of industry<br />

changes by constantly<br />

updating skill sets<br />

3<br />

£<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 />

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 />

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 />

By ensuring your team undergoes relevant, regular refresher training, they’ll always be up-todate<br />

with the latest policies, procedures and practices – and it doesn’t need to be expensive!<br />

With CPD courses from <strong>Parenta</strong> costing as little as £7,<br />

what are you waiting for?<br />

Log on and learn today!<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<br />

0800 002 9242 hello@parenta.com

Playfully supporting<br />

an avoidant child<br />

‘I don’t want to go!’ ‘I don’t want to talk about it!’ ‘I’m not doing it!’<br />

Sound familiar? Your child’s excited about a friend’s birthday party, but when it comes to leaving<br />

the house they refuse to go. Or you can tell that your child’s worried about something, but when<br />

you ask if they want to talk about it they dismiss the invitation and instead hide in their room<br />

or have an emotional outburst. Or maybe they just blindly refuse every option you give them,<br />

choosing instead to push their brother or sister over in a moment of frenzy.<br />

Avoidance is a coping strategy; a<br />

protective mechanism that allows us to<br />

avoid feeling difficult or overwhelming<br />

emotions. We humans don’t like feeling<br />

uncomfortable; If something feels hard,<br />

it’s much easier to run from it. I’m pretty<br />

sure we’ve all experienced this; preferring<br />

to hang out the washing for example,<br />

instead of confronting a noisy neighbour<br />

or contacting a bereaved friend.<br />

Avoidance works well in the short term,<br />

but not dealing with the stressors when<br />

we’re faced with them can often increase<br />

anxiety levels later down the line. So how<br />

can you playfully support a child who is<br />

avoiding something?<br />

Emotional expression<br />

Emotions are temporary, they come<br />

and go, yet avoidant children might feel<br />

unequipped to deal with the intensity of<br />

their emotions. This activity creates space<br />

for a child to experience emotions safely.<br />

Drawing to music<br />

Choose a few different tracks from different<br />

genres of music, i.e. rock, classical, folk<br />

or rap (the more emotive the better). Then<br />

encourage your child to draw along to the<br />

music and enquire into their response.<br />

What colour did they use for the angry<br />

rock song? Was it a spikey line or bold and<br />

thick? How did the track make them feel<br />

in their body and what thoughts arose as<br />

they drew along?<br />

This activity builds on a child’s ability<br />

to identify and regulate their emotions<br />

in future, and therefore helps them to<br />

feel more resilient to the wave of fear<br />

they might experience when faced with<br />

something they’re scared of.<br />

Katie White<br />

Katie Rose White is a Laughter Facilitator<br />

and founder of The Best Medicine.<br />

She works predominantly with carers,<br />

teachers and healthcare professionals -<br />

teaching playful strategies for boosting<br />

mood, 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 only<br />

designed to equip participants with tools<br />

for managing their stress, but can also<br />

be used and adapted to the needs of the<br />

people that they are supporting.<br />

Email: thebestmedicine@outlook.com<br />

Defiance is a healthy part of a child’s<br />

development; children test boundaries,<br />

learn how to say ‘no’, and aren’t always<br />

compliant. However, when this defiance<br />

starts to limit a child’s experience this is<br />

more often than not a sign of avoidance.<br />

Children with PDA (Pathological Demand<br />

Avoidance) or ODD (Oppositional Defiance<br />

Disorder) often show signs of avoidant<br />

behaviour. This article is not specific to<br />

the needs of children with PDA or ODD<br />

but will instead look at the commonality<br />

of avoidant behaviours; anxiety. If you’re<br />

supporting a child with PDA or ODD, you’ll<br />

find some of what I’m saying applies and<br />

some things don’t, so please use the<br />

strategies with your own experience and<br />

knowledge in mind.<br />

Anxiety is often the root cause of<br />

avoidance; when anxiety is unmanaged or<br />

undetected, a child may feel out of control<br />

or overwhelmed. Giving them the skills to<br />

recognise and measure their anxiety is a<br />

wonderful first step. In my article, A Playful<br />

Approach to Difficult Emotions, I introduce<br />

an anxiety scale that can be used as a<br />

reference point before and after an activity.<br />

I always remind the parents, teachers<br />

and carers who attend my workshops,<br />

that each child is different, something that<br />

works for one may not work for another,<br />

so it’s good to have many ideas up your<br />

sleeve. Listed below are a selection of<br />

activities that can be used to support<br />

anxious little ones who are displaying<br />

avoidant behaviours. For more ideas check<br />

out my online workshops.<br />

Taking control<br />

Approaching your child’s fears with respect<br />

and patience is vital, even if the fear is<br />

imaginary or irrational. Putting the control<br />

in their hands whilst facing a fear, helps<br />

them to gradually desensitise to it instead<br />

of avoiding it.<br />

The Stop/Go game was created by<br />

Lawrence J Cohen when his daughter<br />

refused to have her nails trimmed. In this<br />

game, the child directs the adult to ‘Stop’<br />

or ‘Go’ whilst each time getting closer to<br />

her toe nails. This technique can be used<br />

for a variety of fears or phobias and helps<br />

children to feel braver and empowered<br />

instead of fearful and avoidant.<br />

Affirmations<br />

Positive affirmations can boost self-esteem<br />

and help children to feel more confident<br />

and in control. Try getting your child to<br />

repeat these affirmations out loud or in<br />

their head.<br />

I am whole, I am enough, I have courage<br />

and confidence, my challenges help me<br />

grow, I believe in myself, everything will be<br />

ok, I am braver than I think, I can face my<br />

fears with confidence!<br />

Twitter: www.twitter.com/bestmedicine1<br />

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

thebestmedicinecornwall<br />

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

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

Start living sustainably<br />

this <strong>September</strong><br />

On August 9th this year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its latest<br />

report, which concluded that human activity has caused an unprecedented change in climate<br />

patterns, the effects of which are now being felt all over the planet. We are already seeing the effects<br />

in increased temperatures, rising sea levels, loss of permafrost areas, changes in rainfall patterns<br />

resulting in more flooding in some areas and longer periods of drought in others.<br />

It stressed that much of the changes<br />

are irreversible and some of these will<br />

continue to get worse. Once the polar ice<br />

caps have melted, it is not a simple matter<br />

to ‘refreeze’ them – even if we limit global<br />

temperature rises, reversing the effects of<br />

climate change is not like turning up the<br />

dial on your freezer!<br />

There was some hope in the report<br />

however, which also said that<br />

drastically cutting carbon emissions<br />

within the next few years, would<br />

give us a chance to limit the impact<br />

on our climate… but time is<br />

definitely running out and many<br />

media outlets interpreted this as a<br />

“code red for humanity”.<br />

As custodians of the thoughts<br />

and ideas of future generations,<br />

the early years sector is uniquely<br />

placed to heed this warning and<br />

foster attitudes and actions that<br />

will instigate change:<br />

1. To educate our young people to<br />

look after the planet<br />

2. To do whatever we can to affect<br />

change, albeit on an individual or<br />

small-scale basis<br />

3. To inspire others to do the same<br />

Finding ways to live more<br />

sustainably is the key and we ALL<br />

need to take action to contribute<br />

to the greater whole. Read on to<br />

find out how you, and the people<br />

in your care, can make a real<br />

difference this <strong>September</strong>.<br />

World Car Free Day - 22nd<br />

<strong>September</strong><br />

World Car Free Day is a day to ditch your<br />

car and walk, cycle or take public transport<br />

instead. Similar initiatives have been held<br />

around the world on an ad hoc basis for<br />

years, but in 1995, the first structured events<br />

happened in Bath (England), La Rochelle<br />

(France) and Reykjavik (Iceland). Since then,<br />

there have been many similar initiatives<br />

such as the Walk To Work Day we reported<br />

on last month.<br />

Whole cities now get involved to promote<br />

what transport and cities could look like<br />

without cars and offer people the chance<br />

to experience their streets free of motor<br />

traffic. What would your neighbourhood<br />

be like without cars? Could you take the<br />

time to imagine what that might mean for<br />

your local area, or for the people in your<br />

community? Perhaps you could promote<br />

the day and encourage everyone to find an<br />

alternative transport method for that day.<br />

Even one car journey saved, would reduce<br />

emissions. Imagine what could be done if a<br />

whole city did the same thing and your local<br />

streets and car parks were transformed into<br />

pedestrian areas with places to sit, cycle<br />

parking areas, open gardens, playgrounds<br />

or art spaces? Worth thinking about, isn’t it?<br />

https://www.livingstreets.org.uk/about-us/<br />

our-work-in-action/world-car-free-day<br />

Recycle Week<br />

We’ve all heard how we can reduce,<br />

reuse and recycle in our settings and<br />

Recycle Week has been a main event in<br />

the calendar for many years. This year the<br />

theme is “Step it up this Recycle Week”<br />

with the aim of “galvanising the public into<br />

recycling more of the right things, more<br />

often”.<br />

One of the main issues affecting recycling<br />

centres currently is that we often throw<br />

away a number of items that are not<br />

recyclable and this often endangers the<br />

whole batch. In order to combat this, make<br />

sure that everything you put in your recycle<br />

bins is recyclable. Common things like silver<br />

foil, aerosol cans and many cleaning bottles<br />

can be recycled but other common items<br />

including some plastic bags, toothpaste<br />

tubes, drinking glasses and drink cartons<br />

cannot, and should be disposed of with<br />

other household waste. The trick here is<br />

to carefully check the packaging for the<br />

recycling mark, or check with your local<br />

recycling centre.<br />

Estimates suggest that 30% of British<br />

clothing, hangs unworn in the back of<br />

wardrobes up and down the country so<br />

why not arrange your own 2nd hand<br />

clothing sale in your and educate the<br />

children too? With coronavirus, facecoverings<br />

and PPE is causing a problem<br />

too. Non-reusable face coverings and<br />

PPE should be put it in your usual ‘black<br />

bag’ residual waste bin and it’s a criminal<br />

offence to drop used face coverings or other<br />

PPE as litter!<br />

For more information about disposing of<br />

face coverings and other PPE, please visit<br />

gov.uk.<br />

https://www.recyclenow.com/recycleweek-2020-RN<br />

Great British Beach Clean<br />

Friday 17th to Sunday 26th <strong>September</strong><br />

is also the time of the Marine Society’s<br />

Great British Beach Clean, where everyone<br />

is encouraged to take part in either an<br />

organised or your own, clean-up. The<br />

organisers ask everyone to run a litter<br />

survey, recording all the items of litter they<br />

find in a random, 100m stretch of beach<br />

they cover. This information then feeds into<br />

the International Coastal Clean-up (ICC).<br />

Data from last year reported an average<br />

of 425 items of litter per 100m stretch of<br />

beach, so there is still a long way to go<br />

to clean up our beaches. Children often<br />

love litter picking, but make sure they have<br />

protective equipment and are supervised<br />

well to avoid exposure to dangerous or<br />

unsuitable items.<br />

https://www.mcsuk.org/what-you-can-do/<br />

join-a-beach-clean/<br />

The Great Big Green Week<br />

The 18th to the 26th <strong>September</strong> also<br />

marks the Great Big Green Week where<br />

communities across the country will<br />

join together for the biggest event for<br />

climate and nature in the UK. There will<br />

be thousands of events to celebrate how<br />

communities are taking action to tackle<br />

climate change and protect green spaces<br />

so why not get involved as a setting and do<br />

something at grass roots level to inspire the<br />

politicians?<br />

https://greatbiggreenweek.com/<br />

Ten simple things everyone can<br />

do NOW to help<br />

1<br />

Switch off lights when not in use<br />

2<br />

Switch off electrical devices at the wall<br />

instead of leaving them on standby<br />

3<br />

Recycle everything you can<br />

4<br />

Use refillable bottles<br />

5<br />

Turn down the heating by one degree<br />

6<br />

Walk or cycle on small journeys and<br />

use public transport instead of a car<br />

at least one journey a week<br />

7<br />

Recycle clothing that is not used<br />

8<br />

Change to reusable nappies<br />

for one day a week<br />

9<br />

Share a car journey with a<br />

colleague more often<br />

10<br />

Use dishwashers and washing<br />

machines on eco programs<br />

Let us know what you do by emailing us at<br />

hello@parenta.com.<br />

28 <strong>September</strong> <strong>2021</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>September</strong> <strong>2021</strong> 29

Supporting children with<br />

social, emotional and mental<br />

health needs<br />

In this article, I explore how we support young children with social, emotional and mental health<br />

needs (SEMH). SEMH is a relatively new category; it’s a term we hear more with primary aged and<br />

older children, although it is increasingly being recognised in early years. I work for a specialised<br />

organisation in Bath called Threeways Brighter Futures; we work with children who have all been<br />

identified as needing additional support with their social, emotional and mental health needs. We<br />

work with the children once a week throughout their reception year in school, supporting them<br />

and their staff team. In this article, I will briefly explore SEMH needs and ways to support children.<br />

We need to view SEMH within a model<br />

of difference rather than one of deficit.<br />

We are all on a SEMH needs continuum,<br />

and we all need to have our SEMH needs<br />

met. As practitioners, it is important we<br />

are recognising and meeting the SEMH<br />

needs of all our children. Sometimes it is<br />

apparent when and why a child has high<br />

SEMH needs, but other times this is less<br />

obvious.<br />

A quick definition of social, emotional<br />

and mental health needs is:<br />

• Children who find it challenging to<br />

manage their feeling, emotions and<br />

behaviours<br />

• Children who find everyday change<br />

challenging and frightening<br />

• Children who find it hard to build<br />

relationships with adults and other<br />

children<br />

• Children who can find it hard to join in<br />

with the activities and routine with the<br />

rest of the group or class<br />

There is a range of behaviours that<br />

you might regularly see with children<br />

who have high SEMH needs; some of<br />

these are:<br />

• Violent outbursts to adults and other<br />

key children<br />

• Distress because the parent/key<br />

person is not with them<br />

• Running off<br />

• Refusal to join or follow instructions<br />

• Needing to be in control and<br />

controlling things around them<br />

• Frozen behaviours when they appear<br />

to shut down<br />

• Hiding<br />

• Withdrawing from adults<br />

• Self-harm<br />

• Easily startled by loud noise, sudden<br />

movement.<br />

• Prolonged temper tantrums<br />

• Sleeping difficulties<br />

When you first glance at these behaviours,<br />

you may recognise one or two children<br />

in your care who regularly display some<br />

or most of these behaviours. If you see<br />

some of these behaviours in any of the<br />

children you support, I encourage you to<br />

start being curious about why and what<br />

this is telling you. We know that behaviour<br />

is the primary way a child communicates;<br />

when a child behaves in any of the ways<br />

above, this tells us that something is not<br />

right for them. Our job is to explore and<br />

understand what this is and then try and<br />

help them.<br />

There can be many reasons why a child is<br />

displaying higher SEMH needs. Our job is<br />

not to diagnose but to recognise and then<br />

signpost to other agencies when this is<br />

appropriate and offer support to the child<br />

and family. Some of the reasons may be<br />

due to adverse childhood experiences<br />

(ACES); if this is a new term, I encourage<br />

you to look at this link to find out more. Or<br />

some other reasons may be that a child<br />

has recently moved home, is experiencing<br />

family illness, a new sibling. However,<br />

some children have no apparent reason,<br />

but they are still showing high SEMH<br />

needs.<br />

What we can do<br />

Helping children to have a rich emotional<br />

vocabulary and understanding is vital<br />

as an underpinning to all work around<br />

SEMH. There are many different resources,<br />

books available, or you can make your<br />

own. Regularly naming and recognising<br />

the wide range of emotions children and<br />

adults are experiencing is essential. We all<br />

have a range of emotions, and these are<br />

neither negative nor positive, we can help<br />

children recognise these emotions and<br />

name them from a young age. In my work,<br />

I use script a lot, using the “I wonder”<br />

phrase. If I see a child is struggling, I<br />

comment, “I wonder if you are feeling<br />

cross, I understand it is hard, but it’s not<br />

ok to hurt your friends; let me help you.”<br />

This phrase is helpful as it helps to name<br />

the emotion; it validates how the child<br />

is feeling but has the boundary around<br />

the behaviour and is offering support.<br />

I encourage everyone to use the same<br />

script, all the staff and parents.<br />

In the early years, we talk about children<br />

being able to regulate; this is a tricky skill<br />

to learn for many children. When a child<br />

is dysregulated, they need calm and safe<br />

adults around them to help them regulate;<br />

they cannot do it independently. We can<br />

co-regulate by controlling our breathing,<br />

gently coming alongside the child at their<br />

level, calmly speaking to the child, not<br />

using too many words. The child needs<br />

to know they are safe and loved; being<br />

dysregulated is a frightening experience,<br />

they need to have an adult alongside who<br />

can help them.<br />

When we can see a child is finding<br />

something challenging, a sensory activity<br />

can often support them, helping them<br />

either release some of their strong inner<br />

feelings or help bring some calmness.<br />

We need to know the child well to know<br />

what they are needing. Below are some<br />

examples I regularly use.<br />

For a child who needs to release some<br />

of their stresses and big feelings:<br />

• Climbing<br />

• Pushing something heavy e.g. a<br />

wheelbarrow with things in it<br />

• Pulling on a dog toy (think mini tug of<br />

war with an adult)<br />

• Throwing or kicking a ball<br />

For a child who needs something<br />

calming:<br />

• Playdough (homemade if possible,<br />

link to recipe below)<br />

• Blowing bubbles<br />

• Crazy soap (a bit like shaving foam<br />

but more malleable)<br />

• Sensory rice (link to recipe below)<br />

• Spend time outside, cloud watching<br />

or going on a nature walk to notice<br />

colours/smells/textures<br />

These are very simple ideas that will<br />

support any child when their SEMH needs<br />

are higher.<br />

Key points<br />

• A child is communicating to us<br />

through their behaviour; so we need<br />

to try and understand what they are<br />

telling us<br />

• Emotions are neither negative nor<br />

positive; we can help children learn<br />

about their feeling<br />

• Children need adults who are calm,<br />

loving and safe to help them<br />

co-regulate<br />

For more information take a look at my<br />

new book.<br />

In October, I will be writing about how we<br />

can support staff well-being when working<br />

with children with SEMH needs.<br />

Sonia<br />

Mainstone-Cotton<br />

Sonia Mainstone-Cotton is a freelance<br />

nurture consultant, she has worked in<br />

early years for 30 years. Sonia currently<br />

works in a specialist team in Bath<br />

supporting 3- and 4-year-olds who have<br />

social, emotional and mental health<br />

needs. Sonia also trains staff across the<br />

country: she specialises in supporting<br />

the wellbeing of children and staff. Sonia<br />

has written 8 books including:<br />

“Supporting children with social,<br />

emotional and mental health needs in<br />

the early years” published by Routledge,<br />

“Supporting young children through<br />

change and everyday transitions”,<br />

“Promoting Emotional Wellbeing in<br />

Early Years Staff” and “Promoting<br />

Young Children’s Emotional Health and<br />

Wellbeing”. Sonia is also the series<br />

advisor for Little Minds Matter series of<br />

books promoting social and emotional<br />

wellbeing in the early years with<br />

Routledge.<br />

Website - http://soniamainstone-cotton.<br />

com<br />

Email - sonia.main@icloud.com<br />

Instagram - @mainstonecotton<br />

Links:<br />

• Aces information - https://www.<br />

towerhamlets.gov.uk/Documents/<br />

Children-and-families-services/Early-<br />

Years/ACES_and_social_injustice_DCP_<br />

SW.pdf<br />

• Sensory rice and playdough recipes -<br />

https://theimaginationtree.com<br />

30 <strong>September</strong> <strong>2021</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>September</strong> <strong>2021</strong> 31

Book review : “Using stories<br />

to support learning and<br />

development in early childhood”<br />

Congratulations<br />

to all our <strong>Parenta</strong> learners!<br />

Helen Lumgair’s new book “Using Stories to<br />

Support Learning and Development in Early<br />

Childhood” is an inspiring and practical<br />

kaleidoscope of insight from different story<br />

professionals. I am in there singing the<br />

praises of sensory stories of course, and<br />

Helen kindly included a sensory story of<br />

mine for readers to explore themselves. It<br />

is based on the marvellous letters written<br />

by celebrities and notable persons of the<br />

time to the children of Troy when their<br />

library burned down, letters, that like this<br />

book, expounded the value of exploring<br />

narratives in order to educate, enrich and<br />

nurture oneself.<br />

As someone who regularly talks about how<br />

important sharing stories is, not purely for<br />

entertainment but for mental well-being,<br />

education and your community, it was<br />

wonderful to read the words of so many<br />

people singing from the same hymn Sheet<br />

as me. I loved Helen’s ‘why’ of “because<br />

the stories of others compose the very<br />

threads of the universal fabric that connects<br />

us, allowing us to glimpse the humanity,<br />

the personhood of these so-called others”.<br />

Stories as the threads that the universal<br />

fabric of connection is made out of, how<br />

wonderful is that? And don’t they deserve<br />

closer inspection, those threads? Imagine<br />

how beautiful a fabric we could weave with<br />

greater understanding of our craft.<br />

Through the pages of this book, that<br />

understanding is provided by a raft of<br />

different authors. Helen herself looks at<br />

stories as a whole-body process, exploring<br />

their relevance for the development of<br />

cognition in early childhood. Kanella<br />

Boukouvala tackles metaphor and Helen<br />

Garnett looks at play.<br />

Dr Jo Van Herwegen tackles the initially<br />

surprising topic of stories and mathematics,<br />

surely stories belong in literacy and maths<br />

belongs in numeracy? But Dr Herwegen<br />

shows how mathematical understanding<br />

can be built through sharing stories, listing<br />

in her chapter stories that work well for<br />

different mathematical topics.<br />

Dr Valerie Lovegreen explores stories in<br />

relation to language and cognition, noting<br />

the many linguistic skills that storytelling<br />

can develop and also recognising<br />

storytelling’s impact on self-confidence<br />

and our understanding of the emotions<br />

of others. Understanding others is a topic<br />

Helen returns to as she looks at the role<br />

stories play in countering prejudice and<br />

supporting identity in her chapter ‘Diversity<br />

and Representation in stories’, and again<br />

their benefits to us beyond our literary skills<br />

and understanding are examined as Helen<br />

explores their role in healing with powerful<br />

testimony from people who have found<br />

stories to help them as they coped with<br />

trauma.<br />

Helen ends the book as powerfully as it<br />

begins with the words “At a time when<br />

the world feels increasingly fragmented,<br />

experiencing what would appear to be<br />

an epidemic of loneliness caused by<br />

advances in technology and a decline in<br />

real connection, it would make sense to<br />

focus on facilitating the growth of excellent<br />

communicators who contribute to society<br />

as listeners, speakers, critical thinkers and<br />

evaluators of the information presented to<br />

them. What we are aiming for in all of our<br />

educating is for children to become creative<br />

citizens who prioritise connection with<br />

others and act in a compassionate manner<br />

as individuals who construct peaceful lives<br />

and in turn peaceful societies”. This book<br />

will certainly help you strive towards this<br />

noble aim.<br />

Written by<br />

Joanna Grace<br />

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

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

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

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

current climate.<br />

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

Did you know?... <strong>Parenta</strong> has trained over 20,000 apprentices within the early years sector!<br />

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

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

If you have a learner with us who has recently completed their apprenticeship, please send in<br />

a picture to hello@parenta.com to be included in the <strong>magazine</strong>.<br />

A. Amponsa<br />

A. Arduini<br />

C. Kibbey<br />

C. Shellard<br />

C. Vieira-Figueira<br />

C. Fulford<br />

July’s wall of fame!<br />

D. Leggett<br />

E. Howes<br />

E. Jones<br />

E. Seaton<br />

F. Battley<br />

J. Bull<br />

K. Baxter-Leggett<br />

L. Martin<br />

M. Mains<br />

R. Price<br />

R. Marks<br />

S. Kemp<br />

32 <strong>September</strong> <strong>2021</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>September</strong> <strong>2021</strong> 33

Nurturing Childhoods<br />

interview with Kathryn<br />

Peckham<br />

bring this knowledge and understanding to families, with support<br />

to make differences that can last a lifetime.<br />

Is your advice for early years practitioners as well<br />

as parents?<br />

Absolutely. The most powerful gift we can give any child is to<br />

ensure all the adults around them know the experiences they<br />

need, from day one. And the partnerships we have with families<br />

is instrumental in this, otherwise, rather than experiencing<br />

any stable sense of security, children become confused. To<br />

support this, I have also developed the Nurturing Childhoods<br />

Accreditation. Mirroring the format and content of the parenting<br />

courses, settings are supported to develop their practice through<br />

targeted reflection and documented action plans, structured<br />

around their own needs.<br />

What makes Nurturing Childhoods different?<br />

Firstly, Nurturing Childhoods supports parents and settings with a<br />

unified approach, rooted in child development, child psychology,<br />

health and well-being, years of experience and applied research.<br />

This is organised through modules that look at understanding<br />

and engaging with children; managing emotions and behaviour;<br />

raising happy, confident and resilient children and giving them<br />

every opportunity to engage in learning and thrive in school.<br />

Through its unique format, talks are structured with: Knowledge<br />

- learning how children develop and the processes they are<br />

undergoing; Understanding - how actions, comments and<br />

decisions affect these processes, now and in the future; and<br />

Support - advice you can trust, and use with confidence and<br />

consistency. Each talk can be watched online, repeated as often<br />

as needed and comes with an array of supporting handouts and<br />

documentation.<br />

What is next for Nurturing Childhoods – what<br />

are your aspirations?<br />

It is my firm belief that every child has the right to experience<br />

and develop their full potential. But to do this, we need a unified<br />

vision of what that means. Through Nurturing Childhoods, I<br />

want to celebrate the magnificent growth and development<br />

occurring during the early years, to support an understanding of<br />

the behaviours and emotions being experienced and promote<br />

the knowledge that every decision we make impacts children’s<br />

trajectories, their potential, and the belief they have in themselves.<br />

What gave you the inspiration for Nurturing<br />

Childhoods? How did it all start?<br />

I have supported practitioners and families looking to give children<br />

the best start in life for many years. But with so much information<br />

available, the most well-meaning parent is often confused, with<br />

websites offering, at best, contradicting information, or at worst,<br />

advice that creates lasting damage. I also know how frustrating it<br />

can be when the latest parenting trend seems to undo all the hard<br />

work you and your team are doing.<br />

We know the importance of rich and meaningful experiences,<br />

and the difference we make to a child’s well-being, learning and<br />

development through the smallest changes. But this only comes<br />

from understanding the importance of every moment and the<br />

impact of every action. Through Nurturing Childhoods, I want to<br />

My aspiration for Nurturing Childhoods is then to see it become<br />

the benchmark for practice and parenting – rooted in the<br />

knowledge and understanding our children need us to have. With<br />

packages of support designed for parents and families, and an<br />

accreditation for settings and childminders, every child can be<br />

surrounded by this level of unified understanding of who they are<br />

and what they need.<br />

Kathryn Peckham<br />

34 <strong>September</strong> <strong>2021</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>September</strong> <strong>2021</strong> 35

International Day<br />

of Charity<br />

Question: What do an ex-soldier, an Albanian nun, and an 11-year-old boy camping in his back<br />

garden in Devon have in common?<br />

Answer: They have all done some amazing things for other people, and for charity.<br />

<strong>September</strong> 5th is the United Nation’s<br />

International Day of Charity which was<br />

established in 2012 to raise awareness<br />

of charities around the world and to<br />

give a platform for them to talk about<br />

their work and the contribution made by<br />

individuals, groups, and volunteers at<br />

local, national and international levels.<br />

The date of <strong>September</strong> 5th was chosen<br />

to commemorate the death of Mother<br />

Teresa, who was known for her dedication<br />

to charitable work, helping others living in<br />

poverty and suffering.<br />

The day is also part of the United<br />

Nations’ 2030 Agenda on Sustainable<br />

Development, which recognises<br />

the “barriers that poverty places on<br />

international development”. One of the<br />

aims of the day is to enhance social<br />

responsibility and increase the support for<br />

charities across the world. In short, if we<br />

can become more charitable and more<br />

socially responsible for each other, then<br />

we will better understand the needs of<br />

the most vulnerable living in our societies,<br />

and it will be easier to create a better and<br />

more sustainable world for everyone.<br />

Why is charity important?<br />

Charity is important for many reasons.<br />

Zakat (a kind of tax benefitting<br />

charities) is one of the five<br />

pillars of the Muslim religion.<br />

Christians are taught to<br />

help others less fortunate<br />

than themselves, and<br />

many other religions<br />

advocate charitable<br />

acts as a means to<br />

finding a path to the<br />

divine. Charity helps<br />

remind us that we do not live alone in the<br />

world and the world is still far from being<br />

a just and equal place where all lives are<br />

valued and have equal opportunities.<br />

Many people are still living in poverty,<br />

distress or under repressive regimes, with<br />

few human rights, poor environmental<br />

conditions and unequal access to<br />

education, healthcare and basic resources.<br />

It’s easy in the UK to forget sometimes<br />

about these issues and to focus only on<br />

our own problems. That’s why charity<br />

awareness days, weeks and the<br />

International Day of Charity are<br />

important – because they remind<br />

us of our duty as human<br />

beings towards other<br />

human beings. But it<br />

doesn’t just have to be<br />

about humans; there<br />

are charities out<br />

there that work to<br />

improve the lives of animals, bees, birds,<br />

historic buildings that help us understand<br />

our history and new technologies that<br />

could unlock our future. Being charitable<br />

offers us all a way to give something back,<br />

redress the imbalances and pay-it-forward<br />

for future generations. It allows us to and<br />

do something to help, however small, and<br />

in whatever way we can.<br />

What can you do to get involved?<br />

There are many ways to get involved in<br />

charity, be that as a fund-raiser, volunteer<br />

or advocate for the charity you are<br />

passionate about. The first step is to find<br />

a charity that you are passionate about<br />

and want to support and there are literally<br />

thousands of charities to choose from. You<br />

can browse for charities at Charity Choice,<br />

search by categories or location and find<br />

out more information and watch videos<br />

from the charities too.<br />

If you want to help, there are a number<br />

of ways you can get involved either as an<br />

individual or as a setting:<br />

• Raising awareness of an issue<br />

• Holding events or supporting their<br />

campaigns<br />

• Raising money<br />

• Volunteering your time<br />

• Donating goods for sale through<br />

charity shops<br />

• Joining an action group<br />

• Leaving money in a will<br />

• Buying goods and services the charity<br />

offers<br />

• Making a regular or one-off donation<br />

Most charities have websites where you<br />

can download supporter packs and get<br />

ideas for official events and challenges that<br />

you can get involved with if you don’t want<br />

to organise your own, or you’d like to work<br />

with other people.<br />

Update from the <strong>Parenta</strong> Trust<br />

The past year or so has, understandably,<br />

been a quiet time for fundraising – not only<br />

for <strong>Parenta</strong> Trust but for all charities; and<br />

as we head into the second half of <strong>2021</strong><br />

and out of lockdown, fundraising for the<br />

remainder of the year is also likely to be<br />

very low key. We are very much hoping that<br />

2022 will be an exciting year for the Trust<br />

with events like the Maidstone to Monaco<br />

Rally, the <strong>Parenta</strong> Ball, quiz nights and<br />

baking competition taking place, allowing<br />

us to raise vital funds for our sponsored<br />

children.<br />

Some inspirational people<br />

And if you need any more motivation to<br />

get involved this year, think about the work<br />

of these 3 amazing and inspiring people<br />

mentioned at the top of the article:<br />

Mother Teresa<br />

Mother Teresa was a Roman Catholic<br />

nun of Albanian-Indian descent, born in<br />

1910. She travelled to India to become a<br />

missionary, and worked with the “poorest<br />

of the poor”. In 1950, she founded the<br />

Missionaries of Charity which had grown<br />

to a worldwide network of nuns working<br />

in over 133 countries by 2012. Although<br />

her life and beliefs were not without<br />

controversy, in 1979, she won the Nobel<br />

Peace Prize for her many years of charity<br />

work which inspired others, such as the<br />

late Princess Diana. She was made a saint<br />

in 1916, 19 years after her death in 1997.<br />

Read more here.<br />

Captain Sir Tom Moore<br />

Born Thomas Moore in 1920, ‘Captain Tom’<br />

as he became known, served in India and<br />

Burma during the Second World War and<br />

managed a concrete company after retiring<br />

from the army. An unassuming man, he<br />

is now one of the best-known names in<br />

Britain and has been an inspiration to<br />

millions. In April 2020, at the age of 99, he<br />

began doing laps of his garden to raise an<br />

initial £1,000 for local NHS charities. He not<br />

only completed his 100 laps but raised over<br />

£30 million in the process, was knighted<br />

and had a no.1 record with “You’ll Never<br />

Walk Alone”. He died from coronavirus<br />

shortly after his 100th birthday. Read more<br />

here.<br />

Max Woosey<br />

In 2020, Max, (then aged 10) was<br />

inspired to start camping in his<br />

back garden after his friend and<br />

elderly neighbour gave him<br />

the tent “to have an adventure<br />

in”. Max set himself the goal<br />

of raising £100 for the North<br />

Devon Hospice where his<br />

friend was a patient. After his<br />

friend died, he continued his<br />

camping adventure, and has<br />

recently spent his 500th night<br />

under canvas, raising more than<br />

£640,000 so far. Read more here.<br />

36 <strong>September</strong> <strong>2021</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>September</strong> <strong>2021</strong> 37

Music and<br />

self-regulation in<br />

the early years<br />

We actually learn songs in reverse. Try<br />

learning a new song by reading/singing it<br />

through, and then, sing it through a second<br />

time but do not read the last line – there is a<br />

good chance that you will mostly remember<br />

it. Sing it through a third time and do not<br />

read the last two lines – you will find it will<br />

soon be memorised! This also works for the<br />

lines of songs – sing the beginning of the<br />

line and we automatically fill in the end!<br />

Roll here roll there<br />

Self-regulation is one of the early learning goals under<br />

Personal, Social and Emotional Development. The Early<br />

Years Foundation Stage suggests that children will “show an<br />

understanding of their own and others’ feelings; work towards<br />

goals; wait for what they want; focus their attention while<br />

following instructions”. But why is self-regulation so important<br />

and what environments lead to early development of selfregulation?<br />

And, as always, how can music support this?<br />

To learn effectively, selfregulation,<br />

or the ability to<br />

direct attention and behaviour,<br />

is important (McClelland &<br />

Cameron, 2011) because it<br />

allows us to:<br />

• flexibly change attention<br />

• have a good working (day-to-day)<br />

memory<br />

• control impulses (inhibitory control)<br />

Music addresses these<br />

three areas directly:<br />

• Interesting music often involves<br />

unexpected twists – a change in tune,<br />

beat or even lyrics. As music uses all<br />

senses and abilities, we are happy to<br />

follow these twists!<br />

• Music often involves repetition – like<br />

the chorus that is repeated or the<br />

same tune to a different verse – and<br />

this helps to build memory!<br />

• Finally, music often has a clear<br />

beginning and end, which involves<br />

the brain’s reward system through<br />

predictability – if the song is started,<br />

it can always be completed, whether<br />

externally or internally (in your head)!<br />

Self-regulation seems to explain the early<br />

achievement gap from poorer and “English<br />

as an Additional Language” (EAL) families<br />

(Finders et al., <strong>2021</strong>). Children from poorer<br />

families showed low self-regulation in<br />

maths and language, while children from<br />

poorer and EAL families showed both low<br />

self-regulation and also lower executive<br />

function skills.<br />

Self-regulation is important in both<br />

cognitive and socio-emotional<br />

development. In a study of over 13,000<br />

children (Oloye & Flouri, <strong>2021</strong>) aged<br />

between 3 and 7 years old, two related<br />

areas were investigated: independence<br />

and emotional dysregulation. Independent<br />

children were found to come from home<br />

environments that were disorganised as<br />

well as those that were calm and quiet.<br />

Dysregulation was found in homes with<br />

damp, second-hand smoke and TV noise.<br />

Overcrowding, home traffic, presence of<br />

open fires and garden access did not<br />

affect self-regulation. Musical games<br />

are enjoyable, non-competitive ways to<br />

bridge this achievement gap. One of the<br />

great music education methods, Dalcroze,<br />

involves games that cleverly introduce<br />

these skills.<br />

Stop-start<br />

A little like musical statues, children<br />

walk to the beat while the music plays,<br />

and stop when it stops. Unlike musical<br />

statues, there is no penalty for getting it<br />

wrong, as the purpose is for children to<br />

learn by imitating others. This game can<br />

be developed into walking with music<br />

and clapping (to the beat) when it stops.<br />

Or walking when it stops and clapping<br />

when it plays. Each of these developments<br />

enhances and perfects the ability to selfregulate.<br />

Quick reaction direction<br />

Playing a beat on one instrument e.g.<br />

drum, means the children should walk<br />

forwards. Quickly changing to another<br />

instrument, e.g. bell, means children<br />

should walk backwards. Or sideways. Be<br />

inventive! Playing in regular timing (groups<br />

of 3 beats or 4 beats) allows children to<br />

prepare themselves, while keeping alert<br />

for changes.<br />

Roll the ball<br />

Rolling the ball for the length of a line of a<br />

song develops the ability to both anticipate<br />

as well as prepare or control the speed<br />

of the ball. Below I have introduced a little<br />

rhyme that is fun to use (Roll Here Roll<br />

There), but well-known songs like “Twinkle,<br />

Twinkle” are also great for this: children sit<br />

opposite each other and must roll the ball<br />

slowly enough to only reach each other<br />

at the end of the line, e.g. (roll) Twinkle,<br />

twinkle, little star (catch), (roll) How I wonder<br />

what you are (catch), etc.<br />

Stop on a spot<br />

I’m going to walk, walk, walk, walk<br />

Walk, walk, walk<br />

I’m going to walk, walk walk and<br />

Stop on a spot<br />

Inhibition is about starting and stopping<br />

in response to an outside source. This<br />

song helps to develop this skill, a little like<br />

musical chairs, except that there are always<br />

more than enough spots for children to find,<br />

jump on, and stop! This song can also be<br />

developed in different ways – I’m going to<br />

tiptoe. Or jump. Or skip. Or hop. And when<br />

the song is well-known, it can be hummed<br />

without words, and children respond<br />

accordingly – and still stop on a spot.<br />

Old MacDonald (finish the<br />

line)<br />

Old MacDonald had a farm (- - - - -)<br />

And on that farm he had a pig (- - - - -)<br />

Roll here, roll there<br />

Roll the ball to Leicester Square<br />

Bounce high, bounce low<br />

Bounce the ball to Shiloh<br />

This game is best introduced with an adult<br />

sitting in the middle of the circle of children<br />

and demonstrating the speed of the ball to<br />

each child. Once they have all had a turn,<br />

children can sit opposite each other, taking<br />

turns at rolling and catching the ball in time<br />

with each line. This game can be developed<br />

into bouncing the ball to each other as<br />

children’s hand-eye co-ordination develops,<br />

or rolled twice as slowly or twice as quickly.<br />

Self-regulation, or the ability to control<br />

impulses, is a powerful social skill. Not<br />

only does it reduce fights/friction, it allows<br />

society to function with the knowledge that<br />

behaviour will be rewarded (or punished!),<br />

that wages will be paid at the end of a<br />

week or month of work, that travel time will<br />

get us to where we want to be. And as we<br />

know, both nature and nurture impact our<br />

development, so we are able to learn new<br />

things, regardless of where we come from.<br />

References:<br />

• Finders, J. K., McClelland, M. M.,<br />

Geldhof, G. J., Rothwell, D. W., &<br />

Hatfield, B. E. (<strong>2021</strong>). Explaining<br />

achievement gaps in kindergarten and<br />

third grade: The role of self-regulation<br />

and executive function skills. Early<br />

Childhood Research Quarterly, 54(1st<br />

Quarter), 72–85.<br />

• McClelland, M. M., & Cameron, C.<br />

E. (2011). Self-Regulation in Early<br />

Childhood: Improving Conceptual<br />

Clarity and Developing Ecologically<br />

Valid Measures. Child Development<br />

Perspectives, 6(2), 136–142.<br />

• Oloye, H. T., & Flouri, E. (<strong>2021</strong>). The role<br />

of the indoor home environment in<br />

children’s self-regulation. Children and<br />

Youth Services Review, 121(Feb <strong>2021</strong>).<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 />

38 <strong>September</strong> <strong>2021</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>September</strong> <strong>2021</strong> 39

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