October 2021 Parenta magazine

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Issue 83<br />

OCTOBER <strong>2021</strong><br />

FREE<br />



Industry<br />

Experts<br />

Sustaining the future<br />

of the early years<br />

- and beyond<br />

Developing movements<br />

to improve physical<br />

literacy in the early years<br />

Musically managing<br />

self as an early<br />

learning goal<br />

+ lots more<br />

Write for us<br />

for a chance to win<br />

£50<br />

page 8<br />

Nutrition for learning<br />

The early years setting provides an opportunity to work with children and their families/carers on the foods they<br />

consume. Helping them understand some basic nutrition and the importance of balance in their diet at an early<br />

age can impact them in the short-term and set them up well for their long-term health as they mature.<br />


hello<br />

welcome to our family<br />

JUNE OCTOBER 2020<strong>2021</strong> ISSUE ISSUE 67 83<br />


Regulars<br />

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

The year is flying by, and autumn is practically upon us. We can soon look forward to the leaves changing colour and<br />

cosy evenings indoors. Don’t forget, the clocks go back at the end of the month, meaning British Summer Time ends -<br />

bringing darker afternoons, but also lighter mornings!<br />

In this month’s <strong>magazine</strong>, don’t miss industry heavyweight June O’Sullivan’s fantastic article “Sustaining the future of<br />

the early years – and beyond”. June gives us the benefit of her wealth of experience and incredible insight into how<br />

we can think more holistically about sustainability - not only just within our settings, but in our own and surrounding<br />

environments too - it’s never too late to start thinking about how we can help!<br />

We also welcome with open arms into the <strong>Parenta</strong> family another new guest author, Helen Lumgair, and we are celebrating with a book<br />

giveaway for you! Turn to page 30 for her “Hope of Story” article where you will be swept away in her fabulous theories of the wonders<br />

of story-telling and be in with a chance of winning her fantastic book “Using Stories to Support Learning and Development in Early<br />

Childhood.”<br />

Yet again, we have such a wonderful array of advice this month from so many industry experts: Gina Bale guides us with developing<br />

movements to improve physical literacy, Joanna Grace talks to us about the word “No”, Katharine Tate, the Food Teacher, educates us in<br />

nutrition and gives us a very tasty recipe for mackerel pate, Ruth Mercer discusses supervision and how to tackle this potential challenge<br />

in your setting, and Frances Turnbull looks at the ELGs and how to musically manage self.<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 and remember to put your clocks back on 31st <strong>October</strong>!<br />

Allan<br />

12<br />

Domestic<br />

Violence<br />

Awareness Month<br />

In the UK, three quarters of<br />

a million children witness<br />

domestic abuse each year,<br />

which itself can be a form of<br />

emotional abuse.<br />

Hearing “No”<br />

18<br />

No is a very powerful word.<br />

It is especially powerful<br />

to people whose lives are<br />

primarily controlled by<br />

someone else. If you are a<br />

child it is like someone else<br />

makes the decisions.<br />

National Adoption<br />

Week<br />

20<br />

National Adoption Week runs from<br />

the 18th to the 23rd <strong>October</strong>. Use this<br />

opportunity to discuss any issues<br />

relating to adoption in your setting.<br />

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

8 Guest author winner announced<br />

24 Mackerel pate<br />

25 Franky and Fiona, the friendly<br />

Halloween spiders<br />

News<br />

4 Childcare news and views<br />

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

that have caught our eye over the<br />

month<br />

Advice<br />

12 Domestic Violence Awareness Month<br />

16 Fire Prevention Week<br />

20 National Adoption Week<br />

34 Safeguarding children<br />

Industry Experts<br />

10 Sustaining the future of the early years<br />

– and beyond<br />

14 Developing movements to improve<br />

physical literacy in the early years<br />

18 Hearing “No”<br />

22 Nutrition for learning<br />

26 An introduction to supervision in the<br />

early years<br />

30 The hope of story<br />

32 Musically managing self as an early<br />

learning goal<br />

36 6 ways to ease children’s worries<br />

38 Supporting staff with social, emotional<br />

and mental health needs<br />

Musically managing self as an early learning goal 32<br />

Safeguarding children 34<br />

6 ways to ease children’s worries 36<br />

Supporting staff with social, emotional and<br />

mental health needs<br />


Childcare<br />

news & views<br />

Parents’ relationships with<br />

children improved during<br />

lockdowns<br />

Research has shown that parents feel that<br />

the COVID lockdowns have improved their<br />

relationships with their children, due to<br />

them being able to spend more quality time<br />

with them at home.<br />

New Children and Families<br />

Minister appointed<br />

During Boris Johnson’s cabinet reshuffle<br />

on 15th September, Will Quince, MP for<br />

Colchester, was appointed Children and<br />

Families Minister, taking over the helm<br />

from Vicky Ford, MP for Chelmsford<br />

– now junior minister at the Foreign,<br />

Commonwealth and Development office.<br />

Mr Quince’s responsibilities include early<br />

years policy and childcare, free school<br />

meals and children’s social care.<br />

On the same day, Nadim Zahawi replaced<br />

Gavin Williamson as the new Education<br />

Secretary, Nick Gibb was replaced by<br />

Robin Walker as Schools Minister and<br />

Gillian Keegan was replaced by Alex<br />

Burghart as Minister for Apprenticeships<br />

and Skills.<br />

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

Years Alliance said, “There is no doubt<br />

that Mr Quince takes up this position at<br />

a particularly difficult time for the early<br />

years sector, with the ongoing funding<br />

crisis, sustained recruitment and retention<br />

challenges, and of course, the continued<br />

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

“With the spending review just weeks<br />

away, it’s evident that the Department for<br />

Education must do much more to make a<br />

clear, convincing argument to the Treasury<br />

about the need for greater investment<br />

into the early years – and as children and<br />

families minister, it is now the responsibility<br />

of Mr Quince to lead on this work.”<br />

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

here.<br />

Government to provide early<br />

years funding for language and<br />

numeracy<br />

The government is to provide funding for<br />

specialist training to help 2-to 4-year-olds<br />

with language and mathematic skills, as<br />

part of the early years recovery plan.<br />

The government announced on<br />

6th September that the early years<br />

professional development programme<br />

(PDP) is to be extended to around 50<br />

new local authorities across England in<br />

the <strong>2021</strong>/2022 academic year, meaning<br />

that thousands of pre-school children<br />

will benefit from improved language,<br />

numeracy and personal, social and<br />

emotional skills.<br />

The £10 million extension, building on<br />

the £20 million already invested in the<br />

programme since 2019 as part of the<br />

government’s efforts to narrow the<br />

attainment gap in the early years, is aimed<br />

at levelling up outcomes for children,<br />

particularly the most disadvantaged,<br />

between the ages of 2 and 4 by providing<br />

high-quality training and professional<br />

development support for staff in nurseries<br />

and pre-schools, or childminders.<br />

Former Children and Families Minister,<br />

Vicky Ford, said; “We know high-quality<br />

early years education can make an<br />

enormous difference to the outcomes of<br />

our youngest children, not just in their<br />

language and numeracy but also their<br />

social and emotional development,<br />

helping to give them the best possible start<br />

to life. This is more important than ever as<br />

we build back from the pandemic.”<br />

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

here.<br />

Academics at the University of Essex have<br />

found that despite the stresses caused<br />

by the COVID pandemic, families have<br />

largely benefitted from spending more time<br />

together and have reported being surprised<br />

by the love, strength and quality of their<br />

family relationships, with the lockdowns<br />

leading them to not simply survive in the<br />

pandemic but thrive.<br />

Generally, people felt relationships with<br />

their children were better now than they<br />

had been at the beginning of 2020, and<br />

they were optimistic they would continue to<br />

improve – although those with teenagers<br />

reported less satisfaction than families with<br />

younger children.<br />

Research by academics and the charity,<br />

Family Action, based on two surveys<br />

of parents, revealed that despite the<br />

lockdown-related stresses, particularly<br />

around schooling, children’s behaviour and<br />

money, the survey findings suggest families<br />

proved “resilient”. In total, 1,015 parents<br />

in the UK were surveyed in December<br />

2020 and May <strong>2021</strong> about conflict and<br />

communication within households before<br />

and during COVID.<br />

Dr Veronica Lamarche from the Department<br />

of Psychology at the University of Essex,<br />

said: “The really positive thing we found is<br />

COVID has generally not destroyed families’.<br />

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

here.<br />

Schools support during COVID<br />

criticised by Ofsted’s Chief<br />

Inspector<br />

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

has spoken out and criticised some<br />

British schools for “putting food donations<br />

over education” during the coronavirus<br />

pandemic, whilst speaking at an event held<br />

by the Institute for Government think tank.<br />

She said that schools prioritised “making<br />

food parcels” and “going out visiting”<br />

disadvantaged children over delivering<br />

remote learning during the first wave of the<br />

pandemic.<br />

Ms Spielman commented that putting a<br />

“great deal of attention into the children<br />

with greatest difficulties” meant that some<br />

schools “didn’t have the capacity left” to<br />

ensure all pupils had access to education<br />

during the COVID crisis.<br />

She said: “In a lot of schools, it felt as<br />

though their attention went very rapidly to<br />

the most disadvantaged children, into sort<br />

of making food parcels, going out visiting.<br />

“They put a great deal of attention into the<br />

children with greatest difficulties, which<br />

is admirable but, in some cases, that<br />

probably got prioritised...which may have<br />

meant that they didn’t have the capacity left<br />

to make sure that there was some kind of<br />

education offer for all children.<br />

And I think, in those first few weeks, when<br />

it looked as though it might just be sort of<br />

three or four weeks, it was less obvious<br />

to some that they really did need to start<br />

assembling as a full remote education<br />

offering.”<br />

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the<br />

school leaders’ union NAHT, defended<br />

schools’ “vital work” with vulnerable<br />

children in their communities, arguing that<br />

they “went to incredible lengths in order<br />

to protect and care for pupils in the most<br />

unimaginably challenging of times”.<br />

“From the very start of the crisis, staff looked<br />

after the most vulnerable pupils as the<br />

country went into lockdown; they effectively<br />

re-imagined the very concept of ‘school’<br />

as they worked to implement a remote<br />

learning offer,” he said.<br />

Kelly Hill, Founder of Early Years Leadership<br />

commented: “In early years, we use<br />

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to ensure that<br />

all children have their basic needs met,<br />

knowing that unless these needs are met,<br />

further learning cannot successfully occur.<br />

We therefore agree with Mr Whiteman,and<br />

believe that this vital work in meeting the<br />

basic needs of vulnerable children was and<br />

continues to be paramount.”<br />

Read the full story on the Early Years<br />

Leadership website here.<br />

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

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

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

have caught our eye over the month<br />

Source and image credits to:<br />

Rutland and Stamford Mercury, In Your Area, Nursery<br />

World, Kent Online, Daily Record, Worksop Guardian,<br />

Worcester news<br />

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

Nutrition in early years<br />

This month our focus was what we<br />

can to give children the best start with<br />

their nutrition. We were joined with our<br />

fantastic guest speaker Katherine Tate,<br />

The Food Teacher, and Kyla and Gill from<br />

Watermead Nursery. In this webinar, we<br />

covered growing children’s developing<br />

brain, fussy eaters, educating parents<br />

food activities and much more. Click here<br />

to catch up on the unmissable advice.<br />

Acorn Childcare Centre get a visit<br />

from Stamford Firefighters<br />

The firefighters have been telling the<br />

children about the charity car wash as<br />

well as giving them a tour around the fire<br />

engine and letting them play with water.<br />

Double Award Finalists for<br />

Watermead Nursery!<br />

Staff are bursting with pride at<br />

Watermead Nursery as they become<br />

finalists in two categories for two<br />

separate national award ceremonies.<br />

The 23 Just Childcare nurseries<br />

sold for 34 million in sale-andleaseback<br />

deal<br />

Just Childcare was set up in 2004 and<br />

became one of the largest childcare<br />

groups. The freeholds of the settings are<br />

now owned by LXi REIT.<br />

Ofsted congratulate Kings<br />

Nursery, Sittingbourne, for<br />

remarkable turnaround<br />

The nursery was previously ranked as<br />

‘requiring improvement’ in 2019 and even<br />

‘inadequate’ the year before. But after<br />

drastic improvements, has a ‘good’ rating.<br />

Busy Bees growing their group<br />

even further with 357th setting<br />

set to open in Nottingham<br />

The setting will have the capacity for up<br />

to 88 babies and children and will create<br />

20-30 new jobs when they are fully<br />

occupied.<br />

Click here to send in<br />

your stories to<br />

hello@parenta.com<br />

Wishaw set to open new early<br />

years centre by next summer<br />

The construction work is set to begin in<br />

February and will be re-purposing the<br />

local community centre. Once up and<br />

running, the facility will have 40 spaces<br />

available.<br />

North Anston Nursery are<br />

saved from closure after<br />

uptake of spaces<br />

Two Pollywiggle nurseries were set to<br />

close early this month. However, with<br />

parents taking advantage of available<br />

childcare spaces, the settings are safe.<br />

Outdoor play conference running<br />

on 23rd & 24th November<br />

With outdoor play and provision high on<br />

the agenda, Nursery World has created<br />

a conference with their CPD-certified<br />

programme for ‘Outdoor play: priorities,<br />

provisions and practice’.<br />

Blue Giraffe Childcare awarded<br />

‘outstanding’ Ofsted rating<br />

With overall top marks for quality of<br />

education, behaviour and attitudes,<br />

personal development and leadership<br />

and management, the setting have a lot<br />

to celebrate.<br />

Nursery managers clock up 37<br />

years service of<br />

cherishing children<br />

Shenfield Day Nursery, where children<br />

are cherished, is definitely a special place<br />

and it certainly has some milestones to<br />

celebrate this summer.<br />

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

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

We’re always on the lookout<br />

for new authors to contribute<br />

insightful articles for our<br />

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

Write for us!<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 />

Encourage creativity, build agency<br />

and foster positive communication<br />

in children’s lives.<br />

“A<br />

powerful<br />

tool.”<br />

“Stimulating,<br />

poignant and<br />

inspiring.”<br />

Creating sustainable<br />

impact<br />

COHORT #2<br />

Jan 28th 2022<br />

COHORT #3<br />

May 13th 2022<br />

London Early Years Foundation (LEYF) is<br />

excited to launch our new CACHE Accredited<br />

Level 4 qualification ‘Sustainability in<br />

the Early Years’.<br />

The qualification is a first for Early<br />

Years. Find out more and enrol by<br />

scanning our QR code.<br />

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

Available at www.jkp.com and book retailers<br />

greenleyf@leyf.org.uk<br />

leyf.org.uk/sustainability-in-theearly-years/<br />

Green<br />

Congratulations<br />

to our guest author competition winner, Helen Garnett!<br />


LYF_Sustainability_Ad_FINAL.indd 1 09/09/<strong>2021</strong> 12:14<br />

Supporting children with social,<br />

emotional and mental health needs in<br />

the Early Years<br />

Congratulations to Helen Garnett our guest author<br />

of the month! Her article “The significant role of<br />

co-regulation in the early years” explored how vital<br />

co-regulation is for young children and examples of<br />

how to adopt this in nursery settings.<br />

Well done Helen!<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 />

www.soniamainstone-cotton.com<br />

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

| Winner need updating<br />

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

Sustaining the future of the<br />

early years – and beyond<br />

In the depths of the COVID pandemic, I wanted to (and needed to) look forward. The national<br />

narrative was depressing and hopeless, yet the children in our nurseries were alive and made the<br />

staff feel positive. I wanted to capture that sense of optimism and the children’s ‘joie de vivre’ so<br />

I began writing my new book: 50 Fantastic Ideas for Sustainability (which I co-authored with my<br />

colleague, Nick Corlett) alongside the supporting qualification about the same topic.<br />

At LEYF, sustainability is central to our<br />

social enterprise approach; having a<br />

sustainable business model that means<br />

you can deliver your social purpose in<br />

an environmentally sustainable way.<br />

The slogan you sometimes see is “Profit,<br />

People, Planet”.<br />

Every setting needs to ask their own<br />

question about sustainability and start<br />

from there. Change is more successful if<br />

it’s small and steady with a plan to embed<br />

it. We have a Sustainability Lead across<br />

the organisation and the idea behind the<br />

qualification was to train an Eco Champion<br />

at each LEYF’s 42 nurseries to lead the<br />

change in their setting.<br />

Change is much more successful<br />

when someone desires it and can help<br />

colleagues understand what they need<br />

to know in order to apply it. The Eco<br />

Champion then reinforces this change<br />

with the support of the decision-makers,<br />

usually the managers!<br />

We began our research by examining<br />

the United Nations General Assembly<br />

(2015) Sustainable Development Goals<br />

(SDGs). These 17 interlinked global goals<br />

are designed to be a “blueprint to achieve<br />

a better and more sustainable future for<br />

all” and a helpful framework to align your<br />

own sustainability goals. However, given<br />

there are seventeen – you may choose not<br />

to focus on all of them but on those most<br />

relevant.<br />





ENERGY<br />

13 CLIMATE<br />

ACTION<br />



GROWTH<br />

14 LIFE BELOW<br />

WATER<br />

9 INDUSTRY,<br />



15 LIFE ON<br />

LAND<br />

For example, the LEYF business model is<br />

designed to address child poverty (SDG1).<br />

The early years sector all respond to SDG4<br />

requirement for quality education and the<br />

focus of this article aligns with SDG12 and<br />

our impact on the planet from decisions<br />

we talk about, the resources we use, how<br />

we use them and then how we dispose of<br />

our waste.<br />

Remember, every small change that is<br />

embedded is a success, and things will<br />

not slip back. For example, in 2018 we<br />

really examined how we could use our<br />

gardens better. We even wrote a book to<br />

share practical ideas because as nurseries<br />

based all across London, we don’t have<br />

huge gardens. Some are quirky, others are<br />

near busy roads, one is on a rooftop and<br />

the other is in a basement. However, we<br />

wanted to do what Thomas Weaver calls<br />

‘connect with the poetry of our own back<br />

yards’.<br />

By 2019, we had banned all single-use<br />

plastics such as gloves, aprons and shoe<br />

covers and replaced them with alternatives<br />

but when COVID crashed into our lives all<br />

efforts seemed to halt and plastic was<br />

4 QUALITY<br />


10 REDUCED<br />





5 GENDER<br />





17<br />








back with a PPE vengeance. So, we had to<br />

take another path. If we couldn’t continue<br />

our changes, then the best way to prepare<br />

is to teach staff to understand what we<br />

could do to make us a more sustainable<br />

organisation. We designed a qualification<br />

in partnership with Cache; the Level 4<br />

Qualification in Sustainability in the Early<br />

Years. So far, 20 staff have completed<br />

it, another 20 have been recruited and<br />

we hope to open up to the sector from<br />

September <strong>2021</strong>.<br />

Sometimes all you need to do is re-frame<br />

the way you explain things. For example,<br />

we banned glitter a long time ago.<br />

Why? Because it’s very harmful for the<br />

environment, especially as much of it ends<br />

up in the ocean hurting our sea life. When<br />

staff understood this, they became very<br />

creative about alternatives. The thing to<br />

remember in the early years sector is that<br />

we are constantly employing and training<br />

new staff and therefore our explanations<br />

are never finished. Change is continual<br />

so therefore knowledge to reinforce this<br />

change is essential.<br />

To support this, our new book<br />

demonstrates to practitioners that being<br />

sustainable is not complicated and can be<br />

1 Reduce<br />

integrated into every setting’s routine and<br />

practice. Some people think young children<br />

are unable to understand about their<br />

environment but I disagree. Children are<br />

much more competent and thoughtful than<br />

we give them credit. Indeed, if sustainable<br />

development is relevant to children’s lives,<br />

then we need to prepare them for their<br />

role in dealing with the problems they are<br />

facing.<br />

Teaching children requires adults to be able<br />

to explain things to them using a variety of<br />

tactics. It’s about using resources and our<br />

environment as a teaching tool, making<br />

new ideas accessible and interesting<br />

and then scaffolding and extending our<br />

children’s abilities and confidence. We do<br />

this in many ways but particularly through<br />

multi-layered cross-curricular activities -<br />

stuff you do every day such as playing,<br />

singing, music, dance, art, conversations,<br />

reading and gardening. The list is endless!<br />

Education is a very powerful pathway to<br />

sustainability, but it depends on adults who<br />

understand how to integrate sustainability<br />

into every element of their leadership,<br />

pedagogy and operational practice. Think<br />

about framing your approach around these<br />

8 R’s:<br />

Decrease consumption of food wastage, materials and<br />

resources<br />

2 Reuse Use materials many times and for different purposes<br />

3 Repair Fix things rather than discarding them, or re-purpose them<br />

4 Recycle<br />

5 Rot<br />

6 Respect<br />

7 Reflect<br />

Be aware of alternatives to discarding rubbish and<br />

educate children about the importance and impact they<br />

can have through this<br />

Let things go back to the earth to enrich the next crop of<br />

plants while also providing a habitat for many insects and<br />

small rodents<br />

Nurture an understanding of, and respect of nature and<br />

natural processes and reduce the extent to which they are<br />

violated; show consideration and compassion for people<br />

and animals<br />

The habit/skill of being thoughtful, asking questions and<br />

wondering about experiences<br />

8 Responsibility something worthwhile – be socially and economically<br />

sustainable e.g. fair trade and local markets to promote<br />

Being trusted to take care of something, or to do<br />

community well-being<br />

June O’Sullivan<br />

June O’Sullivan MBE is Chief Executive of<br />

the London Early Years Foundation (LEYF),<br />

one of the UK’s largest charitable childcare<br />

social enterprises which currently runs 42<br />

nurseries across twelve London boroughs.<br />

An inspiring speaker, author and regular<br />

media commentator on early years, social<br />

business and child poverty, June has<br />

been instrumental in achieving a major<br />

strategic, pedagogical and cultural shift<br />

for the award-winning London Early Years<br />

Foundation, resulting in an increased<br />

profile, a new childcare model and a<br />

stronger social impact over the past ten<br />

years.<br />

@juneosullivan<br />

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn<br />

Sustainability is holistic. It is central to the<br />

child’s whole experience of life and needs<br />

to be part of a broad and inclusive quality<br />

education. We cannot continue to treat our<br />

planet with disregard and force our children<br />

to inherit the predicted catastrophic 2050.<br />

Those of us leading in ECEC have a duty<br />

to future-proof as much as possible and<br />

should learn how to tread lightly on the<br />

planet. Let’s all join together and do our bit.<br />

Every little helps.<br />

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

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

Domestic Violence<br />

Awareness Month<br />

It’s hard to imagine but in this day and age, there are still two women each week who are killed<br />

by a partner or former partner in England and Wales. In the Northeast, the area with the highest<br />

recorded rate of domestic abuse, there are an average of 253 incidents every day. Over the course<br />

of the pandemic, cases of domestic abuse have increased globally by approximately 20% as many<br />

women have been trapped at home with their abusers with no escape. But it’s not just women<br />

who are victims; many men can be victims too, and in the UK, three quarters of a million children<br />

witness domestic abuse each year, which itself can be a form of emotional abuse on the child.<br />

Children are also affected by<br />

domestic violence<br />

Whilst we can understand that physical<br />

or sexual abuse can severely affect the<br />

physical and mental health of the victim,<br />

we need to also understand the effect that<br />

domestic violence can have on any children<br />

living under the same roof. They can react<br />

in many different ways, for example, they<br />

may:<br />

• Feel frightened, insecure or confused a<br />

lot of the time<br />

• Keep their feelings to themselves<br />

• Struggle to cope with their emotion<br />

or experience emotional outbursts<br />

themselves<br />

• Become withdrawn and socially<br />

isolated<br />

Children who witness domestic violence are<br />

themselves victims of a type of emotional<br />

abuse and need our help to safeguard<br />

them too. All children who experience<br />

domestic abuse will be living under high<br />

levels of stress for much of the day and<br />

these adverse childhood experiences (ACEs)<br />

can impact on their own behaviour and<br />

well-being. As nursery professionals, we<br />

should be trained to look out for changes<br />

in behaviour as part of our safeguarding<br />

training and to report any concerns to our<br />

DSL (Designated Safeguarding Lead).<br />

Some of the behavioural aspects you may<br />

notice in children can include:<br />

Help is available<br />

In 2020, the Home Secretary announced a<br />

new campaign to tackle domestic abuse<br />

and provided an additional £2 million to<br />

help support domestic abuse helplines and<br />

online support in response to increased<br />

demand. They set up the Refuge helplines<br />

and website where people can find out<br />

more about help services. There is also<br />

a free-phone 24-hour National Domestic<br />

Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247. The<br />

campaign uses the hashtag #YouAreNot<br />

Alone, aiming to reassure victims that help<br />

will be available when they need it.<br />

2. Raise awareness of the issue of<br />

domestic abuse within your setting or<br />

community by joining in a campaign or<br />

setting up your own event<br />

3. Raise money for a related charity or<br />

helpline so that more people can<br />

receive support<br />

4. Collect and donate goods and toys to a<br />

local women’s/men’s refuge<br />

5. Be sensitive to any child, adolescent<br />

or adult you know who may have<br />

experienced domestic abuse in the<br />

past<br />

Each year, <strong>October</strong> is internationally<br />

recognised as Domestic Violence<br />

Awareness Month. It began in the USA<br />

in 1981 and aims to raise awareness of<br />

the problem and highlight the help and<br />

support that are available to victims,<br />

women and men. Domestic violence is<br />

a problem that affects people from all<br />

religions, races, culture and status, which<br />

is why it is so important to highlight the<br />

issues.<br />

What is domestic violence?<br />

Domestic abuse/violence is defined<br />

as a “systematic pattern of behaviour<br />

on the part of the abuser designed to<br />

control his or her partner.” Anyone who is<br />

forced to change their behaviour, or who<br />

changes their behaviour because they are<br />

frightened of their partner or ex-partner’s<br />

reaction, is experiencing abuse. The abuse<br />

can take many different forms and can<br />

happen to anyone regardless of gender,<br />

sexuality, religion or status, although, it is<br />

also important to acknowledge that most<br />

domestic abuse is carried out by men and<br />

is experienced by women.<br />

Physical violence is often the first type of<br />

domestic abuse that people think of, but<br />

domestic abuse can also be emotional,<br />

psychological, financial or sexual and it<br />

can start at any stage of a relationship.<br />

Domestic violence is also rarely a one-off<br />

event, and many victims report incidents<br />

becoming more frequent and more<br />

severe over time. What’s also important<br />

to remember is that domestic abuse and<br />

domestic violence are illegal, and they are<br />

never the fault of the victim, who will often<br />

need a lot of support, understanding and<br />

a safe place to live in order to escape the<br />

bonds of a violent domestic situation.<br />

Domestic abuse is associated with<br />

anxiety, depression, substance misuse<br />

and PTSD, and studies suggest that<br />

women experiencing domestic abuse<br />

are more likely to suffer from a mental<br />

health condition; and women with a<br />

mental health condition, are more likely to<br />

experience domestic abuse.<br />

• Bullying or aggressive behaviours<br />

• Tantrums<br />

• Speech problems or difficulties with<br />

learning<br />

• Inability to concentrate<br />

• Attention-seeking behaviours<br />

• Nightmares or difficulty sleeping<br />

• Bed-wetting<br />

• Extended periods of illness<br />

• Anxiety and depression<br />

• Irrational fears<br />

• Withdrawal<br />

Some people mistakenly believe that all<br />

children who experience domestic violence<br />

will themselves grow up to be perpetrators<br />

or victims later in life, but this is not true.<br />

With love and support, a lot of children can<br />

transcend these early experiences and lead<br />

happy and fulfilled lives as adults. Others<br />

may need more sustained or specialist<br />

support over a number of years.<br />

What is less well known, is the time that<br />

it takes for victims to come forward.<br />

According to the charity SafeLives, highrisk<br />

survivors live with domestic abuse<br />

for over 2 years before getting help, and<br />

medium-risk survivors for 3 years. They<br />

report that on average, people experience<br />

a staggering 50 incidents of abuse before<br />

seeking effective help.<br />

How can you help in your<br />

setting?<br />

There are a few ways that you can help<br />

in your setting, which fall under different<br />

categories of support.<br />

1. Be alert to the signs and symptoms<br />

that children, parents or even staff<br />

members may be experiencing<br />

domestic abuse, and offer them<br />

guidance and support, referring any<br />

safeguarding concerns to your DSL<br />

immediately<br />

Remember, if you think or know someone is<br />

being abused, it is better to speak up than<br />

say nothing. If you are wrong, then there’s<br />

no harm done, but if you are right, you<br />

could save someone’s life.<br />

Help and support<br />

Freephone 24-hour National Domestic<br />

Abuse Helpline: 0808 2000 247<br />

or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk<br />

(access live chat Mon-Fri 3-10pm)<br />

https://domesticviolenceuk.org/<br />

https://safelives.org.uk/<br />

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

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

Developing movements to improve<br />

physical literacy in the early years<br />

Movement is for ALL children and sometimes they just need a little extra assistance,<br />

and their goals and level will vary and that’s OK!<br />

So, with this in mind here is your super-fast, 3-minute guide<br />

Scaffold their learning: see what they<br />

can achieve alone and what they can<br />

achieve with adult and peer support.<br />

Model correctly: Children will copy you<br />

and when you model correctly, you are<br />

helping them build the right pathways<br />

as they lay down the myelin on the<br />

connections in the brain. Do take a peek at<br />

the article “Meeting myelin” in the August<br />

issue of <strong>Parenta</strong> Magazine to see how<br />

important this is.<br />

pathways for the action. To give you an<br />

example when a child is trying to stand and<br />

balance on one leg, and they are wobbling<br />

around, that is the core trying to adapt to<br />

keep them upright. The body is learning<br />

how stabilise by finding its centre to remain<br />

upright.<br />

For a little extra assistance:<br />

Let them push down on the palms of your<br />

hands to get off the floor – mind your<br />

heads!<br />

1. Let’s get back to<br />

basics<br />

Before children can sit upright<br />

and move, they need to<br />

develop their core muscles.<br />

2. What is the core?<br />

The core is made up of the<br />

muscles in the trunk of the<br />

body. These muscles act like<br />

a corset protecting the lumbar<br />

spine, and it is the function of<br />

the muscular system to protect<br />

the articular structures in the<br />

body. The core includes the<br />

deep stabilisers in the spine<br />

which wrap all the way around<br />

to the anterior abdominal<br />

wall. The anterior abdominal<br />

wall includes three layers of<br />

flat muscle, the transversus<br />

abdominis, internal and<br />

external obliques. Everything<br />

you need to be upright, twist<br />

the body, bend sideways,<br />

forwards and backwards.<br />

3. What can I do to<br />

help?<br />

For the little ones<br />

One of the first things to help<br />

little ones develop these<br />

muscles is to ensure they have<br />

enough tummy time. Tummy<br />

time is vital as it helps develop<br />

the muscles in the back, neck,<br />

arms, and legs and allows<br />

them to practice their reaching<br />

(stretching) and pivoting<br />

skills. All of this is a precursor<br />

to crawling and walking.<br />

Research shows that a lack of<br />

tummy time can delay children<br />

from reaching their physical<br />

developmental milestones.<br />

For the older ones<br />

Include as many activities<br />

as possible, that encourage<br />

children to use large body<br />

movements (gross motor skills)<br />

which in turn will help them<br />

build their core strength and<br />

improve fitness levels.<br />

4. Why are some<br />

children more<br />

physically able than<br />

others?<br />

Physical literacy (movements) is<br />

a combination of the strength<br />

of the bodies core and myelin<br />

development. The connections<br />

in the brain need to be there,<br />

as the core continues to<br />

develop, for the child to be<br />

able to progress and develop<br />

their physical literacy.<br />

Core stability is vital for all<br />

activities, and we need to<br />

do all we can to help them.<br />

Don’t forget they need that<br />

core strength to help get them<br />

Walking with assistance<br />

Walking alone unaided<br />

Walking up and down with<br />

assistance<br />

Walking up and down stairs<br />

holding a rail<br />

ready to write as it’s all about<br />

the strength and control of the<br />

motor skills both ‘gross’ and<br />

‘fine’.<br />

Movement of the<br />

month: Jumping<br />

Have you ever thought about<br />

how much strength it takes a<br />

little body to be able to jump<br />

off the ground?<br />

Try this: Bend over so you are<br />

looking at your knees. Relax<br />

your muscles, without falling<br />

over, so you are nice, floppy,<br />

and very relaxed. Now try to<br />

jump. What did it feel like?<br />

Did you know there are<br />

4 types of jumps for<br />

little ones to master?<br />

2 to 2 (jumping from two feet<br />

to two feet)<br />

2 to 1 (jumping from two feet to<br />

one foot)<br />

1 to 2 (jumping from one foot to<br />

two feet)<br />

1 to 1 (jumping from one foot to<br />

one foot)<br />

What to think about<br />

when they are ready<br />

to jump?<br />

Remember they need to go<br />

down before they can go up!<br />

Using the knees: All jumps<br />

start and end with a bend<br />

in the knees. This protects<br />

the spine as the knees are<br />

working as a shock absorber.<br />

Using the feet: As you<br />

land from any jump you go<br />

through your feet, from your<br />

toes distributing weight evenly<br />

through the foot all the way to<br />

the heel.<br />

NOTE: Don’t land on your<br />

heels and especially with<br />

straight legs as this will jar<br />

delicate knees and spine<br />

including yours and you will<br />

end up on your bottom!<br />

Developmental progress of “Transfer of weight” from 1-5 years<br />

1<br />

2<br />

3<br />

4<br />

5<br />

Walking up and down stairs<br />

Some already jumping from two feet<br />

Able to hop on one foot<br />

Some will be able to do multiple hops<br />

Standing on one leg balancing securely<br />

Some able to leap and land on one leg<br />

Your pathway to success<br />

When they are showing interest in leaving<br />

the ground, with two feet, it means they<br />

are ready to jump. This is such a fun and<br />

exciting time to enjoy together. Encourage<br />

them to actively jump by:<br />

1. Blowing bubbles for them to reach up<br />

and catch and on the ground to stomp<br />

on.<br />

2. Sing fun action songs together that<br />

practises bending and stretching the<br />

knees.<br />

3. Lift them off the ground so they can feel<br />

the movement of going up and down<br />

to see how much fun it is. When it’s<br />

fun they will want to do it themselves.<br />

Note: Don’t forget to bend your own<br />

knees and mind your back!<br />

4. Hold their hands as they start to<br />

jump as it is all about support and<br />

confidence.<br />

NOTE: If they fall over don’t worry, make<br />

it fun and fall with them so they know it’s<br />

OK not to get it right to start with. Falling<br />

is a part of the learning process as this is<br />

how the body and the brain learns. With<br />

every new movement, the body and brain<br />

are assessing what is happening and how<br />

to keep you upright, while creating new<br />

Holding your fingertips with both hands,<br />

and then one hand, so they are doing all<br />

the work but feel supported by you.<br />

It takes confidence to jump as there is a lot<br />

going on in the body to defy gravity and<br />

get off the ground. It can be scary for some<br />

children, so be patient and they will jump<br />

when they are ready.<br />

Make it fun<br />

Be creative and imaginative in revisiting<br />

the movements by being different animals.<br />

Find your inner child and use props to<br />

encourage and engage by using chalk lines<br />

or spots on the floor to jump on, over or<br />

across. Blow bubbles, as who doesn’t love<br />

reaching, jumping, and catching bubbles?<br />

Animal ideas for the 4 different<br />

types of jumps<br />

2 to 2: Take a trip to Australia and jump<br />

with a kangaroo.<br />

1 to 1: You have taken a rocket to space and<br />

leap from star to star looking for aliens.<br />

2 to 1: Trying to cross the Amazon river and<br />

standing on one side ready to jump across<br />

as the jaguar is waking up. Don’t fall in -<br />

the piranhas are hungry!<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 />

1 to 2: Join a polar bear as he balances<br />

on the top of an iceberg looking for<br />

somewhere safe to land.<br />

Please share your ideas and<br />

experiences with me as would love to<br />

know what works for you. Find me on<br />

Facebook or Instagram<br />

@Littlemagictrain as would love to<br />

connect.<br />

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

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

Fire Prevention Week<br />

One of the things that we as practitioners worry about a lot is how we can keep the children in our care<br />

safe. You can see our Safeguarding article on page 34 for more information about how to look after<br />

safeguarding more generally in your setting. But in this article, we are going to look into the issue of<br />

fire and how we can use this year’s Fire Prevention Week to not only keep our children safe, but spread<br />

the word about fire and some of the danger it holds for younger children.<br />

14. Use a childproof fireguard in front of an<br />

open fire or heater<br />

15. Teach children about the dangers of<br />

playing with matches and ensure all<br />

fire hazards are safely locked away<br />

from little fingers<br />

16. Cover all plug sockets with safety<br />

covers<br />

17. Ensure your staff are trained in how to<br />

treat paediatric burns and scalds with<br />

first aid and keep their training up-todate<br />

with regular revision sessions<br />

18. Make sure you keep children away<br />

from dangerous items by locking these<br />

items in cupboards with childproof<br />

locks<br />

Fire Prevention Week runs from the 3rd<br />

– 9th <strong>October</strong> <strong>2021</strong> and is an American<br />

week aimed at fire prevention. In the<br />

UK, a national fire prevention week has<br />

been superseded by an array of specific<br />

awareness days and weeks such as Fire<br />

Door Safety Week, Electrical Fire Safety<br />

Week, as well as Chimney Fire Safety<br />

Week.<br />

It doesn’t really matter however, because<br />

fire safety is important to everyone<br />

wherever they are in the world, and the<br />

recent tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire<br />

should be enough to alert us all to the very<br />

real dangers that fires still pose, even in<br />

modern Britain. Following investigations<br />

into Grenfell, there have been changes<br />

to legislation related mainly to residential<br />

buildings which require more rigorous fire<br />

safety checks and risk assessments for<br />

different materials on these buildings. And<br />

although they mainly relate to residential<br />

buildings, you cannot be too careful when<br />

if comes to fire safety, so it may be time to<br />

revisit your settings’ fire risk assessment as<br />

a matter of course.<br />

Why teach fire safety?<br />

Many young children do not recognise<br />

the dangers that fire poses to them, and<br />

children are one of the groups with the<br />

highest number of fire-related deaths<br />

each year with approximately 500 deaths<br />

a year in the under-14 age group. Many<br />

deaths are caused by smoke inhalation<br />

where little lungs are more affected than<br />

adults. Children under 5 may not be able<br />

to escape from a fire themselves and<br />

may instead, head to a favourite place<br />

of ‘safety’ such as under a bed or in a<br />

cupboard instead of leaving the building.<br />

Older children may feel the need to return<br />

to a building if they have left something<br />

like a favourite toy or pet behind. For all<br />

these reasons and more, children need to<br />

be taught about fire safety early – what<br />

they can do to prevent fires, and what they<br />

should do in the event of a fire.<br />

If you visit the US Fire Prevention Week<br />

website, you will find lots of useful<br />

information and advice on how you can<br />

introduce the topic into your setting and<br />

although they have an American focus,<br />

there are still many useful resources and<br />

games that you can adapt for UK settings.<br />

Some basic fire checks and<br />

procedures you should do<br />

regularly<br />

1. If you hear a fire alarm, get out and<br />

stay out – dial 999!<br />

2. Ensure all your fire exits are well<br />

signposted, have backup power<br />

lighting and are not obstructed in any<br />

way<br />

3. Teach children how to raise the alarm<br />

in the event of a fire<br />

4. Test smoke alarms regularly, at least<br />

once a month – most fire brigades<br />

recommend a sealed ten-year unit<br />

so that you don’t need to change<br />

the batteries, but if you don’t have a<br />

sealed unit, you need to remember to<br />

change the batteries once a year<br />

5. Keep paper stacked neatly and try to<br />

avoid having too much waste paper in<br />

one place so empty bins regularly<br />

6. Run fire drills especially at the nursery<br />

and make sure everyone knows<br />

where to meet – ensure too that you<br />

have dedicated fire marshals, readily<br />

available registers and people to take<br />

them, as well as escape plans for<br />

anyone who may not be ale to walk<br />

out easily, such as a wheelchair users<br />

or those with impaired mobility<br />

7. Ensure that you have a fire drill<br />

procedure for children with special<br />

needs – this might involve have a code<br />

word/visual signal rather than a loud<br />

alarm or ensuring that there are ear<br />

defenders for children if they need<br />

them<br />

8. Encourage your families to have a<br />

plan and to practice fire evacuation<br />

procedures at home<br />

9. Check fire doors – make sure they<br />

close properly and never prop them<br />

open<br />

10. Teach children about the risk of fire or<br />

burns/scalds in a kitchen and keep all<br />

hot items out of reach of children<br />

11. NEVER leave children alone with a fire<br />

risk<br />

12. Teach children what to do in the event<br />

of a clothes fire such as “stop, drop<br />

and roll” technique and the dangers of<br />

smoke<br />

13. Don’t overload sockets and check<br />

plugs and sockets for electrical fire<br />

safety. It’s best to turn electrical items<br />

off at night rather than leaving them on<br />

standby – it’s safer and also uses less<br />

energy<br />

19. Remember to check doors for heat<br />

before opening them<br />

20. Crawl near the ground if in a fire to<br />

avoid toxic smoke and fumes<br />

These are just some of the things that you<br />

might consider teaching or going over in<br />

your setting, but there are a lot more things<br />

that you can cover too. Think about:<br />

• Candle safety<br />

• Bonfire night fire safety<br />

• Garden fire safety<br />

• Christmas lights fire safety<br />

• Burn and scalds awareness<br />

There are some good ideas about how<br />

to engage children in fire safety at the<br />

website fireangel.co.uk including a list of<br />

some child-friendly videos. Your local fire<br />

station will also be involved in prevention<br />

advice and you may be able to arrange a<br />

visit to your setting along with some useful<br />

educational sessions or fire alarm checks.<br />

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

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

Hearing “No”<br />

“Put your coat on”<br />

“No”<br />

“Put your coat on, you have to, it is cold<br />

outside.”<br />

“No!”<br />

What do you do next?<br />

“Eat your vegetables”<br />

“No”<br />

“Eat your vegetables, you have to, they are<br />

good for you.”<br />

“No!”<br />

What do you do next?<br />

“Get down from there.”<br />

“No”<br />

“It’s dangerous. Get down from there. You<br />

might fall.”<br />

“No!”<br />

What do you do next?<br />

‘No’ is a very powerful word. It is especially<br />

powerful to people whose lives are<br />

primarily controlled by someone else. If<br />

you are a child it is likely that someone<br />

else decides when you go to bed, when<br />

you get up, when you eat, what you eat,<br />

what you do and so on.<br />

Perhaps you have heard someone say “I<br />

just can’t say ‘no’.” My bet is that they are<br />

an adult fully in control of their lives.<br />

Consider the experience from the point<br />

of view of the child, after the ‘what<br />

happens next?’. If in each case their no is<br />

ignored: their coat gets put on anyway, the<br />

vegetables are spooned into their mouth,<br />

they are lifted down from the top of the<br />

wall. What does that teach them about the<br />

power of their spoken ‘no’?<br />

What they learn is that saying “no” doesn’t<br />

work.<br />

What comes next makes logical sense.<br />

If you want to say “no”, but saying “no”<br />

doesn’t work, then you move on to<br />

showing ‘no’. Perhaps you shout, perhaps<br />

you pull away, perhaps you lash out, you<br />

kick, you punch.<br />

Isn’t it an interesting position we find<br />

ourselves in as the adults in these<br />

conversations? Each one is justifiable. They<br />

do need their coat on. They should eat<br />

their vegetables. And they must get down<br />

before they fall.<br />

But it is important that children learn that<br />

saying “no” works.<br />

We do not want them to learn that<br />

escalating their ‘no’ works. That is, we<br />

do not want to change our position in<br />

response to the ‘no’ being shouted. We<br />

understand that if we crack once, then<br />

they are much more likely to learn that<br />

shouting is a way to get their own way.<br />

We have to take a step back. Is our aim to<br />

teach them that adults are in charge and<br />

they should do as we say because we are<br />

right? Or is our aim to guide their decisions<br />

about their own life and keep them safe? It<br />

is the latter of course!<br />

Direct instructions are an easy first option,<br />

if the child puts their coat on, eats their<br />

vegetables and gets down from the wall<br />

we’ve kept them safe and warm and fed<br />

them a healthy diet. Oh if only it were so<br />

easy!<br />

As wonderful as a child that follows<br />

instructions without quibble sounds, just<br />

consider for a moment the dangers that<br />

might lie in such compliance for them in<br />

the future. We want them to question, to<br />

consider, to reason, and to know how to<br />

say “no” should they ever need to, and to<br />

have the expectation that their ‘no’ will be<br />

heard and respected.<br />

We are the adults and are in a position to<br />

reflect. It is useful to let spoken ‘no’s work<br />

on occasion. If you know the child ate lots<br />

of vegetables at lunch time and really<br />

genuinely hates broccoli, then perhaps this<br />

exchange could be:<br />

“Eat your vegetables”<br />

“No”<br />

“Oh, you don’t want to eat these? They are<br />

good for you.” (Saying “you don’t want to”<br />

is important as it underlines that you have<br />

heard and understood what they meant<br />

when they said “No”)<br />

“No”<br />

“Hmm, well you did eat lots of vegetables<br />

at lunch time so I think it would be okay for<br />

you to leave these.”<br />

We are not simply letting the child get their<br />

own way, we are picking times when it is<br />

appropriate to teach them that their verbal<br />

‘no’ is powerful, and should be respected.<br />

If we are not in a situation where this<br />

is appropriate we can use other work<br />

arounds so that the situation doesn’t lead<br />

to a stand-off. Choices and control are a<br />

powerful tools for doing this.<br />

Choice:<br />

“It is dangerous up there, do you want me<br />

to lift you down or can you climb down on<br />

your own?”<br />

(Whatever their answer, the result is you<br />

directed them to get off the wall).<br />

Control:<br />

“It’s very cold outside. Brrr! When we go out<br />

there we will feel cold. What can we do to<br />

stay warm?” (Giving the lead up information<br />

about how we will feel outside, and using<br />

expressions like “Brrr” to give the child<br />

time to consider what we are saying, is<br />

important before leading into the question).<br />

“We could wear a coat!”<br />

“Good idea! Where are our coats?”<br />

A child saying “no” is not naughty and<br />

defiant, they are road testing a skill you<br />

want them to have. Hearing their ‘no’s and<br />

teaching them their effectiveness is a part<br />

of keeping them safe.<br />

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

settings looking to enhance their inclusive<br />

practice. For more information visit www.<br />

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

also find resources to help you include<br />

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

media and welcomes connection requests<br />

from people curious about inclusive<br />

practice.<br />

Joanna Grace<br />

Joanna Grace is an international<br />

Sensory Engagement and Inclusion<br />

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

and founder of The Sensory Projects.<br />

Consistently rated as “outstanding” by<br />

Ofsted, Joanna has taught in<br />

mainstream and special school settings,<br />

connecting with pupils of all ages and<br />

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

draws on her own experience from her<br />

private and professional life as well as<br />

taking in all the information she can<br />

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

private life includes family members<br />

with disabilities and neurodiverse<br />

conditions and time spent as a<br />

registered foster carer for children with<br />

profound disabilities.<br />

Joanna has published four practitioner<br />

books: “Multiple Multisensory Rooms:<br />

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

Stories for Children and Teens”,<br />

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

and “Sharing Sensory Stories and<br />

Conversations with People with<br />

Dementia”. and two inclusive sensory<br />

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

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

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

Subtle Spectrum” and her son has<br />

recently become the UK’s youngest<br />

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

Mummy is Autistic”.<br />

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

is always happy to connect with people<br />

via Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.<br />

Website:<br />

thesensoryprojects.co.uk<br />

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

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

National Adoption Week<br />

Depending on which statistics you read,<br />

there are between 2,000 and 6,000<br />

children in the UK who need adopting at<br />

any one time. Many are sibling groups<br />

who need to be adopted together, which<br />

often makes it more difficult to find the right<br />

adoptive parents. The latest Government<br />

data 1 reports that 3,440 children (who<br />

had previously been looked after), were<br />

adopted in the year ending March 31st<br />

2020. This was down 4% on the previous<br />

year and continues a downward trend<br />

since the peak in adoptions in 2015. With<br />

approximately 80,000 children in care at<br />

any one time, there is an urgent need for<br />

people to come forward to redress the<br />

balance.<br />

In response to this falling adoption<br />

rate, the Government has launched a<br />

new nationwide campaign which is<br />

being delivered by a group of Regional<br />

Adoption Agencies, Voluntary Adoption<br />

Agencies and key stakeholders working<br />

in adoption in England. It is supported<br />

by the Department for Education and<br />

aims to tackle and dispel some of the<br />

myths around who is eligible to adopt<br />

and what the adoption process entails.<br />

It is using the hashtag #YouCanAdopt to<br />

raise awareness and National Adoption<br />

Week <strong>2021</strong> is the perfect platform to raise<br />

awareness and highlight the plight of<br />

would-be adoptees who are waiting too<br />

long for their ‘forever families’.<br />

National Adoption Week runs from the<br />

18th to the 23rd <strong>October</strong>, the week before<br />

half-term in many English schools and<br />

nurseries, so you can use the week to<br />

discuss a number of issues in your setting<br />

relating to adoption, since it is not just<br />

the time delay or the shortage of suitable<br />

parents that is of concern. There is still a lot<br />

of stigma associated with adoption with<br />

many adopted children reporting being<br />

bullied at school because of their status.<br />

There are issues related to the lack of<br />

people from diverse ethnic backgrounds<br />

who put themselves forward as potential<br />

parents, and an increasing number<br />

of barriers that people believe exist to<br />

adoption including worries about:<br />

• Finance<br />

• Marital status<br />

• Sexual orientation<br />

• Size of house<br />

• Work status<br />

• Age<br />

• Health<br />

The truth about adoption<br />

In reality, there are only a few things<br />

you need to become an adopter. These<br />

include:<br />

• The ability to provide the love, time<br />

and commitment a child needs which<br />

can vary depending on their age<br />

• The ability to empathise with children<br />

who may never have experienced the<br />

security of feeling loved or safe before<br />

• The patience, flexibility, energy and<br />

health to be there for the child as<br />

long-term parents whatever comes up<br />

This means that each year there are<br />

single-parents, same-sex couples and<br />

working people who adopt. In early years,<br />

we are trained to work with children from a<br />

variety of stances, so this year, why not ask<br />

yourself and your staff whether adoption<br />

might be something they could think more<br />

seriously about?<br />

Ethnic diversity issues<br />

Research shows that children from<br />

black and mixed-heritage backgrounds<br />

wait longer to be matched with a new<br />

adoptive family than those from Caucasian<br />

backgrounds. This could be due to a<br />

number of factors that the government is<br />

trying to address. Research also suggests<br />

that attitudes towards adoption from<br />

black communities are positive with 80%<br />

of people from these communities stating<br />

that they have either adopted, considered<br />

or would consider adopting a child in the<br />

future.<br />

Events within National Adoption Week<br />

and Black History Month (which also runs<br />

in September), aim to focus on recruiting<br />

potential parents particularly from these<br />

groups.<br />

The adoption process<br />

There are 4 main stages in the adoption<br />

process after people initially explore and<br />

find out about adoption. These are:<br />

1. Initial checks and registration<br />

2. Training and assessment<br />

3. Matching parents to the right child<br />

4. Child moves in<br />

It can take between 6 months and a year<br />

for these processes to be completed so<br />

patience is necessary when beginning the<br />

adoption process. But when you think about<br />

it from a child’s perspective, the average<br />

number of days that a child waits between<br />

entering the care system and moving in<br />

with their adopted family is 459 days, so it<br />

takes time to match people with the right<br />

families, but this shouldn’t put you off.<br />

How to promote National<br />

Adoption Week in your setting<br />

1. Raise awareness<br />

Spread the word and raise awareness<br />

of the issues around adoption with your<br />

parents and staff by putting up posters and<br />

giving out information about who to contact<br />

or where to find out more information.<br />

2. Address the stigma head on<br />

Tackle some of the stigma associated with<br />

adoption by talking about it to the children<br />

in your setting. You will need to take a<br />

positive and understanding approach<br />

to this and be aware of any child in your<br />

setting who is either adopted or in the<br />

care system who may be affected by this<br />

topic. You can introduce it gently by talking<br />

about the different families that people<br />

have and using story-time and storybooks<br />

such as “Finding a family for Tommy” by<br />

Rebecca Daniel or “The Teazels’ baby<br />

bunny” by Susan Bagnall. There are a lot<br />

of books about adoption and fostering for<br />

both children and adults on the Coram<br />

BAAF website at https://corambaaf.org.uk/<br />

bookshop.<br />

3. Upskill your staff<br />

Train your staff in some of the issues faced<br />

by adopted or fostered children so that they<br />

can better understand and support them.<br />

Many children who have been in the care<br />

system or have been adopted have first<br />

suffered adverse childhood experiences<br />

(ACEs) which can have a profound effect on<br />

their development and behaviour. A lot of<br />

these issues such as attachment disorders,<br />

FASD (foetal alcohol spectrum disorder)<br />

and the effects of early childhood trauma<br />

are not generally well understood by the<br />

general population and these children are<br />

often labelled as ‘naughty’ or ‘disruptive’<br />

when they are only trying to cope with<br />

situations that make them anxious or cope<br />

with their state of perpetual high anxiety,<br />

neither of which is their fault or their<br />

conscious choice.<br />

Whatever you do, remember that the<br />

children who need adopting are vulnerable<br />

and need adopting through no fault of<br />

their own. But with love, attention and a lot<br />

of patience and understanding from the<br />

adults around them, they can start to get<br />

their lives back on track and fulfil their true<br />

potential.<br />

More information<br />

For more information see the adoption<br />

agencies below:<br />

England - First4Adoption<br />

Wales - The National Adoption Service<br />

Scotland - St Andrews Children’s Centre<br />

Northern Ireland - Health and Social Care<br />

(HSC) Adoption & Fostering<br />

References:<br />

1. Children looked after in England<br />

including adoptions – reporting year<br />

2020. Available at gov.uk<br />

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

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

Nutrition for learning<br />

Children tend to be naturally inquisitive<br />

and boundless in their approach to<br />

understanding the world around them and<br />

learning new concepts. The early years<br />

setting provides an opportunity to work<br />

with children and their families/carers on<br />

the foods they consume. Helping them<br />

understand some basic nutrition and the<br />

importance of balance in their diet at an<br />

early age can impact them in the short<br />

term, as well as setting them up well for<br />

their long-term health as they mature.<br />

Both factors are also fundamental to<br />

behaviour, as a child who can focus for<br />

even short periods of time, will be able to<br />

engage with new experiences which will<br />

assist their processing, understanding<br />

and ultimately, their progress and<br />

development.<br />

The developing brain:<br />

Brain structure is laid down by both<br />

genetics and environmental factors such<br />

as food, learning and exercise. Early<br />

nutrient deficiencies can impact on the<br />

growing brain and an awareness of key<br />

nutrients for brain development can be a<br />

factor that parents/carers can influence<br />

and therefore can help support optimal<br />

brain health for their child/children. Brain<br />

development is on-going in line with its<br />

amazing plasticity, though significant<br />

stages of brain development include<br />

the third trimester until age 2, when<br />

the brain undergoes rapid-growth, and<br />

adolescence, when the brain undergoes<br />

pruning.<br />

From birth to 6 years old, socialisation,<br />

cognitive, motor, communication and<br />

emotional development is the focus. From<br />

7 to the mid 20s the connections further<br />

develop to establish faster signalling, selfcontrol<br />

and decision making, which are the<br />

last areas to mature.<br />

Key brain nutrients<br />

The development of the brain thrives on<br />

food diversity and requires a wide range<br />

of nutrients, while there are some key<br />

nutrients that play a larger role, which<br />

include:<br />

Protein<br />

Protein provides the building blocks for<br />

brain structure and maintenance and<br />

is also essential for neurotransmitter<br />

production, which influence mood,<br />

thoughts and facilitates the communication<br />

between the cells of the nervous<br />

system. A reduction in protein may<br />

lead to smaller brain growth, so protein<br />

should be included in each meal with a<br />

recommended intake of between 15 to 28g<br />

a day depending on the age of the child.<br />

Focus on: Eggs, fish, meat, nuts, seeds,<br />

legumes and lentils.<br />

Fats (omega-3)<br />

The brain’s dry weight is made up of<br />

60% fat. Fats are essential for all cell<br />

membranes, cognitive function and<br />

mood. 25% of the brain’s fat is made<br />

up of the omega-3 fatty acid, DHA,<br />

which is essential for structure, function,<br />

metabolism of glucose and for reduction<br />

of oxidative stress. Supplementation<br />

throughout childhood, has shown<br />

improved cognition, focused attention,<br />

and a profoundly positive effect on<br />

neurotransmitters and mental health. It<br />

has also been linked to decreased neurodevelopmental<br />

disorders, lower rates of<br />

allergies, atopic conditions and improved<br />

respiratory health. There is also some<br />

evidence it can improve sleep quality and<br />

duration.<br />

Focus on: Eggs, fish, meat, nuts, seeds<br />

and avocado.<br />

Supplement: As the body relies on<br />

dietary sources, it is worth considering/<br />

suggesting to parents an omega-3 fatty<br />

acid supplement for your/their child/<br />

children high in DHA and EPA.<br />

Carbohydrates<br />

Carbohydrates provide glucose and fuel<br />

for the brain but carbohydrates such<br />

as white bread, rice and sugary foods<br />

rapidly convert to glucose and can have a<br />

detrimental impact and negatively affect<br />

glucose metabolism. Regulating blood<br />

glucose levels is important for mood and<br />

concentration and will also have an antiinflammatory<br />

effect.<br />

Focus on: Slow release carbohydrates<br />

such as wholegrain options (oats, brown<br />

rice, wholewheat/seeded bread), include<br />

protein with carbohydrates at mealtimes<br />

and/or increase vegetable consumption.<br />

Swapping beige foods for green can help<br />

to increase vegetables. Try alternatives<br />

such as courgette/carrot spaghetti, sweet<br />

potato noodles, cauliflower rice or bean<br />

mash.<br />

Iron<br />

Iron increases brain energy production<br />

and is required to supply oxygen. The<br />

relationship between iron and cognitive<br />

performance has been well researched,<br />

so if there are any concerns abut a child’s<br />

development it’s worth suggesting they<br />

are checked for anaemia.<br />

Focus on: Meat, eggs, quinoa, grains,<br />

legumes, lentils and broccoli. Eating these<br />

with vitamin C rich foods, such as peppers,<br />

sweet potato and tomatoes will support<br />

absorption.<br />

Iodine<br />

Iodine is required for the synthesis of<br />

thyroid hormones, which regulate the<br />

body’s metabolic rate, heart and digestive<br />

function, muscle control and brain<br />

development. Any deficiency can impact<br />

on brain growth, signalling and brain<br />

weight. Low levels of iodine have also been<br />

associated with learning difficulties.<br />

Focus on: Sea vegetables (samphire, kelp),<br />

yoghurt, eggs, tuna, cod, salmon and<br />

strawberries.<br />

Zinc<br />

Zinc is abundant in the brain and<br />

contributes to both structure and function<br />

including neurotransmitter release and<br />

the development of the hippocampus for<br />

learning and memory. Several studies<br />

suggest supplementation may impact<br />

on cognition, motor development and<br />

memory, specifically during puberty.<br />

Focus on: Meat, seeds, nuts, lentils,<br />

legumes, quinoa and fish.<br />

Blood sugar balance<br />

A key factor for concentration is ensuring<br />

meals and timings support a balanced<br />

blood sugar. If a child’s blood sugar peaks<br />

and troughs this can have a dramatic affect<br />

on their concentration and ultimately their<br />

behaviour. Therefore breakfast is key to<br />

starting the day and appropriate snacks,<br />

which contain both protein and fibre<br />

throughout the day also support to keep<br />

levels even.<br />

Anti-nutrients<br />

Anti-nutrients are factors, which may have<br />

a detrimental affect on brain health for<br />

some individuals. These include trans fats,<br />

gluten, artificial sweeteners, high sugar,<br />

caffeine, and high toxin exposure (cigarette<br />

smoke, household chemicals, toiletries<br />

etc.).<br />

Lifestyle<br />

Lifestyle factors that support brain health<br />

include keeping well hydrated, getting<br />

adequate sleep, exercise and learning.<br />

How?<br />

Within early years settings a project about<br />

‘Feeding my growing brain’ can be an ideal<br />

opportunity to talk about what the brain<br />

does and introduce key foods and lifestyle<br />

factors that support the brain to grow and<br />

develop.<br />

A simple and delicious brain food recipe to try in your setting<br />

is Mackerel pate - see page 24 to make it yourself!<br />

Being informed of all these factors such<br />

as key nutrients, blood sugar balancing,<br />

lifestyle factors and anti-nutrients can<br />

support early years settings to educate<br />

children and families and ultimately<br />

support optimal brain development,<br />

increased concentration and learning.<br />

For more food fun in your setting, sign up to<br />

the Youngest Chef Award. This award is for<br />

Early Years Foundation Stage pupils (ages<br />

3-5) and is written by teachers for early<br />

years practitioners/teachers. It is designed<br />

around the popular children’s book “The<br />

Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle<br />

Katharine Tate<br />

The Food Teacher Founder and<br />

Director, Katharine Tate, has worked<br />

as a teacher and education consultant<br />

internationally in primary and secondary<br />

schools for over 20 years. Qualified as<br />

an award winning registered nutritional<br />

therapist, Katharine, combines her unique<br />

education and nutrition expertise to<br />

offer schools, organisations and families<br />

advice, education programmes, practical<br />

workshops, and individual/family clinical<br />

consultations. She has written and<br />

published several books: “Heat-Free &<br />

Healthy”, the award-winning<br />

“No Kitchen Cookery for Primary Schools”<br />

a series of Mini-Books and has also<br />

co-authored the award-winning “Now<br />

We’re Cooking!” Delivering the National<br />

Curriculum through Food. She has also<br />

launched a programme of Young Chef<br />

awards for schools, which support delivery<br />

of the curriculum and nutrition. In<br />

2019, over 4,000 children completed the<br />

awards across the UK.<br />

LinkedIn | Twitter | Instagram<br />

and has been developed and launched<br />

by The Food Teacher. The award is a<br />

‘Mini Muncher Challenge’, which can be<br />

delivered across 5 sessions (every day over<br />

a single week or once a week over a 5<br />

week period) with 50 minutes of planned<br />

teaching time each session. Find out more<br />

at; https://youngest.youngchefoftheyear.<br />

com/<br />

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

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

Mackerel pate<br />

By The Food Teacher<br />

Franky & Fiona,<br />

the Friendly<br />

Halloween spiders<br />

You will need:<br />

• 1 mackerel fillet (tin)<br />

• ½ lemon or lime<br />

• 12 fresh chives<br />

• 2 tbsp. sour cream/Greek<br />

natural yoghurt/soya yoghurt<br />

Instructions:<br />

1. Squeeze the lemon/lime to remove the juice. <br />

2. Flake the mackerel using a fork into the mixing bowl<br />

(check for bones).<br />

3. Cut the chives using the scissors. <br />

4. Mix the chives, lemon/lime juice and cream with the<br />

mackerel. <br />

5. Mix thoroughly. <br />

6. Spoon into your serving bowl. <br />

7. Serve with oat cakes, carrot sticks, cucumber sticks<br />

and/or celery. <br />

Instructions:<br />

1. Paint the bauble using black paint and then wait for it<br />

to dry.<br />

2. Fold the pipe cleaners in half and shape them to<br />

resemble spider’s legs (see the photos).<br />

3. Push the pipe cleaners into the sides of the bauble,<br />

doing two on each side.<br />

4. Glue the eyes on the top of the spider.<br />

5. You are done! Happy Halloween!<br />

You will need:<br />

• Styrofoam baubles<br />

• Pipe cleaners<br />

• Black paint + paintbrush<br />

• Googly eyes<br />

24 <strong>October</strong> <strong>2021</strong> | parenta.com parenta.com | <strong>October</strong> <strong>2021</strong> 25

An introduction to<br />

supervision in the early years<br />

Securing a robust supervision system into each settings practice is a challenge, yet it is a key<br />

component to our work for many reasons. The role of supervision in early years settings<br />

remains a requirement in the latest statutory framework for the EYFS.<br />

Providers must put appropriate<br />

arrangements in place for the supervision<br />

of staff who have contact with children<br />

and families. Effective supervision provides<br />

support, coaching and training for the<br />

practitioner and promotes the interests<br />

of children. Supervision should foster<br />

a culture of mutual support, teamwork<br />

and continuous improvement, which<br />

encourages the confidential discussion<br />

of sensitive issues. (Statutory framework<br />

for the early years foundation stage, Sept<br />

<strong>2021</strong> paragraph 3.22).<br />

The call for supervision as a requirement<br />

became an outcome from the Plymouth<br />

Serious Case Review (2009) which looked<br />

at the failings of a nursery and the abuse<br />

one practitioner inflicted on many children<br />

during a short period of employment. One<br />

of the many failings was staff’s lack of<br />

knowledge of safeguarding and where to<br />

go with concerns. The Tickell Review (2011)<br />

tightened up the statutory requirements<br />

around staff supervision and training and<br />

understanding of abuse in the workplace<br />

and the start of a mobile phone policy in<br />

settings.<br />

The role and responsibility for providers<br />

to ensure that practitioners receive<br />

supervision needs to be embedded in<br />

practice across all settings. Knowing what<br />

supervision actually entails is essential<br />

in order to provide it effectively. It is also<br />

important to explore the meanings of<br />

supervision, mentoring, coaching and<br />

performance appraisal and where<br />

they may be interlinked. The EYFS uses<br />

these terms without fully explaining the<br />

differences.<br />

Sturt and Wonnacott (2016) layout four<br />

functions to supervision which explain why<br />

supervision is helpful to embed in practice:<br />

Managerial function<br />

Development<br />

function<br />

Support function<br />

Mediation function<br />

Each of these four functions can be<br />

looked at in more detail. It is important to<br />

remember that supervision needs to be<br />

flexible to respond to individual needs and<br />

that the balance across the four domains<br />

will vary in every session.<br />

In discussion with colleagues, the following<br />

benefits of one to one supervision were<br />

highlighted:<br />

1. As a leader you are more up-to-date<br />

with the ‘temperature’ of the setting,<br />

how staff are feeling about their<br />

performance and where they might<br />

need support. The staff on the ground<br />

know what is going on and any<br />

issues can be identified, explored and<br />

resolved before they escalate.<br />

2. Individual staff can talk about their<br />

key person working, and/or wider<br />

observations about individual<br />

children, in terms of their learning and<br />

development and any barriers that<br />

Are you doing what your provider/leader/<br />

manger thinks they are paying you to do?<br />

Everyone works better when they know<br />

exactly what is expected of them.<br />

Could you improve what you are doing with<br />

some training/professional opportunities for<br />

growth?<br />

What support do you need? What would<br />

help you emotionally to do your job even<br />

better?<br />

Whenever you are at work are you<br />

behaving and therefore representing the<br />

provision, as is befitting your role?<br />

might be present or possible. This<br />

aspect can also support safeguarding<br />

concerns, where both you and the<br />

practitioner can be professionally<br />

curious and ‘think the unthinkable’<br />

about children’s welfare, in a safe<br />

confidential space. This might of<br />

course lead to action to protect a<br />

child.<br />

3. Support can be given more readily<br />

by you when it is required – some<br />

team members might not ask for help<br />

unless they see a window to do so.<br />

These meetings create that window<br />

which can open up your relationship<br />

with each practitioner and will enable<br />

them to ask for support when they<br />

need it, outside of these meetings.<br />

4. The supervising relationship can help<br />

reduce potential fear of the appraisal/<br />

performance system in the setting as<br />

you or a line manager will be meeting<br />

each team member on a regular<br />

basis.<br />

The balance between support<br />

and challenge<br />

Within the supervision relationship, there is<br />

an important balance we need to provide<br />

so that practitioners are encouraged to be<br />

the best they can be, exploring ideas with<br />

motivation and confidence. With a support-<br />

High<br />

challenge<br />

Low<br />

challenge<br />

Adapted from Cook (2016).<br />

Practitioners feel under<br />

pressure, can lose<br />

confidence and avoid<br />

taking risks for fear of<br />

reprisal<br />

Quality of care and<br />

standards tend to drift<br />

downwards as staff feel<br />

uninspired<br />

Low support<br />

Finding time as a leader, and continuing<br />

to develop your skills as a supervisor are<br />

challenges in themselves. It might be worth<br />

asking yourself who is supporting and<br />

challenging you – do you have a coach,<br />

only approach, supervision can become<br />

just a ‘cosy chat’ where little learning takes<br />

place. With a challenge-only approach, the<br />

practitioner can become very anxious or<br />

defensive. The best place for supervision,<br />

and therefore the best place for learning,<br />

takes place where there is both high<br />

challenge and high support as this table<br />

illustrates:<br />

Practitioners explore<br />

new ideas with strong<br />

motivation, trying new<br />

skills and developing their<br />

professional knowledge and<br />

understanding<br />

Staff keep doing what they<br />

have always been doing and<br />

can get bored or laissez faire<br />

about their practice<br />

High support<br />

mentor, peer to provide the same platform<br />

that you are expected to provide for others.<br />

Remember to look after your own needs<br />

as well as those of your team. Supervision<br />

is a huge topic - necessary and worthy of<br />

your time to do well to safeguard children,<br />

strengthen your team and stretch yourself.<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 />

References:<br />

• Cook, J. (2016) “Leadership and<br />

Management in the Early Years”,<br />

Practical Preschool Books<br />

• Sturt, P. and Wonnacott, J. (2016)<br />

“Supervision for Early Years<br />

Workers”, Pavilion<br />

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

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

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The hope of story<br />

They sweep us up in the anticipation and excitement of adventure. We find ourselves intrigued<br />

by mystery or fascinated by the inner workings of complex characters, involved and invested in<br />

the actions they take and the resulting consequences.<br />

Indeed, through works of fiction, young<br />

children begin to enter worlds of fantasy,<br />

with these created landscapes often<br />

becoming a part of their own.<br />

But did you know that this transportation,<br />

this immersion in invention, can foster<br />

hope and lead to healing?<br />

Bessel van der Kolk, the prominent<br />

neuroscientist and trauma specialist, says<br />

that many survivors of childhood trauma<br />

whom he knew ‘were avid readers as<br />

kids. They were terrified, abandoned,<br />

and continuously exposed to violence,<br />

and yet they found Harry Potter or Jane<br />

Austen. They disappeared in the stories.<br />

The imaginary worlds generated by other<br />

people allowed them to create alternate<br />

universes to the ones they were living in.’<br />

(2015). Emily Esfahani Smith in “The Power<br />

of Meaning” (2017) discusses research<br />

showing ‘that fiction can help people who<br />

have endured loss and trauma cope with<br />

their experiences.’<br />

Through story, children can<br />

grapple with and reflect on difficult<br />

and painful issues. Metaphor can<br />

be used to introduce ideas and<br />

gently explore subjects, offering<br />

layers of protection.<br />

Along with the refuge and potential for<br />

processing that story holds, is the hope<br />

that is inherent in many a tale.<br />

What is hope exactly? It can often be<br />

thought of as a somewhat dreamy<br />

emotion when it has, in fact, been defined<br />

as ‘a dynamic cognitive motivational<br />

system’ (Kaufman, 2011). This simply<br />

means that hope is an active, thinking<br />

system that motivates us, reducing<br />

feelings of helplessness.<br />

We sometimes lose ourselves in stories<br />

And how does hope facilitate<br />

healing?<br />

Research has revealed that hope is<br />

related to divergent thinking: the ability<br />

to generate numerous ideas. Story and<br />

imaginative play contain this hope for<br />

children in the form of options. Vivien<br />

Gussin Paley (2005) believed that<br />

‘developing…ideas in play opens the mind<br />

to possibilities.’ Cremin et al. (2006) define<br />

possibility thinking as, ‘imagining what<br />

might be’, with children ‘posing, in multiple<br />

ways, the question, “what if?” It is this<br />

imagining that “is significantly correlated<br />

with…greater physical and psychological<br />

well-being, improved self-esteem, and<br />

enhanced interpersonal relationships”<br />

(Rand & Cheavens, 2012).<br />

As children explore possibilities, agency is<br />

developed. Alone or together, immersed<br />

in story, they analyse, discuss, debate,<br />

expand and consider alternative endings.<br />

The understanding that existing stories can<br />

be critiqued, re-imagined, and reworked<br />

is empowering, with the conceptualisation<br />

of alternative endings incorporating some<br />

core areas of possibility thinking in the<br />

context of children’s learning:<br />

• The making of connections<br />

• Intentionality<br />

• Innovation<br />

• Risk-taking and<br />

• Self-determination<br />

(Adapted from Cremin et al., 2006)<br />

There is an almost ever-present<br />

awareness of struggle and adversity<br />

contained within narrative that reminds<br />

us of the constraints and/or barriers<br />

that exist in life. There is a battle to be<br />

fought, a conquering of some sort to be<br />

achieved, even if it is of the self. The use of<br />

imagination - and at times the adoption of<br />

magical, whimsical thinking - can help to<br />

formulate pathways through and/or out of<br />

situations. In imaginary worlds, anything<br />

is possible: a spell to disappear a disease,<br />

time travel to ensure an accident never<br />

occurred, a powerful salve to cure pain.<br />

Fantastically, we can begin to craft different<br />

endings to ones that were, that are, or that<br />

may be.<br />





We have a copy of Helen’s book<br />

to give away. One lucky reader<br />

picked at random will receive a<br />

free copy of the book!<br />

Click here enter the competition!<br />

Deadline is Friday 22nd <strong>October</strong><br />

Terms and conditions apply<br />

Isn’t this simply denial? I would say not.<br />

Rather, the employment of imagination is<br />

a means through which we can explore<br />

reality. Wishing for different outcomes<br />

allows us to acknowledge disappointment<br />

or come to terms with the handling of<br />

a situation: pretence that causes us<br />

to reflect on what could have been or<br />

could be ultimately brings us back to<br />

an examination of what is now and our<br />

feelings about it. Research has in fact<br />

shown that high-hope people are those<br />

who can anticipate barriers and adapt,<br />

moving forward in the face of hardships.<br />

As children fashion their various endings,<br />

they develop an understanding that it is<br />

within their power to decide where the<br />

focus of a story might lie and what their<br />

story solutions might be. And as they<br />

realise that their ideas can materialise,<br />

a resilient enthusiasm for engagement<br />

is cultivated, one that will aid them in<br />

whatever circumstances they may find<br />

themselves in.<br />

Another healing aspect of story recreation<br />

and composition is that it allows children<br />

to run the gamut of their emotions.<br />

Narratives act as a vehicle for the<br />

expression of what might be positive or<br />

happy but also what is difficult: shame,<br />

embarrassment, frustration, anger, grief,<br />

and despair. Children can speak of and<br />

act out feelings fiercely, something that<br />

may be suppressed in real life. In story,<br />

there is room for the liberation of longings,<br />

and crucially and with consent, these story<br />

offerings can be used a springboard for<br />

dialogue.<br />

The consideration of stories (the ones we<br />

invest in), their creation (the ones we craft<br />

and tell), and the curation of them (the<br />

ones we assimilate) literally make our<br />

lives. Dan McAdams, a story researcher,<br />

after working with life stories and meaning<br />

for 30 years and analysing hundreds of<br />

them, found interesting patterns in ‘how<br />

people living meaningful lives understand<br />

and interpret their experiences’ (Esfahani<br />

Smith, 2017). He found that people<br />

motivated to contribute to society and<br />

future generations were more likely to tell<br />

redemptive stories about their lives, that<br />

is, stories that move from bad to good,<br />

and that extract meaning from suffering.<br />

In contrast, others told what McAdams<br />

described as contamination stories, where<br />

people interpreted their lives in terms of<br />

bad events overshadowing the good.<br />

As we continue to navigate what have<br />

been perilous times for many, we find<br />

ourselves in need of redemptive stories, of<br />

alternative endings, of story arcs that bend<br />

toward wholeness and happiness.<br />

I believe that these endings will be found<br />

when we begin to further champion<br />

children’s choices and value their voices.<br />

This will foster in them a brave self-belief,<br />

and they will begin to operate in the role of<br />

author of their own life stories.<br />

References<br />

• Cremin, T., Burnard, P. and Craft, A.<br />

(2006) “Pedagogy and possibility<br />

thinking in the early years.” Thinking<br />

Skills and Creativity 1, 2, 108–119.<br />

• Esfahani Smith, S.E. (2017) “The<br />

Power of Meaning: The True Route<br />

to Happiness”. London: Penguin<br />

Random House.<br />

• McNamee, G.D. (2005) ‘“The one who<br />

gathers children: The work of Vivian<br />

Gussin Paley and current debates<br />

about how we educate young<br />

children”. Journal of Early Childhood<br />

Teacher Education 25, 3, 275–296.<br />

• Rand, Kevin & Cheavens, Jennifer.<br />

(2012). “Hope Theory”. The<br />

Oxford Handbook of Positive<br />

Psychology, (2 Ed.). 10.1093/<br />

oxfordhb/9780195187243.013.0030.<br />

• Van der Kolk, B. (2015a) “Trauma<br />

in the Body: Interview with Dr.<br />

Bessel van der Kolk”. Foxborough:<br />

Still Harbor. Accessed on<br />

7/7/2020 at www.stillharbor.org/<br />

anchor<strong>magazine</strong>/2015/11/18/traumain-the-body.<br />

Helen Lumgair<br />

Helen Lumgair is a Montessori teacher,<br />

Feuerstein Instrumental Enrichment<br />

Mediator and Education Consultant. She<br />

has worked with families and in settings<br />

for over twenty years. Helen created<br />

the framework and initial lesson plans<br />

of the empathy-focused Think Equal<br />

curriculum which was recognised with<br />

a 2020 WISE award for innovation and<br />

the addressing of global educational<br />

challenges. She has lectured globally on<br />

its implementation.<br />

She authored a chapter on using<br />

the process of narrative to develop<br />

empathy in early childhood in the book,<br />

“Developing Empathy in the Early Years:<br />

A Guide for Practitioners” and then<br />

wrote the book “Using Stories to Support<br />

Learning and Development in Early<br />

Childhood.” She is passionate about<br />

developing holistic educational strategies<br />

to meet the needs of every learner, and<br />

about stories.<br />

LinkedIn | Twitter<br />

30 <strong>October</strong> <strong>2021</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>October</strong> <strong>2021</strong> 31

Musically<br />

turn, giving each a turn to catch and think of<br />

an activity; passing an instrument, and the<br />

one with it has to choose the activity.<br />

managing self<br />

as an early<br />

Head, shoulders, knees and toes<br />

Head, shoulders, knees and toes<br />

Knees and toes<br />

Head, shoulders, knees and toes<br />

Knees and toes<br />

And eyes and ears and mouth and nose<br />

Head, shoulders, knees and toes<br />

Knees and toes<br />

learning goal<br />

Independence is considered to be a great asset in the West. The<br />

ability to make our own choice is greatly valued, partly because<br />

it frees up the time of others and partly because doing what we<br />

want generally makes us happy. Many activities in pre-school<br />

are aimed at helping to develop independence by improving<br />

children’s confidence in trying new “activities and facing<br />

challenges with resilience and perseverance” (‘Early Years<br />

Foundation Stage Profile - <strong>2021</strong> Handbook’, 2020). Many of these<br />

skills are learned through self-regulation skills, and music is<br />

a fantastic way to support this.<br />

A study (Hautakangas et al., <strong>2021</strong>) in<br />

Finland considered the effects of a popular<br />

self-regulation programme on a group of<br />

28 children over 10 weeks. As an essential<br />

skill that helps us to control our attention,<br />

thoughts, feelings and actions, it uses<br />

working memory, behavioural inhibition<br />

and task-switching to help us do this.<br />

Studies have shown that children with<br />

high self-regulation skills achieve highly<br />

academically, which affects their selfesteem<br />

and beliefs about themselves. On<br />

the other hand, poor self-regulation skills<br />

have been linked to aggression and poor<br />

relationship skills.<br />

Research shows that self-regulation skills<br />

can be taught to children, and that in<br />

areas of high deprivation, these taught<br />

skills can help children to achieve equally<br />

as well academically as their more affluent<br />

peers. Self-regulation develops from<br />

repeated experience: from the external, it<br />

becomes internal. It relies on the teacher’s<br />

consistency in achieving goals, rules and<br />

strategies, with regular feedback and<br />

reflection to the child.<br />

Many courses have been developed to<br />

support this skill, but often they require<br />

specific instructions, equipment or finance<br />

that is not easily available. Comparing the<br />

intervention group with a group that had<br />

not been through the course, a statistical<br />

difference in self-regulatory behaviour was<br />

found, showing that it could not have been<br />

coincidentally more effective – the children<br />

had changed their behaviour because of<br />

the course. In fact, these changes were<br />

evident, even when checked 5 months<br />

later, with children showing interest in<br />

wanting to learn even more new selfregulation<br />

skills.<br />

Repetition appeared to be key to the<br />

success of this programme – teachers<br />

referred to activities and reminded children<br />

throughout the day, as opposed to limited<br />

times. Interactive support by a suitably<br />

trained teacher was also found to be<br />

instrumental in its success, with a focus on<br />

problem-solving and the ability to apply<br />

the programme personalised to each<br />

child.<br />

Practically, self-regulatory skills can be<br />

introduced through developing experience<br />

with personal care, addressing basic<br />

hygiene like dressing, toileting and healthy<br />

food choices. There are a number of<br />

musical ways that help to introduce these<br />

skills as fun games.<br />

Here we go ‘round the mulberry<br />

bush<br />

Here we go ‘round the mulberry bush<br />

The mulberry bush, the mulberry bush<br />

Here we go ‘round the mulberry bush<br />

So early in the morning<br />

This is the way we brush our teeth<br />

Brush our teeth, brush our teeth<br />

This is the way we brush out teeth<br />

So early in the morning<br />

This is the way we comb our hair<br />

Comb our hair, comb our hair<br />

This is the way we comb our hair<br />

So early in the morning<br />

This is the way we put on our clothes<br />

Put on our clothes, put on our clothes<br />

This is the way we put on our clothes<br />

So early in the morning<br />

This lovely traditional song is sung with<br />

children walking in a circle around an<br />

imaginary mulberry bush. It could go on<br />

forever with the activities that children could<br />

demonstrate, with the others copying the<br />

actions.<br />

Do pity my case<br />

Do, do pity my case<br />

In some lady’s garden<br />

My room to clean when I get home<br />

In some lady’s garden<br />

Do, do pity my case<br />

In some lady’s garden<br />

My face to wash when I get home<br />

In some lady’s garden<br />

Do, do pity my case<br />

In some lady’s garden<br />

My toys to tidy when I get home<br />

In some lady’s garden<br />

This game could be played in a few<br />

ways: walking behind each other in a line<br />

“through the lady’s garden”, where the<br />

child at the front chooses the activity, e.g.<br />

my face to wash, and then goes to the<br />

back of the line so all have a turn; rolling<br />

or bouncing a ball to a circle of children in<br />

This traditional children’s song has its roots<br />

in an even older tavern song(!), but has<br />

been used to teach body parts to young<br />

children for a number of generations.<br />

Younger children will enjoy matching<br />

the words to the body parts, while older<br />

children will enjoy the challenge of using it<br />

as a memory song, leaving out one or more<br />

of the words. Along with self-control, this<br />

way of singing also teaches musical timing,<br />

as children need to have a sense of how<br />

long not to sing in order to accommodate<br />

the left-out words.<br />

Independence is considered an important<br />

part of self-identity, with research showing<br />

that it leads to not only academic success<br />

but also personal and relationship success,<br />

too. Self-regulation is an important part of<br />

developing independence, and cannot be<br />

taken for granted. Music makes the process<br />

of developing these skills so much more<br />

enjoyable!<br />

More songs like these can be found<br />

on Musicaliti’s account on Soundcloud<br />

https://soundcloud.com/musicaliti/<br />

sets/learning-with-music, and<br />

YouTube https://www.youtube.com/<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 />

32 <strong>October</strong> <strong>2021</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>October</strong> <strong>2021</strong> 33

Safeguarding children<br />

These explain the national framework for<br />

how all agencies working with children<br />

should work together in partnership to<br />

safeguard children effectively. You may<br />

also be interested in reading the Ofsted<br />

advice to its Inspectors about inspecting<br />

safeguarding in the early years.<br />

The safeguarding of children comes before all other requirements in childcare and education and<br />

should not only be a fundamental part of your practice, but embedded throughout everything you<br />

do as childcare practitioners. Safeguarding is not an optional extra – it is a statutory requirement<br />

that all adults working with children should safeguard the children in their care. Where there are<br />

lapses in safeguarding practice within a setting, at best, professional judgement can be called<br />

into question; but at worst, children can suffer extreme abuse and die. Safeguarding children is<br />

therefore extremely serious and your staff need to understand this properly.<br />

There are other aspects to safeguarding<br />

which are also important for early years<br />

settings to consider too. These include:<br />

• Due diligence in the recruitment of<br />

personnel including making relevant<br />

checks (such as enhanced DBS checks,<br />

references and qualifications) as part<br />

of a safer recruitment process<br />

Section 3.1 of the new EYFS states:<br />

“Children learn best when they are healthy,<br />

safe and secure, when their individual<br />

needs are met, and when they have<br />

positive relationships with the adults caring<br />

for them”.<br />

Anyone working with children will know<br />

that if they are not healthy, or do not<br />

feel safe and secure, then they will not<br />

be responsive to learning, socialising or<br />

education until those fundamental things<br />

change. They are the 2 basic layers on<br />

Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” model.<br />

When they do feel safe and secure<br />

however, they can thrive.<br />

What’s the difference<br />

between child protection and<br />

safeguarding?<br />

Safeguarding is an umbrella term which<br />

covers a range of things in relation to<br />

children. In the Government’s published<br />

document “Working Together to Safeguard<br />

Children (2018)”, safeguarding means:<br />

• Protecting children from maltreatment<br />

• Preventing impairment of children’s<br />

health or development<br />

• Ensuring the children grow up in<br />

circumstances consistent with the<br />

provision of safe and effective care<br />

• Taking action to enable all children to<br />

have the best outcomes<br />

Safeguarding actions are usually things<br />

that you and your staff do every day to<br />

make sure that the children you look after<br />

are kept safe and well and that you are<br />

always looking out for their safety and<br />

well-being.<br />

Child protection refers to a more specific<br />

process of “protecting a child identified<br />

as suffering from, or potentially suffering<br />

from, significant harm as a result of abuse<br />

or neglect.” This usually involves other<br />

agencies as well as the childcare provider,<br />

such as social services, healthcare services<br />

or the local police to ensure the child is<br />

protected from harm.<br />

Underlying safeguarding<br />

principles<br />

There are some key underlying principles<br />

in regard to safeguarding that everyone<br />

needs to be aware of:<br />

1. The child is the most important<br />

person, and their needs should<br />

always be the first priority<br />

2. Safeguarding is EVERYONE’S<br />

responsibility – it does not just<br />

mean the managers or qualified<br />

practitioners, but everyone who works<br />

in the setting including the facilities<br />

staff, office staff and volunteers<br />

3. You should assume that “it could<br />

happen here” rather than “it would<br />

never happen here” so that you are<br />

always alert to the possibilities and<br />

dangers<br />

4. All safeguarding issues should be<br />

identified and reported as soon as<br />

possible to protect children and ideally<br />

prevent them from escalating into<br />

more serious issues<br />

5. Each person in a child’s life may hold<br />

one small piece of the jigsaw; it is<br />

when these individual jigsaw pieces<br />

are brought together that the true<br />

situation can emerge<br />

Your statutory duty<br />

As a childcare provider, you must ensure<br />

that:<br />

1. You have a designated safeguarding<br />

lead (known as a DSL) who is<br />

responsible for all the safeguarding in<br />

your setting and who is trained in child<br />

protection. In the case of childminders,<br />

they act as their own DSL<br />

2. You have robust written policies and<br />

procedures which are in line with your<br />

local safeguarding partners (LSPs) and<br />

which clearly state how you will deal<br />

with any safeguarding concerns. They<br />

should outline the actions you will take<br />

if you are concerned about a child; if<br />

an allegation is being made against a<br />

member of your staff; the use of mobile<br />

phones and cameras in the setting;<br />

and how you will keep children safe<br />

online<br />

3. You must ensure that all your staff are<br />

adequately trained in safeguarding<br />

issues and understand how to respond<br />

to any safeguarding concerns quickly<br />

and professionally. This training needs<br />

to be updated regularly, at least once<br />

a year<br />

4. All staff must understand the four<br />

categories of abuse – physical,<br />

emotional, sexual abuse and neglect,<br />

and they must understand what the<br />

signs and symptoms are for each<br />

category so they can watch out for<br />

them<br />

5. All staff must understand how to<br />

respond if they are concerned about a<br />

child and how to make referrals to their<br />

DSL or other child protection agencies.<br />

It is NOT the remit of most practitioners<br />

to investigate safeguarding issues,<br />

but it is most definitely their remit to<br />

be alert, be aware and be proactive at<br />

passing their concerns on to their DSL<br />

6. All safeguarding matters should be<br />

recorded securely and confidentially<br />

and passed on to the relevant people<br />

when necessary, such as at times of<br />

transition<br />

Whilst safeguarding and child protection<br />

can seem intimidating to many at first, there<br />

is plenty of guidance and support available<br />

for settings. The government has produced<br />

several documents that are important to<br />

read and understand including:<br />

• Working Together to Safeguard<br />

Children (2018)<br />

• What to do if you’re worried a child is<br />

being abused (2015)<br />

• Safeguarding children and protection<br />

professionals in early years settings;<br />

online safety considerations<br />

• Revised Prevent duty guidance for<br />

England and Wales<br />

• Keeping Children Safe in Education<br />

<strong>2021</strong> update<br />

• Effective use of risk assessments to<br />

reduce accidents or other problems<br />

• Any special safeguarding provisions for<br />

SEN or other vulnerable children (such<br />

as looked-after children, adoptees etc)<br />

• The provision you make for the wellbeing<br />

of children under new EYFS<br />

framework <strong>2021</strong> such as nutrition,<br />

exercise, and which now includes oral<br />

health<br />

• Your policies for the administration of<br />

medication in your setting<br />

• The use of ICT and how you keep<br />

children safe online<br />

• Your policies around anti-bullying<br />

• Any use of reasonable force policies<br />

you have<br />

Your safeguarding actions and child<br />

protection policies are important and could<br />

ultimately, save a child’s life.<br />

Click here to<br />

sign up to our<br />

FREE webinar:<br />

Safeguarding in<br />

Early Years<br />

Thursday 7th <strong>October</strong><br />

10:30AM<br />

34 <strong>October</strong> <strong>2021</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>October</strong> <strong>2021</strong> 35

6 ways to ease<br />

children’s worries<br />

• Reflection<br />

Taking time to reflect on our day is powerful<br />

and develops self-awareness. By saying<br />

what went well, what could have been<br />

better and what we have learnt from this,<br />

children are developing their ability to selfreflect<br />

and see the lessons in failure.<br />

• Affirmations<br />

Children worry about lots of different things. At times, it can be hard to understand why something so<br />

trivial can cause so much distress. However, it is important to remember that worries are relative.<br />

Cast your mind back to when you were<br />

fifteen years old. What worried you then,<br />

will probably seem inconsequential now.<br />

However, if you put the actual problem<br />

to the side and focus on how you felt,<br />

there’s a strong chance that the pain was<br />

actually no less than how you feel now<br />

when you face bigger, more grown-up<br />

issues and dilemmas. This is because as<br />

we grow older, our problems also grow<br />

and become more relative to our life<br />

experience and age. However, the feelings<br />

that these issues evoke are equally painful<br />

at every stage in our life.<br />

It is important to remember this when<br />

we are dealing with children and their<br />

big emotions. They are looking at the<br />

world through a lens relative to their age<br />

therefore their problems will always seem<br />

tiny to us. Their feelings, however, are<br />

very real and we need to acknowledge<br />

them and give them the tools to be able to<br />

manage them.<br />

Here are 6 ways that can help<br />

ease children’s worries:<br />

1. Truly listen<br />

Everybody wants to feel heard, including<br />

children. Getting down on a child’s level<br />

and truly listening to their concerns will<br />

give them a safe outlet to express their<br />

feelings. Sometimes all we need is an<br />

arm around us and to feel like we are<br />

not alone. Showing compassion and<br />

understanding for their situation (no matter<br />

how trivial it may seem to you), will make a<br />

child feel acknowledged and will therefore<br />

automatically make them calmer.<br />

2. Validate who they are<br />

Sometimes we all need reminding of our<br />

strength. Build children up by telling them<br />

how strong you think they are and how<br />

you know that they have what it takes to<br />

overcome the problem they are facing.<br />

Explain that it’s okay to feel worried but<br />

remind them of their unique qualities. Also,<br />

if you can think of a time when they faced<br />

and overcame a similar problem, this will<br />

validate the message that they are more<br />

than capable of doing the same again.<br />

3. Face it together<br />

A problem shared is a problem halved. It<br />

is important to face our fears, but this can<br />

be very overwhelming. By finding solutions<br />

together, children will feel supported and<br />

less overwhelmed. Ask them what you<br />

could both do to make things easier or<br />

better. Encourage them to find solutions<br />

and then support them to step into action.<br />

Facing fears builds resilience, however, we<br />

are more likely to step into the unknown if<br />

we have a safety net. Let that safety net be<br />

you.<br />

4. Bring it back to the present<br />

Anxiety is often linked to when we play<br />

out future events in our mind. Most of the<br />

things we worry about never happen, but<br />

our imagination runs away with us, which<br />

can stir up negative feelings. If children are<br />

worrying about a future event or situation,<br />

teach them to bring their mind back into<br />

the present. What can they do now to make<br />

themselves feel better? What can they<br />

control?<br />

5. Do a daily routine<br />

Our mind is programmed by repetition.<br />

What we see, hear and feel on a consistent<br />

basis creates the blueprint for how we view<br />

the world and ourselves. A daily mindset<br />

routine is a powerful way to instil positive<br />

beliefs and to build confidence:<br />

• Gratitude<br />

Practicing gratitude daily has been proven<br />

to reduce anxiety and improve health. By<br />

saying 3 things that they are grateful for<br />

and why, children will start to appreciate<br />

the small things in life and see that even<br />

when times are tough, there are still<br />

blessings surrounding them.<br />

• Self-Love<br />

We are very good at pointing out our faults,<br />

but rarely take time to acknowledge our<br />

greatness. Saying 3 things that they love<br />

about themselves encourages children<br />

to explore their brilliance and builds their<br />

confidence.<br />

Affirmations are powerful statements that<br />

you say to affirm positive beliefs. What we<br />

tell ourselves on a regular basis becomes<br />

our truth. By creating affirmations and<br />

repeating them daily, we can trick our mind<br />

into believing it is true. If a child is worried,<br />

you could create an affirmation that dispels<br />

the problem. For example, “I am strong and<br />

confident, and I am capable of anything I<br />

put my mind to”.<br />

6. Read books<br />

It’s much easier to face a problem if you<br />

have a friend who has been through the<br />

same experience and overcome it. It gives<br />

you a light at the end of the tunnel because<br />

they have shown you it is possible to get<br />

through it. Characters in storybooks can<br />

be that friend to children because the right<br />

storyline can reassure and guide them<br />

through different situations. Through my<br />

business, Early Years Story Box, I have<br />

written and illustrated a collection of<br />

rhyming storybooks to support children<br />

through different emotional problems and<br />

obstacles and to reassure them through<br />

uncertain times like starting and leaving<br />

childcare and school. There are also lots of<br />

other authors out there who have created<br />

books covering a range of topics and all<br />

of them can be used as a powerful tool to<br />

support emotional well-being.<br />

Stacey Kelly<br />

Stacey Kelly is a former French and<br />

Spanish teacher, a parent to 2 beautiful<br />

babies and the founder of Early Years<br />

Story Box. After becoming a mum, Stacey<br />

left her teaching career and started<br />

writing and illustrating storybooks to help<br />

support her children through different<br />

transitional stages like leaving nursery<br />

and starting school. Seeing the positive<br />

impact of her books on her children’s<br />

emotional well-being led to Early Years<br />

Story Box being born. Stacey has now<br />

created 35 storybooks, all inspired by her<br />

own children, to help teach different life<br />

lessons and to prepare children for their<br />

next steps. She has an exclusive collection<br />

for childcare settings that are gifted on<br />

special occasions like first/last days,<br />

birthdays, Christmas and/or Easter and<br />

has recently launched a new collection<br />

for parents too. Her mission is to support<br />

as many children as she can through<br />

story-time and to give childcare settings<br />

an affordable and special gifting solution<br />

that truly makes a difference.<br />

Email: stacey@earlyyearsstorybox.com or<br />

Telephone: 07765785595<br />

Website: www.earlyyearsstorybox.com<br />

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

earlyyearsstorybox<br />

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

eystorybox<br />

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

earlyyearsstorybox<br />

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

stacey-kelly-a84534b2/<br />

36 <strong>October</strong> <strong>2021</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>October</strong> <strong>2021</strong> 37

Supporting staff with social,<br />

emotional and mental health needs<br />

In my September article, I talked about supporting children who have high social, emotional and<br />

mental health needs (SEMH). This article will be looking at how we also need to support staff who<br />

have high SEMH needs. We need to view SEMH within a model of difference rather than one of<br />

deficit. We are all on a SEMH needs continuum, and we all need to have our SEMH needs met.<br />

is the coldness; you forget everything else<br />

at that moment. So when work and life<br />

are feeling hard, I increase my cold water<br />

swims.<br />

I am not suggesting that you should<br />

all take up swimming and cold water<br />

swimming! However, I am suggesting we<br />

all need to find our thing. For example, a<br />

friend yesterday told me he had just heard<br />

he was probably losing his job, he went for<br />

a long walk with the dog, he was telling<br />

me that is his equivalent to my cold water<br />

swimming, that is what grounds him,<br />

enables him to let go, that is what nurtures<br />

him.<br />

Often as practitioners, we think about<br />

meeting other people’s needs first, the<br />

children we work with, our families and<br />

colleagues; sometimes, we can be the last<br />

on the list or see looking after ourselves as<br />

a luxury. However, we can only look after<br />

others if we are taking care of ourselves.<br />

When we think about well-being for<br />

adults, the media makes us believe that<br />

well-being means going to nice spas,<br />

having massages, and spending lots of<br />

money; this is not it. Well-being is about<br />

recognising what helps us feel happy,<br />

healthy, loved, connected and putting in<br />

place the things that will support this.<br />

We all need to be in a place where we<br />

recognise what helps us. A question to<br />

think about is: What helps you to thrive<br />

and not just survive?<br />

When we are feeling low, stressed, unwell,<br />

it is easy to forget or drop the things that<br />

help us; they can often end up being the<br />

things that get left off the day because<br />

we are too tired or too busy. This can then<br />

become a negative downward spiral. If we<br />

are too tired or too stressed to do things<br />

that help us, our SEMH needs can become<br />

higher.<br />

On my laptop, I have a photo board called<br />

my happiness board. This happiness<br />

board is there to remind me when I am<br />

feeling tired or stressed about the things<br />

that help me. It is a board of photos, a<br />

mix of my friends and family, my team,<br />

my garden and swimming spots. This<br />

board acts as my reminder, it makes me<br />

smile whenever I open it, and when things<br />

feel too much, it can remind me to do<br />

something that will help me.<br />

Knowing what helps you<br />

One key factor with well-being is knowing<br />

what helps you. I am a swimmer, I swim<br />

each morning Monday - Friday at my<br />

local pool, and whenever I can, I also wild<br />

swim. The daily swims keep me sane!<br />

The routine of getting up at the same<br />

time each morning, going to the pool,<br />

swimming for 30 minutes, and connecting<br />

with my friends at the pool is essential for<br />

my well-being. In the lockdowns, I found<br />

it so painful both physically and mentally<br />

not to be swimming. Alongside my daily<br />

swims, over the last 5 years, I have learnt<br />

to love cold water swimming, where<br />

possible I swim all year, only in a costume,<br />

in the sea and rivers. There is something<br />

about the shock of cold water that is both<br />

exhilarating and incredibly mindful. As you<br />

enter the water, all your body thinks about<br />

My day job is all about nurturing children,<br />

and it can be helpful to think about what<br />

nurtures us. Below are some ideas :<br />

• Exercise<br />

• Being with friends<br />

• Being with family<br />

• Laughing - listening to comedy or<br />

watching something funny<br />

• Eating well<br />

• Baking<br />

• Gardening<br />

• Knitting<br />

• Music<br />

• Being in a choir<br />

• Being in nature<br />

• Yoga/mindfulness<br />

• Engaging in faith-based activities<br />

• Being creative<br />

• Pets<br />

Take a look at the list, are there things<br />

on that list that you enjoy? Maybe you<br />

do them regularly, or perhaps there are<br />

things you would like to do more often or<br />

try. As you will see from the list, they are<br />

not radical new ideas; in many ways, they<br />

are simple everyday activities, but they can<br />

bring us joy and connection and help us<br />

relax and let go.<br />

How can we support our<br />

colleagues?<br />

We must be recognising and talking<br />

about what supports our well-being in our<br />

workplaces. It needs to be an embedded<br />

part of the environment to recognise the<br />

importance of well-being for staff and<br />

children. This is not met by holding a oncea-year<br />

or once-a-term well-being week;<br />

as lovely as they can be, there is a danger<br />

of them being tokenistic. We can promote<br />

well-being in our workplaces by having an<br />

emotionally literate environment, where<br />

we can all safely recognise our feelings<br />

and ensure these are respected by others.<br />

We can provide basics, e.g. a safe and<br />

healthy workspace, availability of drinks,<br />

and child-free spaces to have our breaks.<br />

We also need to check in with one another,<br />

make sure others are OK. We could do<br />

small acts of kindness for others, some<br />

examples are:<br />

• Making a drink for others<br />

• Covering a late shift if you can see<br />

a colleague is especially tired or<br />

stressed<br />

• Bringing in flowers or chocolates for<br />

everyone to enjoy<br />

• Thanking people for doing their job<br />

and telling them how much you<br />

appreciate their work<br />

These are very basic and simple ideas,<br />

and of course, they will not be enough<br />

when someone is struggling, but they<br />

can go a long way in helping staff feel<br />

appreciated. For example, in our team,<br />

we talk to each other about what we do<br />

to support our well-being; our manager<br />

actively encourages us to go and do those<br />

things, helping us all to recognise we need<br />

to look after ourselves and encourage one<br />

another to do the things that help us.<br />

Key points<br />

Looking after our well-being is essential,<br />

not a luxury.<br />

We are unable to support others wellbeing<br />

if we are not in a good place<br />

ourselves.<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 well-being of children and staff.<br />

Sonia 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 Well-being in<br />

Early Years Staff” and “Promoting Young<br />

Children’s Emotional Health and Wellbeing”.<br />

Sonia is also the series advisor<br />

for Little Minds Matter series of books<br />

promoting social and emotional wellbeing<br />

in the early years with Routledge.<br />

Website - http://soniamainstone-cotton.<br />

com<br />

Email - sonia.main@icloud.com<br />

Instagram - @mainstonecotton<br />

Write a list or make a photo board of<br />

things that help you to feel happy, healthy,<br />

loved, connected.<br />

Have conversations in your team about<br />

what supports well-being.<br />

For more information, take a look at my<br />

new book.<br />

38 <strong>October</strong> <strong>2021</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>October</strong> <strong>2021</strong> 39

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