April 2022 Parenta magazine

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Issue 89

APRIL 2022




Reclaiming children’s loss

of habitat by rethinking

classroom design

Developing positive

relationships with your

team through active


Egg-cellent advice - get

the light right

+ lots more

Write for us for a

chance to win


page 8

“The boundaries balancing


If we want children to act a certain way, the most effective tool we have is modelling what we want to see and setting an

example to them



welcome to our family

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

Around the world, Easter will be celebrated this month, but not all celebrations nowadays are related to the

original holy holiday in the Christian calendar. We take a global whistle-stop tour to see just how some of these

Easter festivities have evolved over the years. Don’t miss our delightful Easter egg collage craft that you can

make with the children on page 34, together with a delicious recipe for chocolate orange biscuits – the perfect

Easter combination!

Also in this month’s issue…we welcome to the Parenta Magazine family, new guest author and industry expert,

Sandra Duncan, who uses her learning space environment expertise to challenge us to think a little more outside the box when it comes

to classroom design.

Joanna Grace continues her popular “egg-cellent” advice and talks us through the importance of light, and the background against

which we present toys to children. Stacey Kelly tackles the ‘boundaries balancing act’ and demonstrates that if we want children to act

a certain way, the most effective tool we have is modelling what we want to see and setting an example to them. Also on the subject of

boundaries, Frances Turnbull asks us to unite through music and cross the inter-cultural boundaries, with a wonderful selection of songs

for us; and Helen Lumgair helps us discuss difference and diversity with the children through storytelling.

From a development and leadership point of view, Mona Sakr discusses professional development on a limited budget and Ruth Mercer

shows us how to develop positive relationships with our team through active listening.

As always, the magazine is packed with a huge variety of early years advice and guidance from our wonderful industry experts – all

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


We understand that the current situation in Ukraine is affecting many of us. We have written a How To Guide for all who work in early

years, on how to support children, learners and staff over the situation in Ukraine and you can download it here. Industry expert Tamsin

Grimmer kindly gives her advice and guidance on how to talk to children about war and you can read that on the Parenta blog here.

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




8 Write for us for the chance to win £50!

34 Easter egg collage

35 Chocolate orange biscuits


4 Short stories

39 Congratulations to our Parenta



12 Easter story celebrations around the


18 World Malaria Day

26 Things we didn’t know about recycling

28 Stress Awareness Month

32 Improving parent communication

36 Using movement and music sessions to

teach children about the environment

and the world around them

Easter story & celebrations around the world 12

World Malaria Day 18


Industry Experts

Stress Awareness Month 28

Get the light



We consider the space when

we set up our rooms but do

we consider the light?

The boundaries

balancing act


Throughout parenting,

we are going to have to

assert boundaries that our

children will not always be

impressed with.

Diversity 24

As we celebrate children in all their

uniqueness, welcoming their contributions,

they will in turn learn to celebrate


6 Reclaiming children’s loss of habitat

by rethinking classroom design

10 Egg-cellent advice: get the light right

16 Developing positive relationships with

your team through active listening

20 The boundaries balancing act

22 Uniting through music: crossing intercultural

boundaries in the early years

24 Diversity

30 What does leadership look like when …

professional development budgets are


Improving parent communication 32

A round up of some news stories

that have caught our eye over

the month

Story source and image credits to:

Nursery World

Day Nurseries

Daily Record

EY Alliance


The Government will not be

launching a review of childcare


Childcare providers no longer

required to tell Ofsted about

confirmed COVID-19 cases

Nursery operators continue

to grow within ‘competitive’

childcare market

Huge numbers of children

starting school developmentally


Nurseries and schools

celebrated World Book Day

New training to support children

with communication difficulties

The Government has rejected

recommendations to carry out a review of

funding and affordability of childcare.

Childcare providers do not have to notify

Ofsted of any COVID-19 cases at their

setting, whether in staff or children.

ICP Nurseries has bought two more

settings, taking its total number of

settings to 52.

Around half of four-year-olds were ‘not

ready’ to start Reception last September,

according to a new survey by education

foundation Kindred Squared.

Early years settings and schools across

the country have been celebrating the

25th World Book Day.

A new programme for nursery staff to

address speech and communication

difficulties in young children is

being launched by two healthcare


Click here to send in

your stories to


New nursery plans to have room

for almost 100 children

The Ayrshire nursery development will

help families find and stay in meaningful

employment, childcare officials say.

Boris Johnson visits Heathrow


The Prime Minister recently visited Busy

Bees nursery in Heathrow.

Mum who lost child shopping

shares tip all parents should


The mum took to social media to explain

the ‘looking loudly’ technique, she used

which helped her to locate her son when

he wandered off in a supermarket.

Bright Horizons invests £10

million to boost staff pay and


The nursery provider Bright Horizons UK

has announced it is investing more than

£10 million in nursery workers’ salaries

and benefits to reflect the increased cost

of living.

4 April 2022 | parenta.com

parenta.com | April 2022 5

Reclaiming children’s loss of habitat

by rethinking classroom design

Loss of habitat for wild


Loss of habitat for nature’s wild species

is a worldwide threat. The lakes, forests,

swamps, plains, and other habitats

which plants, fungi, and animals call

home are disappearing at an alarming

rate. With every passing day, the list of

endangered and threatened animals

continues to mount. The International

Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red

List of Threatened Species estimates there

are more than 40,000 threatened wild

species such as amphibians, mammals,

birds, and sharks. Even more disturbing is

that some wild species (i.e. Northern White

Rhinoceros, Splendid Poison Frog) are no

longer threatened but have succumbed to

extinction. Much of this loss is because of

human activity. Natural habitats are being

destroyed with bulldozers ploughing down

forests, highways being built in wetlands,

and pollution disrupting the natural

rhythms of nature including migration,

propagation, and finding food and water.

The good news is that many believe

habitat loss is reversible and it is within

our capabilities and power to rebuild

nature’s ecosystems. On a national

level, for example, organisations such

as River Partners are helping to restore

floodplains in California by using the

latest developments in science and

technology. On a local level, the National

Wildlife Federation recommends creating

a Certified Wildlife Habitat® in your

community or backyard or, even better yet,

outside the classroom door.

Loss of habitat for children

You may be wondering what all this talk

about nature’s loss of habitat has to do

with you. You may be thinking that you are

an educator and not an environmentalist

and do not get the connection between

nature and classroom environments.

Actually, there is an enormous connection:

Just as the habitats for wild species are

being endangered, so is the magic and

wonderment of childhood becoming

threatened by traditional classroom


But, just as the danger of extinction can be

reversed in nature’s habitats, so can the

magic of childhood be preserved in young

children’s classrooms.

Young children, unfortunately, are losing

their childhoods in today’s traditional

classrooms. Children’s childhoods are

being threatened by classrooms filled with

plastic, gadgets with buttons, television

and computer screens, and closed-ended

learning materials. The magic of childhood

is being made vulnerable with cookie

cutter classrooms that all look the same

regardless of their location or who inhabits

the four walls. Childhood is being impeded

by unrealistic toys made for pretending

and not intended for real or meaningful

work such as plastic bolts, pretend

screwdrivers, and makeshift woodworking

benches rather than using authentic tools

and realistic materials.

Reclaiming childhood

It happens each and every day. Across

the continents of the world, thousands

of educators prepare and design

environments for young children. These

educators meticulously and intentionally

arrange, rearrange, and set up the

furniture, interest areas, and materials to

best accommodate our youngest children.

We have been taught - or learned from

others - how to accomplish this. Put the

art centre near a source of water. Offer

low shelving so toddlers can reach its

contents. Create soft and cosy gathering

areas for infant tummy time and separate

quiet areas from those more rambunctious

spaces. Our tendency is to design

classrooms from a purely functional or

numerical viewpoint. In other words, will

children be able to successfully function

in this environment with the number of

materials provided? But the real question

is this: Succeed in what? And, this question

leads to a more important question. What

is the true purpose of early childhood


How would you answer this question?

Many educators might say the true

purpose of classroom environments

is learning. Others might think that

the real purpose of classrooms is to

promote children’s physical skills, while

some teachers may believe the singular

purpose is to encourage social and

emotional development. Although wellintended,

this way of thinking results in

designing environments focused on child

development rather than being focused on

the true purpose of environments, which is

to protect and preserve the importance of


If we begin designing our environments for

young children from this new perspective,

everything changes. But, beware because

this perspective requires a critical mind

shift in our thinking. It means shifting the

focus from an adult to child’s perspective. It

means giving children the power of choice.

Reclaiming childhood

with the power of choice

Young children have little opportunity for

making choices. Adults dictate almost

every element of their lives such as what

clothes to put on in the morning, what

to eat for breakfast, and how the rest of

their day will play out. Yet, we know from

the research that when children are given

opportunities to practice making choices

when younger, they have a tendency to

make better choices as teens and adults.

If this is true, then it becomes important

to include opportunities for choices in the

classroom design. One strategy could be

choices of seating.

In a traditional classroom environment,

there are limited choices of seating. Typical

seating includes table chairs, on rug, and

perhaps a rocking chair. Even with these

limited seating options, children are often

restricted in their choice because some

teachers mandate who will sit on what

chair or what spot on the rug. There are

Image 1 - Newly purchased dog beds

make great places to sit and read a book.

even those teachers who restrict children’s

choice even more by requiring that the

chairs remain positioned under the table

and cannot be moved elsewhere. Let’s

reclaim childhood by giving children the

power of seating choices with these ideas:

• Offer children a variety of seating

including ottomans, beanbags, lawn

chairs, small stools, tree stumps, crib

mattresses, large pillows, and even

newly purchased dog beds. [See

image 1]

• Allow children to decide where they

want to sit. Do not assign chairs or rug

spots to children for your convenience

(i.e., assigning a rambunctious child

to sit next to a quieter child). Rather,

let children make their own choices

and learn from choices not well made.

[See image 2]


Image 2 - Add an adult-sized chair for

children to enjoy.

• Grant children the right to move

or reposition chairs. Children’s

imaginations take them beyond the

traditional use of a chair. Although

adults think of chairs as places to

sit, children’s imaginations take the

purpose of a chair to another level of

thinking when given the chance to reimagine

its purpose. [See image 3]

It’s time to stop the erosion of childhood

and children’s habitats. Most importantly,

it’s time to reclaim childhood through the

important environmental design of choice.

International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species can be

found at www.iucnredlist.org.

For more information on nature’s loss of habitats, visit the National Wildlife Federation at


River Partner’s work in leading a shift on how they restore floodplains and re-value rivers

can be found at https://riverpartners.org.

Anyone can create a Certified Wildlife Habitat® with just a small piece of dirt and a little

elbow grease. Find out how by visiting https://www.nwf.org/certify.

Sandra Duncan

Sandra works to assure the miracle

and magic of childhood through indoor

and outdoor play space environments

that are intentionally designed to

connect young children to their early

learning environments, communities,

and neighbourhoods. Dr. Duncan is an

international consultant, author of seven

books focused on the environmental

design of early childhood places,

designer of two furniture collections

called Sense of Place and Sense of

Place for Wee Ones, and Adjunct

Professor at Nova Southeastern

University. Sandra has designed and

taught university courses on built early

learning environments, collaborating

with architects, interior designers,

and educators to create extraordinary

places and possibilities for children and

students of all ages. Books and articles


1. Inspiring Spaces for Young Children

2. Rating Observation Scale for

Inspiring Spaces

3. Rethinking the Classroom

Landscape: Creating Environments

that Connect Young Children,

Families, and Communities

4. Through A Child’s Eyes: How

Classroom Design Inspires Learning

and Wonder

5. Bringing the Outside In: Ideas for

Creating Nature-Based Classroom

Experiences for Young Children

6. The Honeycomb Hypothesis: How

Infants, Toddlers, and Two Year

Olds Learn Through Nature Play

(Available Spring, 2022)

7. Designing Inspiring Environments

for Infants, Toddlers, and Two

Year Olds: Lessons from Nature

(Available 2023)

6 April 2022 | parenta.com

Image 3 - A re-imagined chair turned upside-down becomes a baby bed.

parenta.com | April 2022 7



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

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to our guest author competition winner, Stacey Kelly!

Congratulations to Stacey Kelly, our guest author of

the month! Her article “Teaching children to value

things that matter” introduced important steps

to appreciate the simple things in life. Well done


A massive thank you to all of our guest authors for

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

from our guest authors on our website:


Encourage creativity, build agency

and foster positive communication

in children’s lives.





poignant and


Available at www.jkp.com and book retailers

Lead the Way with Success

If you have enjoyed reading Ruth’s articles about leadership

through a coaching approach, why not consider inviting her

to work with you and/or your setting?

With a career background in Early Education and Leadership, Ruth works

as a coach and consultant across the Early Years’ sector. She can offer

the following:

1:1 coaching for head teachers/leaders/managers

1:1 coaching for senior leaders

Small group coaching for leaders/teams

Action Learning sets

Introductory courses on coaching and mentoring for you and

your team

Leadership learning course (6 half day sessions) for EYFS

leads or nursery managers

With Covid 19 impacting on schools and settings,

Ruth can offer her services on a virtual online

platform, tailored to your needs.

If you would like to know how Ruth can support you,

please get in touch for an initial conversation:

Email: ruthmercercoaching@gmail.com

Website: www.ruthmercercoaching.com

8 April 2022 | parenta.com

parenta.com | April 2022 9

Egg-cellent advice:

get the light right

I do not know how he came to acquire the nick-name Egg but ever since he came along that’s what my youngest son has been called.

I run The Sensory Projects www.TheSensoryProjects.co.uk (which should now really be called The Sensory Projects and Sons!) My work

focuses on people with profound disabilities and sensory differences, but my son’s advice will apply to your work too.

In this series of articles we are going to share his insights with you, if you are keen for more there is an ever growing collection on my

Facebook profile: come and make friends. www.Facebook.com/JoannaGraceTSP

This is article 6 out of a series of 10! To view the others click here.

Joanna Grace

Joanna Grace is an international

Sensory Engagement and Inclusion

Specialist, trainer, author, TEDx speaker

and founder of The Sensory Projects.

You put the tuff tray out in the middle of

the floor, with enough space to walk all

around it. You put the water tray near the

sink – for easy top ups/mop ups and far

from the books, to try and keep them safe.

We consider the space when we set up

our rooms but do we consider the light?

The ability to see comes in two parts. The

first is the sense organ – to see we need

eyes that work. The second is the brain

– to see we need our brains to be able

to make sense of the light that our eyes

detect. The second part of seeing – the

brain making sense of the information

received from the eyes – is a learned skill.

Babies begin by being able to understand

black and white, high contrast. They go on

to learn colour (usually starting with red –

lots of children will express a preference

for red early on in life), being able to

visually interpret texture, depth and all the

rest of the wonderful world of sight comes


Thinking about the background against

which we present toys, and the lighting on

those toys can make a huge differences

to a child’s ability to engage and sustain

engagement with them. In many of the

pictures you have seen of Egg he is upon

a colourful background – those were

the days when he played lying on his

back – his visual field was the plain white

expanse of our ceiling. Now he is vertical

and able to sit I have removed the busy

jumble of colour to allow him an accessible

visual landscape in which to enjoy his toys.

Which way up?

Toes towards the window, I am looking

into the light. My toys are silhouettes or

lost against the other dark shapes. I am


When my sight was in black and white,

toys against the light were interesting to

me. Now I see in colour.

Toes away from the window, the light

shines on my toys. I can see their sparkle

and colour.

You can see in the pictures that I am

moving and vocalising in response to how

interesting the toys are.

(These words first appeared on Jo’s

Facebook profile you are welcome to

send her a friend request to watch out

for more insight www.Facebook.com/


Joanna provides online and in person

training relating to sensory engagement

and sensory differences, look up www.


for more information.

To view a list of her books visit www.


Follow Jo on social media to pick up

new sensory insights, you’ll find her

at: Twitter , www.Facebook.com/

JoannaGraceTSP and www.Linkedin/In/


Consistently rated as “outstanding” by

Ofsted, Joanna has taught in

mainstream and special school settings,

connecting with pupils of all ages and

abilities. To inform her work, Joanna

draws on her own experience from her

private and professional life as well as

taking in all the information she can

from the research archives. Joanna’s

private life includes family members

with disabilities and neurodiverse

conditions and time spent as a

registered foster carer for children with

profound disabilities.

Joanna has published four practitioner

books: “Multiple Multisensory Rooms:

Myth Busting the Magic”, “Sensory

Stories for Children and Teens”,

“Sensory-Being for Sensory Beings”

and “Sharing Sensory Stories and

Conversations with People with

Dementia”. and two inclusive sensory

story children’s books: “Voyage to

Arghan” and “Ernest and I”. There is

new book coming out soon called

”The Subtle Spectrum” and her

son has recently become the UK’s

youngest published author with his

book, “My Mummy is Autistic” which

was foreworded by Chris Packham.

Joanna followed with her own book

“The Subtle Spectrum” which explores

the landscape of post diagnosis adult

identified autism.

Joanna is a big fan of social media and

is always happy to connect with people

via Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

10 April 2022 | parenta.com

parenta.com | April 2022 11

Easter story

celebrations around the


Norway: whodunnit?

In Norway at Easter, the talk is not so much

of Easter eggs and Easter bunnies, but

much more of “whodunnit?” At this time

of year, many television channels launch

new detective series and publishers get

their best new crime novels on bookstore

shelves. It is thought the tradition started

in 1923 after publication of a crime novel

set on the Bergen railway in which a

train was robbed. The authors wanted to

promote their book so put an advert for

it on the front page of local newspapers.

People thought it was a real news story,

and the authors scored a PR coup.

Nowadays many Norwegians retreat to

their mountain cabins at Easter to ski.

Armed with their detective books and

TV subscriptions, they spend a few days

working out whether the ‘butler’ did it or

not! Even milk cartons carry short detective

stories during this season to get in on the


Guatemala: colourful


Easter is a holy holiday in the Christian

calendar, commemorating the death and

resurrection of Jesus Christ 2,000 years

ago. At that time, there were no Easter

eggs, no Easter bunny or giant omelettes

made in France! It was just the death of

Jesus and his reported resurrection.

In the two millennia since, Christianity has

spread from Jerusalem to almost every

part of the globe. The Easter story has

been told in many different languages

and people have found their own way to

commemorate Jesus’s death/resurrection

and celebrate their own faith or beliefs at

the same time.

Not all the Easter celebrations nowadays

are related to Christianity, as over the

years and in different places, feasts and

celebrations have merged and become

integrated into different activities and belief

systems. So let’s take a tour around the

world and see how some of these Easter

celebrations have evolved.

Finland: beware the witches!

If you travel to Finland at Easter, you could

be forgiven for thinking that you have

mixed up your calendar dates and landed

there on Halloween. Children dress up as

witches over Easter and travel from door to

door reciting a rhyming blessing, believed

to ward off evil spirits. They wear colourful

clothes and paint freckles on their cheeks,

often carrying a willow broomstick of willow

or birch sticks. Their poem says:

“Virvon, varvon, tuoreeks terveeks, tulevaks

vuodeks; vitsa sulle, palkka mulle! “

“I wave a twig for a fresh and healthy year

ahead; a twig for you, a treat for me!”

After reciting the poems, the grateful

householder may give them a chocolate

egg or sweets in ‘payment’ for their

blessing. The tradition is thought to stem

from a mixture of an Orthodox Christian

ritual where the birch twigs represented

the palm leaves laid down before Jesus

as he entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday,

and an earlier tradition marking off the

return of spring and warding of evil spirits.

Bonfires are also lit around Easter time,

as these are thought to scare off any evil


Spain: the dance of death!

In the Medieval town of Verges in Spain,

the locals perform a traditional “dansa

de la mort” or the death dance. It is a

re-enaction of scenes from the Passion,

(the last few days in the life of Jesus).

People dress in skeleton costumes and

carry boxes of ashes through the streets

in a procession on Maundy Thursday (the

day before Good Friday). When they reach

the mediaeval old town, the skeletons

dance to the sound of a drum and form

the shape of a cross. The main dance is

given by two adult skeleton characters,

but children are also involved, and lampcarriers

create an eerie atmosphere as the

skeletons dance.

If you are lucky enough to be in the central

American country of Guatemala this

Easter, look out for the colourful carpets

that are ‘laid out’ along the cobbled

roads in the town of Antigua. They are

made from coloured sawdust, fruits, pine

needles, flowers, vegetables and sand

and depict scenes from religion, Mayan

and Guatemalan history. Some of the

carpets are up to half a mile long and their

intricate designs draw visitors from all over

the region. But their glory is short-lived, as

on Good Friday, a procession of people

(some dressed as Roman soldiers) walk

over the carpets carrying an image of the

crucified Christ.

Italy: it’s “Carenevale”

Italy is home to the Vatican City, the selfgoverning

state which is ruled by the Pope

and which is the centre of the Roman

Catholic Church. St Peter’s Basilica is the

site of daily services of Mass throughout

holy week leading up the Pope’s address

to the massed crowds on Easter Sunday

in St Peter’s Square. But this very religious

tradition is not the only Easter celebration

for Italians, since they also celebrate their

carnival season with parties, parades and

masquerade balls. Although not strictly

part of Easter week per se, it is part of

the pre-Lent season which runs up to

Easter and is an important part of the

Italian celebrations. Costumes are often

elaborate and full-face masks are intricate

and spectacular with the Venice carnival

gaining fame around the world.

Italians are also famed for their good

food, and at Easter, they have a traditional

sugar-dusted Easter cake called the

Colomba, made in the shape of a dove to

represent peace, renewed life and hope.

Germany: osterbaum

In Germany, there is an old tradition

of making ‘osterbaum’ or Easter trees.

These were traditionally branches of

flowering trees such as forsythia or pussy

willows, which were placed in a vase and

decorated with painted eggs and small

decorations. These can be kept inside and

outside and many Germans (and Swiss)

decorate trees in their gardens, with the

most famous one at Saalfeld where a

man decorated a tree in his garden with

more and more decorations each year,

eventually stopping at 10,000 decorations.

Why not adopt some of these traditions in

your settings this year and send us your

photos to hello@parenta.com?

12 April 2022 | parenta.com

parenta.com | April 2022 13

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Developing positive

relationships with

your team through

active listening

Sian set aside half an hour the next week

to spend with each of the senior staff.

She explained it was not a performance

meeting but an opportunity to talk to them

properly about their work and get to know

them a bit better. She made fresh coffee

and bought fruit and scones and sat down

to listen. She learned about each person’s

career history, their family commitments

and their holiday plans. She also learned

that there had been a previous manager

who had changed everything really

quickly and all the staff (and children)

got confused. Parents complained and

the atmosphere had become really


– as well as the tone of voice and

the words used. If someone says

she is ‘infuriated’ by something you

have done, unpick it, ask her what

infuriated means to her.

3. Listen to the values; what matters to

the practitioner? For example, if the

third in charge kept talking about no

time to supervise the staff in her room,

it might be that she was worried

about a safeguarding issue being

missed, rather than the new form you

had introduced (which actually was

about safeguarding, but you had not

explored this with her sufficiently).

This article has been adapted from:

Cook, J (2013) Leadership and

Management in the Early Years, Practical

Preschool Books


Coaching question examples at https://


blog/2012/09 accessed on line 9.3.22

Cunic, A. https://www.verywellmind.com/

what-is-active-listening accessed on line


As early years practitioners, we tend to

be excellent at finding time to sit with the

children and listen to them. We can be

strong role models, providing relaxed,

thoughtful conversation, sharing toys

and resources, and supporting positive

interactions with their peers. This helps

children to be happy, confident and

motivated to learn. However, in a busy

setting it can be difficult to find time and

space to really listen to the adults. Talking

to Sian, a new manager, she said: “I’m just

fire fighting, staff absence due to COVID is

still high and this puts so much pressure

on us all. My deputy is being obstructive,

I think she doesn’t like me. And I’m new

here, trying to find my way.”

Sian has recently become the manager

of a small nursery and was finding it hard

going. The deputy manager and third in

charge had been working in the setting for

a long time and she found that everything

she suggested had already been ‘done’

or had been ‘tried … and failed’. These

established practitioners were influencing

other staff with them and nursery meetings

were becoming increasingly negative.

During her first review meeting, Sian’s

supervisor asked her some coaching

questions that gave her new insight into

the problem. Firstly she asked: “If the

problem was solved, what would it look

like?” Sian had a moment of clarity and

realised it was more important to be

feeling they were a team working together

rather than her ideas about organisational

matters not being taken on board.

The next coaching question was”‘What’s

stopping that from happening now?” and

Sian had to confess she didn’t really know.

In her passion for the new job to prove

she could be a manager she realised all

her conversations had centred around

what her own plans were and she did not

know what the experienced practitioners

were thinking. All she got was a negative

response to any suggestion.

She came out of the meeting with a plan

to spend time talking with, and more

importantly, listening to the established

team of practitioners to find out more

about their interests, strengths and


From this, Sian unpicked that it was

change that the senior practitioners were

anxious about rather than the fact that

they didn’t like her. She went back to

her line manager in the nursery chain

and they thought up a strategy to build

up the confidence of practitioners and

introduce any change slowly, with plenty of

consultation and preparation time.

Taking time to listen to your team is really

important, so you understand what is

going on for them. Recognising and

appreciating their fears and concerns is

crucial to getting the best from each and

every practitioner you work with.

Listening for meaning

The next time you need to have a

conversation with someone about

something important, try listening at these

three different levels:

1. What are the facts? Facts are

important. Is everyone in the nursery

unhappy about your work or is it just

two people?

2. What are the feelings? The deputy

manager may tell you how they are

feeling directly, but look closely. Is

the anger they present covering an

anxiety? Look at the body language


How often do you really listen? Consider

how actively you listen to your colleagues,

your family and your loved ones. Look for

opportunities to improve your listening skills

and see what difference it makes. www.


Try this checklist to

find your strengths as a


When I am listening to someone

talking I:

Listen carefully to what the speaker is

saying, without judging them

Stop myself from finishing sentences,

even when there are pauses in the

conversation whilst the speaker is


Let them finish without interrupting to

make my own point

Look at the person who is talking,

noticing significant body language

Am conscious of my own body

language and use it to signal that I am


Listen for the feelings and the facts

Control my own fidgeting or doodling

Only ask questions that help me

understand more about what the

speaker is trying to say, or encouraging

them to continue

Often repeat what they say in my own

words to check that I have understood

Stop myself from planning what I am

going to say when they have finished

Can tune out other thoughts or

demands, even when I am busy

Sometimes Always Never

Ruth Mercer

Ruth Mercer is a coach and consultant,

with a career background in early

education. Ruth is committed to creating

a positive learning environment for

staff, children and families. She has a

successful track record of 1:1 coaching for

leaders and group coaching across the

maintained and PVI sector. She supports

leaders and managers in developing

a coaching approach in their settings

through bespoke consultancy and

introductory training on coaching and

mentoring for all staff.

Ruth is currently writing about coaching

with a playful approach.

Ruth Mercer, Coach and Consultant in

Early Years

Contact: ruthmercercoaching@gmail.com

Website: www.ruthmercercoaching.com

How did you score?

If you mainly ticked always or sometimes,

you may already have some active

listening skills. Most of us have areas to

work on throughout our lives in order to

communicate effectively, so keep working

on it … your team’s response will tell you

how well you are doing!

16 April 2022 | parenta.com

parenta.com | April 2022 17

World Malaria Day

April 25th is World Malaria Day, an

annual event which takes place across

the world to raise awareness about

malaria and how it can be prevented. It

aims to celebrate the progress that has

been made towards eradicating this

life-threatening disease and highlight the

ongoing need for resources and funding to

continue the fight. The World Malaria Day

2022 theme is “Zero Malaria – Draw the

line against malaria.”

What is malaria?

Malaria is a serious infectious disease that

is spread by certain types of mosquitos

(female anopheles mosquitoes) and

affects tropical and subtropical regions. It

is curable with anti-malaria drugs but in

many regions of the world, where quick

access to medical attention is limited,

it can be fatal, especially for pregnant

women and children. Malaria is not found

in the UK or Europe but around the world,

a child dies every 2 minutes from malaria.

People infected with malaria can feel

severe flu-like symptoms with a fever

(high temperature) and headache. It can

cause muscle pain and vomiting as well

as sweats and chills, and if these are

untreated, it can lead to organ failure

and death. It only takes a bite from

one infected mosquito to develop, and

symptoms usually develop between 6 –

30 days after the bite, although in rare

cases, symptoms can take up to a year to


According to the World Health

Organisation (WHO), in 2020:

• There were an estimated 241 million

cases of malaria worldwide

• The estimated number of malaria

deaths was 627,000

• The WHO African Region carries a

disproportionately high share of

the global malaria burden, and this

region was home to 95% of malaria

cases and 96% of malaria deaths

• Children under 5 accounted for an

estimated 80% of all malaria deaths

in the African region

The WHO and other medical agencies aim

to eradicate the disease so there are no

cases of malaria.

How is malaria spread?

Malaria is usually caused by a mosquito

bite and is carried in the blood. They

typically bite when humans are sleeping,

between 10pm and 2am and mosquitos

can then spread the disease to other

people they bite. An infected mother

can pass the disease on to her unborn

baby, and some people are infected after

receiving blood transfusions or organ

donations from a person infected with


What is being done to fight


Malaria is preventable given the right

medical equipment and precautionary

measures. There are a number of

charities who work to raise money to

buy equipment and medical supplies

and great strides are being made. For

example, in 2018, 27 countries reported

less than 100 cases of malaria and are

on track to becoming malaria-free in the

next few years. In 2020, it was estimated

that over 1.5 billion cases and 7.6 million

deaths have been prevented in the last

20 years, so there is hope on the horizon.

However, even one case is one case too

many so there is still a lot of work to be


Sleeping under mosquito nets (preferably

under long-lasting, insecticide treated

ones) is one of the most effective ways

to prevent the disease. Nets cost around

£1.50 ($2) and can be used for 2 people

sleeping together, lasting approximately

4 years. The Against Malaria Foundation

estimates that:

“For every 600 nets we put over heads and

beds, one child doesn’t die and 500 to

1,000 cases of malaria are prevented.”

In 2021, the WHO approved the use of the

world’s first malaria vaccine, which took

20 years of development, with the British

company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) playing

an important role. The Jenner Institute at

Oxford University is also producing a new

malaria vaccine which is in stage 2 clinical

trials with results so far proving to be 77%

effective. These vaccines could prove to be

a vital defence in the world’s fight against

the disease, although the pandemic has

halted progress in some African countries.

Celebrities such as David Beckham have

championed campaigns such as “Malaria

must die so millions can live” to help

spread the word too.

History of World Malaria Day

World Malaria Day was first established in

May 2007 by the World Health Assembly,

the decision-making part of the WHO.

It aimed to provide “education and

understanding” about malaria and set

about a year-long education programme

to inform communities in endemic areas

about how they could prevent and treat

the disease.

Since then, it has been an annual event

where multinational organisations,

healthcare providers and communities

have worked together to bring about


How to get involved

Raising awareness of malaria and raising

funds for vital equipment such as mosquito

nets are ways that you can get involved.

Using the hashtag #WorldMalariaDay on

social media also raises awareness.

Here are some other ideas for getting


• Raise some money for mosquito nets.

Since these nets are so inexpensive

but can save many lives, they are at

the forefront of disease prevention.

Even £15 raised could buy 10 mosquito

nets. You could use one as ‘tent’ in

your setting to explain to the children

how they prevent diseases

• Set up an imaginary ‘safari’ to Africa

and explain to the children some

of the animals they could see on

the way. You can then explain that

some animals are more dangerous

than others and it is not always the

biggest and most ferocious ones,

but sometimes the smallest ones

can cause more damage. You need

to be careful how you introduce the

topic to children so as not to scare

them, so choose your words carefully

and be age-appropriate. You could

do this a part of a session about

Understanding the World too

• Educate the children on how people in

other parts of the world live including

why they sleep under a mosquito

net – again this can be part of a wider

session about other cultures, food,

music, health etc.

• Set up a display about insects around

the world saying that some of them

are helpful insects such as bees and

butterflies, and others are less helpful

such as mosquitos because they can

spread disease

• Look up some resources that

are available on Twinkl including

PowerPoints and mosquito lifecycle

worksheets and use these with your

older children

More information and


WHO – Malaria Facts and Figures

NHS Scotland malaria pages

Malaria No More

18 April 2022 | parenta.com

parenta.com | April 2022 19

The boundaries

balancing act

One of the hardest things that I’ve found

within my parenting journey is finding the

right balance when setting boundaries.

We all want the absolute best for our

children and through speaking to lots of

different parents, it is common for people

to feel that there are things that they

experienced and felt in their childhood that

they don’t want for their own children. If

we grew up often feeling that we weren’t

good enough, we can end up going above

and beyond to make sure our babies know

their worth. If we felt like we didn’t have a

voice, we might make sure their voice is

always heard. If we felt unaccepted, we

will likely go that extra mile to make sure

that our children know that we love every

unique fibre of who they are.

All these messages are brilliant to instil

in children. However, if we don’t deal

with our own pain of feeling the contrary

when we were younger, we can run the

risk of overcompensation and as a result,

sometimes struggle within ourselves to

assert boundaries through a subconscious

fear of making our children feel the way

we did.

Throughout parenting, we are going to

have to assert boundaries that our children

will not always be impressed with. It’s hard

to see them upset, but in the long run, the

lesson of boundaries is just as important

as the one of self-worth, acceptance and

feeling heard. If we don’t lead by example

with an ability to set strong boundaries, we

run the risk of our own children struggling

to set them for themselves in the future

too. It is therefore imperative that we are

self-aware as parents and work through

our own struggles so that we don’t pass

them down.

Here are some ways that we can set fair

boundaries that still honour our children’s

worth and self-esteem:

Mirror what we want to see

If we want children to act a certain

way, the most effective tool we have is

modelling what we want to see. If we want

our children to stop shouting, it makes

no sense to shout at them to deliver this

message. If we want our children to be

respectful, we need to be respectful of

them on a consistent basis and know that

they are little human beings with their own

mind and opinions. This leads me on to

my next point…

Make our expectations

realistic and relevant

If my children are reacting badly to me,

the first thing I ask myself is if I’m being

fair. Quite often when I ask myself this and

put myself in their shoes, I realise that I

could have handled it better. Do we expect

children to react better than we would in

the same situation?

An example of this is if a child is immersed

in something and we tell them they must

tidy away because it’s lunch time. If I

was in that situation (for example totally

engrossed in writing this article), and

someone did the same to me without any

warning, I’d be really frustrated. I’d need to

know in good time how long I had so that I

could naturally finish off what I was doing,

and I certainly wouldn’t like to be told how

long that was. Children are no different.

What I find works is that I ask my children

(in good time) how much longer they need

to finish off. We then agree on a time,

which is usually about 10-20 minutes. We

sometimes even set a timer together and

I will also give them little reminders along

the way letting them know how much time

they have left. Usually this works well, but

on the odd occasion that it doesn’t, and

they resist. I gently remind them that they

agreed this time and follow through with

bringing it to an end. The act of following

through is so important because they not

only learn that your word is your word, but

they also learn that they must honour their

word too and stick to what they say.

Show compassion

We don’t have to be bullish when setting

boundaries. In the example above, if my

child was having a meltdown, I would

show them compassion and tell them that

I understood how they felt, but that they

need to remember that they agreed to

the time. I would also explain why it was

important that we needed to pack things

away and if possible or appropriate, I’d let

them know that they could continue later

when we returned.

Be consistent

Consistency is the most important thing

when setting boundaries. It’s so simple

but can at times be so hard to do. We’ve

all been in the situation as a parent when

we choose to let something go in the

hope for a bit of peace and quiet and

an easier life. In fact, the phrase ‘picking

your battles’ is a common one that I hear

and have used myself many times. The

problem is, it’s easier in the moment to

give in, but long term, it teaches children

that your boundaries are blurred. I have

been guilty of this myself but have realised

how important it is for your word to be

your word. Not just for following through

with consequences, but for positive things

too. If a child asks you to play and you say

you will in 5 minutes. Even if they forget

and you are tempted to nip for a cup of

tea instead (we’ve all been there!) it is

important that you follow through. Every

time you do, it strengthens your child’s

trust in your word and teaches them that

you do what you say, and you say what

you mean. Only ever promise what you

can deliver and state consequences that

you can follow through with. If you are sat

in a restaurant eating your starter, don’t

tell your children that you will take them

home if they behave like that one more

time if you aren’t prepared to walk away

from that juicy main course, dessert and

very large glass of wine!

At the end of the day, being a parent is the

most amazing, but also the hardest thing

we will ever do. We are never going to be

perfect, and we will all make mistakes.

However, if we can do our best and get it

right 80% of the time, take responsibility

for the other 20% and cut ourselves some

slack, we will raise confident little humans

who not only know how to respect

boundaries, but also know how to assert

them too.

Stacey Kelly

Stacey Kelly is a former French and

Spanish teacher, a parent to 2 beautiful

babies and the founder of Early Years

Story Box. After becoming a mum, Stacey

left her teaching career and started

writing and illustrating storybooks to help

support her children through different

transitional stages like leaving nursery

and starting school. Seeing the positive

impact of her books on her children’s

emotional well-being led to Early Years

Story Box being born. Stacey has now

created 35 storybooks, all inspired by her

own children, to help teach different life

lessons and to prepare children for their

next steps. She has an exclusive collection

for childcare settings that are gifted on

special occasions like first/last days,

birthdays, Christmas and/or Easter and

has recently launched a new collection

for parents too. Her mission is to support

as many children as she can through

story-time and to give childcare settings

an affordable and special gifting solution

that truly makes a difference.

Email: stacey@earlyyearsstorybox.com or

Telephone: 07765785595

Website: www.earlyyearsstorybox.com

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


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


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


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


20 April 2022 | parenta.com

parenta.com | April 2022 21

Uniting through music:

crossing inter-cultural

boundaries in the early years

دنبب وتامشچ

(Persian, from Iran)

دنبب وتامشچ

دنبب وتامشچ

نم لگ ‏،نم لگ

نزب کیچوک ترچ

نزب کیچوک ترچ

نک الال ‏،نک الال

Brother Isaac

(Tingrinya, from Eritrea)

ኢሳቕ ሓወይ

ኢሳቕ ሓወይ



ዳውላ ቃጭላ

ዳውላ ቃጭላ

ዲን ዶን ዳን

ዲን ዶን ዳን


Cheshmaato beband,

cheshmaato beband

Gole man, gole man

Chorte koocheek bezan

chorte koocheek bezan

Lala kon, lala kon


Esak hawey

Esak hawey



Dewele kachila

Dewele kachila

Ding dang dong

Ding dang dong!

Direct English translation:

Close Your Eyes

Close your eyes

Close your eyes

My flower, my flower!

Take a nap!

Take a nap!

Sleep! Sleep!

Direct English translation:

Brother Isaac

Brother Isaac,

Brother Isaac,

Are you sleeping?

Are you sleeping?

Morning bells are ringing

Morning bells are ringing!

Ding, dang, dong

Ding, dang, dong!

Early years classes can have a wideranging

mix of representation. Whether

through emigration or asylum, the different

languages and heritages represented

in groups has made diversity an aspect

of life that is here to stay. History shows

us that maintaining boundaries and

division only increases separation and

greater feelings of “us” and “them”, but

sharing cultures and customs increases

bonds of compassion, understanding and

friendship. We know that music unites

within groups, and there is now evidence

that music with children can unite across

groups, too.

In comparison with other EU countries,

the UK has the fourth largest number

of asylum applications, which works

out to only 8% of all applicants applying

for asylum to all of the EU, EEA and

Switzerland. The UN Refugee Agency UK

(UNHCR, 2022) states that the highest

nationalities claiming asylum in the UK in

2021 were from Iran, followed by Eritrea,

Albania, Iraq and Syria. The current unrest

between Russia and Ukraine will already

be making an impact on these statistics.

A study in another city affected by

conflict was published in 2021 (Hefer

& Gluschankof, 2021). The authors

considered the experience of parental

participation in early years music classes

where participants were Palestinian and

Jewish. After running the sessions, videos

were made, diaries maintained, and

22 April 2022 | parenta.com

interviews held towards understanding

why these parents had chosen music

classes, what their experience was

during the sessions, and how the family

experienced music at home. The results

found that participants had positive

attitudes to the “other”, and that they

did not observe prejudice against their

children, indicating that music was able

to reduce stereotyping. This also suggests

that their children may not develop

negative stereotypes because they may

not be exposed to negativity, despite being

members of societies that hold systemic

ethnic biases.

Back in the UK, presenting music in

multicultural situations can become a

challenge of “them” teaching “us,” or

“us” teaching “them”. This can become

even more challenging with musical

differences within cultures, as we get used

to familiar sounds of our culture early on.

Interestingly, the song “Frère Jacques”

has been used in multiple ways and used

in multiple languages. In fact, there is a

website of the different ways that students

and teachers from other countries sing

the song: http://demonsaumonde.free.fr/


Mama Lisa (https://www.mamalisa.com/)

specialises in a number of free-to-access

songs from around the world. Often there

are links to YouTube recordings or even

audio recordings to better understand how

to pronounce the different languages.

“We have collections of a lot of songs

that are sung around the world, including

“Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”. I think it’s a

great way to introduce kids (and adults) to

other languages since they already know

the tunes. I did this for my daughter’s girl

scout troop when she was younger (she’s

now 20 and in college). Kids love to try to

pronounce different languages.” Lisa, from

Mama Lisa.

To celebrate this approach to

multiculturalism, there are links below

to the Persian, Tingrinya, Albanian,

Kurdish and Arabic versions of “Frère

Jacques”, with a bonus version in Urdu

from Pakistan! (https://www.mamalisa.

com/?t=e_family&c=55 will take you to

Mama Lisa’s page of different versions of

Frère Jacques around the world.)


Hefer, M., & Gluschankof, C. (2021).

Building a future through multicultural

early childhood music classes in a conflictaffected

city. International Journal of Music

in Early Childhood, 16(1), 71–87. https://doi.


UNHCR. (2022). United Nations Refugee

Agency UK. https://www.unhcr.org/uk/


Arbër Vlla-e

(Albanian, from Albania)

Arbër vlla-e,

Arbër vlla-e

A po flen,

A po flen?

Kumbona ka ra-e,

Kumbona ka ra-e

Ding dang dong

Ding dang dong

Brother Monk

(Kurdish, from Iraq)

Birayê keşê,

Birayê keşê

Hîn tu raketî?

Hîn tu raketî?

Dengê zingil nakê?

Dengê zingil nakê?

Ding ding ding,

Ding ding ding!

Brother John

Arabic, from Syria

؟ ميان تنأ له ؟ ميان تنأ له

ناج ايوخ ، ناج ايوخ

سرج ، نري حبصلا سرج

نري حبصلا

جنود جناد جند

جنود جناد جند

Brother John

(Urdu from Pakistan)


Aap so rahe hain

Aap so rahe hain

Bhai jaan

Bhai jaan

Subah ho rahi hai

Subah ho rahi hai

Ghanti baj rahi hai

Panie Janie

Direct English translation

Brother Arber

Brother Arber

Brother Arber

Are you asleep?

Are you asleep?

Morning bells are ringing

Morning bells are ringing

Ding dang dong

Ding dang dong!

Direct English translation:

Brother Monk

Brother monk

Brother monk

Are you still sleeping?

Are you still sleeping?

Don’t you hear the bell?

Don’t you hear the bell?

Ding ding ding,

Ding ding ding!

Direct English translation

Are You Sleeping

Are you sleeping,

Are you sleeping,

Brother John?

Brother John?

Morning bells are ringing

Morning bells are ringing

Ding, dang, dong

Ding, dang, dong

Direct English translation:

Are You Sleeping

Are you sleeping?

Are you sleeping?

Brother John?

Brother John?

It’s day time

It’s day time

The bell is ringing,

The bell is ringing.

Ding, dong, bell.

Ding, dong, bell!

Frances Turnbull

Musician, researcher and author,

Frances Turnbull, is a self-taught guitarist

who has played contemporary and

community music from the age of 12. She

delivers music sessions to the early years

and KS1. Trained in the music education

techniques of Kodály (specialist singing),

Dalcroze (specialist movement) and Orff

(specialist percussion instruments), she

has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology

(Open University) and a Master’s degree

in Education (University of Cambridge).

She runs a local community choir, the

Bolton Warblers, and delivers the Sound

Sense initiative “A choir in every care

home” within local care and residential

homes, supporting health and wellbeing

through her community interest


She has represented the early years

music community at the House of

Commons, advocating for recognition

for early years music educators, and her

table of progressive music skills for under

7s features in her curriculum books.

Frances is the author of “Learning with

Music: Games and activities for the early

years”, published by Routledge, August



parenta.com | April 2022 23


I don’t believe I’ve ever met anyone who

wishes to be merely tolerated. And yet,

the word tolerance is often used when we

speak about diversity.

To tolerate something involves a type of

sufferance or permission, an allowing

something else to be but only due to the

exercising of patience for this existence.

Living our lives tolerating people we

consider to be different to us is one way

to consider diversity. Understanding and

being inclusive of everyone’s uniqueness

in terms of multiple factors including those

such as race, gender, socio-economic

status, age, physical abilities, religion, or

other ideologies, is another.

But what if we were to go further and

embrace a more generous mindset when

it comes to difference, looking to celebrate

it, and to teach this art of celebration to


I believe that this can be realised through

the stories we choose to tell, considering

the content and being deliberate in the

way in which it is delivered, and the

freedom that we allow children in terms

of their unique responses, and their own

narrative creations.

But is it essential to load our storytelling

with such a sense of gravitas?

An examination of some of the effects of

a lack of diversity in stories would suggest


A recent report on “Early Childhood

Adversity, Toxic Stress, and the Impacts

of Racism on the Foundations of

Health” (Shonkoff, Slopen & Williams,

2021) discusses the effects that early

experiences have on children’s biological

systems and highlights constant exposure

to discrimination from an early age as

being associated with lower self-esteem

and diminished psychological well-being.

Being subjected to discrimination can

also activate the stress response systems

inside the body which can undermine early

learning, and if not mitigated, advance the

development of chronic medical conditions

and premature ageing.

A New York Times article on the books

boys tend to read, noted the lack of

emotional complexity, negotiation,

“friendship dilemmas or internal conflict”

within the texts. This limited resourcing

may be a contributing factor in the marked

difference between the relational skills of

boys and girls with boys scoring “lower

than girls of the same age on virtually

all measures of empathy and social

skills” (Whippman, 2021). It may also

contribute to mental health issues due to

the reinforcement of what are considered

to be masculine norms which results in a

lack of intimate friendships and support

structures, placing adolescent boys at a

higher risk of death by suicide than girls.

Research considering protagonists in

stories was conducted at Princeton

University in New Jersey and Emory

University in Georgia and the researchers

found that “male overrepresentation

may contribute to ‘symbolic annihilation’

whereby girls may come to regard

themselves as less relevant and

consequential in society, which may lead

to a lesser sense of belonging and selfworth.”

(Chadwick, 2021).

The author, Matt de la Peña discussing

his book titled “Love” in a January

2018 article “Why We Shouldn’t Shield

Children from Darkness”, detailed how

he was discouraged from including an

illustration of a despondent young boy

hiding beneath a piano with his dog

as his parents argue across the living

room, with publishers describing it as ”a

little too heavy for children”. De la Peña

insisted on the image being included,

stating that he felt that without it, the book

would fail to “acknowledge any notion of

adversity” and therefore fail to represent

“an uncomfortable number of children

out there right now...crouched beneath a

metaphorical piano” (De la Peña 2018).

It’s evident that the stories we tell matter


In stories, children can find themselves

and celebrate this discovery. Farrah

Serouk (2017) says that to “find a fragment

of yourself in the pages of a book is

a profound and powerful experience;

it holds a mirror up to your existence

and suggests that you’re not alone. For

children in their formative years this is lifeaffirming.”

In stories, children can discover others

and celebrate them. Professor Jennifer

Steele of York University, who conducted

research with the goal of gaining a better

understanding of the automatic racial

attitudes of children explains that “in early

childhood what we know is that children

tend to be egocentric and socio centric.

They think that they’re great and that

other people who are like them are great

too. That’s why we recommend using

interventions that don’t challenge these

beliefs, but instead promote the fact that

people from different backgrounds or who

look different than them often have a lot in

common and they can be great too” (York

University 2017 in Lumgair, 2021).

A further aspect of diversity to consider

is that of difficult topics and emotions.

We need to ask ourselves whether we

are open to the exploration of heavy

subject matter and the expression of all

emotions, not only those we consider easy

to manage. Jeremy Sydik (2016), in his

paper “Hey, Where’s the Monster? How a

Storytelling Game Is Played in a Preschool

Classroom”, says that current culture

promotes the “viewpoint that children’s

stories, media, and games should avoid

dark themes entirely”, arguing that “this

approach would seem to diminish the

richness of experience that children bring

to their understandings of the world as

well as possibly deprive them of valuable

tools in working cognitively through real

concerns in their lives” (Sydik, 2016 in

Lumgair, 2021).

The author, Dan Pink, in his recent book

titled “The Power of Regret” says that we

need to equip children with the ability to

deal with negative emotions so that they

are not “captured and brought down” by

them but rather are able to use them to

“clarify and improve” their lives (Skipper,


Some final aspects of diversity to consider

are the range of responses to story

and the stories expressed by children.

Do we accept the thoughts, ideas, and

opinions children communicate rather

than pursuing what we consider to be

the ‘correct’ response? If we bear in mind

the divergent backgrounds children come

from and the resulting varying stories

that they live out daily, it would be logical

to conclude that they would not offer a

standardised response to a given situation

or story but rather respond with their own

perspectives. The same applies to the

stories they will craft and tell.

As we celebrate children in all their

uniqueness, welcoming their contributions,

they will in turn learn to celebrate


As we celebrate other people in all their

uniqueness, children will share in this

celebration and learn to do the same.

This is how we sow curiosity, joy, and

openness in the lives of children. This is

how we cultivate justice.


Chadwick, J. (2021) “Children’s books are

still dominated by MALE characters and

female protagonists are underrepresented,

scientists claim after analysing 3,000

stories.” Mail Online, Associated

Newspapers Limited. Accessed on

5/3/2022 at https://www.dailymail.co.uk/



De la Peña, M. (2018) “Why We Shouldn’t

Shield Children from Darkness.”

Sacramento: Time USA. Accessed on

6/7/2020 https://time.com/5093669/


Lumgair, H. (2021) “Using Stories to Support

Learning and Development in Early

Childhood: A Practical Guide.” London:

Jessica Kingsley Publishers

Serrouk, F. (2017) “Young Children Need

Stories in Which They Can Recognise Their

Own Lives.” London: Maze Media.

Accessed on 7/7/2020 at https://www.


Shonkoff, J.P. (2021) “How racism in early

life can affect long-term health.” Knowable

Magazine, Annual Reviews. Accessed on

4/03/2022 at https://knowablemagazine.


Shonkoff, J. P., Slopen, N., & Williams,

D. R. (2021). “Early childhood adversity,

toxic stress, and the impacts of racism

on the foundations of health.” Annual

Review of Public Health, 42, 115-134.

Accessed on 2/03/2021 at https://www.


Skipper, C. (2022) ”How to Use Your

Regrets for Good” Condé Nast. Accessed

on 4/03/2022 at https://www.gq.com/


Whippman, R. (2021) “What We Are Not

Teaching Boys About Being Human.” The

New York Times. Accessed on 04/03/2022

at https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/06/


Helen Lumgair

Helen Lumgair is a Montessori teacher,

Feuerstein Instrumental Enrichment

Mediator and Education Consultant. She

has worked with families and in settings

for over twenty years. Helen created

the framework and initial lesson plans

of the empathy-focused Think Equal

curriculum which was recognised with

a 2020 WISE award for innovation and

the addressing of global educational

challenges. She has lectured globally on

its implementation.

She authored a chapter on using

the process of narrative to develop

empathy in early childhood in the book,

“Developing Empathy in the Early Years:

A Guide for Practitioners” and then

wrote the book “Using Stories to Support

Learning and Development in Early

Childhood.” She is passionate about

developing holistic educational strategies

to meet the needs of every learner, and

about stories.

York University (2017) “Children Show

Implicit Racial Bias from a Young Age,

Research Finds:

New Research Sheds Light on How

Racial Prejudice Develops.” Rockville:


Accessed on 7/7/2020 at



24 April 2022 | parenta.com

parenta.com | April 2022 25


we didn’t

know about


Recycling is now part of our daily life, or at

least, if we want to live a more sustainable

life, and leave the world in a better state

for our children, it should be. But apart

from the 3 Rs of reduce, reuse and recycle,

how much do we actually know about

recycling? Things have changed a lot in

the world of recycling in the last few years,

so here are eight things that most people

don’t know about recycling.

1. People recycle more

when they know what

recyclable waste


In 2014, the environmental charity, Keep

Britain Tidy, and the waste management

company, SITA UK, conducted a study

to see why Britain’s recycling rates were

declining. They ran short information

sessions to see if they affected recycling

rates. After the session, participants said

they were more committed to recycling

more and to do it appropriately.

2. Recycling saves energy

Many of us recycle so that things

are diverted from landfill sites or to

reduce plastic pollution which is now a

huge problem for our oceans, coastal

communities and wildlife. Recycling

not only reduces pollution, but saves

energy as well. This is because making

new products requires energy to extract

and process the raw materials. This can

include things like burning fossil fuels,

which releases carbon dioxide into the

atmosphere. If products are made from

recycled materials, it eliminates the need

to extract them. Recycling aluminium

cans for example, takes 95% less energy

than making them from scratch, saving

approximately 40 barrels of oil per ton of

aluminium recycled..

3. Materials for recycling

should be rinsed, dried

and clean

Many recycling collections only separate

materials at the recycling facility. However,

contamination can occur if people do not

wash out their shampoo/yoghurt/food

waste discarding them. Grease and oil on

pizza boxes means that these cannot be

recycled, and a half emptied can of drink

can ruin an entire load of paper that could

otherwise have been recycled. Think about

all the other things that come in glass jars

and imagine the mess in the recycling

plant when cartons of butter, mayonnaise,

and baked beans are not cleaned out

properly. Some sticky and viscous liquids

can also shut down an entire plant if they

find their way into a recycling machine by

mistake, so always rinse and dry cans and

food containers before putting them into

the recycling.

4. Lots of ‘recycling’ still

ends up in landfill

If waste is not recycled, it ends up in

landfill. These are areas where our

rubbish literally fills the land, and often

new ‘hills’ arise out of the non-organic

and non-recyclable areas, but they won’t

be the ones you want to take the dog out

for a stroll on! Landfill waste can cause

environmental hazards as they can contain

things like chemicals from car batteries or

other dangerous liquids, weedkillers and

other toxic substances. These can ‘leak’

from the site and eventually find their way

into the water system or contaminate

nearby land making it unsuitable for

farming or other uses. Ensuring rubbish

is properly recycled can help divert it from


5. Glass is recyclable but

50% still ends up in


Glass is one of the things that we have

been recycling for the longest time. In fact,

it’s practice dates back to the Romans

who realised that it was cheaper and

easier to recycle glass than to recreate

it from scratch. They also realised that it

would recycle forever. Nowadays, for every

tonne of old glass used, 135 litres of fuel

are saved as well as 12 tonnes of raw

materials. Despite this, in the UK we only

recycle about 50% of the glass we use,

with the rest ending up in landfill. Sweden

and Finland recycle up to 90%.

6. Oil is recyclable

Many people believe oil to be a nonrecyclable

material when in fact, it can be

recycled. Some people illegally pour oil

down drains causing serious problems of

pollution. Instead, oil should be taken to

a council recycling centre where it can be

processed and sent to a refining company.

A batch of 5,000 litres of processed waste

oil can return up to 3,500 litres of usable


7. Less than 25% of the

paper we use gets


Considering we are supposed to be an

almost ‘paperless’ society nowadays,

we are still using an awful lot of paper!

That wouldn’t be so bad if we recycled

the paper we did use, but at present,

we are recycling less than 25% of it.

Recycling paper involves de-inking the

paper and then it is chemically treated

to separate and break down the fibres.

Paper form offices usually carries a lot

less ink than other things like newspapers

and magazines for example, so make

it particularly valuable, but we need to

recycle more. Recycling more paper would

put less pressure on timber and leave

more trees standing!

8. Plastic bags are

recyclable but not via

the recycling bin

We have cut down on our use of plastic

bags drastically since the government

introduced legislation which meant

consumers had to pay for them at the

checkouts. However, whilst we are buying

fewer plastic bags, we are not so good

a recycling them. Most plastic bags

can be recycled again however as long

as they are not put in with the normal

rubbish as they can cause the machines

to shut down. Plastic carrier bags should

be taken back to collection points which

are available in many supermarkets, or

better still, use material bags instead and

eliminate the plastic ones completely.

And eight quick facts you

didn’t know either...

1. It only takes five 2-litre recycled bottles

to produce enough fiberfill to make a

ski jacket

2. Plastic knives, forks and spoons are

not recyclable

3. If everyone in the UK recycled just

one more drink can, we would save

enough energy to power an electric

train from Leeds to Brighton, 6,000


4. Plastic bottles take 500 years to


5. It takes less than a week from

throwing an old newspaper in the bin

for it to reappear as a newspaper

6. Glass bottles take approximately 1

million years to fully decompose

7. You can recycle your old toilet, along

with other porcelain products such as

sinks, baths and tiles

8. A glass milk bottle can be reused

about 20 times

26 April 2022 | parenta.com

parenta.com | April 2022 27

Stress Awareness Month

different situations, fill up the bucket. Other

things we do such as leisure activities,

hobbies and meditation can empty it and

the trick to staying healthy is to keep the

bucket in balance.

Area of life

Sign/symptoms of stress

Memory problems

Poor judgement or decision making

There is no doubt that in recent years, we

have all been under a lot more stress than

usual. The pandemic, lockdowns, school

and setting closures and not seeing friends

and family have caused many of us to

re-evaluate our lives. We are questioning

where we live and how we work, and in

the last month, the escalating conflict in

Ukraine has caused further uncertainty

and upset for many. A lot of us are feeling

the stress and the strain as energy prices

rise, the cost of living and inflation. So it

is more important than ever that we are

aware of these concerns in ourselves, our

staff and the children we look after.

The 1st of April marks the start of Stress

Awareness Month, which has been held

every year since 1992. It is organised and

promoted by The Stress Management

Society (SMS), whose tagline is “from

distress to de-stress” and whose aim is to

raise awareness of the causes and cures

of the modern stress epidemic. According

to their website the last two years have

been the most challenging they have

faced and they report than in 2020, their

services were “overwhelmed by people

that were struggling and seeking support”.

The theme for this year is “Community”

and the Stress Management Society say it

has been chosen because “lack of support

can cause loneliness and isolation, which

in turn lowers people’s well-being, impacts

mental health and can lead to mental

illness. Social isolation is an important risk

factor for both deteriorating mental health

and suicide.”

What is the impact of


Although data about work lost in the last 2

years is not available, in the year 2019/20,

stress, depression or anxiety accounted for

17.9 million days lost due to work-related ill

health. On average, each person suffering

took 21.6 days off work. A recent survey of

2,000 British adults by OnePoll in January

2021 showed that compared to usual:

• 43% felt more depressed

And the causes were cited as:

• missed family and friends

• concern about when things would get

back to normal

• anxiety about the changing rules

surrounding lockdown

• fear of the future post COVID

• money worries

What is stress?

Stress is a condition or feeling experienced

when a person perceives that the

demands on them exceed the personal

and social resources they have at that

moment. Stress is normal in everyday

life and a little bit of stress can be good

for us. It is primarily a physical response

to a potential danger, where our body

releases hormones such as cortisol and

adrenaline to set us up for what we know

as the ‘fight, flight or freeze’ response. The

result of this is that the body reassigns

certain functions, diverting the blood to the

muscles in case we need to fight or run,

and shutting or limiting other functions

such as communications and digestion. If

the danger passes, then the body reverts

to its previous state and we continue as


The problem is that if we are continually

stressed, then the cortisol levels in our

body stay raised and we find ourselves in

a constant state of ‘alertness’ in everyday

situations. Our brain receives less blood

flow because the blood is diverted to

the muscles more often and our brain

function is minimised, especially our

higher-thinking capabilities. The constant

state of ‘alertness’ in our bodies is also

detrimental to our health, leading to

increases in blood pressure, which is a

risk factor for heart attacks and strokes. It

can also lead to insomnia, digestive issues

and problems with the immune system

among others. Where stress turns into

anxiety and/or depression, and mental

health issues ensue, there can be more

severe consequences and at worst, a risk

of suicide as well.

What can we do about it?

As nursery managers, we need to be

aware of stress levels in ourselves, our

colleagues and staff and the children and

families we serve. Being on the look out

for signs of stress can help us become

more aware of the problem and seek help,

or assist others to seek help earlier. You

may be familiar with the concept of the

‘stress bucket’, in which you imagine your

stress as being kept in a bucket. Various

demands from people and expectations in

So how can we tell if our

‘buckets’ are too full?

According to the Stress Management

Society website, there are 4 main areas

where we feel stress and there are signs

and symptoms to look out for in each.

These are shown in the table below.

Ways to de-stress


We all have different ways in which we

de-stress. For some, it can be walking in

nature or listening to music, for others, it is

playing sport or enjoying time with friends.

Other ways include adopting a positive

mindset, deep breathing, meditation or

yoga, turning off technology for a time,

going to bed early, improving timemanagement

skills or learning to say ‘no’.

How to help your staff

As an institution or employer, there are

also things that you can do to help your

employees manage stress better. You can

take a ‘corporate stress test’ on the SMS

website to get a snapshot of your business

and how it is coping with stress. There are

also lots of other resources such as HSE/

legal guidelines, stress audit templates,

workshop and training sessions, ideas

on staff well-being initiatives such as

free yoga sessions and personal wellbeing

ideas as well as many other free

resources to help people manage stress

better. They also have a 30-day challenge

with a daily de-stressing planner, stress

guide, achievement plan and many other

ideas to help aimed at making April 2022

the month to start managing your stress

better. Other organisations such as Mates

in Mind, have a free “Managing and

Reducing Workplace Stress Handbook”,

which is available to download for free via

their website: Managing and Reducing

Workplace Stress Handbook.





Lack of concentration

Inability to think straight or ‘brain fog’

Self-doubt and low self-esteem

Mood swings



Panic attacks


Feeling overwhelmed

Cynicism and frustration

Rapid heartbeat

Aches and pains

Frequent colds

Skin complaints

Chest pain

Isolating from others

Increase in reliance on addictive substances such as

alcohol, smoking or drugs

Too much or not enough sleep


Loss of sense of humour

References and useful









• 65% felt more stressed

• 53% felt more anxious

28 April 2022 | parenta.com

parenta.com | April 2022 29

What does leadership look like

when … professional development

budgets are limited?

Research shows that high quality

professional development experiences

are essential for improving practice in the

early years. Professional development

matters because it impacts positively on

staff motivation and retention, and when

it is well thought out and delivered, it can

directly improve the outcomes of children

(Rogers et al., 2017).

But while we know that professional

development is important, early years

settings often lack the budget they would

like when it comes to developing staff.

Data from surveys in the UK for example

repeatedly show that professional

development budgets are small and often

used purely for fulfilling non-negotiable

training requirements, such as first aid or

safeguarding training (e.g. Ceeda, 2019).

So what can leaders do to demonstrate

their commitment to quality professional

development opportunities for their staff

when budgets are severely limited? This

article presents four steps that innovative

leaders take to support professional

development when money is tight.

Invest in job-embedded

professional development

Grow a coaching culture

Invite others to take a lead

Use the label ‘professional


Investing in jobembedded



First, we need to flip the way that we

think about professional development

so that it is more associated with what

happens in the everyday environment of

the setting, and less about ‘special days

out’. This is because effective professional

development depends on day-to-day

practice and coaching (Rogers et al.,

2017). Even if a staff member goes to

a professional development workshop

hosted outside of their day-to-day work,

it is fundamental that they are coached to

bring their learning back into the setting.

This is called ‘job-embedded professional

development’ (JEPD).

The research on JEPD shows that it has

a huge potential to make a difference

to practice. A powerful pedagogical

conversation that a staff member has

while they are ‘on the floor’ with children

can change the way that they approach

what they do. For example, in the London

Early Years Foundation (LEYF), managers

and room leaders will ask teachers

and teaching assistants to explain how

an area of practice that they have set

up in the room (e.g. a writing table)

demonstrates the LEYF pedagogy in action.

These conversations are professional

development. They are effective because

they not only challenge the individual

staff member to think about what they

are doing more consciously, but they also

further the strategic aims of the whole

setting. In this case, they promote and

embed the LEYF pedagogy in a way that

external or one-off training never could


While research on JEPD suggests that it

has huge potential, the same research

also shows us that investing time in

establishing systems of JEPD is vital. JEPD

doesn’t work unless there are a) people

who are ready, willing and able to have

these kinds of conversations and b) time

for the conversations to emerge and

develop. Leaders at all levels therefore play

a fundamental role in making JEPD work,

through developing their own practice

so that they can make the conversations

happen and are able to prioritise them in

the context of the everyday environment.

Creating a coaching


Innovative and agile leaders seek to

embed a coaching culture within the

organisation. A coaching culture is one in

which everyone expects to make progress

personally and professionally through

the support of others. You might have

heard the business saying ‘If you’re not

growing, you’re dying’ and we can apply

it here to professional development. If

staff feel that they are not supported to

get better at their work and follow their

interests, they are unlikely to want to stay

in that organisation. If we accept this, then

coaching becomes essential.

Principles of coaching can be embedded

in small and big interactions. Take for

example leadership of a team meeting.

This is the kind of experience that we can

approach differently if we look at it through

a coaching lens.

Nadine, a Baby Room Leader in

Scallywags Nursery in Scotland, explained

that when she wanted to see more time

spent by the 0-2-year-olds in the outdoor

space, she approached this through open

questions in the team meeting. “What

do we think about how we’re using the

outdoors at the moment?” Asking this

question raised a range of issues and

potential barriers to using the outdoor

space, as well as ideas about how this

could be overcome and what solutions

the team wanted to try. This is a coaching

approach because everyone has the

opportunity to identify and solve problems.

Asking others to lead

Let us stay with the discussion about the

outdoor space in the team meeting. In

the context of the dialogue and the ideas

that emerged from it, Nadine wondered

whether there was an opportunity for

others in the group to take the lead in

designing, implementing and assessing


Asking others to lead a change process,

small or big, is an excellent form of

professional development. In LEYF, they

call this ‘action research’ while at Indigo

Childcare in Glasgow, they talk about it

as ‘the ideas process’. It doesn’t really

matter what you call it – the point is

finding opportunities for staff at all levels

in the organisation to step up and make

meaningful change.

Use the label

‘professional development’

In order for professional development

to impact positively on staff motivation

and retention, everyone needs to know

that they are experiencing professional

development. It is important to label

‘professional development’, particularly

when it might appear different to what

staff were expecting.

If a staff member decides to take on a

particular pedagogical responsibility, flag

that this is professional development. If

they receive coaching and support to make

this responsibility work, explain that this

is part of the professional development

package. Leaders might say something

like “I would love you to take responsibility

for that – it would be fantastic for your

professional development” or “I think this

conversation has been really important for

your professional development. Do you

feel the same?”.


Rogers, S., Brown, C. & Poblete, X. (2018)

A systematic review of the evidence

base for professional learning in early

years education (the PLEYE review).

London: Nuffield Foundation. Accessed

07.03.2022: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/




Ceeda (2019) About Early Years Workforce

Report, 2019. Accessed 07.03.2022:


Mona Sakr

Dr Mona Sakr is a Senior Lecturer in

Education and Early Childhood. As a

researcher in Early Years (EY) provision,

she has published extensively on

creative, digital and playful pedagogies

including the books “Digital Play in

Early Childhood: What’s the Problem?”

(Sage) and “Creativity and Making in

Early Childhood: Challenging Practitioner

Perspectives” (Bloomsbury).

Mona’s current research is an

exploration of pedagogical,

organisational and community

leadership in EY and how leadership can

be more effectively developed across

EY. Current funded research includes a

Nuffield Foundation project looking at

online leadership development across

the EY sector, a BELMAS project looking

at leadership in the baby room of

nurseries and a BERA project examining

ethnicity in the early years workforce.

Forthcoming books (include an

introduction to social leadership in early

childhood education and care (written

with June O’Sullivan, CEO of London Early

Years Foundation), and an edited volume

on EY pedagogical leadership around

the globe.

Email: m.sakr@mdx.ac.uk

Twitter: @DrMonaSakr

30 April 2022 | parenta.com

parenta.com | April 2022 31

Improving parent communication

Do you remember when communications

were limited to the post and wired

telephones? Thankfully, those days are

long gone, and settings now have many

ways to communicate with parents. But

are you making the most of these, or are

you still relying on ‘snailmail’ and the odd

phone call to get your messages across?

We have some advice to improve your

communication with your parents, to the

benefit of all.

Why improve your parent


Businesses need to be profitable and

nurseries would not survive long if their

expenditure persistently exceeded their

income. Therefore, reaching out to parents

of young children in your area is vital to

get feet through the doors and income

coming in. Parents are clients – they have

the choice to go elsewhere if they are not

satisfied with the service they receive. If

they do that, making ends meet can be

a precarious business, threatening the

security of other children’s places, the jobs

of the staff, and the ultimately, the ability of

the setting to remain open.

But there are other reasons too. Settings

have a statutory duty to safeguard the

children in their care, which means

understanding the issues that children face

at home, and any barriers to learning they

may have. Understanding the child within

their cultural and community context can

help address behavioural concerns too.

Improving communications between the

setting and parents can also improve

progress. Parents know their children

best, so if parents are on board with an

educational activity, and use it or practice

it at home, the children will likely make

more progress than if they did not. Good

communication with parents can also help

with transitions such as room changes or

transition to primary school.

When parents feel that they are listened

in early years settings

to and that settings understand them

and their children, they are more likely to

recommend that setting. If parents feel

like they never know what is going on, or

they receive information in a slapdash or

unprofessional way, they will remember

this too! And you can be sure that these

are exactly the parents who are really

good at communicating your shortcomings

to the entire world!

The problems with

communication today

Today’s communication methods are not

without their issues, so think about:

Synchronous communication

Both parties schedule or respond in real

time e.g. a phone call

- Face-to-face meetings

- Phone calls with people in real time

- Real-time radio/TV broadcasts (although

some can now be recorded to watch later)

- Video conferencing (e.g. Zoom, Skype,


- Real-time webinars

- TV and radio adverts

• Your staff’s level of communication


• Any difficulties in getting to face-toface

meetings, especially for busy,

working parents

• Language barriers

• Cultural barriers

• Literacy issues

• Reducing confusion caused by

messages being passed on by others

– the ‘Chinese whispers’ effect

• Ways to reduce the lack of inference

clues such as body language or tone

of voice, especially in social media

and text messages

• Incorrect assumptions about who is

the main contact

Ways to communicate

The table below lists a few communication

methods that you could use in your setting.

There is no rule to say settings should use

them all, but the more channels you are

Asynchronous communication

When people choose to interact with the

message e.g. an email is sent by one

person but read by the recipient another


- Phone messages left on answerphones

- Emails

- Traditional post

- Printed mailshots and newsletters

- Posters and adverts

- Websites and articles

- Social and business media (e.g. Twitter,

Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn)

- Blogs/vlogs (e.g. YouTube, Vimeo)

- Podcasts

- Messaging apps and texts (e.g.

WhatsApp, Telegram, Viber, WeChat)

- Messages in team or group apps (E.g.


using, the more likely it is that you will get

your message across in an effective way.

Audits and goals

If you want to improve your communication

strategy, start by auditing what you do and

don’t do and then set yourself some goals.

You should be specific and use SMART

goals too. For example, you might want to

ensure that all emails are answered within

a set time period (e.g. 24 or 48 hours).

Or you could decide to issue a monthly/

weekly/bi-weekly newsletter. Or perhaps

use a bespoke tool such as Parenta’s

Footsteps 2 software to inform parents of

their child’s progress. Other goals could be

to set up a podcast or monthly webinar,

or perhaps just to translate your existing

materials for a family whose first language

is not English.

What to share

If you are trying to improve your

communications, then think also about

what you want to communicate and why.

Can you legally share it or not? There are

rules and laws about people’s privacy and

you should have written privacy, data and

GDPR policies to help you.

Some things you might want to

communicate include:

• Information articles and podcasts

• Good news and events

• Questionnaires asking for ideas or


• Policy changes

• New staff appointments

Do your staff need training?

Communicating is something we all do,

but not everyone is good at it. Some adults

struggle occasionally with emotional

intelligence issues and may say and

behave in ways that are less than effective.

Therefore, think about whether your

staff would benefit from training. You

might need to help them have difficult

conversations with parents about children,

for example. Other things that people may

need training on include:

• Interpersonal skills

• Confidence in speaking publicly or


• Writing support or spelling – dyslexia


• What to say and how to say it

Below are some more ideas to help with

your parental communications.

Before children start

• Ask parents what/who their preferred

method of communication/person is

• Sort out language/accessibility/

translation issues

• Do you need braille, large text or

audio programmes?

• Have a marketing/information

brochure available in print/electronic


• Have FAQs on your website

• Publish a “What to expect on your first

day” article or make a vlog

• Offer feedback after a trial/first day

Face-to-face communications

• Smile and be proactive, saying

hello and greeting parents in the

playground/at the gates

• Be aware of your mood and stay

professional at all times

• Listen first, then speak

• Think “win-win” and offer solutions

rather than just problems

Electronic and other forms of


• Set up an outside and inside bulletin

board – weatherproof messages and

information that are easy to read/see

• Set up a parental forum for


• Invite parents in for informal days and

social events

• Post regularly on social media/

messaging apps to keep in touch with

your families

• Send work or ideas home about what

you’ve been doing to keep parents


32 April 2022 | parenta.com

parenta.com | April 2022 33

Celebrate Easter

Chocolate orange biscuits

with this fantastic Easter egg collage!

What do you need?

• Tissue paper

• Cardboard/


• Glue

• Scissors

• Paint brush

These craft


are available

to view on ‘The

‘Suburban Mom’

website here.


1. First, cut tissue

paper into small


2. Scrunch up the

squares of tissue


3. Cut out an egg

shape in the card

or cardboard.

4. Paint the glue

onto the egg and

then place the

pieces of tissue

paper on top and

then let it dry.

5. Now you have a

fabulous Easter

egg collage!

You will need

• 100g unsalted butter

• 100g golden caster


• 1 free-range egg, lightly


• 1 orange (zest only)

• 50g milk chocolate, cut

into small pieces

• 275g plain flour

This recipe can be found on

the ‘BBC Food’ website here


1. Preheat the oven to

180°C/160°C Fan/Gas mark


2. Grease two baking trays

with a little butter.

3. Put the butter in a bowl and

beat with a wooden spoon

or electric hand whisk until


4. Add the sugar and beat

again until very creamy.

Beat in the egg until


5. Stir in the orange zest,

chocolate and flour. Use

your hands to make the

dough into a ball.

6. Divide the dough into

quarters and roll each

quarter into a sausage

shape, about 10cm/4 inches

long and 4cm/1½ inches


7. Slice each log into 6 equal

pieces; you will have a

total of 24 biscuits. Make

sure each biscuit is a circle

shape, then press it down

slightly with your hands and

place it on the prepared

baking trays.

8. Bake for 10–12 minutes, or

until golden-brown around

the edges.

9. Lift the biscuits onto a

cooling rack and leave to


34 April 2022 | parenta.com parenta.com | April 2022 35

Movement and music can

Animals at risk

in the Amazon

be a gateway to the world!

• The jaguar

• Giant otter

• Golden poison frog

• Blue-throated macaw

• Amazon river dolphin

Movement and music bring us joy, but did you know if you add some extra ingredients, and a little bit of

magic, it becomes a gateway to the world?!

Here at Littlemagictrain, we are passionate

about the use of movement and music to

create a fun multi-sensory experience that

extends the learning process using play.

For example, on our “Amazon Adventure”,

we get out our binoculars to see what we

can find as we push our way through the

Amazon. You and the children become

monkeys, snakes, jaguars, and parrots

and then make your way safely back

home. From such a simple concept there

are so many ways to extend the children’s

knowledge and understanding of the

world around them.

Building the excitement:

the preparation for your


Where is the Amazon?

Create a map with the journey from

your setting to the Amazon rainforest

in South America. Discuss the different

countries that the Amazon spans across:

Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia,

Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and French

Guiana. The older children can find these

countries on a globe or search for the

countries in an atlas.

Put the landmarks around the room so the

children feel the excitement of travelling so

far away from home.

What will we pack?

Talking about clothes enables you to

discuss the environment and weather. But

most importantly, for me, you need clothes

that spiders and snakes can’t crawl up or


Don’t forget your binoculars so you can

avoid the creepy crawlies and any scary

animals in the Amazon!

How will we get there?

Of course, I use my Littlemagictrain, as

he is my magical bridge between the

real and imaginary world. This is a great

opportunity to discuss different types of

transport you can use, and which would

be the fastest.


How will they feel being so far away

from home? Are they excited or a little bit


*You can see that there are so many

learning opportunities before you even

start your adventure. Imagine how much

they will learn once the fun begins.

Setting the scene: enter

the Amazon

When the children arrive on the edge of

the Amazon Rainforest, they need to find

their binoculars (imaginary or made from

loo rolls) to look for lots of different creepy

crawlies and beasties to keep safe!

Movement and Music

Put on the music and “look out!” as you

step over, under and around the trees,

branches and rocks in the rainforest.

A little bit extra

1. Create an obstacle course. Rescue

some old tights, stuff them, and hang

them from the ceiling so the children

physically push their way inside

the Amazon as they travel over the

obstacle course. Don’t forget to keep

searching for animals and creepy

crawlies as you move further and

further into the Amazon.

2. Create a “Scavenger Hunt” sheet to

tick the animals they see as they enter

the Amazon.

*This is the perfect opportunity to talk

about the different animals that live and

can only survive in the Rainforest.

Did you know?

• The Amazon covers 1.4 billion acres

across 9 countries

• 1 acre of rainforest is lost every

second. (1/2 a football pitch)

• 50% of the world’s biodiversity is

found in the rainforests

• 10% of all known species live in the


• 350 indigenous and ethnic groups call

the Amazon home

• 200 gigatons of carbon equivalents

are stored in the Amazon

Rainforest trust https://www.


When you go further into the adventure,

and become the monkey, moving to the

music jumping from tree to tree or playing

a game of hide and seek you can see this

is an ideal springboard to learn about the

different monkeys you find in the Amazon -

what they look like, where they live (which

countries of the Amazon) and what they


Compare the food we eat to the monkey’s

diet. Some monkeys are vegetarian, and

some are carnivorous just like us. You can

feed in new words such as “carnivorous”,

“vegetarian”, “vegan” and “folivorous”.

Folivorous is a diet that mainly comprises

leaves, soft fruits, flowers, and buds and is

the diet of the Howler monkey.

This is a much more pleasant diet

compared to that of the Tufted Capuchin

monkey who eats eggs, insects, small

mammals, birds, squirrels, small reptiles,

nuts, nectar and they are a confirmed

predator of the Titi monkey. Not very nice!

There is so much to discover with a little bit

of imagination combined with movement

and music. The world opens for the


Here are just a few of the ideas, focusing

on knowledge and understanding of

the world, shared with me at a training

session linked to our “Amazon adventure”.

This will give you an idea of how much

children can discover when they are taken

on a multi-sensory adventure with a little

bit of magic.

Knowledge and

understanding of the world

• Talk about hibernation

• The environment in the Amazon

• Issues of extinction and rainforest

• Life cycles (butterfly kit)

• Weather in the Amazon vs home

• Trees in the Amazon and the levels of

the canopy

• Species of trees here and in the


• Grow plants/veg with the children and

compare them to the plants/food in

the Amazon

• What do animals make to live in -

webs/nests/burrows etc.?

• What do the animals eat?

• What sounds do the animals make?

• Where do the animals live?

• Introduce them to the Harpy Eagle

• Recognising different animals and


• Walking through the jungle – DANGER

• Hot/cold air – our environment

compared to Amazon

• Compare the rainforest to our


• Importance of the Rain Forest and why

we need to protect it.

• Recycling – why do we do it?

• Look at our own pets: guinea pigs and

their relatives, the capybara

Go to littlemagictrain today and download

our FREE “Visit to the Zoo” today and see

how you can use movement and music,

with a little bit of magic, to help them

discover the world around them. What are

you waiting for?

Gina Bale

Gina’s background was originally

ballet, but she has spent the last 27

years teaching movement and dance

in mainstream, early years and SEND

settings as well as dance schools.

Whilst teaching, Gina found the time to

create the ‘Hi-5’ dance programme to

run alongside the Australian Children’s

TV series and the Angelina Ballerina

Dance Academy for Hit Entertainment.

Her proudest achievement to date is her

baby Littlemagictrain. She created this

specifically to help children learn through

make-believe, music and movement.

One of the highlights has been seeing

Littlemagictrain delivered by Butlin’s

famous Redcoats with the gorgeous

‘Bonnie Bear’ on the Skyline stage.

Gina has qualifications of teaching

movement and dance from the Royal

Ballet School, Trinity College and Royal

Academy of Dance.

Use the code ‘PARENTA’ for a 20%

discount on Littlemagictrain downloads

from ‘Special Editions’, ‘Speech and

Language Activities’, ‘Games’ and


36 April 2022 | parenta.com

parenta.com | April 2022 37


“Excellent response times and prompt email actions.

“When calling through for support we find that you are always helpful and help us to

resolve our issue.

Fantastic response to my emails and expert knowledge.”


Clever Clogs

“Easy to follow advice, thank you very much.”

Brishing Barn


to all our Parenta learners!

Congratulations to all our Parenta learners who completed their apprenticeship

and have now gained their qualifications.

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

to Level 3 and Level 5 Management – that’s a huge achievement in the

current climate.

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

“Very quick to respond and helpful.”

Muhammed Khan

“Thanks Amie for a quick response to my query, which made perfect sense!”

Sarah Sexon

“Actioned very quickly, excellent!

Rosie, as always, was very knowledgeable and helpful and was able to deal with my

query swiftly. Thank you.”

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

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

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

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

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

Claire Braidwood

38 April 2022 | parenta.com

parenta.com | April 2022 39



Interested? Visit


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including photos and videos

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