February 2023 Parenta magazine

You also want an ePaper? Increase the reach of your titles

YUMPU automatically turns print PDFs into web optimized ePapers that Google loves.

Issue 99<br />

FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong><br />

FREE<br />

Industry<br />

Experts<br />

Dealing with the death of<br />

a staff member - focus on<br />

parents and children<br />

COVER<br />

Getting fit? Get musical:<br />

working out in the<br />

early years<br />

Top tips for the terrific<br />

twos - tip six: timing<br />

transitions<br />

+ lots more<br />

EYFS activities<br />

inside!<br />

This month…<br />

Communication<br />

& Language<br />

Valentine’s is the time for<br />

self-love<br />

Make <strong>2023</strong> the start of a wonderful relationship with your own heart and help your little ones to begin theirs.<br />


10<br />

Top tips for<br />

the terrific<br />

twos -Tip six:<br />

timing transitions<br />

hello<br />

welcome to our family<br />

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

There is much to think about and discuss this month surrounding the welfare, well-being and safety of our<br />

colleagues and the children in our care. Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week (6th – 12th) gives us a perfect<br />

opportunity to learn more and engage in the debates and activities surrounding this incredibly important topic,<br />

while Safer Internet Day on 7th arms us with resources and tips to ensure our colleagues and younger members<br />

of the team are aware of online dangers. We also take a good look at stress-coping mechanisms for ourselves<br />

and our teams – turn to page 26 for more on this.<br />

We celebrate all things fantastic about apprenticeships during National Apprenticeship Week from 6th – 12th - turn to page 12 to find out<br />

how you can support and get involved in such a crucial part of early years childcare. We spoke to our <strong>Parenta</strong> learners to find out what<br />

they love about doing an apprenticeship and what life skills they are learning, and we feature some of their ideas inside the <strong>magazine</strong>!<br />

Also featured in this month’s edition – Dr Sarah Moseley poses the question; “Why is learning to write so difficult for so many learners?”,<br />

Frances Turnbull gets us singing and working out at the same time (not an easy task for some!), Gina Bale talks ‘self-love’ to mark<br />

Valentine’s Day, and Dr Kathryn Peckham continues to show us how to help develop self-esteem in children. Joanna Grace is exploring<br />

the “terrific” twos and really helps us with the children’s ‘timing transitions’, Pam McFarlane continues with the sensitive topic of<br />

dealing with the death of a staff member (focusing on parents and children), and Dr Mona Sakr begins a fascinating new series about<br />

‘organisational culture’ in nurseries.<br />

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

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

Please feel free to share the <strong>magazine</strong> with friends, parents and colleagues – they can sign up to receive their copy at www.parenta.com/<br />

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

Allan<br />

FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong> ISSUE 99<br />


Regulars<br />

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

34 EYFS Activities: Communication and<br />

Language<br />

News<br />

4 Childcare news and views<br />

6 Small stories<br />

16 Celebrate National Apprenticeship Week<br />

with our <strong>Parenta</strong> learners<br />

39 Congratulations to our <strong>Parenta</strong><br />

learners!<br />

Advice<br />

12 Celebrate all things apprenticeships this<br />

month during National Apprenticeship<br />

Week!<br />

18 Children’s Mental Health Awareness<br />

Week<br />

22 Safer Internet Day<br />

26 Stress management – coping<br />

mechanisms for you and your<br />

colleagues<br />

32 International Day of Women and Girls<br />

in Science<br />

Industry Experts<br />

National Apprenticeship Week 14<br />

Safer Internet Day 22<br />

Stress management 26<br />

Two-year-olds are famous<br />

for shouting ”No”, with small<br />

puffed out chests...<br />

Dealing with<br />

the death of a<br />

staff member<br />

12<br />

When a staff member dies,<br />

colleagues, children and<br />

parents are impacted in many<br />

ways.<br />

2 <strong>February</strong> <strong>2023</strong> | parenta.com<br />

Getting fit? Get<br />

musical: working<br />

out in the early years<br />

20<br />

Moving around can be and should be<br />

fun at every age, but the way we need<br />

to move can make a big difference to<br />

how enjoyable we find different activities.<br />

10 Top tips for the terrific twos -<br />

Tip six: timing transitions<br />

12 Dealing with the death of a staff<br />

member - focus on parents and children<br />

20 Getting fit? Get musical: working out in<br />

the early years<br />

24 Why is learning to write so difficult for so<br />

many learners?<br />

28 How does self-esteem develop and how<br />

do we get that for our children?<br />

30 Organisational culture in nurseries: what<br />

is it and why does it matter?<br />

36 Valentine’s is the time for self-love<br />

Valentine’s is the time for self-love 36

Energy bill support for businesses<br />

to be reduced from April<br />

The Government has announced<br />

that the amount of support given to<br />

businesses to help with energy costs<br />

will reduce from April <strong>2023</strong>, after<br />

warning that the current level of help<br />

was too expensive.<br />

Under the new scheme, business<br />

customers will get a discount on<br />

wholesale prices of energy. This is<br />

a reduction of the current support<br />

scheme, which caps the cost at a<br />

lower price.<br />

Some sectors that use a high amount<br />

of energy, such as manufacturers, will<br />

receive a “substantially higher level<br />

of support” but there is no targeted<br />

support for early years providers.<br />

Purnima Tanuku, Chief Executive of<br />

National Day Nurseries Association<br />

(NDNA) said: “The fact that the<br />

Government plans to spend £5.5<br />

billion on this scheme for the next<br />

twelve months compared with £18<br />

billion over the past six months tells<br />

you that individual businesses will<br />

see the amount of support drop<br />

quite significantly. For early years<br />

settings, who are already closing at an<br />

alarming rate, this could be disastrous.<br />

“Early years settings like nurseries<br />

provide a warm and nurturing<br />

environment as well as hot meals<br />

for our youngest children. With<br />

Government funding increases well<br />

below inflation and rising costs they<br />

are facing serious, real-terms cuts.<br />

Childcare news<br />

and views<br />

These providers are being put between<br />

a rock and a hard place with the only<br />

options being raising fees to parents or<br />

closing their doors.<br />

Neil Leitch, CEO of the Alliance,<br />

commented: “While the continuation<br />

of some energy support is better than<br />

nothing, the harsh reality is that the<br />

level of support announced today<br />

is unlikely to do much, if anything,<br />

to improve the current situation,<br />

especially given that the rising cost<br />

of energy is only one of a myriad<br />

of challenges affecting early years<br />

settings.<br />

“With providers also facing severe<br />

staffing shortages, record increases in<br />

the national minimum and living wage<br />

and wider inflationary pressures, it is<br />

clear that urgent action is needed to<br />

prevent the collapse of our vital sector.<br />

As such, it is absolutely vital that the<br />

government commits to the investment<br />

and financial support needed to<br />

safeguard the future of the early years.<br />

Ministers have dragged their feet for<br />

long enough.”<br />

The Government has also not<br />

announced any targeted support for<br />

home-based businesses, such as<br />

childminding professionals, who will<br />

be domestic energy customers.<br />

Neil commented: “We know that<br />

many childminders are having to take<br />

extreme action, such as not heating<br />

their own homes in the evenings and<br />

weekends to ensure that children<br />

attending their settings can remain<br />

warm during the week, as the result of<br />

soaring energy bills.<br />

The fact that childminders work out of<br />

their homes does not change the fact<br />

that they are businesses. As such, it<br />

is vital that they are given additional<br />

support to ensure they can cope the<br />

rising cost of energy. Anything less<br />

would be incredibly short-sighted,<br />

especially given the Government’s<br />

current efforts to increase the number<br />

of child-minding professionals<br />

operating in the sector.”<br />

Information on the Government’s<br />

Energy Bill Relief Scheme for<br />

businesses can be found here.<br />

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

can be found here.<br />

HRH The Princess of Wales visits<br />

outstanding Early Years Alliance<br />

setting in Luton<br />

The Princess of Wales has visited an<br />

outstanding early years setting in Luton<br />

as part of her ongoing work to elevate<br />

the importance of early childhood to<br />

lifelong outcomes.<br />

Educators, children and parents at<br />

Foxcubs in Luton, which is run by the<br />

Early Years Alliance, were delighted<br />

to be introduced to The Princess<br />

and shared their experiences of the<br />

early years, and the importance of<br />

these years for shaping children’s<br />

development.<br />

Alliance CEO Neil Leitch, who also<br />

attended the visit, said:<br />

“It was an absolute privilege to<br />

welcome The Princess of Wales to<br />

Foxcubs Nursery this morning.<br />

We know that early education is a key<br />

focus for The Princess and the work of<br />

the Royal Foundation Centre for Early<br />

Childhood has been pivotal in changing<br />

perceptions of early childhood and<br />

raising awareness of the critical<br />

importance of the early years.<br />

Given that our current campaign,<br />

#WeAreEducators, is all about shining<br />

a light on our fantastic educational<br />

professionals, we are incredibly<br />

grateful to have had the opportunity to<br />

showcase the outstanding early years<br />

provision at Foxcubs to The Princess<br />

today.“<br />

Further information on<br />

#WeAreEducators can be found here.<br />

You can read the full story on the Early<br />

Years Alliance website here.<br />

Prime Minister’s New Year Speech<br />

fails to mention early years<br />

Rishi Sunak addressed the nation in<br />

the PM’s annual New Year speech to<br />

outline government priorities for the<br />

year ahead, but he omitted to address<br />

several key priorities for children and<br />

young people. Referring to education,<br />

he included a desire to “re-imagine our<br />

approach to numeracy” by ensuring<br />

school pupils study maths up until the<br />

age of 18. Both education and family<br />

were frequently cited in the Prime<br />

Minister’s speech, which stated: “Family<br />

runs right through our vision of a better<br />

future.”<br />

However, Sunak has faced criticism<br />

from experts who claim he omitted<br />

several key priorities for children from<br />

this vision, including the challenges<br />

facing the early years and social work<br />

sectors.<br />

The National Day Nurseries (NDNA)<br />

called it a missed opportunity for the<br />

Prime Minister to outline his ambition<br />

for early education and care, while<br />

the Early Years Alliance argued that<br />

a “functioning childcare and early<br />

education system is just as much as<br />

part of our social infrastructure as the<br />

railways and the NHS”, and therefore<br />

should have been included as a key<br />

priority for the year ahead.<br />

Purnima Tanuku, Chief Executive<br />

of NDNA, said, ‘It is shocking that<br />

the Prime Minister did not even<br />

acknowledge or mention in his speech<br />

how crucial early education is to<br />

children and families.<br />

“Although he highlighted every other<br />

aspect of education, stressing it was<br />

the closest thing we have to a silver<br />

bullet, he missed the opportunity to<br />

outline his ambition for early education<br />

and care. Getting the first five years<br />

right is crucial to any ‘world class<br />

education system’, it must not be<br />

brushed off as babysitting or treated<br />

as a nice to have. This lack of focus on<br />

those key pre-school foundation years<br />

shows a lack of understanding about<br />

their importance in later life.”<br />

Chief executive of the Early Years<br />

Alliance Neil Leitch commented,<br />

“How can it be that at a time when<br />

thousands of early years providers are<br />

closing every year, staff are leaving the<br />

sector in droves and parents are facing<br />

crippling costs, the Prime Minister<br />

gives a key speech about priorities for<br />

the upcoming year and doesn’t even<br />

mention the early years beyond a<br />

passing reference to family hubs?<br />

If encouraging more people back into<br />

work is a key Government aim for<br />

the years ahead, perhaps tackling<br />

our broken early years system and<br />

ensuring that mothers aren’t priced out<br />

of the workforce as a result of spiralling<br />

early years costs might be a good<br />

place to start. And if a quality education<br />

is so important, why not invest<br />

adequately in the sector that supports<br />

children’s learning during their most<br />

critical period of development?”<br />

The Prime Minister’s speech can be<br />

found in full here.<br />

The full story, as reported in Nursery<br />

World, can be found here.<br />

4 <strong>February</strong> <strong>2023</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>February</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 5

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

have caught our eye over the month<br />

Source and image credits to:<br />

Nursery World, BBC News, Early Years Educator<br />

Teachers in England and Wales to<br />

strike over pay dispute<br />

Members of the National Education<br />

Union (NEU), the UK’s largest teaching<br />

union, are to take strike action over pay<br />

in <strong>February</strong> and March.<br />

Reduction in energy support<br />

raises childcare funding fears<br />

Providers fear a reduction in business<br />

energy rates from the end of March will<br />

not be enough to safeguard childcare<br />

settings.<br />

Researchers to study how<br />

toddlers learn to communicate<br />

using technology<br />

Parents are being invited to take part in<br />

a new research project into how toddlers<br />

learn to communicate using technology<br />

in their everyday lives.<br />

Kindred Nurseries acquires North<br />

London group<br />

Kindred Nurseries has acquired the four<br />

Bright Stars Nurseries, based in London.<br />

The deal takes the expanding nursery<br />

group to 31 early years settings across<br />

London and the South of England.<br />

Parents storing their old Barbies,<br />

Rubik’s Cubes and Fisher Price<br />

Toys to pass on to their children<br />

Adults have an average of 20 childhood<br />

toys ‘stashed away’, including Fisher<br />

Price telephones, Hot Wheels and Rubik’s<br />

Cubes, reveals new research.<br />

Busy Bees to offer Sky employees<br />

nursery discounts<br />

Busy Bees is joining forces with Sky<br />

to provide work-place childcare to<br />

parents. The new partnership offers Sky<br />

employees a 10 percent discount on<br />

childcare at all Busy Bees nurseries.<br />

Click here to send in<br />

your stories to<br />

marketing@parenta.com<br />

DfE seeks views on changes to<br />

L3 EYE criteria<br />

The sector is being urged to respond<br />

to the DfE’s consultation on proposed<br />

changes to the Early Years Education<br />

(EYE) Level 3 criteria, which closes on 23<br />

January.<br />

Government responds to petition<br />

calling for more early years<br />

funding<br />

The Department for Education (DfE) has<br />

issued a response to a petition calling<br />

for a funding increase for early years<br />

settings.<br />

Milton Hall Montessori Nursery<br />

School Performs ‘BaaRmY<br />

Bethlehem’<br />

The children & teachers at Milton Hall<br />

Montessori Nursery School decided<br />

to take a slightly crazy and colourful<br />

approach to the Nativity Show this term!<br />

6 <strong>February</strong> <strong>2023</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>February</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 7

Write for us!<br />

We’re always on the lookout<br />

for new authors to contribute<br />

insightful articles for our<br />

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EnRich offers bespoke<br />

coaching according to<br />

your need. Programmes<br />

are designed to:<br />

Equip individual educators for<br />

success in and out of the setting<br />

Equip leaders in educational<br />

settings to coach their teams<br />

effectively<br />

Empower individuals to<br />

overcome challenges and achieve<br />

their goals<br />

Nurturing Childhoods Advert - <strong>Parenta</strong> April 22 v2 PRINT.pdf 1 26/04/2022 08:13<br />

info@EnRich4Educators.com<br />

07393 712 442<br />

www.enrich4educators.com<br />

Congratulations<br />

to our guest author competition winner, Sarah Moseley!<br />

Online Courses and<br />

Accreditations Nurturing<br />

Children in their Early Years<br />

Courses, talks and guides: Written for<br />

parents and professionals. Allowing us to<br />

work together, with the child at the centre<br />

of all we do.<br />

FREE<br />


Pssst... Get your FREE<br />

Congratulations to Sarah Moseley, our guest<br />

author of the month! Her article, “Everyone’s a<br />

reader - 10 top tips to create engaging-rich literacy<br />

environments for all” delves into how learning to<br />

read can be of the most rewarding and enjoyable<br />

skills that we can learn, yet we know that it can<br />

also be one of the most difficult to achieve.<br />

Well done Sarah!<br />

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

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

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

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

C<br />

M<br />

Y<br />

CM<br />

MY<br />

CY<br />

CMY<br />

K<br />

Online access: Available any time, any<br />

where. Scheduled to meet your needs<br />

and your time frame. Never miss a<br />

training session again.<br />

Designed and delivered by experts:<br />

Both in the field of child development and<br />

practice. Understanding the challenges<br />

you face and how to meet them.<br />

Supporting you: Recognising the<br />

foundational experiences children need<br />

and celebrating the work you are doing to<br />

offer them.<br />

For more information and free samples of the course<br />

go to: www.NurturingChildhoods.co.uk/parenta<br />

Nurturing<br />

Childhoods<br />

<br />

LittlemagictrainTM<br />

adventure today!<br />

“<br />

“Littlemagictrain has helped children to develop<br />

their confidence and desire to communicate,<br />

describe, understand, and use new vocabulary.<br />

By week 6, I observed clear improvement in<br />

attention, memory and narrative skills.”<br />

Liz Shoreman, Senior Speech and Language<br />

Therapist and Manager, The Speech Bubble<br />

“The staff always join in and I can honestly<br />

say it’s one of the best products we’ve<br />

ever invested in!”<br />

Scan Me!<br />

Nicky Sanford, Early Years Teacher,<br />

Marcham Pre-school<br />

“<br />

www.littlemagictrain.com<br />

Or email: Hello@littlemagictrain.com<br />

8 <strong>February</strong> <strong>2023</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>February</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 9

Top tips for the terrific twos -<br />

Tip six: timing<br />

transitions<br />

My second son recently turned two. Friends have commented that my first son skipped the terrible twos. They presume my professional<br />

skill set will get us through them again. I don’t fancy my chances. This series of articles presents ten tips for negotiating this time with<br />

small ones. Know that with every strike of the keys, I remind myself that advice is easy to give and hard to follow. I will be attempting to<br />

practice what I preach this coming year: wish me luck!<br />

Joanna Grace<br />

Imagine you are watching your favourite<br />

TV show, you are half way through an<br />

episode and your partner walks in and<br />

tells you to go and put your shoes on. Or<br />

you are talking to a friend on the phone,<br />

deep in conversation and your partner<br />

shouts at you from the other room to get<br />

into the car. Or you are writing a letter to<br />

someone, and mid-sentence your partner<br />

announces that you have to eat dinner.<br />

Said partner would be walking on thin ice<br />

wouldn’t they? Who would want to stick<br />

around for this sort of treatment? The<br />

disregard for your life as you’re living it.<br />

The lack of social niceties ahead of making<br />

these demands. No explanation. Just<br />

orders!<br />

Might you shout back? Might your level of<br />

shout match your level of indignation at<br />

how unreasonable they are being?<br />

Two-year-olds are famous for shouting<br />

“No!”, with small puffed out chests and<br />

hearty indignation. In those “no” answers<br />

they are saying “What I am doing is<br />

important” “What I want for my life counts”,<br />

“I am in charge of me, not you”. And when<br />

you are the person who loves that twoyear-old,<br />

that sort of sense of self worth is<br />

not something you want to crush. But….<br />

you do need them to put their shoes on, to<br />

eat their dinner, to get in the car. So how<br />

can we achieve that without triggering<br />

their need to self protect?<br />

Those of you who have read articles 3 and<br />

4 will be thinking “But you said I could only<br />

use a couple of words, how can I explain<br />

and reason if they’re not able to process?”<br />

Those of you who have read article 2<br />

might be thinking Align-Attune-Invite. And<br />

I stand by all of those things; in this article<br />

I’m adding in another layer.<br />

This layer is to add the building blocks<br />

to reason in behind our instructions and<br />

invitations. Whilst getting alongside and<br />

aligning, attuning and inviting works well<br />

for shifting a two-year-old from one activity<br />

to the next, our choice of next activity can<br />

still seem fairly arbitrary. And whilst they<br />

cannot take in reason in a sentence with<br />

lots of key words in it (see the previous<br />

article for an explanation of this), they can<br />

begin to appreciate that the actions of<br />

adults are generally rational not random!<br />

In my last article, I talked about processing<br />

time and how it can take a while for things<br />

to settle into a small person’s brain, so<br />

what we are aiming to do with this tip<br />

is pop all the information relevant to the<br />

rationale for our action into their brain with<br />

enough time for them to settle in before<br />

we need them to be used. This will all<br />

make much more sense with an example:<br />

It is breakfast time - a very popular activity<br />

for my two-year-old! Breakfast ends and<br />

he is lifted out of his highchair to the floor.<br />

“Let’s get dressed” I say. “No!” comes the<br />

reply. He needs that no to be firm, because<br />

he knows what adults are like with their<br />

sudden demands to do dull things, he<br />

has plans, he is a busy soul, he is off to<br />

terrorise the dog, to ‘gently’ scratch the cat<br />

under the chin, to build train tracks with his<br />

big brother. Clothes? Don’t be ridiculous<br />

Mummy, now is not the time for clothes!<br />

The alternative<br />

It is breakfast time, as my two-year-old<br />

chows down with great enthusiasm<br />

on his own breakfast, my breakfast,<br />

Daddy’s toast and any bits of his brother’s<br />

breakfast he can beg, I start to talk about<br />

his day. “You’re going to see Grandma<br />

today”. “Grandma” he replies. “You will<br />

need clothes on to see Grandma.” (No<br />

reply, just eating). I put the washing up<br />

away, and say: “At Grandma’s house we<br />

wear clothes”, I muse to the forks. “In a bit<br />

we will put clothes on to go to Grandmas”<br />

I remind myself out loud as I sort out his<br />

bag for the day. You get the idea. By the<br />

time he has finished breakfast he has<br />

heard the Grandma-clothes combination a<br />

thousand times. It is there in his mind. I lift<br />

him down from his highchair. “Shall we get<br />

dressed to go and see Grandma?” “Yes!”<br />

comes the reply and he races off towards<br />

his clothes.<br />

At a glance this can be misunderstood for<br />

me giving him the reason in the sentence.<br />

So let’s be clear, if in the first example I<br />

had offered “If you put clothes on you can<br />

go and see Grandma”, it wouldn’t have<br />

worked because he cannot process that<br />

reasoning in the time it takes to utter a<br />

sentence. But with a good run up, and<br />

time for the information to sink in, he can<br />

make the link and is more than happy<br />

to oblige. With any luck, if he is quick,<br />

Grandma and Grandpa will still be eating<br />

breakfast when we get there, and he can<br />

have a fourth meal of the morning!<br />

Joanna Grace is an international<br />

Sensory Engagement and Inclusion<br />

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

and founder of The Sensory Projects.<br />

Consistently rated as “outstanding” by<br />

Ofsted, Joanna has taught in<br />

mainstream and special school settings,<br />

connecting with pupils of all ages and<br />

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

draws on her own experience from her<br />

private and professional life as well as<br />

taking in all the information she can<br />

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

private life includes family members<br />

with disabilities and neurodiverse<br />

conditions and time spent as a<br />

registered foster carer for children with<br />

profound disabilities.<br />

Joanna has published four practitioner<br />

books: “Multiple Multisensory<br />

Rooms: Myth Busting the Magic”,<br />

“Sensory Stories for Children and<br />

Teens”, “Sensory-Being for Sensory<br />

Beings”, “Sharing Sensory Stories<br />

and Conversations with People with<br />

Dementia” and “The Subtle Spectrum”.<br />

Plus three inclusive sensory story<br />

children’s books: “Spike and Mole”,<br />

“Voyage to Arghan” and “Ernest and I”<br />

which all sell globally and her son has<br />

recently become the UK’s youngest<br />

published author with his book,<br />

“My Mummy is Autistic” which was<br />

foreworded by Chris Packham.<br />

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

is always happy to connect with people<br />

via Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.<br />

Website:<br />

thesensoryprojects.co.uk<br />

10 <strong>February</strong> <strong>2023</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>February</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 11

Dealing with the death of<br />

a staff member - focus on<br />

parents and children<br />

When a staff member dies, colleagues,<br />

children and parents are impacted. This<br />

impact is felt in varying ways and in<br />

differing levels of understanding. Our last<br />

article focused on the loss of an early<br />

years staff member called Mandy, how this<br />

affected her colleagues and the integral<br />

role a manager can play during this time.<br />

This article will look at how parents and<br />

children are affected in the case of a staff<br />

member dying and how, as managers<br />

and leaders, we can ensure they feel<br />

supported.<br />

It’s good to know what we mean when<br />

we use language that expresses grief. A<br />

good explanation of terms we use at these<br />

times is the following:<br />

‘Bereavement is what happens to us, grief<br />

is what we feel and mourning is what we<br />

do.’<br />

How then do children understand and<br />

respond to bereavement? There are many<br />

helpful articles about how children deal<br />

with the loss of a parent or loved one and<br />

some of these links can be found at the<br />

end of this article. The www.babycentre.<br />

co.uk site has some very informative<br />

thoughts concerning pre-schoolers and<br />

grief. They say:<br />

“Pre-schoolers are aware of death from<br />

early on. They hear about it in fairy tales,<br />

see it on TV, and encounter dead bugs,<br />

birds, or squirrels on the sidewalk or<br />

roadside. Some children may have already<br />

experienced the death of a pet or a family<br />

member.<br />

Despite this, there are aspects of death<br />

that kids this age still can’t understand.<br />

For example, they can’t grasp that death<br />

is permanent, inevitable, and happens to<br />

everyone.<br />

Kids this age react to death in a variety<br />

of ways. Don’t be surprised if your child<br />

becomes clingy, regresses in toilet training,<br />

reverts to baby talk, or suddenly balks at<br />

going to her familiar pre-school.<br />

On the other hand, she may not show<br />

any reaction to the death at all, or her<br />

responses may be intermittent, mixed in<br />

with her usual cheerfulness and play.<br />

This is normal, too. Children process grief<br />

in bite-sized chunks, not all at once.”<br />

The above applies mainly to the deaths<br />

of close loved ones. When it comes to the<br />

death of a child’s teacher or key person,<br />

children may still show similar signs of<br />

grief. However, their responses to this<br />

are based on how close they were to this<br />

person, their age, their experience of life<br />

and loss and on their own family’s culture<br />

and beliefs. As managers, leaders and<br />

owners, we are very aware that our early<br />

years families come from a rich variety of<br />

cultures and faith beliefs, so a one-sizefits-all<br />

response is not the way to go.<br />

So, revisiting Mandy’s setting, the question<br />

for the manager was – how do we tell the<br />

children at nursery about Mandy?<br />

It was clear that Mandy’s key children and<br />

many others understood that she was no<br />

longer at the nursery as they were used<br />

to seeing her smiling face, hearing her<br />

infectious laugh and feeling her teacherheart<br />

as she encouraged them, tenderly<br />

placed plasters on small cuts and scrapes<br />

and opened up the world by examining<br />

ladybugs and butterflies in the garden<br />

together.<br />

They missed her. Some asked questions<br />

about when she was coming back. The<br />

concept of ‘never, forever’ is not something<br />

they can grasp; indeed, many adults can<br />

hardly fully understand this notion.<br />

It was very important to the manager that<br />

parents should take the lead in explaining<br />

Mandy’s passing to their children. This<br />

approach evidenced high regard for each<br />

family’s values and customs.<br />

She sent an email to all the parents,<br />

informing them of the tragedy and giving<br />

them the option as to how they should tell<br />

their children. This was a measured and<br />

thoughtful thing to do, not only for cultural<br />

reasons, but because parents know<br />

their children best of all. They know their<br />

characters, their level of understanding<br />

and their life experiences, which would<br />

give them the soundest foundation on<br />

which to share this information.<br />

An excerpt of this email reads:<br />

“In the meantime, we encourage you to<br />

approach the passing of Mandy with your<br />

children according to your own family’s<br />

culture and beliefs.<br />

Child Bereavement UK is a helpful website<br />

for knowing how to share this information<br />

with children.<br />

We will be following their advice when<br />

speaking with the children here should<br />

the children broach the subject with us as<br />

individuals. Their advice is to use honest<br />

and clear language. We will answer<br />

questions honestly with them, appropriate<br />

to the children’s age and to your family’s<br />

preferred response.”<br />

A few parents chose not to say anything<br />

to their children as they deemed them too<br />

young to understand this concept.<br />

For those who did, staff members were<br />

able to answer their children’s questions<br />

appropriately, following the parent’s<br />

guidance. Sometimes, the children asked<br />

the same question over and over, as<br />

they processed this information over<br />

time. Keeping to the parent’s preferred<br />

responses helped staff members’<br />

language to be consistent.<br />

A practical matter also had to be<br />

addressed. Some parents were visibly<br />

shocked and sad when they dropped off<br />

their children in the mornings following<br />

the sent email. The manager made sure<br />

that children were greeted warmly, before<br />

ushering them into the play area to join<br />

their friends. She then led parents who<br />

were distressed into a small area away<br />

from the door where she could provide<br />

comfort and reassurance. This ensured<br />

that parents felt heard and children were<br />

protected as much as possible during<br />

those difficult days.<br />

The apple tree commemorating Mandy<br />

will soon be planted in the nursery garden.<br />

Parents and children are invited to join staff<br />

members in remembering Mandy and<br />

paying their respects. This unifying act will<br />

be a fitting conclusion to a period of deep<br />

loss within this early years community.<br />

Life will go on. The tree will root and grow.<br />

Apple blossom will perfume the air. In<br />

time, the children will play underneath its<br />

shade.<br />

And staff members, parents and children<br />

will all have played a meaningful part.<br />

Helpful links:

Celebrate all things<br />

apprenticeships during<br />

National Apprenticeship<br />

Week!<br />

Now in its 16th year, National<br />

Apprenticeship Week (NAW) returns this<br />

month from 6th to 12th <strong>February</strong>. The<br />

week provides such a great way to bring<br />

together businesses and apprentices<br />

across the whole of the UK to showcase<br />

how apprenticeships can really transform<br />

lives, help businesses recruit and train their<br />

employees of all ages to have a positive<br />

impact on the wider community.<br />

This year, the theme is ‘skills for life’,<br />

and looks at how apprenticeships can<br />

help individuals to develop the skills and<br />

knowledge required for a rewarding<br />

career, and businesses to develop a<br />

talented workforce that is equipped with<br />

future-ready skills.<br />

What are<br />

apprenticeships, why<br />

are they important, and<br />

how do they work?<br />

Despite some encouraging figures*, the<br />

early years sector is facing a staffing<br />

shortage crisis and is in desperate need<br />

of more qualified staff, this means that<br />

more staff need professional training<br />

in childcare. According to a report<br />

commissioned by the Early Years Alliance,<br />

more than eight in 10 early years providers<br />

(84%) are finding it difficult to recruit staff.<br />

The report, Breaking Point: The impact of<br />

recruitment and retention challenges in the<br />

early years sector in England, also found<br />

that 49% of providers have had to limit the<br />

number of places at their setting or stop<br />

taking on new children as a result of the<br />

crisis.<br />

If you don’t already recruit apprentices<br />

and you are unsure where to start, read<br />

our handy guide ‘How to hire your perfect<br />

apprentice’. However, in the meantime,<br />

here are a few facts to get you started:

We celebrate National<br />

Apprenticeship Week with<br />

our <strong>Parenta</strong> learners!<br />

5%<br />


We asked our wonderful <strong>Parenta</strong> learners what they love most about being a childcare apprentice, and what skills for life they have<br />

learned so far. It is so encouraging to read such amazing words about life as an apprentice. Here is just some of the fantastic feedback!<br />

“I am learning how to help children thrive and develop and discovering signs to look out for in regards to any form of abuse as well as<br />

signs of potential SEN.”<br />

Caitlin W<br />

“I love learning new things and the overall experience of an apprenticeship. My communication skills have grown, and I feel more<br />

confident when I talk to people I do not know. My creative thinking has expanded when it comes to setting activities for children.”<br />

Kara L<br />

“I am continuously learning new skills and adding to my existing knowledge which is important in helping to improve my own practice.”<br />

Lizzy H<br />

“Online lessons and teachers are very helpful. During master classes, you get the chance to discuss topics with people that work in<br />

different nurseries. There are very good free webinars to attend and lots of reading resources to use for the task uploaded in the online<br />

portfolio. I am finding confidence in asking for help from my mentor, tutor and teacher.“<br />

Majlinda D<br />

“I particularly enjoyed looking at pedagogy and the different theories that are linked to child learning and development. I find the live<br />

lessons really beneficial, meeting other people doing the same course, whom we are able to share ideas with. All the trainers and my<br />

tutor are approachable and supportive. The main skill I think I have learnt is confidence in my own ability.”<br />

Helen T<br />

“Watching the children grow each day and learning new skills that will help them through life. The skills for life I have learnt since<br />

becoming an apprentice are learning signs if someone is not very well, and learning how to overcome difficult challenges.”<br />

Amy W<br />

“I’m earning and learning at the same time and my apprenticeship helps me build towards my career goals and it’s something I’m<br />

passionate about. I love that I am supported by my managers and colleagues. I have learnt communication skills, planning and<br />

instruction, decision-making skills and also problem-solving skills.”<br />

Natasha R<br />

“I enjoy watching the children develop confidence and seeing them play with each other. I like them achieving little things such as trying<br />

new food, I love seeing them respect each other and learn from one another and being able to teach them about different cultures and<br />

experiences. I learnt to balance my job and social life, my free time and my course and to be patient and calm around young children. As<br />

I am on the autism spectrum and find change difficult though I learnt not to get upset when my rota changes when I don’t expect it to. I<br />

learnt to bring creative ideas about what I could do with the children.”<br />

Noreen M<br />

“What I most enjoy about my apprenticeship is understanding the challenges my colleagues face and coming up with good ideas to help<br />

them. Being able to use my initiative, commit and develop skills in communication also my strategic thinking.”<br />

Zoi T<br />

In addition, our <strong>Parenta</strong> tutors have been telling us just how amazing all their learners are, and a special shout-out goes to the following<br />

<strong>Parenta</strong> apprentices:<br />

Eleanor M, Natalia J, Emma H, Abi P, Hayley H-B, Sophie B, Barbara A.<br />

You are all doing so well, going above and beyond so that you can complete your apprenticeship and gain your qualification<br />

- well done all!<br />

16 <strong>February</strong> <strong>2023</strong> | parenta.com<br />

Let us help you with your training needs - call us today<br />

By providing training<br />

for your staff, you will:<br />

Improve morale<br />

Support<br />

children's safety<br />

Enhance your<br />

setting's reputation<br />

Reduce staff<br />

turnover<br />

Did you know...<br />

You can now access government funding for up to 10 staff members - instead of 3<br />

- to help get your staff qualified and keep them motivated<br />

0800 002 9242 hello@parenta.com<br />

We have secured funding available and<br />

are enrolling learners on to our courses<br />

every day!<br />

Take advantage for you or your staff!<br />

Payment plan available for your 5%<br />


Children’s<br />

Mental Health<br />

Awareness<br />

Week<br />

It’s <strong>February</strong>, which means it’s time for<br />

Children’s Mental Health Week (CMHW) (6<br />

– 12th). The week aims to raise awareness<br />

of children’s mental health issues, get<br />

people talking, and raise funds to help<br />

tackle the problem. It is run by Place2Be,<br />

a UK charity that provides counselling and<br />

mental health support and training in UK<br />

schools. This includes in-school support,<br />

expert training and free resources that<br />

schools and organisations can access.<br />

They also run a Mental Health Champions<br />

Foundation programme which is a free<br />

course for teachers, trainee teachers and<br />

other school-based staff running over 5<br />

weeks and qualifying as a CPD-accredited<br />

course.<br />

This year, the theme for CMHW is “Let’s<br />

Connect” and the team are trying to<br />

encourage people involved with children<br />

and young people, to make “meaningful<br />

connections for all” for the week and<br />

beyond. According to their website:<br />

“Human beings thrive in communities, and<br />

this connection is vital for our well-being,<br />

and our survival. When we have healthy<br />

connections – to family, friends and others<br />

– this can support our mental health and<br />

our sense of well-being. And when our<br />

need for rewarding social connections is<br />

not met, we can sometimes feel isolated<br />

and lonely – which can have a negative<br />

impact on our mental health.”<br />

Over the course of the week, the aim is to<br />

help connect people in healthy, rewarding<br />

and meaningful ways, something that<br />

many children (and adults) may have<br />

found difficult over the last few years due<br />

to COVID restrictions.<br />

According to the Barnardo’s website,<br />

children in England are facing a “mental<br />

health crisis”.<br />

They report that:

Getting fit? Get musical:<br />

working out in the<br />

early years<br />

Moving around can be and should be<br />

fun at every age, but the way we need<br />

to move can make a big difference to<br />

how enjoyable we find different activities.<br />

Knowing that we should move regularly<br />

and often is not usually enough to keep<br />

us motivated, especially when the benefits<br />

are not immediately seen but if it is<br />

enjoyable, that should make it easier to<br />

continue. But does it make a difference<br />

whether we are good at it or not?<br />

People come in different shapes and<br />

sizes, even little people in nurseries,<br />

and this impacts the types of activities<br />

that we are able to do and enjoy. Some<br />

people are more flexible or more sturdy<br />

than others, giving us all different<br />

strengths and weaknesses, and when<br />

put in a competitive environment, this can<br />

build different levels of confidence and<br />

insecurity. So it stands to reason that the<br />

better you are at an activity, the more you<br />

will do it. Doesn’t it?<br />

This is, in fact, one of the factors that<br />

researchers have investigated. They<br />

looked at the relationship between motor<br />

competence and physical activity – does<br />

being good at activity lead to doing more<br />

activity? To test this idea, 550 children<br />

aged between 2-6 years were studied in<br />

Switzerland, where their movements per<br />

minute were counted, as well as minutes<br />

of activity per day, and then adjusted for<br />

age and gender (Schmutz et al., 2020).<br />

Researchers found a little evidence that<br />

more-able children engaged in moderate<br />

to vigorous activity, but while these moreable<br />

children remained more-able over<br />

time, it did not change how often they<br />

took part. So, more-able children did not<br />

necessarily take part in more vigorous<br />

activity.<br />

at physical activity, do not have to win<br />

competitions, and do not have to be “the<br />

best” in order to take part and stay fit and<br />

healthy. It really is more important to take<br />

part, rather than win!<br />

The songs below include different levels<br />

of physical activity, indicated by the<br />

song words. And none of them have a<br />

competitive level, giving everybody a<br />

chance to participate, regardless of ability!<br />

Teddy Bear<br />

Teddy bear, teddy bear, turn around<br />

Teddy bear, teddy bear, touch the ground<br />

Teddy bear, teddy bear, jump up high<br />

Teddy bear, teddy bear, touch the sky<br />

Teddy bear, teddy bear, bend down low<br />

Teddy bear, teddy bear, touch your toes<br />

Teddy bear, teddy bear, turn off the light<br />

Teddy bear, teddy bear, say goodnight<br />

This lovely action song states the<br />

movement directions in the song, making<br />

it more of a game. It also allows children<br />

to relate the words to actions by reacting<br />

to the words as they sing them. Children<br />

can be inventive in how they do things<br />

(e.g. imaginary light switch in the air or on<br />

a nearby wall), or follow agreed actions,<br />

depending on the group.<br />

Skip To My Lou<br />

Fly in the buttermilk, shoo fly, shoo<br />

Fly in the buttermilk, shoo fly, shoo<br />

Fly in the buttermilk, shoo fly, shoo<br />

Skip to my Lou, my darling<br />

Skip, skip, skip to my Lou<br />

Skip, skip, skip to my Lou<br />

Skip, skip, skip to my Lou<br />

Skip to my Lou, my darling<br />

This old favourite develops skipping skills,<br />

which some children naturally learn, but<br />

is difficult for others. Skipping tip: start<br />

by hopping on one foot, then the other.<br />

Once that is secure, hop-hop on the left,<br />

hop-hop on the right, and once you add<br />

movement, presto! You can skip!<br />

Old Brass Wagon<br />

Circle to the right, old brass wagon<br />

Circle to the right, old brass wagon<br />

Circle to the right, old brass wagon<br />

You’re the one, my darling<br />

Circle to the left, old brass wagon<br />

Circle to the left, old brass wagon<br />

Circle to the left, old brass wagon<br />

You’re the one, my darling<br />

Everybody up, old brass wagon<br />

Everybody down, old brass wagon<br />

Everybody up, old brass wagon<br />

You’re the one, my darling<br />

Everybody in, old brass wagon<br />

Everybody out, old brass wagon<br />

Everybody in, old brass wagon<br />

You’re the one, my darling<br />

This circle song helps to develop spatial<br />

awareness – keeping in a circle with a<br />

wide internal space slows down the quick<br />

or anxious child and speeds up the unsure<br />

or unmotivated child. Again, this song<br />

uses the lyrics to guide the actions and<br />

associate words with movement – move<br />

right, move left, move up and down, move<br />

forward and back. “You’re the one my<br />

darling” can be children pointing to each<br />

other or giving themselves a little hug!<br />

How Many Miles to Babylon<br />

Line 1: How many miles to Babylon?<br />

Line 2: Three score and ten<br />

Line 1: Will I get back before you do?<br />

Line 2: Yes and back again<br />

Line 1: Open the gates and let us through<br />

Line 2: Not without a beck and bow<br />

Line 1: Here’s the beck<br />

Line 2: Here’s the bow<br />

Line 1: Open the gates and let us through<br />

Line 2 lifts their held hands for Line 1 to<br />

walk underneath.<br />

This little gem is almost an introduction to<br />

line dancing! Children hold hands facing<br />

each other in two lines, a little like “Red<br />

Rover.” They alternate singing lines until<br />

the end, where Line 1 releases hands to<br />

walk under Line 2’s held hands lifted up.<br />

And if Line 2 walks forward, they end up<br />

swapping positions! Great fun!<br />

Movement is an important life skill that<br />

may or may not be encouraged at home<br />

for many different reasons. When children<br />

see the value, they may develop their<br />

own interest in finding a sport, activity or<br />

exercise later in life to keep themselves fit<br />

and healthy. Keeping things fun while they<br />

are young gives them a better chance at<br />

finding the joy in taking part for life without<br />

feeling like a failure for not coming first.<br />

Reference<br />

Schmutz, E. A., Leeger-Aschmann, C. S.,<br />

Kakebeeke, T. H., Zysset, A. E., Messerli-<br />

Bürgy, N., Stülb, K., Arhab, A., Meyer, A.<br />

H., Munsch, S., Puder, J. J., Jenni, O. G., &<br />

Kriemler, S. (2020). Motor Competence and<br />

Physical Activity in Early Childhood: Stability<br />

and Relationship. Frontiers in Public<br />

Health, 8(39). https://doi.org/10.3389/<br />

fpubh.2020.00039<br />

Frances Turnbull<br />

Musician, researcher and author,<br />

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

who has played contemporary and<br />

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

delivers music sessions to the early years<br />

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

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

Dalcroze (specialist movement) and Orff<br />

(specialist percussion instruments), she<br />

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

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

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

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

Bolton Warblers, and delivers the Sound<br />

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

home” within local care and residential<br />

homes, supporting health and wellbeing<br />

through her community interest<br />

company.<br />

She has represented the early years<br />

music community at the House of<br />

Commons, advocating for recognition<br />

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

table of progressive music skills for under<br />

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

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

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

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

2017.<br />

www.musicaliti.co.uk<br />

This is good news for both children and<br />

grownups – we do not need to be “good”<br />

20 <strong>February</strong> <strong>2023</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>February</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 21

Safer Internet Day<br />

The growth of the internet has been a<br />

double-edged sword. On the one hand<br />

it makes our lives easier – we have a<br />

vast array of knowledge at our fingertips,<br />

we can work from home more easily,<br />

we can buy things from the comfort of<br />

our armchairs and we can connect with<br />

friends and family on the other side of the<br />

world as if they were in the same room.<br />

But on the flip side, we worry about the<br />

safety of our children, the security of our<br />

financial transactions and the impact that<br />

screentime is having on the development<br />

and well-being of the next generation.<br />

Safer Internet Day (SID) is coordinated<br />

by the UK Safer Internet Centre and is a<br />

campaign which takes place in <strong>February</strong><br />

every year with the aim of alerting us all to<br />

the risks and dangers inherent in using the<br />

internet, and how we can make it a safer<br />

place for children and young people.<br />

In <strong>2023</strong>, the SID theme is: “Want to<br />

talk about it? Making space for<br />

conversations about life online”. The<br />

day takes place on Tuesday 7th <strong>February</strong><br />

although the real work of the Safer Internet<br />

Day campaign is year-round and consists<br />

of a range of organisations linking with<br />

educational establishments, government<br />

institutions and other NGOs to tackle some<br />

of the issues of internet use. A lot of work<br />

will be done using the internet too, such<br />

as on social media, with companies like<br />

Facebook and Twitter using the hashtags<br />

#SaferInternetDay and #SID<strong>2023</strong>. The<br />

aim is to “promote the safe, responsible<br />

and positive use of digital technology for<br />

children and young people.”<br />

Research<br />

Data on attitudes and behaviours of children and parents in 2022 reported YouTube and<br />

TikTok as the most popular online activity among children aged 3-17 (95%).<br />

According to the report:<br />

Children aged 3-4 Children aged 5-7<br />

17% had their own mobile phone 28% had their own mobile phone<br />

50% used messaging sites/apps 58% used messaging sites/apps<br />

24% have their own social media profile 33% have their own social media profile<br />

89% use video sharing platforms 93% use video sharing platforms<br />

Of 8-11-year-olds, 32% reported seeing<br />

something worrying or nasty online and<br />

64% said they had more than one profile<br />

online. More worryingly, the main reason<br />

given for multiple profiles was so that they<br />

could have one to show their parents and<br />

family. And significant numbers of this age<br />

group claimed to have set up their profiles<br />

themselves, despite the age restriction<br />

being 13 for even joining social media<br />

sites.<br />

When talking about the risks for children<br />

going online, experts usually talk about the<br />

4 Cs, being:

Why is learning to write<br />

so difficult for so many<br />

learners?<br />

How do we support young children<br />

with this complex task, especially those<br />

learners with SEND or more complex<br />

significant needs? With an increase in<br />

technology available, do we need to<br />

continue to focus on teaching young<br />

children who struggle to write? Where and<br />

how do we begin, and when do we stop?<br />

These are questions I am asked regularly<br />

and I’m sorry there is no magic answer!<br />

Firstly, every child is different, and if I have<br />

learned anything during my 30 years in<br />

mainstream and special education topped<br />

off with my role as mother to a 7-year-old,<br />

these differences change and develop<br />

uniquely!<br />

The completion of my first book this<br />

summer taught me many things, the most<br />

interesting was that the technical aspect<br />

of writing is not the most important. Our<br />

internal emotional state plays a huge part<br />

in ensuring we are motivated, engaged,<br />

and able to communicate what we want<br />

to say.<br />

Arthritis pain in my wrist during the final<br />

editing stages of my book led me to<br />

experiment with alternative methods to<br />

get my ideas onto paper. I learned how<br />

to use the dictate function within Word to<br />

convert speech to text. I was amazed at<br />

how different the final few pages sounded.<br />

The process of putting pen to paper<br />

(or finger to keyboard) had a massive<br />

influence on what was produced. By<br />

speaking the book, I produced text with a<br />

different tone, used longer sentences, and<br />

required more editing to make it clear for<br />

readers. I realised that as I typed or wrote<br />

the previous pages, I used my internal<br />

monologue to organise my ideas more<br />

concisely.<br />

For learners with SEND/complex needs,<br />

the task of getting ideas onto paper has<br />

many barriers. It’s up to us to provide<br />

as many ways to reduce these. I am<br />

constantly surprised and impressed by the<br />

resilience and persistence of children in<br />

the face of conquering the complex task<br />

of learning to use the English language.<br />

We are not prewired to read or write and<br />

English, unlike Italian or French, which can<br />

be learned in 3 months, takes at least<br />

3 years to learn for the average child or<br />

young person (Dehaena 2016). I realised<br />

that access to assistive technology had<br />

made it easier to physically write but it did<br />

not help me to structure my ideas or when<br />

I lacked the motivation to write.<br />

If we view the process of writing as<br />

consisting of several key areas, we can<br />

support children more effectively. Put<br />

simply - as Jane Farrall states - learners<br />

require:<br />

✏ Something to write with<br />

✏ Something to write on<br />

✏ Something to write about!<br />

I recommend checking out the work of<br />

www.janefarrall.com/ and her webinars<br />

on writing for all https://www.janefarrall.<br />

com/writing-with-all-tools-continuumwebinar/<br />

Irrespective of any additional needs,<br />

all children need to be motivated and<br />

engaged to communicate their ideas. They<br />

need to be provided with opportunities for<br />

the physical act of writing/mark-making<br />

(fine, gross motor issues), and experiences<br />

that will develop core strength as well as<br />

muscle isolation skills. They need support<br />

to understand how to shape ideas and<br />

share them in a way others can access<br />

them. It is through this motivation and<br />

feedback gained from interactions with<br />

those around us, as well as the sensory<br />

feedback gained from playing, banging,<br />

feeling, and creating marks that are key.<br />

So where do we begin?<br />

Widen our definition of<br />

writing<br />

The starting point is we must widen our<br />

definition of writing, and look at providing<br />

all learners with an ‘alternative pencil’<br />

(a term developed by Hanser 2009). We<br />

need to consider everybody as a writer<br />

and provide opportunities to play around<br />

with, record, and gather ideas in many<br />

ways. We should provide access to markmarking/alphabet<br />

and early emergent<br />

writing activities irrelevant of any additional<br />

need (use the keyboard to scribble with<br />

the alphabet!) Catherine Cookson used a<br />

Dictaphone to dictate her stories while she<br />

gardened, we must consider all ways of<br />

mark-making and recording ideas as valid.<br />

There are some great resources and<br />

websites available to support learners<br />

with complex needs, the Teach us Too<br />

charity has lots to explore https://www.<br />

teachustoo.org.uk/.<br />

It is important to ensure the easiest<br />

method for learners to get ideas onto<br />

paper (consider this in its widest sense), to<br />

take the fear away so learners can enjoy<br />

writing. Throughout, we should provide<br />

feedback and add meaning to these<br />

ideas, to support the shaping and refining<br />

of what children have produced.<br />

Use a flexible toolbox of<br />

strategies<br />

It is crucial that we are flexible, and that<br />

we adapt our approach using a toolbox of<br />

strategies based on an understanding of<br />

literacy/child development, good practice,<br />

and fun! It is important to remember the<br />

sensory feedback that learners will gain<br />

from using and exploring a multitude of<br />

tools, so provide texture, sound, light,<br />

movement, and more to add to this<br />

sensory experience.<br />

✏ Create a rich literacy environment<br />

where language is seen, heard,<br />

brought to life, and enables children<br />

to be immersed in its magic (use light,<br />

sound, and movement to act out, role<br />

play, and make up their own stories,<br />

songs, poems)<br />

✏ Model and demonstrate and discuss<br />

print and communication through<br />

writing (write labels, lists, or read<br />

directions, instructions, take photos,<br />

make videos, use augmented reality)<br />

✏ Make sure there are many different<br />

mark-making tools available including<br />

within continuous provision, outside,<br />

sensory spaces, and shared areas<br />

✏ Provide children with ways to play,<br />

experiment, adapt, and make their<br />

own tools (make and use different<br />

grips, create stamps/writing tools, use<br />

technology (low and high tech)<br />

✏ Model, share, encourage and<br />

promote a have-a-go culture – play<br />

and experiment<br />

Make it fun!<br />

Ensure that children are engaged and<br />

motivated. Get children moving, using big<br />

muscles as well as smaller fine muscles.<br />

Use observations to gain a greater<br />

understanding of things children enjoy and<br />

share this knowledge.<br />

✏ Do you know what children like, and<br />

what their passions or motivators are?<br />

✏ What are they good at? Use these as<br />

ways into areas they may not be as<br />

confident with<br />

✏ Use games as ways into recording,<br />

mark-making, and print referencing<br />

✏ Use dance, PE, and music to create<br />

big movements, patterns, and small<br />

movements<br />

Is Universal Design for<br />

Learning (UDL) evident?<br />

UDL is a way of thinking, it’s a framework<br />

where barriers to learning are considered<br />

from the start for all teaching and<br />

learning opportunities. All children have<br />

equal opportunities for success as from<br />

the beginning, thought is given to how<br />

learning will be presented, how children<br />

will engage with these, and how we will<br />

find out what they know.<br />

If we consider this in terms of the<br />

teaching of writing, we will ask, are there<br />

opportunities for all learners to indicate a<br />

choice or demonstrate an opinion? Do we<br />

provide a variety of access methods for<br />

all? (Include switches, joystick, keyguards,<br />

posture support, eye gaze, mouse, touch<br />

screen, symbols, text, mark-making<br />

tools, stamps, etc.) Do adults/peers have<br />

the knowledge needed to be effective<br />

communication partners and understand<br />

what children are trying to say or express?<br />

To find out more about UDL and hear<br />

from some inspiring professionals check<br />

out https://lgfl.planetestream.com/View.<br />

aspx?ID=7095~4v~6fmKEP7c, https://<br />

national.lgfl.net/home and<br />

https://www.readingrockets.org/article/<br />

universal-design-learning-udl-what-youneed-know<br />

Finally, we must make sure that all children<br />

have the opportunity to publish and share<br />

their writing with the world. It is important<br />

that children understand and see the<br />

purpose of putting their ideas into a format<br />

that can be shared with others, enabling<br />

them to be active participants in the<br />

fabulous world of literacy.<br />

References<br />

S. Dehaene (2010). “Reading in the Brain:<br />

The New Science of How We Read”<br />

Penguin books<br />

Hanser, G. (2009). “Write from the start...<br />

with an ‘alternative pencil.“ Developed<br />

by The Center for Literacy and Disability<br />

Studies. Retrieved from http://www.med.<br />

unc.edu/ahs/clds/products/available-forpurchase.<br />

Useful websites<br />

http://alternativepencils.weebly.com/<br />

Sarah Moseley<br />

Dr Sarah Moseley is an Educational<br />

Consultant and speaker specialising in<br />

raising outcomes for all learners with<br />

SEND. She works with a wide range<br />

of organisations, as well as families<br />

and learners, providing face-to-face<br />

and online training, coaching, keynote<br />

presentations, information, and support.<br />

Sarah is passionate about making a<br />

positive difference to the lives, attitudes,<br />

and outcomes of those who may<br />

struggle to learn, based on a belief that<br />

every action can make a difference. She<br />

aims to bridge the gap between theory<br />

and learning, to create a culture where<br />

high expectations thrive, improving<br />

outcomes for all pupils.<br />

Sarah has over 30 years’ knowledge<br />

and experience within special and<br />

mainstream education from teaching<br />

assistant to Headteacher, as well being<br />

a parent of a 7-year-old. She has a solid<br />

research background rooted within the<br />

psychology of learning. Her Masters<br />

and PhD were in Special Education and<br />

focused specifically on the teaching of<br />

reading and self-esteem. Sarah has<br />

presented nationally/internationally and<br />

is a published author.<br />

The Teaching of Reading to Learners with<br />

SLD<br />

Her forthcoming publication on the<br />

teaching of reading to learners with<br />

complex needs is due March <strong>2023</strong>.<br />

Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram - Dr Sarah<br />

Moseley<br />

Twitter @drsarahmoseley<br />

24 <strong>February</strong> <strong>2023</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>February</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 25

Stress management<br />

– coping mechanisms<br />

for you and your<br />

colleagues<br />

In our November <strong>magazine</strong>, we talked<br />

about Stress Awareness Week and ways<br />

to help you a) notice the signs of stress,<br />

and b) combat stress, particularly in the<br />

workplace.<br />

As we move into <strong>February</strong>, with people<br />

feeling the pinch after Christmas, the costof-living<br />

crisis firmly sitting at everyone’s<br />

front door and energy subsidies set<br />

to reduce in the near future, it is more<br />

important than ever that we are aware of<br />

how we are coping with the stresses in our<br />

lives.<br />

In the last article we used the analogy of<br />

the ‘stress bucket’ and the importance of<br />

emptying the bucket to keep stress levels<br />

manageable. In this article, we will look a<br />

bit closer at some coping mechanisms you<br />

can use as a team, and as individuals.<br />

As a team<br />

Good communication between team<br />

members and encouraging people to<br />

talk more and share problems can help<br />

manage workplace stress. Add an agenda<br />

item to team meetings to discuss stress<br />

awareness or staff mental health. You<br />

could have this as a permanent item to<br />

let people know that this is something<br />

that you take seriously and are willing to<br />

support as management. You could try<br />

regular check-ins with members of staff at<br />

various points in the week or by doing a<br />

short survey at regular intervals. If people<br />

feel that their concerns will be taken<br />

seriously, they are more likely to open<br />

up, and discuss when things are getting<br />

tough.<br />

Also:<br />

Consider training some of your staff<br />

in Mental Health First Aid. There are a<br />

number of reasonably priced courses<br />

online which people could undertake<br />

to help them spot the signs of mental<br />

illness or unhealthy levels of stress<br />

Set up a buddy/mentor system and<br />

give people time each week where<br />

they can check-in with each other<br />

Give staff more autonomy in their<br />

jobs – one of the greatest causes<br />

of workplace stress is when people<br />

don’t feel they have any control over<br />

situations or circumstances<br />

Set up some group activities to bond<br />

as a team or wind down at the end of<br />

the week. These could include some<br />

ideas for stress reduction, or just be<br />

for fun:<br />

- Yoga or meditation<br />

- A craft workshop<br />

- Early finish one day a week<br />

- Group exercise class – running,<br />

tennis, badminton<br />

- Karaoke session<br />

- Cookery club<br />

- Games night<br />

As individuals<br />

Sharing problems and working as a team<br />

can be great ways to let go of stress,<br />

and the old adage of “a problem shared<br />

is a problem halved” works well in this<br />

instance. However, there may be times,<br />

when you want to take a more individual<br />

approach to stress management and<br />

to identify things that will reduce your<br />

individual stress levels.<br />

Everyone is different and will have their<br />

own favourites but the main thing is to<br />

find things that help you relax and reduce<br />

stress. For some, this could be making<br />

more time to do gardening, whilst others<br />

might find solace in reading or playing<br />

golf. There are some generic things that<br />

have been shown to help reduce stress,<br />

but the trick here is to find your own<br />

personal version of things. For example,<br />

exercise is well known for having stressreducing<br />

benefits, but if you start paying<br />

for a gym membership and never go,<br />

or buy an exercise bike that you never<br />

use, the chances are that these things<br />

will cause you more stress. So, before<br />

investing your time and money, work out<br />

what it is you really love doing, and follow<br />

your heart. If you hate gyms but love<br />

dancing, look for a local salsa or jive class;<br />

or if you always wanted to learn to bake,<br />

knit or do life drawing, check out local<br />

adult education classes.<br />

The key here is taking time out for YOU,<br />

which can be difficult if you work full-time<br />

and have other family commitments too.<br />

Sometimes you have to think about looking<br />

after yourself and keeping yourself healthy,<br />

before agreeing to do one more thing for<br />

somebody else!<br />

Work out what helps you relax – here are<br />

some ideas to personalise:<br />

Music – listen to it, go to a concert,<br />

learn to play an instrument<br />

Nature – gardening, walking and<br />

hiking, volunteering at an animal<br />

shelter<br />

Arts and crafts - painting, drawing,<br />

sculpture, dance<br />

Exercise – dancing, wild swimming,<br />

aquarobics, gardening, bowling,<br />

Tai Chi, climbing, horse-riding, iceskating,<br />

couch to 5K<br />

Create “Me time” – set up a rota<br />

for chores at home so the burden<br />

is shared, go to bed half and hour<br />

earlier and read, invest in a cleaner,<br />

have a regular ‘date night’, switch<br />

off your mobile at a certain time and<br />

don’t look at it until the morning, give<br />

yourself a pamper night, have an<br />

occasional ‘duvet day’<br />

Join a local friendship or other<br />

specialist interest group – e.g.<br />

volunteering, arts, history, First Aid,<br />

theatre group, bridge club<br />

Friends – make time to see your<br />

friends more often (you’ll probably<br />

find that they need to de-stress too)<br />

Work out what makes<br />

you stressed and put<br />

safeguards in place<br />

Identifying things that cause you stress<br />

can help because once you know what<br />

the problem truly is, you are well on your<br />

way to finding solutions. So be honest with<br />

yourself and go through the list below,<br />

giving yourself a stress score out of 10 for<br />

each category.<br />

Money<br />

Time management<br />

Logistics – things like transport and<br />

childcare which may be especially<br />

problematic at the moment with the<br />

current strikes<br />

Health worries<br />

Family worries<br />

Relationships (intimate, family, friends,<br />

work)<br />

Career<br />

You will not be able to tackle everything at<br />

once – indeed that is likely to lead to more<br />

stress. But by being honest with yourself,<br />

you can then start with the most important<br />

or most stressful ones and sort out these<br />

first. And if you need help – ask! It is<br />

better to go and see your GP at the first<br />

signs of stress, than to be taken to hospital<br />

in an ambulance later!<br />

Other techniques you<br />

could use<br />

STOP – an acronym for when things<br />

get overwhelming which stands<br />

for: S – stop; T – take a breathe,<br />

O – observe your body, mind and<br />

emotions for a few minutes, then P –<br />

proceed with what you were doing,<br />

but with the knowledge you have from<br />

your STOP technique<br />

Breathing – slow breath in through the<br />

nose and slow breath out though the<br />

mouth<br />

Yoga – breathing and movement<br />

Mindfulness – taking the time to<br />

observe yourself in the moment (a bit<br />

like STOP)<br />

Tapping – sometimes called Emotional<br />

Freedom Technique that has been<br />

proven to help anxiety and PTSD<br />

sufferers<br />

Guided meditations – search on<br />

YouTube<br />

26 <strong>February</strong> <strong>2023</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>February</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 27

How does self-esteem<br />

develop and how do we<br />

get that for our children?<br />

We would all love to think that we are<br />

caring for children in ways that help value<br />

and support their self-esteem. But how<br />

exactly can we be sure? You may have<br />

built a child’s self-confidence through<br />

opportunities to see how well they can do<br />

something. And you can get a good feel<br />

for how confident they are feeling through<br />

their words and actions. But building a<br />

faith or trust in themselves, their selfesteem,<br />

can be far trickier.<br />

A child’s self-esteem is all about the value<br />

they put on themselves; how good they<br />

judge themselves to be. It has links to<br />

their sense of satisfaction and happiness,<br />

as well as improvements in their mental<br />

health, their schoolwork and physical<br />

health. But whilst their outward displays of<br />

confidence may be high, their self-esteem<br />

may be anything but.<br />

When we judge anything as good, we are<br />

essentially assigning a value to it. What<br />

makes it good? What criteria are we rating<br />

it against? When it comes to a good choice<br />

for a morning snack, these criteria might<br />

be around healthy choices or something<br />

warm on a cold day. But when it comes to<br />

judging a person, where can you possibly<br />

start? And where are children taking their<br />

lead from?<br />

A study at the University of Denver<br />

proposed that self-esteem goes through<br />

different developmental stages. From<br />

the “look at me” stage when children<br />

are 2- to 4-years old, when it tends to be<br />

unrealistically high. To the “on my way”<br />

stage from age 5- to 7-years when they<br />

are beginning to see themselves as good<br />

at some things more than others. So,<br />

while your 3-year-olds may tell you they<br />

can beat you in a race or happily accept<br />

a challenge to build a tower to the moon,<br />

how these experiences are managed is<br />

heavily influencing the ways they value<br />

their abilities going forward. This is equally<br />

true of the conversations they hear around<br />

them and the messages they are being<br />

given.<br />

⭐ Do you offer praise when children sit<br />

quietly?<br />

⭐ When they wait patiently?<br />

⭐ Or when they can perform certain<br />

skills?<br />

The trouble with assigning value through<br />

these criteria is that they are fluctuating.<br />

They depend on the demands of the<br />

moment and the person asking them. And<br />

when you think about it, have little basis<br />

on the important qualities we may want<br />

for our children as they grow into capable,<br />

well-rounded adults. Maybe they are not<br />

sitting quietly because they have had a<br />

great thought that they need to share<br />

with you. Maybe they can’t wait patiently<br />

because their young bodies are desperate<br />

to get outside and run and jump. And<br />

don’t we want them to have a voice, an<br />

opinion and be excited to explore the<br />

world?<br />

Fluctuating ideas of what is right and<br />

good can cause many children to find<br />

their self-esteem dampened. Children are<br />

looking to connect with the people around<br />

them; to receive your acknowledgement,<br />

reassurance and acceptance. These<br />

positive human connections can be offered<br />

through a kind word, a smile or a nod of<br />

reassurance to let them know that they are<br />

doing okay and that they belong. This is<br />

a basic human need for all of us and one<br />

that is so powerful children will do almost<br />

anything to get it, which is why peer<br />

pressure is so powerful.<br />

Understanding a child’s needs in the<br />

moment can be tough when they are<br />

changing at a rapid rate. But when we fall<br />

into habits of noticing the children who<br />

need “bringing back into line” or praising<br />

those who meet today’s expectations,<br />

many children slip through the net. And<br />

with studies consistently showing that<br />

a child experiences all kinds of benefits<br />

when their self-esteem is boosted, this is<br />

something we need to be offering to all<br />

our children.<br />

So how do we go about doing this?<br />

While self-confidence is built through<br />

experience; the more opportunities a<br />

child has to practice, the more confident<br />

they can become. Self-esteem is more<br />

about who the child believes themselves<br />

to be. Children are frequently directed,<br />

in their actions, their location and their<br />

experiences. But as you go through the<br />

day, try to connect with them on their level<br />

as you listen with empathy and interest. Be<br />

careful of the language you use, mindful<br />

that your children are not tying their selfworth<br />

to narrow, unrealistic or fluctuating<br />

ideals that will ultimately harm their selfesteem<br />

when they need to feel unique,<br />

loved and valuable, just for being them.<br />

⭐ Take delight in them as they crave<br />

your attention and approval. And give<br />

it freely<br />

⭐ Be gentle with corrections as you<br />

redirect toward desired behaviours<br />

⭐ Support them to master new skills<br />

and be enthusiastic about their<br />

progress<br />

⭐ Help them resist automatically looking<br />

to others for approval, as they learn to<br />

value their own judgement<br />

⭐ Find something they genuinely<br />

care about and help them to see<br />

their strengths as well as areas of<br />

improvement<br />

⭐ Then help them realistically set goals<br />

and recognise their achievements<br />

⭐ Help them trust when they feel good<br />

about something, regardless of<br />

popular opinion<br />

Children will experience difficult times<br />

growing up – it is a part of the journey. But<br />

you have a unique opportunity while they<br />

are with you, to offer them a protective<br />

influence on these difficult times. When<br />

you actively see and hear a child, you<br />

are showing them they matter. Even if<br />

you cannot understand the magnitude of<br />

feelings they might be expressing.<br />

When you focus your comments on their<br />

behaviours which they can change, rather<br />

than assigning labels which they cannot,<br />

you avoid limiting their expectations,<br />

the belief they have in themselves and<br />

how they see their identity. All the while<br />

remembering that children need to be<br />

loved and valued exactly as they are, not<br />

how they could be.<br />

Next time, as we continue our reflections<br />

of “The Happy Child”, we will consider<br />

child anxiety and how you can support the<br />

children in your lives. But in the meantime,<br />

bring focus back to nurturing all of<br />

children’s growth and development with a<br />

Nurturing Childhoods Accreditation.<br />

Whether you are looking for a setting wide<br />

approach to reflective practice and active<br />

CPD or a more personalised approach<br />

with the Nurturing Childhoods Practitioner<br />

Accreditation, gain recognition for the<br />

nurturing practice you deliver. Through 12<br />

online sessions through the year join me<br />

and hundreds of nurturing practitioners as<br />

together we really begin developing the<br />

potential of all children in their early years.<br />

Kathryn Peckham<br />

As Founder of Nurturing Childhoods,<br />

Dr Kathryn Peckham is a passionate<br />

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

meaningful experiences throughout their<br />

foundational early years. Delivering online<br />

courses, training and seminars she<br />

works with families and settings to identify<br />

and celebrate the impact of effective<br />

childhood experiences as preparation for<br />

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

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

conducts research for government bodies<br />

and contributes to papers launched in<br />

parliament. Through her consultancy<br />

and research, she guides local councils,<br />

practitioners, teachers and parents all<br />

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

experiences through the experiences<br />

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

member of parliamentary groups, Kathryn<br />

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

Research in Early Years.<br />

For more information and practical<br />

guidance on developing the features of<br />

lifelong learning, Kathryn has published<br />

a book: “Developing School Readiness,<br />

Creating Lifelong Learners”.<br />

Get in contact at www.kathrynpeckham.<br />

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

co.uk.<br />

28 <strong>February</strong> <strong>2023</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>February</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 29

Organisational culture<br />

in nurseries: what is it<br />

and why does it matter?<br />

They say that culture eats strategy for<br />

breakfast. What this means is that<br />

without an intentional and strong culture<br />

in your nursery, it doesn’t matter what<br />

action plans you have in place – it<br />

will be impossible to implement the<br />

improvements and developments you<br />

want to see.<br />

So what exactly is culture, how does it<br />

work and why does it matter so much?<br />

In this series, we will be zooming in on<br />

organisational culture in the context of<br />

nurseries to understand more about how<br />

to make it work as a fundamental part of<br />

leadership. In this first article, we consider<br />

how to think about organisational culture<br />

in your nursery and the influence it has<br />

over all of the everyday interactions that<br />

make up the work of the nursery.<br />

What is organisational<br />

culture?<br />

We can define organisational culture as a<br />

set of values, practices and expectations<br />

that guide day-to-day practice at work.<br />

In the nursery, we can see culture in the<br />

way that everyone interacts with everyone<br />

else. Every interaction is an indicator of<br />

the culture of the organisation – whether it<br />

is an interaction between two educators,<br />

an educator and a child, two parents as<br />

they drop off their children, how managers<br />

speak to the employees of the nursery,<br />

how they pick up the phone and so on.<br />

Beyond interactions, we can see culture<br />

in the organisation and upkeep of the<br />

physical environment. Longer-term,<br />

culture will impact on the support that<br />

children and families feel and the progress<br />

that they can make in the learning<br />

environment.<br />

Why does culture matter?<br />

Any development that you want to see<br />

happening in the context of a nursery<br />

will depend on the culture of the nursery.<br />

You can think about culture as the grease<br />

around the levers. If organisational culture<br />

is stuck and people are resistant to<br />

change, improvements will be extremely<br />

difficult to make happen. It would be like<br />

struggling with a lever that has rusted<br />

over.<br />

If, on the other hand, the organisational<br />

culture is one that values continuous<br />

improvement, individual development<br />

and a collaborative approach, pulling<br />

on an improvement lever will be much<br />

more straightforward. This means that<br />

a fundamental part of leadership is<br />

about establishing and maintaining an<br />

organisational culture that constantly<br />

enables development, rather than just<br />

coming up with a stream of potential ideas<br />

for improvement.<br />

I recently spoke to a nursery manager who<br />

had been keen to shift how mealtimes<br />

were done in the baby room of their<br />

nursery. They wanted to move away from<br />

high chairs and instead introduce low<br />

tables and chairs, which enabled freer<br />

movement among the babies. They had<br />

been influenced by a piece they had read<br />

about the importance of independence<br />

and choice for baby room practice. One<br />

of the examples in the article they had<br />

read was this change in the equipment<br />

for mealtimes. In a team meeting with the<br />

baby room staff, the manager introduced<br />

the change that they wanted to make and<br />

explained that the new tables and chairs<br />

would be arriving in less than a week.<br />

What happened next was much more a<br />

consequence of the organisational culture<br />

than whether or not this particular change<br />

is good or bad. The baby room staff felt,<br />

understandably, that the abrupt change<br />

was a sign of how little their experience<br />

with the babies was appreciated. They<br />

could understand the rationale for<br />

increasing babies’ independence at<br />

mealtimes, but when the new tables and<br />

chairs arrived, they found the reality of<br />

each mealtime hugely frustrating. They<br />

struggled to help the babies to sit in the<br />

chairs for long enough to actually eat<br />

a decent amount and the noise of the<br />

babies pushing the chairs around was<br />

over-stimulating for everyone, babies<br />

and educators alike. Despite sharing their<br />

frustration with each other at the end of<br />

every lunch time, they did not feel able<br />

to express their concerns to the nursery<br />

manager who had been so determined to<br />

implement the change in the first place.<br />

This scenario is symptomatic of an<br />

organisational culture which is overly<br />

hierarchical, where everyday experiences<br />

are not adequately valued and where<br />

frustrations become a ripple of discontent<br />

through the organisation, rather than<br />

a starting point for positive change. If<br />

instead the organisational culture in this<br />

particular nursery had been one that<br />

prioritised collaborative reflection, the<br />

change would never have been introduced<br />

in the way that it was. If the staff had come<br />

together in a discussion about babies’<br />

independence – and whether this was a<br />

value that they could develop further in<br />

their practice – the specific changes to<br />

mealtimes could have been decided and<br />

monitored by all and frustrations would<br />

have been an essential part of learning,<br />

rather than a demotivating force for the<br />

staff.<br />

The lesson here is that leaders’ good<br />

ideas are only good ideas if they are<br />

embedded in an organisational culture<br />

where everyone’s ideas and experiences<br />

are valued and where change is a process<br />

that all are a part of.<br />

Envisioning the<br />

organisational culture<br />

A leader’s first job is to foster a strong and<br />

powerful vision of what the organisational<br />

culture should be. It is not as simple<br />

as ‘good culture’ versus ‘bad culture’.<br />

A positive culture can look and feel<br />

different from one nursery to the next. The<br />

foundation for establishing a distinctive<br />

and effective culture in a nursery is to<br />

imagine what this culture will look like.<br />

It can be helpful to practise visualising the<br />

organisational culture you want to build in<br />

your nursery. As a starting point, you can<br />

close your eyes and imagine the following<br />

interactions. Once you have them in your<br />

mind, write down the key aspects of what<br />

you saw.<br />

✏ A team meeting<br />

✏ Parents on a show-around<br />

✏ Mealtimes<br />

✏ Staff saying goodbye to each other at<br />

the end of the day<br />

✏ Catch-ups between staff and parents<br />

at the beginning and end of the day<br />

✏ Children and educators interacting<br />

during free play<br />

✏ An appraisal of a staff member after 6<br />

months of being there<br />

What does imagining these interactions tell<br />

you about the organisational culture you<br />

want to create? What values, expectations<br />

and practices do you most want to<br />

prioritise in your nursery’s organisational<br />

culture?<br />

Mona Sakr<br />

Dr Mona Sakr is a Senior Lecturer in<br />

Education and Early Childhood. As a<br />

researcher in Early Years (EY) provision,<br />

she has published extensively on<br />

creative, digital and playful pedagogies<br />

including the books “Digital Play in<br />

Early Childhood: What’s the Problem?”<br />

(Sage) and “Creativity and Making in<br />

Early Childhood: Challenging Practitioner<br />

Perspectives” (Bloomsbury).<br />

Mona’s current research is an<br />

exploration of pedagogical,<br />

organisational and community<br />

leadership in EY and how leadership can<br />

be more effectively developed across<br />

EY. Current funded research includes a<br />

Nuffield Foundation project looking at<br />

online leadership development across<br />

the EY sector, a BELMAS project looking<br />

at leadership in the baby room of<br />

nurseries and a BERA project examining<br />

ethnicity in the early years workforce.<br />

Forthcoming books (include an<br />

introduction to social leadership in early<br />

childhood education and care (written<br />

with June O’Sullivan, CEO of London Early<br />

Years Foundation), and an edited volume<br />

on EY pedagogical leadership around<br />

the globe.<br />

Email: m.sakr@mdx.ac.uk<br />

Twitter: @DrMonaSakr<br />

30 <strong>February</strong> <strong>2023</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>February</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 31

International Day of<br />

Throughout history, the field of science, STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) and STEAM (plus arts) have been dominated<br />

by men and for years and women have been under-represented on university courses and in occupations not only in the UK but<br />

throughout the world. Now, whilst women in the UK (unlike some countries), can be grateful that they have a right to an education and<br />

we have laws preventing discrimination based on gender, it is still true that data from UCAS, HESA and WISE campaigns show that only<br />

35% of university science undergraduates are women. So there is still some way to go before women are fully represented in these<br />

professions.<br />

Number of women students in higher education in core STEM subjects (2017/18)<br />

COURSES 2017-2018<br />

Women and Girls<br />









The United Nations have identified<br />

gender equality as goal number 5 in<br />

their Sustainable Development Goals,<br />

and in 2015, they adopted a resolution<br />

setting up the first International Day of<br />

Women and Girls in Science. On Friday,<br />

<strong>February</strong> 10th <strong>2023</strong>, everyone is invited<br />

to the 8th International Day of Women &<br />

Girls in Science to celebrate the work and<br />

achievements of visionary and remarkable<br />

women across the globe and throughout<br />

history.<br />

There are four main agendas for the day:<br />

1. Be heard – people are encouraged<br />

to attend a free assembly discussing<br />

the issue at the UN Headquarters in<br />

New York, and whilst this may be a<br />

tall order for many, “never say never”<br />

is a good motto<br />

in Science<br />

19<br />

19<br />

39<br />

37<br />


2. Pledge to equality – this is a call for<br />

businesses and related organisations<br />

to develop partnerships with the aim<br />

of empowering women and girls in<br />

science<br />

3. Join the global network – this<br />

strand aims to recognise the role<br />

of women in science as “agents of<br />

change in accelerating progress<br />

towards the sustainable development<br />

goals”<br />

4. Register events and activities –<br />

join in on Saturday <strong>February</strong> 11th to<br />

add your voice to the collective voice<br />

calling for equality in science<br />

The focus this year is on how women<br />

and girls in science can contribute to the<br />

61<br />

63<br />

81<br />

81<br />

Sustainable Development Goals, and<br />

there is a large focus on sustainability in<br />

industry, clean energy and clean water<br />

supplies.<br />

What does it all mean for<br />

early years settings?<br />

Whilst some of these goals and ambitions<br />

are very much routed in United Nations<br />

‘speak’, they are essentially asking for<br />

everyone to contribute what they can to<br />

help encourage more women and girls<br />

into science. And that can start in the<br />

early years with nurseries and settings<br />

lighting ‘fires of desire’ in young children to<br />

investigate the world around them, and to<br />

positively promote these aspects amongst<br />

girls.<br />

What can you do in your<br />

setting?<br />

This year, we have researched 3 women in<br />

science who have embodied, or currently<br />

embody the ideas being promoted that<br />

you can use as role models in your setting,<br />

telling their stories to the children and<br />

explaining how they have helped our<br />

world.<br />

We’ve also come up with a simple<br />

experiment that you can do with the<br />

children to spark their imaginations and<br />

get them to ask questions about the<br />

world and how it works. We hope you like<br />

the ideas we’ve suggested, but you can<br />

always think of your own ways to celebrate<br />

the day in your setting by researching<br />

women in science and scientific<br />

experiments for early years.<br />

Three amazing women in<br />

science<br />

1. Marie Curie (1867 – 1934) is one<br />

of only four people (and the only<br />

female) to have won a Nobel Prize<br />

twice; in 1903 for Physics for her<br />

work on isolating radium, and in 1911<br />

for Chemistry for work on a way of<br />

measuring radioactivity. She became<br />

a Professor at Sorbonne University<br />

in Paris, France and her work led to<br />

radiation therapy which is used today<br />

to help people with cancer. You can<br />

see a children’s version of her story on<br />

YouTube here.<br />

2. Helen Sharman (1963 - ) was<br />

the first British woman into space.<br />

She studied Chemistry at Sheffield<br />

University and later gain a PhD at<br />

Birkbeck. Her chemical expertise<br />

helped perfect ice cream bars for<br />

Mars Confectionery. She later heard<br />

a radio advert saying, “Astronaut<br />

wanted – no experience necessary”<br />

and after being one of 13,000<br />

applicants, she was chosen to be the<br />

first privately-funded British woman in<br />

space as part of Project Juno in May<br />

1991. She later published a children’s<br />

book called “The Space Place: Making<br />

Sense of Science” in 1993 which could<br />

be used in your storytime sessions.<br />

3. Alice Roberts (1973 -) is an English<br />

biological anthropologist, biologist,<br />

television presenter and author who<br />

is Professor of Public Engagement<br />

in Science at the University of<br />

Birmingham. She trained as a medical<br />

doctor and has taken her passion for<br />

science to the masses through TV and<br />

books, as a presenter on “Time Team”<br />

and “Coast” amongst others and has<br />

been involved in the Royal Institution<br />

Christmas Lectures and you can here<br />

her talk about women and girls in<br />

science here.<br />

We’ve focused on 3 amazing women, but<br />

there are many, many more you could talk<br />

about too.<br />

An easy science<br />

experiment to do with your<br />

children (girls AND boys)<br />

Melting ice<br />

What you will need:

EYFS activities:<br />

Communication<br />

and Language<br />

Listening bottles<br />

This is a popular use of sensory bottles to<br />

develop children’s early listening skills<br />

• Fill some small bottles or containers with<br />

different items, ensuring there are two<br />

bottles filled with the same contents for<br />

each item/s. You could use, rice, pasta,<br />

sand, water etc.<br />

• Cover the bottles so the contents aren’t<br />

visible. Then, shake the bottles, and ask<br />

the children to use their listening skills to<br />

identify which two bottles sound the same.<br />

• What do they think could be in the bottles?<br />

Image credit here.<br />

With spring just around the corner (the clocks go forward<br />

next month!) why not choose a selection of books<br />

about this wonderful season and all the new beginnings<br />

that come with it, focusing your activities around<br />

communication and language?<br />

‘Spring’ into reading!<br />

• Using picture books about spring e.g.,<br />

“Goodbye Winter, Hello Spring” by Kenard<br />

Pak, introduce the idea of spring, and the<br />

changes it brings (days getting longer,<br />

spring bulbs starting to flower, animals<br />

creeping out of hibernation and the colour<br />

green spreading over the ground)<br />

• Encourage the children to look around for<br />

signs of spring outside in the garden at the<br />

setting, or in the park with their family and<br />

ask them to share what they see<br />

Circle time<br />

Dressing up time - A firm favourite with the children!<br />

• Let the children choose various items of<br />

clothing and toys from the dressing up box<br />

• Encourage roleplay and use effective<br />

questioning – letting them live their own<br />

story. Occasionally ask them questions such<br />

as, “what’s this?”, “what are you doing?” to<br />

encourage their communication<br />

• Above all, let their imaginations run wild!<br />

• Show the children pictures of animals that<br />

hibernate through the winter<br />

• Explain what each animal is and where it<br />

might be hibernating<br />

• Encourage the children to name the animal<br />

and describe it, how it looks, how they<br />

think it might feel and how big they think it<br />

might be<br />

You can find these and more activities at Early<br />

Years Educator here.

Valentine’s is the time<br />

for self-love<br />

Valentine’s is the time for romantics, but<br />

self-love comes first, and what is better<br />

than looking after your own heart?<br />

Make <strong>2023</strong> the start of a wonderful<br />

relationship with your own heart and help<br />

your little ones to begin theirs. The recent<br />

use of technology, that focuses on mental<br />

activities, has led to the reduction of<br />

physical activity.<br />

There is so much evidence that aerobic<br />

(raising your heart rate) fitness can help<br />

you stay happy and healthy. Isn’t that<br />

the ultimate in self-love? Don’t worry, you<br />

don’t need to carve extra time out of your<br />

already jam-packed day.<br />

The minute you roll out of bed, raring to<br />

go, your heart is already beginning to<br />

respond. Every time we move, our muscles<br />

force the heart to respond and deliver<br />

oxygen.<br />

It seems that everyone focuses on<br />

exercise to prevent obesity, but it does so<br />

much more. You are not only improving<br />

your physical fitness, as movement<br />

also benefits your mental health and<br />

well-being. Just think of all those happy<br />

hormones whizzing around the brain,<br />

giving you positivity, that then feeds down<br />

to your little ones. When we are fit and<br />

healthy, it makes things easier. The more<br />

we increase the efficiency of our muscles<br />

in using oxygen, means over time, we can<br />

move more easily and with less effort and<br />

not get so tired.<br />

It’s not just the exercise that will help your<br />

heart but making healthier and better<br />

choices with food too.<br />

Helpful hint… Don’t overdo it when you<br />

start, as you may not be able to maintain<br />

it. It’s about creating good habits for you<br />

and your little ones. These good habits will<br />

have a huge impact on their outlook on<br />

life, relationship with their body, food, and<br />

long-term health.<br />

36 <strong>February</strong> <strong>2023</strong> | parenta.com<br />

There are so many resources out there to<br />

help you and your little ones get active. We<br />

are all guilty of this going to the bottom of<br />

the list when we have so much to do and<br />

fit in our day.<br />

The key to success is…<br />

Make movement fun for everyone and<br />

weave it throughout your day. The aim is<br />

for it to become part and parcel of your<br />

normal day. If it’s fun, you won’t notice<br />

that you are, in fact, exercising! Those<br />

seconds will turn into minutes and before<br />

you know it, your goal will be reached.<br />

Even your babies will be joining you as you<br />

encourage them to be active. Grasping,<br />

pushing, pulling and tummy time activities<br />

are the perfect way to engage with them<br />

and keep them active. You can join in<br />

tummy time as well, by using it to practise<br />

your cobra pose.<br />

Ultimately, we want you and your little<br />

ones to huff and puff. This shows you<br />

are all pushing yourselves physically.<br />

Improving cardiovascular fitness does take<br />

a bit of effort but if you are consistent and<br />

build activities into your day, you will see<br />

so many benefits. This is done through<br />

active play such as hide and seek, running<br />

around, dancing, swimming, ball games<br />

and climbing over and under things.<br />

There are so many ways of increasing their<br />

activity ranging from messy play to ball<br />

games.<br />

Don’t forget you need to join in as well and<br />

not sit out on the side lines as you are their<br />

greatest role model.<br />

Make <strong>2023</strong> your year of activity, fun and<br />

imagination and show them how to take<br />

care of, and love their own hearts.<br />

A little bit of Valentine’s<br />

fun<br />

Activity 1: Find the hearts<br />

❤ Set up an activity area for the children<br />

to make lots of hearts<br />

❤ Hide hearts around your setting and/<br />

or outside space<br />

❤ The children then must find as many<br />

hearts as they can<br />

❤ For older children or adults, make it<br />

time sensitive<br />

❤ Adapt as appropriate for your little<br />

ones<br />

Did you know….<br />

Physical activity grows the brain through<br />

the Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor<br />

(BDNF) release which stimulates the<br />

growth of new neurons. You are literally<br />

growing the brain through movement<br />

and physical activity.<br />

Activity 2: Scavenger hunt<br />

❤ Create a Valentine-themed scavenger<br />

hunt<br />

❤ For example, find something red,<br />

heart-shaped etc<br />

❤ Adapt as appropriate for your little<br />

ones<br />

Activity 3: Lava and hearts<br />

❤ Create some hearts that are big<br />

enough for your little ones to be able<br />

to place a foot on<br />

❤ Spread the hearts evenly across the<br />

floor. Check you can make it across<br />

the floor on the hearts as you don’t<br />

want it to be too tricky to start with<br />

❤ The floor has turned to lava and the<br />

only way across is to step (or crawl)<br />

on the hearts<br />

❤ You can then progress by moving the<br />

hearts further apart and then adding<br />

jumping and leaping<br />

Activity 4: Heart twister<br />

❤ Place different coloured or numbered<br />

hearts on the floor<br />

❤ Play Twister using the hearts either by<br />

colour or number<br />

❤ Adapt as appropriate for your little<br />

ones<br />

Gina Bale<br />

Gina’s background was originally<br />

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

years teaching movement and dance<br />

in mainstream, early years and SEND<br />

settings as well as dance schools.<br />

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

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

run alongside the Australian Children’s<br />

TV series and the Angelina Ballerina<br />

Dance Academy for Hit Entertainment.<br />

Her proudest achievement to date is her<br />

baby Littlemagictrain. She created this<br />

specifically to help children learn through<br />

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

One of the highlights has been seeing<br />

Littlemagictrain delivered by Butlin’s<br />

famous Redcoats with the gorgeous<br />

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

Gina has qualifications of teaching<br />

movement and dance from the Royal<br />

Ballet School, Trinity College and Royal<br />

Academy of Dance.<br />

A little something to think<br />

about……<br />

The neuroselection hypothesis paper “Early<br />

life cognitive function and health behaviours<br />

in late childhood: testing the neuroselection<br />

hypothesis” from the BMJ, suggests that<br />

higher cognitive skills in early life (3-7) is<br />

associated with the avoidance of hazardous<br />

behaviours (smoking and alcohol) but also the<br />

avoidance of sport and exercise.<br />

“How Lifestyle Factors Affect Cognitive and<br />

Executive Function and the Ability to Learn in<br />

Children” discusses lifestyle and its impact<br />

on Cognitive and Executive function. In their<br />

research on movement and physical activity,<br />

the researchers have seen that there are<br />

several changes in the volume of brain<br />

structure and that movement could enhance<br />

cognition and learning in children.

Testimonials<br />

“Excellent support as always. I have always had my queries answered quickly and<br />

efficiently by a very professional team. Thank you.”<br />

Brishing Barn<br />

“Excellent and Charlotte is always so cheerful on the phone.”<br />

TJ<br />

“I always get a speedy and helpful response to my problems.”<br />

Bbkbourne<br />

“This is all amazing!! You are a star!! Thank you for your help this year, please pass<br />

that on to your manager for you that you have been fantastic and a great support to<br />

us all here.”<br />

Old MacDonalds<br />

Congratulations<br />

to all our <strong>Parenta</strong> learners!<br />

Congratulations to all our <strong>Parenta</strong> learners who completed their apprenticeship<br />

and have now gained their qualifications.<br />

These range from Childcare Level 2, Childcare Level 3 and Team Leading<br />

to Level 3 and Level 5 Management – that’s a huge achievement in the<br />

current climate.<br />

All that hard work has paid off – well done from all of us here at <strong>Parenta</strong> Training!<br />

Did you know?... <strong>Parenta</strong> has trained over 20,000 apprentices within the early years sector!<br />

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

That’s down to great work from you, our lovely <strong>Parenta</strong> learners!<br />

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

a picture to hello@parenta.com to be included in the <strong>magazine</strong>.<br />

38 <strong>February</strong> <strong>2023</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>February</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 39

Transform your childcare business, reach your local community and<br />

increase your occupancy with our Ofsted targeted websites.<br />

We can set up your social media accounts and<br />

get you started with your first posts.<br />

Get Our FREE Social Media guides with every package<br />

The <strong>Parenta</strong> website<br />

team is amazing. The email response<br />

time is always extremely<br />

quick and efficient, as are the requests<br />

for alterations & amendments. I<br />

cannot fault Samantha and her team.<br />

Diane Crew<br />

Tiddlers Nursery Ltd<br />

We know what your childcare website needs and we’ll build it right. With high-powered features<br />

to meet the specific needs of your childcare setting, we can build you a website that is truly<br />

unique. Call our friendly team on 0800 002 9242 or drop us a line at hello@parenta.com

Hooray! Your file is uploaded and ready to be published.

Saved successfully!

Ooh no, something went wrong!