May 2023 Parenta magazine

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Issue 102<br />

MAY <strong>2023</strong><br />

FREE<br />

Industry<br />

Experts<br />

Top tips for the terrific<br />

twos - Tip nine: “No!”<br />

7 daily affirmations to<br />

create a fulfilled life<br />

Blooming music! Songs<br />

about flowers in the<br />

early years<br />

+ lots more<br />

EYFS activities<br />

inside!<br />

This month…<br />

Expressive<br />

Arts and<br />

Design<br />

The importance of the first<br />

1000 days<br />

Just how critical is formative nutrition in the early years?<br />

It’s not just the amount of food - but very much about the food!<br />


10<br />

28<br />

14 18<br />

Hello<br />

Welcome to our family<br />

Welcome to the <strong>May</strong> issue of <strong>Parenta</strong> <strong>magazine</strong>!<br />

It’s <strong>May</strong> at last! As we near the end of what feels for some, like an extremely long winter, we can now start to enjoy the<br />

longer days, the rise in temperatures (hopefully!) and the colourful flowers and trees as they blossom and bloom. This is such<br />

a wonderful time of year for so many, although those who suffer from allergies will tell you this is not the best time of year at<br />

all and for young children, it can be particularly difficult. Turn to page 32 for some insightful advice and guidance on allergies<br />

- and don’t forget to download our free allergy placements for your setting!<br />

We welcome new guest author, health and nutrition specialist Louise Mercieca – she helps us discover “the importance of the<br />

first 1000 days”. It’s a packed edition as usual, with articles from Jo Grace, Stacey Kelly, Frances Turnbull, Kathryn Peckham<br />

and Gina Bale – and everything you read in the <strong>magazine</strong> is written to help with the efficient running of your setting and to<br />

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

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

www.parenta.com/<strong>magazine</strong>.<br />

Allan<br />

Regulars<br />

8 Write for us<br />

34 EYFS Activities: Expressive Arts and Design<br />

News<br />

4 Childcare News<br />

6 Small Stories<br />

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

Advice<br />

24<br />

14 Sun Awareness Week: protecting children in our<br />

UK climate<br />

20 Mental Health Awareness Week<br />

24 Preparing for an Ofsted visit<br />

28 New and newly-qualified managers - how can we<br />

support them?<br />

32 Allergy Awareness<br />

Industry Experts<br />

10 Top tips for the terrific twos - Tip nine: “no!”<br />

12 The importance of the first 1000 days<br />

18 7 daily affirmations to create a fulfilled life<br />

22 Blooming music! Songs about flowers in the<br />

early years<br />

26 How to nurture the deepest levels of learning<br />

and understanding<br />

36 Creative role play and relationships<br />

36<br />

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

parenta.com | <strong>May</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 3

Government should fund minimum<br />

levels of childcare: survey results<br />

More than 80% of people believe that<br />

the Government should fund minimum<br />

levels of early years provision.<br />

The Fairness Foundation survey, which<br />

received 2,052 responses, asked<br />

whether respondents, in principle,<br />

think it is the role of the Government<br />

to provide the funding to ensure that<br />

everyone can access a minimum level<br />

of provision in seven areas: social care,<br />

early years education and care, public<br />

transport, social or rented housing<br />

provision, lifelong learning, a minimum<br />

income and income protection.<br />

When asked to prioritise the seven<br />

areas, assuming that only half of the<br />

necessary funding to support all seven<br />

was available, the highest-ranked<br />

areas were social care and early years.<br />

84% of those that took part in the<br />

survey agreed the Government should,<br />

in principle, fund minimum levels of<br />

provision for early years.<br />

Will Snell, Chief Executive of the<br />

Fairness Foundation, said: ‘We found<br />

very high levels of support for an<br />

interventionist state that invests more<br />

in its citizens so that they in turn can<br />

contribute more to our society and<br />

economy. This support is held across<br />

people of different generations,<br />

regions, genders, ethnicities, and<br />

levels of income, with surprisingly<br />

small differences between supporters<br />

of the main political parties.<br />

Childcare news<br />

and views<br />

“The polling showed that belief in a<br />

small state is now a minority sport in<br />

the UK. People know that the social<br />

contract - the unwritten expectation<br />

that we contribute to society, and<br />

society will support us in return - is<br />

under severe strain in the UK. It’s no<br />

longer safe to expect that a hard day’s<br />

work will be rewarded with a decent<br />

wage and being able to afford basic<br />

necessities such as housing, food<br />

and energy. And the outlook is even<br />

worse if you can’t work and depend on<br />

benefits.<br />

In principle, people want Government<br />

to invest and regulate so that everyone<br />

can access minimum levels of provision<br />

in a range of areas, from the early<br />

years to social care, from social or<br />

rented housing to public transport. We<br />

need to reimagine the social contract<br />

for the 21st century.”<br />

Read the full story, on the Nursery<br />

World website, here.<br />

Food insecurity on the increase for<br />

those with preschool children<br />

More than a quarter of households<br />

that include children under fouryears-old<br />

experienced food insecurity<br />

in January <strong>2023</strong>, according to new<br />

findings from the Food Foundation. This<br />

compares to just 15% of households<br />

without children.<br />

Government statistics also show that<br />

uptake of its joint venture with the<br />

NHS, Healthy Start scheme is just 64%<br />

- lower than its current target of 75%.<br />

This is also well behind an equivalent<br />

scheme in Scotland, called Best Start<br />

Foods, which had 88% uptake in 2021-<br />

22.<br />

The Food Foundation has called on<br />

the Government to invest £5 million<br />

in marketing spend to increase<br />

awareness of the scheme and improve<br />

uptake. It has also called for eligibility<br />

for the scheme to be extended to<br />

include all families on Universal Credit.<br />

Anna Taylor, Executive Director of The<br />

Food Foundation, said: “Debilitating<br />

food price rises are making it incredibly<br />

challenging for low-income young<br />

families to afford a healthy diet. This<br />

is extremely concerning given how<br />

important good nutrition is for young<br />

children’s growth and development.<br />

“Healthy Start is a highly-targeted<br />

scheme that should be helping<br />

families most in need, but pitifully<br />

low uptake levels mean there are<br />

families all over the country who<br />

are missing out on this statutory<br />

scheme. Much more needs to be<br />

done by Government to make sure<br />

uptake improves – implementing<br />

the recommendations set out in the<br />

National Food Strategy is a good place<br />

to start.”<br />

Commenting, Neil Leitch, CEO of<br />

the Alliance, said: “It is extremely<br />

concerning that more than a quarter<br />

of households with children under the<br />

age of four are facing food insecurity.<br />

“Every child, regardless of their<br />

circumstances, should be able to<br />

access affordable, healthy meals – and<br />

yet, we know that the cost-of-living<br />

crisis is heaping unbearable pressure<br />

on families and that, as a result, more<br />

and more young children are coming<br />

into early years settings hungry.<br />

“While providers are doing all they can<br />

to provide well-balanced, affordable<br />

meals and snacks, rising costs are<br />

making this a near-impossible task.<br />

We urge the Government, therefore, to<br />

commit to providing specific funding for<br />

the delivery of healthy, nutritious food in<br />

early years settings as well as ensuring<br />

that early years funding actually covers<br />

the cost of delivering quality care and<br />

education more broadly.<br />

It is often argued that no child should<br />

be expected to attend school hungry<br />

and yet, as this research shows,<br />

children in the early years are more<br />

likely to experience food insecurity<br />

than their older peers. As such, if the<br />

Government is serious about tackling<br />

food insecurity among children, funding<br />

for healthy meals in early years settings<br />

must be made an urgent priority.”<br />

Early years sector “forgotten” in<br />

new inspection changes<br />

Amanda Spielman, Ofsted’s chief<br />

inspector, has been accused of<br />

“forgetting the early years sector” when<br />

she failed to specifically mention it in<br />

her statement promising changes to<br />

the inspection process. This statement<br />

was brought about following the<br />

debate around the purpose and<br />

effectiveness of the inspectorate after<br />

headteacher, Ruth Perry, took her own<br />

life when her school was downgraded<br />

towards the end of last year.<br />

The statement mentions changes<br />

to the complaints process, a focus<br />

on safeguarding and reiterates<br />

that someone else can sit in on<br />

a judgement decision with a<br />

headteacher/teacher during an<br />

inspection, but early years was not<br />

specifically mentioned.<br />

With reference to the complaints<br />

process, NDNA says the appeals<br />

process for early years inspections<br />

isn’t fit for purpose. Purnima Tanuku<br />

OBE, Chief Executive of National Day<br />

Nurseries Association (NDNA) said:<br />

“We have been saying that Ofsted’s<br />

complaint process is not fit for purpose<br />

and in need of review for a number<br />

of years. Too often, providers who<br />

want to challenge factual inaccuracies<br />

or complain about the conduct of<br />

inspectors find the process is too long<br />

or do not trust they will get a thorough<br />

or fair hearing.<br />

Inspection and regulation is a vital<br />

activity to ensure the highest quality<br />

of provision is maintained and that<br />

children’s well-being and safety is<br />

maintained. However, Ofsted as<br />

the regulator, has to be constructive<br />

and supportive to everyone to be<br />

able to perform that role. A fair and<br />

transparent complaints process is a<br />

vital part of this and this must come out<br />

of this review process.”<br />

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

World can be read here.<br />

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

parenta.com | <strong>May</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 />

EY Alliance, Early Years Educator, Nursery World,<br />

The Guardian., BBC Early Years News,<br />

Children & Young People Now.<br />

New resource to support mental<br />

health in the early years<br />

UNICEF UK and the University of<br />

Cambridge have launched a new<br />

resource to support the mental health of<br />

babies and young children.<br />

Parents in UK face tougher<br />

struggle to afford childcare than<br />

parents abroad – survey<br />

1/4 of UK parents have been forced to<br />

leave their job due to the ‘rocketing cost<br />

of childcare’, according to a worldwide<br />

survey by ‘Theirworld’.<br />

Happy Days Nurseries & Pre-<br />

Schools grows to 20 settings<br />

Happy Days Nurseries & Pre-Schools is<br />

expanding with the opening of two new<br />

purpose-built sites this year.<br />

Clinically vulnerable children<br />

under five to be offered COVID-19<br />

vaccine<br />

The Joint Committee on Vaccination &<br />

Immunisation (JCVI) has advised that<br />

clinically vulnerable children should be<br />

offered a COVID-19 vaccine.<br />

Fears children are missing out on<br />

Healthy Start scheme<br />

The Food Foundation is calling for the<br />

Government to improve uptake of the<br />

Healthy Start scheme, which has fallen<br />

short of the NHS target set for March<br />

<strong>2023</strong>.<br />

Fears nursery recruitment<br />

incentives are fuelling ‘job<br />

hopping’<br />

Nurseries are reportedly seeing an<br />

increase in practitioners ‘job hopping’<br />

fuelled by new-starter incentives amid<br />

the continuing recruitment crisis.<br />

Click here to send in<br />

Parents spoke highly of staff and valued<br />

your stories to<br />

the detailed feedback they regularly<br />

receive on their child’s development.<br />

marketing@parenta.com<br />

NDNA signs up to commercial<br />

partnership with nursery<br />

resources supplier Hope<br />

The National Day Nurseries Association<br />

has linked up with educational resources<br />

supplier Hope, which is part of Findel.<br />

Carly Budd: Strategies for<br />

increasing the amount of<br />

tummy time in your setting<br />

The specialist paediatric occupational<br />

therapist says that tummy time enables<br />

us to interact with babies in a<br />

different way<br />

Parents in Duns take over<br />

nursery after closure<br />

announced<br />

Parents in a Borders town are now<br />

running the local nursery after managers<br />

announced it was to close.<br />

Liverpool nursery workers who<br />

lost jobs after striking call for<br />

solidarity in sector<br />

A group of early years workers who lost<br />

their jobs without warning days after a<br />

one-day strike have called on others in<br />

the sector to “stand up and be counted”.<br />

Childcare reforms to be<br />

scrutinised by experts<br />

Experts will discuss with MPs the<br />

effectiveness of childcare reforms<br />

announced as part of the most recent<br />

budget, including a controversial change<br />

to staff:child ratios.<br />

6 <strong>May</strong> <strong>2023</strong> | parenta.com parenta.com | <strong>May</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 7

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Congratulations<br />

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Congratulations to Joanna Grace, our guest<br />

author of the month! Her article, “Top tips for the<br />

terrific twos – Tip seven: overwhelm” explores the<br />

meltdowns, the tantrums and the overwhelmed<br />

small person letting it all out at full volume! Well<br />

done, Joanna!<br />

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

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

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

Top tips for the terrific twos -<br />

Tip nine: “No!”<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 />

Joanna Grace is an international Sensory<br />

Engagement and Inclusion Specialist,<br />

trainer, author, TEDx speaker and founder<br />

of The Sensory Projects.<br />

‘No’ is the favourite word of many a twoyear-old.<br />

My own two-year-old must utter<br />

it at least 60 times a day. He is also very<br />

interested in counting, “Ready? 1…2….5!”<br />

He’ll shout to his brother. Or counting the<br />

stairs “1…2…4…6..7….. …..10!” He gets<br />

his numbers muddled and he also gets<br />

his use of the word ‘no’ muddled. But the<br />

people around him react very differently<br />

to the two. The numbers muddle usually<br />

generates smiles, his brother especially<br />

finds it funny. But when he uses no” when<br />

he actually means “yes” he is more likely<br />

to get a retort, to get sour looks.<br />

At the moment he is saying “no” in<br />

response to questions. Not because he<br />

doesn’t want to do things. Not because he<br />

“wants his own way,” but just because he<br />

has understood that when someone asks<br />

you something you are supposed to reply<br />

and “no” is the reply that springs to his<br />

mind first, he knows “yes” too but doesn’t<br />

tend to think of this one first. I wonder<br />

if that’s because saying “yes” is a less<br />

memorable event in his mind. Saying “no”<br />

certainly gets a bigger response.<br />

I am used to working with people who<br />

do not use language, so I am used to<br />

listening to communication across a bigger<br />

spectrum. I find I get less annoyed by his<br />

“no”s than other people around him and<br />

I think this is the difference. I’ve said “Let’s<br />

go and get lunch” he has said “no” but has<br />

begun walking towards the kitchen, so I<br />

read it as a “yes”.<br />

Sometimes “no” is a holding pattern whilst<br />

he thinks. In his life, things happen to him<br />

a lot. He has picked up from things he is<br />

doing. Activities he is busy with get packed<br />

away. Adults make demands of him all<br />

the time and make sudden changes to his<br />

world (he doesn’t live with a particularly<br />

unreasonable set of adults, we are doing<br />

things like changing his nappy, or getting<br />

his brother to school). In the word “no” he<br />

has found, potentially, a way to fend us off,<br />

to pause us before we interrupt what he is<br />

doing.<br />

I want his “no”s to work. Just like I want<br />

his “stop”s to work. His brother has been<br />

briefed that in any tickle fight if he says<br />

“stop” it is hands off immediately. It is a<br />

rule we all follow. These are, after all, his<br />

words for consent. I want him to know<br />

these words are powerful, these words<br />

work, so that if ever – God forbid – there<br />

were a time when he was with an adult<br />

and his “no” or “stop” didn’t work, he<br />

would know it was wrong and shout all<br />

the louder. I do not want him to be used to<br />

his voice being ignored.<br />

But…I also do not want to get myself into<br />

the stand-off, where I’m saying “yes” and<br />

he’s saying “no”. Prevention is always<br />

better than cure, and the way to prevent<br />

these stand-offs is to use a mixture of<br />

Align-Attune-Invite (article 2) and directed<br />

agency. By this I mean you give a direction,<br />

and they get to use their agency in<br />

receiving the direction. And all of that is<br />

just a fancy way of saying give them a<br />

choice.<br />

We are outside playing football, it is time<br />

to go in and get a drink. I’m aligned,<br />

because I’m in the game of football, I am<br />

attuned, I pick a lull in the match to create<br />

my invitation, and my invitation is going to<br />

involve a choice that gives him agency, so:<br />

“I’m thirsty. I wonder what drinks we have<br />

inside. Would you like water, or would you<br />

like milk?”<br />

“Milk!”<br />

“Let’s go and get some milk”.<br />

Another one that works particularly well<br />

on our two-year-old is a request for his<br />

great knowledge. He has recently figured<br />

out where things are about the house, and<br />

he is so pleased with his knowing that he<br />

hasn’t realised we all know it too. So,<br />

we are playing Lego in the living room but<br />

it is time to get dressed for bed. This time<br />

my invitation might be: “We need pyjamas,<br />

where are the pyjamas?” (With the “where”<br />

phrased as if I am a baffled adult, which<br />

I frequently am so this takes little acting,<br />

rather than a “where” that would form part<br />

of a test”). This is followed by the choice<br />

“Which pyjamas would you like to wear?”<br />

Be warned though, these do not work if<br />

they are your second strategy. If you’ve<br />

said: “It’s time to get our pyjamas on now”<br />

and been told “no”, cracking out: “Which<br />

pyjamas would you like?” isn’t going to<br />

work. You have to be aligned and attuned<br />

and then send that invite out with the<br />

choice very carefully.<br />

I’ve begun to believe it is more likely to<br />

work if I do not move first, but I couldn’t<br />

yet tell you whether this is true or just<br />

superstition on my part. But, for example,<br />

with the leaving the football game to get<br />

milk, I’ll wait for him to be the first person<br />

to take a step towards the kitchen, then I<br />

follow behind. I am happy for him to feel<br />

in control of his life, it is his life after all. For<br />

now, I do a little directing from behind the<br />

scenes but in the blink of an eye he will<br />

be out there without me and I want him<br />

to be confident making in his choices and<br />

setting his boundaries.<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 from<br />

the research archives. Joanna’s private life<br />

includes family members with disabilities<br />

and neurodiverse conditions and time<br />

spent as a registered foster carer for<br />

children with profound disabilities.<br />

Joanna has published four practitioner<br />

books: “Multiple Multisensory Rooms:<br />

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

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

for Sensory Beings”, “Sharing Sensory<br />

Stories and Conversations with People with<br />

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

Plus three inclusive sensory story children’s<br />

books: “Spike and Mole”, “Voyage to<br />

Arghan” and “Ernest and I” which all sell<br />

globally and her son has recently become<br />

the UK’s youngest published author with<br />

his book, “My Mummy is Autistic” which<br />

was foreworded by Chris Packham.<br />

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

always happy to connect with people via<br />

Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.<br />

Website:<br />

thesensoryprojects.co.uk<br />

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

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

The importance of the<br />

first 1000 days<br />

There’s significant research to indicate that<br />

the first 1000 days (conception to age 2) is<br />

a critically-important phase, indeed many<br />

claim that this time period is where the<br />

foundations of a child’s development lie.<br />

This phase is the perfect chance to build a<br />

healthier future. There are many influences<br />

at this time that impact the child’s future<br />

health but one of utmost importance and<br />

close to my heart, is that of formative<br />

nutrition. Just how important is food during<br />

those 1000 days? It’s not just the amount of<br />

food but very much about the type of food.<br />

We often refer to ‘building blocks’ in<br />

nutrition and we can certainly use that<br />

term in relation to the first 1000 days, good<br />

nutrition during this time is the foundation<br />

for early cognitive abilities, motor skills and<br />

emotional development. This is all largely<br />

due to the incredibly impressive rapid<br />

growth and development of the human<br />

brain!<br />

Brain development<br />

During pregnancy, the brain grows at an<br />

astonishing speed! From around the fifth<br />

week of pregnancy, neurons begin to form<br />

and multiply – these grow at a staggering<br />

250,000 neurons per minute by the middle<br />

of the second trimester. Consider the<br />

brain an extremely complicated central<br />

computer that’s growing and developing<br />

at a truly astonishing pace!<br />

A lot of the energy going to build the<br />

baby’s brain needs to come from fats, in<br />

fact, 40% of our brains are made up of<br />

EFAs (Essential Fatty Acids). The mother<br />

needs to ensure that she has enough for<br />

her and the baby as the baby will ‘pinch’<br />

what it needs – this can often leave mum<br />

feeling depleted or suffering from ‘baby<br />

brain’.<br />

Once the child is born and then growing<br />

and developing at a rapid pace, EFA<br />

deficiencies can present in the day-to-day<br />

functioning of a child, such as how well<br />

can they grasp new things. Consider a<br />

child has to learn everything, absolutely<br />

everything! They need their frontal<br />

lobe to be rich in EFAs particularly DHA<br />

(docosahexaenoic acid) to enable them to<br />

be able to problem solve, concentrate and<br />

focus.<br />

“When a baby’s development falls behind<br />

the norm during the first year of life for<br />

instance, it is much more likely that they<br />

will fall even further behind in subsequent<br />

years than catch up with those who have<br />

had a better start.”<br />

Barnardo’s quote from the House of<br />

Commons Health and Social Care<br />

Committee – First 1000 days of life<br />

13th report of session 2017-19<br />

There are many elements to nutrition for<br />

brain development – Fats such as the EFAs<br />

(arachidonic acid (AA), docosahexaenoic<br />

acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA),<br />

and dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid (DGLA)<br />

are key as is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) or<br />

omega-3 and phosphollipids) are key as<br />

is ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) or omega-3<br />

and phospholipids. As with many other<br />

elements of nutrition, it is often the<br />

vitamins and minerals present or lacking<br />

in the diet that tell the bigger picture. Many<br />

nutrients are involved in maintaining and<br />

developing our brain development, these<br />

include zinc, Iodine, vitamin C, B vitamins,<br />

vitamin D and magnesium.<br />

Top brain foods

Sun Awareness Week:<br />

protecting children in<br />

Sun Awareness Week is an annual event<br />

that takes place in the UK every <strong>May</strong>,<br />

this year from 1st to 7th. Its aim is to<br />

improve understanding of the dangers<br />

of overexposure to the sun and the<br />

importance of sun safety.<br />

During the week, various organisations,<br />

including the British Association of<br />

Dermatologists and the Met Office, work<br />

together to educate the public about the<br />

risks of skin cancer and other sun-related<br />

health issues.<br />

This year’s focus is on the need for sun<br />

protection in the UK climate, aiming<br />

to tackle misconceptions that sun<br />

protection is rarely needed in the UK.<br />

This theme is particularly significant in<br />

the early years, as young children are<br />

especially vulnerable to the harmful effects<br />

of the sun and it’s never too early to start<br />

making them aware of such an important<br />

topic.<br />

Here are some key points to think about –<br />

most will seem obvious, but it could be a<br />

good idea to have these written down for<br />

all to see as a reminder:

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7 daily affirmations to<br />

create a fulfilled life<br />

Affirmations are statements or phrases that<br />

we repeat frequently to ourselves to create<br />

a more positive mindset, and therefore a<br />

more fulfilled life. Our mind is a powerful<br />

tool that is programmed by repetition. The<br />

words that are said to us (by ourselves<br />

or others) are powerful and can become<br />

the inner voice and beliefs that then guide<br />

our actions and decisions. By saying<br />

daily affirmations, we can encourage our<br />

thoughts to be more positive and therefore<br />

more conducive to successful outcomes.<br />

What we believe becomes our own truth.<br />

As Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Believe<br />

you can and you’re halfway there”. It is,<br />

therefore, crucial that we teach children<br />

to become the master of their own minds<br />

and positive affirmations are a great tool to<br />

get them into the habit of speaking kindly<br />

to themselves. How many of us say things<br />

to ourselves that we wouldn’t dream of<br />

saying to someone else? Words hurt, even<br />

when they are in our own heads. Positive<br />

affirmations force us to extend the same<br />

kindness and positivity to ourselves as<br />

we do to others and remind us of our<br />

brilliance.<br />

Here are 7 affirmations that I believe will<br />

help children (and adults) to have selfbelief<br />

and step into being their best and<br />

most authentic selves:<br />

1<br />

I am safe and loved<br />

Many of us worry about all sorts of<br />

different things. We anticipate what is<br />

going to happen in the future, and this<br />

can lead to negative feelings. Most of<br />

what we worry about never happens but<br />

knowing this does not stop our brains from<br />

overthinking and sometimes leading us<br />

down a negative path. When you’re feeling<br />

like this, the embrace of someone we love<br />

can make all the difference because it<br />

makes us feel safe and loved. These two<br />

emotions are powerful and can make all<br />

the difference to how we feel. By repeating<br />

this affirmation every day, we can train<br />

our brain to exist in this state, which will<br />

therefore help us to be calmer and more<br />

settled.<br />

2<br />

I am perfectly imperfect<br />

In the words of Winston Churchill:<br />

“Perfectionism is the enemy of progress”.<br />

Mistakes are a part of learning something<br />

new and when they are used as a tool for<br />

growth, they are imperative to progress.<br />

Our brilliance lives outside of our comfort<br />

zone and to reach it, we must do things<br />

we’ve never done, which puts us at risk<br />

of failure. Nobody is perfect and we are<br />

all learning as we go. By repeating this<br />

affirmation, we give ourselves permission<br />

to be imperfect, which opens the door to<br />

life’s lessons and welcomes failure as a<br />

tool for growth.<br />

3<br />

I talk about my feelings<br />

Self-regulation and self-awareness are<br />

so important in life because they give us<br />

the ability to manage our own behaviour<br />

and reactions. Talking about our feelings<br />

allows us to identify our emotions and<br />

therefore gives us more opportunity to<br />

regulate them. It also gives us an outlet<br />

and prevents things from getting bottled<br />

up. By saying this affirmation, we remind<br />

ourselves to be more open with our<br />

thoughts, feelings and emotions, which<br />

will, in turn, help us to process them.<br />

4<br />

I ask for help when I need it<br />

Suffering in silence and feeling that we<br />

must do everything on our own can be<br />

damaging to our mental health. We<br />

all have different life experiences and<br />

skills therefore other people in our lives<br />

will often be able to shine a different<br />

perspective on things that are causing us<br />

difficulty. By asking for help, it often dilutes<br />

our problems and leads to a quicker<br />

solution. Saying this affirmation will remind<br />

children that they have a support network<br />

and make them feel more secure.<br />

5<br />

I am good enough<br />

We all shine in our own way and it’s<br />

important to focus on what we can do,<br />

rather than what we can’t. In today’s social<br />

media driven society, we live in a world<br />

where everyone compares themselves<br />

and strives for a ‘filtered’ and unrealistic<br />

version of perfection. By believing we are<br />

good enough just as we are, we can play<br />

to our strengths and keep our self-worth<br />

intact. This affirmation will ground children<br />

and encourage them to identify and value<br />

their strengths and attributes.<br />

6<br />

I keep trying and learn<br />

from mistakes<br />

In the words of Jim Watkins: “A river cuts<br />

through rock, not because of its power,<br />

but because of its persistence.” Talent<br />

or skill is nothing without the ability to<br />

persist. The road to success will be full of<br />

harsh lessons and blocks, so our ability to<br />

keep going and not quit will be the key to<br />

reaching our potential. Seeing mistakes as<br />

an opportunity to learn and grow will keep<br />

our self-esteem intact at challenging times<br />

and will therefore give us the resilience<br />

we need to jump the hurdles presented<br />

on our journey to success. By saying<br />

this affirmation, children will alter their<br />

perception of failure and start using it as a<br />

springboard to propel themselves forward<br />

in life.<br />

7<br />

Politeness, patience,<br />

honesty, positivity,<br />

and kindness are my<br />

superpowers<br />

These five attributes are so simple, yet<br />

they hold more power than we could<br />

ever imagine. If we see these as our<br />

superpowers and use them daily, we will<br />

have a happier and smoother road in life.<br />

This affirmation teaches children that we<br />

are all silent superheroes donning powers<br />

that are disguised as simple and positive<br />

attributes.<br />

These seven affirmations repeated daily<br />

with children will instil messages that can<br />

subconsciously alter their views of the<br />

world. As Henry Ford once said, “Whether<br />

you think you can or think you can’t, you’re<br />

right”. The narrative that we create for<br />

ourselves, and our lives will become our<br />

truth, therefore it is important that we<br />

take control and create a positive internal<br />

dialogue that is conducive to the life we<br />

want to live. Saying daily affirmations with<br />

children won’t magically create a perfect<br />

life for them. However, it will remind them<br />

of their brilliance, get them into the habit<br />

of positive self-talk and will instil beliefs<br />

that will support them on their journey to<br />

success.<br />

(These are also 7/12 of the messages<br />

in the Early Years Story Box rhyming<br />

storybooks that are designed to nurture<br />

well-being and happiness in children).<br />

Stacey Kelly<br />

Stacey Kelly is a former French and<br />

Spanish teacher, a parent to 2 beautiful<br />

babies and the founder of Early Years<br />

Story Box. After becoming a mum, Stacey<br />

left her teaching career and started<br />

writing and illustrating storybooks to help<br />

support her children through different<br />

transitional stages like leaving nursery<br />

and starting school. Seeing the positive<br />

impact of her books on her children’s<br />

emotional well-being led to Early Years<br />

Story Box being born. Stacey has now<br />

created 35 storybooks, all inspired by her<br />

own children, to help teach different life<br />

lessons and to prepare children for their<br />

next steps. She has an exclusive collection<br />

for childcare settings that are gifted on<br />

special occasions like first/last days,<br />

birthdays, Christmas and/or Easter and<br />

has recently launched a new collection<br />

for parents too. Her mission is to support<br />

as many children as she can through<br />

storytime and to give childcare settings an<br />

affordable and special gifting solution that<br />

truly makes a difference.<br />

Email: stacey@earlyyearsstorybox.com or<br />

Telephone: 07765785595<br />

Website: www.earlyyearsstorybox.com<br />

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

earlyyearsstorybox<br />

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

eystorybox<br />

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/<br />

earlyyearsstorybox<br />

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/<br />

stacey-kelly-a84534b2/<br />

18 <strong>May</strong> <strong>2023</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>May</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 19

Mental Health<br />

Awareness Week<br />

Everyone knows that health is important,<br />

because without good health, our lives<br />

can be compromised, but our mental<br />

health is equally as important, because<br />

our mental health can have a huge impact<br />

on our physical health. However, many<br />

of us dismiss our mental health, putting<br />

it on the backburner whilst we try to<br />

battle through life, without realising the<br />

true problems that this can lead to later<br />

on. Better awareness of mental health<br />

is needed so that we can all start taking<br />

small and simple steps early on to improve<br />

our own, and other’s mental health, and to<br />

address problems before they become too<br />

challenging.<br />

In the US, Mental Health Awareness Month<br />

runs each year during <strong>May</strong>, and in the UK,<br />

Mental Health Awareness Week runs in<br />

the same month. In <strong>2023</strong>, the UK week<br />

runs from 15th to 21st <strong>May</strong>, focusing on<br />

the theme of ‘anxiety’. This year’s theme<br />

has been chosen because anxiety is a<br />

normal emotion that we all feel from time<br />

to time. However, anxiety is also one of<br />

the most common mental health problems<br />

and a quarter of adults report that anxiety<br />

impacts negatively on their life by stopping<br />

them doing things they want to do some<br />

of the time.<br />

The anxiety ‘time bomb’<br />

A survey of 3000 adults aged 18 and<br />

over, conducted in November 2022 by the<br />

Mental Health Foundation found that the<br />

UK population is experiencing widespread<br />

levels of “stress, anxiety and hopelessness<br />

in response to financial concerns”.<br />

The data reported that 29% of adults<br />

experienced stress, 34% experienced<br />

anxiety and 10% said they felt hopeless<br />

because of financial worries during<br />

the previous month. And the situation<br />

does not look like it’s improving anytime<br />

soon. In fact, the Foundation warned<br />

the Government of a significant rise in<br />

mental health problems in future months<br />

if adequate support was not forthcoming.<br />

Anxiety can lead to people being unable<br />

to face everyday situations. They may fear<br />

going out, or crowded places, become<br />

intolerant of too much noise or develop<br />

phobias, and if not tackled early, chronic<br />

anxiety can lead to more serious or longlasting<br />

effects.<br />

Effects of anxiety on the<br />


Blooming music! Songs<br />

about flowers in the<br />

early years<br />

Spring is a lovely time to celebrate new<br />

life in nature! It is no wonder that so many<br />

religions and cultures have traditions that<br />

honour this natural display of hope and<br />

promise in the world. We end this article<br />

with 5 children’s songs about flowers, with<br />

links to YouTube, as well as suggestions<br />

of games to play. But let’s start by looking<br />

at the research on nature-based early<br />

learning, and how settings can develop<br />

this more.<br />

Researchers in Scotland (Zucca et al.,<br />

<strong>2023</strong>) looked at different countries’<br />

approaches at outdoor learning. From<br />

Norway to USA and Australia, settings<br />

were considered and analysed as a<br />

complex system with multiple factors. They<br />

found that when early years educators<br />

consider using outdoor learnings spaces,<br />

these factors impacted its success:<br />

1. Affordability of outdoor ELC<br />

2. Children’s play and learning<br />

experiences outdoors<br />

3. Collaborating to agreed vision<br />

4. Educator/child relationship<br />

5. Formal capacity building and release<br />

6. Informal capacity building and release<br />

7. <strong>Parenta</strong>l choice<br />

8. <strong>Parenta</strong>l ‘outdoorsiness’<br />

9. Practice of nature-based ELC 1<br />

10. Practice of nature-based ELC 2<br />

11. Risks and benefits; and<br />

12. Weather<br />

From there, researchers identified the<br />

following 6 factors that, with the right<br />

investment, could improve nature-based<br />

outdoor play and learning:<br />

1. Use of outdoor space: Thinking<br />

about or finding examples of best<br />

practice on practical items like the<br />

inclusion of trees (upright and fallen),<br />

shrubbery, flowers, grasses, mixed<br />

terrain, water availability, and risk<br />

exposure.<br />

2. Culture of being outdoors: Specific<br />

and/or increased training and<br />

practical experience to improve staff<br />

confidence in developing a culture<br />

focused on outdoor play.<br />

3. ELC culture of outdoor play:<br />

Improving or identifying high quality<br />

educational training, whilst allowing<br />

for the unpredictability of weather.<br />

4. Perceived child safety and<br />

enjoyment: Appropriate and<br />

accessible outdoor equipment should<br />

be made available as items that keep<br />

children safe and also allowing for<br />

sufficient exposure to risk.<br />

5. Educator confidence: Formal<br />

recognition of training would allow<br />

educators to be more confident in<br />

delivery, developing knowledge<br />

and motivation through training<br />

opportunities, immersion, and<br />

feedback on practice.<br />

6. Educator agency: Building educator<br />

confidence through knowledge and<br />

motivation develops educator agency,<br />

which can be promoted through<br />

cascading learning to others.<br />

With these ideas in mind, here are a few<br />

musical games about flowers that would<br />

be lovely to sing and play outdoors:<br />

Ring a ring a roses<br />

Ring a ring a roses<br />

A pocket full of posies<br />

A-tish-oo, a-tish-oo<br />

We all fall down<br />

Fishes in the water<br />

Fishes in the sea<br />

We all jump up with a<br />

One-two-three<br />

This old traditional has children holding<br />

hands in a circle and walking together,<br />

pretending to sneeze at the lines, “a-tishoo”,<br />

and then falling down. The additional<br />

“fishes in the water” has become a<br />

popular addition to get children back up<br />

and playing the game all over again!<br />

All around the buttercup<br />

All around the buttercup<br />

One, two, three<br />

If you want an awesome friend<br />

Just choose me<br />

This circle song/game can be played in<br />

two ways. The first is the traditional “catch”<br />

game, where children sit in a circle, the<br />

one who is “on” or “it” walks around as the<br />

children sing, and then taps someone on<br />

the last line for a chase.<br />

The other is for slightly older children, with<br />

the children divided into two groups. One<br />

group forms an outer circle and the other<br />

forms the inner circle – and both walk<br />

in opposite directions. Both groups stop<br />

walking on the last line, to face the person<br />

in the opposite circle, so that all have<br />

partners.<br />

Mary, Mary<br />

Mary, Mary quite contrary<br />

How does your garden grow?<br />

With silver bells and cockle shells<br />

And pretty maids all in a row<br />

This little tune has a dark background<br />

based on Mary Tudor, or Bloody Mary,<br />

https://www.rhymes.org.uk/mary_mary_<br />

quite_contrary.htm, but it could be used<br />

for instrument play. The regular beat<br />

could be used for instruments with long<br />

sounds by metal or string instruments like<br />

triangles, cymbals, bells or ukuleles. The<br />

quicker rhythm could be matched by short<br />

sounds by wood or “skin” instruments like<br />

drums, or tapping instruments like claves,<br />

castanets or egg shakers.<br />

Here we go round the<br />

mulberry bush<br />

Here we go round the mulberry bush<br />

The mulberry bush, the mulberry bush<br />

Here we go round the mulberry bush<br />

So early in the morning<br />

This is the way we comb our hair<br />

Comb our hair, comb our hair<br />

This is the way we comb our hair<br />

So early in the morning<br />

This lovely traditional circle song reinforces<br />

self care routines. Children hold hands<br />

and walk in a circle for the first verse and<br />

could stop or change direction for the<br />

action verses. This is a great opportunity<br />

to give all children a turn at contributing to<br />

the song by thinking of something to add:<br />

brush teeth, wash face, put on shoes etc.<br />

Daisy, Daisy<br />

Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do<br />

I’m half crazy, all for the love of you<br />

It won’t be a stylish marriage<br />

I can’t afford a carriage<br />

But you’ll look sweet upon the seat<br />

Of a bicycle made for two<br />

This old song makes a lovely lullaby for<br />

a wind-down routine. With larger adultto-child<br />

ratios, little ones could take turns<br />

being rocked in a banket hammock held<br />

by the adults. With larger children, two<br />

children may like to rock a toy in a blanket<br />

hammock, or children may rock toys or<br />

dolls in their arms individually.<br />

Hoping that these musical flower<br />

suggestions will inspire more outdoor play<br />

in your setting!<br />

References<br />

Zucca, C., McCrorie, P., Johnstone, A.,<br />

Chambers, S., Chng, N. R., Traynor, O.,<br />

& Martin, A. (<strong>2023</strong>). “Outdoor naturebased<br />

play in early learning and childcare<br />

centres: Identifying the determinants<br />

of implementation using causal loop<br />

diagrams and social network analysis.”<br />

Health & Place, 79, 102995. https://doi.<br />

org/10.1016/j.healthplace.2022.102955<br />

Frances Turnbull<br />

Musician, researcher and author, Frances<br />

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

has played contemporary and community<br />

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

music sessions to the early years and KS1.<br />

Trained in the music education techniques<br />

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

(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). She<br />

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

Warblers, and delivers the Sound Sense<br />

initiative “A choir in every care home”<br />

within local care and residential homes,<br />

supporting health and well-being through<br />

her community interest company.<br />

She has represented the early years music<br />

community at the House of Commons,<br />

advocating for recognition for early<br />

years music educators, and her table<br />

of progressive music skills for under 7s<br />

features in her curriculum books.<br />

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

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

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

2017.<br />

www.musicaliti.co.uk<br />

22 <strong>May</strong> <strong>2023</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>May</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 23

Ofsted visits are part of a necessary<br />

inspection programme for all nurseries,<br />

schools and childminders in England.<br />

Other parts of the UK are inspected as<br />

well, but by other inspection bodies.<br />

Nursery managers and school leaders<br />

often dread the visits however, with proper<br />

planning, these can be opportunities to<br />

show off just how good your early years<br />

provision is.<br />

The key here is planning and preparation.<br />

Most Ofsted visits are conducted with a<br />

minimum of 24 hours’ notice, although<br />

there are times when Ofsted can legally<br />

turn up for an emergency inspection<br />

if they have received information that<br />

suggests that the setting is either not safe<br />

for children, or is not fulfilling its legal and<br />

statutory duties.<br />

The “Early years inspection handbook for<br />

Ofsted-registered provision” sets out how<br />

Ofsted will inspect Ofsted-registered early<br />

years providers and as such, is the first<br />

port of call for all nurseries in England who<br />

want to prepare well for their Ofsted visit.<br />

In addition, settings should look at and<br />

be familiar with the following which are<br />

particularly relevant to safeguarding:<br />

⚙ “Inspecting safeguarding in early<br />

years, education and skills settings’”<br />

⚙ ‘Working together to safeguard<br />

children’<br />

Overview of the visit<br />

In line with the Education Inspection<br />

Framework, His Majesty’s Inspectors<br />

(HMIs) are tasked with making judgements<br />

about the following areas of a provision:<br />

⚙ Overall effectiveness – this is a<br />

combination of the following 4 areas:<br />

Preparing for<br />

an<br />

Ofsted visit<br />

to be made, write a development plan so<br />

that you can evidence your leadership and<br />

planned actions to Ofsted.<br />

Prepare relevant<br />

documents to<br />

demonstrate your<br />

leadership and<br />

management<br />

o<br />

o<br />

o<br />

o<br />

The quality of education<br />

Behaviour and attitudes<br />

Personal development<br />

Leadership and management<br />

Whilst there is some ongoing debate over<br />

the merits of the judgements, currently<br />

these areas can be judged as being:<br />

⚙ Outstanding<br />

⚙ Good<br />

⚙ Requires improvement<br />

⚙ Inadequate<br />

To best prepare for an Ofsted visit,<br />

consider the following areas:<br />

Check your website<br />

The inspector will need to prepare for their<br />

visit by gaining a broad overview of the<br />

setting, its context and history and the first<br />

stop for inspectors is usually the setting’s<br />

website. It is crucial that this is up-to-date<br />

and displays the legal and minimum<br />

information needed. Other evidence<br />

is gathered through observations and<br />

discussions on the day with members of<br />

staff, parents and children.<br />

Use the inspection<br />

handbook and prepare<br />

your staff<br />

Audit your setting using the “Early Years<br />

Inspection Handbook” and make sure that<br />

your staff understand how this is used<br />

before, during and after a visit. Go through<br />

the 4 areas of assessment and see how<br />

your setting measures up. If changes need<br />

During a visit, you will need to show<br />

the inspector various documents and<br />

these need to be up-to-date and easily<br />

available. This avoids stress and panicking<br />

when you get the Ofsted call. The<br />

handbook lists the following documents<br />

that inspectors may ask to see:<br />

⚙ Paediatric first-aid certificates<br />

⚙ Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)<br />

records and any other recruitment<br />

documents summarising the checks<br />

on, and the vetting and employment<br />

arrangements of, all staff working at<br />

the setting<br />

⚙ List of current staff and their<br />

qualifications<br />

⚙ Register/list showing the date of<br />

birth of all children on roll and routine<br />

staffing arrangements<br />

⚙ List of children present at the setting<br />

during the inspection (if not shown on<br />

the register)<br />

⚙ All logs that record accidents,<br />

exclusions, children taken off roll and<br />

incidents of poor behaviour<br />

⚙ All logs of incidents of discrimination,<br />

including racist incidents<br />

⚙ Complaints log and/or evidence of<br />

any complaints and their resolutions<br />

⚙ Safeguarding and child protection<br />

policies<br />

⚙ Fire-safety arrangements and other<br />

statutory policies relating to health<br />

and safety<br />

⚙ List of any referrals made to the local<br />

authority designated person for<br />

safeguarding, with brief details of the<br />

resolutions<br />

⚙ Details of all children who are an<br />

open case to social care/children’s<br />

services and for whom there is a<br />

multi-agency plan<br />

In addition, the inspector may want to<br />

see the policies and procedures of your<br />

setting, especially those relating to all<br />

aspects of safeguarding, anti-bullying,<br />

curriculum and governance. Make sure<br />

that your policies reflect the EYFS and are<br />

using the key terms from this document.<br />

For example, you should use the term “key<br />

person” rather than “key worker”.<br />

Check your culture is<br />

embedded and reflected<br />

in your environment<br />

Everything about your environment and<br />

culture should show how effective your<br />

setting is in meeting the requirements<br />

of the EYFS as well as being a safe<br />

environment for the staff and children.<br />

Make sure your reception, outdoor spaces,<br />

training rooms, activity areas, and even<br />

your offices consistently demonstrate<br />

what is important to your setting and the<br />

excellent experience that children, parents<br />

and other visitors get, and how your<br />

culture is embedded. Remove out-of-date<br />

notices, have examples of the children’s<br />

work, and ensure that health and safety<br />

requirements are being followed. Central<br />

to the environment and culture is about<br />

how you engage with other stakeholders<br />

such as parents, carers and outside<br />

agencies, so consider how you can<br />

demonstrate your involvement with these<br />

stakeholders too.<br />

Embed your quality of<br />

education and reflective<br />

practice<br />

This is not something that you can ‘magic<br />

up’ on the day of an Ofsted visit. It really is<br />

about how your setting functions day-today<br />

and how your ideas are embedded<br />

throughout the setting. However, you<br />

can prepare to demonstrate this in a<br />

number of ways, for example, through<br />

your curriculum designs and provision,<br />

meeting records, training records, CPD<br />

activities, records of child progress, and an<br />

understanding of the developmental stage<br />

of the child.<br />

A key thing to embed and practice with<br />

staff are the 3 “Is” of:<br />

⚙ Intent – what do you want to achieve?<br />

⚙ Implementation – how do you set<br />

about doing it?<br />

⚙ Impact – what impact do your actions<br />

have on the children?<br />

Practice this by asking staff regularly to talk<br />

about:<br />

⚙ What they are doing well<br />

⚙ How they are meeting the needs of<br />

the children<br />

⚙ Areas of development they have<br />

identified and the solutions they came<br />

up with<br />

⚙ What impact they have on the<br />

education and lives of the children<br />

they care for<br />

Ensure all your<br />

safeguarding practices<br />

are robust<br />

Safeguarding is a huge area of concern for<br />

Ofsted so you need to make sure all your<br />

records are up-to-date, all your statutory<br />

training is done and that your DSL and<br />

staff can answer questions about your<br />

practice and actions taken. Ensure that you<br />

have read and understood the “Inspecting<br />

Safeguarding in Early Years” guidance<br />

which sets out what inspectors will look<br />

for. It’s important to be able to answer<br />

questions on the impact of the COVID-19<br />

pandemic too, so remember to consider<br />

this.<br />

And finally, remember not to panic. See an<br />

Ofsted visit as a chance to demonstrate<br />

your outstanding practice, and plan to do<br />

just that.<br />

More information<br />

⚙ https://blossomeducational.com/<br />

blog/how-to-take-your-nurseryfrom-requires-improvements-tooutstanding/<br />

⚙ https://www.teachearlyyears.<br />

com/nursery-management/view/<br />

preparing-for-ofsted1<br />

⚙ https://www.gov.uk/government/<br />

publications/early-years-inspectionhandbook-eif/early-years-inspectionhandbook-for-ofsted-registeredprovision-for-september-2022<br />

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

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

How to nurture the deepest<br />

levels of learning and<br />

The processes of learning are complex,<br />

interwoven and continual, and begin<br />

before a child is even born. As every child<br />

revisits ideas and skills, they will adapt and<br />

perfect their understanding as their minds<br />

and bodies grow, establishing dispositions<br />

for, and attitudes towards, all their future<br />

learning. Fuelled through every experience<br />

and supported through every sense, this<br />

is far more complex and important than<br />

simply bestowing information.<br />

Learning of any meaningful kind is about<br />

more than discrete facts that simply need<br />

to be learnt, it is about ideas and concepts<br />

that need to be understood, ready to be<br />

used and adapted in other situations. And,<br />

understanding<br />

if you want a child to have the ability to<br />

think for themselves and the motivations<br />

and inclinations to do so, it is also about a<br />

frame of mind.<br />

Unlike surface knowledge, any meaningful<br />

understanding of something requires<br />

opportunities to structure patterns within<br />

it, appreciate its underlying concepts and<br />

how it relates to other experiences. Take<br />

for example, an understanding of how<br />

weight works; how something can be<br />

heavier or lighter than something else and<br />

the meaning this might give us about what<br />

is inside.<br />

When a child plays in the water, they are<br />

experiencing how a jug of water weighs<br />

less as it empties, something they feel<br />

throughout their whole body. When they<br />

then apply this developing idea to a bucket<br />

of sand or a bag of feathers, they are<br />

learning to apply new concepts to existing<br />

situations. And when they then explore<br />

these ideas even further, transporting<br />

and pouring from different vessels<br />

perhaps, they are making connections<br />

in their learning, playing with new ideas<br />

as they develop a deeper awareness.<br />

These skills that support visualisation and<br />

reflection will, in time, allow them to know<br />

things without needing to experience it,<br />

techniques they will be relying on in the<br />

school classroom.<br />

The most important thing you can<br />

do to encourage and promote highly<br />

successful educational outcomes is to<br />

help children see the wonder of learning,<br />

its opportunities to discover and learn<br />

things about the world and themselves.<br />

Offer children first-hand, spontaneous<br />

experiences throughout the day, from the<br />

first “hello” in the morning to writing their<br />

masterpiece in the afternoon. Consider<br />

how you can maximise the potential<br />

of every experience, no matter how<br />

mundane it may seem to you, or how<br />

often it has been repeated. Think about<br />

how it can be experienced through all their<br />

senses, even something as familiar as a<br />

well-loved story can come to life when you<br />

think of the sensory learning you can add<br />

to it.<br />

Children have no hesitancy in freely<br />

initiating or valuing the learning potential<br />

of play. But while it is infinitely rewarding,<br />

it can also be easily distracted from by<br />

screens or by being overly-directed. When<br />

you offer children open-ended, natural<br />

resources within spaces where they<br />

feel a sense of ownership, their natural<br />

explorations will see them encouraged<br />

into new areas of knowledge and<br />

challenge. They will be quick to utilise<br />

objects freely within their play, provided<br />

they are unconstrained by predetermined<br />

objectives or expected actions.<br />

When playing with real objects and<br />

materials, children make links and<br />

connections in their thinking with what is<br />

familiar, encouraging a greater level of<br />

purposeful vocabulary. Exploring cause<br />

and effect with water, sand or mud play<br />

allows them to establish relationships<br />

between actions and consequences.<br />

When they can experiment and try and<br />

take risks where there is no wrong answer,<br />

they are establishing their resilience,<br />

persistence and curiosity within safe<br />

boundaries. Opportunities to reflect on<br />

their ideas, to think, consider, ponder and<br />

come back to as they need, allows them to<br />

experiment with ideas before committing<br />

them as fact, all the while allowing<br />

misconceptions to become evident while<br />

you tactfully guide.<br />

And remember, children are not driven by<br />

long term goals. With a limit to how much<br />

information they can keep in their mind,<br />

they need freedom to respond to whatever<br />

is driving them in the moment, and the<br />

time to allow their ideas to germinate.<br />

Interruptions can derail these powerful<br />

learning experiences, so keep time<br />

restrictions to a minimum as you take care<br />

not to invade their experiences.<br />

Children also need to experience their<br />

own success, to build secure confidence<br />

in their abilities as they develop the<br />

strength to meet and succeed in future<br />

challenges. You can promote this learning<br />

by offering appropriate challenges and<br />

risk with engaging resources and sufficient<br />

time for them to get stuck in. If difficulties<br />

arise, let them see how they can resolve<br />

things themselves as they make choices<br />

and experience how perseverance and<br />

thinking is rewarded. Allow them the time<br />

and space for free movement and quiet<br />

reflection as they revisit concepts and<br />

embed their developing expertise. Be on<br />

hand to promote their inquiries but avoid<br />

being too quick to intervene and consider<br />

limiting activities that tend to demand their<br />

attention as you let them experience their<br />

natural learning instincts.<br />

When given opportunities to use and<br />

combine their newly acquired skills and<br />

abilities, children learn how to continuously<br />

perfect them, to arrive at answers that are<br />

meaningful to them and to understand<br />

what new abilities they need to explore<br />

next. But so much more than this, they<br />

are learning about their own abilities as a<br />

learner, something that they will take with<br />

them into every new experience going<br />

forward. So, enjoy experiential learning<br />

with your children and harness this<br />

powerful learning medium and the deeper<br />

understanding offered through it, before<br />

the demands of more formal classrooms<br />

replace early years environments more<br />

naturally drenched in play.<br />

I hope you enjoyed this first article from<br />

The Learning Child, in the coming months<br />

we will look specifically at nurturing all<br />

these wonderful practices with babies,<br />

toddlers and young children. And in the<br />

meantime, bring focus back to nurturing<br />

all of children’s growth and development<br />

with a Nurturing Childhoods Accreditation.<br />

Whether you are looking for a settingwide<br />

approach to reflective practice<br />

and active CPD or a more personalised<br />

approach with the Nurturing Childhoods<br />

Practitioner Accreditation, gain recognition<br />

for the nurturing practice you deliver.<br />

Through 12 online sessions throughout the<br />

year, join me and hundreds of nurturing<br />

practitioners as together we really begin<br />

developing the potential of all children in<br />

their early years.<br />

Kathryn Peckham<br />

As Founder of Nurturing Childhoods,<br />

Dr Kathryn Peckham is a passionate<br />

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

meaningful experiences throughout their<br />

foundational early years. Delivering on-line<br />

courses, training and seminars she works<br />

with families and settings to identify and<br />

celebrate the impact of effective childhood<br />

experiences as preparation for all of life’s<br />

learning.<br />

An active campaigner for children, she<br />

consults on projects, conducts research<br />

for government bodies and contributes to<br />

papers launched in parliament. Through<br />

her consultancy and research, she guides<br />

local councils, practitioners, teachers and<br />

parents all over the world in enhancing<br />

children’s experiences through the<br />

experiences they offer. A highly acclaimed<br />

author and member of parliamentary<br />

groups, Kathryn also teaches a Masters at<br />

the Centre for 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 />

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

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

New and newly-qualified<br />

managers - how can we<br />

support them?<br />

How do the best managers get to be the<br />

best managers? What is it that they do that<br />

makes them the best? Were they born that<br />

way, or did they learn through trial and<br />

error? And how can we emulate this if we<br />

have only just qualified as a manager?<br />

The truth is, that barring the occasional<br />

child genius, most of us are not born an<br />

expert at anything, apart from crying,<br />

pooping and sleeping perhaps! But over<br />

the course of our childhood, adolescence,<br />

and adult life, we LEARN. It’s what we<br />

humans do – and we do it well. As we<br />

grow up, we learn how to master things<br />

step by step (literally sometimes) and<br />

eventually we can walk, run, and do<br />

somersaults!<br />

Being a new manager is much the same<br />

– there’s a learning curve that all of us go<br />

on and gaining a managerial qualification<br />

is usually just the start of the journey, not<br />

the end. In this article, we will look at what<br />

we can do as existing managers, to help<br />

our newly-qualified managers to make<br />

the most of their new qualifications, for the<br />

benefit of themselves and our settings.<br />

Lead by example<br />

It might sound simple, but one of the<br />

best ways to help others is to lead by<br />

example and to model the behaviours and<br />

aptitudes we are looking for. This might be<br />

by being open and approachable, or by<br />

developing more executive skills like event<br />

planning and/or risk management. By<br />

demonstrating attitudes and behaviours<br />

we would like to see, we signal subconsciously<br />

and consciously to our newlyqualified<br />

staff that these are behaviours to<br />

aspire to.<br />

Communicate well<br />

Good communication is essential for a<br />

manager as it can mean the difference<br />

between co-operation and conflict,<br />

effective team building and isolation, and<br />

success and failure. Communicating well<br />

with newly-qualified managers means:

To celebrate British Tomato Fortnight and National Vegetarian Week, we<br />

have two delicious recipes for you to try with the little ones!<br />

Vegetarian<br />

Puff pastry pizzas<br />

bolognese<br />

What do you need?<br />

• 320g sheet readyrolled<br />

light puff<br />

pastry<br />

• 6 tbsp tomato purée<br />

• 1 tbsp tomato ketchup<br />

• 1 tsp dried oregano<br />

• 75g mozzarella or<br />

cheddar<br />

• sweetcorn, olives,<br />

peppers, red onion,<br />

cherry tomatoes,<br />

spinach, basil<br />

What do you need?<br />

• 2 tbsp cooking oil<br />

• 1 medium onion, finely chopped<br />

• 2 carrots, very finely chopped<br />

• 2 celery sticks, very finely chopped<br />

• 1 garlic clove, crushed<br />

• 350g frozen vegetarian mince<br />

• 1 bay leaf<br />

• 500ml passata<br />

• 1 vegetable stock cube<br />

• 100ml milk (you can use<br />

alternative milk)<br />

• small bunch of basil, chopped<br />

• 600g cooked spaghetti/<br />

pasta (about 250g dried) – try<br />

wholemeal for a healthier option<br />

Instructions<br />

1. Heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/<br />

gas mark 6.<br />

2. Unroll the pastry, cut it into six<br />

squares and arrange over two<br />

baking trays lined with baking<br />

parchment.<br />

3. Use a cutlery knife to score a 1cm<br />

border around the edge of each<br />

pastry square.<br />

4. Bake for 15 mins, until puffed up but<br />

not cooked through.<br />

5. While the pastry cooks, make the<br />

sauce and prepare your toppings.<br />

6. Mix together the tomato purée,<br />

tomato ketchup, oregano and 1 tbsp<br />

water.<br />

7. Grate the cheese and chop any veg<br />

or herbs you want to put on top into<br />

small pieces. Set aside.<br />

8. Remove the pastry from the oven<br />

and squash down the middles with<br />

the back of a spoon.<br />

9. Divide the sauce between the pastry<br />

squares and spread it out to the<br />

puffed-up edges.<br />

10. Encourage your children to sprinkle<br />

with the cheese, then add the<br />

colourful toppings.<br />

11. Bake for another 5-8 mins and<br />

serve!<br />

Instructions<br />

1. Heat the oil in a saucepan and<br />

gently fry the onion, carrots and<br />

celery until the onion is starting to<br />

soften.<br />

2. Stir in the garlic and the vegetarian<br />

mince (there’s no need to defrost it)<br />

and fry for a couple of minutes.<br />

3. Add the bay leaf, passata,<br />

vegetable stock cube and 200ml<br />

water, then bring everything to the<br />

boil.<br />

This recipe can be found on the BBC Good Food website here.<br />

4. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30<br />

mins or until all the pieces of veg<br />

are tender and disappearing into<br />

the tomato sauce.<br />

5. Add the milk, then cover with a<br />

lid and cook for 10 mins. Season<br />

to taste and stir until the sauce<br />

thickens slightly.<br />

6. Stir the basil into the sauce and then<br />

serve.<br />

This recipe can be found on the BBC Good Food website here.

Allergy Awareness<br />

It’s <strong>May</strong>! Hooray! As we emerge from what<br />

might seem to some like the longest winter<br />

ever, lots of us welcome <strong>May</strong> as the month<br />

when the days get noticeably longer, the<br />

temperature starts to rise appreciably and<br />

the flowers and trees spring back into<br />

glorious life.<br />

And therein lies the problem for many!<br />

The very feature of nature that keeps the<br />

world renewing and regenerating itself, is<br />

for some, the start of a miserable period of<br />

debilitating symptoms that sees them shut<br />

themselves up behind closed doors as<br />

allergy season hits!<br />

<strong>May</strong> is Allergy Awareness Month in the US,<br />

and Allergy Awareness Week in the UK is<br />

the last week of April. Although anyone<br />

who suffers from seasonal allergies will<br />

tell you that they don’t need a calendar to<br />

remind them when their allergy season<br />

starts, as they can feel it all around them.<br />

With one in four people in the UK affected,<br />

what do we need to know as early years<br />

practitioners, and is there anything we can<br />

do to help?<br />

What are allergies?<br />

According to Allergy UK, an allergy is:<br />

“the response of the body’s immune<br />

system to normally harmless substances,<br />

such as pollens, foods, and house dust<br />

mite.”<br />

In most people, these substances,<br />

called ‘allergens’ pose no problem at<br />

all. However, in people whose immune<br />

systems identify them as a potential<br />

‘threat’, the presence of these allergens<br />

triggers an immune response which can<br />

range from relatively minor localised<br />

itching or sneezing to a life-threatening,<br />

full-body response such as anaphylaxis.<br />

Of course, it is not just in <strong>May</strong> when people<br />

suffer from allergies although <strong>May</strong> can<br />

trigger a high incidence of hay fever due to<br />

higher pollen counts in this month. There<br />

are other allergies that we need to be<br />

aware of too, including asthma, food and<br />

pet allergies that people suffer from all<br />

year round.<br />

What causes allergies?<br />

Since everyone is different, there is no one<br />

‘thing’ that causes allergies in everyone<br />

because it is down to the response of<br />

the individual person’s immune system<br />

as to whether the substance is identified<br />

as a potential threat. However, there are<br />

some common allergens which have<br />

been shown to cause an allergic reaction<br />

in large numbers of people. The most<br />

common allergens are:<br />

◊<br />

◊<br />

◊<br />

◊<br />

◊<br />

Pollen from trees and grasses<br />

Proteins secreted from house dust<br />

mites<br />

Foods such as peanuts, some grains,<br />

tree nuts, eggs and milk amongst<br />

others<br />

Pet hairs from dogs and cats, horses<br />

or other furry animals<br />

Mould<br />

◊<br />

◊<br />

Insect stings such as wasp and bee<br />

stings<br />

Some medicines<br />

Who is affected?<br />

The European Academy for Allergy and<br />

Clinical Immunology (EAACI) reports<br />

that allergy is the most common chronic<br />

disease in Europe and that up to 20% of<br />

patients with allergies struggle daily with<br />

the fear of a possible asthma attack,<br />

anaphylactic shock, or even death from an<br />

allergic reaction (EAACI, 2016). In the UK,<br />

some reports suggest a staggering 44% of<br />

British adults now suffer from at least one<br />

allergy with the number of sufferers rising<br />

each year. Of those affected, almost half<br />

(48%) have more than one allergy – that is<br />

around 10 million people.<br />

Symptoms of an<br />

allergic reaction<br />

Symptoms can vary between individuals<br />

but can include:<br />

◊<br />

A runny nose or sneezing<br />

◊<br />

◊<br />

◊<br />

◊<br />

◊<br />

◊<br />

Pain or tenderness around your<br />

cheeks, eyes or forehead<br />

Coughing, wheezing or<br />

breathlessness<br />

Itchy skin or a raised rash (hives)<br />

Diarrhoea<br />

Feeling or being sick<br />

Swollen eyes, lips, mouth or throat<br />

Allergies in children<br />

The Allergy UK website reports that 40%<br />

of UK children have been diagnosed with<br />

an allergy, with food allergy, eczema,<br />

asthma, and hay fever being the most<br />

common. As well as the symptoms listed<br />

above, children can suffer with additional<br />

problems caused by allergies which can<br />

affect not only their health, but their wellbeing,<br />

education and social interactions<br />

as well. Early years practitioners need<br />

to understand these additional needs<br />

which may not be as obvious as someone<br />

sneezing or itching, but include:<br />

◊<br />

◊<br />

◊<br />

◊<br />

◊<br />

Anxiety around a potential allergic<br />

reaction<br />

Fear of using adrenaline autoinjectors/needles<br />

Negative relationships with food<br />

including food aversions and refusal<br />

Sleep deprivation due to allergy<br />

symptoms, affecting mood and<br />

concentration<br />

Visible symptoms such as eczema<br />

and hives causing low self-esteem<br />

◊<br />

◊<br />

◊<br />

Isolation around social events such<br />

as birthday parties and eating out at<br />

restaurants<br />

The potential for bullying due to<br />

allergies<br />

Concerns from parents about<br />

protecting their children against<br />

allergen triggers and serious allergic<br />

reactions<br />

Treatments for<br />

allergies<br />

Depending on the severity and type of<br />

allergy, there are a number of different<br />

treatments including:<br />

◊<br />

◊<br />

◊<br />

◊<br />

◊<br />

Avoidance of the allergen – e.g.<br />

staying away from animals, rigorous<br />

cleaning routines<br />

Over-the-counter medicines for<br />

mild allergic reactions such as<br />

antihistamines and skin creams<br />

GP-prescribed medicines such as<br />

steroid tablets and steroid creams<br />

Emergency medicines called<br />

adrenaline auto-injectors, such as an<br />

EpiPen, for severe allergic reactions<br />

Desensitisation (immunotherapy)<br />

for severe allergic reactions – this<br />

involves carefully exposing a person<br />

to the allergen over time try to reduce<br />

the severity of the reaction and<br />

should only be done by a medical<br />

professional<br />

Allergy management<br />

in your setting<br />

All practitioners should have up-to-date<br />

First-Aid training and you should ensure<br />

that you have robust protocols and policies<br />

for First-Aid and the administration of<br />

medications. Check also that you:<br />

◊<br />

◊<br />

Keep accurate and up-to-date records<br />

of all children and staff who suffer<br />

from allergies including emergency<br />

contact numbers, GP names and<br />

addresses<br />

Keep all emergency medicines in<br />

a locked place with the name and<br />

photograph of the child clearly visible.<br />

◊<br />

◊<br />

◊<br />

Medications should be in the original<br />

box with clear instructions on how to<br />

give the medication easily visible<br />

Have well-trained staff who are<br />

available all day, every day to deliver<br />

First-Aid and medications<br />

Reduce the chance of sufferers<br />

coming into contact with allergens<br />

such as seating hay fever sufferers<br />

away from open windows and be<br />

aware of the daily pollen count<br />

Ensure all staff are aware of children<br />

with food allergies and have<br />

dedicated place settings or place<br />

mats for these children to minimise<br />

the risk of errors<br />



◊<br />

◊<br />

◊<br />

◊<br />

◊<br />

Get a skin rash that may include itchy,<br />

red, swollen, blistered or peeling skin<br />

Start wheezing<br />

Get tightness in the chest or throat<br />

Have trouble breathing or talking<br />

Has swelling around the mouth, face,<br />

lips, tongue or throat<br />

These symptoms could mean the person<br />

is having a serious allergic reaction<br />

(anaphylaxis) and may need immediate<br />

treatment in hospital.<br />

We have created some allergy<br />

placemat templates for you -<br />

download them here!<br />

Allergy UK have a Helpline on 01322<br />

619898 and can give advice on the nearest<br />

local NHS allergy clinic or consultant.<br />

References and more<br />

information<br />

◊<br />

◊<br />

◊<br />

◊<br />

https://www.allergyuk.org/<br />

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/<br />

allergies<br />

https://aafa.org/get-involved/<br />

asthma-and-allergy-awarenessmonth/<br />

European Academy for Allergy and<br />

Clinical Immunology (EAACI)<br />

32 <strong>May</strong> <strong>2023</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>May</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 33

EYFS activities:<br />

Expressive Arts<br />

and Design<br />

Getting messy with paint!<br />

It’s likely that most of the children in your setting love messy playtime. Whether it’s face-painting,<br />

hand printing, playing creatively with food or making masterpieces with clay, they are usually in their<br />

element when they’re making a mess of one form or another!<br />

This simple but fun activity gives the children a<br />

fantastic chance to practice their mark-making,<br />

such a crucial early start to writing.<br />

1. Gather a variety of brushes such as<br />

scrubbing brushes, nail brushes,<br />

hairbrushes and paint brushes.<br />

2. Fill several trays with coloured paint. Let the<br />

children independently dip their brushes<br />

into the paint and make marks.<br />

3. Discuss with the children as they are<br />

painting, the marks they are making.<br />

4. Remember to ask open-ended questions<br />

so you can extend the children’s learning<br />

through effective questioning.<br />

5. This activity also helps develop motor skills!<br />

More on this activity and others can be found<br />

here.<br />

Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud<br />

Child-led play is a style of play whereby<br />

children are given the freedom to choose what<br />

they play with; as well as how and when they<br />

do so. This is important for children’s learning<br />

and development because children explore<br />

and learn from their own thoughts and ideas<br />

through the freedom and creativity that childinitiated<br />

play enables.<br />

Our handy guide, The Importance of Child-Led<br />

Learning can be downloaded here.<br />

This fun, child-led activity encourages<br />

exploration and experimentation.<br />

1. Encourage the children to collect their own<br />

mud and mix it with water a little bit at a<br />

time, until it’s the right consistency to paint<br />

with.<br />

2. Give them a selection of paintbrushes (as<br />

per the previous activity) and watch them<br />

create their painted pictures on some<br />

(thick) paper.<br />

3. During and after the process, talk to the<br />

children about their creations.<br />

Decoupage<br />

Decoupage – the craft which uses paper to<br />

uniquely decorate a variety of things, is not<br />

just for grown-ups! Children love to stick bits of<br />

paper on to things and this encourages them<br />

to express their creativity and develop their<br />

artistic skills, helping with not only their selfexpression<br />

but their motor skills too.<br />

1. Each child will need a small cardboard box<br />

to decorate.<br />

2. You will need some PVA glue, and a range<br />

of fabrics such as tissue paper, felt, cloth,<br />

wrapping paper etc. all cut into small<br />

pieces.<br />

3. Help the children spread the glue onto the<br />

back of their chosen pieces of fabric and<br />

place it onto their object.<br />

4. Layer more fabric pieces in the same way,<br />

allowing the children to decorate with as<br />

many pieces as they would like to.<br />

5. If necessary, you can trim the edges of the<br />

fabric once the glue has dried.<br />

4. You can also mix into your mud paint grass,<br />

petals, leaves etc., and really encourage<br />

the children to experiment with making<br />

their own ‘homemade paint’.<br />

Top tip: Add a squirt of washing up liquid to the<br />

mud paint as this gives it a more spreadable<br />

consistency.<br />

More on this activity and others can be found<br />

here.<br />

6. Stand back and watch the children admire<br />

their handy work!<br />

More on this activity and others can be found<br />

here.<br />

34 <strong>May</strong> <strong>2023</strong> | parenta.com

Creative role play and<br />

relationships<br />

and feel our own emotions to be able to develop empathy and compassion which is vital<br />

for friendship.<br />

Movement and role-play are integral to your little ones’ development as they create<br />

opportunities for them to work in a group by sharing and taking turns. Role-play also<br />

encourages teamwork which helps them to build positive relationships with their peers.<br />

When they are spending time creating or engaging in messy play, they are building<br />

relationships and developing agency.<br />

Importantly, role-play scenarios also help children identify the important people in their<br />

lives.<br />

Pedagogy of Friendship<br />

Carter and Nutbrown, in their research in 2016, asked what friendship meant to a group<br />

of 5- to 7-year-olds and how in turn, teachers can apply the features of the Pedagogy of<br />

Friendship in their school.<br />

i. Building practitioner/teacher knowledge so that specific rules, routines, concerns and<br />

practices within children’s peer culture are made apparent, spending time observing<br />

and listening to friendship experience;<br />

ii.<br />

iii.<br />

Valuing and appreciating children’s friendship because of its significance to children<br />

and how this may impact on children’s social and emotional development and<br />

ultimately their cognitive development;<br />

Recognition of children’s agency in friendship, where children are provided with<br />

opportunities for time and space to establish and nurture their friendships without<br />

adult intervention wherever this is safe to do so.<br />

The problems faced by<br />

children when developing<br />

relationships<br />

The environment…<br />

The opportunities for children to participate<br />

in spontaneous play outside in their<br />

neighbourhoods have diminished. This<br />

situation makes early years settings so<br />

important in helping children develop and<br />

nurture friendships for well-being.<br />

Adults…<br />

It is important for practitioners to look at<br />

their role as Sigrid Brogaard-Clausen and<br />

Sue Robson created a questionnaire for<br />

155 parents/carers and 285 practitioners in<br />

England. The data they received, showed<br />

that the prioritisation of friendships<br />

between young children was low. This<br />

suggests that adults and children have<br />

different priorities and raised questions<br />

about how friendships are viewed by<br />

adults.<br />

Question… What is your ‘Pedagogy of<br />

Friendship’ in your setting?<br />

Why is role-play important<br />

in helping your little ones<br />

build relationships and<br />

develop friendships?<br />

Introducing role-play and movement is a<br />

wonderful way of helping them to express<br />

and understand emotions. We all want our<br />

little ones to feel compassion, empathy<br />

and belonging and be able to express<br />

their own emotions and strengthen their<br />

personal agency.<br />

Why not try out my ‘emotion dino’ role-play activity with your little ones?<br />

Just think of all the opportunities to help develop their speech, language and<br />

communication skills which are essential for building relationships.<br />

The target of this role-play activity: to understand, name<br />

and show different emotions.<br />

Preparation: print out the coloured dinosaurs and cut out and stick them on cards for<br />

your little ones to use.<br />

Instructions<br />

Hold up the red dinosaur, and tell the<br />

children that red is for showing anger. Ask<br />

the child: “Can you show me angry?” (Make<br />

angry faces, clench your fists and stomp<br />

around the room).<br />

Hold up the green dinosaur, and tell<br />

the children that green is for showing<br />

happiness. Ask the child: “Can you show<br />

me happy?” (Make smiley faces, hop, skip<br />

and twirl around the room).<br />

Hold up the blue dinosaur, and tell the<br />

children that blue is for showing sadness.<br />

Ask the child: “Can you show me sad?” (Put<br />

your head down, with a sad face, and walk<br />

slowly around the room).<br />

References:<br />

Sigrid Brogaard-Clausen & Sue Robson (2019) “Friendships for well-being?: parents’<br />

and practitioners’ positioning of young children’s friendships in the evaluation of wellbeing<br />

factors”. International Journal of Early Years Education, 27:4, 345-359, DOI:<br />

10.1080/09669760.2019.1629881<br />

Carter, C. and Nutbrown, C. (2016)” A Pedagogy of Friendship: young children’s friendships<br />

and how schools can support them”. International Journal of Early Years Education. pp.<br />

1-19. ISSN 0966-9760<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 />

Email: gina@littlemagictrain.com<br />

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/<br />

gina-bale/<br />

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

Littlemagictrain<br />

As movement is the universal language<br />

of expression, this makes role-play the<br />

perfect way of introducing those feelings<br />

and emotions. We need to understand<br />

36 <strong>May</strong> <strong>2023</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>May</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 37

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