June 2023 Parenta magazine

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Issue 103<br />

JUNE <strong>2023</strong><br />

FREE<br />

Industry<br />

Experts<br />

COVER<br />

Nurture your children’s<br />

‘lifelong learning’ in the<br />

baby room<br />

Musical beasts –<br />

singing about animals<br />

in the early years<br />

‘Gifted’ and ‘talented’<br />

and sometimes<br />

‘misunderstood’<br />

+ lots more<br />

EYFS activities<br />

inside!<br />

This month…<br />

Literacy<br />

Top tips for the terrific<br />

twos - Tip ten:<br />

“time and weather”<br />

<strong>June</strong> brings the start of summer and sunshine, but just how much do we as adults affect ‘time’ and ‘weather’<br />

for the early years?<br />


10<br />

28<br />

20<br />

14<br />

Hello<br />

Welcome to our family<br />

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

Summer is upon us and this month, we celebrate the longest day of the year - the summer solstice (or Midsummer’s Day) on<br />

the 21st of <strong>June</strong>. We look at how we can celebrate the day in our own settings and take a whistle-stop tour around the world<br />

to explore how other countries mark their own summer solstice.<br />

Another occasion to celebrate this month is Father’s Day on the 18th of <strong>June</strong> - turn to page 31 to learn the origins of this<br />

special day, and how we can give thanks to the male role models in our lives. We put our <strong>Parenta</strong> juniors’ creative flair to the<br />

test and have come up with ‘My dad rocks’ and ‘Heart art’ – two great crafts for you to do in your setting!<br />

It’s a packed edition as usual, with articles from nutrition expert, Louise Mercieca, neurodivergence specialist, Joanna Grace,<br />

well-being and nurturing experts, Stacey Kelly and Kathryn Peckham, and music and movement experts, Frances Turnbull,<br />

and Gina Bale.<br />

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<br />

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

Allan<br />

Regulars<br />

8 Write for us<br />

30 Picnic and Fathers Day activities<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 />

26<br />

14 Workplace challenges – what they are and how to<br />

overcome them<br />

18 Learning Disability Week <strong>2023</strong><br />

20 Attachment disorders<br />

24 Staff health and well-being<br />

28 Father’s Day and Men’s Health Week<br />

32 The summer solstice (Midsummer’s Day)<br />

Industry Experts<br />

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

“time and weather”<br />

12 Building a brain<br />

22 Musical beasts – singing about animals in the<br />

early years<br />

26 Nurture your children’s ‘lifelong learning’ in the<br />

baby room<br />

36 ‘Gifted’ and ‘talented’ and sometimes<br />

‘misunderstood’<br />

36<br />

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

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

Childcare news<br />

DfE will consult industry on<br />

childcare funding before expansion<br />

of 30-hours<br />

This summer, the Department for<br />

Education will consult with the sector<br />

on how funding for 15- and 30-hours<br />

childcare will be distributed, including<br />

the expanded entitlement for children<br />

from the age of nine months.<br />

During the Education Select Committee<br />

on 9th of May, the Children’s Minister<br />

Claire Coutinho, confirmed that<br />

the Government will be issuing a<br />

consultation imminently on how<br />

funding for the expanded free<br />

entitlement for working parents of<br />

children from nine months old will be<br />

distributed.<br />

Expansion of the childcare offer for<br />

working parents is planned as follows:<br />

✏ April 2024: 15 hours for all twoyear-olds<br />

✏ September 2024: 15 hours for all<br />

children aged nine months and<br />

above<br />

✏ September 2025: 30 hours for all<br />

children under the age of five<br />

Ahead of the summer holidays, the<br />

DfE will also consult on funding rates<br />

for 2024/25 and how two-year-old<br />

funding is distributed, as well as<br />

confirm the <strong>2023</strong>/24 rates.<br />

Chief Executive Neil Leitch commented:<br />

“There’s no question that it would<br />

have been much more beneficial if<br />

the DfE had engaged and consulted<br />

and views<br />

with the sector before announcing<br />

the expansion in the budget. If it had,<br />

it would have realised the extreme<br />

pressure it was likely to place on a<br />

sector already under considerable<br />

strain. And, as the outcome of<br />

the ratios consultation shows, the<br />

Government must not just listen to<br />

the sector’s concerns and still charge<br />

ahead with changes regardless, but<br />

make sure that any sector-specific<br />

plans reflect what is best for the sector<br />

and, importantly, the child.”<br />

NDNA Chief Executive, Purnima<br />

Tanuku, said: “We need more action<br />

on the current staffing crisis, funding,<br />

business rates and VAT if providers are<br />

going to be able to deliver the funded<br />

places that the Government is offering<br />

to parents from this time next year.”<br />

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

World can be read here.<br />

Study suggests children’s physical<br />

activity has returned to prepandemic<br />

levels<br />

Children’s levels of physical activity<br />

have returned to their pre-pandemic<br />

levels, according to new research from<br />

the University of Bristol released in<br />

April.<br />

According to the study, 41% of<br />

children in the UK were getting the<br />

recommended hours of weekly<br />

physical activity by the summer of<br />

2022. This is an increase from the<br />

37% of children immediately after<br />

the pandemic. However, the current<br />

statistics show that most<br />

children are still not getting enough<br />

physical activity each week.<br />

The study also revealed that children<br />

are still more inactive during the week<br />

than they were before the pandemic –<br />

with children spending an average of<br />

13 extra minutes a day being inactive<br />

than before 2020.<br />

Funded by the National Institute for<br />

Health and Care Research, the study<br />

measured children’s physical activity<br />

for seven months, asking children and<br />

their carers to wear accelerometers to<br />

measure their levels of activity.<br />

The study also found that parents<br />

were getting an average of eight<br />

more minutes of moderate to vigorous<br />

physical activity at the weekend than<br />

they were before the pandemic.<br />

The study’s lead author, Russ Jago,<br />

professor of physical activity and public<br />

health, said: “It’s encouraging that on<br />

average, children’s physical activity<br />

levels are back to where they were<br />

before the pandemic. But it’s taken<br />

nearly a year since the last public<br />

lockdown was lifted, and children’s<br />

increased sedentary time during the<br />

week has persisted, which is an area<br />

of concern for policymakers, schools,<br />

and parents.”<br />

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

Years Alliance can be read here.<br />

Millions of pounds of funded<br />

childcare held back by English<br />

councils<br />

Freedom of information requests<br />

submitted by the NDNA have revealed<br />

that local authorities are failing to pass<br />

on the money for funded childcare<br />

places, showing councils were holding<br />

back millions of pounds to offset deficits<br />

or add to reserves. Over 90 of the<br />

150 local education authorities that<br />

responded, underspent almost £46m<br />

in total last year.<br />

Fifteen LEAs underspent by at least £1m<br />

each, while five of those underspent by<br />

a similar amount in two of the previous<br />

three years. The NDNA calculated<br />

that over the past four years, there<br />

had been a £229m underspend of<br />

funds intended for providers of funded<br />

childcare.<br />

The Government is looking to expand<br />

the funded childcare scheme to offer<br />

places to working parents of all children<br />

over the age of nine months. However,<br />

childcare providers have<br />

long complained that the scheme is<br />

chronically underfunded.<br />

Claire Coutinho, the Minister for<br />

Children, giving evidence to the<br />

committee, acknowledged it had been<br />

a challenging time for the childcare<br />

sector, but said the Government was<br />

putting in an additional £4bn to fund its<br />

childcare policies.<br />

Purnima Tanuku, the NDNA Chief<br />

Executive, said: “This is our fourth year<br />

investigating underspends in early<br />

years funding and once again, the<br />

results are shocking. NDNA has been<br />

calling for this money to be ringfenced<br />

so it can only be used for early years<br />

places.<br />

“At a time when providers will be under<br />

pressure to get ready to deliver funded<br />

places for all two-year-olds in less than<br />

a year’s time, they should be better<br />

supported by councils. This system<br />

needs fixing and reforming now if the<br />

early years sector is going to have a<br />

hope of delivering the Government’s<br />

new plans.”<br />

The Local Government Association,<br />

which represents local authorities in<br />

England and Wales, said its members<br />

fully understood the financially<br />

challenging situation providers were<br />

in and were doing what they could to<br />

support them.<br />

“However councils often face<br />

challenges in relation to when<br />

money is received from government<br />

and have to manage this to ensure<br />

providers receive funding. Where this<br />

is an underspend, this is also often<br />

reallocated according to local need,<br />

such as to support children with<br />

additional needs, so the money is still<br />

invested in early years provision.”<br />

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

Guardian, can be read here.<br />

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

parenta.com | <strong>June</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, Early Years Alliance, Early<br />

Years Educator, BBC News, Aberdeen Live<br />

Childcare costs push 4 in 10<br />

working parents on low incomes<br />

into debt<br />

Working parents on lower incomes are<br />

being forced into debt and have had to<br />

reduce their hours or quit their<br />

jobs altogether.<br />

Nursery group, Childbase, named<br />

in Sunday Times ‘Best Place To<br />

Work’ list<br />

The Childbase Partnership, which owns<br />

and manages 44 nurseries, has been<br />

named as one of the top 40 ‘Best Places<br />

to Work’ in the UK.<br />

Review to look at impact of<br />

children missing out on breakfast<br />

The British Nutrition Foundation (BNF)<br />

and Magic Breakfast are joining forces to<br />

explore the link between the importance<br />

of breakfast for children and their health<br />

and well-being.<br />

More than 600,000 families<br />

claiming universal credit since<br />

pandemic<br />

At least 630,000 families were ‘pushed’<br />

onto universal credit between November<br />

2019 and 2022, reveals new analysis.<br />

The Early Years Alliance launches<br />

National Week of Play<br />

The Alliance has announced plans for<br />

its third National Week of Play, which<br />

will focus on how play can build positive<br />

connections and break down barriers.<br />

Talking to babies helps shape<br />

their developing brain,<br />

research finds<br />

Talking to babies and young children is<br />

very important in early development as it<br />

helps to shape the brain, according to a<br />

new study.<br />

Click here to send in<br />

your stories to<br />

marketing@parenta.com<br />

Toolkit launched to promote<br />

mental health in the early years<br />

UNICEF UK & the University of<br />

Cambridge’s Centre for Research on Play<br />

in Education have developed a resource<br />

to support the understanding of mental<br />

health in the early years.<br />

Musical pre-school charity gets<br />

£32k lottery grant<br />

A Manx charity is to extend its musical<br />

pre-school learning sessions after<br />

receiving a £32,750 cash boost.<br />

Aberdeen childcare service earns<br />

praise for ‘knowledge, skill and<br />

experience’<br />

Cornhill Out of School Care was<br />

described in a Care Inspectorate report<br />

as a “warm and welcoming” location.<br />

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

We’re always on the lookout<br />

for new authors to contribute<br />

insightful articles for our<br />

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

Write for us!<br />

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

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

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Nurturing Childhoods Advert - <strong>Parenta</strong> April 22 v2 PRINT.pdf<br />

Congratulations<br />

to our guest author competition winner, Mona Sakr!<br />

Congratulations to Mona Sakr, our guest author of<br />

the month! Her article, “How early years leaders<br />

can sustain a positive team culture over time: using<br />

secondary embedding mechanisms” explores<br />

embedding mechanisms that leaders can try to<br />

help sustain a positive workplace culture as the<br />

months and years flow on! Well done, Mona!<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 />

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

Nurturing<br />

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

Top tips for the terrific twos -<br />

Tip ten: “time and<br />

weather”<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 />

When I was fresh out of university, I got<br />

a job working as a teaching assistant in<br />

a secondary school. It was such good<br />

training for the work I have done since,<br />

supporting children with different special<br />

educational needs and disabilities.<br />

One year, I was assigned to support a<br />

particular child, in tutor group 14. So I<br />

followed said child from lesson to lesson.<br />

We would walk into science and the<br />

teacher would greet us, remarking to me:<br />

“Oh I love tutor group 14, they’re always<br />

so easy to teach” the children would<br />

settle down to work, put their hands up<br />

to suggest answers to questions, and<br />

pack up and stand behind their desks like<br />

angels. We would walk down the hall to<br />

English where the teacher would roll their<br />

eyes at me at the door: “Oh goodness,<br />

I’d forgotten I have this lot on a Tuesday”.<br />

They wouldn’t settle, they shouted out, it<br />

took several minutes after the bell had<br />

gone for them to be dismissed.<br />

There is a saying in teaching: You make<br />

the weather in your classroom. It is true.<br />

I think I would have known the saying to<br />

be true had I not worked in teaching, but<br />

witnessing it in action as someone who<br />

followed the class from room to room and<br />

watched their behaviour and demeanour<br />

change in seconds depending on the….I<br />

was going to type “on the way they were<br />

greeted at the door” but it wasn’t even<br />

that. The teacher who was dreading their<br />

arrival might be perfectly cheery at the<br />

door, it was quite literally the mood of that<br />

teacher, however well masked, somehow<br />

the children felt it. Just as if it really had<br />

been the weather in the room.<br />

There were times in my teaching career<br />

that I had to remind myself, on days when<br />

things were going badly: “I make the<br />

weather in this room” and sure enough, it<br />

would be something going on inside me<br />

that I was witnessing in the behaviour of<br />

the children around me.<br />

Now as a parent I see it is true in my<br />

house. We – the adults, make the weather<br />

in the room. Sometimes the forecast for<br />

my husband and I is the same, other<br />

times you can feel the difference as one<br />

of us leaves or enters the room, the<br />

effect is instant - just like a cold pressure<br />

front rolling in. The most obvious one is<br />

when one or other of us has a short fuse,<br />

even if we bite our tongue, the effect<br />

is instantaneous: gone is the peaceful<br />

colouring in, enter the chanting of silly<br />

ditties.<br />

What can you do if you notice it happening<br />

to you? I’m afraid I’m out of sage advice<br />

here. I can tell you what works for me is<br />

moving location. I can be heard mumbling<br />

through my grump: “Children are easier<br />

outside”. For my husband, it is making him<br />

laugh, then he forgets he’s annoyed with<br />

life. What is it for you? There are two tricks<br />

to changing the weather in your household<br />

or setting: the first is recognising that it is<br />

you that is causing it (when it very much<br />

feels like them) and the second is knowing<br />

what to do about it (take a tea break or<br />

lock yourself in the bathroom and figure it<br />

out).<br />

If you notice particular pinch points in<br />

the weather then it’s worth investigating<br />

further to find out what is causing them.<br />

Do these bad weather patches have a<br />

monsoon type rhythm to them, always<br />

occurring at the same time or place?<br />

It is easy to say: “It’s because they are<br />

tired” and it likely is, but children can be<br />

tired without screaming and shouting.<br />

Is it because when they are tired, they<br />

are being asked to do lots of things, like<br />

brush teeth and get pyjamas on? Could<br />

some of these things be moved? You can<br />

eat dinner in pyjamas. Is it because the<br />

combination of activities and tiredness<br />

don’t mix, the stimulation of gadgets<br />

doesn’t blend well with sharing and being<br />

tired?<br />

For us, we found it was dinner time.<br />

You’d sit down. The food was there. And<br />

both me and my husband did a kind of<br />

mental ‘switch off’. Not out of cruelty you<br />

understand, more just the sheer relief of<br />

being able to sit down and there actually<br />

being food to eat. Mentally our attention<br />

sank to a Homer Simpson level of “Food”.<br />

Consequently (you’ve heard of the pea<br />

flinging already in article five) dinner times<br />

became an act of survival.<br />

At least he was secured, strapped into his<br />

high-chair at the end of the table, flinging<br />

peas, and when he ran out of peas, his<br />

cutlery would come clattering down to us.<br />

He’d shout to be released, and we would<br />

say: “Just wait until Mummy’s finished<br />

eating”. We would try to entertain him,<br />

cajole him, feed him treats just to buy us<br />

enough time to chew and to swallow.<br />

Then one day I walked into our dinning<br />

room just as dinner was starting and for<br />

a moment, I saw it differently. We have a<br />

long dinner table with trestle seating. My<br />

husband and my other son and I, and any<br />

guests we have perch on the benches.<br />

The 2-year-old is in a high-chair that has<br />

its own table section at the far end of the<br />

table. He was completely out of it.<br />

I dispensed with the high-chair, and let<br />

him kneel on the bench between us. We<br />

made sure to engage him in conversation<br />

from the start of dinner (so that he<br />

wouldn’t have to fling forks at us to get<br />

us to chat). We ask him about his day,<br />

and his brother translates what he thinks<br />

is being said. The peas remain an issue,<br />

and probably will for life to be fair….we<br />

do find it funny. I think I’ll crack that one<br />

when I’m no longer amused by it myself.<br />

Eating is a lot calmer now. He wasn’t being<br />

unreasonable before, he wasn’t ‘being 2’,<br />

he was just doing his best to communicate<br />

with the resources he has at hand. If you<br />

invited me around to dinner and then<br />

strapped me in a chair far away from the<br />

conversation I might fling a fork or two<br />

as well!<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 />

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>June</strong> <strong>2023</strong> | parenta.com<br />

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

During the early years, children experience<br />

rapid growth and development, a large<br />

proportion of which occurs within the<br />

brain. It takes a lot to build a brain, in fact<br />

from birth onwards, there is a phenomenal<br />

amount of growth to be done and most<br />

of this takes place in the first three years<br />

of life. Our brain will grow to 80-90% of its<br />

adult size by the age of 3. What makes us<br />

human though, is not the size of our brains<br />

but the connections within them. It is the<br />

forming of these connections during this<br />

stage of life that is crucially important.<br />

Numbers and neurons<br />

To put the influence of these neuron<br />

connections into context, let’s look at some<br />

numbers. Babies will have around 2500<br />

neuron communications, and a healthy<br />

toddler aged 2-3 will have around 15,000<br />

neuron communications (many more than<br />

an adult brain). That’s a huge increase<br />

and the most influential way to increase<br />

these neuron connections is positivity.<br />

Continuous, positive reinforcement via<br />

smiles, praise, encouragement and<br />

enthusiasm all motivate a child to feel<br />

safe to grow. Unfortunately, the opposite<br />

can be said for negativity and traumatic<br />

experiences within this crucial period of<br />

development.<br />

An amazing dietary intake will not<br />

undo the damage caused by the child<br />

receiving poor social interaction, a lack of<br />

affection and discouragement. Cognitive,<br />

motor, and emotional milestones are<br />

all underpinned by a variety of factors<br />

such as nutrition. Food isn’t the complete<br />

answer, but it does play a very big role.<br />

The link between formative nutrition,<br />

brain development and cognitive skills<br />

is incredibly complex. EFAs are Essential<br />

Fatty Acids and they are indeed, essential<br />

and for a good reason! 40% of our<br />

brain is made up of EFAs. There are four<br />

EFAs making up 40% of the brain; AA<br />

(Arachidonic Acid), DHA (Docosahexaenoic<br />

Acid), EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid), DGLA<br />

(Dihomo-gamma-linolenic Acid).<br />

These essential fats are crucially important<br />

for intelligence, mood, and behaviour.<br />

Building a brain<br />

Indeed, the frontal lobe of the brain should<br />

be rich in DHA helping with problemsolving,<br />

focus attention and planning skills.<br />

Babies, toddlers, and children need to<br />

solve problems all of the time! Remember,<br />

with babies and toddlers, everything is<br />

new to them.<br />

Human brains take a very long time to<br />

grow into a fully mature adult brain and<br />

all that growth and development takes<br />

a lot of feeding. During childhood when<br />

the brain is undergoing its rapid growth<br />

50% of the total energy intake goes<br />

to feeding the brain, this reduces to just<br />

20% of the total energy intake in an adult.<br />

If we consider that thinking alone can<br />

utilise around 300 calories each day, it’s<br />

clear to see how building a brain can use<br />

so much energy.<br />

Prior to starting any formal academic<br />

journey, a child’s neural connections have,<br />

largely, already been established, hence<br />

the ‘window of opportunity’ in the early<br />

years. Childhood development depends<br />

on the energy and nutrients provided<br />

to the brain at this crucial time of life.<br />

Formative nutrition is so important that<br />

what we eat at this point in our lives can<br />

impact future eating habits, future health<br />

and even IQ.<br />

There are few more important roles than<br />

those which shape the future health of a<br />

small child. Remember that your role as<br />

a parent, carer or someone working with<br />

children, is very influential and powerful<br />

for the child and that by feeding that child<br />

a nutritious, well-thought-out diet, you are<br />

helping them to forge a healthy, lifelong<br />

relationship with food.<br />

In the last article, I wrote about the<br />

importance of the first 1000 days, some<br />

of the early brain development nutritional<br />

links are covered here but it isn’t just<br />

growing our brain that needs good<br />

nutrition, it’s day-to-day functioning<br />

such as concentration, problem-solving,<br />

thinking, remembering and even our<br />

emotions. All our actions and behaviours<br />

are influenced by our nutritional intake.<br />

Essential vitamins and<br />

minerals to include<br />

In particular relevance to brain function,<br />

the following vitamins and minerals are<br />

some examples of those which support<br />

concentration, focus, learning and<br />


Workplace challenges<br />

– what they are and<br />

how to overcome them<br />

⚙ Understanding<br />

⚙ Prepared to compromise<br />

Learning to communicate with co-workers<br />

takes time and it is always better to listen<br />

and observe first before launching into<br />

concerns and accusations. Remember too<br />

that the “I feel like ….. when this happens”<br />

is a much more effective tool than “You<br />

did this” or “You did that”, which can be<br />

aggressive and confrontational.<br />

Be aware of the double-edged sword of<br />

emails in today’s fast-paced world. Many<br />

workplace challenges could be avoided if<br />

communication was more personal and<br />

less generic. Whilst no one wants to go<br />

back to endless face-to-face meetings<br />

that waste everyone’s time, there are also<br />

problems created when people receive far<br />

too many irrelevant emails, and it becomes<br />

difficult to sort through and prioritise<br />

them. Sometimes, all that is needed is<br />

a quick phone call or a catch-up with a<br />

colleague over a coffee, and everyone can<br />

understand the urgency and/or priority<br />

of a particular situation. Sometimes, the<br />

simple old ways, really are the best so<br />

make sure your email communications are<br />

relevant.<br />

4. Training, career<br />

pathways and promotion<br />

We all want to feel that we have options,<br />

and so when we start a new job, we want<br />

to know that we will have ways to advance<br />

our career, receive additional training<br />

and be in line for a future promotion. The<br />

days of people staying in one career for<br />

40 years, have long gone, and we are all<br />

much more knowledgeable now about the<br />

choices we have. Being proactive in this<br />

area can really help your career chances.<br />

Keeping up-to-date with training courses<br />

and CPD opportunities is important, but<br />

do not just wait for opportunities to be<br />

brought to you – if you want to advance<br />

your career – be proactive! Ask about<br />

training courses you can do, opportunities<br />

for more responsibility within your job, and<br />

show a willingness to observe, volunteer<br />

and learn from others. <strong>Parenta</strong> runs some<br />

inexpensive, online CPD courses that<br />

could help you improve your chances of<br />

promotion or taking on new responsibilities<br />

within your current job, so check out<br />

https://cpd-elearning-courses.parenta.<br />

com/ for more information.<br />

5. Parents and carers<br />

Parents and carers are a unique challenge<br />

to everyone working in the education<br />

industry and they present another layer<br />

of challenge in addition to the usual<br />

workplace issues related to line managers<br />

and colleagues. However, the way to<br />

resolve issues with parents comes down,<br />

once again, to good communication.<br />

Effectively communicating with parents<br />

and making them feel involved in their<br />

child’s education can go a long way to<br />

mitigate any problems, so make sure:<br />

⚙ Your setting has appropriate policies<br />

and protocols in place for dealing with<br />

matters involving parents and that<br />

they receive adequate warnings and<br />

communications regarding their child<br />

⚙ Parents feel involved and included<br />

⚙ Your relationships always remain<br />

professional<br />

These are but a few of the challenges that<br />

workplaces bring and there are many<br />

others to be covered in future articles,<br />

but for now, try to approach workplace<br />

challenges with fresh eyes and a little<br />

more insight.<br />

3. Work/life balance and<br />

stress<br />

No matter where you work or what job you<br />

do, everyone at some point will face some<br />

workplace challenges. Whether you are a<br />

fire fighter or an early years professional,<br />

there is no getting away from the fact that<br />

we all face challenges every day. Some<br />

people say that that is the fun of living<br />

– facing challenges and finding ways to<br />

overcome them. So, what are some of the<br />

most common workplace challenges in the<br />

early years sector, and how do we best<br />

overcome them?<br />

1. Starting off on the right<br />

foot<br />

Everyone must start somewhere, and we<br />

all arrive at a new place of work at some<br />

point in our lives. Fitting in is important<br />

because if you don’t feel that you fit in, it<br />

can lead to unhappiness and resentment.<br />

Try to be as friendly as possible with your<br />

co-workers when you start a new place<br />

of employment, although do not engage<br />

in office gossip. Ask questions politely<br />

and be respectful of others if you do not<br />

understand. Show a willingness to work<br />

hard with a professional attitude, and this<br />

will let other people know that you are<br />

serious about what you do, and that you<br />

are ready to learn and fit in. Make sure<br />

too, that you understand who you can<br />

talk through problems with when you first<br />

start – it may be a line manager, mentor or<br />

buddy, so use them if you need to.<br />

2. Communication with<br />

colleagues and line<br />

managers<br />

Communication issues including poor<br />

communication, a lack of communication<br />

and miscommunication are some of the<br />

most common challenges in the workplace<br />

– indeed, in the world today. Knowing how<br />

to effectively deal with these issues is the<br />

key to a happy and successful working<br />

life, but many people do not approach<br />

communication in the correct way. For one,<br />

they become over-emotional which tends<br />

to colour everything they do, reducing the<br />

effectiveness of their communication, and<br />

two, a lot of people become very defensive<br />

in their communication, instead of trying<br />

to be objective and find a solution to the<br />

problem. Most communication issues<br />

can be best sorted out face-to-face if the<br />

problem is identified (without too much<br />

emotion attached to it) and then a solution<br />

found that is a win-win situation for both<br />

parties. Remember that the way you say<br />

something communicates more meaning<br />

than the words you use, so always try to<br />

be:<br />

⚙ Rational<br />

⚙ Respectful of other people’s opinions<br />

⚙ Solution-focused<br />

This is one of the most important things to<br />

get right in the workplace, and yet, many<br />

of us are still struggling with workplace<br />

stress and/or an unhealthy work/life<br />

balance. When looking for a job, it is<br />

important to ask questions about this<br />

and to satisfy yourself that what will be<br />

asked of you is something that you can<br />

commit to. For example, if you need to<br />

have flexibility in working hours due to<br />

your own childcare commitments, it is<br />

important that these are discussed at the<br />

interview. More and more companies are<br />

introducing flexible working patterns now,<br />

and with the Ofsted emphasis on staff<br />

mental health, these areas are improving<br />

too. If, however, you feel that you have<br />

challenges in these areas, then it is vital<br />

that you discuss these things with your<br />

boss or line manager as soon as possible.<br />

Most companies will be able to make<br />

adjustments and put contingencies in<br />

place if they know there is a problem –<br />

and most would rather do that, than have<br />

to ‘fire-fight’ when it is too late, and you<br />

are no longer able to do your job.<br />

14 <strong>June</strong> <strong>2023</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>June</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 15

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Learning Disability<br />

Week <strong>2023</strong><br />

The chart below shows the types of needs that SEN children had in 2022 according to the School Census broken down by whether they<br />

had an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) or not (source School Census).<br />

Learning Disability Week <strong>2023</strong> (LDW) runs<br />

from the 19th to the 25th of <strong>June</strong> and<br />

this year is all about busting the myths<br />

surrounding what life is like if you have<br />

a learning disability. According to the<br />

Mencap website:<br />

A myth is an idea about something<br />

that is not true<br />

Busting a myth means showing why<br />

an idea about something is not true<br />

There are many untruths that surround the<br />

topic of learning disability, but this year is<br />

about getting to know the fact from the<br />

fiction and reducing the discrimination and<br />

prejudice that exist. Recently, Ellie Goldstein<br />

became the first model with Down’s<br />

syndrome to feature on the cover of British<br />

Vogue <strong>magazine</strong>, clearly smashing some<br />

myths as she did.<br />

Aims of LDW <strong>2023</strong><br />

As well as myth-busting, LDW <strong>2023</strong> aims<br />

to:<br />

Smash stigmas and end<br />

discrimination<br />

Fight and campaign for a fairer society<br />

Educate and raise awareness about<br />

learning disabilities<br />

Let’s look at some facts instead…<br />

In the UK, there are 1.5 million<br />

people with a learning disability and<br />

approximately 351,000 children aged<br />

0-17 with a learning disability<br />

Special educational needs (SEN)<br />

can affect a child or young person’s<br />

behaviour, reading and writing,<br />

concentration levels, ability to<br />

understand things, or physical ability<br />

Not all children and young people<br />

with SEN have a learning disability – in<br />

2019/20, only 29% of all children with<br />

a statement of SEN or an EHC plan<br />

were classified as having a learning<br />

disability<br />

However, at the broader level of SEN<br />

support (previously School Action<br />

and School Action Plus), 228,315<br />

children in England had a primary SEN<br />

associated with a learning disability<br />

Most children with special educational<br />

needs (SEN) go to mainstream<br />

schools, with less than 10% attending<br />

special schools in the UK<br />

The number of children with SEN has<br />

been increasing in the UK for 5 years<br />

The number of pupils with an EHC<br />

plan has increased by 9% between<br />

2021 and 2022, and by a total of 50%<br />

since 2016<br />

What is a learning<br />

disability?<br />

A learning disability refers to the way a<br />

person’s brain works. Having a learning<br />

disability makes it harder for someone<br />

to learn and understand new things.<br />

For example, they may find it harder to<br />

manage money, go out, or just do some<br />

everyday jobs around the house. Learning<br />

disabilities affect people in different ways,<br />

but for those who live with them, some<br />

things are true for everyone with a learning<br />

disability and some common (and not so<br />

common) factors that affect everyone.<br />

By its very definition, a learning disability<br />

means people will have a reduced<br />

intellectual ability which affects them for<br />

their whole life.<br />

Learning difficulties vs.<br />

learning disabilities<br />

Sometimes, there is confusion about the<br />

difference between a learning difficulty and<br />

a learning disability. According to Mencap,<br />

the difference is whether the condition<br />

affects the intellect of the person.<br />

Learning difficulties are things such as<br />

dyslexia, ADHD, or dyspraxia<br />

Learning disabilities include things<br />

like Down’s syndrome, autism or<br />

profound- or multiple learning<br />

disabilities<br />

The extent to which a learning disability<br />

affects someone’s intellect varies greatly<br />

so it is important not to pre-judge<br />

someone’s abilities or discriminate against<br />

them.<br />

Types of learning<br />

disability and needs<br />

Mencap lists a number of conditions that<br />

are associated with learning disabilities<br />

including:<br />

Down’s syndrome<br />

Autism<br />

Asperger’s syndrome<br />

Williams syndrome<br />

Fragile X syndrome<br />

Global developmental delay<br />

Cerebral palsy<br />

Challenging behaviour<br />

Learning difficulties<br />

The diagnosis of learning disabilities<br />

can be complex, especially in mild cases<br />

where children may be able to socialise<br />

well and perform some everyday tasks,<br />

but might struggle with other things or in<br />

school, so some of their problems may go<br />

unnoticed or be misunderstood as poor<br />

behaviour or a lack of interest.<br />

This is why understanding the<br />

development of children and observing<br />

them in the early years is so important<br />

because it can help identify problems<br />

that children are having early. Getting a<br />

diagnosis can open doors to accessing<br />

the specialist treatment or alternative<br />

provisions that children need through SEN<br />

support services and education.<br />

Causes of learning<br />

disability<br />

Since a learning disability affects the<br />

brain, the causes can be varied but<br />

usually involve something which affects<br />

the development of the brain either in the<br />

womb, during childbirth or in the early<br />

years of a child’s life. The causes are still<br />

being researched as it is often difficult to<br />

pinpoint exactly the cause but can include:<br />

Genetic factors (e.g. Down’s<br />

syndrome)<br />

Accident, illness or things that affect<br />

the mother during pregnancy<br />

Early childhood illnesses, accidents,<br />

seizures and trauma<br />

Ways to promote<br />

Learning Disability Week<br />

in your setting<br />

Here are some ideas on how to promote<br />

LDW and raise awareness, knowledge and<br />

understanding in your setting:<br />

Talk about diversity and embrace and<br />

celebrate the differences between all<br />

humans<br />

Read stories about the inspiring things<br />

that people of all abilities can do. The<br />

Literacy Trust publish a list of books<br />

about disability awareness for early<br />

years and you can find it here. Scope<br />

also publishes a list of books about<br />

children with disabilities which you<br />

can find here<br />

Undertake some CPD about SEN<br />

or learning difficulties/disabilities.<br />

<strong>Parenta</strong> has some e-learning CPD<br />

courses on things such as Autism<br />

Awareness, Asperger’s syndrome and<br />

Disability Awareness to name but a<br />

few<br />

Hold an information session for<br />

parents to discuss the provision that<br />

your setting can offer<br />

Reach out to local charities who deal<br />

with learning disabilities and SEN<br />

subjects and invite them into your<br />

setting to explain to the children,<br />

parents and staff what they do<br />

Hold a fayre or fund-raising event<br />

for your favourite learning disability<br />

charity<br />

Whatever you do, remember to send us<br />

your stories to hello@parenta.com.<br />

References and more<br />

information<br />

Mencap Learning Disability Helpline<br />

The National Autistic Society<br />

The PDA Society<br />

The Challenging Behaviour<br />

Foundation<br />

Special Education Needs in England<br />

2021/22<br />

https://www.mencap.org.uk/<br />

learning-disability-explained/<br />

research-and-statistics<br />

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

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

Attachment disorders<br />

Previously, we have looked at attachment<br />

disorders and how children whose<br />

early lives have been characterised by<br />

disruption, abuse and/or neglect that<br />

affects their relationship with their primary<br />

caregiver in a negative way, may develop<br />

a range of attachment disorders that can<br />

have a pejorative effect on their entire life.<br />

There are three main types of attachment<br />

that can be formed:

Over in the meadow<br />

Musical beasts – singing<br />

about animals in the<br />

early years<br />

https://youtu.be/gnzOL_yeuJ4<br />

Over in the meadow, in the sand, in the<br />

sun<br />

Lived an old mother tiger and her<br />

Little tiger, one<br />

“Roar”, said the mother<br />

“I roar”, said the one<br />

So they roared and they roared<br />

In the sand, in the sun<br />

Most children are naturally drawn to<br />

animals, insects and fish from a young<br />

age – we see this in the pre-school shows<br />

and stories available. Unless there has<br />

been a significant negative experience,<br />

even the youngest child seems to see<br />

animals as different types of “people”.<br />

This is significant when considering the<br />

importance of ecology and environmental<br />

education. But in the early years, it is all<br />

about encouraging interest!<br />

A study by Born (2018) identified naturebased<br />

pre-schools developing from the<br />

60s, closely followed by nature-based<br />

school camps and most recently, Forest<br />

Schools. While this is good for the<br />

environment, the interaction of children<br />

with animals has been claimed to be<br />

important in developing important life<br />

skills like empathy, particularly useful<br />

with children on the autistic spectrum.<br />

Especially as it seems that empathy<br />

develops because children love animals<br />

just because they exist, unlike adults, who<br />

love animals for their companionship,<br />

beauty, protection or other useful<br />

attributes.<br />

Schools and groups with pets claim to<br />

keep them because they may help with<br />

curriculum goals, reduce classroom<br />

stress and anxiety, and may help to<br />

develop an interest in, and responsibility<br />

for the environment. And in play, children<br />

will often act out animal behaviours,<br />

called “zoomorphism”, or attribute<br />

human characteristics to animals, called<br />

“anthropomorphism”.<br />

It is hard to know how important or<br />

meaningful children’s interactions with<br />

animals are because they are mostly<br />

unplanned and unpredictable. And often<br />

children will model adult behaviour shown<br />

towards specific animals or even species,<br />

whether appreciation, fear or disgust. So it<br />

is useful to consider different approaches<br />

of educating about animals, for animals,<br />

and with animals. Here are a few songs<br />

about animals, valuing them for being part<br />

of our world:<br />

Doggy doggy<br />

https://youtu.be/GsMsunfVuuQ<br />

Doggy doggy where’s your bone?<br />

Someone took it from your home<br />

Who has your bone?<br />

This is a great song for getting children to<br />

practise singing solos through playing a<br />

game. Children sing with their eyes closed<br />

and the adult chooses the child who sings<br />

the last line. The rest of the children guess<br />

who sang it!<br />

Old MacDonald<br />

https://youtu.be/rUb8Uvm233A<br />

Old MacDonald had a farm<br />

E-I-E-I-O<br />

And on that farm he had a cow<br />

E-I-E-I-O<br />

With a moo-moo here<br />

And a moo-moo there<br />

Here a moo, there a moo<br />

Everywhere a moo-moo<br />

Old MacDonald had a farm<br />

E-I-E-I-O<br />

Old MacDonald had a farm<br />

E-I-E-I-O<br />

And on that farm he had a sheep<br />

E-I-E-I-O<br />

With a baa-baa here<br />

And a baa-baa there<br />

Here a baa, there a baa<br />

Everywhere a baa-baa<br />

Old MacDonald had a farm<br />

E-I-E-I-O<br />

Old MacDonald had a farm<br />

E-I-E-I-O<br />

And on that farm he had a pig<br />

E-I-E-I-O<br />

With an oink-oink here<br />

And an oink-oink there<br />

Here an oink, there an oink<br />

Everywhere an oink-oink<br />

Old MacDonald had a farm<br />

E-I-E-I-O<br />

Old MacDonald had a farm<br />

E-I-E-I-O<br />

And on that farm he had a horse<br />

E-I-E-I-O<br />

With a neigh-neigh here<br />

And a neigh-neigh there<br />

Here a neigh, there a neigh<br />

Everywhere a neigh-neigh<br />

Old MacDonald had a farm<br />

E-I-E-I-O<br />

This lovely familiar song helps to develop<br />

children’s vocabulary, facial movement as<br />

well as an association between animals<br />

and the sounds that they make.<br />

Over in the meadow, where the stream<br />

runs so blue<br />

Lived an old mother elephant and her<br />

Little elephants, two<br />

“Stomp”, said the mother<br />

“We stomp”, said the two<br />

So they stomped and they stomped<br />

Where the stream runs so blue<br />

Over in the sky, near a tree<br />

Flew an old mother blue bird and her<br />

Little bluebirds, three<br />

“Fly”, said the mother<br />

“We fly”, said the three<br />

So they flew and they flew<br />

In the sky, near the tree<br />

Over in the meadow, in a hive near a door<br />

Lived an old mother bee and her<br />

Little bees, four<br />

“Buzz”, said the mother<br />

“We buzz”, said the four<br />

So they buzzed and they buzzes<br />

In the hive near the door<br />

Over in the meadow, in a warren so nice<br />

Lived an old mother rabbit and her<br />

Little bunnies, five<br />

“Hop”, said the mother<br />

“We hop”, said the five<br />

So they hopped and they hopped In the<br />

warren so nice<br />

Over in the meadow, in a shed near some<br />

sticks<br />

Lived an old mother cow and her<br />

Little calves, six<br />

“Moo”, said the mother<br />

“We moo”, said the six<br />

So they moo’d and they moo’d<br />

In the shed, near the sticks<br />

Over in the meadow, where the grass is<br />

so even<br />

Lived an old mother mouse and her<br />

Little mice, seven<br />

“Squeak”, said the mother<br />

“We squeak”, said the seven<br />

So they squeaked and they squeaked<br />

Where the grass is so even<br />

Over in the meadow, by an old mossy gate<br />

Lived an old mother fox and her<br />

Little foxes, eight<br />

“Hunt” said the mother<br />

“We hunt”, said the eight<br />

So they crept and they crept<br />

By the old mossy gate<br />

Over in the meadow, where the quiet<br />

pools shine<br />

Lived an old mother froggy and her<br />

Little froggies, nine<br />

“Hop”, said the mother<br />

“We hop”, said the nine<br />

So they hopped and they hopped<br />

Where the quiet pools shine<br />

Over in the meadow, in a stream round the<br />

bend<br />

Lived an old mother fishy and her<br />

Little fishies, ten<br />

“Swim”, said the mother<br />

“We swim”, said the ten<br />

So they swam and they swam<br />

In the stream round the bend<br />

Acting out the animal behaviours brings a<br />

tremendous amount of benefit in the early<br />

years. Dramatic movement, expression<br />

of emotions and the process of ‘watchlearn-do’<br />

gives children the opportunity to<br />

explore their movements and feelings in a<br />

safe environment.<br />

Animals are an important aspect of<br />

childhood, and finding ways to include<br />

them in a child’s education can be a<br />

challenging yet exciting venture!<br />

References:<br />

Born, P. (2018). “Regarding Animals:<br />

A Perspective on the Importance of<br />

Animals in Early Childhood Environmental<br />

Education”. International Journal of Early<br />

Childhood Environmental Education, 5(2),<br />

46–57.<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>June</strong> <strong>2023</strong> | parenta.com<br />

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

Staff health<br />

and<br />

well-being<br />

In many jobs, the staff are central to the<br />

success of a business, but nowhere is<br />

this more important than in the caring<br />

and education sectors where there would<br />

be no business without the dedication<br />

and commitment of the staff on the front<br />

line. The health and well-being of staff<br />

are therefore crucial for managers to<br />

understand and promote if they are to get<br />

the best out of their workforce.<br />

Employers have a statutory duty to protect<br />

the health and safety of their workforce as<br />

defined by the “Health and Safety at Work<br />

Act 1974” and subsequent updates and<br />

amendments. These laws cover things like<br />

making sure employees receive adequate<br />

training for their jobs, ensuring there are<br />

enough first-aiders, and the provision<br />

of things such as personal protective<br />

equipment (PPE) should it be required.<br />

However, more recently, employers have<br />

begun to work on more subtle ways<br />

to promote health and well-being in<br />

their workplaces and to look after their<br />

employees on a more general and holistic<br />

level.<br />

This means looking out for things such as<br />

work/life balance and monitoring stress<br />

and burnout. In a recent 2021 Chartered<br />

Institute of Personnel and Development<br />

(CIPD) report, 75% of leaders stated<br />

employee well-being was one of their top<br />

priorities, up from 61% in 2020.<br />

What is employee wellbeing?<br />

One definition of employee well-being is:<br />

“…the combination of factors that affect<br />

employees’ quality of work, morale,<br />

team dynamics, responsibilities, and<br />

corresponding results.” (https://www.<br />

togetherplatform.com/blog/promote-staffwellbeing)<br />

Well-being comprises many things and<br />

can mean different things to different<br />

people. However, having their life in<br />

balance and being content with that<br />

balance is usually key.<br />

Read on for a few key areas to consider to<br />

promote well-being in your setting.<br />

1. Involve everyone<br />

Senior leaders must be on-board with all<br />

aspects of staff health and well-being if it<br />

is to be taken seriously to create change.<br />

Companies that invest in employee wellbeing<br />

and benefits are consistently ranked<br />

highly by their workforce. A lack of interest<br />

in well-being generally results in a higher<br />

staff turnover and a decrease in outcomes<br />

and productivity.<br />

2. Cover the basics - first aid and<br />

health and safety protocols<br />

Companies need to have employees that<br />

are trained in first aid and nurseries and<br />

early years settings professionals need<br />

paediatric first aid too. Make sure that<br />

the training is up-to-date and relevant<br />

because you never know when it will save<br />

someone’s life.<br />

You will also need to ensure that you<br />

are compliant with all health and safety<br />

protocols to ensure everyone would be<br />

safe in a fire, accident or just generally<br />

working in your setting.<br />

3. Promote mental health<br />

Mental health has now become a<br />

mainstream agenda item after spending<br />

decades as an almost taboo subject.<br />

Ofsted usually asks about how staff<br />

mental health is looked after as they<br />

recognise the stress that many educational<br />

professionals work with every day.<br />

Employees themselves are also much<br />

more aware of the responsibilities that<br />

employers have to safeguard everyone’s<br />

mental health.<br />

According to research by the charity, Mind,<br />

60% of employees say they’d feel more<br />

motivated and more likely to recommend<br />

their organisation as a good place to work<br />

if their employer took action to support<br />

mental well-being. Many companies are<br />

also investing in training mental health<br />

first aiders too. There are many courses<br />

available on the internet or in person – see<br />

here for St John Ambulance training.<br />

4. Manage workplace stress<br />

Stress can have a severe negative impact<br />

on well-being and long periods of stress<br />

can cause other significant physical and<br />

mental problems. Settings could consider<br />

training employees in stress management<br />

or stress reduction programs, or even offer<br />

things such as mindfulness or meditation<br />

as part of an employee benefits package.<br />

We have included articles on Stress<br />

Awareness Month in previous <strong>magazine</strong>s<br />

with ideas on how to tackle workplace<br />

stress. Managing workload is one of the<br />

major ways to reduce stress so make sure<br />

your setting is helping staff in this regard.<br />

5. Peer-to-peer well-being mentoring<br />

Peer-to-peer mentoring is an effective<br />

intervention for mental health support<br />

in schools. In this type of mentoring,<br />

people are matched with another person<br />

of a similar background, age, gender,<br />

and ethnicity if possible. A study by the<br />

University of Sussex found that peer<br />

mentors had a positive impact on the<br />

mental health of both the mentors and<br />

the mentees. Students benefitted from<br />

increased empathy, improved self-esteem,<br />

and reduced anxiety levels.<br />

Peer mentoring has also been shown to<br />

build resilience and coping skills in young<br />

people and early years settings could<br />

benefit from introducing a mentoring<br />

system either between staff, or between<br />

apprentices/young people.<br />

6. Reward and appreciate the staff<br />

People who feel appreciated will tend<br />

to be happier and work better than<br />

those who do not. Having an employee<br />

recognition programme and rewarding<br />

staff regularly will go a long way to helping<br />

them feel valued and respected. Involve<br />

them in its creation too to make it relevant<br />

and something that they will cherish.<br />

7. Specific campaigns<br />

There are many awareness days regarding<br />

health issues that run throughout the<br />

year covering everything from dentistry<br />

campaigns to liver health and addiction.<br />

These are great ways to encourage better<br />

health in your staff by focusing their<br />

attention on a particular issue such as:

Nurture your children’s<br />

‘lifelong learning’ in the<br />

The features of ‘lifelong learning’ are<br />

present in every child, but they need<br />

validating, encouraging and nurturing<br />

during these early days. And this begins in<br />

the baby room. As you engage with your<br />

youngest children, take care not to lose<br />

their eager attempts at learning by not<br />

recognising or valuing these early efforts.<br />

When a child is given opportunities to<br />

explore, their instinctive urges to know and<br />

understand intensify. But unfortunately,<br />

if their endeavours are devalued or<br />

continuously interrupted, they will learn<br />

that these attempts are not worth their<br />

efforts. Equally, if they become over<br />

stimulated and overwhelmed, they will<br />

be quick to retreat, no longer able to<br />

function well. Luckily, they are very good<br />

at demonstrating when the experiences<br />

you are offering are not quite matched to<br />

their needs. With a little knowledge and<br />

baby room<br />

understanding, you can support and guide<br />

them as their features of lifelong learning<br />

flourish.<br />

In today’s fast-paced, modern living,<br />

babies can often be separated from the<br />

ebb and flow of daily life, either laid in<br />

a cot or playpen or alarmingly, placed<br />

in front of a screen. For many reasons,<br />

screens with young babies should always<br />

be avoided, but most significantly because<br />

of all the opportunities this effective pull on<br />

their attention is denying them.<br />

Consider for a moment what a child can<br />

see and hear when they are being left in<br />

a sedentary position. Their position and<br />

balance receptors are not being activated.<br />

Their verbal and non-verbal exchanges<br />

are not being witnessed or practiced.<br />

And as they miss out on experiencing the<br />

complete range of sounds, sights and<br />

movements required for healthy growth<br />

and development, consider the finite<br />

number of waking hours they have before<br />

this transformative period of growth is<br />

complete.<br />

We think of children developing through<br />

milestones. While the timing may vary, we<br />

imagine that they hit these developmental<br />

stages in basically the same ways and in<br />

the same order. However, it is truer to say<br />

that necessity is more often the mother of<br />

invention; a child will learn what they have<br />

an interest in and a need for.<br />

If there was never a need to communicate,<br />

if no one spoke to them, would they<br />

bother putting in the effort? Alternatively,<br />

when a child is immersed in a world rich<br />

in communication and the complexities<br />

of language, their facial expressions<br />

alone soon become insufficient and<br />

frustrating. As they experience their<br />

meaning being misunderstood, they soon<br />

realise they need to invest in some more<br />

mature techniques. Within stimulating<br />

environments, a child will then begin<br />

imitating the sounds, patterns and<br />

rhythms all around.<br />

But effective communication is about more<br />

than saying the words. When we engage<br />

with another person, we use a sequence<br />

of interactions. This alternate listening and<br />

responding is imitated by babies with their<br />

earliest babbles, in what has been termed<br />

a “serve and return” process.<br />

In time and with practice, babies learn<br />

to embed words and phrases into their<br />

babbles as they learn to understand their<br />

meaning and contexts, beginning with<br />

familiar objects and routines. But it needs<br />

modelling and practice, so be aware of the<br />

sounds and opportunities that they have.<br />

Did you know babies have some memory<br />

function from birth? You will see this in<br />

their piqued interest over a new toy or how<br />

they respond when they see their bib at<br />

lunch time. As they grow, their increasing<br />

“learning power” sees them become<br />

increasingly interested in the world<br />

around them. If you focus your efforts on<br />

helping children to explore and gain new<br />

experiences, rather than mastering a<br />

given skill, you can help them experience<br />

this deep-felt learning, as well as what it<br />

means to try to learn.<br />

So, allow your babies to explore their<br />

curiosities as they actively engage with<br />

the people and environments around<br />

them. Mindful of frustration, offer them<br />

achievable challenges to stretch their<br />

abilities and avoid doing things for them<br />

that they are on the verge of doing<br />

for themselves. As they become more<br />

mobile, encourage independence and<br />

investigation by offering an environment<br />

they can touch, manipulate and adapt,<br />

growing in confidence as they ponder<br />

and revisit. And don’t forget to include the<br />

outdoors as they gain mastery of their<br />

body and a sense of belonging within the<br />

environment.<br />

Their ideas will become strengthened and<br />

enforced or challenged and dismissed<br />

through every sensory experience you give<br />

them as their neurological development<br />

is stimulated. This is most effective<br />

when multiple senses are combined, so<br />

consider this in the resources you offer<br />

them. Avoid plastic in favour of authentic,<br />

multi-sensory, unexpected and interesting<br />

resources presented in different ways.<br />

After all, how interesting is another plastic<br />

toy when they could be holding a feather<br />

or crunching some cornflakes underfoot?<br />

What are they looking at right now – how<br />

about laying under a tree to watch the<br />

movement of the leaves in the wind?<br />

Consider the sensory stimulation and<br />

exploration you could offer with a real<br />

orange, some leeks and a pineapple. And<br />

don’t forget the authentic opportunities for<br />

developing fine motor skills, and first-hand<br />

encounters with size, pattern and quantity<br />

these offer as number sense starts taking<br />

root.<br />

Allow your babies to set the pace as<br />

they wallow in whole body experiences,<br />

unrestricted by limiting routines,<br />

distractions or premature clearing away.<br />

And allow quiet together times where they<br />

can absorb their thoughts with plenty of<br />

time to simply rest before choosing a nap<br />

time story and snuggling up on your lap<br />

for a truly rewarding experience.<br />

I hope you enjoyed this focus on nurturing<br />

children’s learning from the baby room.<br />

Next month we will continue our focus<br />

on learning with our toddlers. And in<br />

the meantime, bring the focus back to<br />

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

development with a Nurturing Childhoods<br />

Accreditation.<br />

Whether you are looking for a setting<br />

wide 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>June</strong> <strong>2023</strong> | parenta.com<br />

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

Father’s Day and Men’s<br />

Health Week<br />

In the UK, Father’s Day is always observed<br />

on the third Sunday of <strong>June</strong>, making the<br />

special day, Sunday 18th <strong>June</strong> <strong>2023</strong>.<br />

Although Mother’s Day and Father’s<br />

Day are not public holidays here, the<br />

days celebrating our parents are actively<br />

observed by most of the population with a<br />

strong tradition of children sending cards<br />

and giving presents to their parents on<br />

these days.<br />

Accounts of how Father’s Day started<br />

vary according to different sources on<br />

the internet. There are claims that a<br />

celebration of fatherhood dates to the<br />

early 16th century, but most sources<br />

also suggest that an official Father’s Day<br />

commemoration was set up in 1910 after<br />

a terrible mining accident (the Monogah<br />

Mining Disaster) in West Virginia, USA in<br />

1907 which left over one thousand children<br />

orphaned. One of the orphans, Grace<br />

Clayton, petitioned her local pastors to<br />

hold services for the lost fathers, which<br />

they did, and the tradition of honouring<br />

fathers officially began. Over time, the day<br />

was adopted by different communities and<br />

countries across the world and is now an<br />

international celebration of fatherhood and<br />

paternity.<br />

Today, people often celebrate and give<br />

thanks to the male role models in their<br />

life, whether they are their birth fathers or<br />

not. After all, not everyone lives with their<br />

birth father, but most of us have a male<br />

role model that we look up to and who is<br />

important to us. Remember too that when<br />

celebrating Father’s Day, there will be a<br />

certain proportion of children for whom<br />

fathers have negative connotations. This<br />

could be children who are in the care<br />

system for example, or those from singleparent<br />

families, so be aware and sensitive<br />

to this fact.<br />

Men’s Health Week<br />

The week immediately before Father’s Day<br />

is also Men’s Health Week which is also<br />

a great time to recognise the importance<br />

of men’s health and what we can do to<br />

encourage it. This year, the week runs<br />

from the 12th to the 19th of <strong>June</strong>. The idea<br />

behind Men’s Health Week is to encourage<br />

all boys and men across the country to<br />

live healthier, longer, and more fulfilling<br />

lives and it is celebrated in many European<br />

countries, as well as the United States,<br />

Canada, New Zealand, and Australia too.<br />

The week aims to:

Picnic and Father’s Day<br />

activities<br />

Have a picnic to remember this summer – whatever the weather!<br />

Running from 17th – 25th <strong>June</strong>, National Picnic Week aims to encourage people to take the ideal opportunity to get together over a<br />

picnic. Head to www.nationalpicnicweek.co.uk for advice, tips, recipes and information to make sure you have everything from the food<br />

and drink to the location or surroundings.<br />

Grab your blankets and baskets out of the cupboards and get out to the great outdoors for a good old-fashioned picnic! And if the<br />

weather is bad, bring your picnic indoors!<br />

Here is one of our favourite picnic-inspired crafts which our <strong>Parenta</strong> juniors just loved making for their indoor picnic when it was raining!<br />

Lemonade Cups<br />

You will need:

The summer<br />

solstice<br />

(Midsummer’s Day)<br />

3. Have a picnic or a party<br />

Celebrate the longest day of the year<br />

by hosting a picnic or a party. You could<br />

prepare some summer-themed snacks,<br />

such as fruit kebabs, ice lollies, or<br />

lemonade. You might also want to play<br />

some fun outdoor games or have a singalong<br />

around a (pretend) campfire.<br />

4. Go on a nature walk<br />

Take children on a nature walk and look<br />

for signs of summer, such as blooming<br />

flowers, buzzing bees, and chirping birds.<br />

You could also collect natural materials,<br />

such as sticks, leaves, or flowers, and use<br />

them to create a nature collage or a flower<br />

crown.<br />

5. Watch the sunrise or sunset<br />

This one is more difficult, but if the day<br />

occurs at the weekend, you can encourage<br />

parents to take part! You could suggest<br />

that they try to watch the sunrise or sunset<br />

on the day of the solstice. It can be a<br />

beautiful and awe-inspiring experience for<br />

children to witness the changing colours of<br />

the sky and the first or last rays of sunlight.<br />

What about other<br />

countries, how do<br />

they celebrate the<br />

summer solstice?<br />

The summer solstice is celebrated in many<br />

countries around the world, often with<br />

traditional festivals, rituals, and customs.<br />

Some countries where Midsummer’s Day<br />

is traditionally observed include:<br />

3. Norway<br />

Midsummer’s Day (Sankthansaften) is<br />

celebrated in Norway on <strong>June</strong> 23rd, and it<br />

is a time for Norwegians to light bonfires,<br />

eat traditional foods, and enjoy the long<br />

days of summer. The holiday has both<br />

Christian and pagan roots and is often<br />

associated with the summer solstice and<br />

the end of the agricultural year.<br />

4. Denmark<br />

Midsummer’s Eve (Sankt Hans Aften) is<br />

celebrated in Denmark on <strong>June</strong> 23rd, and<br />

it is a time for Danes to light bonfires, sing<br />

traditional songs, and enjoy the company<br />

of friends and family.<br />

5. Estonia<br />

Midsummer’s Day (Jaanipäev) is<br />

celebrated in Estonia on <strong>June</strong> 23rd and<br />

24th, and it is a time for Estonians to<br />

gather with family and friends to light<br />

bonfires, sing traditional songs, and enjoy<br />

traditional foods such as grilled meats and<br />

beer.<br />

6. Brazil<br />

In Brazil, the summer solstice falls near the<br />

time of the festival of St. John the Baptist, a<br />

Christian holiday that celebrates the birth<br />

of John the Baptist. People celebrate with<br />

bonfires, fireworks, and traditional food<br />

and drinks, such as corn on the cob, hot<br />

cocoa, and mulled wine.<br />

7. India<br />

In India, the summer solstice is celebrated<br />

as International Yoga Day, a day dedicated<br />

to promoting the benefits of yoga and<br />

meditation for health and well-being.<br />

People participate in large public yoga<br />

events and meditate together to mark the<br />

solstice.<br />

8. Peru<br />

In Peru, the summer solstice is celebrated<br />

at the ancient Inca ruins of Machu Picchu,<br />

where thousands of people gather to<br />

witness the sunrise over the mountains.<br />

The event includes traditional music,<br />

dance, and ceremonies to honour the sun<br />

and the natural world.<br />

9. China<br />

In China, the summer solstice is associated<br />

with the concept of yin and yang, the<br />

balance between opposing forces in the<br />

universe. People celebrate by eating a<br />

special dish of eggs boiled in tea and soy<br />

sauce, which symbolises the balancing of<br />

energies.<br />

These are just a few examples of how<br />

Midsummer’s Day and the summer<br />

solstice are celebrated in different<br />

countries around the world. Each country<br />

has its own unique traditions and customs,<br />

but they all have one thing in common –<br />

they share a common theme of celebrating<br />

the arrival of summer and the longest day<br />

of the year!<br />

The summer solstice (or Midsummer’s<br />

Day) in the UK is the day when the<br />

northern hemisphere experiences the<br />

longest period of daylight and the shortest<br />

night of the year. It usually occurs on <strong>June</strong><br />

21st of each year. During this day, the sun<br />

reaches its highest point in the sky, and<br />

daylight lasts for around 16 hours (or more)<br />

depending on the location.<br />

It’s billed as a significant event in the<br />

astronomical calendar and is celebrated<br />

in many cultures as a time of renewal,<br />

growth, and abundance. Many of us will<br />

be familiar with Stonehenge, an ancient<br />

stone monument in Wiltshire, which is one<br />

of the most famous places to celebrate the<br />

summer solstice. Every year, thousands<br />

of people gather at the site to watch the<br />

sunrise, although access to the site has<br />

been restricted in recent years.<br />

In this article, we take a look at how we<br />

can celebrate the day in our own settings<br />

and take a whistle-stop tour around the<br />

world to explore how other countries<br />

celebrate their own summer solstice.<br />

Celebrating the<br />

summer solstice<br />

in your early years<br />

setting<br />

There are plenty of fun and engaging<br />

ways to introduce children to the wonders<br />

of nature and the changing seasons. Here<br />

are some ideas that you might find helpful:<br />

1. Make a sun-themed craft<br />

Get creative with some arts and crafts and<br />

create some sun-themed decorations,<br />

such as paper suns, sunflowers, or sun<br />

catchers. You could use yellow and orange<br />

tissue paper, glitter, or paint to make them<br />

bright and shiny.<br />

2. Read books about the<br />

summer solstice<br />

There are many great books about the<br />

summer solstice and its significance in<br />

different cultures. Reading stories together<br />

can be a fun way to spark children’s<br />

interest and understanding of the event.<br />

1. Sweden<br />

Midsummer’s Eve (Midsommarafton)<br />

is one of the most important holidays in<br />

Sweden, and it is celebrated on the Friday<br />

closest to the summer solstice. Swedes<br />

gather with family and friends to decorate<br />

maypoles, dance around them, and eat<br />

traditional foods such as pickled herring,<br />

new potatoes, and strawberries.<br />

2. Finland<br />

Midsummer’s Day (Juhannus) is a national<br />

holiday in Finland and is celebrated on the<br />

weekend between <strong>June</strong> 20th and 26th. It<br />

is a time for Finns to relax, spend time in<br />

nature, and enjoy sauna bathing, bonfires,<br />

and traditional foods such as grilled<br />

meats, fish, and beer.<br />

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

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

EYFS activities:<br />

literacy<br />

Fostering literacy is essential for a child’s holistic development, including communication skills, cognitive abilities, school<br />

readiness, and long-term academic success:<br />

1. Literacy skills, including speaking, listening, and understanding, are fundamental for effective communication. Developing these skills<br />

in the early years provides children with a solid foundation for expressing themselves, understanding others, and participating in<br />

social interactions.<br />

2. Activities, such as reading books, storytelling, and engaging in conversations, help develop vocabulary, sentence structure, and<br />

comprehension skills.<br />

3. Reading books and engaging in literacy-based play enhance critical thinking, problem-solving, memory, and concentration skills.<br />

These activities also promote imagination, creativity, and curiosity, fostering a love for learning.<br />

4. Children who are exposed to books and literacy-rich environments are more likely to develop phonemic awareness (the ability to<br />

identify and manipulate sounds in spoken language), letter recognition, and an understanding of print concepts.<br />

5. By introducing literacy activities in the early years, children become familiar with the written word, gain a basic understanding of<br />

literacy conventions, and develop an enthusiasm for reading and learning. This foundation prepares them for formal education,<br />

including reading instruction, when they enter primary school.<br />

6. Proficiency in reading and writing supports learning across various subjects, enables independent research, and helps children<br />

access and comprehend information from diverse sources.<br />

7. Children who are exposed to books, storytelling, and a print-rich environment from an early age are more likely to develop a passion<br />

for reading, explore new ideas, and continue learning throughout their lives.<br />

Sensory letter hunt<br />

Rhyming soup<br />

• Simply place pictures or objects into a<br />

saucepan or bowl in rhyming pairs. For<br />

example, you could include a mug and a<br />

rug, a bee and a key etc. then encourage<br />

the children to select each rhyming pair<br />

• This simple activity is a great way for<br />

children to learn about rhythm and rhyme,<br />

which helps them recognise that some<br />

words sound similar to others. This is a<br />

crucial skill for learning to read<br />

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

here.<br />

• Fill a small storage container with sand<br />

or similar and hide some letters of the<br />

alphabet within the box<br />

• Take a piece of paper and write the letters<br />

that are hidden within the box, so the<br />

children can place the corresponding letter<br />

onto the paper as they find it to match<br />

them up<br />

• Encourage the children to search through<br />

the box feeling for the letters with their<br />

fingers<br />

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

here.<br />

34 <strong>June</strong> <strong>2023</strong> | parenta.com<br />

Kick the cup<br />

• This activity will enable children to practice<br />

identifying letter sounds, as well as<br />

develop gross motor skills like balance and<br />

coordination<br />

• All you need is a small ball, some plastic<br />

cups and a permanent marker<br />

• Write a letter of the alphabet on each<br />

plastic cup with a permanent marker<br />

• Line the cups up in a row on the floor<br />

and allow the child to kick or roll the ball<br />

towards the cups to knock them over<br />

• Each time they knock a cup over, encourage<br />

them to identify the letter and the sound<br />

each letter makes!<br />

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


‘Gifted’ and ‘talented’<br />

and sometimes<br />

‘misunderstood’<br />

In England, the Department for Education<br />

(DfE) distinguishes between gifted learners<br />

and talented children:<br />

⭐ Gifted learners are those who have<br />

particular academic abilities<br />

⭐ Talented learners are those who<br />

have particular abilities in the creative<br />

arts (such as music, art and design,<br />

drama, and dance) or PE<br />

Gifted children can often be<br />

misunderstood and thought of as<br />

disruptive, display inappropriate behaviour<br />

or are thought of as lazy as they are<br />

daydreaming and not involved with<br />

everyone else. This is due to boredom, and<br />

frustration.<br />

A ‘gifted’ and ‘talented’ child can easily do<br />

things that other children are attempting<br />

and enjoying. If things are too easy,<br />

they become bored and then you have<br />

problems at home or in their early years<br />

setting. The solution to this is creating<br />

extension tasks for these children.<br />

Being ‘gifted and talented’ can be very<br />

confusing for the child. It doesn’t always<br />

make them popular when they succeed<br />

or achieve something their peers haven’t.<br />

They are prone to bullying as success does<br />

not always mean popularity.<br />

Their social and emotional development<br />

tends to lag behind their intellect and<br />

ability. This makes it hard to mix and make<br />

friends with their peers as their thought<br />

processes are different.<br />

Just think about Sheldon Cooper in the ‘Big<br />

Bang Theory’. Due to his high intelligence,<br />

Sheldon, at times, doesn’t know how<br />

to act, takes things too literally, doesn’t<br />

always understand humour, and is often<br />

laughed at for this.<br />

‘Gifted’ and ‘talented’ children as they<br />

get older are often disaffected as they<br />

can find activities painstakingly slow and<br />

boring and don’t want to seem arrogant or<br />

precocious. When a child picks things up<br />

very quickly they tend to be told to do more<br />

of the same, repetition, which is hard for a<br />

brain or body that learns very quickly. This<br />

is the DANGER ZONE… When boredom<br />

sets in, the child resorts to switching<br />

off, having imaginary ailments or being<br />

disruptive.<br />

Do ‘gifted’ children<br />

have special needs?<br />

Currently being ‘gifted’ and ‘talented’<br />

does not fall into the category of special<br />

educational needs which makes it<br />

harder for teachers and parents. A child<br />

assessed as highly able does not have<br />

access to additional resources and<br />

funding. Therefore a ‘gifted’ and ‘talented’<br />

child is a disadvantaged child. They are<br />

disadvantaged because they require<br />

additional support and resources along<br />

with other children who have special<br />

educational needs, and these are just not<br />

being made available for them.<br />

In England, there is no national definition<br />

of “more able” or “gifted” students or<br />

national support programme since the<br />

Young Gifted and Talented Programme<br />

closed in 2010.<br />

The funds for the “Young Gifted and<br />

Talented Programme” were diverted<br />

into other projects and evidence has<br />

since suggested that the absence of<br />

monitoring controls results in a lack of<br />

services to ‘gifted’ children in local school<br />

environments.<br />

Importance of<br />

assessment<br />

When a child is assessed and found to be<br />

‘gifted’, the additional information from the<br />

assessment about the child’s intellectual<br />

ability and potential will help everyone<br />

plan the best way forwards.<br />

If they are not recognised and encouraged<br />

early enough, there is the risk that the<br />

child will merge into the crowd or become<br />

disruptive and become a high-ability, low<br />

performer. This is frustrating for the child,<br />

the parent, and the teacher especially<br />

when we all want the children to reach<br />

their full potential.<br />

Spotting the ‘gifted’<br />

and ‘talented’ child in<br />

a pre-school setting<br />

There are some simple signs to look out<br />

for as ‘gifted’ and ‘talented’ children may<br />

remember and retell events in greater<br />

detail than expected.<br />

⭐ They can use an extremely broad<br />

vocabulary<br />

⭐ They can complete more advanced<br />

puzzles and activities that you set to<br />

challenge them<br />

⭐ They typically read earlier than other<br />

children<br />

⭐ They prefer the company of adults or<br />

older children<br />

⭐ They play and create games with<br />

quite complex rules<br />

⭐ They can explain things and their<br />

understanding of the world in ways<br />

you would expect from a much older<br />

child<br />

If staff do not recognise that the child<br />

can do things easily, they become bored<br />

attempting things the other children<br />

enjoy. This then becomes a problem<br />

for everyone! The best thing to do is to<br />

stimulate high-level thinking by including<br />

extension tasks in their activities.<br />

Stimulate high-level<br />

thinking<br />

When the child is playing, support them by<br />

asking probing and open-ended questions<br />

from time to time. Questions such as:

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38 <strong>June</strong> <strong>2023</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>June</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 39

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