July 2023 Parenta magazine

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Issue 104<br />

JULY <strong>2023</strong><br />

FREE<br />

Industry<br />

Experts<br />

COVER<br />

Why engage your<br />

senses for learning?<br />

Innovative ideas for<br />

early mark-making<br />

Where are the men in<br />

the early years?<br />

+ lots more<br />

EYFS activities<br />

inside!<br />

This month…<br />

Mathematics<br />

Equality, Diversity<br />

and Inclusion<br />

Reading the raindbow: how to make the most of LGBTQ+ picture books!<br />


30<br />

10<br />

20<br />

18<br />

Hello<br />

Welcome to our family<br />

Regulars<br />

8 Write for us<br />

34 EYFS Activities: Mathematics<br />

26<br />

Industry Experts<br />

10 Why engage your senses for learning?<br />

12 Building a skeleton!<br />

36<br />

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

With most of the country experiencing a period of warm weather, it gives us a great opportunity to get outside with the<br />

children to do many of the activities that usually are done indoors. Regardless of the size of your outside space, you can still<br />

use it to its best advantage. Turn to page 18 for some innovative mark-making ideas from Chloe Webster and for the more<br />

energetic, Frances Turnbull discusses how we can ‘free dance’ (either indoors or outdoors!)<br />

News<br />

4 Childcare News<br />

6 Small Stories<br />

18 How well do we promote positive behaviour in<br />

our settings?<br />

20 Innovative ideas for early mark-making<br />

24 “You can dance, you can jive”: artistic expression in<br />

the early years<br />

Our focus this month is on equality, diversity, and inclusion – as we discuss how, across the sector, we have a responsibility<br />

to put in place effective strategies for greater inclusivity in the workplace. Turn to page 22 for some surprising statistics and<br />

plenty of excellent advice on how we can strive to be more inclusive.<br />

To support settings, our monthly webinar will be on Tuesday 11th <strong>July</strong> at 10am, when we will be joined by three esteemed<br />

industry experts as they take us through the various elements of equality, diversity and inclusion. Click here to register in<br />

advance, places will fill fast!<br />

This <strong>July</strong> issue is, as usual, packed with articles from industry experts including Louise Mercieca, Jo Grace, Kathryn Peckham,<br />

Kayla Halls, Gina Bale, and Harriet Crouch.<br />

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

Advice<br />

14 Supporting SMEs<br />

22 Equality, diversity and inclusion - EDI<br />

26 The impact of ‘taught’ behaviours<br />

30 Awareness of Group B Strep<br />

28 Nurturing lifelong learning with toddlers<br />

32 Reading the rainbow: how to make the most of<br />

LGBTQ+ picture books<br />

36 Where are the men in the early years?<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 />

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

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

DfE launches new consultation on<br />

EYFS changes<br />

Childcare news<br />

The Department for Education has<br />

launched a new consultation on<br />

changes to the Early Years Foundation<br />

Stage (EYFS) Framework.<br />

While some of the proposed changes<br />

simply seek to clarify existing<br />

guidance, the consultation also<br />

includes several other significant<br />

changes which form part of what the<br />

government describes as its efforts to<br />

“offer providers increased flexibility and<br />

alleviate known burdens”.<br />

These changes include:<br />

Removing the requirement for level<br />

3 educators to hold a level 2 (GCSE<br />

or equivalent) maths qualification,<br />

and instead applying this<br />

requirement to managers, who<br />

would “be responsible for ensuring<br />

their staff have the right level of<br />

maths knowledge to deliver highquality<br />

early years provision”.<br />

Introducing an ‘experiencebased<br />

route’ for educators to<br />

gain approved status to work<br />

within staff: child ratios, so that<br />

“otherwise suitable educators<br />

who don’t hold an approved level<br />

3 qualification have a path to<br />

gaining ‘approved status’ without<br />

having to do a new qualification”.<br />

This would allow educators to<br />

count within the level 3 ratio but<br />

would not give them a formal<br />

qualification.<br />

and views<br />

Where applicable, reducing the<br />

percentage of level 2 qualified staff<br />

required per ratio for children of all<br />

ages from ‘at least half’ to either<br />

30% or 40%.<br />

Changing the qualification<br />

requirements for ratios so that<br />

they would not apply outside of<br />

peak working hours (for example,<br />

9am-5pm). This would mean that<br />

staff would not need to hold an<br />

approved qualification outside of<br />

peak hours, though staff: child<br />

ratios, DBS, paediatric first aid and<br />

safety requirements would remain<br />

in place at these times.<br />

Other proposed changes include:<br />

Changing the requirement around<br />

how providers support children<br />

with English as an Additional<br />

Language to develop their home<br />

language from “must” to “should”<br />

or “may”.<br />

Reviewing the requirement for<br />

childminders to undertake preregistration<br />

training in the EYFS<br />

(though understanding of the EYFS<br />

would continue to be assessed<br />

to the same level by Ofsted or<br />

a childminder agency prior to<br />

registration).<br />

Allowing childminders’ assistant(s)<br />

to act as the key person.<br />

These proposed changes are in<br />

addition to the previously announced<br />

changes to two-year-old ratios and the<br />

rules around supervision while eating<br />

in early years settings, which will come<br />

into force in September <strong>2023</strong>, subject<br />

to parliamentary procedure.<br />

The new consultation will run until<br />

Wednesday 26 <strong>July</strong> <strong>2023</strong>, with any<br />

changes expected to come into force<br />

in early 2024.<br />

The consultation document, which<br />

includes the full proposals, is available<br />

here.<br />

The full press release, as reported by<br />

Early Years Alliance can be read here.<br />

Every deaf child to receive early<br />

support: National Deaf Children’s<br />

Society<br />

A new strategy to ensure deaf children<br />

receive the support they need as early<br />

as possible, so they don’t fall behind<br />

their peers, has been launched.<br />

‘Every Moment Counts’ is the National<br />

Deaf Children’s Society’s new five-year<br />

strategy to help deaf children get the<br />

support they need early on. It is in<br />

response to figures suggesting that<br />

two-thirds of deaf children in England<br />

are already behind their peers in their<br />

first year of school.<br />

The aim of this strategy is to close the<br />

attainment gap by making sure deaf<br />

children get the help they need in their<br />

early years – a ‘crucial time’ when<br />

deafness has the greatest impact on<br />

children’s language, development and<br />

social skills.<br />

The strategy has 5 objectives, they are:<br />

Delivering outstanding support in<br />

the early years<br />

Providing life-changing information<br />

and advice<br />

Building communities that unite<br />

families<br />

Being the leading global authority<br />

on childhood deafness<br />

The NDCS states that a “deaf<br />

child without good language and<br />

communication development in the<br />

early years, may struggle to listen and<br />

follow instructions in the classroom or<br />

miss conversations with their peers,<br />

leading to feelings of isolation and a<br />

sense of missing out.”<br />

The charity is worried that many<br />

parents are not only unaware of their<br />

deaf child’s needs but also of what<br />

support they are entitled to and how to<br />

access it. Previous research by NDCS<br />

revealed that 40% of parents across<br />

the UK are uncertain about finding their<br />

way around healthcare, education and<br />

support services to ensure their child<br />

receives the support they need.<br />

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

World can be found here.<br />

Ofsted makes changes to its school<br />

inspections<br />

Ofsted has announced changes<br />

to improve aspects of its work with<br />

schools and has released a press<br />

release on its official website – a<br />

summary can be found below and you<br />

can read the full press release here.<br />

“… Changes to inspection processes,<br />

a revised complaints procedure and<br />

new well-being investment from the<br />

government, are part of a package of<br />

measures being announced following a<br />

wide-ranging debate about the impact<br />

of school inspections.<br />

Revisions to school inspections will<br />

see inspectors return more quickly to<br />

schools graded inadequate where this<br />

is only due to ineffective safeguarding,<br />

and proposed changes to Ofsted’s<br />

complaints process will increase<br />

transparency and make it easier for<br />

schools to raise concerns.<br />

The Department for Education (DfE)<br />

already funds the charity Education<br />

Support, to provide well-being help for<br />

school leaders, and that programme<br />

will now be doubled in size to support<br />

an additional 500 heads by March<br />

2024. In the longer term, the DfE<br />

commits to further expand its mental<br />

health and well-being offer beyond<br />

March 2024.<br />

In April, Ofsted’s Chief Inspector<br />

Amanda Spielman made a statement<br />

broadly setting out some changes<br />

Ofsted was considering making to<br />

inspections. Since then, we have been<br />

in regular discussions with union<br />

leaders, other sector representatives<br />

and the DfE about a package of<br />

measures to improve aspects of our<br />

work with schools.<br />

Today we are able to announce more<br />

about these changes, many of which<br />

will take effect immediately, with the<br />

rest introduced from September this<br />

year:”<br />

Inspecting safeguarding<br />

Inspectors will now return more quickly<br />

to schools graded inadequate overall<br />

due to ineffective safeguarding, but<br />

where all other judgements were<br />

good or better. We will return within<br />

3 months of an inspection report<br />

being published, and parents will be<br />

informed of this intention in the report.<br />

If the school has been able to resolve<br />

the safeguarding concerns it is likely to<br />

see its overall grade improve.<br />

Complaints<br />

We are today launching a formal<br />

consultation on significant changes<br />

to the complaints system, aimed at<br />

resolving complaints more quickly<br />

through improved dialogue between<br />

Ofsted and providers, reducing the<br />

administrative burden on those<br />

making a complaint, and increasing<br />

transparency in the process.<br />

Information for schools<br />

We are giving schools more information<br />

about the broad timing of their next<br />

inspection. Schools will still get one<br />

day’s notice of an inspection, but the<br />

blog gives more clarity about the year<br />

they are likely to be inspected.<br />

From September, when discussing<br />

areas of weakness, inspection reports<br />

will refer to ‘the school’ by default,<br />

rather than individuals. The contextual<br />

information at the end of reports will<br />

also be amended to list all those with<br />

responsibility for the school.<br />

The full press release can be found on<br />

the official government website here.<br />

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

parenta.com | <strong>July</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,<br />

Day Nurseries<br />

UK’s top nurseries in <strong>2023</strong><br />

revealed<br />

daynurseries.co.uk, the UK’s leading<br />

nursery reviews site, has announced the<br />

top nurseries in the country for <strong>2023</strong>.<br />

Early years staff under stress<br />

due to unmanageable workload -<br />

survey<br />

Early years educators are struggling with<br />

their workload, with over a fifth reporting<br />

that they ‘frequently’ have ‘too much’ on.<br />

UK’s first intergenerational<br />

nursery launches accredited<br />

intergenerational qualifications<br />

Apples & Honey Nightingale, the UK’s<br />

first intergenerational nursery, has<br />

launched a new set of CACHE-accredited<br />

qualifications.<br />

MP proposes changes to Healthy<br />

Start sign-up process<br />

A Labour MP is calling for new<br />

powers on Government departments<br />

& agencies to ensure that families<br />

eligible for the Healthy Start scheme are<br />

automatically registered for it.<br />

Nursery owners recognised in the<br />

King’s first Birthday Honours<br />

The director of Kidzrus Nursery Group,<br />

& the owner of The Children’s House<br />

Nursery, have been recognised in the<br />

King’s first Birthday Honours for their<br />

services to early years education.<br />

Ofsted’s former deputy director<br />

of early education Gill Jones joins<br />

Busy Bees<br />

Ofsted’s former deputy director for<br />

schools and early education, Gill Jones,<br />

is now working for the UK’s largest<br />

nursery group, Busy Bees.<br />

Click here to send in<br />

your stories to<br />

marketing@parenta.com<br />

Government urged to extend<br />

paternity leave to help close<br />

gender pay gap<br />

Increasing paid paternity leave to 6<br />

weeks could reduce the gender pay<br />

gap and help equalise men & women’s<br />

participation in the labour market.<br />

Campaign calls on dads to read<br />

with their children<br />

BookTrust has launched a campaign to<br />

get the nation reading, after research<br />

reveals that only one in three children are<br />

read a story every day by their dads.<br />

Children’s minister promises to<br />

‘look closely’ at top-slicing of<br />

early years funding<br />

‘Top-slicing’ of early years funding was<br />

one of the issues facing the sector raised<br />

by children’s minister Claire Coutinho in<br />

her speech to delegates.<br />

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Congratulations to Joanna Grace, our guest author<br />

of the month! Her article, ‘Top tips for the terrific<br />

twos – Tip nine: No!’ explores how sometimes the<br />

earky year’s “no” can actually mean “yes”.<br />

Well done, Joanna!<br />

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why engage your<br />

senses for learning?<br />

I’m Jo Grace: a Sensory Engagement and Inclusion Specialist and Founder of The Sensory Projects. In this series of 10 articles, I am going<br />

to share some of my passion for understanding the sensory world with you.<br />

You are creating an engaging learning<br />

environment, you have a theme, you<br />

have keywords or sounds laminated and<br />

displayed around the place, there is the<br />

opportunity to mark-make provided, and<br />

toys are dotted about to support your<br />

topic, why think sensory?<br />

Of course, you already have so much that<br />

could be considered sensory. I should<br />

be clear from the start that I need two<br />

sensors: sensory – as in the everyday<br />

world that we can see and touch and<br />

smell and so on, and SENSORY – that<br />

extra special, something extra, and a bit<br />

wonderful sensory, which is what I am<br />

talking about in this article. I will not keep<br />

shouting at you with capital letters, so<br />

please presume that from now on it is that<br />

second SENSORY that I am discussing.<br />

One of the most fascinating things about<br />

our engagement with the sensory world<br />

is how it builds the foundations of our<br />

cognition. Having sensory experiences in<br />

early development is not simply a nice bit<br />

of fun, it is how the brain gets wired. When<br />

we have a sensory experience, a little<br />

electronic pulse fires through our neurons,<br />

synapses meet and connect and a trace is<br />

left in the brain. If we have more of those<br />

experiences, that trace gets reinforced until<br />

it is an established neural pathway. I often<br />

like to imagine this by considering the early<br />

brain as a densely overgrown forest, when<br />

we have a sensory experience that sends<br />

someone walking through the forest. If we<br />

only have that experience, once, the forest<br />

is unchanged, perhaps a few bent-over<br />

blades of grass, nothing more. But if we<br />

have that experience again, and another<br />

like it and so on, that path will be trodden<br />

multiple times and will gradually turn from<br />

overgrown forest to muddy track, to road,<br />

to superhighway. It will, in other words,<br />

become an established neural pathway.<br />

Research tells desperately sad stories of<br />

the profound cognitive impairments that<br />

can result from a childhood deprived of<br />

stimulation, and the loss of capacity that<br />

can be the result of an under-stimulating<br />

environment. Considering this in the<br />

other direction, we can recognise that if<br />

a dearth of stimulation leads to a decline<br />

in cognitive capacity, an abundance of<br />

stimulation can lead to cognitive growth.<br />

But we must get it right, you do not want<br />

to swamp or overwhelm people. You are<br />

not acting in an environment where there<br />

is no stimulation. You’re acting to make<br />

the most out of the sensory stimulation<br />

you offer so that you can use it more<br />

powerfully.<br />

Firstly, we must recognise that providing<br />

sensory experiences is providing people<br />

with the opportunity to build neural<br />

pathways in their minds, underpinning<br />

their cognitive abilities. These pathways<br />

are with us on a use-it-or-lose-it basis<br />

so we are also providing people with the<br />

opportunity to maintain their cognitive<br />

faculties. Make sure to get involved<br />

yourself, get messy, give it a sniff, look at<br />

it and look, and immerse yourself in the<br />

sensory world, it will keep you cognitively<br />

fit.<br />

We can all picture the learning<br />

environments of the past, children asked<br />

to sit still, not talk, look this way and copy<br />

from the board. We are so much better<br />

now at letting children find something out<br />

for themselves, giving them hands-on<br />

experiences. We know that we learn better<br />

when we are involved in our learning,<br />

rather than attempting to be the passive<br />

recipients of it. The reason for this is those<br />

more active ways of learning engage<br />

more sensory systems and fire-up more of<br />

the brain, so when you are laying out your<br />

next rich learning environment maybe do<br />

a little sensory audit: it looks fabulous –<br />

absolutely, but what sounds are in there,<br />

what does it feel like, could there be a<br />

smell or a taste in there?<br />

Give yourself a focus to try and weave in<br />

some of the sensations you do not use<br />

so often. Most of us are great at offering<br />

people things to look at, and touch is also<br />

a very commonly addressed sense, but<br />

how well do we use sound? There are<br />

free-to-access sound archives online, the<br />

BBC have one for example, where you can<br />

find the sound of pretty much anything.<br />

If the puppy in the story knocks over a<br />

glass of water, or the monster stomps in a<br />

muddy puddle, you can probably pull up<br />

a sound effect to give people an auditory<br />

experience that will enrich the narrative. (If<br />

you are curious about telling stories in a<br />

sensory way do check out sensory stories!)<br />

What about taste? There are lots of times<br />

in a year when we might be thinking about<br />

a particular cultural event in the calendar,<br />

and many of these have very specific food<br />

items that accompany the celebrations.<br />

Having the chance to have the taste<br />

experience of an event is a wonderful way<br />

to invite people to get more involved with<br />

an experience.<br />

The smell is probably the sense you have<br />

least often considered in terms of your<br />

offer, as anyone who has tried to choose<br />

perfume in a shop knows: smell can<br />

be hard to focus on. If you are thinking<br />

of offering smell experiences, make<br />

sure you are not already one yourself!<br />

I do not mean poor personal hygiene, I<br />

am assuming you are nice and fresh, I<br />

mean if you wear a heavy perfume or<br />

wash your hair in a particularly pungent<br />

shampoo, you could well eclipse subtler<br />

smell experiences you might offer.<br />

Likewise, avoid flooding the environment<br />

with synthetic odours, like plug-in air<br />

fresheners, instead have the windows<br />

open and when you invite exploration,<br />

invite it with the nose as well as with the<br />

eyes and hands.<br />

In my next article I will be talking about<br />

how doing this can also benefit your<br />

mental health, so do look it up if you<br />

can. Meanwhile, feel free to connect<br />

with me on social media to watch my<br />

current sensory adventures unfurl, all<br />

the connection links can be found on my<br />

website www.TheSensoryProjects.co.uk<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>July</strong> <strong>2023</strong> | parenta.com<br />

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

Building a skeleton!<br />

There’s a lot more information on this<br />

including animations on ‘Calcium and<br />

its friends’ in my course on building a<br />

skeleton.<br />

Lifestyle considerations<br />

“We could see the first generation of<br />

children to be expected to have shorter life<br />

spans than their parents if current trends<br />

on obesity, nutrition and lifestyle continue.”<br />

The Lancet Volume 371, issue 9607.<br />

Early childhood is a time which I refer to<br />

as a ‘window of opportunity’ for many<br />

elements of our future health. This is<br />

the time when we can lay down strong<br />

foundations to support us throughout the<br />

rest of our lives. One of those elements is<br />

the foundations for a strong skeleton.<br />

There are two crucial factors involved to<br />

build a healthy skeleton; during the early<br />

years we must invest in early childhood<br />

movement and nutrition. Consider<br />

childhood as a time to invest in skeletal<br />

health rather like a bone-bank – this<br />

investment lays strong foundations to help<br />

a child to reach their peak bone mass<br />

potential.<br />

We understand that formative nutrition<br />

shapes our future health and habits in<br />

many ways including health conditions<br />

that can feel are ‘set far in the future’<br />

but these are actually influenced by<br />

decisions in childhood. Building healthy<br />

bones during childhood helps to prevent<br />

osteoporosis and fractures in later life –<br />

this is because bone mass developed in<br />

childhood is an important factor in lifelong<br />

skeletal health.<br />

Bone bank<br />

Consider childhood to be a window<br />

of opportunity to invest in bone health<br />

before our skeleton has reached its<br />

peak of bone mass, after that it’s a<br />

case of maintenance! We can invest in<br />

bone health by ensuring two factors are<br />

introduced and habitual;<br />

1. Healthy food choices<br />

2. Physical activity<br />

Calcium for building<br />

bones<br />

When it comes to bone health and<br />

nutrition, we always think of milk. Whilst it’s<br />

true that a lot of our bone formation and<br />

strength is supported by calcium, milk isn’t<br />

the only source of calcium and calcium<br />

can’t work alone! For calcium to work<br />

effectively in the body it needs a supply<br />

of other vitamins and minerals too; these<br />

are just some of the nutrients which are<br />

needed alongside calcium to support our<br />

bone density and skeletal development.<br />

Nutrients for bone health

Starting and growing a business takes<br />

courage, commitment and a certain<br />

amount of luck. There seems to be so<br />

much to think about and organise that<br />

things can sometimes get a little daunting<br />

for owners of small and medium-sized<br />

enterprises (SMEs). An SME is any<br />

organisation that has fewer than 250<br />

employees and a turnover of less than €50<br />

million or a balance sheet total less than<br />

€43 million (see below). In Europe, SMEs<br />

make up 99% of the business community.<br />

There were just over 750,000 start-ups in<br />

2021-22. Some businesses fail in their first<br />

year, mostly due to cashflow problems. So<br />

how can you ensure that your business<br />

is not one of these, and what help is out<br />

there to help you grow your fledgling<br />

dream?<br />

Get help<br />

The good news for SMEs is that there is a<br />

lot of help available on a variety of general<br />

and specific business topics and we’ve<br />

listed some ways to help you below. A<br />

good business plan is a must so never<br />

skip this step. See the British Library site for<br />

more advice.<br />


Funding business is crucial for start-ups<br />

and growing businesses and there is help<br />

out there. A good starting point is the<br />

“Government Funding for Small Business”<br />

webpage at: www.ukstartups.org/ukgovernment-funding-for-small-business.<br />

This page will help you navigate the<br />

minefield of information on funding. There<br />

are different types of funding available<br />

such as:

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How well do we promote<br />

positive behaviour in<br />

our settings?<br />

development in the early years, and the<br />

importance of co-regulation and teaches<br />

our team about intrinsic and extrinsic<br />

motivation.<br />

I believe the teaching and mentoring<br />

of your team has to start from their first<br />

day in the setting and goes back to my<br />

suggestion of ‘time’. Give every new staff<br />

member your ‘time’, to ensure that your<br />

ethos and expectations are shared. And<br />

continue that during their employment<br />

with quality, one-to-one supervision to<br />

reflect on and expand their knowledge<br />

and practice.<br />

What are your partnerships with parents<br />

like and why are they so vital?<br />

When we know what a child or family is<br />

going through at home, we are better<br />

equipped to support their behaviour within<br />

our settings. We are able to ‘tune in’ and<br />

support.<br />

The pandemic saw us closing our doors<br />

to parents, too many germs to be allowed<br />

into the setting, much safer handing the<br />

child over at the door.<br />

Many settings have opted to keep things<br />

that way, reviewing the positive impact<br />

on the children’s well-being and ability to<br />

settle quickly into nursery life.<br />

I’ve taken a mixed approach within my<br />

settings; parents drop off at the door to<br />

allow for a smooth and effective handover<br />

but collect from inside the nursery, entering<br />

their child’s classroom and being able to<br />

engage at length with key persons and<br />

watch their child at play.<br />

What led me to this decision was the need<br />

for better communication between the<br />

home and nursery. Post-pandemic, I could<br />

feel the rift between us and no doubt the<br />

children would too. I noticed how much<br />

less we knew about each child’s home life<br />

and surely, that would eventually impact<br />

our teaching.<br />

Improving outcomes for children requires<br />

more than time spent up-skilling our<br />

workforce to truly understand children’s<br />

behaviour and emotional responses. It<br />

requires time to build on our partnerships<br />

with parents too.<br />

Harriet Crouch<br />

Harriet Crouch is the Operations Manager<br />

for the nursery group, Bluebell Children’s<br />

Nurseries, operating in East Sussex.<br />

Harriet began her career in early years<br />

as a 17-year-old, bright-eyed and bushytailed<br />

apprentice, finding her true vocation<br />

within leadership roles where she has<br />

been able to share her skills, passion and<br />

knowledge to upskill and develop early<br />

years teams.<br />

Harriet’s passion for improving outcomes<br />

for all children drives everything she does<br />

in her work.<br />

Have you noticed a change in children’s<br />

behaviour post COVID?<br />

Is your team’s knowledge of behaviour<br />

and child development up-to-date?<br />

How effective are your behaviour policies<br />

and how often are they reviewed?<br />

Do parents understand children’s<br />

behaviour and are they confident in<br />

managing it?<br />

The EYFS states that we must have<br />

effective ‘behaviour management’<br />

strategies in place. We all have policies in<br />

place explaining how we support children,<br />

explaining that “naughty” isn’t on our list of<br />

vocabulary and we never shout at children<br />

but how effective are those policies, really?<br />

How many fresh-faced, unqualified<br />

recruits do you take on that genuinely take<br />

the time, or even have the time in a busy<br />

setting, to read through the five pages of<br />

policy you’ve so passionately put together?<br />

And how often is their practice observed<br />

and monitored to ensure the ethos of the<br />

policy is delivered, day in, day out?<br />

I am incredibly passionate about upskilling<br />

our workforce and that includes<br />

educating myself and my own team. Postpandemic,<br />

our sector was faced with the<br />

worst recruitment crisis we’ve ever seen.<br />

This makes it almost impossible to find<br />

qualified and passionate educators willing<br />

to work the 40 hours plus expected of<br />

them, therefore, it’s crucial that we spend<br />

time inducting and training our newest<br />

staff.<br />

How can we up-skill<br />

our workforce?<br />

Make time. Effectively and positively<br />

managing behaviour is a really important<br />

aspect of our work as early educators and<br />

we have to get it right.<br />

Spend time reviewing your policies relating<br />

to behaviour, observe your team and<br />

reflect on your own practice. Are your<br />

policies out of date and setting too high<br />

expectations of children? Do your team<br />

understand brain development and the<br />

importance of co-regulation? And as<br />

a leader, are you role modelling and<br />

inspiring your team to be better?<br />

In my quest for improving practice and<br />

ensuring better outcomes for all children, I<br />

have created a ‘Behaviour Lead’ role within<br />

each of my settings. We have become a<br />

small team of like-minded, passionate,<br />

and enthusiastic educators on a mission<br />

to educate our newest recruits. We have<br />

created an in-depth, bespoke ‘behaviour<br />

induction’ which details our policies and<br />

why they are in place. It gives our newest<br />

recruits so much more than reading any<br />

policy can. We go into detail about brain<br />

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

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

Innovative<br />

ideas for early<br />

mark-making<br />

Our role as practitioners is:<br />

To critically reflect upon our own<br />

practice, provision, and pedagogy in<br />

order to extend, develop and support<br />

children’s learning and development<br />

opportunities across the curriculum,<br />

and;<br />

To ensure they have access to a<br />

diverse range of opportunities and<br />

experiences that spark curiosity,<br />

promote engagement, and<br />

enhance learning and development<br />

opportunities.<br />

It is just as important for us to notice<br />

what the children aren’t doing just<br />

as it is for us to observe what they<br />

are doing, and to understand how<br />

and why their individual learning<br />

styles, interests, age and stage of<br />

development impact how and why<br />

they access the provision in the way<br />

that they do.<br />

One aspect of the curriculum that is often<br />

highlighted as difficult to engage certain<br />

children in consistently, is mark-making.<br />

When you sit back and reflect upon why<br />

some children appear to be reluctant<br />

mark-makers, it can simply be because<br />

the way in which mark-making is offered,<br />

displayed or encouraged within the<br />

provision, does not appeal to the learning<br />

styles and interests of particular children,<br />

and it is our job as educators to think of<br />

creative and innovative ways to change<br />

this and make mark-making and literacy<br />

accessible and exciting for all of our<br />

children.<br />

Instead of simply offering books, paper,<br />

whiteboards, and other writing tools at a<br />

table, indoors, why not take it large scale?<br />

Turn a display board into a blank canvas<br />

by covering it in blank paper and offering<br />

different writing tools alongside it. Add<br />

furniture and chairs nearby if the display<br />

board is slightly out of reach to add a<br />

sense of risk, challenge, and excitement,<br />

so children can use their gross motor skills<br />

to climb up onto a surface before they<br />

engage their fine motor skills to make<br />

marks.<br />

If we change the parameters in which<br />

children can access mark-making<br />

opportunities and experiences and offer<br />

them in a more relaxed, child-centred way,<br />

we may spark the interest and curiosity of<br />

even the most reluctant of mark-makers.<br />

A very simple concept, in essence, could<br />

totally revolutionise mark-making for<br />

children who are otherwise disinterested<br />

in this aspect of their learning and<br />

development.<br />

If there is an area of your provision that<br />

children are consistently not accessing<br />

or seem to be avoiding or showing little<br />

interest in, then critically reflect on why<br />

that could be and flip it on its head in<br />

order to fully hand over that area to<br />

its most important users; the children.<br />

Critical reflection and using your initiative<br />

by taking play and provision back to<br />

basics, truly are the characteristics of<br />

confident, knowledgeable and proactive<br />

practitioners; and it’s truly monumental to<br />

give children the freedom and ownership<br />

to access and use an area of the provision<br />

they normally shy away from, in their own<br />

way, their own time and within their own<br />

space and the learning and development<br />

opportunities that arise from doing so are<br />

invaluable.<br />

The ‘writing’ aspect of this area of learning<br />

and development does not just refer to<br />

holding and using a pencil to write letters/<br />

names/words. Writing starts very early on<br />

in a child’s life. In the EYFS, ‘writing’ covers<br />

a broad range of skills that children begin<br />

to develop to gain the necessary skills they<br />

will need; the concept of early and simple<br />

mark-making should not be overlooked<br />

for its value to early writing and letter<br />

formation in later childhood.<br />

For many, there is a belief that reading<br />

and writing are only vital around preschool<br />

age to promote school readiness<br />

- this is not the case. Once exposed to<br />

varying forms of literacy and writing<br />

experiences, children will notice signs<br />

in their environment and develop an<br />

understanding of not only what these<br />

signs mean and that information can be<br />

relayed through both imagery and print,<br />

but also begin to introduce letters and<br />

sounds and early letter formation.<br />

Similarly, there is some debate in regard<br />

to writing in terms of ‘school readiness’;<br />

as many primary school teachers tell us<br />

as early years providers that we should<br />

not insist/encourage that children write<br />

their names independently in order to be<br />

considered ‘school ready’ as the reception<br />

curriculum has its own method of teaching<br />

children to write their names. But again,<br />

these teachers all stress the importance<br />

of early mark-making skills over formal<br />

writing and letter formation skills.<br />

This is not to say that if a child does show<br />

an interest in letters and letter formation,<br />

we should discourage or not extend<br />

these opportunities, but our primary focus<br />

should not be for children to be writing/<br />

copying letters before they start reception,<br />

their early marks and ability to hold and<br />

use mark-making tools competently are far<br />

more valuable.<br />

There are several stimulating and<br />

engaging activities and experiences you<br />

could offer within the indoor and outdoor<br />

provision in order to promote early<br />

mark-making for children of all ages. For<br />

example:<br />

Providing each child with their own<br />

‘writing book’ - a book with the child’s<br />

photo on that is theirs to mark-make<br />

in as they see fit (writing tools should<br />

be always accessible in each area of<br />

the setting)<br />

Water painting in the outdoor play<br />

area. Not only simple and no mess,<br />

but the children love watching the<br />

marks they have made evaporate<br />

Using paintbrushes to make marks<br />

in sand or flour - the child gets to<br />

practice their marks, but it’s easily<br />

removed/re-done so the child doesn’t<br />

feel any pressure to ‘get it right’<br />

A tray of rice accompanied by an<br />

alphabet mat - the child gets to<br />

practice making marks, but it’s easily<br />

shaken/covered to start again, so the<br />

child doesn’t feel any pressure to ‘get<br />

it right’<br />

For children who have an interest in<br />

writing their name or copying letters,<br />

you could use a highlighter pen to<br />

write the child’s name for them to<br />

go over/copy – this promotes fluid<br />

movements as the child follows the<br />

shape of the letter rather than the<br />

staggered process of connecting the<br />

dots that have been used in the past<br />

Outdoor and indoor mark-making<br />

opportunities using a range of<br />

resources; chalking, paintbrushes and<br />

water, play dough and pencils<br />

Activities using tweezers to pick up<br />

and transport objects - the fine motor<br />

skills needed to complete these<br />

types of activities are conducive to<br />

developing the pincer grip and tripod<br />

hold necessary for holding and using<br />

writing tools effectively<br />

Chloe Webster<br />

Chloe Webster is an early years educator<br />

with over 12 years of experience in the<br />

Early Years Sector.<br />

She is a published author and advocate of<br />

the sector. In addition to this, she also has<br />

vast experience in social media marketing<br />

and communication support for Early Years<br />

businesses/settings. Chloe currently has<br />

capacity to support settings, practitioners,<br />

and leaders in an advisory/consultancy<br />

role or to provide support on efficiently<br />

marketing and promoting your setting/<br />

business.<br />

She can be reached by email at<br />

chloelouisewebster@hotmail.com<br />

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

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

Equality, diversity and<br />

inclusion - EDI<br />

The UK in the 2020s is diverse,<br />

multicultural and constantly changing.<br />

Although most British people still fall into<br />

the category of “white British” at 74.4%<br />

(2021 census), this percentage has gone<br />

down since 2011, from 80.5% to 74.4%.<br />

The Government website reports the<br />

Asian group as 9.3% of the population<br />

followed by black (4.0%), mixed (2.9%) and<br />

other (2.1%) ethnic groups. Within these<br />

classifications, however, there are many<br />

sub-groups such as Travellers, Africans<br />

and Irish, to name a few. In fact, there are<br />

19 standardised ethnic classifications on<br />

the census form.<br />

The census revealed other changes<br />

too – for the first time in England and<br />

Wales, only 46.2% (less than half) of the<br />

population described themselves as<br />

“Christian”, down by 13.1%. Over one third<br />

of the population sited “No religion”.<br />

What about sexual orientation? In the<br />

census, 92.5% of respondents aged 16+<br />

answered questions on this topic, with<br />

approximately 90% of those identifying as<br />

straight or heterosexual. 1.5 million people<br />

identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual or<br />

another sexual orientation (LGB+). Others<br />

identified as pansexual, asexual and<br />

queer.<br />

But why do we collect these statistics<br />

and what relevance do they have to early<br />

years? The answer lies in understanding<br />

whether this diversity is accurately<br />

reflected in our everyday media and<br />

culture, and the opportunities we all have<br />

access to. Do we see an inclusive example<br />

of diversity represented on TV, in our law<br />

enforcement agencies, or in our schools<br />

and hospitals? Are the top jobs really<br />

available to different groups of people,<br />

regardless of their ethnicity, gender, sexual<br />

orientation or religious beliefs? If the<br />

answer to THAT question is ‘no’, then we<br />

still have a lot of work to do to ensure that<br />

there are equal opportunities for everyone,<br />

and people can see themselves reflected<br />

in every area of society.<br />

The rise of diversity, equality<br />

and inclusion (EDI) issues<br />

It’s not that long ago that schools were<br />

directing young male students into<br />

traditional ‘male’ activities such as<br />

woodwork and metalwork, whilst filtering<br />

off the girls to do typing and home<br />

economics. Thankfully those times have<br />

changed, and whilst there are more<br />

women in science for example, or more<br />

males in early years work, there is still a lot<br />

more that can be done.<br />

For many companies nowadays, having<br />

effective policies related to diversity,<br />

equality and inclusion is vital as it allows<br />

them to set up, measure and judge their<br />

efforts, identifying areas of success and<br />

also areas for improvement. Another<br />

reason is that research shows that<br />

organisations that are strong on diversity,<br />

produce benefits in their bottom-line<br />

profits.<br />

Understanding the difference between the<br />

three closely-related topics is key, although<br />

there are still philosophical and legal<br />

debates about them.<br />

Diversity – this relates to the differences<br />

between people, such as ethnicity, age,<br />

gender, socioeconomic class, sexual<br />

orientation, or married status. It’s about<br />

recognising what makes us all unique.<br />

Equality – this means recognising and<br />

responding in a fair way to everyone<br />

regardless of diversity. One website says:<br />

“First used in the early 15th century,<br />

equality is ‘the state of being equal’. In<br />

modern usage in the UK, equality is about<br />

ensuring equality of access, treatment,<br />

outcomes and impact in both employment<br />

and service delivery. It is rooted in ideas of<br />

justice and fairness and enshrined in the<br />

United Kingdom Equality Act 2010 (EA10)<br />

which highlights that every individual must<br />

have an equal opportunity to make the<br />

most of their lives and talents. It is also<br />

the belief that no one should have poorer<br />

life chances because of their background,<br />

personal identity or experience.”<br />

Equality also relates to how we handle<br />

discrimination and prejudice related to<br />

diversity which then affects:<br />

Inclusion – this is “the practice or policy<br />

of providing equal access to opportunities<br />

and resources for people who might<br />

otherwise be excluded or marginalised,<br />

such as those who have physical or<br />

intellectual disabilities and members of<br />

other minority groups.”<br />

When these issues are not pro-actively<br />

and positively addressed, then there<br />

is potential for prejudice, racism,<br />

homophobia and all manner of negative<br />

outcomes for some sections of society.<br />

A report by the Equality Human Rights<br />

Commission in 2018 found that:<br />

⭐ 54% of people from ethnic minorities<br />

reported they had been a victim of<br />

ethnic or racial prejudice<br />

⭐ 46% of lesbian, gay or bisexual<br />

people said they had experienced<br />

prejudice based on their sexual<br />

orientation<br />

⭐ 44% of respondents stated they were<br />

openly negative about Gypsy, Roma<br />

and Travellers<br />

⭐ 29% of respondents stated that they<br />

felt strong discomfort with the idea of<br />

a connection to a family member with<br />

a mental health condition<br />

⭐ 25% of disabled people with a<br />

physical impairment reported they<br />

experienced prejudice because of<br />

their impairment<br />

So, best practice with EDI aims to redress<br />

some of the imbalances and prejudices in<br />

our society and make sure that everyone<br />

has an equal chance of thriving.<br />

What does this mean for<br />

early years practitioners and<br />

settings?<br />

Children form opinions early on, many<br />

of which are based on observing adults<br />

around them. If an adult fears wasps, then<br />

the chances are that the child may ‘learn’<br />

to fear wasps too. This is also true of<br />

attitudes and behaviours, so it is important<br />

that early years children are exposed to<br />

positive role models and positive attitudes<br />

about diversity, equality and inclusion<br />

issues.<br />

Things that settings can do:<br />

⭐ Ensure you write a policy for EDI<br />

issues that sets out how your setting<br />

will address EDI issues including<br />

how you will pro-actively promote a<br />

positive approach to these issues,<br />

and how you will tackle prejudice and<br />

inequality<br />

⭐ Conduct an audit into how EDI issues<br />

are being addressed (or not) in<br />

your setting – there are some free<br />

resources on the internet (See https://<br />

www.theequalgroup.com/educationhub-home<br />

for more information)<br />

⭐ Train all staff in EDI issues and<br />

regularly revisit this and tackle any<br />

discretions so that the message is<br />

consistent<br />

⭐ Engage parents in things surrounding<br />

EDI. You could get involved in<br />

awareness days or invite people in to<br />

talk about different cultures<br />

⭐ Pro-actively encourage participation<br />

in different activities for all genders in<br />

all subjects to counteract some of the<br />

gender stereotyping that still exists in<br />

society<br />

⭐ Challenge stereotypes and<br />

assumptions - read the children<br />

stories about different cultures,<br />

inspiring people who have<br />

achieved great things from different<br />

backgrounds such as people with SEN<br />

focusing on their achievements<br />

⭐ Normalise and celebrate difference<br />

so that it becomes embedded in your<br />

culture<br />

⭐ Tackle any bullying issues with a<br />

strong and robust protocol<br />

⭐ Record and measure your efforts so<br />

that you can revise and improve them<br />

and provide evidence of your setting’s<br />

actions<br />

References and more<br />

information<br />

⭐ https://www.affirmity.com/diversityequity-inclusion/<br />

⭐ https://www.equalityhumanrights.<br />

com/<br />

⭐ https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/<br />

⭐ https://raceequalityfoundation.org.uk/<br />

⭐ Lifting Limit’s pilot report on<br />

challenging gender stereotypes and<br />

promoting gender equality<br />

⭐ Gender Eye report and resources<br />

⭐ Alliance blog: Equality in the early<br />

years<br />

⭐ https://www.ethnicity-facts-figures.<br />

service.gov.uk/uk-population-byethnicity/national-and-regionalpopulations/population-of-englandand-wales/latest<br />

⭐ https://www.ons.gov.uk/<br />

peoplepopulationandcommunity/<br />

culturalidentity/religion/bulletins/<br />

religionenglandandwales/census2021<br />

⭐ https://commonslibrary.parliament.<br />

uk/2021-census-what-do-we-knowabout-the-lgbt-population<br />

⭐ Equality, diversity and inclusion in the<br />

Workplace | Factsheets | CIPD<br />

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

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

“You can dance, you can<br />

jive”: artistic expression<br />

in the early years<br />

Most people recognise the value of<br />

creative childcare ideas, and often early<br />

childhood is seen as the best “training<br />

ground”. Most developments in society can<br />

be traced back to creative approaches that<br />

were taken, seen in medicine, technology<br />

and even business. Psychologists believe<br />

that we naturally respond to things that<br />

are new and innovative, and this is used<br />

in advertising and even capitalism – the<br />

newer, the better.<br />

Choosing what early years activities<br />

to ‘teach’ in early childhood is another<br />

challenge: what early childhood life<br />

experiences caused different inventors<br />

and innovators to make a change that<br />

impacted society? Current thinking is to<br />

create opportunities in a wide range of<br />

areas.<br />

The creative part of the early childhood<br />

curriculum echoes this and includes:<br />

architecture, circus, dance, handcrafts,<br />

media art, music, theatre, visual arts, word<br />

arts, 2D/3D arts/visual media, painting,<br />

drawing, building, crafting, modelling,<br />

creating statues, installations, animations,<br />

advertisements, taking pictures and<br />

videos.<br />

A Finnish study, (Lehikoinen, <strong>2023</strong>)<br />

considered 6 different ways to explore<br />

creativity with a particular focus on 1- and<br />

2-year-olds, with a focus on successful<br />

engagement. This age is known to be<br />

tricky, with limited pedagogical content for<br />

under 3s in the arts. Like many countries,<br />

visual and musical arts in Finland were not<br />

usually accessed daily, with most settings<br />

bringing in specialists once a month<br />

or less. So, 6 activities were devised,<br />

specifically for this age group:

Children are remarkable – they are always<br />

learning. Even before birth, children can<br />

recognise things from the world outside.<br />

Babies, only a few hours old, are able<br />

to differentiate the sounds of their native<br />

language from those of a foreign one,<br />

proving that babies are ‘listening’ to their<br />

mother’s speech patterns whilst still in the<br />

womb.<br />

So, if children are learning things in the<br />

womb, and we know that when they are<br />

born, their capacity to learn is almost<br />

exponential, it begs the question – if they<br />

are always learning something, shouldn’t<br />

we be a little more aware of WHAT that is?<br />

A few years ago, there was an impactful<br />

TV advert that showed young children<br />

copying things their parents were doing.<br />

One parent was washing up, and we saw<br />

their child playing at a play sink. Another<br />

was exercising, alongside their young<br />

child who was copying their moves. The<br />

final image was a person smoking, and<br />

then we saw their young child copying<br />

their moves and ‘acting out’ the action<br />

of smoking. The advert had a powerful<br />

message and showed visually what<br />

science has shown over decades – that<br />

young children copy what they observe<br />

from adults. But what does this mean for<br />

early years practitioners, and how can we<br />

ensure that the ‘learned’ behaviours that<br />

children are picking up from us are the<br />

ones we’d want them to have?<br />

The data<br />

The impact<br />

of ‘taught’<br />

behaviours<br />

In the 1960s, a series of groundbreaking<br />

studies called the “Bobo doll<br />

experiments” by psychologist, Albert<br />

Bandura, researched the impact of social<br />

behaviour on the behaviour of young<br />

children. The aim was to see if children<br />

would imitate aggressive behaviour<br />

having previously witnessed aggressive<br />

behaviour by an adult. A group of children<br />

were split into two groups, matched for<br />

previously identified levels of aggressive<br />

behaviour. One group was exposed to an<br />

adult behaving aggressively towards an<br />

inflatable, child-sized doll (the Bobo doll).<br />

The study found that the group who had<br />

witnessed the aggressive adult behaviour<br />

were more likely to act aggressively<br />

towards the doll when it was placed in the<br />

room with them.<br />

Another more recent study tested 120<br />

toddlers aged 14 - 24 months. Some<br />

watched a video of a stranger playing with<br />

a toy and then pulling it apart 3 times.<br />

Others saw the same stranger playing<br />

with the toy and not taking it apart, and<br />

the third group were not shown a video<br />

at all. The results showed that 90% of the<br />

children who had watched the first video<br />

took the toy apart themselves, compared<br />

to only 20% of those who watched the<br />

second video. So, toddlers as young as 14<br />

months will copy the actions of a person<br />

they see on TV, even if it is a stranger.<br />

And how long do they need to watch<br />

something to copy it? Research suggests<br />

only 14 seconds. Just think what they<br />

can learn by watching hours of TV, social<br />

media or game culture.<br />

In 2019, data from the Early Head Start<br />

Family and Child Experience Study showed<br />

there were links between parental stress/<br />

family conflict, and children’s behaviour<br />

aged 1 and 3. It concluded that early<br />

prevention programmes should focus on<br />

reducing family conflict and increasing<br />

parental supportiveness to break the<br />

negative cycle.<br />

This means young children are continually<br />

picking up behaviours and attitudes from<br />

people they see, the programs they watch<br />

and the general world around them. It<br />

reminds us how important it is to think<br />

carefully about what we do in front of<br />

children including:

Nurturing lifelong learning<br />

As children reach their toddler years,<br />

their abilities and needs will, in many<br />

ways, become quite different to what<br />

they have experienced before. Their<br />

mobility, vocabulary and cognitive abilities<br />

are all increasing. But as these are not<br />

necessarily occurring at the same rate,<br />

the enormous accomplishments being<br />

made can also be experienced with some<br />

monumental frustrations. The result of<br />

which can be all too familiar during the<br />

unfortunately labelled “terrible twos”!<br />

But if we are mindful of their specific<br />

needs, abilities and encourage these<br />

through new and interesting experiences,<br />

we can nurture our children’s learning<br />

through the toddler years. With<br />

their greater mobility and depths of<br />

understanding, we can recognise their<br />

individual motivations and success as<br />

we embrace this extraordinary period of<br />

learning.<br />

But to do this, a toddler’s individual<br />

attempts at learning need recognising<br />

and encouragement, much as it was<br />

when they were a baby. Provided you<br />

can understand these motivations and<br />

view them with realistic expectations, this<br />

year can be full of experiences that both<br />

challenge and stimulate as their abilities<br />

flourish.<br />

In this article, we will then look at nurturing<br />

toddlers as they navigate a minefield<br />

with toddlers<br />

of demands and expectations. And all<br />

at a time when they may be facing big<br />

changes in their life, such as their first<br />

transition away from a primary caregiver,<br />

their first room change or big changes in<br />

the home.<br />

So, what does it mean to support<br />

children’s development during this<br />

formative period of growth? And how can<br />

you nurture secure, confident development<br />

throughout the features of lifelong<br />

learning?<br />

By the toddler years, a child has come on<br />

in leaps and bounds from the newborn<br />

they were such a short time ago. Every<br />

experience is helping them become more<br />

familiar with this complex and fascinating<br />

world, while navigating their place within<br />

it. And with their development at 22<br />

months old showing a strong indication of<br />

achievement profiles at school entry, this is<br />

clearly an important time of development.<br />

Born with a powerful motivation to grasp<br />

at any opportunity for learning, your active,<br />

independent thinker is discovering how<br />

their world works. Through trial and error,<br />

they are seeing which efforts are worth<br />

their time, and what they can get away<br />

with. Through personal choices and social<br />

contacts, they learn about relationships<br />

and the other minds around them.<br />

Through their emotions, they learn to feel<br />

and experiment with their behaviours. All<br />

of which is enhancing their knowledge of<br />

themselves, the world and its people in<br />

highly personal ways.<br />

To make the most of this time, children will<br />

grasp every opportunity that is afforded<br />

them. So, take care not to undervalue or<br />

overlook these formative and irreplaceable<br />

years. But to make the most of them,<br />

children need to be full of self-esteem.<br />

They need to feel secure, confident and<br />

willing to have a go, even when this<br />

means making mistakes. And all of these<br />

require positive experiences, free of overly<br />

predictive expectations as they learn all<br />

they need to know.<br />

As they reach their toddler years, a child<br />

will have formed around 80% of their<br />

basic brain architecture, which is now<br />

packed with twice as many connections<br />

as your adult brain. But now, as processes<br />

of pruning begin in earnest, many of the<br />

brain connections that have not been<br />

well used are considered less important<br />

and are essentially stripped away. Whilst<br />

at the same time, the connections that<br />

they make repeated use of are locked<br />

into place. A process that is continuously<br />

informed through the experiences the child<br />

is having.<br />

These processes used to happen<br />

automatically through everyday routines.<br />

Walks to the shops, playing with older<br />

siblings and family friends and intimate<br />

times of cuddles and play, are all full of<br />

rich, sensory experiences unconcerned<br />

with learning goals or downward<br />

pressures to succeed. But for many<br />

children, growing up in today’s busy,<br />

technology-driven world they can be<br />

expected to manage so many mature<br />

demands, yet not slow down enough to<br />

have the time to learn how.<br />

Taking risks is a part of this process<br />

and removing obstacles physically and<br />

mentally is grossly misguided. Children<br />

want and need suitably risky challenges<br />

to learn how to manage them and<br />

themselves, developing confidence, new<br />

learning paths and the ability to keep<br />

themselves safe. When this is permitted<br />

children experience the satisfaction of<br />

success, persisting through setbacks so<br />

that future challenges can be embraced.<br />

Children also need social interactions.<br />

Opportunities to engage with their peers,<br />

exploring their thinking as they voice their<br />

opinion and learn to hear that of others,<br />

becoming aware of thinking as a process<br />

done by others too. Misunderstandings<br />

and conflict are all a big part of building<br />

relationships and children need the<br />

freedom to explore them. This needs<br />

time and space without well-meaning<br />

interference as they practice developing<br />

and retaining friendships even when ideas<br />

differ.<br />

When you offer activities that develop their<br />

self-confidence, their independence and<br />

their ability to cooperate with others, your<br />

children are learning to retain control. And<br />

with well-placed support, they can learn<br />

to manage these situations, developing<br />

an understanding of what it takes to<br />

keep the play going despite the inevitable<br />

disagreements.<br />

The confident language abilities of a<br />

competent speaker will help with a lot of<br />

this. When children are supported to enrich<br />

their speech and vocabulary through the<br />

activities you offer, they will develop a<br />

multitude of lifelong skills. Supporting their<br />

confidence, their thinking and reflection, as<br />

well as their social skills.<br />

With knowledge and understanding,<br />

you can recognise the interplay of these<br />

demands as you help your children grow<br />

and develop with confidence. Preparing<br />

them for a lifetime of learning, secure<br />

in the knowledge that the experiences<br />

you are giving them now are having a<br />

profound effect on their development that<br />

they will benefit from for life.<br />

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

lifelong learning with toddlers. Next<br />

month we will continue our focus on<br />

learning up into pre-school. If you would<br />

like to know more, check out the courses<br />

and accreditation available at www.<br />

nurturingchildhoods.co.uk and coming<br />

soon, is the Nurturing Childhoods<br />

Academy, where you can take courses,<br />

join the community groups and bring<br />

your professional development to life as<br />

together we really begin developing the<br />

potential of all children in their early years.<br />

Kathryn Peckham<br />

As Founder of Nurturing Childhoods,<br />

Dr Kathryn Peckham is a passionate<br />

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

meaningful experiences throughout their<br />

foundational early years. Delivering online<br />

courses, training and seminars she 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 />

28 <strong>July</strong> <strong>2023</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>July</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 29


Reading the<br />

rainbow : how to make<br />

the most of LGBTQ+<br />

picture books<br />

The recent surge in the publication of<br />

LGBTQ+ picture books is incredibly exciting<br />

for the early years (EY) sector. Books are<br />

a key resource in the sector’s mission to<br />

champion diversity, equity and inclusion<br />

because they provide a way for children<br />

to see themselves in the world and a<br />

window into other identities. During<br />

my MA dissertation at the University of<br />

Roehampton, I observed and interviewed<br />

two EY educators in a 3–4-year-old<br />

classroom in London to learn more about<br />

how they use LGBTQ+ picture books. This<br />

article thinks about how EY educators can<br />

make the most of LGBTQ+ picture books in<br />

the classroom by:<br />

✨ Using child-centred approaches<br />

✨ Going beyond gender and family<br />

structures<br />

✨ Reflecting on unconscious bias<br />

Using child-centred<br />

approaches<br />

When using LGBTQ+ picture books,<br />

educators should think about what they<br />

want the children in their particular setting<br />

to walk away with. For example, you may<br />

want to help your children foster a better<br />

understanding of their identity and place<br />

in the world. When chatting with Joanna<br />

Brown, a 3–4-year-old practitioner, she<br />

shared that she wants her children “to<br />

know that it is okay to be yourself. Be you.”<br />

Alternatively, educators may want their<br />

children to develop compassion for others.<br />

In conversation with Margot Smith, a<br />

3–4-year-old room leader, she shared<br />

that she wants her children “to know that<br />

they are going to meet people that are<br />

completely different from them. That it’s<br />

okay if they have questions, but to be<br />

respectful, accepting, and love everyone<br />

for who they are.”<br />

To reach these goals, children must<br />

connect their lives to the characters and<br />

scenarios in the story. When children<br />

can relate to what is happening in<br />

the book, educators can help LGBTQ+<br />

children understand their identity and<br />

support children who are not part of<br />

the community to develop compassion<br />

for people who are different from them.<br />

So how can we centre our children in<br />

readings of LGBTQ+ picture books? Try the<br />

following:<br />

✨ Ask your children what they think<br />

about the book. This will reveal their<br />

fascinations, curiosities and biases,<br />

creating rich spaces for you to have<br />

conversations that directly relate to<br />

their ideas<br />

✨ Encourage your children to share<br />

their thoughts and experiences by<br />

asking questions such as “Have you<br />

ever felt like this character?” or “Do<br />

you like doing some of the things this<br />

character does?” This empowers them<br />

to make real-life connections to the<br />

characters in the stories<br />

Going beyond gender and<br />

family structures<br />

LGBTQ+ picture books can be used<br />

beyond discussions of gender and family<br />

structures. In conversation with Joanna,<br />

she shared that, “We use them at least<br />

once a day because we are trying to add<br />

it into everyday life. We want children to<br />

know that it’s normal.” By using these<br />

stories in other areas of the classroom, you<br />

teach young children that LGBTQ+ people<br />

are integral to our world. For example,<br />

Margot used “Julian is a Mermaid” by<br />

Jessica Love to start a conversation about<br />

‘Carnival’, a Caribbean festival that takes<br />

place in her community as well as around<br />

the globe.<br />

Here are some more suggestions to get<br />

you started:<br />

✨ “Introducing Teddy: A Story About<br />

Being Yourself” by Jessica Walton<br />

taps into the social-emotional<br />

domain, providing opportunities to<br />

explore topics such as kindness and<br />

acceptance<br />

✨ “I’m A Girl!” by Yasmeen Ismail can<br />

be used to support literacy skills<br />

such as predictive reading and word<br />

recognition<br />

✨ And “Tango Makes Three” by Justin<br />

Richardson, Peter Parnell and Henry<br />

Cole, can be used to engage with<br />

science concepts, specifically when<br />

thinking about penguins or the zoo<br />

Reflecting on unconscious<br />

bias<br />

Unconscious bias, or the assumptions<br />

we make about a group of people that<br />

we may not be aware of, will impact how<br />

we use LGBTQ+ picture books with young<br />

children. In conversation with Joanna,<br />

she noted that “Everyone has an opinion.<br />

There’s always going to be a sense of<br />

someone else’s morals and what they<br />

believe to be true.” As EY educators, we<br />

need to be aware of how our unconscious<br />

bias affects the way we teach our<br />

children. For example, do you reference<br />

heterosexual families as ‘normal families’<br />

compared to LGBTQ+ families during<br />

read-aloud? Do you feel uncomfortable<br />

discussing different gender identities when<br />

they come up in books?<br />

I encourage you to reflect on how your<br />

biases may impact how you use LGBTQ+<br />

picture books and to seek information that<br />

can undo some of those biases. Here are<br />

some reflection prompts to get you started:<br />

✨ What do you know about the LGBTQ+<br />

community?<br />

✨ How has your upbringing impacted<br />

the way you view the world and the<br />

people in it?<br />

✨ How often do you currently use<br />

LGBTQ+ picture books in your<br />

classroom?<br />

✨ What conversations are you nervous<br />

to have within your classroom and<br />

why? What can you do to challenge<br />

that discomfort?<br />

✨ What support do you need to<br />

champion LGBTQ+ inclusion in your<br />

classroom? What steps can you take<br />

to make that happen?<br />

Kayla Halls<br />

Kayla Halls, MA, is a Research Fellow at<br />

Middlesex University. She has six years of<br />

teaching experience with children aged<br />

birth to six years old and four years of<br />

research experience.<br />

Kayla is currently working on a<br />

Nuffield-funded project focused on<br />

advancing digitally mediated leadership<br />

development in the UK EY sector. Her<br />

research interests include leadership,<br />

pedagogy and social justice.<br />

Email: k.halls@mdx.ac.uk<br />

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/kaylahalls-512080173<br />

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

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

EYFS activities:<br />

Mathematics<br />

Mathematics plays a crucial role in early years, allowing children to build a foundation for later learning and<br />

develop strong number sense, spatial awareness, and logical thinking skills, which are essential for academic<br />

achievement in later years.<br />

It helps children develop a strong foundation in numeracy, critical thinking, problem-solving, and logical reasoning<br />

and not only equips them with essential skills but prepares them to navigate the increasingly mathematical world<br />

we live in.<br />

Number Chain<br />

The children absolutely love this one!<br />

You will need:<br />

• 10 toilet paper tubes<br />

• A variety of craft paints and paintbrushes<br />

• Marker pen<br />

• A hole punch<br />

• Plastic straws<br />

Instructions:<br />

1. Paint the toilet paper tubes in rainbow<br />

shades and let them completely dry.<br />

2. Write the numbers 1-10 on the sides of the<br />

tubes, encouraging the children to help you<br />

identify the next number as you write.<br />

5. Spread out the tubes randomly on the floor,<br />

starting with number 1. Encourage the<br />

children to search for the next number in<br />

the chain.<br />

6. As they find the correct numbers, hook<br />

it in the correct order with the straws (or<br />

pipe cleaners). Continue until the chain is<br />

complete.<br />

For additional fun, call out numbers at random<br />

and have the children point to the correct<br />

number in the chain!<br />

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

here.<br />

Mystery Numbers<br />

You will need:<br />

• Cardboard<br />

• Liquid school glue<br />

• Crayons<br />

Instructions:<br />

1. Cut the cardboard into 9 small rectangles<br />

and write the numbers 1-9 on the<br />

rectangles so there is one number on each<br />

piece.<br />

Once they have identified the number, ask<br />

them to pick the corresponding glue dot card<br />

to match. Encourage the children to then<br />

place the glue dot card under the paper and<br />

complete a crayon rubbing in order to make a<br />

match.<br />

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

here.<br />

3. Cut a handful of straws, leaving some<br />

sections with the bendable part intact.<br />

Alternatively, you can use pipe cleaners to<br />

thread the tubes together.<br />

4. Use the hole punch to make a few holes in<br />

each toilet paper tube. Now it’s time to link<br />

the chain!<br />

Falling Leaves<br />

To play this exciting game, you need a pen,<br />

coloured cardstock paper, scissors, large easel<br />

paper and markers.<br />

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

here.<br />

2. Trace the written number in glue.<br />

3. Using another set of cardboard rectangles,<br />

make cards with large dots of glue, one<br />

for each card numeral. This means you<br />

should have 18 cards altogether with<br />

corresponding numbers and dots. Set the<br />

cards aside to dry.<br />

4. Gather all your dried number and dot<br />

cards, along with some blank paper cut to<br />

A5 size and some crayons.<br />

5. Slip the number cards under the paper and<br />

encourage the children to rub the edge of<br />

the crayon over the number until they can<br />

identify which number it is.<br />

Start by cutting out several leaves from<br />

coloured cardstock and then number each leaf<br />

0-10. Next, draw a large tree on a piece of<br />

easel paper, and write the numbers 0-10 where<br />

the branches should be.<br />

Now the game can begin!<br />

Encourage the children to throw the leaves up<br />

into the air and try to catch them as they fall,<br />

shouting out the numbers they have caught.<br />

Get the children to match their numbers onto<br />

the paper tree and encourage them to find<br />

another random number from the floor, saying<br />

for example “Go find the 4!”. Once the number<br />

leaves have been placed onto the tree, the<br />

game can start again!<br />

Alternatively, you can hide the number leaves<br />

around the room, and allow the children to<br />

hunt for them before completing the tree!<br />

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

Where are the men in<br />

the early years?<br />

Who now would dare tell a young girl that<br />

she could never be an astronaut or Prime<br />

Minister? Yet in <strong>2023</strong>, there can still be a<br />

response of surprise and ribbing when a<br />

man wants a career working with young<br />

children. Has social stigma made these<br />

roles inaccessible to men?<br />

How do we break down the stereotypes<br />

when we keep hearing that males<br />

promote a more active environment and<br />

females a nurturing and positive one?<br />

If the statistics are correct, and up to date<br />

then only 2 to 3% of the workforce is<br />

male. This is a ‘Catch-22’ scenario. When<br />

children only see females as the early<br />

years workforce, they associate this with<br />

their future career options.<br />

Evidence shows that children’s career<br />

aspirations are restricted by gender<br />

stereotypes at a very young age. In 2018,<br />

UCL released a study that showed “that<br />

36% of children from as young as seven<br />

years old, base their career aspirations on<br />

people they know”.<br />

Researching this topic further, I have<br />

spoken with Phil from Oxford, and Toni<br />

from Port Talbot, that are currently working<br />

full-time along with Jamel C Campbell,<br />

Early Years Educator, Consultant, and<br />

children’s author, London, and Rob Fox,<br />

Manager and Owner at Happy Bunnies<br />

Nursery School in Shepreth, Herts and<br />

asked the following questions.<br />

Do you find there is<br />

a stigma attached<br />

to being a male and<br />

working in early<br />

years directly with the<br />

children?<br />

Phil: “In truth, I have met very little<br />

difficulties from parents or practitioners<br />

in the childcare environment, all the<br />

settings I have either trained or worked<br />

at have been very welcoming and seen<br />

the addition of a male member of staff as<br />

a positive for the children to have a male<br />

role model. The only issue that has come<br />

up once or twice in previous nurseries<br />

I worked at, is if a parent’s culture and<br />

beliefs ask that as a man, I not change<br />

their daughter’s nappy or help them on<br />

the toilet once potty trained. They asked<br />

the headteacher to relay this to me first as<br />

they were worried how I would react (I was<br />

fine and completely understood where<br />

they were coming from) and afterwards<br />

when meeting me in person, told me<br />

they are comfortable having a man look<br />

after their child, it was just part of their<br />

culture/beliefs that men outside of the<br />

father do not change their daughter’s<br />

nappies. I wouldn’t say it isn’t a negative<br />

per se, but I also do often get asked what<br />

made me want to get into childcare. I’ve<br />

noticed when new members of staff who<br />

are women join a setting, they are never<br />

asked what made them want to work in<br />

childcare. It just shows that it is indeed<br />

sadly rare that men get involved in early<br />

childcare education, as when one does,<br />

people are curious about what made them<br />

want to do so. It’s never (hopefully) asked<br />

due to suspicion of ill intent but as I said,<br />

new staff who are women never seem<br />

to get asked this question as early years<br />

childcare does have more women than<br />

men in nurseries.”<br />

Toni: “Within the childcare ‘world’ I<br />

must say that everyone I have met has<br />

been incredibly supportive and positive<br />

when they see me. Sadly, where it once<br />

felt strange, I now find it completely<br />

normal to be the only man on training<br />

courses and other childcare events. I<br />

must say that I have not encountered<br />

any negative comments at all, nor have<br />

I felt a stigma associated with my work.<br />

When I first changed my profession from<br />

an accountant to a childcare provider, I<br />

was expecting some leg-pulling from my<br />

friends down the pub, but again, not one<br />

negative comment. I must admit, however,<br />

a slight fear remains that one day<br />

something negative may be said because<br />

of how men and children are perceived<br />

within our society.”<br />

What benefits do you<br />

think there are to the<br />

children having a male<br />

in the environment?<br />

Phil: “The biggest benefit is the children<br />

having a male role model. And that<br />

doesn’t mean ‘showing the boys how to<br />

be a man’, it’s about setting an example<br />

of how to play, make friends and learn<br />

as a group in the nursery setting just as a<br />

female role model would. There is this old<br />

stigma that boys should be playing sports,<br />

playing with cars, action figures etc., but<br />

as practitioners, we should encourage<br />

all children to take part in any activity or<br />

play with any resource they wish to and<br />

explore some they may not have before.<br />

Every activity and resource is devised to<br />

help the children develop an aspect of<br />

their overall development, so having the<br />

mindset that ___ is only for boys or only<br />

girls means that children will miss out<br />

on potentially developing or improving<br />

a skill. For example, dressing up clothes<br />

and role play; the children trying to put<br />

them on themselves develops hand-eye<br />

coordination and independence whilst<br />

their imagination grows as they pretend to<br />

be a doctor, a policeman, a ballerina etc.”<br />

Toni: “Simply being a man within childcare<br />

is the benefit. The children see me doing<br />

all the things that a female person<br />

within childcare does. They do not see<br />

a difference, they do not believe that I<br />

shouldn’t be there, whilst they all have<br />

their favourites, they do not think it strange<br />

that I am their childcare provider. They<br />

will as readily come to me if they scrape<br />

their knee or if they are upset as they<br />

would a female. This is hugely important<br />

in their development, and I believe, will<br />

assist them in being less, or hopefully<br />

completely, non-discriminatory as they get<br />

older.”<br />

Rob Fox: “When working as a SEN Manny,<br />

the mum picked me - she needed a<br />

positive male role model in a split home. I<br />

was able to demonstrate that men can do<br />

things and care at the same time.”<br />

Jamel C Campbell: “I’ve been in the<br />

industry since I was 16 years old and<br />

can honestly say that not much has<br />

changed in terms of the recruitment of<br />

male early years practitioners/teachers.<br />

The percentage of males working within<br />

the sector was 4% but that figure has<br />

fallen again. This could be due to the<br />

sector having difficulty recruiting staff and<br />

retaining staff in general. This doesn’t take<br />

away from the fact that we need more<br />

males in the field. We need to change<br />

attitudes towards men working in the<br />

field societally. We need to share great<br />

practice and normalise males working<br />

with children so young. Making more<br />

people see through our actions, rather<br />

than having to shout from rooftops like we<br />

have been doing. The early years is not<br />

woman’s work, men can do the job too, it’s<br />

a sector for all.“<br />

After hearing about male experiences with<br />

the issue of intimate care, I spoke with Rob<br />

Fox at length. I was shocked to hear that<br />

even in his role as a director of his Nursery,<br />

parents have asked him questions ranging<br />

from how involved he is in the intimate<br />

care of the children, to you won’t be, will<br />

you? Would these parents say this to a<br />

male nurse, care worker or doctor?<br />

How do you respond<br />

and support your staff<br />

when a parent objects<br />

to a member of your<br />

team, carrying out<br />

care, purely on their<br />

gender?<br />

These situations raise the question of<br />

“When does discrimination become<br />

gender bias?” Rob pointed out that he<br />

and Jamel Carly Campbell (early years<br />

educator, author, and consultant, based in<br />

London) get called to talk about this issue<br />

all the time and he asked me: “Why should<br />

gender matter?”<br />

It doesn’t and shouldn’t as surely,<br />

recruitment is down to a person’s skill<br />

and mindset. What would happen if<br />

you employed the wrong person to fill a<br />

quota? How do we get the right men and<br />

women in our early years to look after the<br />

most important people in our world? This<br />

has opened a huge topic for me ranging<br />

from salaries to the respect, status, and<br />

regard that is not always given to those<br />

working in this profession. I know this is<br />

something close to your heart. Just as we<br />

see the ‘unique child’, the adult early years<br />

practitioner is unique no matter their age,<br />

race, sexuality, religion, or gender.<br />

In 2012, Jamel participated in the Orbit<br />

Lens 360 Documentary “Would I leave my<br />

child in a nursery staffed by only men?”<br />

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ld_<br />

d1potRXY<br />

Put your little ones first. It is all about caring<br />

whilst educating and ALL genders can<br />

care and educate. Sadly, sometimes we<br />

need to educate the parents on the topic<br />

of gender, and the ‘powers that be’ on the<br />

importance of the early years practitioner<br />

for our children’s future.<br />

For further<br />

information:<br />

Men in Childcare: Does it matter to<br />

children, what do they say? (Stage 2)<br />

The MITEY Charter<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 />

36 <strong>July</strong> <strong>2023</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>July</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 37

Testimonials<br />

These are just some of the wonderful things our customers have said<br />

about us this month!<br />

Congratulations<br />

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

“Wonderful team at <strong>Parenta</strong>, Clare and Richard are amazing. Easy set up of apprenticeships, always<br />

there to help.”<br />

Sarah Quarry (June <strong>2023</strong>)<br />

“I have always received excellent support and help from the <strong>Parenta</strong> staff to sort out every problem I<br />

encounter. Thank you very much for your continued assistance, it is much appreciated!”<br />

Brishing Barn (June <strong>2023</strong>)<br />

Congratulations to all our <strong>Parenta</strong> learners who completed their apprenticeship<br />

and have now gained their qualifications.<br />

These range from Childcare Level 2, Childcare Level 3 and Team Leading<br />

to Level 3 and Level 5 Early Years Lead Practitioner – that’s a huge achievement in<br />

the current climate.<br />

All your hard work has paid off – well done from all of us here at <strong>Parenta</strong> Training!<br />

“<strong>Parenta</strong> staff are always so pleasant to chat with, and very helpful. It was very nice to speak to<br />

Charlotte today.“<br />

Victoria Jerome (June <strong>2023</strong>)<br />

“Brilliant quick response with exactly what I needed to know. Thank you!”<br />

Helen Gration - Founder of Yorkshire Montessori Nurseries Ltd. (June <strong>2023</strong>)<br />

Did you know?... <strong>Parenta</strong> has trained over 20,000 apprentices within the early years sector!<br />

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

That’s down to great work from you, our lovely <strong>Parenta</strong> learners!<br />

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

a picture to hello@parenta.com to be included in the <strong>magazine</strong>.<br />

“Charlotte phoned today to introduce herself as my new advisor, she was so lovely and explained<br />

what other things we can do with <strong>Parenta</strong> too.”<br />

Treehouse Nursery (June <strong>2023</strong>)<br />

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

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

We understand the constraints the sector is facing with<br />

recruiting Level 3 staff.<br />

Let us do all the hard work and help you find your perfect new<br />

team member - what's more, our recruitment service is<br />

FREE!<br />

Did you know...<br />

Our apprentice recruitment service is specifically designed to help you recruit<br />

the right apprentice for your team.<br />

If you are non-levy, you only pay a 5% contribution to the cost of the apprenticeship - and 16-18-yearolds<br />

are 100% free!<br />

Don’t delay – get in touch today – we’ll start the search right away!<br />

0800 002 9242 hello@parenta.com

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