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August 2023 Parenta magazine

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Issue 105<br />

AUGUST <strong>2023</strong><br />

FREE<br />

Industry<br />

Experts<br />

Why engage your<br />

senses for mental health?<br />

Practitioner well-being<br />

Guided role-play and<br />

vocabulary development<br />

in the early years<br />

+ lots more<br />

EYFS activities<br />

inside!<br />

This month…<br />

Understanding<br />

the World<br />

Shaping food relationships<br />

As adults, our relationship with food is a strong one.<br />

Explore with us how our habits and attachments around food stem back to the early years.<br />

TIME MANAGEMENT • HELLOS & GOODBYES • HOME EDUCATION


30<br />

10<br />

20<br />

18<br />

Hello<br />

Welcome to our family<br />

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

It’s that time of year when children of all ages are faced with leaving friends behind (some of whom they may have known<br />

the majority of their lives so far) and at the same time, welcoming new ones. This can be a tricky time for some. How do we<br />

best teach the children in our care that sometimes we need to be ready to say “hello”, and other times, we need to find a<br />

way to say “goodbye”? On page 26, we explore this and give our top tips for easing children into ‘hellos’ and ‘goodbyes’.<br />

We thought it fitting to focus on ‘time management’ in <strong>August</strong>. Although many settings will be taking a well-earned summer<br />

break, we work in an industry which is infamous for its time constraints, so it’s no surprise that thoughts of finding the time<br />

to prepare for the new academic year are at the forefront of many people’s minds. Time management is such a vital skill for<br />

early years practitioners and educators, who wish to spend more of their working day being hands-on with the children. Turn<br />

to page 18 to find ways of being more time efficient and getting the most out of your day.<br />

This <strong>August</strong> issue is, as usual, packed with so many interesting and informative articles from our wonderful industry experts<br />

including Louise Mercieca, Jo Grace, Kathryn Peckham, Gina Bale, Stacey Kelly, Frances Turnbull and Chloe Webster.<br />

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

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

Allan<br />

Regulars<br />

8 Write for us<br />

34 EYFS Activities: Understanding the World<br />

News<br />

4 Childcare News<br />

6 Small Stories<br />

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

Advice<br />

26<br />

14 Building assertiveness and confidence through play<br />

18 Get more from your day: the essential guide to time<br />

management<br />

22 Community management – how to embed your<br />

setting within your local community<br />

26 Hellos and goodbyes<br />

30 Home education – what’s it all about?<br />

Industry Experts<br />

36<br />

10 Why engage your senses for mental health?<br />

12 Shaping food relationships<br />

20 Practitioner well-being<br />

24 “Dough a deer”: using magic dough creatively<br />

28 Giving children learning superpowers<br />

32 Five tips for setting expectations with children<br />

36 Guided role-play and vocabulary development in the<br />

early years<br />

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

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


Childcare news<br />

£204 million cash boost given to<br />

nurseries to support the expansion<br />

of childcare places<br />

The Department for Education has<br />

announced that early years nurseries<br />

are set to receive a £204 million cash<br />

boost as part of the Government’s<br />

promise to deliver the largest-ever<br />

investment in childcare. The plans,<br />

which were announced in the Spring<br />

Budget, are designed to remove<br />

significant barriers to support parents<br />

to return to work and help to grow the<br />

economy by making childcare more<br />

accessible.<br />

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy<br />

Hunt said: “I know the cost of childcare<br />

can be a real struggle for parents and<br />

can become a barrier to work. That’s<br />

why we announced the largest-ever<br />

expansion of free childcare at Spring<br />

Budget, and today we’re increasing<br />

hourly funding rates to make sure the<br />

system is ready to deliver, including<br />

uplifting rates for a two-year-old<br />

by a third. These reforms will be<br />

transformative and ensure that we<br />

build a childcare system comparable to<br />

the best.”<br />

Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan<br />

said: “Today is a great step forward<br />

as we deliver on the largest ever<br />

expansion of childcare which will be<br />

transformational for working families<br />

and will help grow our economy. I<br />

want childcare to be truly affordable<br />

and available when and where<br />

parents need it. This initial investment<br />

of over £200 million will go a long way<br />

in supporting the fantastic early years<br />

and views<br />

sector to prepare for the expansion<br />

of free childcare hours available to<br />

parents next year. The Department will<br />

shortly launch a consultation on how<br />

the funding for the new entitlements<br />

in 2024-25 will be distributed, to<br />

make sure it remains fair in light of<br />

the radically expanded free childcare<br />

offers. A further £12 million is also<br />

being given to local authorities this<br />

financial year to support them to<br />

effectively roll out the new offer.”<br />

Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive<br />

of National Day Nurseries Association<br />

(NDNA), said: “Any increase in<br />

funding must cover the spiralling<br />

costs that early years settings have<br />

been facing, especially inflation and<br />

staffing costs. With councils joining<br />

providers in highlighting the closures<br />

of nurseries due to cost pressures it is<br />

vital the Government ensures that the<br />

investment makes it to the front line.<br />

Our data shows a 50% increase in<br />

the rate of nursery closures and this<br />

is backed up by Ofsted’s statistics.<br />

Many childcare providers will receive<br />

nowhere near the average rates that<br />

have been published once regional<br />

differences and budget top-slicing<br />

have been taken into account. And for<br />

many more it will be too little, too late,<br />

especially in relation to three and fouryear<br />

old rates.<br />

The first five years of a child’s life<br />

really counts. Underinvestment in<br />

our children now will have a serious<br />

impact on their educational journey<br />

and life chances in the future. If the<br />

Government is serious about investing<br />

in early years childcare it needs to<br />

provide adequate funding to support<br />

the existing childcare infrastructure<br />

and allow providers to support their<br />

children and working families.”<br />

The full press release on the official<br />

government website can be found<br />

here.<br />

DfE reports latest figures for Early<br />

Years Education Provision<br />

In <strong>2023</strong>, the number of children<br />

registered for the 15-hour entitlements<br />

was at the lowest point in each<br />

series, whilst conversely, the number<br />

registered for the 30-hour entitlement<br />

was at the highest point in the series.<br />

h<br />

h<br />

h<br />

The take-up rate of 3 and<br />

4-year-olds registered for the<br />

15-hour entitlement needs to be<br />

treated with caution and likely<br />

underestimates the true rate by up<br />

to 5 percentage points (see section<br />

‘About these statistics’)<br />

Taking this into account, despite<br />

the falls in children registered<br />

for the 15-hour entitlements,<br />

the associated take-up rates in<br />

<strong>2023</strong> have increased because of<br />

larger decreases in the relevant<br />

populations (particularly for<br />

eligible 2-year-olds)<br />

The fall in the number of private,<br />

voluntary and independent (PVI)<br />

providers delivering the 15-hour<br />

entitlements was driven by a fall in<br />

the number of private or voluntary<br />

providers and childminders.<br />

Jonathan Broadbery, Director of Policy<br />

of National Day Nurseries Association<br />

(NDNA), said: “It’s heartening to see<br />

that take-up of funded places is up<br />

again after the pandemic because we<br />

know that access to early education<br />

and care can make a real difference<br />

to children’s outcomes all through<br />

their education. However, the take-up<br />

among children from disadvantaged<br />

backgrounds for two-year-old places is<br />

still lower than other groups. This is a<br />

concern because these are the children<br />

who have the most to gain from early<br />

education.<br />

“Despite the challenges of rising<br />

costs, chronic underfunding and a<br />

workforce crisis, private, voluntary and<br />

independent nurseries are the most<br />

significant group of providers for the<br />

government-funded places. These<br />

deliver 80% of eligible two-year-old<br />

places and 70% of the 30-hour places<br />

and without their input, this policy<br />

would fail. The Government must<br />

support them to be sustainable and<br />

be able to deliver additional places<br />

from April 2024 once all two-year-olds<br />

of working parents can apply for a 15-<br />

hour place.”<br />

The latest statistics in full can be found<br />

on the government website here.<br />

Warning of setting capacity ahead<br />

of free hours expansion<br />

Almost all councils are warning that an<br />

escalation of nursery closures linked to<br />

the cost-of-living crisis “will undermine<br />

capacity” when the government<br />

extends free childcare. Nine out of 10<br />

council representatives surveyed have<br />

said they fear closures will put the<br />

plans, which include offering working<br />

parents of two-year-olds 15 hours of<br />

funded childcare a week from April next<br />

year, at risk.<br />

The Local Government Association (LGA)<br />

published survey found that two in five<br />

councils saw an increase in nursery<br />

closures during 2022 compared with<br />

the previous year. Four in five councils<br />

believe nursery closures in <strong>2023</strong> “will<br />

be significant”.<br />

LGA Children and Young People<br />

Board chair Louise Gittins said; We<br />

have serious concerns about the<br />

ability of local areas to secure nursery<br />

places, with capacity issues providing<br />

challenges to the universal roll-out of<br />

the extended offer.<br />

“Nurseries and childcare providers<br />

are already under massive pressure,<br />

grappling with severe financial and<br />

workforce challenges, which has<br />

seen staff numbers depleted and an<br />

acceleration in places closing.”<br />

According to the National Day<br />

Nurseries Association (NDNA) there<br />

has been a 50% increase in nursery<br />

closures over the last year, with areas<br />

of deprivation being hardest hit.<br />

NDNA chief executive Purnima Tanuku<br />

says the LGA’s findings are a “clear<br />

warning” to ministers that expansion<br />

of funded hours “risks failure without<br />

interventions to support the sector”.<br />

“For years we have been showing<br />

how nurseries are facing increasing<br />

pressures due to spiralling costs and<br />

chronic underfunding,” she said.<br />

“Now councils are joining providers and<br />

parents in showing real concern for the<br />

viability of future expansion if we don’t<br />

fix the current system.”<br />

Between <strong>August</strong> 2021 and <strong>August</strong><br />

2022, 302 nurseries and preschools<br />

closed and the number of childcare<br />

providers including childminders fell by<br />

5,400, according to figures released by<br />

Ofsted.<br />

“It is frankly unbelievable that the<br />

government wants to expand the<br />

30-hour offer at a time that the sector<br />

is facing its most challenging time in<br />

decades,” said Early Years Alliance chief<br />

executive Neil Leitch.<br />

“Our own research finds that childcare<br />

shortages are increasing - just half of<br />

local areas have enough childcare for<br />

working parents, and only 18% have<br />

enough childcare for disabled children,”<br />

said its head Megan Jarvie.<br />

“The extension of free childcare has<br />

the potential to be a game-changer for<br />

families struggling with childcare costs,<br />

but action is needed to make sure that<br />

there will be enough places for every<br />

family that needs it.”<br />

The full story, as reported by Children &<br />

Young People Now can be found here.<br />

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

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

BBC News<br />

‘Considerable work’ needed to<br />

improve the effectiveness of<br />

T-Levels, says Ofsted<br />

There remains considerable work to do to<br />

improve the quality and effectiveness of<br />

T-level courses and the TLTP.<br />

More disadvantaged children to<br />

receive free nursery hours thanks<br />

to LEYF & food charity partnership<br />

A partnership between LEYF & City<br />

Harvest (which provides surplus food to<br />

the social enterprises’ settings) is being<br />

expanded.<br />

DfE launches consultation on<br />

proposed funding formula for 30<br />

hours expansion<br />

The DfE launched its consultation on its<br />

new proposed ‘fair funding formula’ for<br />

delivery of the extension of the funded<br />

hours for children from 9 months old.<br />

Political parties told to simplify<br />

early years funding system<br />

The Education Policy Institute is calling<br />

on the political parties to simplify the<br />

early years funding system & weight<br />

it ‘more heavily’ towards children with<br />

SEND & from low-income families.<br />

Families face fewer holiday<br />

childcare places and increased<br />

costs<br />

There has been a drop in the availability of<br />

summer holiday childcare provision across<br />

England, while the cost of a place has<br />

increased by 3 per cent since last year.<br />

Comedian Matt Lucas throws a<br />

‘Tantrum’ to highlight the global<br />

early years crisis<br />

Comedian & presenter Matt Lucas has<br />

got behind Theirworld’s Act for Early<br />

Years campaign, launching a ‘Global<br />

Tantrum’ in protest.<br />

Click here to send in<br />

your stories to<br />

marketing@parenta.com<br />

Cost-of-living crisis: initiatives<br />

launched to provide children<br />

with free food<br />

To support families with the cost-of-living<br />

crisis, Warburtons has teamed up with<br />

Morrisons to offer free crumpets to adults<br />

and children.<br />

Early years funding consultation<br />

for children under three<br />

published<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 />

Childcare shortage warning as<br />

childminders quit<br />

A drastic decline in childminders could<br />

lead to a shortage of places, early years<br />

providers are warning.<br />

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


Write for us!<br />

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insightful articles for our<br />

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

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


Why engage your<br />

senses for mental<br />

health?<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 />

Connecting with your senses can be<br />

good for your mental health. To give a<br />

very rudimentary explanation, but one<br />

I am confident will resonate with many;<br />

take the experience of depression. Most<br />

people have at some time or other in their<br />

lives experienced feeling depressed. I<br />

will assume you have. And when you felt<br />

depressed, I imagine your instinct was to<br />

hide away, to shut down, to withdraw from<br />

sensation. Indeed, it has been shown that<br />

when you are depressed your senses can<br />

be dulled, particularly your sense of smell.<br />

Depression takes you inward. When you<br />

connect with the sensory world, stretch out<br />

a hand to find out what something feels<br />

like, marvel at the way the dew catches<br />

the light, take a nibble of a friend’s dinner<br />

in a restaurant, you move outwards. In<br />

the same way that depression is inwards,<br />

an engagement with the sensory world is<br />

outwards, it pulls in the opposite direction.<br />

Connecting with the sensations you are<br />

experiencing is preventative of stress,<br />

anxiety, and depression.<br />

It is wonderful to know that as you do your<br />

work sourcing materials for your setting,<br />

you can be protecting yourself from stress,<br />

anxiety, and depression. So, as you hunt<br />

around for colourful things to decorate<br />

your setting, or speculate about scented<br />

candles, or wonder about doing a cookery<br />

session, be sure to engage with it with all<br />

of your senses: touch, taste, smell, see<br />

and feel.<br />

You can offer sensory prompts and cues<br />

to the children to encourage them to do<br />

the same, as they play you can ask: “What<br />

does that smell like?” “Could that make a<br />

noise?” “Do they feel different?” - drawing<br />

their attention to the sensations available<br />

to them. If you are supporting people who<br />

can process more complex instructions,<br />

you could move from an invite or an<br />

offer to a directed activity, for example,<br />

it is a common meditative activity to use<br />

awareness of your sensory landscape<br />

to pull you into the present moment, a<br />

sensory mindfulness as it were. Using a<br />

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 countdown for this can work<br />

well: instruct the children to look at five<br />

different things (they can call out what they<br />

are looking at or they can simply try to find<br />

five different things to look at, it could be<br />

any five things or it could be five different<br />

coloured things or different shaped things).<br />

Then, ask them to listen for four noises,<br />

touch three things, and then smell two<br />

things; this can simply be noticing the<br />

aroma in the room, and smelling one’s<br />

skin or clothing. Finally, taste one thing –<br />

you could offer a taste experience at this<br />

point or just invite them to notice the taste<br />

inside their mouth at that time.<br />

Of course, the sensory world can be a<br />

distressing place and in upcoming articles<br />

we will explore this. But for now, I thought<br />

it would be fun to share some sensory<br />

pick-me-ups or sensory hugs:<br />

Smell: peppermint is meant to stimulate<br />

your thinking, perking you up. A musk<br />

scent, lavender or camomile can be<br />

calming.<br />

Taste: For a sensory hug you want<br />

something warm and sweet, sugary tea,<br />

or hot buttered toast.<br />

Touch: Try something with a bit of weight<br />

to it that fits comfortably in the palm of<br />

your hand, or if you have a body brush:<br />

brush your body with long strokes that<br />

move away from the heart. If you do<br />

not have a body brush, just find a small<br />

dustpan and brush set and steal the brush<br />

from that.<br />

Sight: Rose-tinted spectacles! Seriously,<br />

looking at things with a pinky hue is often<br />

found to be comforting.<br />

Hearing: Seek out sibilant sounds, it<br />

is likely that you naturally “shhh shhh”<br />

distressed people, you can find similar<br />

sounds in nature in the swishing of leaves<br />

in the wind or the lapping of waves on the<br />

seashore.<br />

When you stop and connect with a<br />

sensory moment, you take yourself out<br />

of your anxieties and worries, and into<br />

that sensation, into the present. It is a<br />

little bit of mindfulness in motion and can<br />

help you recognise that you are here and<br />

now: not in the awful things that may<br />

have happened before or the worrisome<br />

things that might be about to happen.<br />

At this moment it is you, in your body,<br />

experiencing this sensation. You are alive!<br />

Embrace the sensory world.<br />

In my next article, I will be looking at how<br />

we can make the most of these sensory<br />

moments. 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>August</strong> <strong>2023</strong> | parenta.com<br />

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


Shaping food<br />

relationships<br />

Why is childhood such an<br />

important time for shaping<br />

food relationships?<br />

When it comes to feeding a child, there’s<br />

a lot more to it than simply filling them<br />

up. Whilst, of course, that is important,<br />

many other considerations influence a<br />

child’s future health, habits, cravings and<br />

emotional attachments to food. Feeding a<br />

child in the early years is also shaping their<br />

adult relationship with food.<br />

We all know that our relationship with<br />

food is a strong one, for some people it’s<br />

a life-long love-hate relationship, largely<br />

perpetuated by the diet and weight loss<br />

industry which has many confusing and<br />

contradictory messages. For many, the<br />

habits and attachments around food stem<br />

back to the early years; we may not realise<br />

just how important our actions are around<br />

food, but children in the formative years<br />

are picking up on subtle food cues and<br />

patterns that can play an important role in<br />

future health.<br />

Early taste preferences<br />

In the years between 0 and 3, we have a<br />

real window of opportunity to influence<br />

and shape taste preferences, habits and<br />

food behaviours, as it is at this time that<br />

we can consider the child’s palate to be a<br />

blank canvas, receptive to whatever you<br />

introduce them to.<br />

It isn’t just the food…it’s the way we<br />

introduce food which can have a bearing<br />

on the way it is received. If we are very<br />

excited to introduce a young child to<br />

cake, they will pick up on our excitement<br />

before they even taste the food. Likewise,<br />

if we are apologetic about vegetables as<br />

we feel they should be eaten, our body<br />

language will reflect this, and the food will<br />

not be as well received - before it is even<br />

tasted!<br />

Food language & emotional<br />

connections<br />

One of the easiest ways to make this link<br />

is via the language we use around food;<br />

how we can emphasise certain foods and<br />

create positive or negative associations.<br />

One example is when trying to get children<br />

to eat vegetables, often people will offer<br />

a food incentive to get the child to eat the<br />

vegetable.<br />

For example: “Eat your broccoli and you<br />

can have the chocolate.”<br />

“You’re not having a ‘treat’ until you have<br />

eaten your carrots.”<br />

In this scenario, the vegetable becomes<br />

the ‘bad guy’ - the obstacle which needs<br />

to be overcome to get to the ‘good stuff’.<br />

The unhealthy food, often labelled as a<br />

‘treat’ becomes the goal, the reward, and<br />

the positive association is aimed at the<br />

unhealthy food, therefore the healthy food<br />

is portrayed negatively. This may be said<br />

innocently, but it creates associations with<br />

foods and where possible, we want the<br />

associations created to be those which<br />

view healthy foods in a good light!<br />

Emotional eating<br />

As we know, many people turn to food in<br />

times of sadness, stress, fatigue, illness,<br />

and celebration - together we group this<br />

as ‘emotional eating’. We are not born<br />

with emotional eating tendencies, they are<br />

taught. Once again, innocent phrases and<br />

eating patterns can create associations<br />

in our brains that link certain foods with<br />

attempts to fix emotional issues. Sadly,<br />

biology will never support this and<br />

emotional eating leads to many metabolic<br />

and neurological issues.<br />

Below are some examples of common<br />

phrases and situations where food is used<br />

with children that can potentially lead to<br />

‘emotional-eating’ adults.<br />

Scenario one<br />

Child falls over and hurts themselves,<br />

not seriously, but enough to make them<br />

feel upset. The grown-up naturally goes<br />

to comfort the child. They pick them up,<br />

cuddle them and say:<br />

“Let’s sit down for a minute and have a<br />

biscuit/piece of chocolate/sweet. That’ll<br />

make you feel better”.<br />

It may seem a perfectly innocuous<br />

thing to do and say, but the child on<br />

a deep subconscious level creates an<br />

association with the unhealthy food<br />

offered and comfort, even though the act<br />

that calms the child down is the cuddle<br />

and the nice words, not the food. For<br />

adults, the association remains (via our<br />

neural pathways which, on a biological<br />

level remember these connections, the<br />

strongest connections are formed before<br />

the age of 3). But for the grown-up, it could<br />

be any prolonged situation that causes<br />

them upset and stress and eating biscuits<br />

is certainly not going to fix the issues, it’s<br />

more than likely to cause more.<br />

The biology of emotional<br />

eating<br />

As with every aspect of eating, our biology<br />

plays a big part and not just with the<br />

physical digestion but with our mind too.<br />

When it comes to emotional eating, food<br />

will never fix things – and here’s why: -<br />

Mood dip


Building assertiveness<br />

and confidence<br />

through play<br />

What is needed for<br />

confidence and<br />

assertiveness?<br />

To develop confidence and assertiveness,<br />

children need to be in the right<br />

environment. A child living in an unsafe,<br />

scary or dangerous environment is much<br />

less likely to develop confidence than those<br />

who don’t. So, as early years practitioners,<br />

we need to ensure that our settings:<br />

If you’ve ever sat and watched children<br />

play, there will come a time when you may<br />

witness a potential conflict between two<br />

individuals. It could be a discussion about<br />

who plays with the scooter next or whose<br />

turn it is on the swing, but sure enough,<br />

these incidents happen. When they do,<br />

you may see:<br />

✨ A child who is submissive and gives<br />

up on what they really want when<br />

confronted<br />

✨ A child who is confident and assertive<br />

and able to stand up for what they<br />

want<br />

✨ A child who becomes aggressive<br />

and/or bossy who gets what they<br />

want through bullying or aggression/<br />

violence<br />

Clearly, we strive to encourage our young<br />

people to learn to be confident and<br />

assertive since these are positive values,<br />

whereas being submissive or aggressive<br />

are not traits to encourage because they<br />

will lead to problems for the child later on.<br />

But where is the line between being<br />

mindful of other people’s feelings and<br />

submission? When does assertiveness tip<br />

over into being aggressive? And how do<br />

we promote confidence and assertiveness<br />

anyway?<br />

Why these things are<br />

important?<br />

One of the prime areas of learning in the<br />

EYFS is “personal, social and emotional<br />

development”. The EYFS states:<br />

“Children’s personal, social and emotional<br />

development (PSED) is crucial for<br />

children to lead healthy and happy lives,<br />

and is fundamental to their cognitive<br />

development… Children should be<br />

supported to manage emotions, develop<br />

a positive sense of self, set themselves<br />

simple goals, have confidence in their own<br />

abilities, to persist and wait for what they<br />

want and direct attention as necessary….<br />

Through supported interaction with other<br />

children, they learn how to make good<br />

friendships, co-operate and resolve<br />

conflicts peaceably. These attributes will<br />

provide a secure platform from which<br />

children can achieve at school and in later<br />

life.”<br />

We want our children to be able to get<br />

the things they want in life, mindful of the<br />

needs of others, but also understanding<br />

the importance of respecting their own<br />

wants, needs and desires. It is the path<br />

to happiness and can result in children<br />

fulfilling their true potential for the benefit<br />

of themselves and those around them.<br />

The Hungarian Holocaust-survivor, turned<br />

psychologist, Dr Edith Eger said:<br />

“To be passive is to let others decide for<br />

you. To be aggressive is to decide for<br />

others. To be assertive is to decide for<br />

yourself. And to trust that there is enough,<br />

that you are enough.”<br />

Communication<br />

style/<br />

Characteristic<br />

Eye contact<br />

Body language<br />

Expressions and<br />

gestures<br />

The benefits of being confident and<br />

assertive are that children can:<br />

✨ Speak up for themselves and their<br />

peers<br />

✨ Learn to say “no” when needed<br />

✨ Treat others with respect<br />

✨ Take constructive criticism<br />

✨ Deal with bullying instances more<br />

effectively<br />

Communication styles<br />

There are a number of communication<br />

styles which psychologists have identified,<br />

but 3 of the main styles are passive,<br />

aggressive and assertive. To understand<br />

these, you must first understand that<br />

it is not just the words that people use<br />

that indicate meaning or status - body<br />

language, use of space/proxemics,<br />

gesture and eye contact all play a part.<br />

The table below shows some of the ways<br />

that these three styles play out in practice.<br />

Passive Assertive Aggressive<br />

Little or no eye contact<br />

Often looks down<br />

Closed off, shoulders<br />

down, defensive<br />

Not able to express<br />

own needs<br />

Subservient to others<br />

“I don’t care…” or “I<br />

don’t mind, whatever<br />

you want…”<br />

Makes eye contact<br />

appropriately<br />

Shoulders back, head<br />

up, open stance<br />

Respects others<br />

Listens to others<br />

Often says things like “I<br />

think…”, “I’d like…” or “I<br />

feel…”<br />

Staring, eye contact that<br />

feels uncomfortable<br />

Strong, upright stance,<br />

often moves around<br />

a lot<br />

Rude or bossy<br />

language<br />

Issues orders<br />

Focuses on their own<br />

needs “I want..”, “You<br />

need to…”<br />

Angry gestures<br />

Proxemics Stays at a distance Respects personal space Usually “in-your-face”<br />

and invades personal<br />

space<br />

✨ Make children feel safe and secure<br />

✨ Include trusted adults<br />

✨ Allow secure relationships to develop<br />

✨ Encourage small wins so children can<br />

build on past successes<br />

✨ Allow safe risk-taking for children to<br />

experiment and learn<br />

✨ Understand that mistakes are an<br />

essential part of the learning process<br />

✨ Offer praise and feedback for effort as<br />

well as attainment<br />

Using play to build<br />

confidence<br />

Confidence comes from knowing you can<br />

do something – it is an experiential feeling<br />

– you can’t learn it from a book, you have<br />

to experience that uplifting feeling of<br />

knowing you have achieved something for<br />

yourself. In practice, this means allowing<br />

the children to try things, do things<br />

for themselves, and if they fail at first,<br />

explaining that this is part of the process.<br />

The ‘secret’ to succeeding, is to keep trying<br />

and make small adjustments along the<br />

way. That’s how we all learn to walk after<br />

all. We don’t give up the first time we<br />

attempt to totter across the room – we<br />

fall down numerous times, but we keep<br />

getting back up. Eventually our tentative<br />

steps become more confident, which is<br />

reflected in our emotional understanding<br />

of ourselves and our self-esteem and<br />

general confidence.<br />

Play is extremely important in promoting<br />

these things as it allows children to take<br />

risks, explore emotions and learn from<br />

the feedback from others. If they are<br />

too aggressive in taking the toy from<br />

someone, just because they wanted it,<br />

they will face the consequences of possibly<br />

losing a friend, getting into trouble with the<br />

adults, and potentially still not getting what<br />

they want.<br />

Ways to encourage<br />

confidence- and<br />

assertive-building<br />

play<br />

✨ Practice role-play scenarios and talk<br />

about different outcomes<br />

✨ Encourage social situations where<br />

children can talk about themselves<br />

and what they want<br />

✨ Let children work through play tasks<br />

themselves – don’t be too quick to<br />

jump in and complete things for them<br />

✨ Encourage children to imagine<br />

different situations and be there to<br />

give feedback and support but don’t<br />

stifle what they want to do<br />

✨ Offer “What if?” scenarios, for<br />

example, “What if you were<br />

Superman/girl, what do you think<br />

they would do here?” or “What<br />

would happen if you used a different<br />

approach to this?”<br />

✨ Offer problem-solving play<br />

opportunities through puzzles, jigsaws<br />

or building things, encouraging and<br />

praising effort<br />

✨ Avoid comparisons with others<br />

Other resources<br />

Twinkl have a number or useful resources<br />

to encourage assertiveness and<br />

confidence. They have an assertiveness<br />

scale and picture cards that you can use<br />

to help children understand the different<br />

communication styles.<br />

References and more<br />

information<br />

Confident Communicator<br />

Nursery World<br />

Edutopia<br />

Moments a Day<br />

Happy Confident<br />

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

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


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Not surprisingly, the phrase ‘time<br />

management’ is used frequently in the<br />

early years sector; we work in an industry<br />

which is infamous for its time constraints<br />

with so many practitioners striving to make<br />

those precious hours in one day go a little<br />

further.<br />

What is ‘time<br />

management’?<br />

Get more from your<br />

day: the essential guide<br />

to time management<br />

Simply put, it’s the ability to use one’s time<br />

effectively, or productively, especially at<br />

work.<br />

A more detailed explanation, taken from<br />

Mind Tools, is “the process of organising<br />

and planning how to divide your time<br />

between different activities. Get it right,<br />

and you’ll end up working smarter, not<br />

harder, to get more done in less time –<br />

even when time is tight and pressures are<br />

high.”<br />

Easier said than done, some may say<br />

(particularly if you are working in a busy<br />

early years setting!) but one thing is<br />

certain, time management is a vital skill<br />

for early years practitioners and educators<br />

who wish to spend more of their working<br />

day in a hands-on role with children.<br />

How can I help my<br />

team with their time<br />

management?<br />

As a room leader, team leader or<br />

manager, you can develop yourself and<br />

support your fellow team members in<br />

improving their time management skills in<br />

the following ways:<br />

⚙ Set clear goals and expectations:<br />

Clearly communicate the team’s<br />

objectives, deadlines, and priorities.<br />

When team members have a clear<br />

understanding of what needs to<br />

be accomplished, they can better<br />

manage their time and prioritise<br />

tasks accordingly. This can be done<br />

in regular staff meetings, especially if<br />

short-term objectives change quickly,<br />

or need to be revisited or refreshed<br />

⚙ Provide training and resources:<br />

Offer training or workshops on time<br />

management techniques and tools.<br />

Share resources such as productivity<br />

apps, task management systems,<br />

or time-tracking tools that can assist<br />

team members in organising their<br />

work and improving their efficiency<br />

⚙ Encourage planning and prioritisation:<br />

Encourage team members to plan<br />

their work in advance. Help them<br />

identify and prioritise tasks based on<br />

urgency and importance. Supporting<br />

them in creating to-do lists or using<br />

productivity techniques like the<br />

Eisenhower Matrix can assist in<br />

effective prioritisation<br />

⚙ Foster open communication: Create<br />

an environment where team<br />

members feel comfortable discussing<br />

their workload, deadlines, and any<br />

challenges they may be facing.<br />

Encourage open dialogue about time<br />

constraints and workload distribution,<br />

so that adjustments can be made if<br />

necessary<br />

⚙ Delegate tasks effectively: Delegate<br />

tasks based on individual strengths<br />

and availability. Ensure that the<br />

workload is distributed evenly<br />

and aligned with team members’<br />

capabilities and current workloads.<br />

Delegating tasks appropriately<br />

prevents overload and promotes<br />

efficient use of time<br />

⚙ Encourage breaks and work-life<br />

balance: Remind team members<br />

about the importance of taking<br />

regular breaks to recharge and<br />

maintain focus. Encourage them to<br />

establish healthy work-life boundaries<br />

and avoid overworking, as it can lead<br />

to burnout and decreased productivity<br />

in the long run<br />

⚙ Lead by example: Demonstrate<br />

good time management practices<br />

yourself. Show your team the benefits<br />

of effective time management by<br />

being organised, meeting deadlines,<br />

and maintaining a healthy work-life<br />

balance. Your actions can inspire and<br />

motivate team members to improve<br />

their own time management skills<br />

⚙ Offer support and feedback: Be<br />

available to support team members<br />

in their time management efforts.<br />

Provide guidance and suggestions<br />

when needed and offer constructive<br />

feedback to help them refine<br />

their approach. Recognise and<br />

acknowledge their improvements and<br />

successes along the way<br />

Remember, improving time management<br />

is an ongoing process and in a busy<br />

setting, this can be difficult to maintain -<br />

which is why it’s important to encourage<br />

a growth mindset within your team and<br />

provide continuous support to foster a<br />

culture of effective time management.<br />

Now that we’ve explored the importance<br />

of helping our team members (and<br />

ourselves) with time management to help<br />

in our professional life, what are the major<br />

benefits of time management when it<br />

comes to educating the children in our<br />

care?<br />

⚙ Establishing routines: Effective time<br />

management helps establish daily<br />

routines, providing structure and<br />

predictability for our young learners.<br />

Routines create a sense of stability<br />

and security, helping children<br />

understand what is expected of<br />

them and reducing anxiety. They<br />

learn to anticipate and prepare for<br />

different activities, transitions, and<br />

responsibilities, which promotes a<br />

sense of independence and selfregulation<br />

⚙ Maximising learning opportunities:<br />

Time management allows educators<br />

to allocate sufficient time for various<br />

learning activities, ensuring a<br />

balanced and comprehensive<br />

curriculum. By organising and<br />

prioritising different tasks, practitioners<br />

can optimise the time available and<br />

create a rich learning environment<br />

that covers key developmental areas,<br />

such as social, emotional, cognitive,<br />

and physical development<br />

⚙ Fostering engagement and attention:<br />

Of course, young children have limited<br />

attention spans, so effective time<br />

management helps maintain their<br />

engagement and focus. By planning<br />

shorter, age-appropriate activities and<br />

incorporating variety, we can prevent<br />

children from becoming restless or<br />

bored. This ensures that learning<br />

experiences remain enjoyable,<br />

meaningful, and conducive to optimal<br />

learning outcomes<br />

⚙ Helping children to develop their own<br />

essential life skills: Time management<br />

skills acquired during the early years<br />

education lay the foundation for<br />

lifelong habits. When children learn<br />

to manage their time effectively, they<br />

develop self-discipline, organisation,<br />

and responsibility. These skills are<br />

transferable to other areas of their<br />

lives, including academic pursuits,<br />

personal relationships, and future<br />

careers<br />

⚙ Enhancing productivity: Time<br />

management enables educators to<br />

make the most of instructional time,<br />

ensuring that your setting’s curriculum<br />

goals are met. By allocating<br />

appropriate time to different learning<br />

activities, teachers can cover essential<br />

content, assess student progress,<br />

provide individualised attention, and<br />

facilitate meaningful interactions.<br />

This leads to improved productivity<br />

and helps children achieve their<br />

educational milestones<br />

⚙ Encouraging self-regulation:<br />

Time management in early years<br />

education encourages children to<br />

develop self-regulation skills. They<br />

learn to manage their own time,<br />

follow schedules, complete tasks<br />

independently, and transition between<br />

activities smoothly. These skills<br />

promote self-control, time awareness,<br />

and the ability to plan and organise,<br />

which are crucial for long-term<br />

academic success and personal<br />

development<br />

These are strategies and ideas which do<br />

work, and when put in place, will help you<br />

and your team get more out of your day.<br />

Remember, time management in early<br />

years education not only supports routines,<br />

maximises learning opportunities, fosters<br />

engagement and attention, but also<br />

develops essential life skills, enhances<br />

productivity, and encourages selfregulation.<br />

By effectively managing time, educators<br />

can create an environment that nurtures<br />

holistic development and sets children<br />

on a path of success in their educational<br />

journey and beyond.<br />

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

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


Practitioner well-being<br />

Early years practitioners and educators are<br />

the bodies and minds on the floor of our<br />

early years settings; supporting children’s<br />

learning and development, giving cuddles,<br />

wiping tears, running rooms, supporting<br />

other members of the team, meeting<br />

managerial demands, being responsive<br />

to the needs of not only the children,<br />

but their parents and families too – all<br />

whilst juggling their own life baggage<br />

simultaneously.<br />

Yet the mental health and well-being of<br />

our staff teams are incredibly poor but<br />

often overlooked/ignored. Staff can be<br />

made to feel guilty for being ill, ‘letting the<br />

team down’ if they take some time off and<br />

not being 100% each and every day.<br />

Early years is an incredibly demanding<br />

sector, both physically and mentally;<br />

is it any surprise that mental illness<br />

is commonplace across the sector?<br />

Essentially, a happy workforce is a<br />

healthy workforce and practitioners are<br />

considerably more likely to fully immerse<br />

themselves in their roles, strive for<br />

professional development and provide a<br />

better quality of care when they are feeling<br />

supported, respected, and valued within<br />

the workplace, regardless of their mental<br />

health.<br />

Our practitioners put on a ‘brave face’<br />

a lot of the time so as not to impact the<br />

children’s experiences and learning and<br />

development, but from a managerial/<br />

leadership point of view, we do not want<br />

to be encouraging this to be the norm.<br />

How mental health in the early years is<br />

‘treated’ is important, as we all know that<br />

‘faking a smile’ or ‘putting on a brave face’<br />

does not solve the problems and allow the<br />

person to process or sometimes even feel<br />

their emotions - which only causes deeper<br />

rooted issues in the long term.<br />

It is imperative that managers and leaders<br />

are aware of and understand just how<br />

fraught and stressed their workforce is<br />

in order to provide adequate support;<br />

not just a hamper of ‘goodies’ in the<br />

staff room, but proper support whereby<br />

the practitioner feels listened to and<br />

understood.<br />

As a sector we pride ourselves on how<br />

communicative we are, yet when it comes<br />

to our mental health, we’d much rather<br />

sweep it under the carpet, pretend and<br />

bury ourselves in the day-to-day – but<br />

in order for us to be role models for<br />

our children and support and promote<br />

children’s emotional well-being and selfregulation,<br />

we must be able to do this<br />

ourselves first.<br />

As the people who work so closely with<br />

the youngest members of our sector,<br />

we must be emotionally and mentally<br />

available to these children - they need<br />

us to be ready to support and listen to<br />

them, and ultimately, if we’re not OK, then<br />

the children won’t be OK. Children are<br />

incredibly intuitive and even our youngest<br />

children can pick up on emotional energy,<br />

so if practitioners’ emotional needs are not<br />

being met and supported, then this will<br />

have an impact on the emotional wellbeing<br />

of the children they care for.<br />

Early years needs to lose the ‘blame<br />

culture’ and the stigma around mental<br />

illness; you can have a mental illness and<br />

still be fit to look after children; a mental<br />

illness or mental health struggles do not<br />

shape a person or practitioner, nor do<br />

they impact on how capable a person is at<br />

doing their job.<br />

All we want for the children we care for<br />

is for them to grow and develop into<br />

happy, healthy human beings who are<br />

emotionally intelligent, available, kind and<br />

empathetic of others. This ultimately is<br />

also the very same thing we’d wish for our<br />

staff teams and colleagues, and so it must<br />

start from the top and be cascaded down,<br />

thus helping us nurture and support our<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<br />

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

has vast experience in social media<br />

marketing and communication support<br />

for early years businesses/settings. Chloe<br />

currently has capacity to support settings,<br />

practitioners, and leaders in an advisory/<br />

consultancy role or to provide support on<br />

efficiently marketing and promoting your<br />

setting/business.<br />

She can be reached by email at<br />

chloelouisewebster@hotmail.com<br />

children in developing essential emotional<br />

skills, and building the foundations for<br />

their future emotional well-being and selfregulation.<br />

Children learn from their environments and<br />

the behaviours they observe and so if they<br />

see practitioners and leadership teams<br />

taking care of each other, and having<br />

open and honest conversations regarding<br />

mental health and the needs of others.<br />

This will then naturally develop for them as<br />

they grow and learn, which will hopefully<br />

create a society of emotionally intelligent<br />

and kind young people.<br />

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

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


Community<br />

management – how<br />

to embed your setting<br />

within your local<br />

community<br />

There’s an old proverb that says: “It takes<br />

a village to raise a child”, meaning that the<br />

whole community has a part to play in the<br />

growth and development of the children<br />

and young people within that community.<br />

Children may be born to specific parents,<br />

but they also spend a significant part of<br />

their life outside their home environment<br />

interacting with others. These can be<br />

pre-school staff, teachers, police, local<br />

shop keepers and business owners, park<br />

wardens or local group leaders such as<br />

Scouts and Guides, church leaders or<br />

sports club coaches.<br />

One of the 4 specific areas of learning<br />

in the EYFS, Understanding The World, is<br />

sub-dived into 3 areas. Within that, there is<br />

an area called “People and Communities”<br />

which encourages children to learn about<br />

the community they come from, and<br />

the sub-section on “The World” is also<br />

designed to help children learn about the<br />

different environments and ways of living<br />

that exist on the wider planet.<br />

Benefits of community<br />

involvement in early<br />

childhood<br />

Community involvement means not only<br />

making sure that the local community<br />

know your setting exists, but that there is<br />

two-way flow of information, both into the<br />

community and back from the community<br />

into your setting. There are many benefits<br />

to this. It is beneficial in all aspects of life,<br />

not just in early years, but in early years,<br />

the opportunity is there to ease the child’s<br />

transition into community life later on.<br />

Some of the many benefits of community<br />

involvement are:


“Dough a deer”: using<br />

magic dough creatively<br />

This current 6-part series of early years<br />

music articles features a new activity each<br />

month from a number of arts activities<br />

trialled for 1 and 2-year-old children, along<br />

with musical suggestions and recordings<br />

on YouTube.<br />

Creativity comes naturally to children,<br />

and research has shown that younger<br />

children have more creative ideas than<br />

older children. How or why creative ideas<br />

reduce as children progress through<br />

school has been argued by many different<br />

people, with ideas ranging from fears of<br />

being wrong to fears of not conforming,<br />

to a narrow national curriculum geared to<br />

academic success.<br />

Thinking of people like Elon Musk, Bill<br />

Gates, Steve Jobs, and their laser focus<br />

on technology, Florence Nightingale and<br />

her recognition of the need for hygiene<br />

and a sterile nursing environment, and<br />

even the inventor of Pokémon, and his<br />

motivation for bringing insects and nature<br />

to city children, creativity seems to come<br />

from personal interests and passions. Yet<br />

despite big changes coming from people<br />

with very focussed and specialist interests,<br />

current thinking is that a wider range of<br />

experiences creates more opportunities.<br />

Delivering “the arts” in a children’s<br />

curriculum can include so many options:<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. Working out which “arts” to<br />

successfully deliver to 1- to 2-year-old<br />

children can be more challenging. Based<br />

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

successfully experimented with six arts:<br />

♫<br />

♫<br />

Dance-painting – paint feet, move to<br />

song (July <strong>2023</strong>)<br />

Snow-painting<br />

♫<br />

♫<br />

♫<br />

♫<br />

Magic dough 08 – create characters<br />

in play-dough (<strong>August</strong> <strong>2023</strong>)<br />

Digital drawing<br />

Musical drawing<br />

Balloon painting<br />

This month, we are focusing on magic<br />

dough or play-dough.<br />

Recipe:<br />

8 tablespoons of flour<br />

2 tablespoons of table salt<br />

4 tablespoons of water<br />

1 tablespoon of vegetable oil<br />

Flavouring/food colouring<br />

Knead together until smooth and allow to<br />

rest in the fridge before use.<br />

This easy-to-make recipe can be used as<br />

part of the activity for children to make<br />

themselves, mixing the ingredients and<br />

kneading their own dough. Dividing the<br />

dough, children can use their creativity to<br />

create characters or any other items taken<br />

from songs that can be played or sung<br />

whilst making the dough. Then bake and<br />

paint for art extension activities!<br />

One man went to mow<br />

One man went to mow<br />

Went to mow a meadow,<br />

One man and his dog - woof!<br />

Went to mow a meadow.<br />

Two men went to mow<br />

Went to mow a meadow,<br />

Two men, one man and his dog - woof!<br />

Went to mow a meadow.<br />

Three men went to mow<br />

Went to mow a meadow,<br />

Three men, two men, one man<br />

And his dog - woof!<br />

Went to mow a meadow.<br />

Four men went to mow<br />

Went to mow a meadow,<br />

Four men, three men, two men<br />

One man and his dog - woof!<br />

Went to mow a meadow.<br />

Five men went to mow<br />

Went to mow a meadow,<br />

Five men, four men, three men, two men<br />

One man and his dog - woof!<br />

Went to mow a meadow.<br />

This lovely rhyme creates an opportunity<br />

for children to create multiple characters<br />

or work in groups, creating the different<br />

men – and of course, their dog – or even a<br />

lawnmower!<br />

Incy wincy spider<br />

Incy wincy spider<br />

Went up the waterspout<br />

Down came the rain and<br />

Washed the spider out<br />

Out came the sunshine and<br />

Dried up all the rain<br />

So incy wincy spider<br />

Went up the spout again<br />

This lovely old favourite creates<br />

opportunities for children to make spiders,<br />

webs, spouts, houses – and who knows<br />

what else they may come up with!<br />

Wind the bobbin up<br />

Wind the bobbin up<br />

Wind the bobbin up<br />

Pull, pull, clap-clap-clap<br />

Wind it back again<br />

Wind it back again<br />

Pull, pull, clap-clap-clap<br />

Point to the ceiling, point to the floor<br />

Point to the window and<br />

Point to the door<br />

Clap your hands together<br />

One-two-three<br />

Put your hands<br />

Upon your knees<br />

Unless their parents sew, it is unlikely that<br />

many children will know what a bobbin is<br />

– which can allow their imagination to run<br />

absolutely wild! Use it as an opportunity<br />

for children to imagine what a bobbin may<br />

be, something that can be wound – or use<br />

it as a lesson in the history of sewing as an<br />

industry!<br />

Ten green bottles<br />

Ten green bottles hanging on a wall<br />

Ten green bottles hanging on a wall<br />

And if one green bottle<br />

Should accidentally fall<br />

There’ll be nine green bottles<br />

Hanging on a wall<br />

Nine green bottles hanging on a wall …<br />

Eight green bottles hanging on a wall …<br />

Seven green bottles hanging on a wall …<br />

Six green bottles hanging on a wall …<br />

Five green bottles hanging on a wall …<br />

Four green bottles hanging on a wall …<br />

Three green bottles hanging on a wall …<br />

Two green bottles hanging on a wall …<br />

One green bottle hanging on a wall …<br />

No green bottles hanging on a wall<br />

No green bottles hanging on a wall<br />

And if no green bottles<br />

Should accidentally fall<br />

We can play in the garden<br />

Hanging on a wall<br />

This is another song where children<br />

can create many similar items or work<br />

in groups, creating 10 different kinds of<br />

bottles!<br />

And finally … doe a<br />

deer<br />

Despite this article referring to the song<br />

“Doe, a deer”, it is not usually a song<br />

recommended for new or young singers<br />

to learn because of its musical theory<br />

complexity. Being aware of songs that<br />

may be more complex or have too great<br />

a range for children allows children to<br />

sing successfully. However, it is a great<br />

LISTENING piece for children, helping to<br />

broaden their scope of musical experience<br />

by listening to different and more complex<br />

forms of music – not to mention giving<br />

children a wider scope of items that they<br />

can create from play-dough!<br />

Frances Turnbull<br />

Musician, researcher and author, Frances<br />

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

has played contemporary and community<br />

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

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

Trained in the music education techniques<br />

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

(specialist movement) and Orff<br />

(specialist percussion instruments), she<br />

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

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

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

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

Warblers, and delivers the Sound Sense<br />

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

within local care and residential homes,<br />

supporting health and well-being through<br />

her community interest company.<br />

She has represented the early years music<br />

community at the House of Commons,<br />

advocating for recognition for early<br />

years music educators, and her table<br />

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

features in her curriculum books.<br />

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

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

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

2017.<br />

www.musicaliti.co.uk<br />

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

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


There are times in everyone’s life when<br />

we need to either welcome new friends<br />

and meet new people or say goodbye to<br />

the people we already know and love.<br />

There are very few people who are with<br />

us on our entire life journey. Mostly, we<br />

encounter new friends and colleagues<br />

along the way. Some of them we meet<br />

only once, others are there for a short time,<br />

and yet others could be with us for life.<br />

So how do we best teach our early years<br />

children about this fundamental truth - that<br />

sometimes we need to be ready to say<br />

“hello”, and other times, we need to find a<br />

way to say “goodbye”?<br />

Hellos<br />

Hellos and goodbyes<br />

In general, ‘hellos’ are usually easier to<br />

say than ‘goodbyes’ because we have<br />

less to lose. We don’t yet know the person,<br />

and have not yet formed any relationship<br />

with, or attachment to them, so we have<br />

nothing to lose by saying “hello”.<br />

Someone once said that: “Strangers are<br />

just friends we haven’t met yet” and this<br />

seems a compassionate and optimistic<br />

way to view all new faces. When meeting<br />

new people, whether talking about staff or<br />

children, there are some factors that can<br />

influence how easy people find it. These<br />

include:<br />

Whether everyone is new (such as at<br />

the start of term), or whether they are<br />

the only new one (for example when<br />

people join part-way through a term)<br />

How confident the person feels inside<br />

The culture they come from<br />

Their personality type - introverted or<br />

extroverted<br />

Any special needs they have, for<br />

example, they may dislike crowds<br />

or noise, or be completely opposite<br />

and need to run around and meet<br />

everyone<br />

The situation on the day i.e. whether<br />

they are late, early or stressed<br />

The emotional state of the other<br />

people they are meeting<br />

How to ease ‘hellos’ for<br />

children<br />

At the start of term, think about:<br />

Creating a welcome pack and<br />

sending this out to parents in good<br />

time<br />

What your procedure is for drop-off<br />

and how long parents/carers are<br />

allowed to stay<br />

Activities that can calm nervous/<br />

anxious or excited children so that the<br />

setting is ordered and calm. These<br />

could be circle games, name games,<br />

and introductions<br />

Think about how to mark the moment<br />

for children so they know it’s a special<br />

day – you could help them create a<br />

“This is me” book, or a short video<br />

(if you have consent) or perhaps a<br />

display where the children draw or<br />

mark-make something unique<br />

The rules and agreements that you<br />

need to establish on day one, and<br />

which ones can be spaced out over<br />

the day – e.g. lunchtime routines<br />

Staffing and who will be introduced,<br />

e.g. key person, room leaders<br />

Think too about how you will minimise<br />

potential conflicts on day one and<br />

what you will do should they occur<br />

Organising ‘friendship days’ prior to<br />

the start date<br />

For staff<br />

New staff need to be made to feel<br />

welcome and that they can easily fit into<br />

the team. They ideally need a buddy or<br />

mentor identified so that they can ask<br />

them questions easily without always<br />

feeling like ‘the new person’.<br />

New staff should also have a proper<br />

induction process which includes<br />

safeguarding training, HR checks, a tour,<br />

details of all day-to-day procedures and<br />

protocols, and an introduction to their<br />

team.<br />

If staff or students join part-way through<br />

the year, make sure that you have a plan<br />

to help them integrate into your setting. It’s<br />

always more difficult being the only new<br />

person and trying to break into alreadyestablished<br />

friendship groups. Try to plan<br />

ahead and explain to the existing people<br />

that there will be a new friend starting. If<br />

you can arrange for the class to meet the<br />

new child (perhaps on a tour) before the<br />

actual start date, then this could minimise<br />

anxiety.<br />

On the day, make sure you check-in<br />

regularly with them and give them a<br />

buddy or friends (possibly 2) so that they<br />

feel there is someone to help. Make sure<br />

that their key person is available on the<br />

day they start and have regular check-ins<br />

for the next few days and weeks until they<br />

are settled.<br />

Think too about any specific issues that<br />

the mid-term starter might face. Perhaps<br />

they are a looked after child (LAC) or an<br />

asylum-seeker, which might mean they<br />

have some trauma or language issues to<br />

overcome on top of the usual “I’m new”<br />

anxieties.<br />

Goodbyes<br />

As mentioned earlier, saying “goodbye”<br />

can be difficult for children. There are a<br />

number of situations where children might<br />

experience this such as:<br />

Children or staff leaving<br />

Children transitioning to Reception<br />

Moving rooms or changing the key<br />

person<br />

Staff retiring<br />

Family separations<br />

Bereavements<br />

Some of these instances are well-known<br />

in advance, such as a transition to<br />

Reception class and can be well-planned.<br />

Others, may have no warning and cause<br />

additional trauma.<br />

Planning is important where possible. For<br />

transitions to Reception, think about:<br />

Marking the moment with a special<br />

book (like a yearbook) and assembly.<br />

Twinkl have a number of different<br />

transition day resources on their site<br />

Talking openly about the transition<br />

with optimism and excitement so that<br />

the children learn it is something to<br />

look forward to and not to fear<br />

Highlight what some of the key<br />

changes will be<br />

The official transition day for your<br />

area is usually at the end of June/<br />

beginning of July for all children to<br />

visit their new school and have an<br />

induction day<br />

Encouraging children to talk about<br />

their experiences and sort out any<br />

issues that arise by liaising with<br />

parents/carers and the new school<br />

Doing some role play activities about<br />

goodbyes<br />

Making sure that all the relevant<br />

transfer details and forms have been<br />

forwarded (or received) in good time<br />

Collating/downloading any welcome<br />

packs that are available and<br />

distributing them to parents<br />

Bereavement and family<br />

separation<br />

Where children are saying “goodbye”<br />

due to bereavement or separation, it is<br />

important to support the child through<br />

their emotional journey. They are unlikely<br />

to be prepared for a sudden death and<br />

young children cannot easily understand<br />

the concept of death being permanent<br />

until they are older. Talk plainly and not in<br />

code (i.e. don’t say things like “mummy<br />

is sleeping”) but try to understand the<br />

emotions the child will have and be<br />

there for them. There is a lot of useful<br />

information at www.childbereavementuk.<br />

org/early-years and you can look at<br />

NSPCC for information on helping children<br />

through separation and divorce. There is<br />

also a guide to how this can affect children<br />

of different ages, here.<br />

Resources and more<br />

information<br />

www.twinkl.co.uk/resources/home-earlyyears/teacher-organisation-eyfs-earlyyears/early-years-transition<br />

www.teachearlyyears.com/a-uniquechild/view/supporting-transitions-in-theearly-years<br />

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

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


Giving children<br />

learning<br />

superpowers<br />

As you are no doubt aware from your own<br />

experiences of learning anything new,<br />

success has as much to do with self-belief<br />

as it does with any level of intelligence<br />

you might possess. So, when we look at<br />

establishing the best possible start for our<br />

children as they venture into the school<br />

classroom, keep this close to mind.<br />

During their enormously influential early<br />

years, your children are sharing so many<br />

experiences of learning with you. But<br />

what can be overlooked are their first<br />

experiences of what it means to try to<br />

learn. Every experience is teaching them<br />

something about the impact of their<br />

actions and whether the effort is worth<br />

their while. So, with that in mind, ask<br />

yourself “What is the point of endlessly<br />

naming shapes, colours or the sounds of<br />

the day?”<br />

When experiences of learning are negative<br />

(they get the wrong answer) or seem<br />

meaningless (what is the point of this?)<br />

children soon see it as futile and are less<br />

likely to bother trying. This impacts their<br />

potential achievement, both directly as<br />

they lose interest in the process of learning<br />

and through its effect on their self-belief,<br />

attention skills, concentration, and<br />

persistence.<br />

Soon, classroom experiences of learning<br />

are going to replace many of the freedoms<br />

of experience that you now enjoy. When<br />

this happens, children may find limited<br />

opportunities to use their natural methods<br />

of learning; to pursue an idea for as long<br />

as they need, to be autonomous in the<br />

decisions they are making or to access the<br />

resources or environments they need.<br />

Now is your opportunity to embrace these<br />

styles of learning. Give your children<br />

opportunities to think and demonstrate<br />

what they can achieve with experiences<br />

they are interested in. Let them see<br />

why the properties of a shape might be<br />

important or how you can use the sounds<br />

of words to communicate with each other.<br />

Offer the time and opportunity for children<br />

to self-direct, allowing them to explore<br />

their direction of enquiry, revisiting as often<br />

as needed and trusting in their judgement.<br />

And let them see and feel the impact of<br />

their learning as their ideas take shape,<br />

regardless of what their intentions may<br />

have been.<br />

As children play, they try out various roles,<br />

initiating and manipulating experiences<br />

as they see how something beyond<br />

their means or capabilities feels. As they<br />

play, they are investigating and making<br />

decisions on what they will do next,<br />

exploring the power of an idea and what<br />

can come from it. When they hit difficulties<br />

or make a mistake, they learn that this<br />

is how you learn more, what it means to<br />

persist and to try new ways of thinking. All<br />

of which are powerfully important to future<br />

learning.<br />

But these are not things you can know in<br />

advance or plan an activity to manage.<br />

Instead, think about the opportunities your<br />

children have to access their environment<br />

and how free they are to connect with the<br />

experiences they need in the moment. Can<br />

they explore new ideas and discoveries<br />

in different ways? Are they allowed to<br />

combine different resources and concepts?<br />

Can they move into whichever areas they<br />

need – inside and out – as an idea occurs<br />

to them? Observe them during the day<br />

with these questions in mind.<br />

As this is happening, offer meaningful,<br />

measured, and focused praise. But<br />

watch first, be careful not to interrupt a<br />

key moment of engagement and wait for<br />

those natural breaks or when they turn to<br />

you for guidance. Offer them interesting,<br />

novel, and authentic resources with the<br />

time, space and freedom they need to<br />

engage in the rich learning opportunities<br />

they offer. Allow ideas to germinate, free<br />

from excessive distractions, interruption, or<br />

management. And be ready to see what<br />

they have to show you, even if this may<br />

be quite different to what you may expect.<br />

Remember, memories of this experience<br />

are forming constantly.<br />

Resources should be:


Did you know that Billie Eilish, Emma<br />

Watson and Nadia Sawalha were all<br />

home schooled? Or that Emma Thompson<br />

took her daughter out of formal education<br />

because she couldn’t fit in to what her<br />

daughter described as the “sausagefactory<br />

style” education? In 2019, it was<br />

estimated that between 90,000 to 130,000<br />

children were home schooled in the UK<br />

and the figure is rising significantly each<br />

year.<br />

What is home<br />

education?<br />

Home education –<br />

what’s it all about?<br />

Home education (or home schooling) is<br />

when a parent chooses to take their child<br />

out of the state-run or independent school<br />

sector and take on the full responsibility<br />

of giving their child an education. This can<br />

work better for some families, particularly<br />

if a child struggles in a mainstream<br />

environment with large class sizes. In the<br />

US, home education is more common<br />

than in the UK with 8-9% of children being<br />

home schooled.<br />

Benefits of home<br />

education<br />

Advocates of home education present<br />

several benefits including:<br />

✏ Personalised education – home<br />

schooling can be individualised to the<br />

particular needs, skills and interests of<br />

each unique child<br />

✏ More choice - there is no stateimposed<br />

curriculum to follow and<br />

parents can decide the subjects<br />

their children study and how this is<br />

done. Children must, however, be<br />

enabled to be literate and numerate,<br />

in accordance with their age, ability,<br />

aptitude and any special needs they<br />

may have<br />

✏ Classrooms can be anywhere -<br />

such as playgrounds, museums,<br />

alternative learning centres and<br />

vocational places, but you can do<br />

maths in the supermarket, chemistry<br />

in the kitchen and biology in the<br />

garden centre if you want to<br />

✏ Freedom – parents can educate their<br />

children in ways that suit their lifestyle<br />

best, and there is no need to follow<br />

a timetable of hours, days, or school<br />

holidays<br />

✏ Children’s engagement – often<br />

children do better with a 1:1 approach<br />

to their learning and if they have some<br />

autonomy over what they study, they<br />

can be more motivated or engaged<br />

✏ Life preparation – home schooling<br />

can provide a wide range of life<br />

skills that might not be taught in an<br />

institutionalised system<br />

✏ Higher education – a large<br />

percentage of home schooled children<br />

do well academically and go on to<br />

higher education<br />

✏ Less negative interactions –<br />

students who are home schooled<br />

may be protected from some of the<br />

problems that larger schools have<br />

such as bullying, child-on-child abuse<br />

or sexual harassment<br />

Disadvantages<br />

Some of the disadvantages presented<br />

against home schooling include:<br />

✏ Changing to/from home schooling<br />

can create ‘gaps in education’ for<br />

the child if they come back into<br />

mainstream after being home<br />

schooled<br />

✏ Some people argue that home<br />

schooled children do less well at<br />

social interactions, although this is not<br />

necessarily borne out by research.<br />

Home schooled students do need<br />

social interactions in the form of<br />

local groups or outside-education<br />

friendships who meet up regularly<br />

✏ It takes time, energy and money<br />

✏ Schools can have a lot of resources<br />

at their disposal such as swimming<br />

pools, gyms, science labs, and<br />

specialised language labs that<br />

parents may not have access to<br />

What are the<br />

legalities?<br />

All children must have a full-time<br />

education from the age of 5 in the UK, but<br />

they are not required to attend a formal<br />

school. Parents can home school their<br />

children at any age, but if a child starts<br />

school, then parents are legally required to<br />

inform their current Headteacher in writing<br />

if they subsequently want to home school<br />

them. The school cannot refuse, however,<br />

if parents request a part-time arrangement<br />

with the school, then the school does<br />

have the right to decline a part-time<br />

arrangement.<br />

It is recommended that parents who are<br />

home schooling their children, register<br />

with their local authority, who can provide<br />

support. The authority may make an<br />

informal enquiry to ensure that the child<br />

is getting a suitable education at home.<br />

If they are concerned, they can serve a<br />

school attendance order requiring the child<br />

be taught at school.<br />

There is no legal requirement to follow<br />

the National Curriculum which is set out<br />

for state-maintained schools, however,<br />

parents will be required to take on the<br />

full financial responsibility for their child’s<br />

education including the cost of any public<br />

examinations. See a list of FAQs about<br />

home schooling here.<br />

What about children<br />

with SEN?<br />

The right for parents to educate their child<br />

at home applies equally for children with<br />

SEN (special educational needs) as for<br />

those without, even if the child has an<br />

education, health and care plan (EHCP).<br />

However, if the child attends a special<br />

school, then the local authority will need<br />

to agree to have the child home schooled<br />

so parents will need to contact their local<br />

authority.<br />

What resources are<br />

out there?<br />

Just because a child is home educated<br />

does not mean that they have to sit in<br />

their parent’s home 24/7. In fact, many<br />

home-educated students have many<br />

more extra-curricular adventures and<br />

activities than their institutionalised peers.<br />

In addition, since the pandemic, there are<br />

many more opportunities for learning from<br />

all areas and many companies, museums<br />

and educational societies have lots of<br />

resources for parents and teachers alike.<br />

Some of the resources available for home<br />

education include:<br />

Online schools – These offer an online<br />

education usually to older students (10+).<br />

Children can choose their classes and<br />

interact with teachers and peers despite<br />

being located in different areas of the<br />

country. Some online schools even offer<br />

opportunities for pupils to meet up at<br />

events and community gatherings.<br />

Correspondence courses - A<br />

correspondence course is also known as<br />

distance learning. They can include GCSEs<br />

and A Levels and can cover a range of<br />

subjects. They usually include all lesson<br />

materials (books, online lessons, videos)<br />

and access to a tutor or teacher who can<br />

give feedback and monitor progress.<br />

Private tutors - These are usually<br />

experienced individuals or qualified<br />

teachers who provide individual tuition to<br />

students. Rates can typically range from<br />

£30 - £60 per hour.<br />

Parent-organised groups and<br />

resources - Many areas of the UK have<br />

groups of home educators on social media<br />

channels who arrange get-togethers,<br />

events and educational trips. They can<br />

socialise and share the load, pooling<br />

resources to better effect. They may have a<br />

vetting system, but most groups welcome<br />

new members and can be a great source<br />

of friendship and advice.<br />

Home education organisations - See<br />

below for 2 of the most well-known.<br />

✏ Home Education Advisory Service -<br />

www.heas.org.uk<br />

✏ Education Otherwise - www.<br />

educationotherwise.org<br />

References and more<br />

information<br />

Good Schools Guide to Home Education<br />

Elective home education - Departmental<br />

guidance for parents from gov.uk<br />

✏ Good Schools Guide to Home<br />

Education<br />

✏ Elective home education<br />

✏ Teachers to your home<br />

✏ Psychology Today<br />

✏ The Week<br />

Resources<br />

✏ Early-education.org.uk - links for early<br />

years and primary home education<br />

✏ Twinkl resources for home schooling<br />

✏ kingsinterhigh.co.uk/onlinehomeschooling<br />

✏ www.edplace.com/<br />

homeschooling-<strong>2023</strong><br />

30 <strong>August</strong> <strong>2023</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>August</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 31


Five tips for setting<br />

expectations with<br />

children<br />

1<br />

Be clear and consistent<br />

Children do well when they have clearly<br />

set expectations and structure within their<br />

setting. It is therefore vital that the dos<br />

and don’ts of their environment are welldefined<br />

and easy to understand. Having<br />

a consistent routine will help children to<br />

know what is expected of them throughout<br />

the day and the familiarity of a routine will<br />

also help them to feel safe and secure.<br />

Consistency is key. If you set a rule and<br />

consequence, make sure that you follow<br />

through with it every single time. Likewise,<br />

if you say you are going to do something<br />

positive later, make sure you follow up with<br />

that promise too. If children know that we<br />

honour our word, they are more likely to<br />

take what we say seriously.<br />

2<br />

Make expectations age<br />

appropriate<br />

It is also crucial that we set ageappropriate<br />

expectations that take into<br />

consideration a child’s developmental<br />

capabilities. For example, a 2-year-old<br />

will struggle to sit still for long periods of<br />

time, so it would be unfair to have a rule<br />

that they need to sit on the carpet for 30<br />

minutes during storytime. It is important<br />

that whatever rules and expectations<br />

we have, that we are setting children<br />

up for success and not pushing them<br />

beyond what they are developmentally<br />

programmed to be able to do.<br />

3<br />

Remember children are<br />

little people<br />

It is important to remember that children<br />

are little people with their own minds.<br />

Sometimes our expectations can be quite<br />

high and if the shoe was on the other foot,<br />

we’d struggle ourselves. For example, how<br />

would we feel if we were engrossed in a<br />

project and someone came along, took it<br />

from us without warning and demanded<br />

that we went to lunch? We’d be furious<br />

and totally frustrated! The same applies<br />

to children. Quite often we will move them<br />

from task to task with no warning and then<br />

wonder why they are having a meltdown.<br />

It’s important to treat children as we would<br />

like to be treated. A simple fix to that<br />

scenario would be tell them that lunch will<br />

be in 10 minutes and to allow them time to<br />

wrap up what they are doing. I always put<br />

myself in my children’s shoes and ask how<br />

I would react in the same situation. If they<br />

answer is ‘badly’, I amend my approach.<br />

4<br />

Give it time<br />

Routines and boundaries take time to<br />

embed. Sometimes you have to work at it<br />

for a while and give children time to adjust.<br />

Again, consistency and repetition are key.<br />

Children may need a few reminders and<br />

some redirection, but in time they will get<br />

there. Just gently guide them in the right<br />

direction, follow through with everything<br />

you say, have strong boundaries and the<br />

rest will eventually fall into place.<br />

5<br />

Lead with love<br />

We don’t need to be critical with our<br />

approach. No person is going to be their<br />

best self if they feel like they are failing. It<br />

is therefore important that we implement<br />

rules and expectations from a place of<br />

love. Children will naturally fight against<br />

change. However, ultimately, boundaries<br />

and structure make them feel safer. If<br />

we can assert ourselves but maintain<br />

the message that we care deeply whilst<br />

doing this, children will be more likely to<br />

cooperate. It may take time to stick, but it is<br />

important that we nurture our child-adult<br />

bond in the process.<br />

Stacey Kelly<br />

Stacey Kelly is a former French and<br />

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

babies and the founder of Early Years<br />

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

left her teaching career and started<br />

writing and illustrating storybooks to help<br />

support her children through different<br />

transitional stages like leaving nursery<br />

and starting school. Seeing the positive<br />

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

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

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

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

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

lessons and to prepare children for their<br />

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

for childcare settings that are gifted on<br />

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

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

has recently launched a new collection<br />

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

as many children as she can through<br />

storytime and to give childcare settings an<br />

affordable and special gifting solution that<br />

truly makes a difference.<br />

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

Telephone: 07765785595<br />

Website: www.earlyyearsstorybox.com<br />

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

earlyyearsstorybox<br />

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

eystorybox<br />

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

earlyyearsstorybox<br />

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

stacey-kelly-a84534b2/<br />

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

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


EYFS activities:<br />

Understanding<br />

the World<br />

Understanding the World is so important in the EYFS because it promotes curiosity, builds knowledge and<br />

understanding, develops critical thinking and problem-solving skills, supports social and emotional development,<br />

enhances communication and language skills, and prepares children for future academic learning. It helps young<br />

learners make sense of their world and equips them with essential skills and knowledge for their educational<br />

journey and beyond.<br />

Going Walkabout!<br />

• Taking children out on nearby walks and<br />

providing ways for them to record and<br />

explore their observations is a great way to<br />

support learning and conversation skills<br />

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

here.<br />

What Job? The dressing up game all children love!<br />

• Place objects, clothing, and pictures<br />

relating to a particular job onto a table<br />

• Observe, listen, and prompt the children’s<br />

thinking, revealing the corresponding job at<br />

the end<br />

• Let the children dress up and use props<br />

relating to that role e.g., a helmet and a<br />

high-vis jacket for a firefighter<br />

• Allow the children time to use their<br />

imagination and role-play the job. For<br />

example, the children might pretend to put<br />

out an object on fire or turn their toy car<br />

into a fire engine<br />

• It’s important you then use open-ended<br />

questions to encourage the children to think<br />

about other parts of a firefighter’s job. You<br />

can also read books with the children to<br />

develop their understanding of the different<br />

roles<br />

This activity can be based on any job role, for<br />

example, builders, doctors, teachers, chefs etc.<br />

and provides a great opportunity for children<br />

to develop an interest in the different jobs that<br />

men and women do.<br />

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

here.<br />

• When you are out for walks in your local<br />

environment or garden in your setting, talk<br />

to children about what they can see, hear<br />

and smell<br />

• Encourage them to explore different<br />

textures when they are outside – such as<br />

tree trunks, grass, concrete, pebbles, and<br />

stones<br />

• Then help the children to make rubbings of<br />

the different textures they can find using<br />

paper and crayons, which can later be<br />

used in a collage or scrapbook<br />

This is an excellent activity no matter<br />

your location. If you have limited access<br />

to woodlands, point out different local<br />

environment features and see if children can<br />

recognise familiar shop signs and logos or the<br />

different brands advertised on bus stops. You<br />

could even see how many particular-coloured<br />

cars you see on your journey.<br />

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

What Sound?<br />

What could be more fun than making your<br />

own musical instruments? Making musical<br />

instruments develops children’s fine motor<br />

skills and coordination while they have the<br />

opportunity to investigate the ‘similarities<br />

and differences’ between lots of objects and<br />

materials. Start with these simple ideas using<br />

recycled objects to inspire children’s love of<br />

music and appreciation of how sounds are<br />

made.<br />

• Shakers - many percussion instruments<br />

make a sound when shaken and are very<br />

easy to make. Simply use a clear plastic<br />

bottle and fill it with something like rice,<br />

pasta or beans<br />

• Jars - fill several clear same-sized jars with<br />

different amounts of coloured water. Order<br />

the jars into a scale, tap with a wooden<br />

spoon, and listen to the different tones. You<br />

will find that more water makes a lower<br />

note, and less water makes a higher note<br />

• Tissue box guitar – a firm favourite! Stretch<br />

different-sized elastic bands over an empty<br />

tissue box for the children to pluck and<br />

strum like a guitar.<br />

• Drums - use empty biscuit tins for the<br />

children to bang and tap like a drum!<br />

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

here.


Guided role-play<br />

and vocabulary<br />

development in the<br />

early years<br />

In the early years of a child’s life, language<br />

development is crucial to their overall<br />

cognitive and social development.<br />

Language development is a complex<br />

process that starts from infancy and<br />

continues throughout childhood. It<br />

encompasses receptive language<br />

skills (understanding language) and<br />

expressive language skills (using<br />

language to communicate). During the<br />

early years, children’s language skills<br />

lay the foundation for future literacy and<br />

communication abilities.<br />

An effective approach to fostering<br />

language and communication skills, in the<br />

early years, is through guided, creative<br />

role-play.<br />

Definition of guided,<br />

creative role-play:<br />

Guided, creative role-play refers to an<br />

interactive and imaginative activity where<br />

children engage in fictional scenarios with<br />

the guidance of an adult or a facilitator. It<br />

involves children assuming various roles,<br />

using props and costumes, and creating<br />

narratives based on their imagination.<br />

How can guided, creative<br />

role-play develop language<br />

development:<br />

1. Vocabulary expansion: Guided,<br />

creative role-play exposes children to<br />

a wide range of words and phrases<br />

related to the roles they assume. This<br />

exposure enhances their vocabulary<br />

and helps them acquire new words in<br />

a meaningful context.<br />

2. Language structure and<br />

grammar: Role-play scenarios<br />

provide opportunities for children to<br />

use language in structured ways.<br />

They learn to construct sentences,<br />

use appropriate grammar,<br />

and understand the rules of<br />

communication within the context of<br />

the play.<br />

3. Communication and social<br />

interaction: Role-play encourages<br />

children to communicate their<br />

thoughts, ideas, and feelings with<br />

others. It fosters social interaction,<br />

turn-taking, and collaboration,<br />

allowing children to practice and<br />

refine their language skills in a<br />

supportive environment.<br />

4. Storytelling and narrative skills:<br />

Guided role-play involves storytelling,<br />

where children create narratives<br />

and develop characters. This activity<br />

nurtures their ability to organise<br />

thoughts, sequence events, and use<br />

language to convey stories effectively.<br />

5. Creativity and imagination: Roleplay<br />

sparks children’s imagination<br />

and creativity, enabling them to<br />

explore new scenarios and think<br />

outside the box. This imaginative<br />

play enhances their language skills<br />

by encouraging them to describe,<br />

explain, and articulate their ideas.<br />

Develop their imagination and vocabulary<br />

through fun, creative, guided and childinitiated<br />

role-play.<br />

Strategies for effective<br />

guided creative role-play:<br />

Facilitator’s role (you): Provide guidance,<br />

introduce new vocabulary, and model<br />

effective communication skills. You<br />

can also ask open-ended questions<br />

to stimulate thinking and encourage<br />

children’s language use.<br />

Incorporating real-world experiences:<br />

Integrate real-world experiences into<br />

role-play scenarios to connect language<br />

development with practical contexts.<br />

Creating a language-rich environment:<br />

Provide a variety of props, books, and<br />

print materials related to the role-play<br />

themes. Ensure your environment supports<br />

language development by fostering<br />

curiosity.<br />

Peer Collaboration: Encourage children<br />

to work together and communicate with<br />

their peers during role-play activities.<br />

Peer interactions promote language<br />

development by providing negotiation,<br />

problem-solving, and joint storytelling<br />

opportunities.<br />

Educators and parents can create a<br />

language-rich environment that facilitates<br />

optimal language development in young<br />

children by implementing strategies that<br />

support guided creative role-play.<br />

Developing child-initiated<br />

role-play:<br />

If you have children that are interested in<br />

space and aliens, take them on a trip to<br />

the moon. Even before you blast off, there<br />

are so many opportunities to enrich their<br />

language by discussing:<br />

“How will we travel to space?”<br />

Build their vocabulary by showing and<br />

discussing different types and modes of<br />

transport. Talk about real-life experiences<br />

that you and the children have had.<br />

“What do we wear in space?”<br />

You can show them images of astronaut’s<br />

clothes and discover why they have to<br />

wear protective suits. Need to ensure we<br />

have appropriate clothing including special<br />

boots. Who wants to be an astronaut with<br />

smelly feet or cold feet?<br />

“Can you fart in space?”<br />

Something that always engages the little<br />

ones and, the teachers, is the discussion<br />

of farts in space… Methane, a component<br />

found in farts, is flammable and could<br />

pose a fire hazard. So, it’s more than the<br />

aroma that’s the danger and, it is, a real<br />

subject of scientific curiosity.<br />

“Emotions of going to and being in<br />

space?”<br />

You can talk about how even astronauts<br />

can get scared and anxious in space.<br />

Maybe they are even afraid of the dark!<br />

Role-play the different emotions that you<br />

and your little astronauts may experience<br />

as they go to space and imagine if they<br />

actually met some aliens!<br />

There are so many ways of enriching<br />

their vocabulary and building their<br />

communication skills through a little<br />

imagination and role-play.<br />

Here are some words you can include<br />

in your role-play to help develop and<br />

enhance their vocabulary.<br />

What do we need in our astronaut’s<br />

suit?<br />

⭐ Oxygen tanks<br />

⭐ Lights<br />

⭐ Camera<br />

⭐ Communicators<br />

⭐ Helmet<br />

⭐ Gloves (with a screwdriver as the<br />

gloves are screwed on)<br />

⭐ Space boots<br />

⭐ Water tank<br />

⭐ In-suit drink bag<br />

⭐ Air-conditioning (can get a bit hot and<br />

sweaty)<br />

⭐ Toilet (vital)<br />

What is our rocket made up of?<br />

⭐ Engines<br />

⭐ Rocket boosters<br />

⭐ Abort system<br />

⭐ Crew module<br />

⭐ Windows<br />

⭐ Seats<br />

⭐ Safety belts<br />

⭐ Don’t forget the big red button to push<br />

to blast off into space.<br />

What will we see when we are in<br />

space?<br />

⭐ Stars<br />

⭐ Moons<br />

⭐ Planets - learn the names in our solar<br />

system<br />

⭐ Asteroids<br />

⭐ Comets<br />

⭐ Satellites<br />

⭐ International Space Station<br />

⭐ Galaxies<br />

⭐ James Webb telescope<br />

⭐ Euclid Space telescope<br />

⭐ Quasar (luminous active, galactic<br />

nucleus)<br />

⭐ Neutron stars<br />

⭐ White dwarfs<br />

⭐ Black holes<br />

⭐ Nebulas<br />

⭐ Star clusters<br />

Role-play is a valuable tool for promoting<br />

language development in the early years.<br />

Through imaginative play, children expand<br />

their vocabulary, develop language<br />

structure and grammar, enhance their<br />

communication and social interaction<br />

skills, and foster creativity and storytelling<br />

abilities. There is no end to learning<br />

through imagination and a combination of<br />

guided and child-initiated role-play.<br />

Pack some snacks (no beans…), choose<br />

your rocket, and role-play an adventure in<br />

space.<br />

What are you waiting for?<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>August</strong> <strong>2023</strong> | parenta.com<br />

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

“I just wanted to drop an email to say about Anca. I wanted to just say how helpful she has<br />

been throughout my whole course, and has helped me to achieve a distinction in my EPA. I<br />

just want to also say that she has been amazing throughout and so supportive when I was<br />

really struggling. She is so lovely and such a good mentor.<br />

If I ever needed help with any assignments, she would always be able to answer any<br />

questions that I had no matter how big or small they were. She also reassured me when I felt<br />

like I wasn’t doing so well.”<br />

Ellie<br />

“Very professional, they are always available to answer any questions you might have. I<br />

would highly recommend their website service!”<br />

Muhammed Khan<br />

“Rang the helpline just to get clarification on what I needed to do to give notice. Quickly told<br />

on what to do and response was quick with advice on what I may need to download before<br />

the end.”<br />

Denise Harper-Smith<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 />

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 />

“Lady I spoke to was lovely, really helpful and solved my problem very quickly. I really<br />

appreciate the help as I’m quite new to the role and struggle a little with certain parts of the<br />

system.”<br />

Sunshine<br />

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

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

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