October 2023 Parenta magazine

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Issue 107<br />

OCTOBER <strong>2023</strong><br />

Early screening &<br />

intervention for<br />

dyslexic children<br />

Can vegan diets<br />

support early years<br />

development?<br />

Creating a positive<br />

leadership culture<br />

+ lots more<br />

EYFS activities<br />

inside!<br />

This month…<br />

Communication<br />

and language<br />

Unlocking the power of<br />

‘early years outdoors’<br />

Transforming early years operations with <strong>Parenta</strong> - The Favours Day Nursery Story<br />

Discover positive outcomes for your setting through investing in skilled staff

24<br />

6<br />

26<br />

20<br />

12<br />

Hello<br />

Welcome to our family<br />

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

We’re thrilled to present a content-packed issue this month, featuring a wide array of topics discussed by our esteemed early<br />

years industry experts. From sensory-scaping to safeguarding, from nurturing a leadership culture to understanding dyslexia,<br />

and from discovering your inner musician to achieving a harmonious work-life balance, we’ve covered it all!<br />

This month, our focus turns to nutrition and how we can provide the children in our care with the best possible start in life<br />

while offering parents valuable advice for making healthy choices. Turn to page 18, where Louise Mercieca explores the<br />

question of whether vegan diets can support early childhood development. On page 24, we’re excited to introduce our new<br />

guest author, Lee Connelly, the UK’s leading children’s gardening educator – he shares with us insights on unlocking the<br />

potential of outdoor learning in early years education. Following Lee’s article, we delve into the critical issue of malnutrition<br />

and its implications for children’s development.<br />

Don’t miss out on our upcoming free webinar this month, where both Lee and Louise will delve into the topic of ‘Growing<br />

Healthy Children & Cultivating Nutrition through Childhood Gardening.’ Register now at www.parenta.com/webinars!<br />

Please spread the <strong>magazine</strong> magic with your friends, colleagues and parents. They can receive their own copy, either in<br />

digital or now in printed format by signing up at www.parenta.com/<strong>magazine</strong>.<br />

Allan<br />

Regulars<br />

10 Write for us<br />

36 EYFS Activities: Communication and language<br />

News<br />

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

6 Transforming early years operations with <strong>Parenta</strong> -<br />

The Favours Day Nursery Story<br />

8 Childcare news and views<br />

Advice<br />

14 Safeguarding and gambling awareness<br />

22 National Work Life Week<br />

26 Malnutrition Awareness Week<br />

32 Helping parents manage screen time<br />

Industry Experts<br />

30<br />

12 Sensory scaping to provide for a neurodiverse<br />

community<br />

18 Can vegan diets support early years development? -<br />

Part One<br />

20 Seven top tips for a nurturing childhood - What does<br />

it mean to be a nurturing parent?<br />

24 Unlocking the power of ‘early years outdoors’<br />

28 Creating a positive leadership culture - Resisting<br />

‘executive subculture’ in your nursery<br />

30 Early screening & intervention for dyslexic children -<br />

Breaking myths & ensuring success<br />

34 “Thank you for the music” - Musical drawing in the<br />

early years<br />

38 Body talk!<br />

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

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

What do our customers<br />

say this month?<br />

“Having English as an additional language, I felt very<br />

supported by my tutor, Laxmi. I’ve always had answers<br />

to all my questions. I would recommend <strong>Parenta</strong> to<br />

everyone!”<br />

Justine Bonnier<br />

“I would like to leave a testimonial for Sarah Odwyer,<br />

who has been amazing at supporting me as a new<br />

tutor! Sarah, although a new tutor herself, has a lot of<br />

experience within assessing and has been absolutely<br />

amazing whenever I have reached out for support!”<br />

Kaye Newbury<br />

“I have had a very good experience with <strong>Parenta</strong> so<br />

far. I have been learning new things everyday which<br />

“Denise is a great support to me during my training.<br />

“The service was great. My tutor Mel was brilliant and<br />

helped me throughout my course. The course suited<br />

me as I could do it all in my own time online. The<br />

teaching and learning lessons also helped, as this was<br />

suited to when I was free and I gained more insight<br />

into the modules. All tutors were kind and supportive<br />

throughout. I recommend <strong>Parenta</strong> to everyone I know!”<br />

“Emma Dury, my tutor, has been very helpful and<br />

friendly throughout with good communication. I<br />

found the course very informative and easy to upload<br />

assignments with the OneFile system.”<br />

Naomi Goode<br />

Selsdon Baptist Church Preschool<br />

will help me achieve my goal. At first when I started<br />

my journey doing a Level 2 apprenticeship I found it<br />

difficult, but my tutor Nicky Newport helped me every<br />

step of the way. Without her support I don’t think I<br />

could have achieved what I have done so far.”<br />

Aliya Yusuf<br />

Denise always checks in regularly with me, making<br />

sure I am on track and to see if I need any additional<br />

support or guidance. Denise has been so patient,<br />

kind and helpful throughout my time with her as my<br />

assessor. Thank you Denise!”<br />

Daniella du Preez<br />

Khadeejah Kaneez<br />

The Northern Lights Preschool<br />

“Lauren Daniels is an excellent tutor, and we are very<br />

grateful as a setting that we have her. She is always<br />

very supportive of all our apprentices and thoroughly<br />

explains all the information, giving our practitioners<br />

confidence to achieve good results. We know she is<br />

always there for us and responds quickly to help when<br />

needed. Thank you Lauren.”<br />

Nicola Daniel<br />

Johnson Garden Day Nursery Limited<br />

“Shauna has been incredible and has supported me in<br />

each session to ensure things run smoothly.<br />

I have also had 2 sessions with Rosie and she has also<br />

been incredible. ”<br />

Little Robins<br />

“I would just like to say a huge thank you to Karley,<br />

who has supported me since day 1 with queries,<br />

getting them sorted and boosting my confidence when<br />

it’s needed (often).<br />

Karley goes above and beyond to support, is always<br />

friendly and helpful, and keeps me smiling<br />

most days!”<br />

Jayne Curtis<br />

“Whilst only recently starting my studies with <strong>Parenta</strong>.<br />

My tutor Emma was absolutely brilliant. Emma was<br />

able to provide myself and others within my workplace<br />

with an untold amount of support and was always<br />

a phone call/email away. Emma is a flexible tutor,<br />

with any problems or need of change regarding<br />

lessons, she was always open, supporting and quickly<br />

rescheduled me onto another lesson.<br />

Thank you for being so supportive.”<br />

Amy smith<br />

Congratulations<br />

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

Massive CONGRATULATIONS to all our <strong>Parenta</strong> learners<br />

who have completed their apprenticeships and gained<br />

their qualifications!<br />

A special shout-out this month goes to Ewa who<br />

has successfully passed her Level 2<br />

Childcare EYP – what a fantastic start to<br />

a long and rewarding career in childcare!<br />

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

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

Transforming early years<br />

operations with <strong>Parenta</strong> -<br />

The Favours Day Nursery<br />

Favours Day Nursery is a prominent childcare provider<br />

with two nurseries located in Northamptonshire. The<br />

first nursery has a daily capacity for 51 children, while<br />

the second can accommodate up to 60 children. With a<br />

commitment to delivering high-quality childcare, Favours<br />

serves approximately 200 families and employs a<br />

dedicated team of 35 staff members.<br />

Measurable improvements and<br />

outcomes<br />

Since implementing <strong>Parenta</strong>’s<br />

solutions, Favours Day Nursery has<br />

experienced a range of tangible<br />

benefits, including:

Childcare news<br />

and views<br />

A shocking rise in speech and<br />

language challenges<br />

A new report, published by Speech<br />

and Language UK, has revealed<br />

that children’s communication and<br />

language skills are worse now than<br />

they have ever been.<br />

Key points from the survey show:<br />

• Teachers now estimate that 1.9<br />

million children are behind with<br />

their talking and/or understanding<br />

of words, the highest number ever<br />

recorded. This equates to 1 in 5<br />

children who are struggling with<br />

talking and/or understanding of<br />

words<br />

a wide-ranging survey described by<br />

the Children’s Commissioner as both<br />

“ambitious and comprehensive”. The<br />

survey is aimed at children and young<br />

people aged six to 18, though parents<br />

of children under six years old or with<br />

additional needs are encouraged to<br />

complete the survey on behalf of their<br />

child to ensure the full spectrum of<br />

children’s experiences is included.<br />

The survey findings will be put to<br />

policymakers to facilitate deeper<br />

consideration of the needs of children<br />

and young people, as well as of the<br />

issues and concerns affecting them –<br />

both now and in the future.<br />

Commenting, Neil Leitch, CEO<br />

of the Early Years Alliance, said:<br />

“We welcome the Children’s<br />

Commissioner’s efforts to ensure that<br />

the views of children and young people<br />

are captured ahead of the next general<br />

election, and in particular, her efforts to<br />

ensure that the views of young children<br />

are included in this.<br />

“While we know that the early years<br />

of a child’s life are key for their future<br />

development, when it comes to policy,<br />

all too often their perspectives and<br />

experiences are sidelined. Now, with<br />

the election on the horizon, there has<br />

never been a more important time<br />

for the voices of children and young<br />

people to be heard.<br />

“We look forward to keeping up<br />

to date with the progress of the<br />

campaign and its findings.”<br />

This article can be found on the EY<br />

Alliance website at www.eyalliance.<br />

org.uk/news<br />

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

have caught our eye over the month<br />

Do you have an early years news story you’d like to see featured in the <strong>Parenta</strong> Magazine?<br />

Send one in today to marketing@parenta.com to be featured in next month’s edition!<br />

We can’t wait to read all about it!<br />

• 80% of teachers surveyed think<br />

children in their classroom are<br />

behind with their talk and/or<br />

understanding of words<br />

• 73% of teachers surveyed think<br />

that children’s speech and<br />

language are not prioritised by the<br />

Government<br />

• An increasing number of teachers<br />

believe they don’t have sufficient<br />

training to support pupils’ speech<br />

and language in the classroom,<br />

at 53%<br />

Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive<br />

of the National Day Nurseries<br />

Association (NDNA) said: “We know<br />

that children’s development, and<br />

particularly communication skills, have<br />

been badly impacted by the COVID<br />

pandemic restrictions, and this report<br />

highlights these important concerns.<br />

“Nurseries already do wonderful<br />

work in supporting our children’s<br />

early language and vocabulary.<br />

Their practitioners are in an ideal<br />

position to spot those children who<br />

need additional support with their<br />

communication skills.<br />

“But due to the early years staffing<br />

crisis, it’s becoming increasingly<br />

difficult to give these children the extra<br />

professional help that they need. Early<br />

identification and support can make<br />

all the difference to these children’s<br />

lives and yet the local authority funding<br />

doesn’t even cover the costs of early<br />

education and childcare, let alone pay<br />

for one-to-one sessions with skilled<br />

staff.<br />

“The Government must increase the<br />

Early Years Pupil Premium to the same<br />

level as that of schoolchildren. Support<br />

given to children in their first few<br />

years makes much more impact than<br />

waiting until they start school.”<br />

The full report can be found on the<br />

Speech and Language UK website at<br />

www.speechandlanguage.org.uk<br />

New campaign launched to<br />

amplify children’s voices<br />

Dame Rachel de Souza, the Children’s<br />

Commissioner for England, has<br />

launched a new campaign which aims<br />

to empower the voices of children and<br />

young people in political arenas.<br />

The Big Ambition hopes to capture<br />

children and young people’s opinions<br />

and questions for the Government<br />

ahead of the next general election in<br />

Charity’s 5 year strategy aims<br />

to help all children with speech<br />

& language challenges<br />

A 5 year strategy has been launched<br />

to place children’s speech & language<br />

higher on the political agenda.<br />

Read the full story on:<br />

www.nurseryworld.co.uk/news<br />

New nutritional support<br />

programme developed for early<br />

years settings<br />

A new nutritional support programme<br />

offering early years settings tailored<br />

advice and support from dieticians...<br />

Read the full story on:<br />

www.nurseryworld.co.uk/news<br />

Water safety charity develops<br />

new initiative for schools<br />

A new initiative for schools to help<br />

children develop water safety skills for life<br />

has been launched.<br />

Read the full story on:<br />

www.nurseryworld.co.uk/news<br />

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

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

We continuously seek new<br />

authors who would like to<br />

provide thought-provoking<br />

articles for our monthly<br />

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

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If you have a subject you’re eager to explore<br />

in writing, why not submit an article to us for a<br />

chance to win?<br />

Every month, we’ll be awarding Amazon<br />

vouchers to our “Guest Author of the Month.”<br />

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Congratulations<br />

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

of the month! Her article, “Why engage your senses<br />

for mental health?” explores how connecting with<br />

your senses can be good for your mental health.<br />

Well done, Joanna!<br />

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joanna Grace<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 />

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

classroom and nursery environments<br />

have gone through something of a<br />

‘sensory 180’, beginning as barren,<br />

boring environments and now potentially<br />

sometimes being so stimulating as to be<br />

overwhelming. In recognising that children<br />

(and adults) experience the sensory world<br />

in different ways, we recognise that there<br />

is no one right environment. But you may<br />

very well just have one room, so what<br />

can you do? You want it to be right for<br />

everyone, how can you achieve this?<br />

First up, in the title of this article I<br />

referred to our neurodiverse community,<br />

sometimes this is taken as meaning<br />

children and adults with neurodivergent<br />

conditions such as autism and ADHD, and<br />

whilst autistics and people with ADHD<br />

certainly are a part of the neurodiverse<br />

community, they are people with what<br />

would be considered ‘typical’ brains.<br />

Neurodiverse refers to the diversity of ways<br />

the brain can be wired, in the same way<br />

that biodiversity refers to the great array of<br />

plants and animals there are. Sometimes<br />

reflections of this kind are prompted by the<br />

presence of a particular child in a setting<br />

who just cannot cope with the sensory<br />

landscape as it is, and so it can feel like<br />

the changes are done for that child.<br />

Recognising that these adaptations benefit<br />

everyone can increase the motivation of<br />

staff implementing them.<br />

Sensory scaping<br />

to provide for a<br />

neurodiverse<br />

community<br />

You can think of that child as the tip of the<br />

iceberg, they signal the needs of a great<br />

many more children who go unnoticed<br />

beneath the surface. And it is not just<br />

the children, you want your space to be<br />

somewhere the adults can feel at home at<br />

a sensory level within too.<br />

In this article, I am going to consider two<br />

approaches to doing this, the ‘broadbrush,<br />

best bet’ approach and ‘sensory<br />

scaping’.<br />

Broad-brush, best bet<br />

If you want to go for a broad-brush, best<br />

bet approach to the sensory landscape in<br />

your space, my advice would be to design<br />

along natural themes, use natural tone<br />

colours like browns, beiges and greens<br />

- create natural textures: the roughness<br />

of bark and hessian, the softness of<br />

earth and grass, and deploy natural<br />

background tracks such as the lapping<br />

of waves against the seashore or the<br />

movement of grasses in the wind. Avoid<br />

the loud primary colours. Choose toys<br />

made of natural materials that will fit with<br />

the design. Keep displays to particular<br />

locations and avoid the urge to cover every<br />

inch of space.<br />

Instagram and social media, in general,<br />

will give you oodles of inspiration for such<br />

an approach. The best thing to Google if<br />

looking for inspiration along these lines,<br />

is the Danish concept of Hygge. If I had<br />

charge of an early years setting and a<br />

designer at my disposal, this is what I<br />

would charge them with creating. This<br />

would not be me imposing a preferred<br />

personal aesthetic, it would be me<br />

responding to what I know about the<br />

sensory world and deploying a broadbrush,<br />

best bet approach.<br />

Often when I am talking to people about<br />

the sensory responses of others, I am<br />

talking about being a detective, about<br />

recognising that not everyone’s sensory<br />

perceptions are the same as our own, and<br />

encouraging people to try and figure out<br />

what sensation is like through that other<br />

person’s eyes, ears, mouth, body etc. We<br />

are wired differently, we are unique…<br />

but… we also have things in common,<br />

we are the same type of animal, we<br />

come from a shared history, and whilst<br />

some aspects of our experience are<br />

exceptionally unique, there are things<br />

deep wired in us that come from that<br />

shared history.<br />

As a species, we are used to living in<br />

nature. Through our shared history, we<br />

have dwelt outside, beneath the sky, in the<br />

elements, sheltering in trees and caves.<br />

Nature has been our home and in nature,<br />

our senses will tell us we are at home. We<br />

have, in terms of our history as an animal,<br />

been living in these concrete boxes for<br />

the blink of an eye. I noticed it especially<br />

during the first lockdown of the pandemic<br />

in 2020 - when people were given an hour<br />

to leave their homes they went to nature,<br />

they were feeling anxious, rightly so, and<br />

they felt safer in nature.<br />

Creating an environment that resonates<br />

with natural experiences can support<br />

children in feeling safe at a sensory level,<br />

and children who feel safe can connect,<br />

engage, and focus. (Children on alert<br />

cannot do those things and will be flighty,<br />

reactive, and volatile).<br />

Sensory scaping<br />

Some children need more stimulation,<br />

feel disconnected and need a big jolt of<br />

jumping off a box to realise where their<br />

bodies are. Their vision craves stimulation,<br />

bright colours, and flashing spinning<br />

things, they are still learning to modulate<br />

their voices and benefit from things being<br />

loud and quiet, from crashing and “woowooing”.<br />

Not every child benefits from the<br />

peace of a Hygge-style environment.<br />

If you are considering how best to provide<br />

for a diverse range of sensory needs in<br />

your setting and you have space to do so,<br />

you might think about sensory scaping<br />

different zones. Could you have one<br />

zone that was Hygge style as described<br />

above, could you keep all the bright loud<br />

stimulating stuff in another zone? And<br />

perhaps if you still had room, you could<br />

have another space that had stimulation<br />

for children’s subconscious senses of<br />

proprioception and stipulation – this space<br />

might have a hammock, or a chair swing<br />

that wraps around a child, it might have<br />

bungees that the children could pull and<br />

ping, it could have a swathe of stretchy<br />

cloth tied between two trees or two<br />

firm pillars that the children could press<br />

against. It could be resourced with body<br />

socks and massage brushes and rollers,<br />

vibrating pillows and weighted shoulder<br />

wraps or lap blankets.<br />

The added benefit of a zoned sensory<br />

space like this is it gives children the ability<br />

to not only meet their sensory needs, but<br />

to communicate them to you through<br />

their choice of where to spend time. I<br />

mentioned in a previous article that little<br />

children cannot always tell you what is<br />

bothering them at a sensory level. This is<br />

true if you are only able to listen to words,<br />

but if you listen to movements, if you listen<br />

by observing, by watching the children, if<br />

you listen to their actions, noticing where<br />

it is that they are still, where it is that their<br />

bodies appear more agitated, then you<br />

will find they communicate loud and clear<br />

and respond wholeheartedly to the adults<br />

who listen and understand.<br />

This is article five of this series. The<br />

first three articles were about how the<br />

sensory world can be used to support<br />

learning and mental health and how to go<br />

about utilising its potential. The previous<br />

article looked at how our environments<br />

can sometimes be too stimulating, and<br />

this one has considered how we can<br />

modulate the stimulation we offer. In my<br />

next article, I will explore the popular<br />

topic of multisensory rooms and look at<br />

whether you need one and how you can<br />

provide the benefits of one on a shoestring<br />

budget! Do feel free to connect with me on<br />

social media to watch my current sensory<br />

adventures unfold. All the connection<br />

links can be found on my website www.<br />

TheSensoryProjects.co.uk.<br />

Scan here for<br />

more resources<br />

from Joanna:<br />

12 <strong>October</strong> <strong>2023</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>October</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 13

Many things in life can be viewed as a<br />

double-edged sword. They can bring us<br />

pleasure and pain, and gambling and<br />

gaming are two such things that are<br />

emerging as increasing problems in the<br />

21st century.<br />

According to Wikipedia:<br />

“Gambling dates back at least to the<br />

Palaeolithic period, before written history.<br />

In Mesopotamia the earliest six-sided<br />

dice date to about 3000 BCE. However,<br />

they were based on astragali dating back<br />

thousands of years earlier.”<br />

Gambling and gaming have been<br />

common entertainment in the UK for many<br />

centuries: Queen Elizabeth I commissioned<br />

the first national lottery drawn in 1569 to<br />

raise money for shipbuilding - but it’s time<br />

to raise awareness of the problems they<br />

can sometimes cause.<br />

Definition of gambling<br />

Under the Gambling Act 2005, betting is<br />

defined as:<br />

Making or accepting a bet on:

T<br />

V<br />

E<br />

R N M<br />

E N<br />

G O<br />

F<br />

U<br />

N<br />

D<br />

D<br />

E<br />

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unparalleled excellence in childcare training!<br />

Call 0800 002 9242 and quote ’Magazine’<br />

Call 0800 002 9242 and quote ’Magazine’

Louise Mercieca<br />

There has been a rise in the number of<br />

families switching to a vegan diet.<br />

There are certainly plenty of reasons<br />

why this seems a good idea for both the<br />

environment and our health but, what<br />

impact does a restrictive diet have on<br />

very young children? When making any<br />

decision about a diet or lifestyle choice it<br />

must be entered into with all the facts and<br />

considerations. Choosing a vegan diet<br />

isn’t a decision to take lightly, especially if<br />

making that decision on behalf of a child.<br />

Louise Mercieca’s two-part article delves<br />

into the world of veganism and answers<br />

this question.<br />

Can vegan<br />

diets support<br />

early years<br />

development?<br />

Firstly, what foods are<br />

removed from a vegan diet?

Seven top tips<br />

for a nurturing<br />

childhood<br />

needs. Only then can we look to offer<br />

a nurturing childhood that fosters their<br />

physical, emotional and social well-being.<br />

But at times, that can seem easier said<br />

than done. You can of course turn to the<br />

Nurturing Childhoods Academy for lots of<br />

courses, guidance and advice, but let us<br />

begin with seven top tips for a nurturing<br />

childhood that you can share with your<br />

families.<br />

Dr. Kathryn Peckham<br />

Working with the very young, we are<br />

continuously aware of the nurturing<br />

impact we have on our children’s lives<br />

through every environment we facilitate,<br />

every experience we offer and every<br />

interaction we share. But these effects<br />

are just as profound in the home where<br />

understanding is perhaps more limited.<br />

But what does it mean to be a nurturing<br />

parent, (regardless of whatever the actual<br />

relationship may be) and how do we<br />

support our families when questionable<br />

advice and guidance may be all too readily<br />

available?<br />

Parenting is a remarkable journey<br />

that comes with joys, challenges and<br />

immense responsibility, though its nature<br />

is dependent on a million decisions and<br />

actions taken in the moment, every day.<br />

So how can you begin supporting parents<br />

with this when you are not around, when<br />

What does it mean to be a<br />

nurturing parent?<br />

they may be struggling with some difficult<br />

conditions or when their deeply influential<br />

experiences of childhood are not what we<br />

would like to offer to this generation?<br />

Regardless of who you are, where you<br />

live or the childhood influencing you, we<br />

know that what really matters to a child<br />

– and the adult they become – are the<br />

experiences you are offering and how<br />

you engage. You don’t need the latest toy,<br />

but you do need to play. You don’t need<br />

to plan lavish outings, but you do need to<br />

share experiences. And you don’t need<br />

any money to share every book... just a<br />

library card!<br />

But for some, these simple foundations of<br />

a nurturing childhood can be monumental.<br />

In my experience, change is always<br />

most impactful when the person making<br />

it understands why it is necessary. Not<br />

because someone else has told them<br />

to, but because they know what these<br />

changes mean and the difference they<br />

are having on their child’s growth and<br />

development.<br />

Nurturing parenting is then an approach<br />

that recognises the crucial role of positive<br />

and supportive parenting in a child’s<br />

development. It focuses on offering<br />

knowledge and understanding along with<br />

practical strategies that are accessible to<br />

all families. It looks to nurture development<br />

during these pivotal years while helping to<br />

cultivate a strong parent-child bond.<br />

We know that children thrive when<br />

they are provided with care, warmth,<br />

understanding and guidance. As<br />

parents, carers and educators, it is then<br />

so important that we work together,<br />

sharing this understanding, both of<br />

best practice and each child’s individual<br />

Seven top tips for a<br />

nurturing childhood<br />

Nurture secure attachments: At the root<br />

of any nurtured childhood are the secure<br />

bonds surrounding a child and all their<br />

primary caregivers. Help your families to<br />

see the importance of these bonds and<br />

how they lay the foundations for healthy<br />

emotional development, self-esteem and<br />

the ability to form positive relationships<br />

later in life.<br />

Nurture emotional well-being: When<br />

children receive consistent love and<br />

support, they develop a strong sense of<br />

self-worth, emotional resilience and the<br />

ability to regulate their emotions effectively.<br />

Every time they are responded to with<br />

kindness and understanding, their wellbeing<br />

flourishes, even when we may be<br />

feeling exhausted.<br />

Show unconditional love: Express your<br />

love for your children regularly. Offer a<br />

warm smile and affectionate physical<br />

touch, praise their efforts and show<br />

appreciation for their unique qualities. Let<br />

them know that your love is not based on<br />

achievements but on their inherent worth<br />

as individuals.<br />

Nurture communication and trust:<br />

Open and respectful communication<br />

is central to nurturing parenting. When<br />

children feel heard, understood and<br />

valued, they develop trust and feel<br />

comfortable sharing their thoughts,<br />

concerns and experiences with their<br />

parents. So start now and have a far<br />

easier time when you reach the teenage<br />

years!<br />

Practice active listening: Take the<br />

time to truly listen to your child and show<br />

genuine interest without judgment or<br />

interruption. This begins when all they<br />

can do is babble. Show empathy with<br />

their emotions, validate their feelings and<br />

respond in a supportive manner. This<br />

fosters trust, builds their self-esteem and<br />

strengthens your parent-child bond.<br />

Create a nurturing environment:<br />

Provide a safe and stimulating physical<br />

environment that encourages your child<br />

to explore, create and engage. Ensure<br />

that your home and the places your child<br />

spends time are filled with love, warmth<br />

and positive energy. And spend quality<br />

time together, engaging in activities that<br />

they enjoy as you create lasting memories<br />

and strengthen your connection.<br />

Foster independence: Encourage your<br />

child to develop independence by allowing<br />

them to make age-appropriate decisions,<br />

take on responsibilities and solve problems<br />

on their own. Even if this simply means<br />

reaching for the toy that is slightly out of<br />

their grasp. If we can help our little ones<br />

face their little challenges, our big ones will<br />

be more than ready to navigate the bigger<br />

challenges that will come their way.<br />

Nurturing parenting is an invaluable<br />

approach that lays the foundation for a<br />

child’s healthy development. By providing<br />

love, support, guidance and a nurturing<br />

environment, you can foster emotional<br />

well-being, positive self-esteem and strong<br />

relationships. But it is a continuous journey<br />

that requires patience, understanding<br />

and a commitment to learning and<br />

growing together. And even as adults that<br />

is not always easy. If we are to create a<br />

nurturing environment for our children, we<br />

also need to create one for ourselves.<br />

So ask yourself, where are your secure<br />

attachments? Who is looking after your<br />

emotional well-being? Do you feel listened<br />

to within an environment that allows you to<br />

flourish? Don’t forget, there is a reason<br />

they tell you to get your life jacket on<br />

before helping others with theirs!<br />

So whether you are a parent,<br />

practitioner or family worker, join me<br />

at the Nurturing Childhoods Academy<br />

where you can listen to talks and<br />

access lots more tips and suggestions.<br />

There are also materials for you to<br />

print out and keep handy, giving you<br />

all the key bits of learning at your<br />

fingertips.<br />

If you become a member of the Nurturing<br />

Childhoods Community, you can come<br />

and talk with other parents and carers<br />

about the experiences you are having. You<br />

might like to swap a funny story or ask<br />

for some advice. You can also read all the<br />

new blogs or have a go with a Childhood<br />

Challenge!<br />

Scan here for<br />

more resources<br />

from Kathryn:<br />

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

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

Are you struggling with your recruitment<br />

like many early years settings and other<br />

businesses?<br />

Would you love to know how to recruit<br />

more and better-trained employees into<br />

your business?<br />

Did you know…<br />

National Work Life<br />

Week<br />

⚙ 8 in 10 parents would apply for a job<br />

with flexible working options listed<br />

in the advert but only 3 in 10 parents<br />

would apply if the job did NOT have<br />

flexible working options?<br />

⚙ 30% of working parents in the UK are<br />

working in jobs below their skill level<br />

simply because they offer greater job<br />

flexibility?<br />

⚙ About National Work Life Week?<br />

National Work Life Week (NWLW) is an<br />

annual campaign set up by Working<br />

Families, a national UK charity for working<br />

parents and carers. Their mission is<br />

to “remove the barriers that people<br />

with caring responsibilities face in the<br />

workplace”, and they aim to “achieve a<br />

society in which everyone can fully meet<br />

their work and caring responsibilities,<br />

where all parents and carers have an<br />

equal opportunity to find and progress in<br />

secure, paid work.”<br />

The organisers understand what being<br />

a working parent really means and<br />

some of the barriers that people face<br />

when returning to work after having a<br />

family, and are working actively with UK<br />

employers to bring about change. The<br />

event is run in partnership with another<br />

work and family charity called Bright<br />

Horizons which is sponsoring the week.<br />

They say that this year’s campaign is<br />

designed “to help your employees to<br />

combine work and family better. It’s<br />

good for people and good for business.<br />

Everybody wins.”<br />

Our changing working<br />

lives<br />

Our working patterns underwent a<br />

massive transformation during the recent<br />

COVID-19 pandemic. People were in<br />

lockdown, unable to go to work by order<br />

of the Government, and yet, we needed<br />

our economy and business sector to keep<br />

working in whatever way it could. People<br />

began working from home, and offices<br />

that were once filled with employees stood<br />

empty, but the businesses continued<br />

under a new model. Most of us remember<br />

learning how to use Zoom for the first time<br />

to talk to colleagues and family members<br />

across the country, and indeed the world.<br />

Since the end of the pandemic, working in<br />

Britain has far from returned to ‘normal’.<br />

Many companies chose to stop paying<br />

high rents and have set-up remote offices.<br />

More of us work from home permanently,<br />

and those companies who have insisted<br />

their employees return to the office have<br />

struggled with recruitment and retention.<br />

A study in 2022 showed how working<br />

parents are rethinking their work-life<br />

balance after the pandemic. Working in<br />

an organisation that has access to flexible<br />

working can help retain staff according to<br />

the survey, as 55% of those questioned<br />

said they would likely consider leaving<br />

their job if they found another one that<br />

offered more flexible options. Change has<br />

already happened, and UK employers<br />

need to catch up.<br />

For all UK parents, flexibility (66%) was<br />

second only to pay (73%) in terms of<br />

priorities when people were looking for a<br />

new job. However, for mothers, flexibility<br />

and pay are tied as the top priority.<br />

What are the issues<br />

families face?<br />

Some of the issues that families face when<br />

seeking or deciding whether to stay in<br />

work include:<br />

⚙ Opportunities for flexible hours<br />

⚙ Childcare issues such as drop-off and<br />

pick-up times<br />

⚙ High cost for childcare compared to<br />

the high cost-of-living<br />

⚙ Time off to accompany children to<br />

medical or other appointments<br />

⚙ Trying to manage work with other<br />

caring responsibilities (e.g. parents/<br />

family members)<br />

⚙ Stress caused by trying to maintain a<br />

work/life balance<br />

What is flexible<br />

working?<br />

According to the Gov.uk website, flexible<br />

working is “a way of working that suits an<br />

employee’s needs, for example having<br />

flexible start and finish times, or working<br />

from home.”<br />

Flexible working practices may include:<br />

⚙ Job sharing: two or more people fill<br />

the full-time role by each working<br />

part-time hours<br />

⚙ Part-time working<br />

⚙ Term-time working: a worker remains<br />

on a permanent contract but takes<br />

leave during school holidays<br />

⚙ Flexitime: this is where employees can<br />

choose, within reasonable set limits,<br />

when to begin and end their working<br />

day but need to fulfil an agreed<br />

number of hours per week<br />

⚙ Working from home/remote working<br />

⚙ Compressed hours: where people<br />

work full-time hours but over fewer<br />

days, e.g. 35 hours/week over 4 days<br />

⚙ Annual hours: employees are<br />

contracted to work a set number<br />

of hours over the year but this can<br />

be split out differently to allow for<br />

variation in the business<br />

⚙ Career breaks: extended periods of<br />

leave which can be paid or unpaid of<br />

up to five years or more<br />

⚙ Staggered hours: where employees<br />

may have different start/end times to<br />

cover shifts/opening hours<br />

What is the legal<br />

position?<br />

All employees in most parts of the UK have<br />

the legal right to request flexible working -<br />

not just parents and carers. Rules differ in<br />

Northern Ireland. This is known as “making<br />

a statutory application” - however,<br />

employees must have worked for the<br />

same employer for at least 26 weeks to be<br />

eligible.<br />

If an employee requests flexible working,<br />

the employers must deal with requests in<br />

a ‘reasonable manner’ which includes:<br />

⚙ Assessing the advantages and<br />

disadvantages of the application<br />

⚙ Holding a meeting to discuss the<br />

request with the employee<br />

⚙ Offering an appeal process<br />

If the employee feels their request has<br />

not been handled reasonably, they can<br />

request an employment tribunal. However,<br />

an employer can refuse an application<br />

if they have a good business reason for<br />

doing so.<br />

Things to do in your<br />

setting to mark the<br />

NWLW<br />

⚙ Have open discussions with your<br />

team about flexible working if you<br />

have not got this as a policy already<br />

⚙ Visit the NWLW website and check<br />

out their resources and ideas which<br />

include a free toolkit, webinars and<br />

training<br />

⚙ Sign up for regular updates by email<br />

⚙ Drop in on their ‘Lunch and Learn’<br />

session<br />

⚙ Use the ‘Happy to Talk Flexible<br />

Working’ logo and strapline on job<br />

vacancies<br />

⚙ Run a questionnaire among your staff<br />

to canvas their opinions<br />

⚙ Introduce a pilot scheme to see what<br />

the take up would be in your setting<br />

for offering more flexible working<br />

⚙ Review and reconsider your policies<br />

affecting training and recruitment as<br />

well as parental leave<br />

More information<br />

⚙ workingfamilies.org.uk/<br />

nationalworklifeweek<br />

⚙ www.gov.uk/flexible-working<br />

⚙ solutions.brighthorizons.co.uk<br />

Scan here for<br />

more references<br />

& information:<br />

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

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

Unlocking the<br />

power of ‘early<br />

years outdoors’<br />

Lee Connelly<br />

In recent years, the importance of<br />

early childhood education has gained<br />

widespread recognition. As educators and<br />

parents alike seek to provide the best start<br />

in life for young children, one approach<br />

that has gained significant traction (and<br />

that I believe wholeheartedly in) is the<br />

incorporation of outdoor experiences into<br />

early years learning. This approach has<br />

proven to be far more than just a fun way<br />

to spend time; it’s a holistic strategy that<br />

nurtures physical, emotional, social, and<br />

cognitive development. Being the UK’s<br />

Leading Gardening Educator, I wanted to<br />

look at the many benefits of early years<br />

outdoors, exploring why it’s not just<br />

beneficial, but essential.<br />

For me, one of the most apparent<br />

advantages of outdoor play is the<br />

promotion of physical fitness. When<br />

children engage in outdoor activities, they<br />

naturally develop their gross and fine<br />

motor skills. Running, jumping, climbing,<br />

and playing with natural materials all<br />

contribute to improved coordination,<br />

balance, and strength. Furthermore,<br />

exposure to natural elements like sunshine<br />

and fresh air is crucial for healthy physical<br />

development, helping to prevent childhood<br />

obesity and teaching an appreciation for<br />

an active lifestyle from an early age.<br />

Outdoor play provides an ideal setting<br />

for cognitive development; nature is a<br />

boundless source of sensory stimuli<br />

and children can explore various<br />

textures, shapes, colours, and sounds,<br />

stimulating their sensory perception.<br />

Additionally, the natural world sparks<br />

curiosity and encourages exploration. As<br />

children observe and interact with their<br />

environment, young minds are engaged<br />

in problem-solving, critical thinking, and<br />

creativity, which are all foundational skills<br />

for future academic success.<br />

Even from my own experience as a child,<br />

the outdoors also offers opportunities for<br />

children to develop essential social skills.<br />

Group activities, whether it’s growing<br />

vegetables with friends or working<br />

together on a nature-inspired project,<br />

promote cooperation, communication, and<br />

teamwork. Outdoor play often teaches<br />

empathy and emotional intelligence<br />

as children learn to understand and<br />

respect the needs and feelings of their<br />

peers. These early experiences lay the<br />

groundwork for healthy relationships<br />

throughout life.<br />

Encouraging children to grow their own<br />

vegetables is, in my opinion, the top<br />

strategy for promoting healthy eating<br />

habits. Witnessing the growth process<br />

instils confidence in children and makes<br />

them more inclined to incorporate these<br />

vegetables onto their plates. It’s a handson<br />

approach that not only teaches them<br />

about the origins of their food but also<br />

empowers them to make healthier<br />

choices.<br />

Nature has a remarkable calming effect<br />

on children. It’s a sanctuary where they<br />

can relax, unwind, and manage stress.<br />

Nature’s beauty and tranquillity inspire<br />

a sense of wonder and awe, nurturing<br />

emotional well-being. Moreover, outdoor<br />

play allows children to take measured<br />

risks, building their self-esteem and<br />

resilience as they overcome challenges<br />

and learn from mistakes. With this early<br />

exposure to the outdoors, children learn<br />

and have a lifelong connection to nature.<br />

When children are immersed in natural<br />

settings, they develop an appreciation for<br />

the environment and an understanding<br />

of the importance of conservation. This<br />

connection to nature can lead to a<br />

more environmentally-conscious and<br />

responsible generation.<br />

An easy and effective approach to<br />

encourage outdoor exploration among<br />

children in early years settings involves<br />

playing a game in which they collect<br />

various items to populate a bug hotel.<br />

By prompting them to search for specific<br />

items, such as “something bumpy” like a<br />

stick or “something small” like a pebble,<br />

you can stimulate their curiosity and<br />

engage them in hands-on interactions<br />

with the natural environment in your<br />

garden space.<br />

The outdoor environment stimulates<br />

language development. Children engage<br />

in conversations about what they see,<br />

hear, and do. They describe the world<br />

around them, expanding their vocabulary<br />

and language skills. Additionally,<br />

storytelling and imaginative play often take<br />

centre stage in outdoor scenarios, further<br />

enhancing language and communication<br />

abilities.<br />

This outdoor play, in turn, encourages<br />

independence as children learn to<br />

explore, make choices, and take risks<br />

on their own. As they master new skills,<br />

their self-confidence grows. This sense of<br />

competence is invaluable for their future<br />

endeavours.<br />

Perhaps one of the most significant<br />

advantages of early years outdoors is<br />

its ability to facilitate holistic learning. It<br />

seamlessly integrates various aspects<br />

of development, creating well-rounded<br />

individuals. This well-roundedness extends<br />

beyond childhood and serves as a solid<br />

foundation for lifelong learning and<br />

personal growth.<br />

Overall, as we look at the strengths of<br />

just learning outdoors, early years is not<br />

merely an optional extra; it’s an essential<br />

component of early childhood education.<br />

It enriches physical, emotional, social,<br />

and cognitive development, teaching<br />

well-rounded individuals with a lifelong<br />

love for nature and learning. Parents and<br />

educators should embrace the outdoors as<br />

a valuable classroom that offers limitless<br />

opportunities for growth and discovery.<br />

By doing so, we nurture a generation of<br />

children who are not only academically<br />

prepared but also emotionally resilient,<br />

socially adept, and deeply connected to<br />

the natural world.<br />

Scan here for<br />

more resources<br />

from Lee:<br />

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

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

Malnutrition<br />

Awareness<br />

Week<br />

We need food to live, and eating a<br />

nutritious diet that is varied and balanced;<br />

including the major food groups as well<br />

as vitamins and minerals in appropriate<br />

proportions is important for our health and<br />

well-being. Even in the womb, we must<br />

have access to the correct nutrients from<br />

our mothers if we are to develop optimally.<br />

There are points in life where we may<br />

become malnourished either through<br />

illness, mental health issues, age, infirmity,<br />

reliance on others to provide adequate<br />

nutrition or our own actions. At these<br />

times, it is important to seek help and<br />

advice so that the problem does not<br />

become a longer-term one, with all the<br />

associated secondary challenges that<br />

could result.<br />

Definitions, facts and<br />

figures<br />

According to the World Health<br />

Organisation (WHO), malnutrition includes:

Dr. Mona Sakr<br />

Nursery leaders typically have wonderful<br />

intentions when it comes to creating a<br />

positive team culture. Some pitfalls must<br />

be avoided to make this a reality. One<br />

such pitfall is the ‘executive subculture’<br />

when leaders’ behaviours stand in the<br />

way of a positive team culture. In this<br />

article, we’ll talk about what the executive<br />

subculture is, how it negatively affects a<br />

positive team culture in organisations and<br />

how to avoid it.<br />

What is the ‘executive<br />

subculture’?<br />

Edgar Schein, the leading researcher in<br />

organisational culture and leadership,<br />

came up with the term ‘executive<br />

Creating a positive<br />

leadership culture<br />

Resisting ‘executive subculture’<br />

subculture’ to explain how leaders in<br />

organisations can sometimes end up<br />

trapped in a set of beliefs and behaviours<br />

that get in the way of a positive workplace.<br />

In this kind of executive subculture, leaders<br />

tend to do these four things:<br />

1. Over-emphasise the financial situation<br />

of the organisation. In a nursery<br />

context, this might be an owner or<br />

manager who focuses almost entirely<br />

on whether the nursery is profitable<br />

and financially sustainable, rather<br />

than concerning themselves with<br />

the pedagogical work of the nursery<br />

and the day-to-day interactions that<br />

matter for children, families and<br />

educators.<br />

in your nursery<br />

2. Believe and act as if the organisation<br />

is operating in a hostile environment.<br />

A nursery manager with this belief<br />

might see other nurseries in the local<br />

area only as competition, rather than<br />

seeing the potential to partner up and<br />

learn from one another.<br />

3. Behave as though they alone want<br />

the organisation to succeed. Nursery<br />

owners and/or managers can start<br />

to (wrongly) think that only they are<br />

invested in the success of the nursery.<br />

In their mind, they start to feel like<br />

‘the lone hero’ rather than seeing<br />

themselves as part of a team. They<br />

underestimate the contribution that<br />

other staff make.<br />

4. Create and strengthen hierarchies<br />

in the organisation. A nursery with a<br />

strong executive subculture is likely<br />

to have a rigid hierarchy in place and<br />

this hierarchy will affect the day-today<br />

conversations and interactions<br />

that happen in the nursery. A baby<br />

room educator might not feel that<br />

they can offer suggestions to the preschool<br />

room leader. The pre-school<br />

room leader will feel that they cannot<br />

disagree with the deputy manager.<br />

The deputy manager will refrain from<br />

challenging the manager or owner,<br />

and so on. When relationships are<br />

hierarchical in this way, it is hard to<br />

have honest conversations about<br />

what needs to change.<br />

Why is the executive<br />

subculture negative for<br />

the team culture across<br />

the whole organisation?<br />

A strong executive subculture has negative<br />

implications for the overall workplace<br />

culture. It degrades the positive team ethos<br />

and ultimately gets in the way of a thriving<br />

nursery.<br />

When there’s a strong executive<br />

subculture, employees in the nursery feel<br />

a lot of distrust for the owner or manager<br />

of the nursery. An owner or manager who<br />

seems overly competitive, hierarchical,<br />

and focused on making money won’t be<br />

someone that employees trust and feel<br />

that they can talk to openly. Therefore,<br />

the leader ends up feeling cut off from<br />

their staff and they are relying only on<br />

their perceptions and information to make<br />

decisions. These decisions are less likely<br />

to be good for the organisation because<br />

they are not based on full knowledge<br />

and understanding – they are based on<br />

hearing only what others think you want<br />

to hear.<br />

How can you avoid<br />

executive subculture as<br />

a leader?<br />

Understanding the characteristics of an<br />

executive subculture translates into a<br />

useful guide for knowing how best to<br />

avoid creating one. As a leader, you can:<br />

1. Recognise that leadership in nurseries<br />

is about far more than finances.<br />

The financial backdrop of nursery<br />

education is far from easy, and it is<br />

easy for a leader to become bogged<br />

down in making ends meet. While<br />

this is still a necessary part of the<br />

job, owners and managers must<br />

also always think about the nursery<br />

first and foremost as an educational<br />

institution and a support system<br />

for children and families. Leaders<br />

need to have a full presence in the<br />

pedagogical dialogues that take<br />

place in the nursery; these can’t be<br />

delegated to others.<br />

2. Make partnership and collaboration<br />

the priority and avoid thinking in terms<br />

of competition. Look around the local<br />

neighbourhood and think about the<br />

different nurseries close to where you<br />

are. How do you think and talk about<br />

these settings? How do you speak<br />

to staff about these settings? Do you<br />

promote a competitive way of thinking<br />

or do you look for opportunities<br />

to partner with local settings? The<br />

answers to these questions are<br />

radically different across settings.<br />

Some nurseries proactively seek<br />

conversations with nearby settings<br />

so that they can share resources and<br />

work together on local issues. Other<br />

nurseries are worried that nearby<br />

settings will steal ideas or staff,<br />

and this is a barrier to any kind of<br />

collaboration. By choosing competition<br />

over collaboration, you are not just<br />

preventing partnership working<br />

but also feeding into an executive<br />

subculture that can negatively impact<br />

your team in the long run.<br />

3. Always speak in the language of the<br />

team. Catch yourself when you start<br />

to think about yourself as ‘the lone<br />

hero’ having to do everything yourself<br />

and alone. Replace your ‘I’ thoughts<br />

with ‘we’ thoughts. If you find yourself<br />

thinking something like “I must sort<br />

out this staffing crisis”, challenge<br />

yourself to shift the narrative: “We are<br />

struggling with staffing at the moment<br />

and it’s a problem we need to solve<br />

together”.<br />

4. Dismantle rather than reinforce<br />

hierarchies. Put an explicit emphasis<br />

on honesty and productive challenge,<br />

encouraging everyone – regardless<br />

of roles or qualifications – to speak<br />

their mind and share what they think.<br />

You can make this way of working<br />

part of the induction and training in<br />

your nursery, but you also need to<br />

walk the walk every day. When honest<br />

feedback is given, avoid closing it<br />

down or becoming defensive: lean<br />

into the feedback and open it up for<br />

further discussion.<br />

Scan here for<br />

more resources<br />

from Mona:<br />

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

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

Early screening &<br />

intervention for<br />

Paloma Forde<br />

dyslexic children<br />

Breaking myths & ensuring<br />

success<br />

Dyslexia, a specific learning difficulty,<br />

impacts around 10% of the population,<br />

according to the British Dyslexia<br />

Association. While many associate<br />

dyslexia solely with difficulties in reading,<br />

writing, and spelling, it extends to<br />

affect other areas such as organisation,<br />

memory, and processing. Consider this:<br />

statistically, approximately three children<br />

in every classroom will have some form<br />

of specific learning difficulty. With over<br />

25 years of experience in the education<br />

sector across all key stages, I’ve witnessed<br />

significant progress in education. However,<br />

one challenge that persists is the early<br />

screening process for dyslexia. In this<br />

article, I emphasise the critical role of early<br />

screening and early intervention, debunk<br />

myths surrounding the screening process,<br />

and provide insights into how these<br />

practices can support children in today’s<br />

schooling system.<br />

Parents often hear the discouraging myth<br />

that dyslexia can only be identified when<br />

a child reaches Year 3 or turns 8 years old.<br />

This is simply not true. Children who are<br />

showing signs of dyslexia can be detected<br />

as early as nursery age. You just need<br />

to know what to look out for. Early signs<br />

vary from child to child, but there are a<br />

few signs that will continually show up<br />

with younger students such as; difficulty in<br />

remembering nursery rhymes, showing<br />

a preference for pictures in books over<br />

letters and words and reversing words.<br />

(e.g., “flutterby” instead of “butterfly”).<br />

Many reading this article will be thinking<br />

“But surely many children show these<br />

signs in the early years?” This is correct,<br />

however, the key difference is for how long<br />

these children continue to show these<br />

signs. Keeping a very close eye on these<br />

difficulties and keeping a record is vital<br />

in the journey of early detection. Also,<br />

ensuring that conversations are being<br />

held closely with the child’s parents, for<br />

example, finding out if dyslexia runs in the<br />

family. A child is 50% more likely to have<br />

dyslexia if either parent has it.<br />

Once these initial concerns begin to grow,<br />

the next step is simple. This is the time to<br />

screen a child for dyslexia. Again, there’s<br />

a prevalent misconception that dyslexia<br />

screenings can only take place when a<br />

child is 8 years old. This confusion often<br />

arises from the distinction between a full<br />

diagnostic assessment and a screening.<br />

A full diagnostic assessment, which is<br />

administered by qualified assessors<br />

or educational psychologists, relies on<br />

standardised scores and is typically offered<br />

around age 8. This is due to the tests<br />

being given where there is a supposed<br />

expectation that the child has already<br />

been exposed to reading, writing and<br />

spelling skills in schools. Therefore, many<br />

of the standardised scores are measured<br />

against 8-year-olds. Dyslexia screenings<br />

can be given by SENCOs, teachers, or<br />

even parents in just 30-45 minutes with<br />

immediate results being offered showing<br />

a child’s strengths, weaknesses and<br />

whether there is a likelihood of dyslexia.<br />

Following a dyslexia screening and of<br />

course, the outcome of the profile if<br />

a child is showing ‘at risk’ signs, then<br />

it is imperative for schools to provide<br />

appropriate interventions and adjustments<br />

to the learning environment. Interventions<br />

are tailored programmes designed<br />

to address the child’s specific needs,<br />

recognising that they require additional<br />

support to catch up with their peers.<br />

Consistency is paramount in the success<br />

of these interventions, with most students<br />

showing progress within just 10 weeks.<br />

One highly effective type of intervention<br />

is multi-sensory learning, rooted in the<br />

systematic and structured learning<br />

system. This approach incorporates<br />

visual aids, auditory elements, and<br />

tactile or kinaesthetic activities, creating<br />

a more engaging and interactive<br />

learning experience. Many interventions<br />

are computerised and adapted to the<br />

student’s needs through algorithms. Noncomputerised<br />

programmes offer clear<br />

instructions for practitioners and parents<br />

to follow.<br />

Alongside an intervention, schools<br />

need to adhere to providing reasonable<br />

adjustments, where teaching staff<br />

are expected to look at the learning<br />

environment and make changes to<br />

help support learning, e.g., providing<br />

photocopiable sheets, reading rulers,<br />

coloured overlays, word banks and writing<br />

frames. This list is endless.<br />

To illustrate the profound impact of<br />

consistent intervention, consider the case<br />

of child R, a child in Year 4, who I taught<br />

several years ago. He arrived at my school<br />

with a diagnosis of severe dyslexia. When<br />

we tested his reading age using the Burt<br />

Reading Test, he had a standard score<br />

of 70, significantly below the average<br />

range of 90-115. We provided child R<br />

with a regular multi-sensory intervention,<br />

aiming for around 15 minutes per day. We<br />

consulted with the parents and worked<br />

out a timetable to be able to offer the<br />

intervention. Within just six months of<br />

regular intervention, we noticed that child<br />

R was making very good and steady<br />

progress. When re-tested, he had indeed<br />

raised his standard score from 70 to 90,<br />

thus just heading into the average range.<br />

All involved were delighted with the<br />

achievements! But why was this possible?<br />

In a world abundant with resources and<br />

tools, anything is possible.<br />

The key is to ensure that we offer the<br />

right interventions and, most importantly,<br />

commit to supporting the children who<br />

require our help. With early screening and<br />

intervention, dyslexic children can conquer<br />

challenges and achieve their full potential<br />

not only in school but also in all aspects<br />

of life. By dispelling myths surrounding<br />

dyslexia detection and recognising the<br />

value of early interventions, we can ensure<br />

that every child receives the support they<br />

need to succeed in their educational<br />

journey. Dyslexia doesn’t define a child’s<br />

abilities but rather highlights their unique<br />

strengths and potential. As parents,<br />

educators, and advocates, it’s our<br />

responsibility to nurture these abilities and<br />

empower dyslexic children to flourish.<br />

Scan here to<br />

learn more<br />

about Paloma:<br />

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

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

Helping children learn to become<br />

independent is an important role for any<br />

parent. We all want our children to grow<br />

up healthy and happy and not be slaves to<br />

their electronic devices. Yet the pull of the<br />

latest game or social media chat between<br />

friends can sometimes be too much for<br />

any young person and before you know it,<br />

they are spending what parents consider<br />

to be too much time online or on devices.<br />

So, how do you manage screen time as<br />

a parent? And what can be done to help<br />

manage screen time, especially if there<br />

are either older or younger siblings?<br />

Top tips for managing<br />

screen time<br />

Set a good example -<br />

children need to be dealt<br />

with fairly<br />

If you want your children to grow up to<br />

respect the rules that you have made,<br />

and not resent them, then it is important<br />

Helping parents<br />

manage screen time<br />

that your rules are fair and that children<br />

can see that they are. Most children have<br />

a very good sense of fairness and justice<br />

and will kick off if you set a rule that says<br />

that there should be no devices at the<br />

dinner table, then proceed to use your<br />

mobile phone throughout dinner!<br />

It is not just children whom we should be<br />

concerned with when it comes to screen<br />

time, we should also look at our behaviour<br />

too. Are you annoyed at your children for<br />

what you believe to be too much time on<br />

a device, only to find you are addicted to<br />

your device?<br />

Negotiate for the best<br />

results<br />

Depending on the age of the child,<br />

you would do well to negotiate screen<br />

time instead of imposing blanket rules.<br />

Negotiation is not the same as having<br />

no boundaries, but a negotiation about<br />

screen time will help children take<br />

ownership of the decisions, feel part of the<br />

solution and appreciate that they have a<br />

voice. No one wants to grow up under an<br />

authoritarian dictator and if you want them<br />

to comply, then it will be better if they feel<br />

that they have had a hand in making the<br />

rules.<br />

When negotiating with children, you may<br />

find some of the following questions<br />


Frances Turnbull<br />

“Thank you<br />

for the music”<br />

Musical drawing in the<br />

early years<br />

This current 6-part series of early years music articles features a new activity each month from a number of arts activities trialled for 1-<br />

and 2-year-old children, along with musical suggestions, with recordings on YouTube.<br />

medical conditions. So, if it helps people<br />

with chronic conditions, it must have a<br />

powerful effect on everyone else, too.<br />

Current research suggests that the brain<br />

considers the act of creating as a positive<br />

event, which helps to refocus the mind<br />

positively. As music has been shown to<br />

access all parts of the brain, this type of<br />

active musical experience is a perfect<br />

warm-up activity before more mentally<br />

demanding exercises, particularly<br />

theoretical subjects like numbers (maths)<br />

or nature (science). The following songs<br />

include musical activities for children to<br />

draw to music – whether patterns or<br />

existing objects.<br />

No one in the house<br />

No one in the house but Dinah, Dinah<br />

No one in the house but me I know<br />

No one in the house but Dinah, Dinah<br />

Strumming on the old banjo<br />

This old American song is a lovely example<br />

of pentatonic music. Pentatonic music uses<br />

only 5 notes that are quite close together.<br />

This makes it easy for new singers to sing<br />

successfully so they sound good, singing<br />

in tune without it feeling like hard work.<br />

The repeated name call “Dinah, Dinah”<br />

adds a fun, siren effect at the end of the<br />

lines. Drawing along to this is sure to be<br />

energising and produce some colourful<br />

pictures!<br />

Oranges and lemons<br />

My Bonnie<br />

My Bonnie lies over the ocean<br />

My Bonnie lies over the sea<br />

My Bonnie lies over the ocean<br />

Oh, bring back my Bonnie to me<br />

Bring back, oh bring back<br />

Oh, bring back my Bonnie to me, to me<br />

Bring back, oh bring back<br />

Oh, bring back my Bonnie to me, to me<br />

Oh blow ye waves over the ocean<br />

Oh blow ye waves over the sea<br />

Oh blow ye waves over the ocean<br />

And bring back my Bonnie to me<br />

This traditional sea shanty is also written<br />

in 6/8 “lullaby” timing, and much like<br />

“Rock A Bye Baby”, has a calming and<br />

relaxing effect. The repetition in the verses<br />

and chorus makes it easy to learn and<br />

sing along to, and the imagery of a boat<br />

sailing across the ocean provides many<br />

inspirational ideas that can be used to<br />

draw or paint.<br />

Thank you for the music<br />

I’m nothing special, in fact, I’m a bit of a<br />

bore<br />

If I tell a joke, you’ve probably heard it<br />

before<br />

But I have a talent, a wonderful thing<br />

‘Cause everyone listens when I start to sing<br />

I’m so grateful and proud<br />

All I want is to sing it out loud<br />

These types of songs are wonderful as<br />

listening pieces with the option to sing<br />

along – recognising that not everyone<br />

will be able to sing it successfully to start.<br />

Increasing opportunities to learn different<br />

styles of music, different types of songs,<br />

and different note combinations, is a gift<br />

that opens the mind to new experiences,<br />

building confidence and resilience in<br />

tackling new situations.<br />

Early years music ideas like drawing to<br />

music can be a rewarding experience<br />

for both adults and children alike. It can<br />

provide a respite from demanding or<br />

challenging situations, while also freeing<br />

the mind to be in the moment, not<br />

anticipating the next steps.<br />

We would love to know how your group<br />

uses this activity! Send in your stories and<br />

photos to marketing@parenta.com!<br />

Oranges and lemons say the bells of St<br />

Clements<br />

I owe you two farthing, say the bells of St<br />

Martins<br />

When will you pay me? Say the bells of Old<br />

Bailey<br />

When I grow rich, say the bells of<br />

Shoreditch<br />

When will that be? Say the bells of Stepney<br />

I do not know, says the Great Bell of Bow<br />

So I say, thank you for the music<br />

The songs I’m singing<br />

Thanks for all the joy they’re bringing<br />

Who can live without it?<br />

I ask in all honesty<br />

What would life be?<br />

Without a song, or a dance<br />

What are we?<br />

So I say, thank you for the music<br />

For giving it to me<br />

Scan here for<br />

more resources<br />

from Frances:<br />

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

considered 6 different ways to explore<br />

creativity with 1- and 2-year-olds with a<br />

focus on successful engagement. This<br />

age is known to be tricky, as there is often<br />

limited pedagogical content for under 3s<br />

in the arts. Like many countries, visual and<br />

musical arts in Finnish nurseries were not<br />

usually accessed daily, with most settings<br />

bringing in specialists once a month<br />

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

specifically for this age group to increase<br />

daily engagement in the arts:

EYFS activities:<br />

Communication<br />

& language<br />

Effective communication and language development plays a pivotal role in the EYFS. Both form the cornerstone<br />

of a child’s ability to engage with the world around them. By nurturing strong communication and language<br />

skills, early years educators empower children to express themselves, understand others, and make sense of<br />

their experiences. These skills are not only essential for building meaningful relationships but also for future<br />

academic success. Language development is a key indicator of a child’s overall cognitive development and serves<br />

as a foundation for literacy and numeracy skills. Moreover, effective communication and language proficiency<br />

boost children’s self-esteem, self-confidence, and social competence. Therefore, as early years educators, your<br />

dedication to fostering rich communication environments will have a lasting impact on the holistic development of<br />

the children in your care, setting them on a path toward a lifetime of learning and effective communication.<br />

What’s missing?<br />

Guess the object<br />

Children love simple guessing games - here<br />

is a quick and easy one for you to play in your<br />

setting.<br />

• You will need some tin foil and a few<br />

objects (familiar to the child and unique in<br />

shape)<br />

• Try to mould the tin foil to really emphasise<br />

the shape of each object<br />

• Then encourage the children to guess what<br />

each item is<br />

• This simple activity provides toddlers with<br />

a lesson in recognising 3D shapes and<br />

objects, based on their prior knowledge of<br />

an object (a ball is round). They don’t have<br />

to physically see the ball with its colours<br />

and markings, but use what they already<br />

know and have an understanding that its<br />

shape is round and therefore it’s most likely<br />

a ball<br />

• Another option is to present the objects<br />

and then ask the children a question, for<br />

example - “Which object do you think is the<br />

pear?”<br />

• Once the children have guessed the item,<br />

let them check their answers by tearing<br />

off the tin foil and revealing the object<br />

Regardless of whether they guessed it<br />

correctly, the children will learn from the<br />

activity.<br />

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

here: laughingkidslearn.com/guess-theobjects-covered-in-tin-foil/<br />

A simple yet fun game that everyone enjoys!<br />

• Gather a few objects, such as toys, blocks,<br />

and some numbers - anything you have to<br />

hand will do<br />

• Lay the objects out on the floor, or on a<br />

table and talk through each object with the<br />

children, so they know what is there<br />

• Encourage the children to cover their eyes<br />

or turn around, whilst you remove one of<br />

the objects. Now ask them to guess which<br />

item is missing<br />

• For an extra fun twist, take turns in the<br />

game, so the child takes away one of the<br />

objects and you try to guess which one they<br />

took<br />

• To make it more challenging, try moving the<br />

objects around when they cover their eyes<br />

or take away two in one go<br />

• This fun game is a great way to get the<br />

children thinking and communicating!<br />

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

here: handsonaswegrow.com/whats-missingmemory-activity-kids/<br />

Puppet time<br />

Playing with puppets is a great way to<br />

encourage language development, as children<br />

love to have conversations with them, and can<br />

even let the puppet be their voice.<br />

• Encourage the children to tell one of their<br />

favourite stories, or free play and use the<br />

puppets to create their own world<br />

• If you want to create your own puppets<br />

rather than purchase them, you can easily<br />

put together sock puppets, glove puppets or<br />

even string puppets<br />

• Playing with puppets also helps with<br />

children’s social development, listening<br />

skills, motor skills and creativity!<br />

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

found here: empoweredparents.co/playingwith-puppets/<br />

36 <strong>October</strong> <strong>2023</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>October</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 37

Gina Bale<br />

Ever wondered how much your body says,<br />

without uttering a word? Brace yourself,<br />

because here’s a jaw-dropping fact:<br />

your body is a chatterbox, broadcasting<br />

messages to the world around you, even<br />

when you’re not aware of it. Prepare to be<br />

shocked - studies suggest that 80-90% of<br />

our communication is non-verbal! That’s<br />

right, your body really TALKS!<br />

Let’s dive into the world of our body<br />

language and go back in time (this is not<br />

a new science) and discover ‘the 3Cs’,<br />

also known as the ‘Communication Rule<br />

Theory’, created by Professor Mehrabian<br />

and Morton Wiener in 1967. This theory<br />

helps us to understand how our body<br />

talks!<br />

Communication Rule<br />

Theory 7-38-55:<br />

Did you know that “Research even<br />

suggests that we make judgements about<br />

people’s intelligence based upon their<br />

faces and expressions?”<br />

Source: www.verywellmind.com<br />

Do take a peek at their “Understand body<br />

language and facial expressions” section,<br />

as they even have a game you can play to<br />

help you understand the importance of it.<br />

Diving into the<br />

world of non-verbal<br />

communication!<br />

Eyes that connect: The gateway to<br />

genuine connections lies in the eyes.<br />

Picture this… a balanced dose of eye<br />

contact can forge profound bonds.<br />

But here’s the kicker - too much direct<br />

Spoken word<br />

7%<br />

Body talk!<br />

eye contact might send shockwaves<br />

of intensity, and discomfort to your<br />

colleagues, and also to the little ones. Sit<br />

side by side when engaging with children.<br />

This helps to create a comfortable and<br />

non-threatening atmosphere helping them<br />

feel at ease with you.<br />

Power of your posture: Are you<br />

broadcasting interest with your body?<br />

Crossed arms and legs, build a “keep out”<br />

force field and suggest you are just not<br />

interested. Create a posture of openness<br />

that shows everyone that you are “all<br />

ears”. Your posture sets the stage and<br />

tone of the conversation.<br />

Express yourself (facially!): Your face is<br />

a canvas of emotions. From a mega-watt<br />

smile to a split-second micro-expression,<br />

every twitch communicates volumes. We<br />

all need a superpower. Flash a contagious<br />

grin as it is infectious and promotes wellbeing.<br />

Tone titan: Your voice isn’t just a collection<br />

of words; it’s an orchestra of emotions.<br />

Tune into your tone. Lowering it a notch<br />

can help add an instant infusion of warmth<br />

and interest.<br />

practice, you will find that practising<br />

confident body language can help you<br />

feel more confident in social situations.”<br />

Newman R, Furnham A, Weis L, et al.<br />

Non-verbal presence: How changing your<br />

behaviour can increase your ratings for<br />

persuasion, leadership and confidence.<br />

Psych. 2016;07(04):488-499. doi:10.4236/<br />

psych.2016.74050<br />

Just add a dash of<br />

empathy!<br />

We’ve dived into the magical realm of<br />

‘body talk’, but there’s an extra sprinkling<br />

of magic we mustn’t miss – empathy,<br />

the ultimate ‘secret sauce’ for truly<br />

understanding our little ones and fellow<br />

grown-ups.<br />

In my search for the best way of explaining<br />

the ‘secret sauce’ I came across this<br />

explanation… “Empathy refers to the<br />

ability to understand the feelings the<br />

client is trying to express and the ability<br />

to communicate this understanding to the<br />

client. The therapist must adopt the client’s<br />

frame of reference and must strive to see<br />

the problems as the client sees them.”<br />

“Introduction to Psychology”, Atkinson,<br />

Atkinson, Smith, and Ben. Chapter 17,<br />

Methods of Therapy, page 687.<br />

Don’t forget that when working with<br />

children and adults, being genuine and<br />

understanding their situation is the key to<br />

success. Remember, children are genuine<br />

detectives, even better than Sherlock<br />

Holmes, as nothing gets past them!<br />

Empathy unleashed (literally!): Imagine<br />

this: a chorus of babies in a nursery, all<br />

wailing in sync. Why? It’s like emotional<br />

telepathy as they sense each other’s<br />

feelings but can’t tell the difference<br />

between their own emotions and those of<br />

others. Babies, still tuning their emotional<br />

radio, can’t help but join the symphony.<br />

That’s empathy, a superpower that lets<br />

you tap into others’ feelings.<br />

Unlocking their little hearts: When your<br />

little ones are keeping their cards close,<br />

not mingling with the gang, or simply<br />

having a tough day, it’s time to put your<br />

empathy superhero cape on. The key?<br />

Cracking the code of their feelings, both<br />

spoken and silent. To ace this game, you<br />

need to hop into their world and see it<br />

through their eyes and feelings.<br />

More than just words: When you are<br />

in someone’s shoes it’s like a Vulcan<br />

mind-meld from “Star Trek”. When you<br />

communicate, you are not just using “I<br />

understand” statements, you are painting<br />

with their emotions.<br />

Empathic language: To master this, you<br />

need to see their view and translate their<br />

feelings into words they would use. This<br />

is not a chat, it’s a tapestry of connections<br />

between you and your little ones and<br />

grown-ups.<br />

Following on from the “Star Trek”<br />

reference… (Yes, I am a fan!)<br />

It’s all about catching feelings from your<br />

little ones or those in the ‘grown-up<br />

galaxy’. Flip on that empathy switch (or<br />

Vulcan mind-meld), raise the emotion<br />

antennae and get ready to enter a whole<br />

world of understanding!<br />

Remember, forging connections with<br />

your colleagues and little ones goes way<br />

beyond words. Navigating non-verbal<br />

communication is not easy and it’s a skill<br />

that needs to be constantly nurtured. Forge<br />

connections that go beyond words, so the<br />

next time someone asks how well you<br />

communicate, you can confidently say: “My<br />

body does the talking!”.<br />

Scan here for<br />

more resources<br />

from Gina:<br />

Body<br />

language<br />

55%<br />

Tone of<br />

voice<br />

38%<br />

Move like you mean it: Put your hands<br />

up if you’ve ever spoken without words.<br />

We all do it, and it’s a goldmine of<br />

unspoken feelings. Tune into these hand<br />

gestures, because decoding them will<br />

unveil a treasure trove of emotions in<br />

children and your fellow grown-ups.<br />

Remember, even if you don’t feel confident,<br />

or you have difficulty interacting with others<br />

due to social anxiety disorder (SAD) or<br />

other reasons, did you know you can…<br />

“Practice these gestures and movements<br />

to project an air of confidence? As you<br />

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

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

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