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Issue 111<br />

FEBRUARY <strong>2024</strong><br />

The importance<br />

of children feeling<br />

represented<br />

Why hiring an<br />

apprentice<br />

makes sense<br />

Kindness vs<br />

people-pleasing<br />

+ lots more<br />

EYFS activities<br />

inside!<br />

This month…<br />

Expressive<br />

Arts & Design<br />

Celebrating apprenticeship<br />

achievements<br />

Are You Maximising Every Business Opportunity?<br />

Exclusive referral program - see inside for details<br />

and score a £100 Amazon voucher!

6<br />

34<br />

20<br />

Hello<br />

Welcome to our family<br />

Welcome to the <strong>February</strong> edition of <strong>Parenta</strong> <strong>magazine</strong>!<br />

With the first, possibly the wettest, and certainly the longest month of the year under our belts, we can look forward to a<br />

month of celebration and achievements - our focus for this month - and your <strong>magazine</strong> is just brimming with articles on<br />

these topics!<br />

Pam McFarlane explores the ‘value of values’, Gina Smith looks at the importance of children feeling represented, and<br />

Stacey Kelly explores kindness versus people-pleasing. We also look at how we can encourage our children to celebrate<br />

individuality. We have plenty to celebrate with National Apprenticeship Week upon us and have some great advice to help<br />

you get involved, or if you are thinking about hiring an apprentice. Check out Priya Kanabar’s article on page 18 as she<br />

explains why hiring an apprentice makes sense, regardless of how small your setting is!<br />

Remember to register for our webinar on the 15th and join us, together with our early years experts as we gain insights,<br />

share experiences, and celebrate achievements in childcare apprenticeships. You can register at www.parenta.com/<br />

webinars and don’t forget you will earn a CPD certificate if you attend!<br />

Don’t forget to share the magic of our <strong>magazine</strong> with your friends, colleagues, and parents alike. They can receive their own<br />

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

Allan<br />

12<br />

Regulars<br />

10 Write for us<br />

36 EYFS Activities: Expressive Arts & Design<br />

News<br />

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

6 Improving the business of childcare: part 2<br />

8 Childcare news and views<br />

Advice<br />

24<br />

14 Apprenticeships - a path to a rewarding career<br />

22 Lunar New Year<br />

26 Being kind to everyone and celebrating our<br />

individuality<br />

30 Children’s Mental Health Week<br />

Industry Experts<br />

38<br />

12 I think they have sensory needs what can I do?<br />

Part 2.5 - provide and adopt<br />

18 Why hiring an apprentice makes sense -<br />

Yes, even for childminders!<br />

20 Let’s get ready to play… wait, what now?<br />

24 The value of values<br />

28 The importance of children feeling represented<br />

32 Musical medicine: How music helps pre-term<br />

neonatal infants<br />

38 Child development: Dance and movement - part 2<br />

2 <strong>February</strong> <strong>2024</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>February</strong> <strong>2024</strong> 3

What do our customers<br />

say this month?<br />

“Natalie gives me the support and confidence needed<br />

for me to complete my course.”<br />

Natasha Ayres<br />

“I am always happy with the level of support I receive<br />

from <strong>Parenta</strong>. Thank you for the continued support.”<br />

Fledgelings<br />

“My tutor Anita is a really helpful tutor, she always<br />

tries to help me with everything, she is kind and an<br />

amazing person, every time I struggle with anything<br />

she is always there for me. Most importantly she<br />

always encourages me to work harder so that I don’t<br />

struggle with anything. Anita always makes me happy<br />

with her friendly and kind personality. Also, I am really<br />

happy that I got an assessor like her, thanks to Anita I<br />

believe that I will be able to pass this course, so I am<br />

thankful for her effort and patience in helping me.”<br />

Rosendale<br />

“I am always exceptionally pleased with the help and<br />

advice I get from <strong>Parenta</strong>. A big thank you to the team!”<br />

Brishing Barn Nursery<br />

“I would like to express the spectacular service that I<br />

received from Andreea during my revision sessions to<br />

help me achieve my exam passes.”<br />

Vickie Milton<br />

“It’s absolutely amazing - I wouldn’t be where I am<br />

today without the help of Natalie Doyle.”<br />

Chloe Theobald<br />

“Great services. All the material is structured and clear.<br />

The tutor is amazing as well.”<br />

Irina Abrosimova<br />

“I joined Wivenhoe in November and Ayse has<br />

been brilliant with booking in our learners for their<br />

professional discussions and observations. When I<br />

started here, I had some learners on around 2% and<br />

by working so closely with you have managed to get<br />

them on target for where they should be. They are so<br />

much happier at work! They are feeling so much more<br />

motivated and determined at Wivenhoe to finish their<br />

courses. A factor of that is the style that you work and<br />

how they feel your visits are practical.”<br />

Abby Walton<br />

Congratulations<br />

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

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

learners who have completed their apprenticeships<br />

and gained their qualifications!<br />

4 <strong>February</strong> <strong>2024</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>February</strong> <strong>2024</strong> 5

Improving the<br />

business of<br />

Dr. Allan Presland<br />

childcare: part 2<br />

Many years ago, my daughter was<br />

attending the after-school club of a local<br />

chain of nurseries. She had been there for<br />

about 4 months before I realised that I’d<br />

never received an invoice and therefore,<br />

had never paid. The owner was not only<br />

a client but also a friend of mine, whom<br />

I bumped into often - and during our<br />

regular chats, I asked multiple times if he<br />

was sure he was correctly invoicing for all<br />

the services he was providing. Of course,<br />

he was adamant he was!<br />

When I saw him over the next couple of<br />

months, I asked the same type of question<br />

and always got the same answer;<br />

everything was being billed correctly. Of<br />

course, a little while later, it became too<br />

embarrassing to avoid paying any longer<br />

so I met him and paid my dues – the<br />

point is however, the owner had revenue<br />

leakage and simply wasn’t aware of it.<br />

As part of <strong>Parenta</strong>’s commitment to<br />

supporting settings, we run surveys which<br />

provide a series of questions that allow<br />

providers to compare their performance<br />

against the most successful settings. One<br />

of the questions is about revenue leakage,<br />

and 25% of respondents said they didn’t<br />

know what this was.<br />

In last month’s column, I talked about the<br />

importance of lead generation and the<br />

true value of a lead to you being worth<br />

£50,000. But (and this is really important)<br />

there is simply no point in continuing to fill<br />

a bucket with water when it has a hole in<br />

the bottom, no matter how small.<br />

This analogy may sound frivolous, but<br />

it’s the exact opposite. Having worked<br />

with so many providers over the last 25<br />

years, my suspicion is the vast majority<br />

have some form of revenue leakage from<br />

their business. Simply, they are either not<br />

billing, or not billing correctly, and more<br />

importantly, they are not receiving the<br />

income due to them.<br />

Nursery management software is an<br />

absolute necessity to solve this problem,<br />

but even then, I would urge all owners/<br />

managers to pull every single invoice<br />

for the last month and to check them all<br />

thoroughly against hours/sessions used,<br />

late payments and late collection fees, as<br />

well as extras. Unfortunately, this is not a<br />

job that can be passed to someone else –<br />

you need to satisfy yourself that everything<br />

is 100% correct.<br />

If I’m wrong and you find everything to<br />

be 100% correct, congratulations, you are<br />

one of the few. If I’m right, fix the issue fast<br />

and set a calendar reminder to repeat the<br />

exercise in 6 months.<br />

You may also want to grab a copy of<br />

my book, “Improving the Business of<br />

Childcare” which has many similar<br />

hints and tips, available here on<br />

www.amazon.co.uk here, or take<br />

our quiz to see how successful your<br />

setting is compared to others we work<br />

with: https://scorecard.parenta.com/<br />

parenta<br />

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

6 <strong>February</strong> <strong>2024</strong> | parenta.com

Childcare news<br />

and views<br />

New research reveals concern<br />

regarding new childcare expansion<br />

roll-out<br />

In anticipation of the Government’s<br />

forthcoming implementation of an<br />

extension to free early education<br />

entitlements starting in April <strong>2024</strong>, recent<br />

research by Coram Family and Childcare<br />

reveals concerns among local authorities<br />

in England regarding the availability<br />

of adequate childcare spaces to meet<br />

the expected demand. While 60% of<br />

local authorities express confidence in<br />

having enough places for the April <strong>2024</strong><br />

expansion, only 27% are equally confident<br />

about the expansion from September<br />

<strong>2024</strong> (15 free hours for nine-month-olds).<br />

Furthermore, this confidence drops to just<br />

12% for the September 2025 expansion (30<br />

hours for nine-month-olds).<br />

The findings of the report reveal the<br />

obstacles perceived by local authorities in<br />

effectively implementing the 30 hours of<br />

free entitlements in 2025. A substantial<br />

majority (88%) pinpoint the local childcare<br />

workforce as a significant ‘barrier,’<br />

underscoring the persistent difficulties in<br />

recruiting and retaining staff. Additionally,<br />

concerns about adequate provision for<br />

children with special educational needs<br />

and disabilities (SEND) are prominent,<br />

with 64% of local authorities citing the<br />

‘sufficiency of childcare places for children<br />

with SEND’ and 55% expressing concerns<br />

about the ‘funding to support children with<br />

SEND’ as barriers to successful delivery.<br />

Local authorities were also concerned<br />

about how the roll-out of the 30-hour<br />

expansion will impact the availability of<br />

the universal 15-hour entitlement for three<br />

and four-year-olds and disadvantaged<br />

two-year-olds.<br />

For three and four-year-old entitlements,<br />

35% of local authorities expect that fewer<br />

families will be able to take up their places<br />

without any charge, and 34% expect fewer<br />

places to be available for children with<br />

SEND.<br />

For the disadvantaged two-year-old<br />

entitlements, nearly half of local authorities<br />

expect there to be fewer available places<br />

overall and a third that fewer families will<br />

be able to take up their places without any<br />

charge. 33% also expect fewer places to<br />

be available for children with SEND, as the<br />

30 hours expansion rolls out.<br />

Ellen Broomé, Head of Coram Family and<br />

Childcare, said: “The coming months<br />

will be a crucial time in the sector as<br />

we prepare for the implementation of<br />

the government’s welcome extension of<br />

childcare support. These new entitlements<br />

have huge potential to support more<br />

parents – particularly mothers – to return<br />

to work and to boost outcomes for more<br />

children.”<br />

“Therefore, whilst it is encouraging<br />

that three-fifths of local authorities feel<br />

confident about the roll-out in April, we are<br />

concerned there may be issues for families<br />

further down the line in accessing the<br />

childcare they need, as well as ongoing<br />

challenges in the sector that could impact<br />

the successful delivery of this extended<br />

support in the coming year. These<br />

issues – including the challenges around<br />

recruitment and retention, and funding<br />

rates – need to be addressed urgently,<br />

and childcare providers fully supported to<br />

manage this extension, so that every child<br />

is able to access the high quality early<br />

years education they are entitled to, and<br />

all parents can make meaningful choices<br />

about work and care.”<br />

Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive<br />

of National Day Nurseries Association<br />

(NDNA) said: “These reports show what we<br />

have feared and been warning of – that<br />

childcare providers won’t be able to deliver<br />

enough places for all children.”<br />

“A significant number of local authorities<br />

do not think they will have enough places<br />

for the two-year-old expansion which<br />

increases to the majority who don’t think<br />

their local providers can deliver enough<br />

nine-month-old places to meet demand.”<br />

“The issue becomes even worse for<br />

children with special educational needs<br />

and disabilities who will most benefit from<br />

early intervention. This is because many<br />

nurseries do not feel they can fully meet<br />

their needs and because funding is so<br />

difficult to access locally. Some children<br />

need one-to-one care but the current<br />

early years staffing crisis adds to the<br />

pressure on nurseries. Their staff need to<br />

be adequately training and qualified to<br />

support these children.”<br />

“We know that many nurseries end up<br />

funding and supporting children with<br />

additional needs from their own pockets<br />

especially while they are waiting for<br />

funding and resources to be put in place.”<br />

“But it’s vital that these children are fully<br />

supported from an early age. Practitioners<br />

are best placed to identify children who<br />

need additional support. There is a crisis<br />

across all ages for SEND funding but<br />

getting that money and resources to our<br />

youngest children can really help<br />

reduce the amount needed in later life.”<br />

“The situation has worsened since Covid,<br />

with many more children now having<br />

higher needs especially with social,<br />

language and communication skills.<br />

This childcare expansion could be a lifeline<br />

for all children and families but only if the<br />

early years sector is fully funded and their<br />

staff supported with the skills they need to<br />

deliver it.”<br />

The full report from Coram Family and<br />

Childcare can be found here: https://www.<br />

familyandchildcaretrust.org/childcaresurvey-<strong>2024</strong>-early-release<br />

Low MMR vaccine rates:<br />

Government urges families to take<br />

action<br />

Measles is likely to spread rapidly<br />

across more parts of the UK unless<br />

more people take up the vaccine, a<br />

senior health official has warned<br />

Dame Jenny Harries, chief executive of<br />

the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA),<br />

says vaccination rates are “well below”<br />

what is recommended by the World Health<br />

Organization.<br />

Pop-up clinics are being introduced to<br />

get more children vaccinated as cases<br />

continue to rise. More than 200 cases have<br />

been confirmed in the West Midlands in<br />

recent months, mostly in Birmingham.<br />

Dame Jenny has expressed concern that,<br />

without urgent action, we are likely to see<br />

the measles virus “seeding and spreading<br />

rapidly” in other cities and towns with low<br />

vaccine uptake.<br />

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme:<br />

“The focus this morning is on the West<br />

Midlands, but I think the real issue is<br />

we need a call to action right across the<br />

country.”<br />

The UKHSA has now declared the measles<br />

outbreak a national incident, allowing it<br />

to put more resources into tackling the<br />

problem. In some areas of London, like<br />

Hackney, nearly half of children have not<br />

been fully vaccinated against it.<br />

Dame Jenny said the UK had previously<br />

established an elimination status for<br />

measles, but vaccination rates had now<br />

dropped.<br />

“On average about only 85% of children<br />

are arriving at school having had the two<br />

MMR doses,” she said. NHS figures show<br />

uptake of both MMR doses by the age<br />

of five was considered very low in some<br />

areas in 2022-23:<br />

74% in London<br />

83.7% in West Midlands<br />

85.1% in the North West<br />

WHO recommends two-dose vaccination<br />

coverage of at least 95% of the population<br />

because measles is highly infectious and<br />

spreads easily.<br />

But in cities like Liverpool, Manchester,<br />

Birmingham and Nottingham only 75% of<br />

five-year-olds are in that position.<br />

“People have forgotten how miserable it is<br />

to contract measles”, Dame Jenny said.<br />

“I’m actually the generation that had<br />

measles, and I can’t remember much from<br />

my childhood, but I can remember it and it<br />

is absolutely miserable,” she said.<br />

Measles is one of the most infectious<br />

diseases in humans. On average, in<br />

communities with low protection, one<br />

person will spread the virus to 15 others.<br />

That makes it far more infectious<br />

than Coronavirus, which has an R or<br />

reproduction number of about 3.<br />

Read the full story, as reported by the BBC<br />

here.<br />

8 <strong>February</strong> <strong>2024</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>February</strong> <strong>2024</strong> 9

Write for us!<br />

M O N E Y<br />

B A C K<br />


We continuously seek new<br />

authors who would like to<br />

provide thought-provoking<br />

articles for our monthly<br />

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

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 />

A staggering 49%<br />

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Enjoy speedy invoicing<br />

Congratulations<br />

and rapid reporting<br />

Unlimited users, phone<br />

to our guest author competition winner, Joanna Grace!<br />

and email support<br />

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

of the month! Her article, “Sensory Needs – What<br />

Can I Do?” looks at the sensory landscapes that<br />

surround us in our settings, and how best to think<br />

about children with sensory needs. Well done<br />

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 />

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

10 <strong>February</strong> <strong>2024</strong> | parenta.com

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 />

This article is a continuation of Joanna’s<br />

last piece in the January edition of the<br />

<strong>Parenta</strong> <strong>magazine</strong>, make sure to read it<br />

first here!<br />

Environment<br />

In previous articles of this series, we<br />

looked at how the environment around a<br />

child can affect them at a sensory level. If<br />

you are supporting a child who processes<br />

sensory information differently, then<br />

you are going to want to pay particular<br />

attention to the sensory environment you<br />

offer that child. It is worth a re-read of<br />

those articles as you think about this. But<br />

I think they have<br />

sensory needs<br />

what can I do?<br />

Part 2.5 - provide and adopt<br />

to further extend what was said in them,<br />

you could consider whether this child<br />

might need a little bit of their own space.<br />

Something like a small tent, a stretchy<br />

fabric seat swing that cocoons a child, or<br />

even just a good old cardboard box to<br />

hide in (cardboard is an excellent absorber<br />

of sound so cardboard boxes can be<br />

great little pause places for children<br />

overwhelmed by the cacophony around<br />

them). I am not suggesting segregating<br />

this child from their peers, we want them<br />

to be a part of things, but it is likely that<br />

with the best will in the world, you are not<br />

able to provide a sensory environment<br />

that works for everyone all the time; they<br />

may well be having to cope with certain<br />

aspects of your setting.<br />

Giving them a place where they can<br />

get away from it all for a moment or so<br />

and recharge their batteries is a way of<br />

respecting and supporting the work they<br />

do in being a part of the group. Have you<br />

ever taken time out from a party to sit in a<br />

toilet cubicle and re-group? It wasn’t that<br />

you didn’t want to be at the party, it was<br />

just you needed that moment to gather<br />

yourself back together so that the whole<br />

of you could be there. By providing small<br />

bespoke sensory environments to children<br />

who need them, you give them the chance<br />

to gather themselves together and to be in<br />

your setting as their whole selves.<br />

Resources<br />

Some children with sensory differences<br />

need to fiddle with things, some bite on<br />

things, others rock to and fro, and some<br />

make loud noises or grind their teeth.<br />

Sometimes what they do doesn’t hurt them<br />

or harm others, in which case let them do<br />

it. But sometimes they’re biting on things<br />

that could be dangerous to them (or to<br />

others) or they’re shouting when you need<br />

the setting to be quiet. It is where there<br />

are these mismatches between how they<br />

are providing for their need and the world<br />

around them, that it is worth investigating.<br />

The more you understand about why they<br />

are doing these things, the more able you<br />

will be to provide resources for them. I will<br />

give you some examples from my own<br />

experiences to arouse your curiosity.<br />

A little boy who was constantly biting<br />

his clothing and the skin around his<br />

fingers found the sensation of biting to be<br />

calming. He was right to do this; we have<br />

a hormone that is released when we bite<br />

and chew that calms us. It was intended<br />

in prehistoric times to keep us calm when<br />

food had been found so that we would<br />

eat our fill. His clothes and fingers were<br />

suffering as a result. We found him some<br />

jewellery and he happily switched to biting<br />

that.<br />

Another little boy was constantly biting his<br />

fingers and we tried jewellery, but it didn’t<br />

work. We realised that it wasn’t the calm<br />

of biting he was seeking, it was the pain<br />

of being bitten. We applied our curiosity to<br />

wondering why and recognised that pain<br />

is one way of becoming aware of your<br />

own body. We offered him the chance to<br />

play on a small trampette and noticed that<br />

when he was on this, he didn’t look to bite<br />

his fingers the way he did when he was<br />

doing other activities. Jumping and feeling<br />

your body rebound sends you strong<br />

messages through your proprioceptive<br />

and vestibular systems about where your<br />

body is in space. We went on to support<br />

this child with weighted shoulder wraps<br />

during storytime and offered him vibrating<br />

toys to hold whilst he engaged in free play<br />

activities.<br />

The two boys were biting but they were<br />

fulfilling different sensory needs through<br />

that biting. Doing the detective work of<br />

being curious was critical to supporting<br />

them.<br />

I thought it might be helpful to your<br />

curiosity if I listed some common sensory<br />

resources I’ve offered children to support<br />

them in meeting different sensory needs:<br />

Ear defenders – for when children are<br />

seeking comfort in response to being<br />

distressed by sound. I’ve seen children do<br />

this:<br />

✨ By making noises themselves<br />

(blocking out the distressing noise)<br />

✨ By hurting themselves<br />

(communicating their distress and<br />

locating their bodies)<br />

✨ By moving faster or jumping (finding<br />

their bodies – knowing where you are<br />

is reassuring and so counters being<br />

unnerved)<br />

✨ By putting their fingers in their ears<br />

and squealing (again blocking out the<br />

noise)<br />

Weighted resources, or compression<br />

wear clothing – I’ve often improvised the<br />

latter out of stretchy material tied in loops<br />

that can be worn around the shoulders or<br />

looped around chair legs for feet to press<br />

against. These all provide information to<br />

children about where their bodies are in<br />

space, and knowing where you are in<br />

space can help you feel more secure.<br />

Children with variances in their<br />

proprioceptive and vestibular systems<br />

often require additional assistance in<br />

spatial orientation. This may become<br />

apparent through their seemingly atypical<br />

movements or a general sense of being a<br />

bit disoriented or vague.<br />

Wands (made of pencils) with colourful<br />

or sparkly fronds taped to the top –<br />

these have delighted many children with<br />

visual processing differences. I noticed<br />

that in the examples I’ve given above,<br />

I began with distressed children, here I<br />

begin with joyful children, and in noticing<br />

the joy they get from visual stimulation,<br />

simply offer them more. Not everything<br />

about sensory differences has to be sad<br />

and stressful. Autistic people see the<br />

world in high definition, often people<br />

with visual processing differences can<br />

experience delight through their sensing<br />

of visual stimuli. These twiddle wands<br />

are a wonderful way of creating joy and<br />

celebrating sensory differences.<br />

In my next two articles, I’m going to<br />

explore how sensory differences can affect<br />

the way children eat. I imagine by now that<br />

the families of the children in your settings<br />

with sensory differences have come to<br />

know and rely on you as they would a<br />

friend. One of the most frightening ways<br />

sensory differences can affect a child is<br />

through their eating, so having a little<br />

insight into this will continue to help you<br />

to provide for those children and support<br />

their families.<br />

As you wait for those articles to come out<br />

please feel free to connect with me on<br />

social media to watch my current sensory<br />

adventures unfurl, all the connection links<br />

can be found on my website<br />

www.TheSensoryProjects.co.uk<br />

Scan here for<br />

more resources<br />

from Joanna:<br />

12 <strong>February</strong> <strong>2024</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>February</strong> <strong>2024</strong> 13

Apprenticeships<br />

- a path to a rewarding career<br />

Do you have an effective plan in place<br />

for the recruitment, training and retention<br />

of your staff, or does the thought of a<br />

resignation letter landing on your desk fill<br />

you with dread?<br />

There are many challenges facing early<br />

years leaders today, but the issue of<br />

attracting staff into the industry and then<br />

training them in a way that is useful and<br />

relevant to real-life settings is problematic.<br />

Sometimes potential staff are unqualified<br />

and/or you don’t have the money to train<br />

them from scratch - or you want to have<br />

more of an input into their training.<br />

Sometimes you are looking to upskill<br />

existing staff, but you don’t want to lose<br />

them as employees whilst they train.<br />

Luckily, some solutions could be ideal<br />

for your setting, and those solutions are<br />

apprenticeships.<br />

Apprenticeships? Aren’t<br />

they old-fashioned?<br />

Some people have an outdated view of<br />

apprenticeships, thinking they are only<br />

for the traditional trade industries such as<br />

plumbers and carpenters, but nowadays,<br />

the apprentice route to employment is a<br />

well-trodden path and people can train in<br />

thousands of industries as an apprentice,<br />

learning on the job and earning whilst<br />

they learn too. There are apprenticeships<br />

to become qualified teachers, business<br />

analysts, marketing managers,<br />

hairdressers, and engineers too, and there<br />

are entry levels from unqualified to degree<br />

level.<br />

And yes, early years apprenticeships are<br />

available and well-funded too!<br />

The Government have raised the profile<br />

of apprenticeships in recent years as<br />

industries struggled to find enough<br />

workers leaving education with the skills<br />

they need to fill the posts they needed.<br />

Additional training was often required to<br />

upskill staff, so routes to employment that<br />

also included an educational part became<br />

more attractive.<br />

Step forward, the humble but powerful,<br />

apprenticeship.<br />

National Apprenticeship<br />

Week<br />

National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) takes<br />

place from the 5th to the 11th of <strong>February</strong><br />

<strong>2024</strong> and is a great opportunity for the<br />

education and skills sectors to come<br />

together to match people to jobs, as well<br />

as celebrate and honour the achievements<br />

of apprentices around the country. There<br />

is no doubt that apprentices have a very<br />

positive impact on businesses, local<br />

communities, and the wider economy<br />

and now is the time to recognise their<br />

importance.<br />

The theme for this year’s week is “Skills For<br />

Life” (#SkillsForLife and #NAW<strong>2024</strong>) which<br />

emphasises that apprenticeships are no<br />

longer simply a way to get a ‘foot in the<br />

door’. Many apprenticeships now offer<br />

higher qualifications up to and including<br />

degree and post-graduate qualifications,<br />

so there really is something for everyone in<br />

the apprenticeship scheme.<br />

Many early years settings have a long<br />

history of working with the Government,<br />

local colleges and training providers to<br />

offer apprenticeships at several levels<br />

and have found them to be an invaluable<br />

source of staff recruitment and training.<br />

What is an apprenticeship?<br />

The Government’s definition of an<br />

apprenticeship is:<br />

“A paid job where the employee learns<br />

and gains valuable experiences. Alongside<br />

on-the-job training, apprentices spend<br />

at least 20%* of their working hours<br />

completing classroom-based learning with<br />

a college, university or training provider<br />

which leads to a nationally recognised<br />

qualification.” * This equates to an average<br />

of 6 hours per week on a 30-hour week.<br />

Apprenticeships are a way of providing<br />

hands-on experience in a sector or role<br />

of interest to the apprentice with a formal<br />

assessment which leads to a nationally<br />

recognised qualification. One of the best<br />

parts, however, is that the person is<br />

learning on the job and because it is a job,<br />

they get paid a wage whilst learning. Since<br />

many apprenticeships are designed with<br />

the needs of the end employer in mind<br />

too, many apprenticeships can lead on<br />

to further employment at the end of the<br />

training period.<br />

How are apprenticeships<br />

funded?<br />

Many courses for young people (16-18)<br />

are fully funded by the Government<br />

which means that most employers don’t<br />

pay anything and there are no course<br />

fees to pay. Apprentices should be paid<br />

minimum wage at least, but this can be<br />

covered 100% by the Government if they<br />

are aged 16-18. Most apprenticeships for<br />

older people carry substantial Government<br />

funding too.<br />

There are also incentive schemes for<br />

recruiting young people. Employers and<br />

training providers could receive £1,000<br />

each if they recruit an apprentice who is<br />

either:<br />

✏ Aged 16 to 18 years old<br />

✏ Aged 19 to 25 years old and has an<br />

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

✏ Has been in the care of their local<br />

authority<br />

How can apprenticeships be<br />

useful in early years?<br />

Apprenticeships are a popular tried and<br />

trusted way for early years settings to<br />

help recruit and fund first-time job seekers<br />

because they are accredited and mostly<br />

fully funded. Apprentices here usually<br />

start with a Level 2 or Level 3 Childcare<br />

qualification.<br />

However, there are also higher-level<br />

apprenticeships and apprenticeships also<br />

include things like:<br />

✏ Early Years Educator<br />

✏ Teacher<br />

✏ Learning mentor (Teaching Assistant)<br />

✏ Children, Young People & Families<br />

Manager<br />

<strong>Parenta</strong> specialises in training people in:<br />

✏ Level 2 Childcare (EYP)<br />

✏ Level 3 Childcare (EYE)<br />

✏ Level 3 Team Leader<br />

✏ Level 5 EYLP<br />

Apprenticeships can also involve<br />

specialisms in areas like music or working<br />

with pupils with special educational needs<br />

or challenging behaviour, helping them<br />

to overcome barriers to learning and fulfil<br />

their potential.<br />

How can I find out more?<br />

There is a lot of information on the NAW<br />

website at nationalapprenticeshipweek.<br />

co.uk. Alternatively, <strong>Parenta</strong> are experts<br />

in recruiting and training apprentices for<br />

the early years sector and you can contact<br />

them on 0800 002 9242 or visit www.<br />

parenta.com/recruit-an-apprentice/. There<br />

are also a lot of articles and advice about<br />

apprenticeships on the <strong>Parenta</strong> website at:<br />

www.parenta.com/parentablog/childcareapprenticeships/<br />

Celebrating National<br />

Apprenticeship Week<br />

We’ve also listed below some other ways<br />

you could celebrate NAW in your setting:<br />

✏ Reach out to local schools and<br />

colleges to speak to them about<br />

potential apprenticeship opportunities<br />

– you could also offer work experience<br />

for interested students<br />

✏ Register your interest by signing up for<br />

the monthly newsletter on the NAW<br />

website<br />

✏ Join one of the employment webinars<br />

on the website<br />

✏ Spread the word about NAW on your<br />

social media channels<br />

✏ Consider upskilling existing staff with<br />

an apprenticeship – possibly a Level<br />

5 EYLP<br />

✏ Call <strong>Parenta</strong> on 0800 002 9242 for<br />

more information<br />

More information<br />

✏ nationalapprenticeshipweek.co.uk<br />

✏ www.parenta.com/<br />

childcaretrainingcourses<br />

Scan here for<br />

more references<br />

& information:<br />

14 <strong>February</strong> <strong>2024</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>February</strong> <strong>2024</strong> 15

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Priya Kanabar<br />

Why hiring an<br />

apprentice makes<br />

sense<br />

Yes, even for childminders!<br />

Given the growing demand for childcare<br />

places, particularly with the increased<br />

Government-funded hours, now presents<br />

the perfect moment to explore the<br />

advantages of bringing an apprentice on<br />

board. The potential benefits of such a<br />

partnership extend to both the apprentice<br />

and the employer, making it a mutually<br />

enriching experience. Let’s explore why<br />

hiring an apprentice makes good sense.<br />

The process of finding an apprentice<br />

may seem like a very time-consuming<br />

process, with a lot of time being dedicated<br />

to training them. No one wants to be<br />

bombarded with extra paperwork or to<br />

hold someone’s hand whilst they are<br />

studying, however, this does not have to<br />

be the case at all.<br />

If you pick a reputable recruiter and trainer,<br />

for example, <strong>Parenta</strong>, you will receive<br />

support for both you and your apprentice<br />

right from the beginning. In addition to<br />

finding out exactly what your setting’s<br />

requirements are, they will have already<br />

started the registration process and will<br />

only send you the strongest candidates.<br />

This cuts out half of the work; so, all you<br />

need to do as the employer is conduct<br />

the interview and make that all-important<br />

decision. Many childcare professionals will<br />

associate apprentices with no experience<br />

and needing a whole lot of attention to<br />

complete their childcare courses, but it is<br />

up to the employer to only choose who<br />

they consider suitable for the role.<br />

The partnership between the training<br />

provider, the learner and the employer is<br />

really important. The apprentice will have<br />

regular meetings and training with their<br />

tutor and for this reason, the employer<br />

must ensure their learner is supported,<br />

given regular appraisals, and booked onto<br />

any core training they need. Of course,<br />

this means keeping them up-to-date with<br />

legislation and supporting them in getting<br />

to know their workplace inside out. Giving<br />

them challenges and more responsibility<br />

will give them the confidence they need<br />

for inspection or simply to become a room<br />

leader.<br />

Another benefit of hiring an apprentice<br />

is the lack of financial stress, as the<br />

majority of apprenticeships are 95%<br />

government-funded. Even though there<br />

is usually a minimum number of set<br />

hours, and off-the-job training to do, the<br />

contracted days and times can be tailored<br />

to individual setting’s needs. How you<br />

teach them within your setting will be your<br />

unique learning style, which becomes the<br />

foundation of their future.<br />

Highlights<br />

Feeling empowered is one of the highlights<br />

- watching an apprentice grow during their<br />

first year, compile a portfolio of certificates,<br />

from scratch, and gain invaluable (handson)<br />

skills needed to work as an early years<br />

practitioner.<br />

Although it can be challenging knowing<br />

that you, the employer, are responsible for<br />

them, the challenging aspect is motivating.<br />

Making an effort to demonstrate<br />

professional role modelling, naturally sets<br />

a high standard.<br />

Support<br />

The feeling of guiding someone in making<br />

their first steps towards a qualification is<br />

very rewarding, as is knowing you are part<br />

of the reason they are competent. During<br />

that process, providing endless support<br />

and praise to ensure the apprentice does<br />

not lack self-esteem is essential.<br />

It helps to put yourself in their shoes;<br />

taking yourself back to when you first<br />

began training to work in the early years.<br />

Mental health and stress can impact on<br />

the ability to function, let alone work; for<br />

this reason, supporting staff with regular<br />

meetings is essential, especially if you<br />

want to keep staff long term.<br />

Training<br />

Keeping your apprentices informed about<br />

current legislation and providing crucial<br />

refresher training serves as a helpful<br />

reminder for the entire setting to review<br />

their practices. Ensuring apprentices<br />

are well-trained is crucial for meeting<br />

high standards and avoiding any issues<br />

during Ofsted inspections. While there<br />

might be time pressures involved in<br />

training, ultimately, it leads to increased<br />

professionalism, which will be a positive<br />

outcome for all.<br />

There is a sense of pressure in training<br />

someone that can only result in more<br />

professionalism, a positive thing for sure.<br />

Working in the early years requires a<br />

range of personality traits, using creativity<br />

in different ways and a diverse range<br />

of teaching styles. This lesson is a very<br />

special one an employer can teach an<br />

apprentice - to reassure them that they do<br />

not have to fit in, but rather float in their<br />

own bubbles for all to admire.<br />

There are so many benefits to hiring<br />

an apprentice and they outweigh the<br />

hardships!<br />

Scan here for<br />

more information<br />

& resources<br />

from Priya:<br />

18 <strong>February</strong> <strong>2024</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>February</strong> <strong>2024</strong> 19

Dr. Kathryn Peckham<br />

In this article, taken from the course of the<br />

same name at the Nurturing Childhoods<br />

Academy, we are going to be reminding<br />

ourselves of the deep-rooted importance<br />

of play and how we can support all adults<br />

in a child’s life to prioritise this invaluable<br />

activity. But first let me ask, how can<br />

something that seems like the simplest,<br />

most natural thing in the world be so<br />

fraught with issues? It all seems so easy<br />

when you watch children at it!<br />

Whether a child is looking up at you<br />

dressed in fairy wings, wanting you to<br />

chase them around the garden or to play<br />

endless rounds of their current favourite<br />

game, as an adult it can all seem a little<br />

daunting. How do you emerge yourself in<br />

Let’s get ready<br />

to play… wait,<br />

what now?<br />

their world of make-believe? How do you<br />

know what to do, to say and how to act?<br />

More and more parents and practitioners<br />

come to me concerned that they simply<br />

don’t know how to play. Could this be a<br />

sign of a more sedentary, technologyinfused<br />

childhood or the impact of moving<br />

away from extended families and no<br />

longer being surrounded by nieces,<br />

nephews and young cousins? Or is it that<br />

as adults, we become too concerned with<br />

how we are perceived by others and forget<br />

the liberating freedoms of play?<br />

Engaging in genuine play with children<br />

is not only an immensely enjoyable<br />

way to spend your time, but it also<br />

carries tremendous benefits for a<br />

child’s emotional, cognitive and social<br />

development, building relationships<br />

and establishing the attachments that<br />

significantly contribute to their overall<br />

well-being. However, in today’s fast-paced<br />

world, parents and practitioners can<br />

often find themselves juggling multiple<br />

responsibilities and commitments.<br />

Amongst the hustle and bustle of daily<br />

life, it’s crucial to remind them of the<br />

significance of spending quality time<br />

playing. As you support all the adults in<br />

a child’s life, let us remind ourselves why<br />

we must all set aside dedicated time for<br />

play. And as we embrace our inner child,<br />

watch as we all flourish in the special<br />

connections we share.<br />

☑ Building strong bonds<br />

Playing with children serves as<br />

a powerful bonding experience,<br />

providing an opportunity to connect<br />

on an emotional level as you foster<br />

trust and a sense of security. As you<br />

play together you demonstrate to<br />

children that they are valued and<br />

loved, strengthening your relationship<br />

as you build healthy attachments<br />

and enhance their self-esteem and<br />

confidence<br />

☑ Promoting cognitive development<br />

As you play, you naturally develop<br />

children’s cognitive skills, engaging<br />

their problem-solving, critical thinking<br />

and decision-making abilities as<br />

you explore the world around them.<br />

Participating in activities that naturally<br />

include creativity, spatial awareness,<br />

or logical reasoning such as building<br />

blocks, puzzles or imaginative play<br />

stimulates their development in ways<br />

more profound than any digital app<br />

☑ Enhancing social skills<br />

As you play together, you facilitate the<br />

development of their social skills and<br />

lay the groundwork for positive social<br />

interactions. Through cooperative<br />

play, children learn how to negotiate,<br />

compromise, and take turns. Through<br />

shared play experiences, they<br />

develop empathy, compassion, and<br />

an understanding of social cues, all<br />

of which are vital for building and<br />

maintaining relationships throughout<br />

their lives<br />

☑ Language and communication<br />

development<br />

Whether it’s engaging in pretend<br />

play, storytelling or engaging in<br />

conversation, play provides an<br />

excellent platform for children<br />

to develop and enhance their<br />

language and communication<br />

skills in meaningful ways. By<br />

actively participating in their play,<br />

you can support their vocabulary<br />

development, sentence structure and<br />

communication abilities<br />

☑ Emotional regulation and stress<br />

relief<br />

Play also allows children to express<br />

and process their emotions in safe<br />

and healthy ways. Whether through<br />

dramatic play or engaging in physical<br />

activities, play helps children release<br />

excess energy and reduces stress.<br />

It also provides an outlet for them<br />

to explore and understand complex<br />

emotions, and to develop effective<br />

emotional regulation strategies<br />

We know that play is not simply about<br />

fun but also an essential component of<br />

children’s growth and well-being, fostering<br />

their holistic development and allowing<br />

them to experience the joy and wonder<br />

of childhood. It is also the most significant<br />

and deeply felt way we have of learning<br />

- at any age. So, let us look at how we<br />

support all adults to confidently embrace<br />

the power of playtime.<br />

Firstly, consider how motivating our<br />

environments are. Do we feel excited and<br />

interested to explore and play? Is there<br />

a variety of engaging toys, art supplies,<br />

books, and puzzles along with materials<br />

that promote open-ended play such as<br />

cardboard boxes or blankets for building,<br />

dressing-up costumes and simple<br />

household items? Is the space organised<br />

and accessible so that activities of interest<br />

can be easily chosen and tidied away<br />

afterwards? Are these periodically rotated<br />

to maintain novelty and keep everyone’s<br />

interest piqued?<br />

Without careful thought, structured<br />

activities and screens can dominate<br />

children’s time and we must prioritise nontech,<br />

unstructured play as an essential<br />

part of their development. The freedom to<br />

play without specific rules or instructions<br />

gives children the opportunity to follow<br />

their interests and passions, fostering a<br />

sense of autonomy and self-expression.<br />

However, in today’s digital age, excessive<br />

screen time may be hindering children’s<br />

motivation to engage in more self-driven<br />

forms of play, so look at how you infuse<br />

their play with independent thinking,<br />

decision-making and problem-solving<br />

opportunities.<br />

Children learn so much by example, so<br />

show your enthusiasm as you follow their<br />

imagination, demonstrating that play is<br />

not just for children, but a great activity for<br />

everyone. Strengthen your bond as you<br />

actively participate and celebrate in their<br />

play. Provide positive reinforcement and<br />

praise for their creativity, their problemsolving<br />

abilities and persistence. Take a<br />

genuine interest in their playtime activities,<br />

asking open-ended questions and<br />

engaging in meaningful conversations as<br />

you boost their confidence and motivation<br />

to explore.<br />

So whether you are a parent, practitioner<br />

or family worker, join me at the Nurturing<br />

Childhoods Academy where you can<br />

access training, listen to talks and join a<br />

community of practitioners, parents and<br />

professionals working with children and<br />

the families that nurture them.<br />

Scan here for<br />

more resources<br />

from Kathryn:<br />

20 <strong>February</strong> <strong>2024</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>February</strong> <strong>2024</strong> 21

Lunar New Year<br />

In the West, we celebrate New Year as the<br />

clocks change from 11.59pm to midnight<br />

on December 31st. But this is not the only<br />

New Year that is celebrated around the<br />

world, and in <strong>February</strong>, many people<br />

celebrate the Lunar New Year, or as many<br />

in Eastern cultures also know it, Chinese<br />

New Year.<br />

Unlike the Western New Year, which is set<br />

on the same day every year, the date of<br />

Lunar New Year changes as the phase of<br />

the moon fluctuates. So, in <strong>2024</strong>, Lunar<br />

New Year occurs on <strong>February</strong> 10th, and<br />

ends with the Lantern Festival on the 15th.<br />

In some Asian cultures, such as China,<br />

South and North Korea and Singapore, the<br />

New Year, each year is also associated<br />

with an animal from the zodiac. These<br />

animals range from pigs to monkeys, but<br />

this year, we are moving from the year of<br />

the Rabbit to the year of the Dragon, or<br />

more specifically, the Wood Dragon.<br />

Surprisingly, if you were born in any of<br />

the previous dragon years, then traditions<br />

says that the coming year will be an<br />

unlucky rather than a lucky one! The 12<br />

animals of the Chinese zodiac are Rat,<br />

Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse,<br />

Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig.<br />

This system for naming years has been in<br />

common use for about the last 2000 years<br />

but some say it goes back even further to<br />

around 2637 BCE when it was reportedly<br />

invented.<br />

The lunar cycle lasts between 29 or 30<br />

days and there are 12 cycles in each year,<br />

although in order to keep up with the solar<br />

calendar that the West uses, an extra<br />

month is added every 2 to 3 years, much<br />

like the addition of <strong>February</strong> 29th every 4<br />

years in the solar calendar.<br />

Lunar or Chinese New Year is a great<br />

way to introduce the children to different<br />

cultures and traditions from around the<br />

world, so get ready to party and educate<br />

the children at the same time. Look at<br />

some of our ideas and bring some cheer<br />

to those dreary, <strong>February</strong> days.<br />

Chinese cookery and<br />

food<br />

Nothing introduces little ones to the<br />

culture quicker than trying different foods<br />

and you can expand their taste buds<br />

and experiences at the same time. One<br />

suggestion is to create a small ‘banquet’<br />

of small dishes of different types of food.<br />

Think about using plain or flavoured rice<br />

such as egg fried rice, sweet and sour<br />

chicken, spring rolls or toffee bananas. You<br />

can find some good recipes on the BBC or<br />

Twinkl website.<br />

Red envelopes<br />

You may have noticed that red is the<br />

dominant colour in many Chinese<br />

decorations around this time and that is<br />

because it is considered very lucky. One<br />

tradition is that children receive money in<br />

red envelopes which represent luck and<br />

prosperity, and you can make your own<br />

envelopes easily with some red card or<br />

paper. The children can decorate them<br />

with signs or the sun, moon and stars, or<br />

anything else they like. Be careful about<br />

the money that you put in as the numbers<br />

are important. In China, the number 8<br />

is considered lucky, but the number 4 is<br />

considered the opposite.<br />

Zodiac animals<br />

With so many different animals in the<br />

Chinese zodiac, this a great opportunity<br />

to think about the characteristics of each<br />

different animal. You could use these<br />

as the basis of different sessions for the<br />

children including:

Pam McFarlane<br />

Values<br />

Work values are beliefs or principles<br />

relating to your career or place of work.<br />

They describe what you believe matters<br />

regarding your career.<br />

Values are not ‘fuddy-duddy’ concepts.<br />

Values are trendy. Paul Brunson, a<br />

relationship coach on Married at First<br />

Sight, always gets contestants to explore<br />

each other’s values. What values does<br />

each one hold dear? What is important to<br />

them? Do they align? If not, presumably<br />

the marriage is doomed to failure and<br />

more alarmingly for many, fewer followers<br />

on social media.<br />

Paul posted on X on November 28th,<br />

2023, saying:<br />

“One of the most important questions you<br />

can answer is this: What are your values?<br />

Now your values guide everything in this<br />

life. Who’s the best romantic match, who’s<br />

the best business partner, who are the<br />

best friends? These are all based on your<br />

values. But more important than the best<br />

match, your values are your happiness.<br />

So identify what your values are, prioritise<br />

them, and most importantly feed them….<br />

not only will you lead a fuller life, but you’ll<br />

be much happier.”<br />

It is the same with our work settings. It<br />

is suggested that a third of our lives are<br />

spent at work. On a weekly basis many of<br />

us see our colleagues more then we see<br />

our beloveds. If shared values are key to<br />

successful relationships then the same<br />

applies to our work relationships.<br />

Before we talk about drawing up our<br />

own set of values, we should look at core<br />

values, their significance and their impact.<br />

The value of<br />

So, just what are core<br />

values?<br />

It is worthwhile carefully reading the<br />

following excellent explanation given by<br />

Workplace from en-gb.workplace.com.<br />

They say ‘“company values are a set of<br />

core beliefs held by an organisation. They<br />

might involve principles that govern the<br />

business, its philosophy, or how it expects<br />

the people who work for it to act.“<br />

“Values are overarching - they’re not about<br />

a single situation but act as a guide to how<br />

a company should approach everything it<br />

does and its interactions. Values can help<br />

define an organisation’s personality and<br />

help it stand out from the crowd.“<br />

“They can make a statement about where<br />

a company stands and what it believes in.<br />

They can give people focus and a greater<br />

sense of purpose and engagement,<br />

reinforcing a company’s broader goals<br />

and feeding into everyday decisions and<br />

work.“<br />

values<br />

“Crucially, values act as one of the building<br />

blocks of organisational culture, giving a<br />

consistent reference point, even in times of<br />

change.”<br />

What can core values do<br />

for our setting?<br />

Attract talent<br />

We all know that recruitment within early<br />

years has been exceptionally difficult over<br />

the past few years. Having clear values<br />

can make the difference in securing the<br />

right person for the job.<br />

Create a secure work environment<br />

A set of considered values is the basis for<br />

a setting’s code of conduct. Values provide<br />

a guide for behaviour in professional,<br />

social, physical and virtual interactions that<br />

is clearly understood. Having values levels<br />

the playing field and ensures fairness for<br />

all. This helps people to feel secure.<br />

Values also enable settings to identify and<br />

deal with toxic behaviours promptly.<br />

Conversely, managers can positively affirm<br />

their staff for evidencing these values.<br />

This helps staff members feel more<br />

connected to the setting and to one<br />

another and they are then able to develop<br />

a sense of ownership to the setting.<br />

Improved performance is often the result.<br />

Enhance communications<br />

Once values are embedded, all staff<br />

members can interact with stakeholders<br />

in a way that reflects the setting positively.<br />

Bank staff members too, must understand<br />

and adhere to the values of the setting. If<br />

parents are aware of the setting’s values,<br />

they also are encouraged to abide by<br />

these in their interactions with staff. Our<br />

values also trickle down to the children<br />

in our care, making the setting a happy,<br />

healthy place to be.<br />

Formulating your own<br />

set of values<br />

As with establishing our workplace culture,<br />

our workplace values are best chosen<br />

when all staff are involved. There needs<br />

to be a shared platform from which our<br />

values are embedded into our setting’s<br />

culture. A special staff meeting called to<br />

focus on values is a very good way to start<br />

generating ideas.<br />

In creating your values, the following are<br />

helpful to consider:<br />

Be clear and concise<br />

It is essential to keep your company values<br />

clear so that they can be understood and<br />

embraced by employees, regardless of<br />

their level or position in the setting. Staff<br />

members, from apprentices, to cooks,<br />

practitioners, leaders and managers must<br />

know what to expect and understand<br />

what is important.<br />

Keep them brief and memorable<br />

Keep them brief – short and snappy is the<br />

way to go! Values are then easy to recall<br />

at any given moment.<br />

Ensure they reflect your setting’s culture<br />

and check that they accurately reflect your<br />

mission, vision, beliefs, and objectives.<br />

Adapt if needed<br />

Settings grow and develop over time, so<br />

reflect on your values from time to time,<br />

making sure the values are still relevant<br />

and effective. If not, make amendments<br />

that suit your current reality.<br />

What is important for<br />

you? What matters?<br />

The first step in creating our values is by<br />

looking at what is important to us.<br />

Do we value honesty? Integrity? Positivity?<br />

Service? Kindness? Accountability? Unity?<br />

Having a group discussion with all staff<br />

members will bring common values to the<br />

fore. Once these are aired, choose some<br />

(five is a good number) that reflect your<br />

setting’s uniqueness.<br />

Some suggestions are:

Being kind to everyone<br />

and perceptions of the world. And<br />

the world is a much more vibrant and<br />

engaging place because of it.<br />

and celebrating our<br />

Think for a moment, what the world would<br />

be like if everyone was more alike – if we<br />

all liked the same things, and listened to<br />

the same type of music, wore the same<br />

clothes and ate the same foods. Would<br />

that be a change for the better?<br />

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all feel<br />

accepted by other people in the world and<br />

by ourselves? Think about how the world<br />

would be if there was no prejudice, and<br />

tolerance and kindness were the traits<br />

most often displayed by everyone.<br />

Sometimes, it is the smallest things that<br />

are the most important to promote in our<br />

children and staff and being kind to others,<br />

celebrating our individuality and being<br />

kind to all beings is a great place to start.<br />

<strong>February</strong> 17th is Random Acts of Kindness<br />

Day, celebrated across the world by<br />

people wanting to spread love and<br />

positivity, and there is no better place to<br />

start than educating our youngest citizens<br />

about simple behaviour that anyone can<br />

do - it costs nothing, and the impact of<br />

which can be felt far and wide.<br />

individuality<br />

The benefits<br />

According to the website www.<br />

randomactsofkindness.org, being kind<br />

to others has many benefits not only to<br />

the recipient, but to ourselves too. People<br />

who witness acts of kindness can also be<br />

affected because science has shown that<br />

even witnessing an act of kindness can<br />

produce oxytocin, which some people refer<br />

to as the ‘love hormone’. Oxytocin is an<br />

important hormone in the body which can<br />

help to:

The importance<br />

of children feeling<br />

Gina Smith<br />

represented<br />

How great is it that we are gradually<br />

beginning to see more diversity on<br />

television and in books? From celebrating<br />

physical differences on “Strictly Come<br />

Dancing” and on “CBeebies”, to<br />

celebrating hidden differences such as<br />

the series Pablo about an autistic boy,<br />

the world is gradually opening up to the<br />

importance of representation of everyone,<br />

no matter what skin colour, physical or<br />

hidden disability they have. There is still a<br />

lot of work to be done though.<br />

Imagine being a child in an early years<br />

setting, and being very aware that you<br />

look quite different to your peers. Perhaps<br />

you have a different skin colour, very<br />

different hair, or you have a physical<br />

disability that stands out. Not only are<br />

you different to the other children that<br />

surround you, but when you look in books,<br />

at posters or play with dolls or small world<br />

toys, none of those people look like you<br />

either. This is just going to make you even<br />

more aware that you are different.<br />

When a child feels they are different<br />

to everyone else, they are likely to feel<br />

insecure and become withdrawn. A lack of<br />

representation can lead to children feeling<br />

they are unimportant. No child should<br />

grow up feeling they are less valuable<br />

because of how they look. It takes a lot of<br />

careful work to give a child the confidence<br />

to want to celebrate their differences rather<br />

than shy away from them. The root of this<br />

inner confidence starts in the home, but<br />

it is very likely that a child’s uniqueness<br />

only stands out when they are surrounded<br />

by lots of children from different homes.<br />

For example, at home, a child may be<br />

surrounded by loved ones with the same<br />

skin colour as them, but when they get<br />

to your setting they are the only one with<br />

their skin colour.<br />

As early years leaders, you have the<br />

critically important job of making children<br />

feel represented from the earliest age<br />

before any chance of them feeling<br />

undervalued or becoming negatively<br />

aware of their differences sets in. This is<br />

an incredibly important role that can make<br />

a huge difference to a child’s self-esteem.<br />

Just think – you get the chance to alter a<br />

child’s view of themselves and to celebrate<br />

everything about them, from the earliest<br />

age. One way to do this is to make sure<br />

they are represented across all resources<br />

in your setting.<br />

Here are some opportunities that you have<br />

in an early years setting to make sure<br />

everyone is represented:

Children’s Mental<br />

Every year we celebrate Children’s Mental<br />

Health Week in the UK and this year it runs<br />

from the 5th to the 11th of <strong>February</strong>. This<br />

dedicated week provides an opportune<br />

time to raise awareness about the<br />

mental health challenges individuals<br />

may encounter and explore strategies to<br />

overcome them.<br />

All children deserve to have good mental<br />

health but sadly, this is not the case for<br />

many young people. In fact, according to<br />

The Children’s Society, in a normal class<br />

of 30 pupils, 5 are likely to have a mental<br />

health issue. Fifty percent of all mental<br />

health problems start by the age of 14,<br />

and the Mental Health Foundation say that<br />

seventy-five percent of children and young<br />

people who experience mental health<br />

problems are not getting the support they<br />

need. Some examples of mental health<br />

disorders that children can suffer from<br />

include anxiety disorders, depression,<br />

other mood disorders, eating disorders,<br />

and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).<br />

Without treatment, these mental health<br />

conditions can prevent children from<br />

reaching their full potential.<br />

These statistics and facts should be a<br />

wake-up call to all adults especially those<br />

in the caring, education and healthcare<br />

professions to see what else we can do to<br />

support the mental health of our children<br />

and young people.<br />

Raising awareness and celebrating<br />

Children’s Mental Health Week (CMHW) is<br />

a great place to start so we’ve given you<br />

some more information and ideas as to<br />

how you can do this in your setting.<br />

The first CMHW was launched in 2015<br />

by the charity, Place2Be, and since then,<br />

thousands of people across the UK have<br />

worn a green ribbon and participated in<br />

events and workshops across the country.<br />

The theme this year is “My Voice Matters”<br />

and the aim is to empower, equip and<br />

give a voice to every child in the UK, and to<br />

give them the tools they need to express<br />

themselves.<br />

Health Week<br />

Everyone can take part in the week, and<br />

it is never too early to begin talking to<br />

children about their emotions and how<br />

they feel. There are lots of downloadable<br />

free resources on their website at www.<br />

childrensmentalhealthweek.org.uk/<br />

including assembly guides, worksheets,<br />

top tips and more.<br />

One of the goals is also to ensure that<br />

no child or young person must face a<br />

mental health problem alone so some of<br />

the resources are also aimed at families,<br />

parents and carers and there are some<br />

informative videos including ones with<br />

British Sign Language (BSL) interpretation.<br />

How can you help<br />

children express<br />

themselves and find<br />

their voice?<br />

Many children and young people are<br />

still learning to express themselves and<br />

this can take years for some people as<br />

they learn to navigate social norms, and<br />

relationships and find their unique place in<br />

the world. Pre-school children are unlikely<br />

to have the words to express themselves<br />

lucidly, but they will understand when they<br />

feel good about things and when they<br />

don’t. As early years practitioners, it is<br />

part of our job to help them find words to<br />

communicate effectively with those around<br />

them, so they can learn to regulate their<br />

emotions rather than be a slave to them<br />

and mature into emotionally intelligent<br />

beings.<br />

Tips to help children<br />

recognise and regulate<br />

emotions:<br />

1. Stay calm and manage your own<br />

state – you cannot help someone<br />

manage big emotions if you match<br />

their stress, anger or anxiety. Stay<br />

calm, use de-escalation techniques<br />

and remain patient<br />

2. Start early – you can talk to babies<br />

about their emotions and begin<br />

pointing out when characters in<br />

stories and films are feeling sad,<br />

happy, anxious or angry<br />

3. Be present and connect – take the<br />

time to connect with the child in<br />

moments of high emotion: ensure<br />

you are on their eye level and are<br />

actively listening to them. Soothe and<br />

reassure them to help them feel safe<br />

4. Help children find words for emotions<br />

– this is one of the most important<br />

things to do. When children display<br />

big emotions, help them by saying<br />

things like; “I can see you are feeling<br />

angry now”, or “People who are<br />

feeling anxious can sometimes show<br />

this by….”<br />

5. Teach, don’t punish – if a child<br />

makes a mistake in addition, we<br />

don’t punish them; we teach them<br />

the right concepts and strategies to<br />

get to the right answer. Yet when we<br />

look at emotions and behaviour, we<br />

can sometimes forget our teaching<br />

remit and think that if a child has<br />

trouble managing their emotions,<br />

we should somehow bring them<br />

into line by introducing punishments<br />

and sanctions. Remember, that all<br />

behaviour is a form of communication,<br />

and our role is to help the child learn<br />

to communicate better!<br />

6. Be a good role model – modelling the<br />

behaviour and emotional intelligence<br />

that you want to see from your<br />

youngsters is a great way to get them<br />

to pay attention and begin the journey<br />

of self-regulation. Children learn by<br />

watching and imitating and this is true<br />

of emotional regulation too<br />

7. Remember the long-term goals – be<br />

prepared to help young children over<br />

time. No one will get everything right<br />

the first time, and not every time,<br />

even adults can struggle with this. So,<br />

be patient, offer praise and reward<br />

progress<br />

Things you can use<br />

to help children talk<br />

about emotions<br />

There are many resources to help children<br />

learn about emotions. Think about:

Frances Turnbull<br />

Musical<br />

medicine<br />

How music helps pre-term<br />

neonatal infants<br />

listening to and creating music reduces<br />

blood pressure, improves metabolism<br />

and has even been suggested that this<br />

is because music improves the immune<br />

system.<br />

A review of 13 studies (Yue et al., 2021)<br />

considered over 1,000 infants in neonatal<br />

intensive care. In an environment of<br />

machines, tubes and medical equipment,<br />

studies showed that music and singing<br />

reduced the infant’s heart rate, respiratory<br />

rate, oral feeding volume, stress level and<br />

maternal anxiety. These are all predictors<br />

of survival, so important areas that tell<br />

doctors what interventions are necessary.<br />

A further review of 25 studies (Haslbeck<br />

et al., 2023) with over 1,500 infants did<br />

not show increased oxygen saturation<br />

or infant development but did appear to<br />

reduce heart rates significantly. Heart rate<br />

is linked to the stress hormones adrenaline<br />

and cortisol (fight/flight responses), which<br />

can lead to medical emergencies including<br />

heart attack and stroke. This is why we are<br />

encouraged to reduce our heart rate at all<br />

ages.<br />

more memorable, and the rhythm of<br />

the words gives the feeling of call-andresponse<br />

completion.<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, oh<br />

Bring back my Bonnie, to me, to me<br />

Bring back, oh bring back, oh<br />

Bring back my Bonnie 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 well-known Scottish lullaby is written<br />

in the rocking rhythm of 6/8 timing, like<br />

other children’s songs and many sea<br />

shanties. With the feeling of rocking on the<br />

waves of the ocean, we think that rocking<br />

is familiar to newborns because of their<br />

experience, floating in amniotic fluid.<br />

Cradle song<br />

Lullaby and goodnight<br />

With roses bestride<br />

With lilies bedecked<br />

‘Neath baby’s sweet bed<br />

May thou sleep, may thou rest<br />

May thy slumber be blessed<br />

May thou sleep, may thou rest<br />

May thy slumber be blessed<br />

This classic lullaby is actually written in<br />

3/4 waltz timing, a wonderful rhythm for a<br />

slow and quiet dance.<br />

Knowing that these types of songs are<br />

used in intensive care to quiet and calm<br />

babies in distress is useful. We can use<br />

this knowledge with our own little ones,<br />

bringing calm to their situation, whatever<br />

it may be.<br />

With this in mind, here are some lullabies<br />

to get started with younger children<br />

particularly:<br />

Hush little baby<br />

Hush, little baby, don’t say a word.<br />

Mama’s gonna buy you a mockingbird<br />

And if that mockingbird won’t sing,<br />

Mama’s gonna buy you a diamond ring<br />

Toora loora loora<br />

Over in Killarney, many years ago<br />

Me mother sang a song to me<br />

In tones so sweet and low<br />

Just a simple little ditty, in her good old<br />

Irish way<br />

And I’d give the world if she could sing<br />

That song to me today<br />

If that diamond ring turns brass<br />

Mama’s gonna buy you a looking glass<br />

If that looking glass gets broke<br />

Mama’s gonna buy you a billy goat<br />

Toora, loora, loora, Toora, loora, lai<br />

Toora, loora, loora, hush now, don’t you cry<br />

Toora, loora, loora, Toora, loora, lai<br />

That’s an Irish lullaby<br />

Scan here for<br />

more resources<br />

We started this year by looking at how<br />

music can help to support children with<br />

language delays. Looking a little closer,<br />

there are several health conditions that<br />

music can support, specifically through<br />

singing.<br />

This is particularly timely because of<br />

the number of recent articles showing<br />

how lockdown has impacted all of us,<br />

particularly our children. As a result,<br />

many different holistic and psychological<br />

approaches are being recommended to<br />

improve children’s outcomes.<br />

Ironically, music has been shown to<br />

support the development of several areas,<br />

including physical and socio-emotional.<br />

Sadly, it has also been one of the first<br />

subjects to go in favour of more academic<br />

subjects, including numeracy and literacy.<br />

In response to this, we are going to<br />

continue our enquiry into the ways that<br />

we can use music and singing to support<br />

health conditions in children. This month<br />

we are going to look at how music can<br />

support children right from the start: preterm<br />

infants in neonatal care.<br />

Music has an amazing effect on people.<br />

It has been found to increase happiness<br />

hormones, promote relaxation, help<br />

people to learn and work more efficiently,<br />

and even help people to get along better<br />

together. Research during COVID-19<br />

started looking more closely into why and<br />

how this may occur.<br />

Music therapists have been publishing<br />

findings on the different effects that music<br />

has had on small groups of people with<br />

specific conditions for years, and the<br />

common benefits have been on stress:<br />

If that billy goat won’t pull<br />

Mama’s gonna buy a you a cart and bull<br />

If that cart and bull turn over<br />

Mama’s gonna buy you a dog named<br />

Rover<br />

If that dog named Rover won’t bark<br />

Mama’s gonna buy you a horse and cart<br />

And if that horse and cart fall down<br />

You’ll still be the sweetest little baby in<br />

town<br />

This lovely traditional song is full of<br />

rhyming couplets, pleasing to the ear<br />

because of the gentle rhythm. The<br />

continuity of the storyline makes the lyrics<br />

Oft in dreams I wander to that cot again<br />

I feel her arms a-huggin me as when she<br />

held me then<br />

And I hear her voice a hummin’<br />

To me as in days of yore<br />

When she used to rock me fast asleep<br />

Outside the cabin door<br />

This traditional Irish lullaby is also written<br />

in the 6/8 rocking rhythm, full of rhythm<br />

and rhyme. The brain naturally looks for<br />

pleasing sound patterns, and this will<br />

be far more pleasing to the ear than<br />

the medical beeps and noises of the<br />

monitoring machines.<br />

from Frances:<br />

32 <strong>February</strong> <strong>2024</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>February</strong> <strong>2024</strong> 33

Kindness<br />

Stacey Kelly<br />

vs peoplepleasing<br />

Throughout life, kindness has always<br />

been one of my core values: as a parent<br />

and teacher, I’ve always emphasised<br />

how important it is to be kind to others.<br />

In addition, as time has passed by, I have<br />

come to realise how important it is to<br />

harness compassion and discernment<br />

alongside kindness because, without<br />

these additional attributes, we can run the<br />

risk of becoming someone who struggles<br />

to set boundaries and who falls into the<br />

category of ‘people-pleasing’.<br />

Kindness is an external process, centred<br />

around how we make other people feel.<br />

A smile to a stranger, offering to help<br />

someone or giving compliments are<br />

all examples of little acts of kindness<br />

that are done to make someone else<br />

feel good. However, compassion takes<br />

kindness a step further because it is an<br />

internal process that allows us to gain<br />

understanding of a person or situation<br />

- and this understanding then acts as<br />

the motivator behind the kindness, help<br />

or support we extend. Compassion is<br />

more of a personal and inward journey<br />

that connects people through shared<br />

experiences - and the kindness it<br />

generates comes from a deeper and more<br />

meaningful place.<br />

Both kindness and compassion are<br />

beautiful attributes to have. However, over<br />

the years, it has become apparent that<br />

these two things can get out of balance<br />

if we don’t pair them with discernment,<br />

which is the ability to see things clearly<br />

and make smart decisions based on what<br />

is in front of us. The ability to embody<br />

these three things simultaneously allows<br />

us to empathise with others, and extend<br />

kindness, when necessary, but to also set<br />

boundaries and be true to ourselves in a<br />

strong yet balanced way.<br />

There is a very fine line between kindness<br />

and people-pleasing and what we<br />

teach children about kindness can be<br />

the difference between the two. Peoplepleasing<br />

stems from a place of fear and/or<br />

a need for acceptance, whereas genuine<br />

kindness stems from a place of altruism<br />

and love. If we constantly enforce that<br />

children need to be kind no matter what,<br />

they learn that the approval of others is<br />

linked to this attribute, which could lead to<br />

them using kindness to get acceptance.<br />

However, if we teach children to be true to<br />

how they feel but to approach things with<br />

compassion and understanding, they will<br />

learn to be authentic, set boundaries and<br />

extend kindness to people for the right<br />

reasons.<br />

The phrase ‘if you haven’t got anything<br />

nice to say, don’t say anything at all’ is<br />

powerful and teaches children to pick and<br />

use their words wisely. This approach can<br />

be linked to compassion and regardless<br />

of our circumstances or the actions of<br />

others, I believe it is one we should all live<br />

by. I have also always asked myself three<br />

things before I speak:

EYFS activities:<br />

Expressive Arts<br />

& Design<br />

Expressive Arts and Design activities are integral to the EYFS curriculum, nurturing creativity, imagination, and<br />

holistic development. Through activities such as art, dance, music and drama, children can explore, express<br />

themselves and make sense of the world around them. These experiences also promote problem-solving, boost<br />

confidence, enhance communication skills and foster social skills through collaboration and self-expression.<br />

Easter bunny bean bag game – so much fun!<br />

You will need:<br />

• Cardboard<br />

• Dark paint<br />

• Paintbrush<br />

• Scissors<br />

• Pencil<br />

• Pen<br />

• Eraser<br />

• Paper<br />

• Orange and green felt<br />

• Lentils<br />

• Strong glue (child friendly)<br />

• Funnel<br />

Creating the bunny:<br />

• Use a pencil to sketch a bunny design on a<br />

piece of paper, ensuring it has a smile and<br />

a round tummy<br />

• Transfer the sketch onto a large piece of<br />

cardboard<br />

• Paint the outlined bunny on the cardboard<br />

using a dark-coloured paint and a<br />

paintbrush and leave to dry<br />

• Use scissors to carefully cut out the mouth<br />

and tummy holes on the painted cardboard<br />

bunny<br />

Making the carrot bean bags:<br />

• Sketch a triangle (carrot) and a leafy top on<br />

a piece of paper for the bean bags<br />

• Trace two identical triangle carrots and one<br />

leafy top onto felt for each bean bag<br />

• Use the glue to attach the green felt piece<br />

onto one orange triangle<br />

• Now glue the other orange triangle on top<br />

of the first, leaving the top part of the carrot<br />

unglued<br />

• Place a funnel inside the carrot and fill it<br />

with lentils. Then, seal the carrot bean bag<br />

shut with the glue. Ensure it’s completely<br />

sealed to prevent the lentils leaking out.<br />

Repeat for other bean bags<br />

Playtime:<br />

• Stand the cardboard bunny upright<br />

• Encourage children to ‘feed the bunny’ and<br />

gently toss the carrot bean bags towards<br />

the bunny’s mouth and tummy holes<br />

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

found here: https://www.pinkstripeysocks.<br />

com/2014/04/diy-easter-bunny-bean-bag-toss.<br />

html<br />

Handmade Easter egg stamps – a favourite with the children!<br />

You will need:<br />

• Potatoes<br />

• Knife or toothpick<br />

• Assorted craft paints<br />

• Paper plates<br />

• Towel<br />

• Craft paper<br />

• Paintbrush<br />

Prepare the potato (Adults):<br />

• Cut the potato in half<br />

• Press the open end of the potato onto a<br />

towel to absorb moisture and ensure it’s<br />

dry for carving<br />

• Once the open end of the potato is dry,<br />

carefully carve designs into it using a knife<br />

or toothpick. Create lines, zigzags, circles,<br />

or any shapes desired<br />

• Dry the carved end of the potato on the<br />

towel again to ensure it’s completely dry<br />

Set up the paint station:<br />

• Squirt different coloured paints onto paper<br />

plates for easy access<br />

Egg carton flower gift – perfect for Mother’s Day!<br />

You will need:<br />

• Acrylic paint<br />

• Egg cartons (not foam)<br />

• Paper straws<br />

• Scissors<br />

• Glue<br />

• Paintbrush<br />

• Paper plate<br />

• Small pom-pom balls<br />

Setting up:<br />

• Cut four containers out of the egg carton<br />

and trim around the edges for a round<br />

petal shape<br />

Painting the flower petals:<br />

• Pour different coloured paints onto the<br />

paper plate<br />

• Encourage children to paint their flower<br />

petals using the paintbrush<br />

• Place the paper plates and the potato<br />

stamps on the table for the children to<br />

begin<br />

Get stamping:<br />

• Encourage children to dip the carved end<br />

of the potato into the paint, ensuring<br />

excess paint is removed before stamping.<br />

Alternatively, use a paintbrush to apply<br />

paint onto the potato stamps for more<br />

precision<br />

• Once the potato is painted, firmly press<br />

it onto the craft paper to create the egg<br />

design<br />

• Repeat as many times as desired<br />

• Rinse the potato under water to clean off<br />

the paint when changing colours<br />

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

here: https://premeditatedleftovers.com/<br />

naturally-frugal-mom/handmade-potatoeaster-egg-stamps-for-kids/<br />

Finishing touches:<br />

• Once the paint is dry, glue a paper straw<br />

to the back of each painted egg carton to<br />

form the stem<br />

• Select a small pom-pom ball and glue it<br />

to the middle of the painted egg carton to<br />

represent the centre of the flower<br />

• Let the assembled flowers dry completely<br />

before handling them<br />

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

here: https://www.iheartartsncrafts.com/eggcarton-flowers-kids-craft/<br />

• Let the painted petals dry completely<br />

36 <strong>February</strong> <strong>2024</strong> | parenta.com

Child<br />

development<br />

Gina Bale<br />

Dance and movement - part 2<br />

This is a two-part article on<br />

dance and movement with<br />

information, simple guides,<br />

and questions to help you<br />

include this valuable activity<br />

in your setting.<br />

Dance and movement are ingrained in<br />

our being and are how we express our<br />

emotions ranging from how we walk to<br />

simply swaying or tapping our toes to the<br />

music. We all do it!<br />

Let’s encourage our little ones to build their<br />

confidence and resilience and support<br />

their emotional well-being through a<br />

fun creative activity. Best of all, you don’t<br />

need to be a movement teacher or dance<br />

specialist to provide your little ones with<br />

a wonderful experience of dance and<br />

movement to develop their creativity and<br />

curiosity.<br />

To help you incorporate dance as an<br />

expressive art (‘Art’ model) in your setting,<br />

or at home, for all ages here is a super fast<br />

guide to help you encourage your children<br />

to engage with dance and movement.<br />

Educators’ guide<br />

Dance as an ‘Art’ model is made up<br />

of three strands. These strands are<br />

composing, performing, and appreciating.<br />

In simpler terms, make, do, and discuss.<br />

As educators, it is important to take the<br />

time to facilitate opportunities for the<br />

children to experience these strands by<br />

giving them the time and space they need,<br />

to engage with movement and music as<br />

they wish.<br />

Strand 1: Composing (make)<br />

Composing dance through imagination,<br />

exploration (improvising), problemsolving,<br />

decision-making, and creating a<br />

movement vocabulary.<br />

In practice:<br />

Put on some music but ensure you are<br />

giving them opportunities to hear all<br />

genres of music ranging from classical<br />

to contemporary. Observe and reflect on<br />

your children’s responses as this will help<br />

you provide them with child-led learning<br />

opportunities and experiences.<br />

Strand 2: Performing (do)<br />

Performing allows the children to express<br />

themselves and their emotions through<br />

movement and dance in their unique way.<br />

In practice:<br />

Just let them move showing you, and each<br />

other, their ideas of how to move with the<br />

music. It may range from just swaying to<br />

the music to a choreographic masterpiece.<br />

Strand 3: Appreciating<br />

(discuss)<br />

Appreciating each other’s dance helps<br />

the children to observe, reflect, compare,<br />

contrast, and evaluate.<br />

In practice:<br />

Chat with your children about the music,<br />

how it made them feel, and how their<br />

movements express their feelings.<br />

Encourage your children to repeat their<br />

favourite moves for you and respond to<br />

their creativity and self-expression. Their<br />

creativity and self-expression give you an<br />

insight into their thoughts and experiences.<br />

When facilitating dance and movement<br />

with your children, it is important to ensure<br />

you are using a theme, or music that<br />

engages them. Observing your children<br />

will help you to consider movement aims<br />

to extend their learning. It is important to<br />

remember that whatever you set out to<br />

achieve needs to be adaptable to allow<br />

the children to lead the activity.<br />

“For young children to have an individual<br />

response it’s important you do not have a<br />

set goal. Children need their contributions<br />

to be noticed and valued so they build<br />

confidence and resilience. Give children<br />

enough space and time to experience<br />

and explore.” GOV.UK Help for Early Years<br />

Providers<br />

Facilitating dance and<br />

movement: The top 5 tips<br />

1: Movement aims<br />

What movements can you explore with<br />

your children? What are they interested<br />

in today, and how can you use that<br />

information to extend their learning?<br />

In practice:<br />

If your children are dinosaur-obsessed<br />

why not look at all the different dinosaurs<br />

and talk about how they moved? Did they<br />

run, hop, jump, roll, wriggle, shake, and<br />

stomp?<br />

2: Warm-up<br />

Introduce the activity, and theme, while<br />

warming up their bodies so they are ready<br />

to move and have fun.<br />

In practice:<br />

Pop on some music and have fun<br />

practising your different dinosaur moves.<br />

Incorporate your movement aims in the<br />

warm-up as this reinforces learning and<br />

helps develop myelin in the brain.<br />

3: Exploration<br />

Encourage your children to discover new<br />

ways of moving and problem-solving<br />

as they explore solutions to movement<br />

problems. Exploration extends their<br />

movement vocabulary.<br />

In practice:<br />

Encourage your children to be different<br />

species of dinosaurs and ask them to<br />

show you how they moved. Pop on some<br />

music and you can ask them if they think<br />

this is the right music for their species of<br />

dinosaur. If it isn’t, which species would<br />

like it and how would they move? Add<br />

obstacles ranging from, puddles to<br />

tunnels, for them to move over, under, and<br />

around. This encourages their exploration<br />

of movement through problem-solving.<br />

You could also have a selection of musical<br />

instruments in the room that they could<br />

incorporate into the activity. For example,<br />

they could become a Cryolophosaurus<br />

also known as the Elvisaurus and become<br />

a rock star dancing on stage with their<br />

guitar. Enjoy the fun of exploration and<br />

creativity together. Remember if you are<br />

having fun they will as well.<br />

4: Composing<br />

This is working together or solo to create<br />

a sequence of movements that make a<br />

dance. Encourage the children to consider<br />

new combinations of movements that you<br />

explored together.<br />

In practice:<br />

Exploration and composing will be sideby-side<br />

for your little ones. As they are<br />

exploring, they are composing. As they<br />

create a sequence of movements, they<br />

develop critical thinking skills, movement<br />

memory, and vocabulary. Why not create<br />

a ‘movement vocabulary’ poster of the<br />

different moves their body, and dinosaurs,<br />

can make?<br />

5: Appreciation<br />

Time to observe and reflect on each<br />

other’s creations and the aims of the<br />

session.<br />

In practice:<br />

Encourage your children to demonstrate<br />

their creations as this helps them to feel<br />

seen and valued. Give them feedback on<br />

their movements, creativity, and musicality<br />

as dance and movement can help children<br />

build their confidence and resilience.<br />

Words of advice<br />

Have fun! Enjoy the music, the movements<br />

and your children’s creativity as there is no<br />

limit to their learning through imagination<br />

and fun. And the bonus… just think of<br />

all those opportunities to develop their<br />

communication and language skills as<br />

they explore movement. Discover more<br />

next month!<br />

Scan here for<br />

more resources<br />

from Gina:<br />

38 <strong>February</strong> <strong>2024</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>February</strong> <strong>2024</strong> 39

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