May 2024 Parenta magazine

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Issue 114<br />

MAY <strong>2024</strong><br />

COVER<br />

A.R.T. - more<br />

than paintbrushes<br />

Summary of statutory<br />

“Working Together to<br />

Safeguard Children”<br />

Early years movement<br />

in a wonderful,<br />

musical world<br />

+ lots more<br />

EYFS activities<br />

inside!<br />

This month…<br />

Personal, Social<br />

& Emotional<br />

Development<br />

Play-Based approach<br />

to Ofsted inspections<br />

How to improve your setting’s image<br />

The new Level 3 EYE - all you need to know

12<br />

30<br />

24<br />

Hello<br />

Welcome to our family<br />

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

18<br />

It’s been a busy few months in the world of early years with updated legislation, guidance, staff ratios and apprenticeship<br />

standards. We cover it all in the <strong>Parenta</strong> <strong>magazine</strong>!<br />

Our focus in <strong>May</strong> is around Ofsted and looking at ways in which we can continue to support settings with preparing for<br />

inspections. We have a wealth of advice, tools and resources to help with this, including author Chloe Webster’s guidance on<br />

a paperless and play-based approach to Ofsted inspections.<br />

Save the date! Join us on 21st <strong>May</strong> for our highly anticipated Ofsted webinar, with seasoned HM Inspectors Wendy Ratcliff<br />

and Phil Minns. They will be discussing the recent changes to the EYFS and the results of the Best Start in Life research. Don’t<br />

forget to register at www.parenta.com/webinars - you will earn a CPD certificate if you attend!<br />

Regulars<br />

10 Write for us<br />

36 EYFS Activities: Personal, Social &<br />

Emotional Development<br />

News<br />

Advice<br />

26<br />

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

6 Improving your setting’s image: lessons from a<br />

business expert<br />

8 Childcare news and views<br />

Industry Experts<br />

12 Strategies to try when they won’t eat: part 2<br />

18 Paperless & play-based approach to Ofsted<br />

inspections in early years settings<br />

22 Summary of statutory “Working Together to<br />

Safeguard Children”<br />

26 A.R.T. - more than paintbrushes<br />

30 Musical medicine: early years movement in a<br />

wonderful, musical world<br />

38 One size doesn’t fit ALL!<br />

38<br />

We have more fantastic articles in store for you this month including; <strong>Parenta</strong>’s CEO Dr Allan Presland continues his expert<br />

advice on how to improve your childcare business, early years safeguarding expert Yvonne Sinclair updates us on the latest<br />

statutory guidance, we take a deep dive into the new staff ratios and we are given a musical medicinal dose of dance and<br />

music with Frances Turnbull and Gina Bale.<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 />

14 Mental health strategies for early years practitioners<br />

20 International Family Equality Day<br />

24 Outdoor Classroom Day<br />

28 Tools and resources to help improve your setting<br />

32 A guide to Level 3 childcare apprenticeships<br />

34 Understanding the impact of new staff ratios in early years<br />

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

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

What do our customers<br />

say this month?<br />

Just a few of the many terrific testimonials we have received in April!<br />

“I am really thankful to my tutor Tonni, she has been<br />

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“Tonni has been an absolute godsend throughout<br />

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Donnell Griffiths<br />

Laxmi’s care and commitment to her learners are truly<br />

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I am continually impressed by Laxmi’s willingness to<br />

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In summary, Laxmi is not just a tutor, but a<br />

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recommend her to anyone seeking the very best in<br />

early years education.”<br />

Beverleigh Azebiah<br />

Molly<br />

Congratulations<br />

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

Massive CONGRATULATIONS to all our learners this<br />

month who have completed and gained<br />

their qualifications!<br />

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

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

Improving<br />

your setting’s<br />

image<br />

Dr Allan Presland<br />

Lessons from a business expert<br />

Back in the day, I frequently socialised<br />

with the CEO of a prominent nursery<br />

chain. Our relationship began when we<br />

acquired their training company, now<br />

known as <strong>Parenta</strong> Training. Over time, our<br />

collaboration expanded, with us providing<br />

various services, starting from software<br />

solutions and eventually extending to a<br />

comprehensive redesign of their company<br />

website, covering around 50 settings.<br />

This partnership proved fruitful, benefiting<br />

both parties by leveraging our respective<br />

expertise to improve operations and<br />

services for their customers.<br />

I remember vividly his passion for his<br />

brand, and how fastidious he was about<br />

getting every detail right. He was proud<br />

of the company he’d built and wanted<br />

to control the narrative about how his<br />

settings were seen both by customers and<br />

within each community.<br />

At the time, <strong>Parenta</strong> was situated in one<br />

of Kent’s most prestigious business parks,<br />

formerly a WWII airfield. While our offices<br />

were in the historic officers’ area, the<br />

remainder of the park was brimming with<br />

the sleek and contemporary structures<br />

synonymous with major blue-chip<br />

companies. These modern glass and<br />

steel buildings exuded an air of efficiency.<br />

Notably, the business park attracted a<br />

clientele of affluent professionals who<br />

cared about their appearance.<br />

During the website development process<br />

for the CEO, he proposed visiting our offices<br />

to collaborate directly with our designers.<br />

As he had a setting in the business park,<br />

he planned to meet with them in the<br />

morning before joining us in the afternoon<br />

for our session.<br />

6 <strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong> | parenta.com<br />

He arrived late. A bit flustered. Something<br />

wasn’t right in another setting, and he’d<br />

been dealing with that. “Can we go and<br />

grab a sandwich; I need food and the<br />

walk to clear my head?”. Of course, we<br />

obliged, and we walked down together to<br />

the nearest sandwich shop, passing his<br />

setting on the way. As we walked past his<br />

place, he was describing how excited he<br />

was about what they were doing there<br />

and how pleased he was with the way the<br />

team were progressing.<br />

Of course, I asked about occupancy, and<br />

he explained it was only just over half<br />

full, which he didn’t understand given the<br />

amount of people on the business estate,<br />

and the prestigious nature of the setting.<br />

He explained that the website work he<br />

was doing with us was part of addressing<br />

this issue and how he was expecting lots<br />

of leads to be generated from their new<br />

online presence.<br />

Suddenly, he halted abruptly, his face<br />

flushing with colour and his breaths<br />

becoming laboured. Concerned, I<br />

wondered if he was unwell. However, it<br />

wasn’t until I followed his gaze outside the<br />

sandwich shop that I realised what had<br />

caught his attention.<br />

There was a group of his staff. You couldn’t<br />

miss them, bright yellow polo shirts with<br />

the logo on the front and his brand name<br />

emblazoned on the back in large capital<br />

letters. But this group were all smoking<br />

and had food stains all down the front of<br />

their uniforms.<br />

He was furious, and understandably so.<br />

This was a company spending a huge<br />

amount of money on its image, and yet<br />

they’d missed the most basic issue of all.<br />

The biggest advert for any business is the<br />

staff and how they conduct themselves,<br />

especially if they are wearing branded<br />

clothing with the company’s logo.<br />

While I respect individuals’ choices<br />

regarding smoking, branded staff must<br />

exercise discretion. Additionally, staff may<br />

inevitably get food on their uniforms while<br />

serving young children. However, it’s<br />

simple for you to ensure clean uniforms<br />

are available for them after mealtimes if<br />

needed.<br />

Upon recognising these concerns, my<br />

CEO friend quickly addressed and fixed<br />

the issue by providing a smoking shelter<br />

discreetly positioned at the back of the<br />

setting, away from parents’ view. He also<br />

provided additional uniforms for staff to<br />

change into as necessary. Furthermore, he<br />

established clear behavioural guidelines<br />

for all staff wearing the uniform, whether<br />

on-site or off-site. Consequently, his<br />

prospective client base witnessed<br />

impeccably presented staff outside the<br />

sandwich shop, elevating rather than<br />

tarnishing his brand image.<br />

The moral of the story is this - branding<br />

is so much more than your logo, your<br />

uniform, your signage, or your website.<br />

How staff conduct themselves when<br />

wearing their uniform, whether within the<br />

setting or outside, affects how your setting<br />

is perceived by local parents.<br />

For more hints and tips about how<br />

successful settings run their early<br />

years businesses – get a copy of Dr<br />

Allan Presland’s number one bestselling<br />

book from Amazon here.<br />

Call 0800 002 9242 and quote ’Magazine’

Childcare news<br />

and views<br />

The number of extra childcare<br />

places and staff needed in<br />

England released<br />

The Government has released statistics<br />

indicating a need for 40,000 more<br />

educators and approximately 85,000<br />

additional childcare places by September<br />

2025. In April, working parents of twoyear-olds<br />

became eligible for 15 hours per<br />

week of Government-funded education<br />

and childcare for 38 weeks annually and<br />

since January, parents have been able to<br />

apply for an eligibility code to access this<br />

funded education. According to the latest<br />

Government data, 195,355 two-year-olds<br />

currently benefit from Government-funded<br />

places, with 79% of eligibility codes issued<br />

now validated by providers. Looking<br />

ahead, the Department for Education<br />

(DfE) estimates that an additional 15,000<br />

places, a 1% increase, will be needed by<br />

September <strong>2024</strong>. Additionally, around<br />

70,000 more places will be required by<br />

September 2025, when the offer expands<br />

to 30 Government-funded hours for<br />

children from nine months old until they<br />

start school.<br />

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said:<br />

“We are transforming childcare in this<br />

country to deliver the support that hardworking<br />

parents deserve.<br />

“As today’s figures show, our plan is<br />

working. Thousands of parents are<br />

returning to work, and tens of thousands<br />

more will be able to do so later this year<br />

and next.”<br />

“Childcare expansion on this scale is<br />

unprecedented in this country, and we will<br />

continue providing maximum support to<br />

nurseries and all providers to make it a<br />

reality.”<br />

Neil Leitch, CEO of the Early Years Alliance,<br />

commented: “Today’s Government<br />

statistics paint an incomplete picture of the<br />

situation facing early years providers and<br />

families alike.<br />

“Let’s be clear, England’s early year<br />

sector continues to face severe capacity<br />

challenges. So, while these statistics may<br />

show the number of places that have been<br />

granted, what they don’t reveal is whether<br />

families have been able to access all the<br />

days and sessions they need: a parent<br />

who has been given one day a week at<br />

their local setting – but needs five – may<br />

technically have a funded place, but<br />

not one that meets their needs. And, of<br />

course, it’s highly likely that those families<br />

accessing places will be facing sharp fee<br />

increases for any unfunded hours they<br />

take up, or additional charges as a direct<br />

result of years of sector underfunding.”<br />

“What’s more, it’s not clear from these<br />

figures how many two-year-old places are<br />

newly-created places, rather than existing<br />

places where parents have switched from<br />

paying privately to accessing Government<br />

funding. With the Government admitting<br />

not only that 40,000 additional educators<br />

are required by September 2025 but<br />

also 85,000 new places, it’s clear that,<br />

regardless of the positive spin the<br />

Government is trying to put on the current<br />

situation, the challenge facing the sector is<br />

an immense one.”<br />

“Even for a healthy sector, rolling out such<br />

an ambitious scheme would have been<br />

a tall order – but, of course, our early<br />

years sector was already incredibly fragile<br />

coming into this policy. If the Government<br />

is to have any hope of rolling out this<br />

offer successfully in the long term, it’s<br />

crucial that ministers acknowledge and<br />

tackle the fundamental issues facing<br />

nurseries, pre-schools, and providers.<br />

That means a comprehensive workforce<br />

strategy that focuses on retention as well<br />

as recruitment, and crucially, funding that<br />

reflects delivery costs – both now and in<br />

the future.”<br />

New consultation launched for<br />

EYFS safeguarding changes<br />

The DfE has published a new<br />

consultation on proposed changes to<br />

EYFS safeguarding requirements. The<br />

Government says it aims to strengthen<br />

existing requirements and any changes<br />

must “ensure that all children are kept as<br />

safe as possible in early years settings.”<br />

The consultation proposals, which the DfE<br />

says were informed by conversations with<br />

a wide range of stakeholders and early<br />

years providers, include:<br />

New requirements for safer<br />

recruitment, including obtaining<br />

references and updating safeguarding<br />

policies to include recruitment<br />

procedures for suitable individuals<br />

Introduction of measures to follow<br />

up on prolonged child absences and<br />

ensuring providers have additional<br />

emergency contact details<br />

Implementation of new regulations to<br />

ensure safer eating practices<br />

Addition of a safeguarding training<br />

criteria annex and inclusion of<br />

details on how safeguarding training<br />

is delivered and supported in<br />

safeguarding policies<br />

Clarification that early years students<br />

and trainees must undergo paediatric<br />

first aid (PFA) training<br />

Amendments to consider children’s<br />

privacy during nappy changes and<br />

toileting while balancing safeguarding<br />

needs<br />

Minor changes to improve clarity<br />

in the structure and wording of<br />

safeguarding requirements<br />

The consultation is running until Monday<br />

17th June and is available here for you to<br />

share your feedback.<br />

This story can be found on the Early Years<br />

Alliance website here.<br />

DfE pulse survey of childcare and<br />

early years providers published<br />

The DfE has released its most recent<br />

findings from a Pulse survey of childcare<br />

and early years providers, conducted<br />

in November 2023. This survey, the<br />

seventh in a series since the summer<br />

of 2020, involved a sample of groupbased<br />

providers (GBPs), school-based<br />

providers (SBPs), and childminders (CMs)<br />

in England, who participated via a 10-20<br />

minute web survey. The survey covered<br />

eight key topics, including inquiries<br />

about the early years workforce, funding,<br />

capacity, and staff-child ratios. Additionally,<br />

questions regarding space requirements,<br />

experiences with children with SEND,<br />

initial teacher training, and childminders’<br />

experiences were included.<br />

Highlights of the survey include:<br />

Over half of PVI (Private, voluntary,<br />

or independent) nurseries and<br />

pre-schools don’t believe their<br />

income covers their costs (53%). This<br />

has improved since the previously<br />

published figures in Nov 2023 of 58%<br />

There’s uncertainty with 43% of<br />

PVIs, 51% of schools and 25% of<br />

childminders not knowing if planned<br />

funding rates for the expansion will<br />

improve their profitability<br />

PVI nurseries and pre-schools have<br />

a higher staff turnover (22%) than<br />

school-based providers (12.5%)<br />

They are also more likely to have 3<br />

or more vacancies (11% of PVIs) than<br />

schools (3%)<br />

36% of school-based providers and<br />

34% of PVI providers said they had<br />

had to turn a child away or reduce<br />

their hours due to SEND<br />

Insufficient funding rates and a lack of<br />

staff were commonly reported reasons<br />

for why providers may have to turn<br />

away children with SEND<br />

Responding to the findings Jonathan<br />

Broadbery, Director of Policy and<br />

Communications at National Day Nurseries<br />

Association (NDNA) said: “The DfE’s own<br />

findings are echoing what we reported<br />

on earlier this year. Providers are still<br />

struggling to get enough income to<br />

remain sustainable and there are real<br />

challenges in expanding places to meet<br />

the Government’s offer to parents.<br />

“Over half of nurseries and pre-schools<br />

told the DfE that income is not covering<br />

their costs and their staff turnover is still<br />

above 20% which is unsustainable. Where<br />

providers were worried about funding<br />

rates over three-quarters said that the<br />

rates for three and four-year-olds were the<br />

problem. This is the area we have called<br />

on the Government to review because<br />

these rates are increasing at a much lower<br />

rate than staffing costs.”<br />

“The study also shows there is more to<br />

do on staffing challenges as this was the<br />

number one challenge for nurseries and<br />

preschools in limiting their ability to offer<br />

more places. The fact that almost half said<br />

they would not have the finances to be<br />

able to expand premises shows that the<br />

Government also needs to do more on<br />

capital funding.”<br />

“There are a lot of positive plans in place<br />

to try and help the sector, but there<br />

isn’t one silver bullet. To help deliver the<br />

extra 70,000 places and 40,000 staff the<br />

sector needs more support. Addressing<br />

underfunding for three and four-year-olds,<br />

supporting expansion through capital<br />

funding and having a long-term workforce<br />

plan must be a priority. Ministers should<br />

also relieve business rates to all early<br />

years settings to help them financially and<br />

remove a deterrent to expanding.”<br />

The survey results can be found here.<br />

This story can be found on the NDNA<br />

website here.<br />

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

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

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M O N E Y<br />

- B A C K<br />

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

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

of the month! Her enlightening article, “Strategies<br />

For When Sensory Needs Means They Won’t Eat<br />

Part: 1” continues her series, exploring how you can<br />

support children who struggle with eating.<br />

Well done Joanna!<br />

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

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

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

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

10 <strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong> | parenta.com<br />

Call 0800 002 9242 and quote ’Magazine’

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

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

Make sure to read part 1 of Joanna’s<br />

article from last month in the April<br />

edition of the <strong>Parenta</strong> <strong>magazine</strong>!<br />

Don’t miss out, subscribe now at:<br />

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

Graze<br />

Providing graze boards is a great way of<br />

taking the pressure off eating. Eating is<br />

pressurised in all sorts of ways, including<br />

time and place. We are expected to eat at<br />

particular times and in particular places.<br />

Although the timing and setting of a taste<br />

experience do not affect the sensory<br />

pressure of it, the requirement adds to the<br />

Joanna Grace<br />

Strategies to try when<br />

they won’t eat: part 2<br />

list of things a child is asked to do. Earlier<br />

in this article, I asked you to imagine being<br />

asked to learn five difficult things all at<br />

once. Now, imagine if I asked you to do<br />

that while also completing several easy<br />

tasks at the same time. Even though these<br />

extra things are not part of the problem,<br />

it’s still easier to tackle the problem<br />

without them there. By recognising the<br />

considerable demands we place on<br />

people who struggle with eating due to<br />

sensory reasons, we can understand that<br />

any small way we can make it easier for<br />

them is worthwhile.<br />

Before I continue here, I just want to dart<br />

back to one of the duff bits of advice given<br />

as an example at the start of this article.<br />

It is a classic, it goes to the tune of: “just<br />

don’t feed them, once they’re hungry they<br />

will eat”. Parents receiving this advice<br />

despair because they know it is not true;<br />

their children do not become any more<br />

willing to eat when hungry, because the<br />

reason they were refusing to eat in the<br />

first place was never anything to do with<br />

hunger. If they have sensory differences,<br />

it is likely that one of the senses that<br />

is working differently is their child’s<br />

interoceptive sense. This is the sensory<br />

system that feels whether you are hungry<br />

or not, so if you cannot feel that you are<br />

hungry, being hungry isn’t going to make<br />

any difference. So providing graze boards<br />

is not a way of supporting the ‘making<br />

them wait until they’re hungry’ line of<br />

thinking.<br />

A graze board is exactly what it sounds<br />

like, a board, or plate, or tray, with a few<br />

things to graze upon. I would advise<br />

putting very little on there. A child faced<br />

with a plate of food they must finish is<br />

faced with a mammoth task. A single<br />

morsel is eaten, and completed, very<br />

quickly, there is a lot less pressure there.<br />

A graze board is left out, and the child<br />

is made aware of it and told they are<br />

allowed to eat from it, but is not asked to<br />

eat from it. No one pushes them towards<br />

it, it is simply available to them. When<br />

starting with a grazing board you have<br />

to remember you are trying to create the<br />

opposite of the pressurised environment of<br />

sitting down to eat. You might even opt to<br />

not mention it to the child at all, simply put<br />

it somewhere that they will encounter it.<br />

Another great tip for starting with a<br />

grazing board is to not put too many<br />

different things on it, and if the child (or<br />

adult) has food they favour, make sure<br />

that is there, even if it is junk food. Say, I<br />

know a child who will only eat chocolate<br />

buttons. I might start a grazing board for<br />

them that has three chocolate buttons, a<br />

frozen pea, a small salted cracker, and a<br />

slice of sausage on it. I would expect the<br />

chocolate buttons to be gone instantly.<br />

This is great, it means they have found<br />

the board, and they will have had the<br />

experience that when they eat from it they<br />

are not told off. So they know there is a<br />

board, they know it has food on it, and<br />

they know they can eat that food. I would<br />

not expect any of the other food to go<br />

missing for a long while. I might top it up<br />

with a chocolate button or two just to keep<br />

the board in their mind.<br />

But maybe after a while, once they were<br />

returning to the board quite often, I’d<br />

stop that. And just leave the other items<br />

there. Will they get curious? <strong>May</strong>be I<br />

choose a slice of sausage that is similar<br />

in appearance to the buttons, it is round,<br />

thin, a dark brown colour... (I know the<br />

mention of a frozen pea above might have<br />

sounded strange, it’s there as it’s been<br />

one of the things I’ve had the most success<br />

with when establishing graze boards. The<br />

coldness of the pea protects against the<br />

smell and taste, the hardness of it gives<br />

bold feedback to the jaw and it is small<br />

and easily eaten, plus it is healthy!)<br />

Over time, you would hope to be able to<br />

provide things on the board that the child<br />

was happy to eat. You provide eating in a<br />

way that fits with how the child needs to<br />

eat (not how society deems we must eat –<br />

remember that originally we were animals<br />

that grazed, the ritual of sitting down to<br />

three meals a day with the expected social<br />

conventions of doing so is a relatively<br />

recent invention, it is not necessary to<br />

eat, it’s just tradition). Top the board up<br />

regularly so that over the course of a day,<br />

the child eats a wide range of foods they<br />

enjoy and that provide nutrition to their<br />

body.<br />

Of course, with all of the strategies listed<br />

here, and the many more you’ll find online,<br />

the person still needs to eat. With any<br />

other situation, you could stop asking them<br />

to do it all together and build them up<br />

slowly, but with food, it is different. So think<br />

sensory. Can you help them to escape<br />

some of the challenges even if you cannot<br />

help them escape all of them? Can they<br />

eat away from others, so they only have<br />

to deal with their eating, not everyone<br />

else? Can their food be blended so they<br />

do not have to deal with texture? Could it<br />

be eaten cold, or even frozen, to mitigate<br />

smell and taste? Would they cope better<br />

with a meal replacement drink (not one of<br />

the diet ones but one intended to be a full<br />

meal)?<br />

These might not be strategies you can<br />

use all the time, but even just a bit, to give<br />

them a break, could help. If they have a<br />

preferred food celebrate that and avoid<br />

the temptation to doctor it. I have been<br />

there - (slicing open chips and trying to<br />

hide vitamin pills inside.) It is such a big<br />

gamble because if they no longer consider<br />

that food is safe because it might have<br />

been tampered with, they lose the calories<br />

it could have provided.<br />

Eating and the senses is a very<br />

complicated thing, this article has barely<br />

scratched the surface, but I hope it will<br />

help. Take off the pressure, be playful,<br />

create space, and respect how big of an<br />

ask it is. You are doing a brilliant job!<br />

I hope you have enjoyed this series of<br />

ten articles exploring the sensory world<br />

in all its wonders and possibilities. Do<br />

come and connect with me online the<br />

connection links for my social media<br />

accounts can be found on my website<br />

www.TheSensoryProjects.co.uk and if you<br />

want to re-read any of the earlier articles,<br />

remember they are all available online to<br />

explore and share with families.<br />

Click here for<br />

more resources<br />

from Joanna:<br />

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

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

Mental health strategies for<br />

early years practitioners<br />

Strategies for self-help in<br />

managing anxiety<br />

When it comes to tackling anxiety, selfhelp<br />

strategies can be powerful tools for<br />

regaining control and promoting wellbeing.<br />

Here are some effective methods<br />

to address anxiety and cultivate a sense<br />

of calm:<br />

As early years practitioners, we play<br />

a pivotal role in shaping our future<br />

generation’s well-being and mental health.<br />

In the bustling world of childcare and<br />

education, it’s easy to prioritise the needs<br />

of the children in our care while neglecting<br />

our own mental well-being. However,<br />

just like the little ones we nurture, we too<br />

need care, support, and understanding.<br />

Mental Health Awareness Week, running<br />

from 13th to 19th <strong>May</strong>, provides a timely<br />

opportunity to reflect on our own mental<br />

health needs and advocate for the wellbeing<br />

of both ourselves and the children in<br />

our care.<br />

Understanding mental<br />

health<br />

Mental health is not simply the absence<br />

of mental illness; it encompasses a<br />

spectrum of emotional, psychological,<br />

and social well-being. Just as physical<br />

health fluctuates, so does mental health.<br />

Early years practitioners often face unique<br />

stressors, from managing challenging<br />

behaviours to balancing administrative<br />

tasks. Recognising the signs of stress,<br />

burnout, and other mental health concerns<br />

is crucial for maintaining a healthy worklife<br />

balance.<br />

Anxiety and other mental<br />

health disorders<br />

There are several types of mental health<br />

disorders where anxiety plays a large role<br />


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Chloe Webster<br />

Play-Based approach<br />

to Ofsted inspections<br />

In recent years, the landscape of early<br />

years education in the UK has seen a<br />

significant shift towards more dynamic,<br />

child-centred approaches. As a result of<br />

this, the concepts of paperless recordkeeping<br />

and ‘in-the-moment planning’<br />

have gained significant traction;<br />

empowering educators to streamline<br />

tasks and assessments, and prioritising<br />

spontaneous, play-based learning<br />

experiences.<br />

Inspections<br />

As early years settings prepare for Ofsted<br />

inspections, they are still required to<br />

demonstrate that children’s learning and<br />

development progress effectively within<br />

this framework. For many practitioners<br />

who have been in the sector for a long<br />

time, these new systems and ways of<br />

working can be a challenge, especially<br />

when it comes to demonstrating these in<br />

practice to external observers. However,<br />

embracing paperless systems and ‘inthe-moment<br />

planning’ can pave the way<br />

for a successful Ofsted inspection whilst<br />

simultaneously fostering rich, meaningful<br />

learning experiences for young children.<br />

Thankfully, gone are the days of endless<br />

reams of paperwork dominating the<br />

administrative landscape of early years<br />

settings; with advancements in technology,<br />

paperless and digital systems have<br />

emerged as a game-changer, enabling<br />

educators to streamline documentation<br />

processes and focus more on interactive<br />

teaching and learning experiences with<br />

children.<br />

Transitioning from traditional paper-based<br />

learning journals to digital platforms<br />

offers numerous advantages – they allow<br />

educators to capture children’s learning<br />

moments in real time through photos,<br />

videos, and audio recordings and by<br />

documenting observations digitally,<br />

educators can provide rich, visual insights<br />

into children’s progress, facilitating more<br />

comprehensive assessments during<br />

Ofsted inspections. These digital recordkeeping<br />

systems not only ensure data<br />

security but also enable easy collaboration<br />

among staff members. We can easily<br />

access and update children’s records,<br />

progress reports, and assessments from<br />

any device with internet connectivity.<br />

This accessibility fosters transparency<br />

and enables continuous monitoring of<br />

children’s development, aligning perfectly<br />

with Ofsted’s emphasis on ongoing<br />

assessment and progress tracking.<br />

Parent communication<br />

Paperless systems also enhance<br />

communication between educators and<br />

parents, fostering stronger partnerships<br />

in children’s learning journeys. Through<br />

digital platforms, parents can actively<br />

engage with their children’s learning<br />

experiences, accessing real-time updates,<br />

feedback, and insights into their progress.<br />

This transparent communication channel<br />

not only enriches parental involvement but<br />

also provides Ofsted inspectors with clear<br />

evidence of collaborative partnerships<br />

between the setting and families.<br />

Let’s look at in-themoment<br />

planning<br />

‘In-the-moment planning’ is a pedagogical<br />

approach that values spontaneity and<br />

responsiveness to children’s interests and<br />

needs. Rooted in the belief that meaningful<br />

learning occurs when children are fully<br />

engaged and motivated, this approach<br />

encourages practitioners to seize<br />

teachable moments as they arise, rather<br />

than adhering to pre-planned activities<br />

which may lack relevance for the children<br />

they have been planned for.<br />

Central to ‘in-the-moment planning’<br />

is the recognition of children as active<br />

participants in their learning journey.<br />

Settings can prepare for Ofsted inspections<br />

by showcasing a learning environment<br />

that encourages exploration, creativity,<br />

and critical thinking. By documenting<br />

instances where children initiate activities,<br />

make discoveries, and solve problems<br />

independently, practitioners can effectively<br />

demonstrate the richness of learning<br />

experiences facilitated through child-led<br />

approaches.<br />

Flexibility is key in ‘in-the-moment<br />

planning,’ allowing educators to adapt<br />

and modify learning experiences<br />

based on children’s evolving interests<br />

and developmental needs. During<br />

Ofsted inspections, early years settings<br />

can exemplify their commitment to<br />

personalised learning by showcasing<br />

how they tailor activities and resources<br />

to meet individual children’s strengths,<br />

interests, and learning styles. This flexibility<br />

not only fosters a supportive learning<br />

environment but also highlights the<br />

setting’s responsiveness to the unique<br />

needs of each child – a key element of our<br />

curriculum and teaching.<br />

Effective implementation of ‘in-themoment<br />

planning’ requires practitioners to<br />

engage in reflective practice and ongoing<br />

documentation and assessments. By<br />

capturing spontaneous learning moments<br />

through digital platforms, educators can<br />

provide concrete examples of children’s<br />

progress and achievements. Additionally,<br />

reflective journals and staff meetings can<br />

serve as forums for educators to review<br />

and refine their pedagogical practices,<br />

ensuring continuous improvement and<br />

alignment with Ofsted’s standards and<br />

expectations.<br />

As early years settings prepare for<br />

Ofsted inspections, embracing paperless<br />

management systems and ‘in-themoment<br />

planning’ can serve as powerful<br />

tools for demonstrating children’s learning<br />

and development progress.<br />

By leveraging these digital platforms to<br />

document spontaneous learning moments<br />

and fostering child-led experiences,<br />

settings can showcase their commitment<br />

to providing high-quality, play-based<br />

education that nurtures each child’s<br />

unique potential.<br />

As the early years landscape continues<br />

to evolve, integrating these innovative<br />

approaches not only prepares settings<br />

for inspections but also cultivates rich,<br />

meaningful learning environments where<br />

children thrive and flourish.<br />

References<br />

www.learningjournals.co.uk/benefits-ofusing-in-the-moment-planning-for-youngchildren/<br />

www.gov.uk/Government/publications/<br />

education-inspection-framework<br />

Click here for<br />

more resources<br />

from Chloe:<br />

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

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

International Family<br />

Equality Day<br />

Celebrating the rainbow of families in our world<br />

(spanner, stethoscope, hairbrush etc.,)<br />

and run a competition to see if people can<br />

match the items to different families?<br />

Include some arts and crafts stalls such as<br />

a handprint station, where all members of<br />

the family can leave a handprint and/or<br />

write their name. You could do the same<br />

with a computer and get people to create<br />

an avatar for free online (see avatarmaker.<br />

com/) and then download and print their<br />

pictures.<br />

The words “We are family” may have you<br />

reaching for your Lycra and hitting the<br />

dance floor, but the famous Sister Sledge<br />

song title has also taken on a whole new<br />

meaning this month as it’s the motto of<br />

this year’s International Family Equality Day<br />

(IFED) which is celebrated on 5th <strong>May</strong>.<br />

Thirty-six countries will celebrate the day,<br />

from Australia to Venezuela, as an official<br />

LGBT awareness day, with more countries<br />

joining in each year. The aim of the day is<br />

to celebrate the diversity of families around<br />

the globe, and anyone can join regardless<br />

of sexuality.<br />

IFED was first celebrated in 2012 and is<br />

set as the first Sunday in <strong>May</strong>. The Council<br />

of Europe has recognised the IFED as an<br />

important tool “to combat homophobia<br />

and transphobia and to promote a tolerant<br />

and cohesive society”. It also falls within<br />

three of the United Nation’s Sustainable<br />

Development Goals, mainly:<br />

✨ Goal 3 – Good health and well-being<br />

✨ Goal 5 – Gender equality<br />

✨ Goal 16 – Peace, justice and strong<br />

institutions<br />

In 2015 the Council of Europe<br />

Congress adopted a resolution entitled<br />

“Guaranteeing lesbian, gay, bisexual<br />

and transgender (LGBT) people’s rights:<br />

a responsibility for Europe’s towns and<br />

regions”. The resolution invites local<br />

and regional authorities to commit to<br />

diversity policies inclusive of LGBT rights,<br />

and to work closely with LGBT advocacy<br />

organisations and human rights NGOs,<br />

to promote good practice through local<br />

networks such as the Rainbow Cities<br />

Network project. See www.rainbowcities.<br />

com/.<br />

The official IFED website is at:<br />

internationalfamilyequalityday.org/ and<br />

you can find more information there on<br />

how to celebrate the day and register any<br />

events that you organise.<br />

Early years & IFED<br />

In early years, talking about human<br />

sexuality needs to be done in an ageappropriate<br />

way, and LGBTQ+ rights may<br />

not be easily understood by pre-schoolers<br />

due to their age. However, acceptance<br />

and tolerance of all people as individuals<br />

is definitely something that can be easily<br />

promoted, and a celebration of the many<br />

different family structures that exist in our<br />

society and around the world, can be a<br />

great foundation for future learning on this<br />

subject as children get older.<br />

There are also a lot of age-appropriate<br />

books and videos that you can use which<br />

are suitable for children and toddlers to<br />

help you with this subject.<br />

How to mark the day in your<br />

setting<br />

IFED is a day to celebrate everything<br />

about families, be they big, small, twoparent,<br />

single-parent, grandparent,<br />

foster, adopted, LGBTQ or not! It’s about<br />

celebrating the people we call family<br />

regardless of sexuality, gender, socioeconomic<br />

group and blood relation. The<br />

diversity of families in our world is now<br />

so wide and varied that it is difficult to put<br />

together a credible notion of an ‘average’<br />

family anymore. Indeed, as the world turns<br />

towards a better understanding of our<br />

interconnectedness and interdependence,<br />

you could take the motto of “We are<br />

family” to mean a more global family<br />

altogether, emphasising the need to<br />

recognise humanity as one big family.<br />

However you interpret the day, here are<br />

some ideas for celebrating it.<br />

Organise a family<br />

celebration event<br />

You can organise an event and invite your<br />

parents and carers in to celebrate with<br />

you. Make it as wide as possible so invite<br />

extended families, grandparents and<br />

friends too.<br />

Why not ask people to bring in something<br />

that is unique to them, such as a musical<br />

instrument, an item they use for work<br />

People usually like a bake sale, so invite<br />

people to contribute an item that they love<br />

or that shows something unique about<br />

them or their family. You can also make<br />

your own rainbow cupcakes and get the<br />

children to decorate them with rainbowcoloured<br />

sprinkles or smarties.<br />

Other arts and crafts ideas include:<br />

✨ Create a rainbow wall mural and ask<br />

children/parents/carers to bring in a<br />

photo of themselves with their family<br />

to stick to the display<br />

✨ Use rainbow coloured lolly sticks to<br />

create simple stick people and put<br />

them into a base of sand or soil. You<br />

can help the children to make different<br />

people in their family and group them<br />

together or arrange them into one big<br />

circle to represent the global human<br />

family<br />

✨ Write the names of each family<br />

member on a piece of card and use<br />

different coloured ribbons to tie them<br />

onto different coloured coat-hangers<br />

to hang around the setting<br />

✨ Use some branches collected from<br />

outside and tie them together to<br />

create a ‘family tree’. You can create<br />

small individual ones or one large<br />

‘human family tree’ and tie names,<br />

photos or suitable items to the tree to<br />

represent different family members<br />

Use storytime to celebrate<br />

diversity<br />

Read the children stories that incorporate<br />

many different types of families. You<br />

can find an up-to-date list of books<br />

that celebrate LGBT+ families at www.<br />

booktrust.org.uk/booklists/l/lgbt-picturebooks/<br />

including “My Daddies”, “My Mums<br />

Love Me” and “Everywhere babies” for<br />

even the smallest eyes and ears!<br />

Review your policies &<br />

practice<br />

IFED is also a time to reflect on your own<br />

diversity and inclusion policies and to<br />

ensure that you are doing all you can to<br />

promote tolerance, diversity and tackle<br />

prejudice in the workplace and in society<br />

at large. Look at your own marketing and<br />

promotional materials to see if they truly<br />

reflect the families and communities you<br />

serve and review your policies to ensure<br />

that they are indicative of your practice.<br />

Spread the word<br />

The IFED website are looking for pictures<br />

of families and ‘families in action’ to use<br />

throughout their website and their annual<br />

report. Information on how to upload any<br />

photos and videos is available on their<br />

website and they also encourage everyone<br />

to share events, ideas and photos on<br />

social media networks using the hashtag:<br />

#IFED<strong>2024</strong>.<br />

Whatever you do, remember that we at<br />

<strong>Parenta</strong> love to hear about what you’ve<br />

been doing too, so send us your stories<br />

and pictures to hello@parenta.com.<br />

Share your impressions on social<br />

networks hashtag: #IFED<strong>2024</strong><br />

Click here for<br />

more references<br />

& information.<br />

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

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

Yvonne Sinclair<br />

Summary of statutory<br />

“Working Together to<br />

Safeguard Children”<br />

Working with parents/families<br />

(Chapter 2)<br />

Focus on improving family functioning<br />

and developing the family’s capacity<br />

to establish positive routines and solve<br />

problems.<br />

Expectations for all practitioners<br />

(Chapter 3)<br />

Introduces a set of multi-agency<br />

expectations for safeguarding and child<br />

protection practitioners, split over three<br />

sectors, early help, safeguarding and<br />

promoting the welfare of children, and<br />

child protection.<br />

Multi-agency practice standards<br />

(Chapter 3)<br />

outside (from the wider community),<br />

including online<br />

⚙ Preventing impairment of children’s<br />

mental and physical health or<br />

development<br />

⚙ Ensuring that children are growing up<br />

in circumstances consistent with the<br />

provision of safe and effective care<br />

⚙ Taking action to enable all children to<br />

have the best outcomes<br />

Extra-familial harm refers to:<br />

⚙ Children may be at risk of or<br />

experiencing physical, sexual, or<br />

emotional abuse and exploitation in<br />

contexts outside their families<br />

⚙ While there is no legal definition<br />

for the term extra-familial harm, it<br />

is widely used to describe different<br />

forms of harm that occur outside the<br />

home. These could include a range<br />

of environments outside the family<br />

home in which harm can occur e.g.<br />

peer groups, school, and community/<br />

public spaces, including known<br />

places in the community where<br />

there are concerns about risks to<br />

children (for example, parks, housing<br />

estates, shopping centres, takeaway<br />

restaurants, or transport hubs), as<br />

well as online, including social media<br />

or gaming platforms.<br />

history, and risks. This shared<br />

knowledge enhances decisionmaking<br />

and helps create a protective<br />

safety net<br />

⚙ Reflecting on the ‘good assessment’<br />

guidance within your safeguarding<br />

teams<br />

⚙ Reviewing relevant policies,<br />

procedures and considering what<br />

training is required to upskill staff<br />

Resources<br />

⚙ Summary of changes<br />

⚙ Working together to safeguard<br />

children 2023: Statutory framework<br />

⚙ Stable homes, built on love (2023)<br />

⚙ Children’s social care: national<br />

framework<br />

⚙ Improving practice with children,<br />

young people and families<br />

⚙ Supporting local areas to embed<br />

working together to safeguard<br />

children and the national framework<br />

⚙ Background information for Working<br />

Together and the National Framework<br />

Introduction<br />

As early years practitioners, you will be<br />

only too aware that no single person can<br />

safeguard children. It is only when we<br />

understand that working together is of<br />

paramount importance that we can ensure<br />

the well-being, safety, and protection of<br />

those in our care who are most vulnerable.<br />

Schools, early years and childcare settings,<br />

and other educational providers all have a<br />

pivotal role to play in safeguarding children<br />

and promoting their welfare. Your insight<br />

and co-operation is vital to the successful<br />

delivery of multi-agency safeguarding<br />

arrangements. When services work<br />

effectively together, they can provide<br />

coordinated support tailored to the child’s<br />

needs, preventing duplication, ensuring<br />

consistency, and minimising gaps in care.<br />

Adults working in educational settings play<br />

an important role in building relationships,<br />

identifying concerns, and providing direct<br />

support to children. In fact, they may be<br />

the first trusted adults to whom children<br />

report safeguarding concerns.<br />

The updated statutory guidance, “Working<br />

Together to Safeguard Children” is<br />

central to delivering on the Government’s<br />

commitment strategy set out in “Stable<br />

Homes, built on love” (2023), which<br />

outlines every child deserves to grow up in<br />

a stable and loving home.<br />

Children, who need help and protection,<br />

deserve high quality and effective support.<br />

This requires all those working directly<br />

with them to be clear about their own, and<br />

each other’s, roles and responsibilities,<br />

and how we need to work together.<br />

What’s new?<br />

This is a statutory guidance which should<br />

be complied with in its entirety, to all<br />

education providers, including childcare<br />

settings, unless exceptional circumstances<br />

arise and apply.<br />

The guidance emphasises the importance<br />

of strengthening multi-agency working<br />

across the whole system, including<br />

support and protection for children and<br />

their families.<br />

Safeguarding practitioners should<br />

have agreed, consistent and effective<br />

multi-agency child protection practices<br />

which have a child-centred approach<br />

incorporating a whole-family focus.<br />

The updated guidance is now broken<br />

down into 6 chapters:<br />

⚙ Chapter 1: A shared responsibility<br />

⚙ Chapter 2: Multi-agency safeguarding<br />

arrangements<br />

⚙ Chapter 3: Providing help, support<br />

and protection<br />

⚙ Chapter 4: Organisational<br />

responsibilities<br />

⚙ Chapter 5: Learning from serious child<br />

safeguarding incidents<br />

⚙ Chapter 6: Child death reviews<br />

The key changes and<br />

updates cover:<br />

Clarification of roles and<br />

responsibilities (Chapter 1)<br />

Structured across three levels:<br />

⚙ Strategic leaders (chief executives)<br />

⚙ Senior leaders (headteacher/<br />

managers)<br />

⚙ Direct practice (frontline)<br />

Support for disabled children<br />

(Chapter 2)<br />

Practitioners should recognise the<br />

additional pressures on families and<br />

the challenges they may have had to<br />

negotiate as a result of their child’s<br />

disability.<br />

Any assessment process should focus<br />

on the needs of the child and family, be<br />

strengths-based, and gather information<br />

to inform decisions on the help needed to<br />

achieve the best outcome for the child and<br />

family.<br />

Introduces new national multi-agency<br />

practice standards for all practitioners<br />

working in services and settings that come<br />

into contact with children. They provide<br />

clear guidelines for practice and set out<br />

expectations for professionals, ensuring<br />

consistent and effective child protection<br />

across the board.<br />

Education and childcare partners<br />

(Chapter 3)<br />

Highlighting the role of education and<br />

childcare settings which includes that<br />

safeguarding partners should work<br />

closely with education and childcare<br />

settings to share information, identify, and<br />

understand risks of harm, and ensure<br />

children and families receive timely<br />

support.<br />

Tackling extra familial<br />

harm (Appendix A)<br />

Consideration of the needs, experiences<br />

and vulnerabilities of the individuals or<br />

groups who are experiencing, or are at<br />

risk of experiencing, harm outside the<br />

home – including child exploitation, (CCE<br />

and CSE), or serious violence.<br />

Updated definitions<br />

Safeguarding and promoting the welfare<br />

of children now refers to:<br />

⚙ Protecting children from maltreatment,<br />

whether the risk of harm comes<br />

from within the child’s family and/or<br />

What should you do now?<br />

Remember, safeguarding children is a<br />

collective responsibility. Whether you are<br />

a safeguarding practitioner, teacher or<br />

early years practitioner, your collaboration<br />

contributes to a safer environment for<br />

children.<br />

Let’s continue to work together to protect<br />

our future generation by:<br />

⚙ Ensuring all key stakeholders read the<br />

latest statutory guidance “Working<br />

Together to Safeguard Children” and<br />

are clear about their own, and each<br />

other’s roles and responsibilities, and<br />

how we need to work together<br />

⚙ Understanding the importance for<br />

collaboration and information sharing,<br />

as it enables the exchange of vital<br />

details about a child’s circumstances,<br />

Click here for<br />

more resources<br />

from Yvonne:<br />

22 <strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong> 23

Outdoor<br />

website: “Play not only teaches critical<br />

life skills such as resilience, teamwork<br />

and creativity, but is central to children’s<br />

enjoyment of childhood.”<br />

How can I get involved?<br />

Classroom<br />

It’s Spring, and there’s no better time<br />

to get out into the great outdoors and<br />

give your curriculum a new spin. Most<br />

children thrive on being outdoors and you<br />

can often see their engagement levels<br />

soar as they marvel at the wonders of<br />

nature as their imaginations are set free.<br />

Outdoor Classroom Day is a bi-annual<br />

event organised in the UK and Ireland<br />

by Learning through Landscapes (LtL)<br />

as part of the global campaign through<br />

ActionFunder. It was originally sponsored<br />

by Unilever’s ‘Dirt is Good’ brands Persil/<br />

OMO to make it global, although there are<br />

many more partners and sponsors now.<br />

The days will be celebrated on 23rd <strong>May</strong><br />

and 7th November in <strong>2024</strong> and they are<br />

a perfect time to rethink your teaching<br />

and learning style and offer something<br />

new and exciting. Whether you have your<br />

own outdoor space or not, there is always<br />

something that you can do to turn the<br />

outdoors into an innovative learning space<br />

for children.<br />

The origins and aims of<br />

Outdoor Classroom Day<br />

The original campaign to get children<br />

outdoors started in 2011 after the<br />

publication of Tim Gill’s “Sowing the Seeds”<br />

report on how to reconnect London’s<br />

children with nature. That led to the<br />

formation of Empty Classroom Day, which<br />

expanded and developed into<br />

Outdoor Classroom Day in 2016. It is now a<br />

global movement to “inspire and celebrate<br />

outdoor learning and play”. Although<br />

there are two campaign days each year,<br />

the aim is to use the days as a catalyst to<br />

give children more time outdoors every<br />

day at home, school, nursery, or anywhere<br />

Day<br />

outdoors. Since the start of the movement,<br />

over 4 million children have taken part<br />

in the UK and Ireland and over 12 million<br />

worldwide.<br />

The longer-term goals of the project<br />


Sandra Duncan<br />

A.R.T. - more than<br />

paintbrushes<br />

be a completely different motive why some<br />

children naturally gravitate towards the<br />

painting easel. It’s called RELIEF.<br />

Times Square<br />

classrooms<br />

Have you ever been to Times Square? It’s<br />

a busy, noisy, and chaotic environment.<br />

Lights are blinking, horns are honking,<br />

people are rushing, sidewalks are<br />

bustling, and smells are interesting. Life<br />

in early childhood classrooms is much<br />

the same: crowded, busy, loud, and<br />

sometimes overwhelming for young<br />

children. It’s no wonder that children<br />

intuitively look for RELIEF from the physical<br />

classroom environment and escaping to<br />

the easel is just the perfect place. Since<br />

painting requires focused concentration,<br />

children direct their entire attention to the<br />

immediate tasks at hand such as selecting<br />

colours, applying brush-strokes, and<br />

creating their artwork.<br />

This focused attention can help restore<br />

their cognitive resources, allowing them to<br />

recover from mental fatigue and improve<br />

their ability to concentrate. Also, painting<br />

calms children because when they engage<br />

in art making, it helps the nervous system<br />

relax. Providing continuous opportunities<br />

for art making in chaotic-reduced<br />

environments, therefore, is an important<br />

responsibility of early childhood teachers.<br />

Chaotic-reduced<br />

environments<br />

One strategy for helping children get<br />

RELIEF from chaotic environments is to<br />

understand the Attention Restorative<br />

Theory (A.R.T.) founded by psychologists<br />

Rachel and Stephen Kaplan. This theory<br />

is grounded in the concept of directed<br />

attention and the role of attentional<br />

fatigue. Directed attention refers to the<br />

conscious effort and focus needed to<br />

attend to specific tasks or stimuli, while<br />

attentional fatigue occurs when this<br />

directed attention becomes depleted<br />

over time. In adults and older children,<br />

attentional fatigue can lead to reduced<br />

cognitive performance, increased negative<br />

behaviours, and decreased well-being.<br />

Young children - who are developing<br />

executive function skills - are especially<br />

impacted by mental and physical or<br />

visual fatigue. Their bodies and young<br />

minds are not capable of filtering out<br />

heavily ladened classroom walls and<br />

floors, cluttered shelves, or dealing with<br />

physically confining spaces. This chaos can<br />

lead to emotionally-bankrupt as well as<br />

physically-spent children. To reduce these<br />

possibilities, Rachel and Stephen Kaplan’s<br />

Attention Restorative Theory suggests<br />

that exposure to nature and natural<br />

environments can have a restorative effect<br />

on attention.<br />

Consequently, incorporating nature-based<br />

experiences into children’s routines,<br />

such as spending time in green spaces,<br />

engaging in outdoor play, or participating<br />

in nature-based activities, may contribute<br />

to their emotional development and<br />

well-being. But, how does painting at<br />

the classroom easel, nature-based<br />

experiences, and restoring children’s<br />

attention link together... and what can you<br />

do to help strengthen this link?<br />

Linking art and A.R.T.<br />

Overall, painting offers children a creative<br />

outlet that engages their attention,<br />

promotes relaxation, and provides<br />

opportunities for self-expression. By<br />

immersing themselves in the painting<br />

process and engaging with aesthetically<br />

pleasing and nature-based stimuli,<br />

children can experience the benefits of<br />

attention restoration, leading to increased<br />

engagement, focus, cognitive functioning,<br />

and overall well-being.<br />

Painting at the easel, particularly in a<br />

natural or peaceful setting, can serve as<br />

a restorative activity for young children.<br />

Engaging in painting allows children<br />

to focus their attention on the creative<br />

process, promoting a state of flow where<br />

they become fully absorbed in the task at<br />

hand.<br />

The importance of children painting lies<br />

in its potential to serve as a restorative<br />

and enriching activity. It can help children<br />

replenish their attention and cognitive<br />

resources, enhance fine motor skills and<br />

cognitive abilities, promote emotional wellbeing,<br />

and foster social interaction and<br />

communication skills.<br />

By encouraging children to engage in<br />

painting, we can support their holistic<br />

development and provide them with a<br />

creative outlet for self-expression and<br />

growth.<br />

Click here for<br />

Why is it that most children absolutely<br />

love to paint? Brightly coloured paint, wide<br />

paintbrushes, and large sheets of white<br />

paper are strong and undeniable magnets<br />

for young children -pulling them into the<br />

wonderful world of swishing, swirling, and<br />

moving the paint across the paper.<br />

Perhaps it’s the multi-sensory experiences<br />

that paint offers young children. They<br />

can feel the texture of the paint, see the<br />

vibrant colours, and observe how the paint<br />

spreads and changes on the canvas or<br />

paper. These sensory experiences can<br />

be intriguing and pleasurable for children<br />

as they enjoy engaging their senses on<br />

many levels. The magnetism of painting<br />

might be the pure freedom of standing at<br />

the easel with (hopefully) no adult telling<br />

them what colour to use, how to hold the<br />

paintbrush, or where to put the paint on<br />

the paper.<br />

Through painting, children can visually<br />

represent their imaginations, experiences,<br />

and inner world, which gives them a sense<br />

of agency and empowerment. Another<br />

possibility of why children enjoy painting<br />

so much is because it is an emotional<br />

outlet. It allows them to freely express<br />

and process their feelings, whether it’s<br />

joy, sadness, excitement, or frustration.<br />

Painting can provide a safe space for<br />

children to explore and navigate their<br />

emotions, which contributes to their overall<br />

emotional well-being.<br />

Young children may flock to painting<br />

easels because they enjoy experimenting.<br />

Painting offers children the opportunity<br />

to explore and experiment with various<br />

materials, colours, and techniques.<br />

They can mix colours, create different<br />

textures, and observe cause-and-effect<br />

relationships. This sense of discovery and<br />

experimentation can be highly captivating<br />

for children and fosters their sense of<br />

wonder and curiosity. They feel a sense<br />

of accomplishment and pride when they<br />

complete a painting because they can<br />

see the tangible result of their efforts,<br />

which undoubtedly boosts their selfconfidence<br />

and self-esteem. Although all<br />

these reasons why young children adore<br />

painting may be true and right, there could<br />

more resources<br />

from Sandra:<br />

26 <strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong> | parenta.com<br />

parenta.com | <strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong> 27

Inspections<br />

Tools and<br />

resources to help<br />

At some point in a setting’s life, all settings<br />

will be inspected by the local inspecting<br />

authority to ensure that they comply with<br />

statutory requirements. Ofsted operates as<br />

the inspection body in England, however,<br />

other agencies are responsible for<br />

inspecting other areas of the UK.<br />

improve your setting<br />

Starting a business in childcare can be<br />

a daunting prospect. You know you<br />

want to work with children and you are<br />

passionate about the positive difference<br />

you can make, but when you start to<br />

think about and research it, you soon<br />

realise that running a childcare business<br />

is not just about spending time with the<br />

children. There are risk assessments to do,<br />

curriculums to design, and many policies<br />

to write. And when the big ‘O’ (Ofsted) is<br />

mentioned, it can feel as if the ‘to do’ list<br />

becomes almost impossible.<br />

Navigating this ocean of paperwork,<br />

administration nightmare and neverending<br />

list of ‘dos and don’ts’ can be offputting<br />

to even the hardiest of would-be<br />

practitioners, but don’t despair; there are a<br />

lot of training courses, toolkits and sources<br />

of useful information out there to help<br />

every size business - as long as you know<br />

where to look and how to use them. So, in<br />

this article, we’re going to sign post you to<br />

some of the most useful ones, and let you<br />

get back to the thing you love most, being<br />

with the children.<br />

Statutory guidance<br />

and requirements<br />

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)<br />

is the main source of guidance and<br />

information for the early years in England<br />

and should be the starting place for all<br />

practitioners and pre-school settings.<br />

However, there are different standards for<br />

different parts of the UK:

Frances Turnbull<br />

Musical medicine<br />

Early years movement in a<br />

wonderful, musical world<br />

All of these activities can be accomplished<br />

with a song or piece of music to inspire.<br />

Here are a few songs with specific gross<br />

motor activity suggestions.<br />

Thula Thul’<br />

Thula thul, thula baba, thula sana,<br />

(Toola tool, toola baba, tool a sana)<br />

Thul’ubab uzobuya, ekuseni<br />

(Tool-oo-baab, oo-zo-boo-ya e-koo-zenee)<br />

Thula thul, thula baba, thula sana,<br />

(Toola tool, toola baba, tool a sana)<br />

Thul’ubab uzobuya, ekuseni<br />

(Tool-oo-baab, oo-zo-boo-ya ekoo-ze-nee)<br />

Movement is an important part of early<br />

years music education and can help to<br />

identify not only potential developmental<br />

delays but also future strengths and<br />

natural abilities. Movement is also a<br />

natural human response to the world.<br />

We naturally want to explore, to learn, to<br />

dance, to share. To love. And we can do all<br />

that through musical movement.<br />

Many dancers’ parents claim, as the<br />

ABBA song line says: “Mother says I<br />

was a dancer because I could walk”.<br />

And the same can be said of singers,<br />

singing before they could talk. This isn’t so<br />

surprising. From the earliest days, adults<br />

have been using singing and dancing<br />

to relax and calm little ones, to capture<br />

their interest and imagination as children<br />

grow older, and ultimately to enchant and<br />

inspire as adults.<br />

One of the ways that we can check<br />

developmental progress is by using the<br />

ASQ3 questionnaire: sets of interview<br />

questions that identify developmental<br />

milestones, including communication,<br />

gross motor movement, fine motor<br />

movement, problem solving and personal<br />

social skills. This article focusses on<br />

using early years music to support the<br />

development of gross motor movement.<br />

At 2 months, most children will:

As childcare professionals, we strive for excellence and seek to cultivate top talent in our<br />

settings. While experience is invaluable, formal qualifications enhance our capabilities and<br />

empower staff for career growth, raising childcare standards.<br />

Unlike Level 2 qualifications, Level 3 courses provide deeper theoretical insights and a<br />

thorough grasp of childcare practices. Let’s look at the benefits of achieving the Level 3<br />

Early Years Educator qualification.<br />

Typically lasting 18 months to 2 years,<br />

apprenticeships may vary based on the<br />

institution and whether they are full-time or<br />

part-time. The Institute for Apprenticeships<br />

and Technical Education works with early<br />

years employers to ensure relevance and<br />

effectiveness.<br />

According to the Government:<br />

“Apprenticeships can support your<br />

business to grow talent and develop a<br />

skilled workforce.<br />

Offering an apprenticeship can:<br />

⭐ Introduce fresh talent and ideas to<br />

your business by recruiting new staff<br />

and upskilling existing members<br />

⭐ Align training to your business needs<br />

⭐ Boost staff loyalty and motivation<br />

Studies show that because of<br />

apprenticeships:<br />

⭐ 80% of employers report higher staff<br />

A guide to Level 3<br />

childcare apprenticeships<br />

Benefits to the individual<br />

Increased earning potential<br />

Improved employability prospects within the sector<br />

Increased job security over less<br />

qualified staff<br />

Stepping stone to further higher-level qualifications,<br />

more responsibility and management<br />

Demonstrable commitment to high-quality provision<br />

and dedication to the industry<br />

Benefits to the workplace of employing/<br />

training staff with a Level 3 Early Years<br />

Educator qualification<br />

Staff members can be counted in the EYFS Level 3<br />

staff:child ratios (as long as they also have English<br />

Language at Level 2)<br />

Improved quality of provision within<br />

the setting<br />

Enhanced professional image with the local<br />

community and potential parents<br />

Ability to demonstrate investment in high-quality<br />

training for staff and an investment in people<br />

Most Level 3 apprenticeships are 95% funded by the<br />

Government making them a cost-effective way of<br />

employing additional staff<br />

retention<br />

⭐ 92% of employers see a boost in<br />

workforce motivation and satisfaction<br />

⭐ The St Martin’s Group study on the<br />

benefits of apprenticeships found,<br />

that despite associated costs, UK<br />

employers see an average annual<br />

gain of £2,500 to £18,000 in output<br />

per apprentice during their training<br />

period.”<br />

Funding<br />

If you hire an apprentice, they will be<br />

employed by your business for the<br />

duration of their apprenticeship, and you<br />

must pay them at least the minimum<br />

wage for their age group.<br />

Current minimum wage information can<br />

be found at: gov.uk/national-minimumwage-rates#apprentices.<br />

Settings can receive full funding of<br />

apprenticeship training costs, up to<br />

£7,000, for eligible apprentices aged 16<br />

to 21 (for new starts from April 1, <strong>2024</strong>)<br />

and aged 22 to 24 at apprenticeship<br />

start, with an Education, Health, and Care<br />

Plan (EHCP) or in local authority care.<br />

Additionally, settings may qualify for an<br />

extra £1,000 toward training costs if the<br />

apprentice is aged 16 to 18, aged 19 to 24<br />

with an EHCP or aged 19 to 24 and has<br />

been in local authority care.<br />

What will a Level 3 EYE<br />

apprentice learn?<br />

The knowledge, skills and behaviours<br />

for this apprenticeship standard<br />

are defined by the Institute for<br />

Apprenticeships at the EYE detailed<br />

webpage at: instituteforapprenticeships.<br />

org/qualifications/finder/early-yearseducator-13.<br />

More specifically, according to the<br />

Government EYE apprentice web page, an<br />

EYE apprentice will learn to:<br />

⭐ Recognise when a child or a colleague<br />

is in danger or at risk of abuse and<br />

act to protect them in line with the<br />

safeguarding policy and procedure<br />

⭐ Apply legislation, policy, and<br />

procedure to protect the health,<br />

safety and well-being of children in<br />

the setting (for example, food safety,<br />

diets, starting solid food, allergies,<br />

COSHH, and accidents, injuries, and<br />

emergencies)<br />

⭐ Apply the principles of risk<br />

assessment and risk management<br />

within documentation and practice<br />

⭐ Teach children to develop skills to<br />

manage risk and maintain their own<br />

and others safety<br />

⭐ Use a range of communication<br />

methods, including technology,<br />

with other professionals to meet the<br />

individual needs of the child<br />

⭐ Develop and maintain effective<br />

professional, collaborative<br />

relationships with others involved in<br />

the education and care of the child<br />

⭐ Undertake the role and responsibilities<br />

of a key person<br />

⭐ Recognise and apply theories of<br />

attachment to develop effective<br />

relationships with children<br />

⭐ Provide sensitive and respectful<br />

personal care for children from birth<br />

to 5 years<br />

⭐ Advocate for all children’s needs,<br />

including children who require SEND<br />

or EAL support<br />

⭐ Promote and facilitate children’s<br />

interpersonal communication to<br />

develop their social interactions and<br />

relationships<br />

⭐ Support children to develop a positive<br />

sense of their own identity and culture<br />

Roles and responsibilities<br />

Roles<br />

Apprentice<br />

Improved<br />

employability<br />

prospects<br />

within the<br />

sector<br />

Responsibilities<br />

⭐ Support children to understand<br />

and respond to their emotions and<br />

make considered choices about their<br />

behaviours<br />

⭐ Assess the responsiveness of the<br />

environment for effective child-centred<br />

experiences in line with curriculum<br />

requirements<br />

⭐ Create inclusive, child-centred,<br />

dynamic, innovative, and evolving<br />

physical environments both indoors<br />

and outdoors<br />

⭐ Create an inclusive and supportive<br />

emotional environment that enables<br />

the child to feel safe, secure,<br />

respected and experience a sense<br />

of well-being; maintaining and<br />

prioritising the individual child’s voice<br />

⭐ Apply strategies that support<br />

children’s ability to manage change,<br />

transition, and significant events<br />

⭐ Analyse observation evidence to<br />

assess and plan holistic individual<br />

As a minimum, the apprentice should:<br />

✏ Complete on-programme training to meet the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed<br />

outlined in the apprenticeship standard for a minimum of 12 months<br />

✏ Complete the required amount of off-the-job training specified by the apprenticeship<br />

funding rules and as arranged by the employer and training provider<br />

✏ Understand the purpose and importance of EPA<br />

Prepare for and undertake the EPA including meeting all gateway requirements<br />

✏<br />

As a minimum, the apprentice's employer must:<br />

✏ Select the training provider<br />

✏ Work with the training provider to select the EPAO<br />

✏ Work with the training provider, where applicable, to support the apprentice in the<br />

workplace and to provide opportunities for the apprentice to develop the KSBs<br />

✏ Arrange and support off-the-job training to be undertaken by the apprentice<br />

✏ Decide when the apprentice is working at or above the apprenticeship standard and is<br />

ready for EPA<br />

✏ Ensure the apprentice is prepared for the EPA<br />

✏ Ensure that all supporting evidence required at the gateway is submitted in line with this<br />

EPA plan<br />

✏ Confirm arrangements with the EPAO for the EPA promptly, including who, when, where<br />

✏ Provide the EPAO with access to any employer-specific documentation as required, for<br />

example, company policies<br />

✏ Ensure that the EPA is scheduled with the EPAO for a date and time which allows<br />

appropriate opportunity for the apprentice to meet the KSBs<br />

✏ Ensure the apprentice is given sufficient time away from regular duties to prepare for and<br />

complete the EPA<br />

✏ Ensure that any required supervision during the EPA period, as stated within this EPA<br />

plan, is in place<br />

✏ Ensure the apprentice has access to the resources used to fulfil their role and carry out<br />

the EPA for workplace-based assessments<br />

✏ Remain independent from the delivery of the EPA<br />

Pass the certificate to the apprentice upon receipt<br />

✏<br />

learning based on a comprehensive<br />

understanding of the child’s needs<br />

and interests<br />

⭐ Facilitate and support child-centred<br />

opportunities and experiences based<br />

on the setting’s curriculum and<br />

pedagogy<br />

⭐ Provide adult-led opportunities and<br />

experience based on the setting’s<br />

curriculum and pedagogy<br />

⭐ Use reflection to develop themselves<br />

both professionally and personally<br />

The criteria for EYE Level 3 qualifications<br />

are due to change from 1st September<br />

<strong>2024</strong>. See here for the most up-to-date<br />

criteria.<br />

Training providers will have their own<br />

information which is available to<br />

employers and apprentices. <strong>Parenta</strong> has<br />

trained thousands of apprentices in this<br />

qualification, and you can download a<br />

course guide for the Level 3 EYE course<br />

here. This includes information about the<br />

structure of the course too.<br />

What qualifications do<br />

apprentices need to apply?<br />

To meet Ofsted staff-child ratios as a<br />

Level 3 EYE, apprentices must have a<br />

Level 2 qualification in English Language;<br />

the previous requirement for a Level 2<br />

Maths qualification has been removed.<br />

All apprentices must undergo a clear DBS<br />

check and hold a Paediatric First Aid or<br />

Emergency Paediatric First Aid qualification<br />

as part of safer recruitment.<br />

References and more<br />

information<br />

⭐ Find apprenticeship training<br />

⭐ Institute for Apprenticeships<br />

⭐ <strong>Parenta</strong> - Recruit an apprentice<br />

⭐ Gov.uk - Apprentices national<br />

minimum wage rates<br />

Click here for<br />

more references<br />

& information.<br />

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

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

Understanding the<br />

impact of new staff<br />

ratios in early years<br />

In the March 2023 Budget, following<br />

a consultation with the industry, the<br />

Government announced changes to the<br />

Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) that<br />

would affect nurseries, childminders and<br />

group provisions. The changes were in<br />

response to concerns about early years<br />

provision including:

EYFS activities:<br />

Personal, Social &<br />

Emotional Development<br />

In the EYFS, personal, social, and emotional development activities are crucial for building essential life skills<br />

in children. Through structured play and interactions, they learn to manage emotions, build relationships, and<br />

develop resilience. These activities lay the groundwork for academic growth as well as lifelong well-being by<br />

promoting communication, cooperation, and problem-solving abilities.<br />

Father’s Day medals – a favourite with the children!<br />

Why not celebrate Father’s Day with a<br />

personalised medal to let father figures know<br />

how special they are?<br />

You will need:<br />

Ì 23cm paper plates<br />

Ì Yellow or gold washable paint or yellow<br />

tissue paper<br />

Ì Paintbrush<br />

Ì Glue stick<br />

Ì Star foam stickers<br />

Ì 1cm width ribbon (various colours)<br />

Ì Hole puncher<br />

Ì Safety scissors<br />

Ì Ruler or tape measure<br />

Ì Sticky tape<br />

Ì Printed Father’s Day award template<br />

(optional)<br />

Ì Pen/marker<br />

Method:<br />

1. Decide how you want to create the<br />

background of the medal. Option 1: Paint<br />

the paper plate yellow or gold. (Takes time<br />

to dry.) Option 2: Use yellow or gold tissue<br />

paper with Pritt Stick glue. (Dries quickly.)<br />

2. If you use tissue paper for the background,<br />

place the paper plate over the tissue paper,<br />

draw around the plate, then cut the tissue<br />

paper and glue it to the plate.<br />

3. Take the printed Father’s Day award<br />

template and cut out the award circle. If<br />

you do not wish to use the template, you<br />

36 <strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong> | parenta.com<br />

can always make your award circles and<br />

write the message with a pen.<br />

4. Once the paper plate is dry, stick the<br />

template to the centre.<br />

5. Punch two holes at the top of the plate to<br />

hang the medal.<br />

6. Now it’s time to decorate! Stick foam stars<br />

around the outside of the plate however<br />

you would like.<br />

7. Time to add the ribbons! Take your<br />

chosen coloured ribbon and cut a piece<br />

approximately 40cm long, then tie it<br />

through the holes to make the handle.<br />

8. Cut 30cm lengths of ribbon for the bottom,<br />

being as creative with the colours as<br />

possible.<br />

9. Use the sticky tape to secure the ribbons to<br />

the back of the plate at the bottom.<br />

10. Adjust and make any final tweaks as<br />

necessary, and then present the medal to<br />

Dad on Father’s Day!<br />

Fabulous Father’s Day cards!<br />

Creating a personalised card is a wonderful<br />

way for children to celebrate Father’s Day.<br />

You will need:<br />

Ì Cardstock paper<br />

Ì Pens/Markers<br />

Ì Scissors<br />

Ì Decorating materials e.g. stickers, ribbons<br />

Ì Ruler<br />

Method:<br />

1. Find or print block letter templates for “D”,<br />

“A” and “Y” onto cardstock paper.<br />

2. Trace and cut out the letters, ensuring<br />

they’re the same size.<br />

3. Place the letters in a straight line so they<br />

touch and spell out “DAD” or “DADDY”. You<br />

can use a ruler to make sure they’re in a<br />

straight line.<br />

4. Use scissors to carefully cut out the centres<br />

of each letter.<br />

5. Fold the word where the letters touch to<br />

create the card.<br />

6. Use your chosen coloured pens and<br />

markers to colour in each letter.<br />

Painted ties – so much fun!<br />

A simple activity that the children will love!<br />

You will need:<br />

Ì Paper<br />

Ì Paints<br />

Ì Paintbrushes<br />

Ì Ribbon<br />

Ì Scissors<br />

Ì Tape<br />

Ì Hole punch<br />

Method:<br />

1. Give the children the freedom to paint on<br />

the paper in any way they choose.<br />

2. Let the paper completely dry and then cut<br />

out a tie shape, using a tie as a template if<br />

needed.<br />

3. Cut out a small strip roughly 2 inches high<br />

and 6 inches long to create the knot.<br />

4. Hole punch both ends of the strip to create<br />

space to weave the ribbon through.<br />

7. Decorate further with any ribbons, stickers,<br />

or any other embellishments to give the<br />

card a personal touch.<br />

8. Your card is now ready to give to Dad,<br />

showcasing your creativity and love.<br />

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

here: https://easypreschoolcraft.blogspot.<br />

com/2012/03/fathers-day-dad-card-craft.html<br />

5. Wrap the strip around the top of the tie and<br />

tape it in place.<br />

6. Thread the ribbon through the punched<br />

holes, and that’s the tie complete!<br />

7. Top tip – encourage the children to use their<br />

father figure’s favourite colours to make the<br />

craft even more personalised.

How do we strike the balance between the<br />

dance of “in the moment” and “guided”<br />

activities? Firstly, we need to recognise the<br />

strengths of both “child-led” and “adultguided<br />

learning” experiences.<br />

Picture this: a classroom buzzing with<br />

energy as little learners explore, create,<br />

and imagine. That’s the magic of childled<br />

learning! It’s all about letting children<br />

take the lead. Fostering their creativity,<br />

independence, and love for learning.<br />

But wait, there’s more! Cue the spotlight<br />

on adult-guilded learning. It’s like having<br />

a wise mentor guiding you through the<br />

steps, providing structured opportunities<br />

to learn specific skills and concepts<br />

while promoting collaboration and<br />

communication.<br />

Together, these two approaches create a<br />

dynamic duo that nurtures every child’s<br />

growth and development and highlights<br />

the importance of your flexibility and<br />

responsiveness in your pedagogy as...<br />

“One size doesn’t fit ALL!”<br />

Gina Bale<br />

One size doesn’t<br />

fit ALL!<br />

In the world of early childhood education,<br />

we all know flexibility is the name of<br />

the game. We know that every child is<br />

unique, with their rhythm and pace of<br />

learning. That’s why teaching is rather like<br />

a beautifully choreographed dance – fluid,<br />

adaptable, and responsive to the needs of<br />

every little explorer.<br />

By being flexible, we ensure that our<br />

teaching strategies, and pedagogies,<br />

evolve alongside the changing interests<br />

and abilities of our students, creating a<br />

learning environment where everyone can<br />

shine.<br />

The potential disadvantages of not being<br />

adaptable and focusing solely on one<br />

specific approach could be limiting the<br />

development of skills, experiences, and<br />

learning for children.<br />

Like us, every child is unique, and “One<br />

size doesn’t fit ALL”. Don’t forget to<br />

offer a breadth of different activities,<br />

including structured group activities, and<br />

experiences for your little ones. By doing<br />

this you are ensuring ALL children are<br />

invited to play and learn and they are not<br />

getting bored or just repeating the same<br />

activity because it is safe and known to<br />

them. Just like adults they want to live<br />

wildy and experience new things. Take<br />

them outside their comfort zone and don’t<br />

hinder their joy of learning by fixating on<br />

ONE approach in the setting.<br />

Go wild in the “pick<br />

and mix”<br />

From my many years of teaching in, and<br />

training settings, I have seen first-hand<br />

how the seamless blending of child-led<br />

and adult-guided activities ensures that no<br />

child is disadvantaged. We need to ensure<br />

they are ALL invited to learn.<br />

As educators, we need to find and<br />

blend our own “secret sauce” of perfect<br />

ingredients that will provoke and engage<br />

our little explorers.<br />

Set the stage with a rich variety of<br />

materials and multiple open-ended<br />

provocations that ignite everyone’s<br />

curiosity and imagination. Then, sprinkle in<br />

some structured FUN activities facilitated<br />

by adults, providing opportunities for<br />

children to develop specific skills and<br />

collaborate with their peers.<br />

Remember, it’s all about finding that<br />

“sweet spot” where child agency meets<br />

adult guidance, creating a meaningful<br />

learning experience that’s engaging and<br />

playful.<br />

Combining and being creative is KEY to<br />

finding your “s ecret sauce”. To do this you<br />

need to recognise the strength of both<br />

“child-led” and “adult-guided” learning<br />

experiences.<br />

Your “secret sauce” is informed by several<br />

key theories and approaches that highlight<br />

the importance of both child-agency and<br />

adult support in facilitating optimal and<br />

meaningful learning experiences. Here is a<br />

sample of the ingredients and spices that<br />

will help you develop your recipe for your<br />

little explorers. Imagine only being able to<br />

cook with one ingredient day after day –<br />

BORING!<br />

Ingredients: guided<br />

play and scaffolding<br />

learning<br />

Guided play serves as a cornerstone for<br />

children’s development:

TM<br />

Pssst... Let the Littlemagictrain<br />

take your children on a magical<br />

journey of learning and lots of<br />

fun!<br />

Pssst...<br />

Let the Littlemagictrain take your<br />

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By week 6, I observed clear improvement in<br />

attention, memory and narrative skills.”<br />

Liz Shoreman, Senior Speech and Language<br />

Therapist and Manager, The Speech Bubble<br />

Liz Shoreman, Senior Speech and Language<br />

Therapist and Manager, The Speech Bubble<br />

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Scan Me!<br />

Nicky Sanford, Early Years Teacher,<br />

Marcham Pre-school<br />

Nicky Sanford, Early Years Teacher,<br />

Marcham Pre-school<br />

“<br />

“<br />

www.littlemagictrain.com<br />

www.littlemagictrain.com<br />

Or email: Hello@littlemagictrain.com<br />

Or email: Hello@littlemagictrain.com<br />

for wee ones

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