Don’t throw out ‘all’ of the plastic

On a  recent train journey with my colleague Kim Benham. We were off to deliver a training session to a nursery group on KISP.

The train was delayed and sitting opposite us was a three-year-old child with her mother. We started to talk about how she looked like the character in my children’s picture book. After eating her lunch, the child said she didn’t want to have the iPad, so her mother took out a few Duplo pieces, including one piece – the cat – from her pocket. Her mother shared with her daughter why she had the cat in her pocket. The child carefully arranged the pieces into a long train with a piece of string and began sharing stories out loud about what was happening with the train, the cat and the girl and boy. For a three-year-old, Kim and I were impressed with her language skills and her imagination.

At […]


World Book Day or World Outfit Day?

As an author of a recent children’s book series and someone who loves reading (despite being dyslexic) I love the idea of World Book Day.

However, it didn’t surprise me to read an article, that when it comes to World Book Day, parents spend more on outfits than they do on books.

There were numerous threads on social media on the subject, including from author Alom Shaha, who shared these thoughts.

“If you work in a primary school, please think about how asking children to have costumes for world book day might *not* be a good idea. There are lots of ways to celebrate the day without causing unnecessary expense and stress, especially for poor families…If you’re lucky enough to not know the shame of not being able to participate in such things, you probably think I’m being a grump. You’re wrong.” I believe that with a bit of thought we can […]


Understanding parents

I love Sunday evening period dramas, particularly in the winter months. Call the Midwife is one of my favourites, always finding a way to pull at my heart strings.

Sunday’s episode featured a mother who seemed overly concerned about her baby, imagining the worst outcome regarding its wellbeing. On reviewing her medical notes, the staff discovered that her first child had died in his sleep aged eight months and the anniversary of his death was looming.

In the episode, as soon as they were aware of this the medical team showed compassion and empathy towards the mother.

This made me think about how we can support parents and be less judgemental.

We can sometimes put labels on parents: ‘lovely family’, ‘caring’, ‘he’s demanding’, ‘she always has something to say’. We need to press the pause button and not place parents in the ‘good parent’ or ‘bad parent’ file. Labels are not helpful.

What is helpful, is trying to understand […]


That boy was just scared

I’m currently reading Michelle Obama’s bestselling book, Becoming. Michelle reflects on her childhood throughout the book.

She shares how during the lead-up to the 2008 election she was supporting her husband’s presidential campaign by delivering speeches across the USA. These speeches, as you can imagine, where dissected by the press and at times she was not only misquoted but became the subject of some unkind reporting on her and her family.

Michelle reflects on this and recalls an incident from her childhood, where out of nowhere and seemingly for no reason a boy punched her in the face. Her mother, on returning from a meeting with the school about the incident, explained, “That boy was just scared and angry about things that had nothing to do with you…. He’s dealing with a whole lot of problems of is own.” Her mother’s non-judgemental words were telling her that when others do you harm, physically and verbally, it’s […]


Personal experiences and professional theories

I recently read a thought-provoking, inspiring and personal blog post by Annie Richardson. I let Annie know how much I’d enjoyed reading it.

In it, she reflects on her family, growing up within a minority community and her career and journey into Early Years.

You can read her blog here.

For me, Annie has shown vulnerability by sharing her own narrative and this is something that Brene Brown’s informative research is based on, as she asserts her paradoxical view of how vulnerability can also be a strength. Indeed, Annie has shown courage and strength in sharing her personal and professional history.

Annie also reflected on whether it is better to share more head than heart in her blog. My opinion is that blogs should be from the heart: personal reflections, observations, a comment or whatever you feel you want to write. Blogs are different to writing an academic or […]


What has eating your toes got to do with child development?

Waiting in the Apple store to be seen by a tech expert, I noticed a mother with her baby in his buggy. He was doing what my mother always called “eating his toes!” when my son did the same! In fact, my son was with me.

I noticed the baby lifting his toes in a very sophisticated way to his mouth and sucking away.

I entered into a dialogue (turn-taking) with him, “Ooh, I can see you’re eating your toes!” He was laughing and in-between ‘sucking’ was talking back to me.

At that point, I knew I wanted to write a blog about this although I didn’t want to ask for permission to take a photo or to film this unique moment. I am mindful of boundaries and I did not know the mother.

His mother smiled at me and I said, “This is my son and he did the same when he was a baby and he is nearly 25! My mother calls this eating your […]


Name, Shame, Blame, Repeat!

An article in the Sunday Times caught my eye, written by their education correspondent, Sian Griffiths, under the headline, ‘Stressed heads exclude children as young as three.’ Sian subsequently tweeted, “I found this an upsetting story to write.”

In short, more children under the age of seven are being excluded according to figures quoted from the Office for National Statistics this month, indicating a rise in the number of exclusions involving primary-aged children. In her article, Sian also mentions a documentary that will be screened on Channel 4 on Tuesday 25th July – Excluded at Seven.

This doesn’t surprise me, but only further saddens me that children are excluded from school. Exclusion only adds to their trauma/anxiety and doesn’t help to give them the tools to self-regulate their behaviour and emotions. Imagine what it must feel like for these children’s self-esteem and self-worth to be excluded at such a young […]


Professional Boundaries

An interesting Social Media post came up on my timeline:

“Question from a member: I would like to know what people would do if a member of staff began a romantic relationship with a parent of a child who is one of their key children; parents only separated very recently (within the last 4 weeks) and mom is totally unaware of the situation. Thank you.”

I was intrigued and concerned that a few commented that they felt it was fine for a member of staff to enter into a sexual relationship with a parent from the setting. I have had over 30 years’ experience working within Early Years, in a variety of roles, and I also work as an expert witness. I have seen where negative organisational behaviour of a setting can have a lasting damaging impact, and, more importantly, can fail to keep children and their families safe and protect them from harm.

Safeguarding and protecting children […]


All about professional development…

I have at times read with interest on social media and heard on my travels, that providers believe that if they don’t undertake training then they will be penalised by Ofsted, with a few claiming that this was the reason they didn’t get Outstanding. To clarify, Ofsted do not require you to have undertaken face-to-face training.

I have said many times that language is important and that it is the term Continuous Professional Development (CPD) that should be used.

Training makes up only a small percentage of CPD. There are many other areas of CPD, including: reading research, journals, papers, blogs, visiting other settings, taking part in webinars, listening to podcasts and attending workshops, briefings and conferences. Training also includes connecting on social media chats, such as #EYTalking on Twitter, watching Facebook lives, inspirations from Pinterest and Instagram. It can even be watching a […]


World Environment Day

Yesterday was World Environment Day. My colleague, Francis Joseph, shared this image on his Facebook page.

I love this quote and reflected also on how quickly we change our setting environments without considering whether the change will have a positive impact on children’s learning and development. How does the change mirror the setting’s ethos/values? Are we changing just because it’s trendy to do so? Are there links to evidence, practice and/or research?

A case in point: children can experience the benefits of mud without a mud kitchen!

What a timely reminder that, the World Forum’s, International Mud Day is on Thursday 29th June, 2017. Here’s an informative blog to read on the event.

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