I was 2 busy listening 2 the grass grow

Prince, the creative genius, has sadly moved on and the world is in shock. Rightly so, his creativity was on another level.

On reading the many tributes to Prince, I read an article in the Independent, where he kindly replied to a fan’s letter.

A particular sentence in the letter stood out for me: “I was 2 busy listening 2 the grass grow.”

Some folks may wonder what on earth he meant by ‘listening 2 the grass grow’. We understand watching the grass grow, but listening to the grass grow? Are you for real, Prince?

I know exactly what Prince meant by this. He was too busy being creative. I wondered whether if he hadn’t had the time to ‘listen 2 the grass grow’ we would have had the opportunity to listen to the many inspiring musical creations over the years that Prince created.

Reflecting back […]


Let’s G.O!

Last year I had the pleasure of visiting an awesome colleague, kindergarten teacher Heidi Echternacht, at her class in Princeton, New Jersey, USA. Heidi explained that kindergarten children in the US are aged five to six – equivalent to our Year One.

What was amazing about Heidi’s class was how much she valued play and allowed the children to be themselves. When I arrived, they had just come back in from a mid-morning break. Heidi introduced me to the class and I had a long conversation with the children about London and Paddington Bear!

They didn’t settle down to do maths or English.

Oh no, we went for a walk in the woods!

Heidi informed her class: “Right, time to go for a walk! Let’s go. G.O!” “Yes, Ms Echternacht!” they replied.

How wonderful it was to observe five and six-year-olds being able to be themselves through play, […]


We were told!

For a number of years, I have been perplexed by the amount of unnecessary paperwork that educators complete within their settings.

It’s important to remember what the EYFS states:

“Assessment should not entail prolonged breaks from interaction with children, nor require excessive paperwork. Paperwork should be limited to that which is absolutely necessary to promote children’s successful learning and development.” EYFS, 2014

On various social media platforms or when delivering training or speaking to clients, I hear comments such as:

“We were told to do this.”

 “Ofsted want to see this.”

 “The local authority advisor has given us a month to complete this.”

 “A consultant/trainer suggested this was the best way.”

As a consultant/trainer, I see myself as an advisor, which means that it is only advice.

In addition, in some settings the system is so complicated that educators are unable to fully vocalise why they do what they do.

“Less paperwork = more time with the children!”

In my opinion, […]


Respect the uniqueness of every child

My son’s final parents’ evening and my final one as a parent, was on Wednesday night. Fingers crossed for university next year. Ro didn’t attend and decided to go to a ‘drum & bass’ concert with his mates! Yes, on a school night! Ooh, to be young!

I fed back to Ro what the lecturers said. They also shorten his name – just like we do! Shows that they know him!!

“100% he’ll have a successful career in the creative industries. His thinking is unique… original ideas… lovely son… great student. Great sense of humour…witty… academic… no complaints… you should be proud… reflective student… his work is outstanding!”

Ro wants to work in interactive media, in the film industry.

However, since the age of four, it’s always been the same area for improvement from his teachers: “He needs to speak up more.”

Ro said to me. “Hmm, yes, but if I do that I’ll be the same as everyone else!”

“Indeed, […]


Literacy Champions

I’m delighted to have Rebecca Marsh with us to discuss how she implemented literacy within her setting.

Rebecca is a manager at one of the Portico group of settings. Rebecca has been in Early Years for over 10 years, three of these as a manager.

Rebecca is currently completing a level 5 in management, and is passionate and driven about leading successful teams and ensuring the children in her care are given the best possible start in life.

Rebecca explains:

“Starting the literacy project was by far one of the best decisions I have made in management. We were able to participate in the NDNA Literacy Champions as we had an Early Years professional (EYP) in the setting. The project works so well for us and will do for any busy setting because apart from certain deadlines, you use the resources and webinars at your own pace and when it’s useful for you.

Along with this […]


It feels like very cold ice-cream on your teeth!

A colleague posed a question on a social media forum that I belong to as to whether other colleagues had heard of using sensory immersive approach within a coaching session. A number of colleagues asked him to clarify, he then showed a picture of a school’s ‘sensory room’.

My reply was to be cautious when using this approach, as some individuals may have Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).  As many of you know, my son is on the autistic spectrum and one of his conditions is SPD.

It made me think about children who are on the spectrum within Early Years settings who are displaying SPD, as educators may think it is due to something else.

In his own early years, my son would not step on leaves – a real challenge in autumn!

I recently spoke to a specialist in autism-related behaviour and explained how my son displayed hyperactive behaviour within his early and primary […]


Keeping it real and strengths!

On Friday, my 21-year-old amazing son, Rian, was officially diagnosed with Autism. I always knew that Rian was different and wonderful, right from when he was a baby. Throughout his primary and secondary school years I had many conversations with teachers about Rian’s behaviour. I even had him privately assessed twice. This highlighted dyslexia and borderline attention deficit disorder. I started to question my parenting style and as an educator became ever more frustrated with not getting to the bottom of Rian’s complex symptoms.

Rian became less sociable and his communication decreased as he headed towards his mid-teens. He avoided at all cost any social situation that meant he’d have to communicate with others.

His main focus is football; he’s a mean left-footed defender and can tell you everything you need to know about Arsenal. He plays for a local team on Sundays and takes part in the weekly 5k Park Run on a Saturday.

He’s also […]


Little Green Fingers

It is my pleasure to have Francis Smith, the owner of Studio Cultivate, with us. I have already had the pleasure of seeing Francis at work in a nursery. Studio Cultivate’s key principle is to realise horticultural potential in people and places. This to me is awesome and connects children with nature and their local environment and provides so many learning opportunities within settings and extension activities for children to do at home.  Of course, I had to ask Francis to write a guest blog for me, to share his amazing work!

Francis writes:

“In my previous role working as a landscape contractor I came across many underused and underappreciated outdoor school spaces. In a city where green space is limited I felt it a real shame that their potential for learning, exploration and general fun was often being overlooked. Eighteen months ago I set up the educational wing of Studio Cultivate, with the ambition of revealing […]


Actions and reactions!

I recently experienced a long train delay. The train was 30 minutes late and then proceeded to progress slowly along the tracks. Many passengers used colourful language to express their frustration although others, like myself, remained calm, with a c’est la vie attitude.

The situation reminded me of a psychology course that I was on over 25 years ago. The trainer cited an example of a fatal incident, where a passenger took their own life by jumping in front of a tube train. He said one passenger shouted:  “How the f*** do I get to work now?” while another became violently sick on the platform. It made me think of how we all react differently to situations and events.

Within the workplace we can see how colleagues and parents react differently, for example, when receiving news or during an ‘incident’.

It’s helpful to know that we all react differently to the world around us, due to a number […]


#TwitteratiChallenge

It was an honour to be nominated for the #TwitteratiChallenge by @Sue_Cowley who is an inspiring and dedicated education professional. When I read Sue’s blog in full I noted that I also had to nominate five colleagues. How to choose? There are so many inspirational colleagues to choose from. Here are the five who I feel contribute, on different levels, to the wonderful land of Twitter.

1. @SueAtkins is a former Deputy Headteacher, a mother and a well-known international parenting expert. Sue also gives frequent parenting advice on television and radio. Sue’s tweets are on education and parenting, she also connects colleagues together, especially if she believes that they are like minded and have a degree of synergy.  When encouraging colleagues to join Twitter I always say to follow Sue. As the ‘queen of Twitter!’ Sue is very honest and shares her personal and professional journey, as […]