One potato, two potato, cultural capital potato more!

During one of my recent quality visits to a setting, I had lunch with the children.

One of the children stated that they are having mashed potatoes for lunch.

I replied: “Ooh, I was meant to have mashed potato for my dinner yesterday, in the hotel. Instead, I had sweet potato chips!”

Child: “Sweet potato?” With an unsure look on his face.

Me: “Can anyone tell me about sweet potatoes?”

Children: “No, we’ve never had them!”

I then went on to explain what a sweet potato is. What it looks like and how it is different to a white potato.

Me: “When I go out to the shops later, I will see if I can buy a sweet potato at a shop in the village.”

Member of staff: “Maybe next door to my dad’s shop you can buy a sweet potato?”

Off I went into the village and, surprise, surprise, I purchased the sweet potato!

I sat down with the children on my return and […]


Parenting is difficult! Full stop!

There I was in the supermarket on a busy Friday morning.

As I got to the till, I heard a child screaming and out of the corner of my eye I could see this child throwing himself on the floor.  With a quick, experienced eye, I judged him to be about four.

His mum (I assumed), then started to say, “That is it.. I’m fed up of you doing this… you will not have the treat!”

From where I was standing, I could see other shoppers nearby who were just looking. The child’s sister, who was standing next to him, asked her brother to get up from the floor. I saw that the mother was visibly shaking and still trying to talk to him.

I finished packing my shopping in the trolley and walked over to her and put my arm around her. “Parenting is tough!” I told her. “Trust me, all the parents in this shop have had […]


Your Own Way

  I was delighted that Gill Jones and Wendy Ratcliff were able to discuss and share the new Ofsted framework via the Early Years Leaders podcast, where we had a conversation on intent, implement and impact.

On my travels, either when I am training or delivering consultancy, educators are asking me what this means and what they need to do.

Wendy Ratcliff has stated:

“The EYFS (educational programmes) provides the curriculum framework that leaders build on to decide what they intend children to learn and develop.

Leaders and practitioners decide how they will implement the curriculum so that children make progress in the seven areas of learning – we will keep our definition of ‘teaching’.

Leaders and practitioners evaluate the impact of the curriculum by checking what children know and can do. “

Wendy Ratcliff, HMI in Early Years, Ofsted, 4 January 2019 – PACEY

In short, this means that as a setting, leaders need to decide what is right for them. My starting point as a reflection […]


Symbolic item for every child

I watched with emotion this clip from BBC Family & Education on Facebook.

In brief, six-year-old Bodhi, who is autistic, showed delight every time he walked past the large cuddly gorilla. The gorilla unfortunately disappeared and its owner, Jason, searched for another one and Bodhi was delighted again.

This story reminds me of my eldest son, Rian, who as some of you know is on the autistic spectrum. When he was younger and attended a local pre-school, his behaviour was ‘a cause for concern’. This was before his diagnosis. Rian’s ‘thing’ was Thomas the Tank Engine, and I have since been told that some autistic children love Thomas.

On entering the pre-school each morning, Mary used to hand Rian the Thomas train from the shelf. This made Rian feel that he belonged and grounded him.

Mary sadly died of cancer a few years ago, but I will never forget the kindness that she showed my son.

On my […]


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 a […]


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 still celebrate and acknowledge […]


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 […]