How to involve parents with children’s learning

How to involve parents with children’s learning

In today’s modern society, when parents are often working full-time (and subsequently short on time!) it’s not uncommon for their children to be placed in childcare for up to 50 hours a week. More often than not, your setting is the prime provider of early years education for these children. This, of course, is in contrast to years gone by when children would mainly learn the about the world - and their place in it - through conversations, play activities and routines with parents and families in a home environment.

By working in collaboration with parents, you can enhance children’s learning and development in ways that would not be possible without them. By working in collaboration with parents, you can enhance children’s learning and development in ways that would not be possible without them. A ‘partnership approach’ of sharing information to improve the children’s learning outcomes can prove really valuable in the long term.

What are the benefits of parents and childcare practitioners working together?

  • It gives parents a better understanding of how you are helping to prepare their children for success in school.
  • Parents learn how well their children are progressing in developing the building blocks of learning.
  • Parents learn ways to help their children at home.
  • You will have a better understanding of children’s backgrounds and experiences.
  • Children will see that the adults in their life care about them, and their learning and development.

When parents see you make the effort and involve them in the day-to-day education of their children, they can feel valued and respected, they become aware of their children’s experiences outside the family home and can then use this information to support their learning and development more effectively by reinforcing these experiences at home.

It works both ways too: practitioners can benefit from parents’ skills and expertise, they can gain a better understanding of the children in their setting and use this information to make learning more enjoyable and rewarding for all children. After all, the parents are the experts on their own children and so their feedback is invaluable!

With increasing emphasis on, and changes to EYFS, parents care more than ever about the education path of their child and we know they want to engage.

But how?


When you engage with parents, you automatically build a stronger “practitioner-family” partnership. This, in turn, leads to a better understanding of the child, increased feedback from parents on how things are going and ultimately, a happier and more successful learning experience for the child.

You could suggest new ways that parents can get involved and support their child’s learning at home, for example: when they are reading a bedtime story, they can ask their child to make predictions about what will happen next. This will help strengthen the child’s reading comprehension and reinforce their reading ability.

Communication is key!

Keep parents up-to-date as much as possible with what’s going on in your setting and what events or other activities are coming up. If you produce a newsletter, you could suggest conversation topics so parents can ask their children about what they’re learning and then this learning can continue at home, after the event. Even if you only produce a short newsletter, it’s really important to thank parents for all the ways they’re currently helping your setting and how this is impacting on the lives of the children.


Top Tip

A good way to engage parents and make them part of your extended learning team is to make your passion shine through – enthusiasm is contagious and parents will want to continue their child’s learning at home if they see how engaged you are!

Cutting through the barriers

Busy lives, financial worries, language barriers and time pressures are just some of the obstacles practitioners can be faced with which hinder the development of an open, honest and trusting relationship with parents. However, parents really do want to hear from you… they do want to get involved with their children’s learning outside your setting.

Say “cheese”!

A great way to communicate a child’s learning journey with their parents and carers is by sending updates that bring the learning to life. What parent wouldn’t love an update from you that includes a picture that catches their child in the act of learning something? If parents understand and are excited by the value of an activity, they are more likely to continue the learning at home and also provide feedback that you can use for future staff training.

Engage and educate with family learning

Here are a few examples of family learning which can easily be started in the childcare setting and then continued and extended at home:

  • Family history and culture sharing Demonstrating what a ‘family tree’ is can encourage the children to talk about where they come from – they can work at home to make their own family tree and share it with the others at their childcare setting.
  • Extended storytime During storytime, they can learn about different cultures and then discuss at home and bring something in which relates to their particular surroundings – e.g. a pebble from the beach where they live, or a leaf from a walk in the woods, or something that symbolises their particular culture.
  • Counting the pennies Playing ‘shop keepers’ at nursery can easily be put into practice while out shopping with family. Counting coins and pointing out groceries is an excellent example of fun, family learning.


If you would like to find out how the team at Parenta works in partnership with thousands of settings, helping them to engage with parents, involving them with their children’s day-to-day learning, talk to us about ‘Dayshare – an online daily diary software. Dayshare captures all of the day’s activities and allows you to upload photos and give parents a detailed insight into their child’s day of learning through play.

Call us on 0800 002 9242 or email hello@parenta.com

Time to think about time

Time to think about time

It’s that time of year again when we move the clocks back and everyone gets an extra hour in bed! Forget the fact that we are only reclaiming the hour we’ lost’ in March, when we willingly put the clocks forward, and all is well - we pull the duvet snuggly over our heads and have a well-deserved lie-in!

But have you ever thought about why we meddle with time? Who started it and when? And how can we possibly explain it all to our children?

Einstein’s theory of relativity states that time is not as constant as our everyday experiences would have us believe, but when it comes to catching the bus for work, there’s no point in theorising about travelling close to the speed of light – if you get to the bus stop late, you miss the bus!

Learning to tell the time is incredibly important, as is understanding the concepts of past, present and future. It allows us to operate within common boundaries, to agree on the duration of events, and to organise ourselves around an agreed, time framework. It is also important for children to understand the organisation of the world, the natural life cycles that surround them, and the constant ebb and flow of their own lives.

Historically, we defined time by analysing the movement of the planets: it takes a year for the earth to orbit the sun and a day for the world to revolve on its axis. Since ancient Egyptian times, we have sub-divided days into 24 hours and we can thank the ancient Babylonians for sub-dividing hours into minutes and seconds, since they preferred counting in 60s!
Keeping and telling the time
The way we keep time has changed over the centuries - from stone circles, sundials, hourglasses and candles, to analogue and digital clocks, but even these are prone to inaccuracy. Nowadays, we no longer use astronomy as our reference, but atomic time defined by the vibration of atoms.

So how can we help our children understand time? Below are some tips and suggestions:

Start with the general concept of time
Most pre-school children are still learning to count, so tackling a clock face can be daunting. However, they will understand the idea that they do things at different points in the day – such as getting up in the morning; eating lunch at midday; having a nap after lunch; and then going to bed at night.

Help children by using visuals and charts to show these different times and activities and add clocks showing an appropriate time. Reinforce this by using time-defining vocabulary such as ‘morning’, ‘midday’, ‘evening’, ‘day’ and ‘night’, telling the children that: “In the morning, we get up and have breakfast” or “at night, we clean our teeth and go to bed.”
It’s also important to introduce the concept of things happening chronologically, or in a time order, by explaining that they do things in the present – i.e. ‘now’, but they will do something else ‘afterwards’ or ‘later’. This helps them understand the concept of time being split into different sections.

You can also talk about cyclical events such as seasons, birthdays, Christmas or other religious festivals to help them understand days, months and years. Talking to them about what they did on their last birthday, or what they want to do on their next birthday, gives them the idea that these things will come around again, in time.

Practice counting to 12, to 60, and in 5s
Children need to be able to recognise numbers to tell the time, so practice counting and general number recognition. Use different strategies to help children learn their numbers. Children will often learn to count by rote before they can recognise numbers, so help them by holding up a number card, and asking them to give you back the same number of counters that you have written on the card. For example, hold up the number ‘3’ and ask them to count out 3 counters.

Other ways to help include:

Counting regularly throughout the day
Sing number songs and nursery rhymes that include numbers, such as “Ten green bottles” or “The animals went in two-by-two”. There are some suitable counting songs at: bbc.co.uk/programmes/p065s47t
Use blocks with numbers and count using an abacus
Read number books together

Use a toy clock to practice saying the hour
It is generally expected that by the age of 5 or 6, children will be able to recognise time by hours and half-hours. At nursery school, it would be helpful to explain the concept of hours on the clock as a stepping-stone towards this goal. Explain what the 2 different hands on the clock mean, but then focus on the little hand which points to the hour. Use a toy clock to set the time to different hours (keeping the big hand on 12) and ask the children to tell you what time it is. There are many songs available to help you. Here are some of our favourite online ones:


British Summer Time

Benjamin Franklin is credited with first proposing the idea of changing the clocks when he visited Paris in 1784 and later, a builder called William Willett (great-great-grandfather of Coldplay singer, Chris Martin), campaigned on the subject. He was a keen golfer and was annoyed when it got too dark for him to play. The idea was discussed by the government in 1908, but wasn’t put into practice until 1916, during the first World War when Germany did it first. In WW2, the clocks were changed by 2 hours for a short while, but this didn’t last long. Many countries still don’t do it at all and there are moves within the European Parliament to end it altogether, but this is unlikely to happen until 2021 at the earliest. So, for now, in the UK, the clocks go forward an hour on the last Sunday in March, and back on the last Sunday in October. Enjoy your lie-in!

Give us a smile: the importance of oral health and World Smile Day®

Give us a smile: the importance of oral health and World Smile Day®

What does it cost to smile? Nothing! And yet a smile can set the world alight, right?

On Friday 4th October, people across the globe will be trying to spread some good cheer, engage in an act of kindness and make each other smile to celebrate World Smile Day® (WSD). So here at Parenta, we thought we would do our bit to spread the love by giving you some advice on putting on your best smile whilst imparting some vital information on oral health at the same time. And we’ve also included some fun ideas on how to join in with WSD and spread miles of smiles on the day itself.

How to have a super smile – look after your teeth!

There’s a wonderful, humorous poem by Pam Ayres called “Oh I wish I’d looked after me teeth” which many parents and nursery workers from Generation X and before, will remember fondly. It’s a cautionary tale about an adult regretting their childhood lack of concern for their teeth, resulting in them watching their false ones “foam in the water beneath!”

Oral hygiene and oral health are intricately linked. Tooth decay in children, that had been declining for decades, has recently started to creep up again, with the blame focusing on the high sugar content of much of the food and drink that children consume. In 2016–17, hospitals in England extracted multiple teeth from children and teenagers a total of 42,911 times according to statistics obtained by the Local Government Association1. These figures are up by 17% from 2012–13, and the NHS is trying to tackle the problem amid reports that the majority of tooth decay in under-6-year-olds is untreated2.

Although records also show that just under a quarter of 5-year-olds in England had tooth decay in 2017, there are regional differences, and children from the most deprived areas have almost twice the rate of decay as those from the least deprived areas3.

Faced with these alarming statistics, it’s our duty as nursery professionals to help educate parents and children about the importance of good oral hygiene and health, and to encourage best practice along the way.

The main steps to good oral health are:

Brush teeth twice a day for at least 2 minutes. For children under 3, it is recommended to use a smear of an appropriate, age-related children’s fluoride toothpaste containing no less than 1,000ppm of fluoride, or a family toothpaste containing between 1,350ppm and 1,500ppm fluoride. For children aged 3–6, use a pea-sized blob of a similar toothpaste. Parents or carers should brush their child’s teeth (under 3s) or supervise toothbrushing for older children. There are many fun toothbrushes on the market so allow your children to choose their favourite.

Reduce sugar intake and use a straw when drinking sugary drinks which helps to bypass teeth. Sugary foods include:

  • cakes and biscuits
  • soft drinks such as cola as well as fruit juice
  • sweets and chocolate
  • flavoured milks and yoghurts
  • sugary breakfast cereals and cereal bars
  • jams
  • fruit canned in syrup
  • sauces and syrups, such as some pasta sauces, marinades and ketchup


Visit the dentist regularly – most children need to have a check-up twice a year, although you should follow your dentist’s advice depending on the needs of the child. Try to make the visits fun and be patient if children are nervous.

Fissure sealants and fluoride varnish treatments can help prevent tooth decay. Fissure sealants involve covering the back teeth with a thin plastic coating to prevent food and germs getting into the grooves, and can last between 5 and 10 years. The NHS recommend fluoride varnish is offered to children over 3, and should be given to all those over 3 at risk of tooth decay. It is painted onto the teeth twice a year by a dentist.

More information is available from the NHS and other online sources. We’ve listed some relevant websites at the end of this article. Remember too that dental treatment for all children under 18 is free and the time and effort dedicated to oral health will pay off in the end.

Having embraced the need for good oral health, you’re all set to show your smile to the world!

Cyber security tips

Cyber security tips

‘Cyber security’ is the technology, processes, and practices designed and put in place to protect networks, devices, computer programmes and data from attack, damage, or unauthorised access. It can also be referred to as ‘information technology security’.

During 2019, more businesses and charities than ever before have taken positive steps to improve their cyber security. This is encouraging news and in part, linked to the introduction of GDPR which requires that personal data must be processed securely using appropriate technical and organisational measures.

The “Facts on hacks”

According to the Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2019, a third of UK businesses (32%) and two in ten of UK charities (22%) identified cyber security breaches or attacks in the last 12 months. The most common types are:

  • Phishing attacks – used to steal user data e.g. your login details and credit card numbers. They occur when an attacker, masquerading as a trusted entity, dupes a victim into opening an email, instant message, or text message.
  • Impersonation attacks – created to dupe you into revealing information or making financial transactions. The attack itself is carried out by sending an email pretending to be from an organisation you may work with.
  • Malware, including ransomware attacks - malware is a general term that is used to describe a number of malicious types of software, including adware, Trojans, spyware and more which are designed to cause harm or damage to a computer.

Protect yourself from these attacks – our top 10 tips!

Don’t underestimate that you are a target – it doesn’t matter how small or big your childcare business is, realise that you are always a potential target to hackers.

Lock and turn off computer when not in use – leaving computing devices on, unattended and connected to the internet opens the door for rogue attacks.

Beware of browsing – sensitive browsing such as banking or shopping should be done on devices that belong to you, on a network you trust. If it’s on a public computer or free Wi-Fi – it is possible that your data could be copied or stolen.

Make passwords secure and strong – practice good password management. Eight characters is not enough. Use a strong mix of upper and lowercase letters, special characters and numbers, use two-factor authentication where possible, and don’t use the same password for all online accounts.

Get rid of old data you no longer need – keep your computer and mobile devices clean, keep only the data you need and safely archive or destroy older data.

Don’t overshare on social media - information gleaned from social media can be used to guess passwords or answer security questions on other sites (e.g. your dog’s name, place of birth, or mother’s maiden name).

Back up securely - back up your data regularly, and make sure your anti-virus and firewall software is always up-to-date.

Recognise and avoid phishing attacks – be wary of emails that contain links or attachments, even if they appear to come from valid sources - email spoofing is the creation of emails with a forged sender address which appears legitimate but is not the spammer’s own address.

Don’t save passwords in your browser – the common practice of ‘’remembering passwords’’ in browsers is not recommended, should someone gain access to your computer or mobile device, they’ll be able to access any accounts for which you’ve stored your login credentials.

Don’t send passwords or account login credentials over public or unsecured Wi-Fi networks – otherwise you are broadcasting to everyone in the radius of your wireless signal all your personal and account information.

If you want to learn more about data protection or refresh your existing knowledge, why not take a look at our CPD course “Data Protection - GDPR”? For the whole of October, we are offering 30% off this course! Use discount code “WC35YL”. Take a look here: bit.ly/CPD-GDPR

Is your childcare business website and data secure?

It is imperative that you use a high quality and trusted source when it comes to the security and safety of your data. Parenta’s website platform and software products’ activities are based on cloud computing services provided by Amazon Web Services (AWS), one of the childcare industry’s most trusted and secure cloud-based solutions.

Here at Parenta, we build secure and trusted websites for the childcare industry with the following features and security measures:

  • Fully GDPR Compliant - features include customisable cookie notifications, opt-in notifications, form response page and privacy page.
  • Free SSL (secure site) - you will see a small lock icon in your dashboard to indicate that the site is secure.
  • Antivirus, Malware Protection and Path Management - automated vulnerability scans are conducted regularly in order to detect web application vulnerabilities.
  • Backup and Restore - Data such as images, files and scripts are automatically backed up on a daily basis via AWS Amazon Machine Image. In addition, data is replicated to another AWS data centre.
    Monitoring and Alerts - we use several automated monitoring tools meant to detect abnormalities and misuse.
  • Delete and Destroy - customer data will only be stored for as long as Parenta and its customer has an active agreement, and as long as it serves the purposes for which the data was collected.
  • Physical Security - password policy is enforced for any user on the platform (account owners, team members, customers). The password is fully encrypted/hashed.
  • Network & Data Communication - remote access requires VPN connection and two-factor authentication.
  • Access Control - all data communication networks with external access are protected by a central firewall. Networks are separated for functionality and usage.

Our experienced and friendly team are available to help you with your website needs! Get in touch today:

0800 002 9242


European Cyber Security Month (ECSM) is the EU’s annual awareness campaign that takes place each October across Europe. The aim is to raise awareness of cybersecurity threats, promote cybersecurity among the community and organisations, and provide resources to protect themselves online, through education and sharing of good practices – whether personal, financial or professional. The main goal is to raise awareness, change behaviour and provide resources for everyone about how to protect themselves online.

Parents ‘should follow five-step approach’

Parents ‘should follow five-step approach’

Motherly activities with children

Parents should read to their children for 15 minutes each day

Parents should adopt a "five-a-day" approach, with daily activities to help children reach their full potential, a report has said.

Its steps include reading to their child, praising them and talking to them with the television switched off.

The think tank CentreForum says the government should start a national campaign promoting better parenting.

It said there was "dramatic" evidence that providing children with quality care in their early years was crucial.

The report suggests the government should adopt a model similar to the five-a-day scheme which encourages people to eat fruit and vegetables, to give parents manageable steps.

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