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Rekindling Play: Nurturing Childhood Through Genuine Engagement

Rekindling Play: Nurturing Childhood Through Genuine Engagement

Unveiling The Magic: Embracing Genuine Play In Child Development

In this article, taken from the course of the same name at the Nurturing Childhoods Academy, we are going to be reminding ourselves of the deep-rooted importance of play and how we can support all adults in a child’s life to prioritise this invaluable activity. But first let me ask, how can something that seems like the simplest, most natural thing in the world be so fraught with issues? It all seems so easy when you watch children at it! 

Whether a child is looking up at you dressed in fairy wings, wanting you to chase them around the garden or to play endless rounds of their current favourite game, as an adult it can all seem a little daunting. How do you emerge yourself in their world of make-believe? How do you know what to do, to say and how to act?   

More and more parents and practitioners come to me concerned that they simply don’t know how to play. Could this be a sign of a more sedentary, technology-infused childhood or the impact of moving away from extended families and no longer being surrounded by nieces, nephews and young cousins? Or is it that as adults, we become too concerned with how we are perceived by others and forget the liberating freedoms of play? 

Unlocking The Power Of Play: Nurturing Connections For Child Well-Being

Engaging in genuine play with children is not only an immensely enjoyable way to spend your time, but it also carries tremendous benefits for a child’s emotional, cognitive and social development, building relationships and establishing the attachments that significantly contribute to their overall well-being. However, in today's fast-paced world, parents and practitioners can often find themselves juggling multiple responsibilities and commitments. Amongst the hustle and bustle of daily life, it's crucial to remind them of the significance of spending quality time playing. As you support all the adults in a child’s life, let us remind ourselves why we must all set aside dedicated time to do this, and as we embrace our inner child, watch as we all flourish in the special connections we share. 

Building Strong Bonds With Play

Playing with children serves as a powerful bonding experience, providing an opportunity to connect on an emotional level as you foster trust and a sense of security. As you play together, you demonstrate to children that they are valued and loved, strengthening your relationship as you build healthy attachments and enhance their self-esteem and confidence.

Promoting Cognitive Development 

As you play, you naturally develop children’s cognitive skills, engaging their problem-solving, critical thinking and decision-making abilities as you explore the world around them. Participating in activities that naturally include creativity, spatial awareness, or logical reasoning such as building blocks, puzzles or imagination stimulates their development in ways more profound than any digital app.

Enhancing Social Skills With Play

As you play together, you facilitate the development of their social skills and lay the groundwork for positive social interactions. Through cooperative play, children learn how to negotiate, compromise, and take turns.  Through shared play experiences, they develop empathy, compassion, and an understanding of social cues, all of which are vital for building and maintaining relationships throughout their lives. 

Language And Communication Development 

Whether it's engaging in pretend play, storytelling or engaging in conversation, play provides an excellent platform for children to develop and enhance their language and communication skills in meaningful ways. By actively participating in their play, you can support their vocabulary development, sentence structure and communication abilities. 

Emotional Regulation And Stress Relief 

Play also allows children to express and process their emotions in safe and healthy ways.  Whether through dramatic play or engaging in physical activities, play helps children release excess energy and reduces stress.  It also provides an outlet for them to explore and understand complex emotions, and to develop effective emotional regulation strategies. 

We know that play is not simply about fun but also an essential component of children’s growth and well-being, fostering their holistic development and allowing them to experience the joy and wonder of childhood. It is also the most significant and deeply felt way we have of learning - at any age.  So, let us look at how we support all adults to confidently embrace the power of playtime. 

Firstly, consider how motivating our environments are. Do we feel excited and interested to explore and play?  Is there a variety of engaging toys, art supplies, books, and puzzles along with materials that promote open-ended play such as cardboard boxes or blankets for building, dressing-up costumes and simple household items?  Is the space organised and accessible so that activities of interest can be easily chosen and tidied away afterwards?  Are these periodically rotated to maintain novelty and keep everyone’s interest piqued? 

Without careful thought, structured activities and screens can dominate children's time and we must prioritise non-tech, unstructured play as an essential part of their development. The freedom to play without specific rules or instructions gives children the opportunity to follow their interests and passions, fostering a sense of autonomy and self-expression. However, in today's digital age, excessive screen time may be hindering children’s motivation to engage in more self-driven forms of play, so look at how you infuse this with independent thinking, decision-making and problem-solving opportunities.

Children learn so much by example, so show your enthusiasm as you follow their imagination, demonstrating that play is not just for children, but a great activity for everyone. Strengthen your bond as you actively participate and celebrate in their play. Provide positive reinforcement and praise for their creativity, their problem-solving abilities and persistence. Take a genuine interest in their playtime activities, asking open-ended questions and engaging in meaningful conversations as you boost their confidence and motivation to explore. 

So whether you are a parent, practitioner or family worker, join me at the Nurturing Childhoods Academy where you can access training, listen to talks and join a community of practitioners, parents and professionals working with children and the families that nurture them.

About the author:

Dr. Kathryn Peckham, the visionary behind Nurturing Childhoods, is a dedicated champion for ensuring that children have access to enriching and purposeful experiences during their crucial formative years. With a fervent commitment to this cause, Kathryn collaborates with various educational settings to assess the profound effects of impactful childhood experiences, which lay the essential groundwork for lifelong learning.

About the author:

Dr. Kathryn Peckham, the visionary behind Nurturing Childhoods, is a dedicated champion for ensuring that children have access to enriching and purposeful experiences during their crucial formative years. With a fervent commitment to this cause, Kathryn collaborates with various educational settings to assess the profound effects of impactful childhood experiences, which lay the essential groundwork for lifelong learning.

About the author:

Dr. Kathryn Peckham, the visionary behind Nurturing Childhoods, is a dedicated champion for ensuring that children have access to enriching and purposeful experiences during their crucial formative years. With a fervent commitment to this cause, Kathryn collaborates with various educational settings to assess the profound effects of impactful childhood experiences, which lay the essential groundwork for lifelong learning.

Empowering Children: Nurturing Genuine Kindness Over People Pleasing

Empowering Children: Nurturing Genuine Kindness Over People Pleasing

Childcare Insights: Nurturing Kindness With Compassion And Boundaries

Throughout life, kindness has always been one of my core values: as a parent and teacher, I’ve always emphasised how important it is to be kind to others. In addition, as time has passed by, I have come to realise how important it is to harness compassion and discernment alongside kindness because, without these additional attributes, we can run the risk of becoming someone who struggles to set boundaries and who falls into the category of ‘people-pleasing’.  

Kindness is an external process, centred around how we make other people feel. A smile to a stranger, offering to help someone or giving compliments are all examples of little acts of kindness that are done to make someone else feel good. However, compassion takes kindness a step further because it is an internal process that allows us to gain understanding of a person or situation - and this understanding then acts as the motivator behind the kindness, help or support we extend. Compassion is more of a personal and inward journey that connects people through shared experiences - and the kindness it generates comes from a deeper and more meaningful place. 

Both kindness and compassion are beautiful attributes to have. However, over the years, it has become apparent that these two things can get out of balance if we don’t pair them with discernment, which is the ability to see things clearly and make smart decisions based on what is in front of us. The ability to embody these three things simultaneously allows us to empathise with others, and extend kindness, when necessary, but to also set boundaries and be true to ourselves in a strong yet balanced way.

Nurturing Authenticity In Children: Differentiating Kindness From People-Pleasing

There is a very fine line between kindness and people-pleasing and what we teach children about kindness can be the difference between the two. People - pleasing stems from a place of fear and/or a need for acceptance, whereas genuine kindness stems from a place of altruism and love. If we constantly enforce that children need to be kind no matter what, they learn that the approval of others is linked to this attribute, which could lead to them using this as acceptance. However, if we teach children to be true to how they feel but to approach things with compassion and understanding, they will learn to be authentic, set boundaries and extend kindness to people for the right reasons. 

Empowering Children With Compassionate Communication

The phrase ‘if you haven’t got anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all’ is powerful and teaches children to pick and use their words wisely. This approach can be linked to compassion and regardless of our circumstances or the actions of others, I believe it is one we should all live by. I have also always asked myself three things before I speak:

  • Is it true? 
  • Is it necessary? 
  • Is it kind?

Just because I question whether it’s a good idea to teach children to extend kindness to people no matter what, does not mean that I believe we should allow them to be unkind. There is a difference between extending kindness and stopping ourselves from being unkind. Even when we disagree with people, or we are unhappy with their actions, we are still in control of our response, and no matter what someone does, it is no excuse to be unkind ourselves. However, teaching children to actively extend kindness to someone who has upset or wronged them can lead to inner conflict, often a symptom of people-pleasing. Rather than asking children to always be kind to people at times when they feel triggered or upset, there are things we can do that are more conducive to a balanced and authentic response: 

  • Ask them to focus on staying calm and making sure their reaction isn’t unkind rather than encouraging them to be actively and inauthentically kind to the other person 
  • Promote positive self-talk 
  • Acknowledge and validate the feelings and emotions they are experiencing 
  • Actively listen and hear what is being said when they are trying to tell you how they feel or what happened 
  • Avoid rewarding children for being compliant  
  • Don’t make them feel bad for getting upset or angry 

Balancing Compassion With Discernment In Parenting

Although kindness will always be one of my core values and I will always encourage my children to be kind and to have a loving and compassionate heart, I have realised the importance of teaching them how to be discerning and authentic. In our house, I insist that our actions are not unkind regardless of the circumstances or situation. However, we allow each other the space to explore and process our feelings and emotions so that when we do extend kindness, it is done authentically and not rooted in a need to gain acceptance, validation, or approval from others.

About the author:

Stacey Kelly, the creative mind behind Early Years Story Box, wears the dual hats of writer and illustrator. Her storybooks are carefully crafted to teach various life lessons whilst guiding children towards their subsequent developmental stages. Stacey's overarching goal is to extend her reach and offer support to a multitude of children through the engaging medium of storytelling.

About the author:

Stacey Kelly, the creative mind behind Early Years Story Box, wears the dual hats of writer and illustrator. Her storybooks are carefully crafted to teach various life lessons whilst guiding children towards their subsequent developmental stages. Stacey's overarching goal is to extend her reach and offer support to a multitude of children through the engaging medium of storytelling.

About the author:

Stacey Kelly, the creative mind behind Early Years Story Box, wears the dual hats of writer and illustrator. Her storybooks are carefully crafted to teach various life lessons whilst guiding children towards their subsequent developmental stages. Stacey's overarching goal is to extend her reach and offer support to a multitude of children through the engaging medium of storytelling.

Customer Satisfaction Roundup October 2022

Customer Satisfaction Roundup October 2022

Our Customer Satisfaction in September

October 2022

Parenta is a solutions provider to the early years sector. We've delivered dynamic solutions to complex problems for over 20 years, including but not limited to:

  • > government funded training courses,
  • > nursery management software,
  • > website design,
  • > and a free recruitment service.

Please read below some of the kind words our customers have shared with us this month!

This is why we do what we do. 

Childcare Training Solutions

Employed in a childcare setting? Click here to enquire about our government funded training courses. Not yet working in a childcare setting? Email recruiter@parenta.com to get started!

Software Solutions

Want to gain more hours in your week? Email Sales@parenta.com to get all the tools you need.

Website Solutions

Speak to our friendly websites team about the features your website needs -  websites@parenta.com

Free Recruitment Services

Email recruiter@parenta.com to grow your team or find a job in childcare today!

Customer Satisfaction Roundup October 2022

Customer Satisfaction Roundup September 2022

Our Customer Satisfaction in September

September 2022

Parenta is a solutions provider to the early years sector. We've delivered dynamic solutions to complex problems for over 20 years, including but not limited to:

  • > government funded training courses,
  • > nursery management software,
  • > website design,
  • > and a free recruitment service.

Please read below some of the kind words our customers have shared with us this month!

This is why we do what we do. 

Childcare Training Solutions

Employed in a childcare setting? Click here to enquire about our government funded training courses. Not yet working in a childcare setting? Email recruiter@parenta.com to get started!

Software Solutions

Want to gain more hours in your week? Email Sales@parenta.com to get all the tools you need.

Website Solutions

Speak to our friendly websites team about the features your website needs -  websites@parenta.com

Free Recruitment Services

Email recruiter@parenta.com to grow your team or find a job in childcare today!

Ofsted Success: Parenta Training Triumphs

Ofsted Success: Parenta Training Triumphs

Parenta Training, the UK’s largest training provider of childcare apprenticeships not only successfully trains over 2000 apprentices annually – several passing with Distinction, but it starts the new academic year being awarded a ‘Good’ rating from Ofsted, across the entire board of inspection criteria.

 

Excerpts From The Full Ofsted Report

The recent inspection is Parenta Training’s first, since the introduction of both the new EYFS framework and the new apprenticeship standards. In the official report, Ofsted highlighted some key areas that the training provider executes well, including (learners) “developing substantial new knowledge, skills and behaviours that they quickly apply at work to support the children in their care better” and (employers) “recognise the good progress that apprentices are making in their studies and give them additional responsibilities at work, such as supporting them with health and safety responsibilities or developing new systems.”

 

The topic of safeguarding was specifically mentioned - the report quoting that “leaders and managers have created a positive safeguarding culture that ensures staff and apprentices are safe”, and “apprentices are clear about risks … and they know how to keep themselves and the children they work with safe”.

 

Speaking from the company’s HQ in Maidstone, Kent, CEO Allan Presland said: “This outcome of Good across the board is particularly impressive, considering the barriers that our industry has faced over the past two years, and how our business has needed to adapt swiftly to support learners and employers through the Covid crisis.

 

“We could not have possibly achieved this incredible result, without the tenacity and dedication of the entire team. This outcome of Good across the board clearly highlights the level of commitment here at Parenta; and our tutors do nothing less than a remarkable job with our learners and their employers.

 

Significantly, the report also stated that “tutors have extensive and current vocational subject knowledge. They use their experience of the sector to bring theoretical concepts to life in their lessons and illustrate how they can be applied in practice”.

 

Commenting on this, Allan said; “The team has worked hard over the years to develop a range of apprenticeships which prepares learners well to work in nurseries and childcare - and that includes ensuring they are knowledgeable themselves about key, critical areas of the industry. We could not have achieved this Good grading across the whole board of inspection criteria without having expert practitioners as tutors within Parenta, who are experienced at working in and with the early years sector.”

 

What's Next For Parenta Training?

 

He continued “Our goal is to be recognised for our passion for childcare, our industry expertise and high-quality teaching and learning that adds remarkable value to the training and delivery of a sustainable workforce for the sector. This fantastic Ofsted outcome takes us one step closer to achieving unrivalled quality within apprenticeship programme delivery.”

 

Here is a link to the full Ofsted report.

Read some of the remarkable testimonials from our customers here!

Editors’ notes:

Parenta Training is the UK’s largest vocational training provider within the early years sector, offering apprenticeships at all levels. It trains in excess of 2,500 nursery staff per year with the support, knowledge and guidance of its in-house skilled team of tutors. With over 20 years’ experience in the sector, it works in partnership with thousands of practitioners, offering a free recruitment service to help settings invest in tomorrow’s generation of childcarers.

Media enquiries to: Gail James, PR & Communications Marketing Manager – gail.james@parenta.com

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