Giving Children a Voice – Extract

How do you ensure that children’s voices and ideas are heard and valued in relation to the settings that form part of their everyday lives?

Presenting an easy to adopt step-by-step framework, this book argues in favour of children’s potential to advocate for themselves, in contrast to the current model in which adults take full control and advocate on the child’s behalf. By honouring and harnessing the involvement and contributions of children, social workers and education professionals will be able to improve their daily practice and positively transform key spaces within society to create environments where children experience a sense of belonging and purpose, full of potential benefits for both adults and children. Practical at its core, the book has wide applications, from examining the place of children in legal matters, such as divorce, through to the child’s engagement in decisions about their education. International case studies reveal how the model works in practice and encourages children’s voices and their participation.

Sam Frankel, author of Giving Children a Voice, is Creative Director of EquippingKids. He is Honorary Research Fellow University of Sheffield and part-time faculty at Kings at University of Western Ontario, Canada. Publications include Streetwise (JKP, 2009).

The book is broken down into three parts; the introduction, part 1 and part 2. Part 1 covers creating a climate for change through revitalised thinking and being spatially aware. Part 2 covers turning rhetoric into reality through speaking the right language, creating opportunities and leading the change. The below extract, taken from the introduction, covers creating a culture for advocacy.

Click here to read the extract.

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School Readiness and the Characteristics of Effective Learning

School ReadinessTamsin Grimmer explores the concept of school readiness by unpicking what the term means for children in her new book School Readiness and the Characteristics of Effective Learning, here is a synopsis of what you can expect from the book taken from the introduction.

Children’s firsts are celebrated around the world. The first smile, the first wave, the first time they crawl, walk, or talk and one hugely celebrated milestone, the first time they go to school.

When we consider the phrase ‘school readiness’ and its use and misuse in policy and practice, we perhaps open up a can of worms. There are conflicting views over definitions and the term provokes strong feelings. It is my hope that my book will play its part in the debate and ensure that the views of practitioners, parents and most importantly children are taken into account. It will offer parents ideas of how to support children at home prior to starting school, as well as practitioners in settings and schools. It aims to keep children central to the discussion because they are, after all, the ones who will be starting school.

The transition into school for the first time requires children to cope with many changes. They will have hugely different expectations placed upon them, major changes in their daily routine and changes in their learning environment. This necessitates children to have within them the ability to cope with these challenges and display attributes such as self-confidence and resilience to name but two. Continue reading

Inside food anxiety: Leah’s story

Inside food anxiety: Leah’s story

This article on food anxiety is by Jo Cormack, author of Helping Children Develop a Positive Relationship with Food.

Have you ever looked into a child’s eyes as they contemplate the plate of food you have served, and thought to yourself “what is going on in there?” Have you ever wondered what it’s really like to be a very picky eater, anxious about what challenges the next meal may bring?

Empathy is at the heart of my approach to working with picky eaters, because if we can’t put on a child’s shoes and walk around in them (as Scout puts it, in To Kill a Mockingbird…) we can’t hope to help that child. Seeing food from their perspective is essential.

This article is all about what it’s like to be a very picky eater, struggling with food anxiety. I wanted to share a child’s point of view, but with an adult’s insight and ability to articulate complex and emotionally difficult ideas. So I asked Leah (not her real name) – a parent in my facebook group for parents of picky eaters where I am co-admin – if she would mind recounting her experience of being a very picky eater as a child.

Leah told me how, until she was two or three years old, she ate pretty much everything. But then when her baby brother arrived, she explains that “in protest, I just stopped eating”. I have seen this before; sometimes big life changes can be incredibly hard for young children to process. They feel profoundly out of control and so they search frantically for something that they can control. Sometimes, this can be their eating. It’s one of the few things that a toddler can choose to do, or not do. Continue reading

Making therapeutic board games with kids


Dr Fiona Zandt and Dr Suzanne Barrett, authors of Creative Ways to Help Children Manage BIG Feelings, are clinical psychologists who currently work in successful private practices in Melbourne. They each have over 15 years’ experience working with children and families. 

Spider Squash, Temper Trail, Goodbye Worry Monster, and Beat the Anger Volcano are some of the board games we’ve created to help children with emotional difficulties. Board games are a great thing to make in therapy with children. While there are a number of excellent therapeutic board games on the market, making your own allows you to personalise them to meet the needs of the child you are working with. You can incorporate their interests and reflect on their individual strengths. Children often talk much more freely when engaged in play and the process of making the game together provides the opportunity for many helpful discussions. They require few materials, can readily be taken home, and are easily adapted for use with children with a wide range of emotional issues. Perhaps most importantly though making board games is fun.

Continue reading

‘Eat your peas or you won’t get your ice cream!’: Five reasons why withholding dessert will backfire

Article by Jo Cormack, author of Helping Children Develop a Positive Relationship with Food.

When people ask me which question I get asked the most by parents of picky eaters, they are often surprised at the answer. It isn’t: ‘how can I get my child to eat more veggies?’ or even: ‘how can I get my child to try new foods?’ It is: ‘how should I handle dessert?’

For the last few decades – at least in the UK where I live – it has been standard practice in many families, for parents to tell children that they need to eat all or most of their main course before they ‘earn’ their dessert .

When you are already concerned about the lack of variety in your child’s diet, making dessert conditional can feel like good parenting because it is a way (in the short term) of potentially increasing children’s food intake.

It can work, for sure. If your goal is getting your child to eat three more peas than they might otherwise have done,  holding the ice cream hostage could possibly make that happen.

Instead of going for short term gain,  I want to argue that withholding dessert can actually be harmful to your child’s long term relationship with food.  Here are five reasons why: Continue reading

Winston Wallaby Can’t Stop Bouncing

Winston Wallaby Can’t Stop Bouncing is a fun, illustrated storybook that will help children aged 5-10 with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and/ or Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC/ASD) to recognise their sensory needs and to develop tools to support them. To learn more about the book, who better to ask than its authors, K.I. Al-Ghani and Joy Beaney? Chatting to them, we learned a lot about hyperactivity in children, what to look out for and what can help. There’s even a downloadable activity sheet for teachers. Read on to find out more.adhd

What motivated you to write Winston Wallaby Can’t Stop Bouncing and who is the book for?

Joy and I have worked together in special education for many years. We noticed that there were not many books available that could explain hyper-activity to children in a story format.  We decided to collaborate on this project using Joy’s expertise in Sensory Processing Difficulties, my skills as a story teller and Haitham’s ability to bring it all to life, through his illustrations.
We think the book has something for everyone: It is a story all children can enjoy. A story in which, we hope, children with hyperactivity will be able see themselves in Winston.  They will learn that it is not their fault and instead of being the problem, they could learn to be part of the solution. Parents and educators will have tools and strategies they can use that can help the child to manage their hyperactivity and, if successful, perhaps avoid the need for medication.

Continue reading

An interview with Debbie Garvey, early years education expert

Debbie Garvey

Hi Debbie, thank you for agreeing to answer some questions about your new book, and indeed on your growing collection of early years titles! What can readers expect from Nurturing Personal, Social and Emotional Development in Early Childhood and how does it differ from your previous work?

Well, I suppose the first major difference is that this book is about children, whereas the other books are about staff. This was always the book I wanted to write, it just took a little time to come to fruition, and I am so glad it did. The time in between first thinking about the PSED book, and starting to write it, meant time to develop ideas, read more research and really plan what themes I wanted to explore.

Another difference is perhaps that this book is a little more controversial as Dr Suzanne Zeedyk warns in the foreword, “It’s going to be a bit of a bumpy ride.” I didn’t set out to be controversial – I simply hope that practitioners will maybe think about things in a slightly different way. So, for example, I’ve asked readers to consider how we approach Christmas, Graduations and behaviours, and imagine being a young child in those situations. Often, putting ourselves in a young child’s shoes  allows us to see things in a very different way.

Who would you say your books would be most useful for, and what have you done to maximise their practicality? Continue reading

Nurturing Personal, Social and Emotional Development in Early Childhood


Read on for an extract from Debbie Garvey’s new book for Early Years professionals

Nurturing Personal, Social and Emotional Development in Early Childhood by Debbie Garvey is a practical and direct guide that supports practitioners in nurturing personal, social and emotional development (PSED) in young children by demystifying brain development research.

Condensing a wealth of recent research and theory around PSED into practical guidance, it gives professionals the knowledge and understanding they need to critically evaluate their own practice and find the best course of action to support PSED in young children. From the perspective of neuroscience, it explores what can help or hinder development, considers why some children bite and why toddlers have tantrums, and questions how well-intentioned actions, such as reward systems or putting new foods on a plate for children to ‘just try’, may be misguided.

Click here to read an extract from Chapter 1: ‘Brain Development, Neuroscience and PSED’

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Our bodies’ hidden strengths – Resilience and love

This blog was written by Hidden Strength’s Children’s Series co-author C.C. Alicia Hu. The books are available November 21, 2017 for therapeutic use with children ages 4-10 who have experienced trauma or a frightening situation. Read more about each title and pre-order below:

How Little Coyote Found His Secret Strength

Bomji and Spotty’s Frightening Adventure

How Sprinkle the Pig Escaped the River of Tears

by C.C. Alicia Hu

Before we can say “no,” our legs kick and set boundaries.

Before we can say “more,” our hands pull and grab for what we need.

Reclaiming our bodies’ hidden strengths empowers all of us.

Nevertheless, in our modern society, we are often disconnected from our bodies. We turn our body-mind into a machine, like a “car” or a “computer,” so we can control or manage our self for performance enhancement. Maybe we “perform” well, yet, we pay a price.

In the field of psychiatry and psychotherapy, for a long time, we labeled many of the body’s innate defense strategies as “symptoms” or “problems” – our capacity to disconnect and dull the pain, a symptom of “dissociation.” Our ability to quiver and shake to discharge the muscle intensity is a sign of weakness or anxiety.

Bring our bodies’ hidden strengths to enhance our resilience

In the Hidden Strengths Therapeutic Storybooks, three intertwined stories and four major animal characters show how our bodies’ possess the hidden strengths to protect our self. In addition, three adult-like characters demonstrate how to provide companionship that won’t overwhelm the major animal characters’ vulnerable nervous system that resulted from traumatic stress.

In each book, after the therapeutic story, there are two sections designed to provide structural prompts for adults to engage in dialogue and exploration with the child. This “expressive phase” is the key to facilitating the child in communicating their own feelings and creating their own stories. What makes our books unique is that we include embodied play activities to help the child process the stories on the basic sensory-motor level.

Using the metaphorical animal characters for teens and adults

These stories are not only therapeutic tools for children ages 4 to 10. These stories can also be used as metaphors to communicate with teens and adults.

Last week, I was presenting part of the story, “Bomji and Spotty’s Frightening Adventure” at a local grassroots, peer-support recovery center. Adult audiences in recovery from mental illness and substance abuse intuitively got the idea that, inside, we are Bomji the Rabbit, who tend to freeze, as well as Spotty the Cat, who tends to fight.

One participant shared that “sit on ready” is an important coping skill in African American culture. The capacity to be vigilant without moving helped her to survive her childhood.

The metaphorical animal characters made it easy for teens and adults to develop compassion toward their inner child. As children, we oftentimes act without thinking like Spotty the Cat. We are still and invisible to avoid danger like Bomji the Rabbit. We cry like Sprinkle the Pig and we overwhelm our caregivers. We submit like Wimpy the Coyote in order to fly under the radar.

Love: self-compassion toward our hidden strengths

From children to teens to adults, one key element in recovery is to cultivate self-compassion. In the Hidden Strengths Therapeutic Storybooks, we hope to help all readers embrace their bodies’ hidden strengths as a way to enhance self-compassion.

Once, I shared a draft of Bomji the Rabbit and Spotty the Cat with a Vietnam veteran who still suffered from the shame of freezing and wanting to run away in a major battle. In reality, he successfully executed his duty; however, he had a hard time forgiving the “weak” part of him. Understanding that motionless defense (e.g., freeze and collapse) is just as natural and valuable as active defense (e.g., fight and flight) brought him a tremendous sense of relief.

Another time, I shared the same story with a teen girl who engaged in self-cutting as a way to cope with inner turbulence. She was able to identify how she also froze when her external environment became too overwhelming and out of control. She was then able to find her own metaphor for her own fearful, vulnerable part without engaging in blaming.

Helping the reader to accept all the different parts of themselves is what we want these books to achieve, through revelation of the development of self-compassion. Before we can accept our angry fighting part as well as our frozen fearful part, it is helpful if we start seeing these natural capacities as our bodies’ hidden strengths. The act of self-compassion includes recognizing the diverse, creative survival strategies in our bodies. Yes, we are fundamentally resilient, even when we are young and small. Our bodies have always possessed these hidden strengths!

For more information, author events, and to follow the Hidden Strengths Series, check out the authors’ Facebook:





A Practical Guide to Gender Diversity and Sexuality in Early Years

Sexuality in Early yearsRead on for an extract from Deborah Price’s new guide for Early Years professionals

A Practical Guide to Gender Diversity and Sexuality in Early Years by Deborah Price is an easy-to-read and practical guide for early years professionals on how to discuss gender diversity and sexuality with very young children, looking at ways to include new practice while extending successful current practice.

This guide presents a background to gender theory alongside examples and case studies, showing that activities and settings can work together for children to recognise their full potential in a supportive environment. This book addresses a wide variety of topics such as staff training and team management, how to support and promote men working in childcare, transgender issues and ways practice can be challenged, to give those working with young children a great foundation for teaching about diversity.

Click here to read the Introduction to A Practical Guide to Gender Diversity and Sexuality in Early Years

If you would like to read more extracts like this and get the latest news and offers on our Early Years books, why not join our mailing list? We can send information by email or post as you prefer. You may also be interested in liking our Special Ed, PSHE and Early Years Resources Facebook page.