School readiness – Don’t judge a book by its cover!

 

school readiness

When I put together a proposal for Jessica Kingsley Publishers about this book – I debated long and hard about the title! Using the contested term school readiness might put many people off reading the book, simply because that horrible phrase is used in the title. I’m not sure if I would have picked it up. However, it is this emotional response that spurred me on to write this book in the first place and also to use the term. I want to spark a debate and claim the phrase school readiness in an appropriate way for young children.

I explore the fact that there is no nationally recognised definition of school readiness and there is even confusion about the phase of education that it refers to. For many people, school readiness is about a child starting school for the first time, usually entering a Reception class, while for other people, school readiness is about moving out of the Early Years Foundation Stage and into Year One.

School readiness could also involve a number of different skills and abilities. A reception class teacher may feel that school readiness is about a child being able to go to the toilet independently or change for PE, while for a parent it could mean that their child is emotionally mature enough to separate from them for a whole day. Policy makers may assume that school readiness is about academic ability on entering school and a nursery practitioner might believe it to include social skills and self-regulation. Within this confusion, it is vital that early childhood educators consider how they define school readiness and own this phrase, because not having clarity could leave the door open for a top-down approach where we are told what it means, perhaps in terms that we do not agree with.

I believe that we should be looking at school readiness in a holistic way which is firmly centred around the child. As part of my research for this book, I worked with a group of teachers and early years practitioners and we developed the following model of school readiness. We placed the child at the centre and around them are three main areas of influence: school, setting and home. Each of these areas has key issues that relate to school readiness and support the child.   Encompassing all of these areas are environmental factors which can affect the child in a broader context. This is, in our opinion, a comprehensive view of school readiness and is hopefully a helpful model for use when supporting children transitioning to school. Continue reading

Autism as Difference Not Disorder: Insights from the Author

Drawing on 30 years of professional experience and detailed research, Difference Not Disorder: Understanding Autism Theory in Practice exposes the myths around autism and provides practical guidance on teaching and learning, behaviour management, addressing sensory and physical needs of children with ASD.

Difference Not Disorder

Our recognition and understanding of autism forms a recent story in terms of human knowledge. In my lifetime this story gained momentum, hastening to the current perception of autism as neurological in nature. However, across the globe this neurological nature, viewed at-odds with the neuro-typical one, is considered impaired or disordered. The over-arching aim of this book was to question this assumption while posing an alternative view of difference not disorder because of all the children I had the honour to work with, children with autism were some of the bravest.

disorder

There are limitless ways in which I witnessed their bravery. They included venturing every day out into a world with incomprehensible social rules and codes in which lack of or inappropriate response could result in unwelcome, verbal attention or even confusing reprimand. It also included perpetually manoeuvring through sights, sounds and textures that could overwhelm and/or aggravate the senses often without being able to express mounting stress and distress; and/or experiencing revulsions towards some tasks but compulsions towards others in situations where you had no idea of the duration or scheduling of either.

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LGBT+ inclusive lesson plans for secondary school teachers

Draw on youth culture to encourage participation in positive social change

Educate & Celebrate engages with accessible youth currencies to stimulate the link between LGBT+ people and popular culture using book collections, YouTube links, videos
and songs. Lesson plans draw on teenagers’ sense of justice, giving opportunities for student critique of current political and social issues and empowering them to create ‘a society which reacts angrily to any case of injustice and promptly sets about correcting it.’ Our intention is to give permission for our young people to join us on the journey to institutional change where recognition of discrimination through the protected characteristics is encouraged.

Some of the secondary schools we have worked with introduced and enhanced their Educate & Celebrate programme of curriculum with key moments in the school calendar, including:
• year group assemblies
• visiting speakers
• impact days focusing on equalities
• in the library, the schools provided LGBT+ inclusive literature – both fact and fiction – and highlighted these with a display at key points on the calendar such as Anti- Bullying Week and LGBT History Month.

LGBT+ lesson plans

(Full plans and resources are available on the Educate & Celebrate website)

Key Stage 3 French – Name the colours on the Rainbow Pride Flag and talk about what they mean: red for life, orange for healing, yellow for the sun, green for nature, turquoise blue for art, indigo for harmony and violet for spirit. Listen to the song ‘Ziggy’ by Celine Dion. This is about a heterosexual woman who is in love with a gay man. See how many words you can catch and translate. Analyse the text to understand the words used to describe Ziggy and how her friendship with him is different.

Key Stage 4 ICT – To understand the concept of the binary system in computing, discuss the meaning of ‘binary’ in different contexts, understanding that human gender is not binary. Students can learn to add eight binary numbers and be able to explain the words that describe different genders.

Key Stage 5 PE – Look at the golden triangle of success in professional sports – sport, media and sponsorship – and discuss how this idea of success might be implemented in the case of an LGBT+ footballer.

For more activities for secondary school teachers, check out  How to Transform Your School into an LGBT+ Friendly Place by Dr Elly Barnes MBE and Dr Anna Carlile. 

Follow this link for more LGBT+ inclusive books for use in the classroom. 

Follow us on Facebook @JKPGenderDiversity and Twitter @JKPBooks for more exclusive content from our LGBT books and authors. 

How can primary school teachers make their schools feel LGBT+ friendly?

The importance of an inclusive environment

Your aim is to increase the visibility of LGBT+ people, issues and equality by utilising the all-powerful, accessible tool of the physical environment. In this way, you can make information widely available to all stakeholders (staff, governors, pupils and parents) to stimulate conversation.

Considering the environment enables the process of change to flow into the corridors, classrooms, reception areas, school hall, staffroom, social media and publicity. Your plan is to make the entire physical environment a safe space through visible displays and key words in prominent areas and teaching spaces, for everyone to experience.

How to make your environment LGBT+ friendly

  • Decide on a key message, like ‘We Educate and Celebrate!’
  • Link displays to your curriculum
  • Get the children and young people to participate in choosing and creating display content
  • Don’t forget the internet as well as your school’s physical walls
  • Make a real impact on visitors and potential families in your institution’s reception area

3 examples that primary school teachers can implement

1. A positive poster in the reception area affirming LGBT+ identities can make a huge difference to the confidence, productivity and self-esteem of a parent or staff member.

2. A primary school in a rural area in the north of England has an electronic message on the digital signing-in station in the reception area, stating: ‘Our school welcomes everyone from all walks of life. Everyone must welcome and celebrate others in our school.’ The visitor then has the choice to ‘accept’ or ‘not accept’. If they do not accept, then they cannot gain access to the school. Each visitor who accepts then receives a printed lanyard with an equality statement mounted on a rainbow background. The theme continues on the wall, with a flag display representing all the different nationalities of students, with a Rainbow Flag among them showing an intersectional approach to the school’s equality agenda.

3. Don’t forget how uniform and uniform policies can impact on your school environment. A gender-neutral uniform can really send a message out about how all children, regardless of the gender roles imposed on them, have the right to express their gender as they need to.

For more activities for primary school teachers, check out  How to Transform Your School into an LGBT+ Friendly Place by Dr Elly Barnes MBE and Dr Anna Carlile. 

Follow this link for more LGBT+ inclusive books for use in the classroom. 

Follow us on Facebook @JKPGenderDiversity and Twitter @JKPBooks for more exclusive content from our LGBT books and authors. 

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

Tackling homophobia in school? You need to start with your own language

 

Former teacher Jonathan Charlesworth explains how our confidence to provide support to someone ‘coming out’ or to stop, then prevent, homophobic name-calling or bullying all starts with having self-assurance about the words we use.

If you’re a school teacher, college tutor or university lecturer eager to support your pupils or students regarding sexual orientation matters, and keen to challenge homophobia or biphobia, may I suggest the best place to start is with vocabulary. I’ve worked for over thirty years in Education: as a teacher and successively as the Executive Director of Educational Action Challenging Homophobia. EACH was established to affirm LGBT+ people and help employers and institutions meet their legal and social responsibilities regarding homophobic, biphobic or transphobic bullying or harassment through training, consultancy and resources.

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Why is LGBT+ teacher training so important?

Dr Elly Barnes MBE is CEO and Founder of Educate & Celebrate, a leading charity who work with schools to transform them into being LGBT+ inclusive. She was voted #1 in The Independent on Sunday’s Rainbow List 2011. 

Who would like to live in a world where we are all treated equally and fairly?… Then let’s begin our journey to LGBT+Inclusion…

As teachers, we all have enough to do on a daily basis in our school already without adding in yet another initiative….which is exactly why at Educate & Celebrate we do not advocate that you write more lesson plans, but simply employ strategies that make LGBT+Inclusivity part of the fabric of school life.

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All About Me

All About Me is an in-depth guide describing the practicalities of telling a child or young person about their autism diagnosis. It discusses when to tell, who should do it, and what they need to know beforehand. In this blog, author Andrew Miller explains his reasons for creating the book, and who can benefit from it.

autism diagnosis

What motivated you to write All About Me?

Telling children and young people that they have autism and trying to explain what it means to them is difficult. The abstract nature of autism, its associated differences in cognition and its lifelong implications make it hard for children to understand, and finding out that they have autism could potentially cause some individuals emotional and psychological upset. Therefore, in some cases it could create more problems for an individual than it might intend to solve.

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How to make your school an LGBTQ friendly place for students and staff

At the end of last year, the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) issued new guidance on how to ensure that schools are friendly and inclusive places for gender diverse students and staff. Backed by leading LGBTQ campaign group Stonewall, the government and Ofsted, the guidance is the first of its kind in the UK, and covers key issues including harassment, discrimination, bullying and lack of visibility, and underlines the role and responsibilities of key leaders.

In order to make gender diverse students, teachers and pupils with trans relatives feel welcomed and positively represented, the guidance suggests that: “Primary school leaders may want to ensure books featuring trans parents or celebrating gender identity and difference are included in the curriculum.”

We have a collection of books that feature trans and non-binary characters, perfect for use with primary school pupils in the classroom.

This book introduces children to gender as a spectrum and shows how people can bend and break the gender binary and stereotypes. It includes an interactive wheel, clearly showing the difference between our body, expression and identity, and is an effective tool to help children 5+ understand and celebrate diversity. Read more.

‘A much-needed non-fiction children’s book exploring gender. Who Are You? will benefit every child!’
– Pamela Wool, Director of Family Services, Gender Spectrum

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How To Tell Your Child They Have Autism

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New book Talking With Your Child About Their Autism Diagnosis is a guide to aid discussion and understanding between parents and children. In this blog, edited and adapted from Chapter 3 of the book, author Raelene Dundon breaks down the reasons why she recommends being open and honest with your child about autism. 

child autism

Is it important to tell a child they have autism? Do they need to know? Will they figure it out for themselves? What does the future look like if they don’t know?

These are questions that parents of children with autism may ask themselves many times from the time their child receives their diagnosis, and the answer is not a straightforward one. Depending on who you talk to, there are different opinions on whether it is necessary to tell your child about their autism or not.

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