Village mentality – do we respect and do we even want it?

Welcome to part four of our four part podcast – developing brilliant people. In this podcast we are joined by our special guest Sir Simon Woolley – founder of Operation Black Vote and the Chair of the Race Disparity Unit. 

We are not sure if there was ever a ‘golden age’ of raising a family but what we do believe is that bringing up children might have been easier when families lived near each other and they could rely on the wisdom and support of the extended family/community. In this podcast, we discuss some of the challenges of parenting today, the competing challenges for our attention and the opportunities to improve ourselves and our communities so that we can help others.

In this podcast you will learn:

  • If the saying “it takes a village to raise child” is still true today
  • The importance of collective leadership in the community
  • The value and importance of voluntary work
    Why self management is critical before we can helps others
    What placed based systems are and how they help communities

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How to raise community, political and wellbeing champions

Welcome to part three of our four part podcast – developing brilliant people. In this podcast we are joined by our special guests Sir Simon Woolley – founder of Operation Black Vote and the Chair of the Race Disparity Unit and also David Shosanya.

We take the opportunity to ask our special guests what can be done by communities, faith groups and leaders to help disadvantaged communities to overcome some the key challenges that they face today.

In this podcast you will learn:

  • The impact a 30 million word gap has on children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • How the church can get involved in helping disadvantaged families in their communities.
  • The importance of political literacy.
  • The four key “hubs” that can make a significant difference to churches and the communities they are supporting.
  • The critical role parents play in being present in the lives of the children.
  • Why wellbeing interventions can help parents who are stressed or struggling.
  • The importance of operation black vote (OBV).

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Bling, love and reading

Welcome to part two of our four part podcast – developing brilliant people. In this podcast we are joined by our special guest Sir Simon Woolley – founder of Operation Black Vote and the Chair of the Race Disparity Unit and David Shosanya.

Being a parent today can be a challenging task. In this podcast we explore the importance of investing in our child and if music has a negative impact on our children.

In this podcast you will learn:

  • What role music plays in the way our childrens minds and outlooks are shaped
  • Practical tips to help improve language and literacy with your children
  • Why its important to invest in the development of our children
  • The principle of the 1%

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Black boys and the disparity in their achievements

Welcome to part one of our four part podcast – developing brilliant peopleIn this podcast we are joined by our special guest Sir Simon Woolley – founder of Operation Black Vote and the Chair of the Race Disparity Unit.

The UK governments findings suggest that black children are failing at each key stage at school. This short podcast explores some key topics and issues that address some of the those findings.

In this podcast you will learn:

  • The impact of not having enough black teachers in schools.
  • The importance of having the right perspective.
  • The impact of dysfunctional homes on a child’s life trajectory.
  • Why it is critical to have a clear plan to help children.

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Hungry Little Minds and how the DfE is partnering with the IOW

In this episode we are joined by our two guests Rukhsana Hussain who is part of the Early Years Social Mobility team at the Department of Education and Mike Kelly who is the CEO, Chairman and Founder of The Institute of Wellbeing.

The Department for Education shares with us more about their recent national campaign “Hungry Little Minds” and the IOW give us insight into how they are taking this national campaign and delivering the messages locally.  You will hear from both organisations as to why they believe it is important for parents to help their child develop good language and literacy skills through chat, playing and reading together.

– David Shosanya
Good afternoon listeners. We’ve got another podcast coming to you from the desk of the Institute of Wellbeing, all the w’s, The Institute of Wellbeing dot com. Our two guests today are Rukhsana Hussain who is part of the Early Years Social Mobility team at the Department of Education and Mike Kelly who is the CEO, Chairman and Founder of The Institute of Wellbeing.

– David Shosanya
Welcome to this podcast Rox and welcome to this podcast Mike.

– Mike Kelly
Good afternoon David. Good to see you.

– Rox Hussain
Good afternoon. Thank you for having me.

– David Shosanya
Absolute pleasure. We’ve got a couple of questions but can I ask you just want to talk to you about a bit about this campaign you do in the Hungry Little Minds campaign that the Institute of Wellbeing is involved at the moment as a partner with the DfE. Rox I wonder if you’d just take a few moments just tell us a bit about the Hungry Little Minds campaign and what does the Department for Education the DfE want to achieve through its partners.

– Rox Hussain
Okay. So improving early communication language and literacy is a key priority for the government and we know that some of the poorest kids in the UK start school behind their peers and the gap can grow between their school years. So in July 2018 we announce government ambition to halve in 10 years portion of children that finish reception school without communication language and literacy skills they need to thrive. It’s a big ambition and we know that. So as part of that endeavour, DfE launched Hungry Little Minds which is a three-year campaign to encourage parents and carers to engage in activities that support their children’s early language and help set them up for school and beyond.

The campaign is seeking to highlight. It’s never too late to help develop your child’s communication and literacy skills and will also provide practical advice through our partners on how to fit quality interactions in parents daily routines. It’s as simple as that.

Okay. The campaign is seeking to highlight it’s never too late to help develop your child’s communication, language and literacy skills and will also provide practical advice to our partners on how to fit quality interactions in parents daily routines. It’s as simple as that.

– David Shosanya
Thank you very much. It gives us a real clear understanding and tell us DfE’s working in a number of partners, can you tell us how you identified those partners.

– Rox Hussain
So in terms of working with partners we, kind of started from a robust evidence based. We worked with our behavioural insights team and then we commissioned 73 research sessions across the country hundred and four parents carers and we also then engaged with a range of early years stakeholders and like the IOW across the country and we got our partners to help us identify the best campaign approach to raise parental awareness interest and engagement to test some of the campaign elements including the brand, the tone and to understand the audiences from the different perspectives in terms of the audiences the partners serve and so that was it essentially and when we have a number of those strategic partners that we work with.

– David Shosanya
And the campaign was launched earlier this year, can you just tell us a bit about that campaign launch.

– Rox Hussain
Okay so we did a very soft launch in July 2018 so the campaign was launched and the idea was to kind of bring together a number of partners to be able to kind of take through the messages of the campaign. So it’s the idea is that you know you have a national campaign and then it’s the partners who will take those messages locally to embed those messages with parents.

– David Shosanya
Well thank you very much. That is a real absolute pleasure because I was able to attend that campaign launch at the Sanctuary Buildings in the West along with Mark Kelly who is the Chief Executive of the Institute of Wellbeing to see all the other partners and to hear very positive messages coming out from government and really wanted to congratulate you on what the DfE has achieved so far through this through this campaign.

– David Shosanya
Mike could you tell us how long has the Institute of Wellbeing been work in partnership with government agencies and what your unique approach and contributions to the Hungry Little Minds campaign.

– Mike Kelly
Well it’s an interesting question. I suppose the first one’s quite easy to answer. We started as an organisation in 1999 and we got our first bit of funding from the Lord Chancellor’s department back then again 2000.

– David Shosanya
That’s now the Ministry of Justice.

– Mike Kelly
The Ministry of Justice and since then we’ve had a longstanding strategic relationship with central government for national impact. The Hungry Little Minds Campaign I think is a necessary piece because as Rox mentioned the parents who want to see a change some activists including Sir Simon Woolley, there’s just so many change agents that exist and what we’ve done is carried that message to those agencies for them to deploy the message through their networks and I think it’s making a amazing impact. The campaign’s only been running a few months and everyone we’ve spoken to is actually quite excited about what our approach is. Just to add to our approach we we’ve generated what we call Wellbeing Champions.

Where there is an advocate within a setting that will represent what we’re doing, give information and material and set up groups if necessary to speak to parents to encourage them how to set up spaces and places within their own homes where chatting, playing and reading is taking place and we call those home learning environments. Sounds a bit technical but in essence it really is just a safe space the creative space where children chat, play and read but you may argue well I don’t actually have that sort of space at home – we’ve given you tools that you can just walk along to the shops with your child and you know engage with them in chatting, playing, counting the apples and looking at colours playing or jumping over the puddles as you go there and creating that connectivity because it’s not so much that children who are disadvantaged don’t play, but there’s the educational supplement added through the play through, the chatting, through the reading which gives confidence and helps children to actually do better at the age of five.

– David Shosanya
The Institute of Wellbeing has created a number of resources that are available to parents via your website. Just tell us about those resources how we can access them. I know you’ve got particular Black History Month resources available online because it is October but tell us a bit about the resources that are available online.

– Mike Kelly
Well there is quite a large number of resources and most of them are free. I’ll start with the paying ones first and we ski downhill. There’s courses online for practitioners who work in earlier settings who may want to understand how to improve children’s wellbeing within their setting. So that’s quite a professional course. There are parenting classes that someone who may think you know I’m not actually equipped to deal with my lovely little child and as the saying goes the children didn’t come with a manual. But then if we go down we’ve got policy papers where people can look at what has wellbeing got to do with dot dot dot.

These papers are great. Then there’s the specific pieces of work which you can download or information you can download to do with the Hungry Little Minds and they are from bookmarks to posters that you can put up in your setting. Leaflets giving you quick wins and hints and tips on how to incorporate chatting, playing and reading in your home. But then like you said there’s the Black History Month thing and you know encourages parents to help to have their children help them to cook to count to read.

As I said it’s very very simple but very impactful very bright and colourful messaging and like I said David you know it’s actually creating an impact. The take up has been pretty good. Most people respond to it favourably and I think more importantly, churches have been very keen to distribute that information. There’s been zero denials. There’s no one we’ve spoken to that said she’s not for me. So therefore we’re encouraged to continue.

– David Shosanya
And I know that this material as going is available to Mosques, Gudwaras, schools I know that The Institute of Wellbeing is doing some stuff in schools and with children’s departments and with various boroughs so it’s a busy time for the institute. So just to let people know that’s available online, all the w’s the Institute of Wellbeing dot com – lots of accessible information.

I also know if you download the Black History Month resource you can get access to the “don’t be a jerk chicken” recipe online and it’s a play on some of the stuff that’s been going on in the media lately with different organisations and companies trying to produce jerk recipes but there’s an authentic jerk recipe that you can get online once you download the Black History Month resource and you can cook a piece of chicken with a neighbour with your friends, cook a piece of chicken with your child and that’s just an easy way of helping a young child understand something about black history month while Rox we’ve heard a lot about chat, play and read, can you just tell us from the Department of Education point of view what is the importance of chat, play and read.

– Rox Hussain
So it’s as simple as it sounds. The evidence shows that engaging in activities like chat, play and read supports parent child interaction and that’s sort of crucial for child development and we also know that parents and home learning environment actually have the biggest influence in a child as opposed to the school. So it is really important that we encourage parents to do this in the home.

– David Shosanya
Wow. A bigger influence than the school. Most people would think the school has a bigger influence because they’re spending much more time there but the evidence says parents do.

– Rox Hussain
And that’s what we’re trying to encourage, that actually parents have a really critical role in preparing children and getting them ready for school and the role that they can play in closing the word gap.

– David Shosanya
Yeah I mean if you’re a parent listening to that I think that’s worth taking a few moments. Your child may be at school for six or seven hours a day. Maybe at a nursery, away from you for a period of the day, you may think you’ve only got three hours in the evening. But all the research is showing that the biggest impact that you can have on your child in terms of their formation during that period when their brain and or their social faculties are being informed is not the seven or six or five hours or three hours they spend in nursery, it’s how much time they spend with you.

– Rox Hussain
I think in terms of the 0 – 5 obviously as kids get older interaction in school is slightly different but at the 0-5 we know that the parent’s influence is the biggest.

– David Shosanya
Yeah I hear that and that’s the focus range for the Hungry Little Minds campaign and I think it’s something worth well noting as a parent.

– Mike Kelly
Can I quickly just add something, when we were designing our campaign material we wanted obviously to complement the Hungry little Minds campaign but we also wanted to make sure that it was accessible at a local level. Very targeted to specific groups. We had to consider the homeless. We had to consider those with overcrowded homes. We had to consider the parent who comes in late from work who may not have five hours in the evening to spend on their child. They may have other children they’ve got – let’s take a schoolteacher. They’re going to be working late in the evening. They’ve still got to prepare meals. So what we wanted to do was create products or information that was quite agile and user friendly for whatever state you find yourself in.

Like I said if you’re homeless you may think well this doesn’t apply to me because we don’t have a space in a home to create an environment, but as you go wherever you are this information is useful. So if you do get a chance as we’ve already highlighted that those tools, those hints those suggestions, are all over our Website.

– David Shosanya
Thank you very much. And just to remind you were talking to Rukhsana Hussain who is part of the Early Years Social Mobility team at the Department of Education and also to Mike Kelly who is the founder, CEO, Chairman of The Institute of Wellbeing and we’re talking about The Hungry Little Minds campaign and the importance of parent interaction with children between the age of 0-5. I’m then ask you another question in a minute Mike and I’m going to come back to you Rox and then give you your word as well to ask you how important we’ve talked about how important chat, play and read is.

I’m going to ask you each to just give a word of encouragement to parents of children who are in the 0-5 range, but let me ask you something. We’ve heard about the campaign from Rox. We’ve heard how you at The Institute of Wellbeing has contextualize it and made it relevant and accessible to different communities faith communities, BME communities, businesses and so on. What I want to ask is if someone is listening to this podcast and they’re saying this is what we want to be a part of we want to partner with the Institute of Wellbeing – how can they do that?

– Mike Kelly
Well, you can partner a number of ways and I suppose the quickest and the easiest way for you is to visit our website. There you can be guided to something that will serve you. It could be just simple bits of information or it could be participation on a course it could be we want to commission you so all joining instructions are there. But like I said if it was just a matter of I need a quick hint tip bit of support today to help me along my way with my child definitely visit the website. Also look out for us on our social media’s because there’s a lot of information being circulated through all the media’s Instagram, twitter, facebook and such the like.

– David Shosanya
Thank you very much. About Mike and I think I’ll add to that there’s a monthly newsletter that comes out so you can subscribe on the Institute of Wellbeing web site. If you download the Black History Month resource again you’ll leave your email and we can get you on board with that and just to let you know as well there’s going to be a number of subject expert days that are going to take place throughout the year and those subject expert days are when the Institute of Wellbeing bring you into contact with people who are experts in their field and we’ve got two people coming up soon who are going to make a contribution to our subject expert day later on in the year.

One of them is Dr. Albert Okoye who is a consultant paediatric psychiatrist and he’ll be looking at how you can build resilience in your child and then we also have Dr. Grace Caluori who’s a B.A.C.P accredited psychotherapist and also one of the government’s pioneers in terms of the pit program for young children and she’ll be talking about how you can use unstructured play to deal with toxic stress in your child and that’s going to be free and just need to look at the information on our website. We’ll tell you about the dates and the times and so on. So look thank you very much Mike, thank you so much Rox. Just one last piece of encouragement. There’s a parent this listen to this with a child age 0-5. I’m going to ask you Rox what single piece of advice will you give that parent.

– Rox Hussain
Okay. I would echo what Mike has said. I’d encourage parents to feel confident and empowered to adopt chat, play, read behaviours because they are critical in terms of communication language and literacy development. Chances are the parents are probably already doing a lot of this point in the campaign and working with partners like The Institute of Wellbeing is that we’re taking messages to help parents to understand the why, the how and what they need to do.

– David Shosanya
Thank you very much. More chat, play, read, why how and what you need to do. Thank you very much. Mike. what would you say.

– Mike Kelly
Don’t panic. The first thing is don’t panic. Just know that the chances are your neighbors facing the same stresses and anxieties that you are. Visit our website and then you know you can then take a pragmatic approach in raising a child if you start early the chances of success are even greater.

– David Shosanya
Well thank you very much. Roxanna Hussain part of the Early Years Social Mobility team in the Department for Education. Thank you very much. Mike Kelly founder, CEO and Chairman of The Institute of Wellbeing.

– Mike Kelly
Thank you.

– David Shosanya
If you’re listening to this, you want some more information – all the w’s. The Institute of Wellbeing Dotcom. Speak to you soon.

In this podcast you will learn:

  • Some of the drivers behind the Department for Educations (DfE) latest campaign – Hungry little Minds.
  • How the DfE selected its partners for this campaign
  • A brief history of the IOW’s longstanding relationship with the government agencies.
  • Some of the initiatives that the IOW has created to support the UK government’s Hungry Little Minds campaign.
  • The IOW and DfE’s view on the importance of parent and child interaction.
  • What the research says the biggest impact on your child’s formation is.
  • How the IOW defines what a home learning environment is.

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The blueprint to your childs early development with Nana Bonsu

In today’s episode we get into a topic that we have not had a chance to explore before on our podcast. Recently we have been talking a lot about the importance of building chatting, playing and reading with your child into your daily routine, especially since the UK Governments launch of the Hungry Little Minds campaign.

Our special guest today is Nana Bonsu – Head of Systemic Practice – Croydon.  Nana joins our podcast to share her thoughts and insights on how we can develop a strong home learning environment and why it is critical for parents to be involved in their childs early years.

– David Shosanya
Hello to everybody that’s visiting it is fantastic to be able to communicate to you again from the desk of The IOW – The Institute of Wellbeing and to talk about some of the projects that we are doing. We’ve just had a fantastic meeting with Nana Bonsu. Who’s the head of systemic psychotherapy at Croydon Council and she’s doing some really exciting stuff. Nana is here with us, Nana Please tell us a bit about what systemic psychotherapy is and how long you’ve been in the role and the kind of work you do. Just tell us a bit about this.

– Nana Bonsu
Sure, thank you David and so as you said my name is Nana and I’m Head of Systemic Practice in Croydon. I started in June this year and the remit of my role is to develop systemic psychotherapy and expertise within social care contexts. So that means recruiting clinical therapists to be co-located within a health and children’s social care to support social workers and families sharing their expertise around systemic principles and practices that help families through the process of change and supportive social workers learning around systemic principles. So we have just commissioned systemic social work to train five cohorts of staff, hundred and fifty five staff to do either systemic practice foundation level or a systemic supervisor manager training level.

Systemic practice principles essentially mean that you look at individuals within a context so that you don’t pathologize individuals and attribute problems and locate them within one person you recognize that individuals are in the context in terms of their fan context community context societal context cultural context and you recognize how those contexts mutually influence any individual in terms of how they behave, how they think and how they position themselves. So systemic principles will very much be a strengths based collaborative approach seeking exceptions to the problems recognize that individuals and families have agency and helping them to think through their challenges and their problems not for problematising pathologizing frame.

– David Shosanya
That sounds like a big shift from what things used to be and perhaps how we how we tend to approach particular challenges and problems, tell us a bit about how that approach is going to work in your context.

– Nana Bonsu
Yes.

– David Shosanya
And just tell us a bit about you explain to the teams domains, this sounds quite interesting for us tell us a bit about that and how it can inform parenting aswell.

– Nana Bonsu
Ok thinking about how systemic fits a social work context I see them as you know bedfellows or cousins if you like. If you think about social work practice it’s very much around advocate of families, supporting families for a process of change and enabling families to find their agency and systemic psychotherapy is very much of that ilk. It kind of came about in the 40s when their recognition of the schizophrenic patients who would be treated in hospital and then when they returned home to their families their symptoms would continue. There was a recognition that actually there was some kind of contextually that was contributing to the symptoms that individuals are having.

So moving away from this kind of siloed intervention to looking at matters relationally. So if I think about the work that comes through social care it’s all relational. There’ll be a relationship that family members will be having with each other that may be challenging or difficult, there’ll be a relationship that families will be having with institutions whether it be school whether it be police that they’ll be challenging or difficult or relationships that people have problems such as addiction or mental health. So for me everything is relational I see and think in a relational way, I don’t see things in that kind of individualistic way.

And therefore for me in a social care context systemic practice fits really really well. The thing I am speaking about in terms of one of the theories that is used in having therapy is looking at different domains and thinking about how we interact in different domains so domain of production where we’re very active in doing, the domian of explanation thinking about the why or how we come to be where we are and the domain of aesthetics, the artistry the value that one holds. And often I think when these campaigns such as the one that you are trying to – create a shift in a change in how families are engaging with young children around reading and communicating and one of the things about trying to create any change is to think about how do you get people to buy into what it is that your trying to get them to buy into and what I was saying earlier as we focus just on the domain of production that’s the doing so that might look like I imagine going on one of your online resources and getting the family to engage with them with their children. That doesn’t necessarily lend itself to the artistry or to the value of what we’re trying to do and that you have to pay attention to that just as much as the production. So just as much as creating the portfolio which families will support their children, you have to give as much credence to why what you say that you are hoping to see and that’s why you’re doing what you’re doing.

I think most people can have what type of therapy we call first order change so first order change is typically when an external factor will be organizing you to change your behaviour. So if I think of a social care context an external factor could be your child protection plan or you going to court proceedings or your child being removed. That may organize you around change but that will not be sustained and it’s not internalized. Second order change is where you begin to change your narrative and beliefs about who you are and what you believe about yourself.

So for instance taking it back to your campaign. If families can have an identity change around the importance of reading and communicating to their children that is going to be more effective in sustaining in the long term rather than “oh I’m doing this because you know I went to a workshop and they said that there’s e- portals online and I’m doing it for a period of time but I’m not really buying into it”. So it’s just about paying as much attention to the domain and production as you do aesthetics and explanation in order I think for change to be sustainable and for people to buy in and understand what you’re doing and why.

– David Shosanya
Thank you, a really valuable insight. Rox tells us a bit about the project and the campaign that Nana has been eluding to and you will also hear from other members of the team in short while.

– Rox Hussain
Thank you Nana for explaining what you do, so at the DfE we launched a campaign – 2nd of July called Hungry Little Minds and the idea is to support parents with parent-child interaction in the home because we know from the evidence that what a parent does in the home resonates right across a child’s attainment journey. I was particularly interested in what you were saying about agents of change and the different domains. And one of the things that we’re trying to do is with the campaign is to take that approach in terms of how your empower parents to make decisions in the home and it’s not about telling parents how to parent but when we are talking about the most disadvantaged parents and a number of different layers that they may be experiencing in terms of disadvantage.

– David Shosanya
Well thank you Rox. Really helpful. Nana – what unique insights does a systemic approach offer to parenting?

– Nana Bonsu
I think for me one of the things I love about systemic psychotherapy is its ability to think in a complex way but to apply it simply and that takes skill and experience.

The fundamental thing that you would do with the family is the that a systemic psychotherapist also known as a family therapist is a genogram and a genogram is essentially a family tree, and through that experience she can have conversations with people about where did your dad come from, who named you in the family, is anyone else in your family have a similar name, who in your family would you describe being close to, who would you describe having challenges with challenges with or distant relationships with, are their migration stories in your family, are their stories around difference in your family.

So genograms can give you just a basic (seems like a basic) pictorial representation of the family but one can be very creative in trying to elicit information about family and then from that conversation you can start to identify what we call unique outcomes. So if for instance your grandmother passed away but if your grandmother was here what would she say about what’s going on currently. What advice do you think she’d be able to give you.

So it enables one to think very broadly very widely. I think to also have a system of psychotherapy is very attuned to power and difference. So one of the things concepts that we use is called the social graces that the graces is an acronym. So G is for gender, R is for race/ religion, A is age another a is ability, C is class, the last C is culture, E is ethnicity and another E is education, sexuality and spirituality and just having that acronym makes one to think about what other stories and narratives that may be lending itself to the GRACES that this family inhabit and what GRACES may I inhabit that means that when I join the family I may be thinking about matters of similarity or difference and what other areas may I not be paying attention to. Is sexuality something I must be paying attention to in this family. Is ability something I need to be paying attention to, is class.

So again, it enables one to have a broad spectrum of thinking that apply in a way that is useful for families and I like reframing, so Rox is talking about that earlier. The idea that if one uses dialogue such as “well this child is very challenging” and develops a narrative around that or I could challenge that and say “this child is very passionate” and develop a narrative around that. It’s a very different discourse and a different entry point. So one of the other things I talked about is that often when we meet the families that we have referrals is often organized around the problem or worry and rightly so as they come to us for a reason but what other stories might not be privileging about this family and my experience and experience of all people that I come across and I love working with people is that people are survivors and they may not tap into that as a resource or a story.

So family therapy will talk about subjugated stories, stories that shine stories, stories out and come to the forefront read me and stories that people are not necessarily in tune to themselves and therefore agencies may inadvertently replicate very kind of problematised stories. So there’s more bad the narrative that somebody is presenting me.

– David Shosanya
Thank you again, very helpful insights to help us with what we’re doing and to help our listeners. I’m going to come back to you in a few moments. I’m going to ask you for your three top tips for parents with children aged 0 to 5. Three top tips, but it struck me as we had this conversation one of the things is that we’re all really concerned about is wellness and well-being. How do we promote wellness and well-being whether it’s in the staff that you work with you talked about your use of the team counsel getting training and systemic counselling or systemic therapy. You talked about parents being overloaded maybe not, not being able to function well because they’re overloaded. Again that could induce some toxic stress in children. That’s one of the things we’re going to talk about in our subject expert day so look out for that we have a subject expert day coming up soon. Comeback to this website to this podcast will send out a bit of information about that. But even in our three activities of chat, play and read with children we’re looking at the wellness of children as well. There was a question asked earlier in our conversation by Clare about wellness and well-being.

– David Shosanya
Throw that question out there and see what we get..

– Claire Kelly
It was regards to the Hungry Little Minds campaign, in your area of expertise how do you think we can integrate chat, play, read or how important do you think it is to parents for parents to integrate that into their routine?

– Nana Bonsu
I mean I think it’s such a great initiative and I think it’s vital, we are in a digital age and I think the digital age has its advantages and disadvantages. And I think that that’s a disadvantage could possibly be you know devices being used as a way of as a way of replacing you know human interaction forms of a better word describing that sometimes when I’m on the bus I see a child with their parents and they’re in a buggy the child will be crying for the parents phone and the parent will give the child the phone.

That’s the interaction. There isn’t anything else I see on the other side. Devices are great because I know my children learnt Spanish through dual lingo and there’s a game they play called wordscapes and its brilliant you know you go up the levels how many words can you work out.

So you know is this such beauty in anything and I think it’s you know when one abuse is it that’s when the problems become so I think chat, play, read should be taken focusing very much on the importance of that communication with the child and I think I know that research talks about the brain development of children 0 – 5 It’s fundamental, it’s almost the blueprint there on after. There is a period in adolescence where the teenage brain always goes through a kind of computer analogy it kind of shuts down and rewires itself again…

– David Shosanya
Is that called teenage [jokingly]

– Nana Bonsu
Neuroscience showed that that neural pathways that get that can be changed and that the brain has a lot of plasticity. So it’s not to say that if things are not done at the 0-5 then it can’t be done later on so that’s important to say. But I think in terms of it being a foundation and a blueprint chat, play and read such nice little words ,really easy little words to remind parents of the importance of interaction.

– Nana Bonsu
And I think my experience of working families around attachment and thinking about how children interact and how they learn about themselves and their identity and learn relational connectivity is done through those very three things chatting, playing and reading that I was saying earlier that it has to be the same fundamental as washing a child, has to be the same level of need as feeding a child because one cannot nurture without interaction and we are relational beings. You see a child when the child is first born and a child looks at you it mimics what you do if you hold a newborn baby and you make facial expressions that baby will do the same to you.

– Nana Bonsu
So we are social beings from the very get go even with a baby in the womb. You know you can interact with a child in the womb. You know when I was pregnant and I used to tap my belly my boys would tap me back. So we are international social beings so that chat, play and read is interactional and social and it’s necessary for brain development and for identity. So I get to see some many things going forward is that the blueprint of all foundation.

– David Shosanya
For those of you that are listening within the London Borough of Croydon, exciting piece of work with various partners in Croydon. I’m just going to ask Rox to just tell us a bit about a partnership between The Institute of Wellbeing and the National Literacy Trust and then I’m going to come back to Nana who going to tell us about three top tips for parenting. So please Rox tell us about this exciting new initiative that’s going to take place over the next six months with the NLT and IOW.

– Rox Hussain
So part of the Hungry Little Minds Campaign and what we recognize is that once you can give national messages you do need to also kind of take those messages and embed them within community settings so they are place based and so we’re taking place based approach working with National Literacy Trust and we are going to piliot across six places across the country of which Croydon is of them and IOW will be leading on that – to bring together community partners across grass roots organisations, local authority health services that range of partners where you can interact with parents in their everyday settings to embed the messages of Hungry Little Minds – Chat, play, read and thats what i think we are tryign to do and there will be collective measures in terms of the heads to tell the narrative in terms of how our collective approach works much much more strongly in terms of an intervention than if we had projects working in silos.

Thank you very much Rox. Look out for updates on our website, some of them are going to be updates that come in terms of our newsletter that comes out once a month. So if you if want to receive a newsletter from the Institute of Wellbeing – the IOW then just sign up on our website and we’ll you would love to get you along. You can sign up there. We’ve got an online black history resource – 10 things you can do with your child between the age of 0 – 5, 35 things that you can do with your children between age of 0 – 5. We’ve got five top tips for your wellbeing, there’s a lot of resources that are complementary. You can download and you can tell your friends about it. And so we’re excited about what we’re going to be doing in Croydon and across London and across the UK.

– David Shosanya
So Nana…

– Nana Bonsu
No pressure!

– David Shosanya
Ofcourse not, we’re sure that your contribution is going to be insightful so what would be your three top tips for parents….

– Nana Bonsu
The first one I would say is predictability. I think it’s important for children to have routine and structure and having that predictability regulates emotional regulation. It enables a child to have a sense of purpose. I think that’s important. And then the other top tip is acts of kindness. Acts of kindness to oneself as a parent. It’s very challenging emotionally challenging but it’s also very rewarding and I think sometimes we can have we’re very good at judging ourselves against others judging ourselves against a sense of what we society tells us we should be doing by now as a parent and I think we’re very good at being judgmental myself so acts of kindness for ourselves and acts of kindness for others.

The third and final one put me on the spot, is recognizing that we all have capacity. I think that we are capable of great things and I dont say that light heartedly, I dont say that from a place of privilege I say it because I worked with many many many families that is 17 years where they have gone through the most terrible and awful traumas but they are still here and that gives me hope for for how how we as humans are capable of being amazing creatures and we have we have capacity.

– David Shosanya
I thought you were going to say chat, play, read, I’m joking, I’m joking, I’m just teasing you [laughter]. One last thing you talked about was acts of kindness and I thought that was very powerful and we’re all about wellbeing and the last question, thank you for your time – you’ve been absolutely generous today. So we really appreciate that.

– Nana Bonsu
That’s alright you’ve fed me well, so that’s good! [laughter]

– David Shosanya
The question I want to ask is “what does wellbeing and wellness mean to you”?

– Nana Bonsu
That’s a nice question.

– David Shosanya
Its Claire’s question.

– Nana Bonsu
It’s a lovley question.I think and it’s almost like going back to that artistry again. I think it’s about being authentic. I think being authentic with yourself enables you to be true to yourself and you make others to treat you from a position of truth and I think that’s, that’s what wellbeing is. Not allowing yourself to be something you’re not. Not allowing people to treat you in a way that you shouldn’t and that if your authentic to yourself It’s almost a way of navigating through life really..

– David Shosanya
Well thank you very much. Nana Bonsu, Head of Systemic Practice – Croydon. We’re confident with people like you in place the services that we offer people in Croydon and in other boroughs. It’s gonna make a difference in people’s lives. So thank you very much.

– Nana Bonsu
Thank you for having me. I wish you the best with chat, play and read.

In this podcast you will learn:

  • About Nana Bonsu’s role at Croydon Council.
  • What systemic practice is and who it is used by.
  • Some insights into how systemic practice can help parenting.
  • The theory of domains and the importance they play in delivering change.
  • An example of how family therapists use genograms to help individuals / families.
  • Why Nana feels that chatting. playing and reading with a child is fundamental to a child’s development.
  • How the DfE is reaching disadvantaged parents through its national campaign (Hungry Little Minds).
  • The concept of social GRACES and an example of how they are used by family therapists / social workers.
  • Nana Bonsu’s three top tips for parenting.
  • What wellbeing and wellness means to Nana.

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