Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Nelson Mandela and more.....

Nelson Mandela is an amazing man who showed us that it is possible to make a difference, to build a new nation, a new culture. He died at the age of 95 on Thursday in Johannesburg. So many of us are grieving his loss and also celebrating his legacy: as we work together for a world of equality and inclusively.

Photograph from The Guardian 7th December 2013 Flowers and tributes for Nelson Mandela outside South Africa House in central London. Photograph: Laura Lean/PA

For love, peace and reconciliation. His fight was ultimately for spiritual freedom, within us all, no matter what our circumstances. 

Is this you?

Caring for each other, simply because we are alive and we have common feelings and needs and we live on the same planet is often far from our thoughts when we are in conflict. An attitude of reconciliation is rare. 

What I have learnt is that our true nature is to love and to contribute to each others well being:  I invite you to look into the eyes of a baby to see if this is true.   

Why do we deviate from what is our true nature?

It seems it is because of the way we are being educated. In schools, familiesbecause of our history, our culture, religion, language etc and the result of our education is often that we sense we need to fight for survival and our actions follow this. Competition rather than togetherness becomes the norm.  Mandela showed us that it is possible to learn to love and forgive even when this has not been the way we were raised. 

“Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world”

“We are taught to hate and if we can teach a human being to hate we can also teach a human being to love, to embrace, to forgive”

I just listened to Mandela's daughter Makuziwe speaking about how difficult it was for her father to express his emotion and her sadness about this and this caused me to reflect on how difficult it is sometime to notice what is going on emotionally with children, from the impact of all aspects of their lives.  I think we need to get better at this in education, knowing how to engage with children who struggle to show themselves. Recognising that children are part of a family, part of a community. This is when our children will flourish.

I long to see an education system that places relationships and community at the heart of the curriculum.  If our children value life and their interconnectedness to each other and the environment around them a new culture can be born. 

In the past few months I have been introducing teachers and childcare professionals to the power of music, imagination, dance and movement. We have been engaging in activities that bring groups together and foster a sense of belonging. Through some simple activities we can help children learn how to appreciate each other, to learn how to resolve their differences and to make choices that serve life

Nelson Mandela was a courageous man who made a tremendous difference in the world his work for humanity his work can continue through us. 

Here are questions to consider, in your school, home, setting, centre etc:

Do the children feel confident, competent, comfortable with themselves and others?

Can they deal with their conflicts?

Do they feel supported, celebrated?

Do they know their roots and the roots of their ancestors and how this has affected what they believe and who they are now?

Do they know that they have a choice about what they value and how to be?

Are they free to share their stories?

Are they being listened to?

Are they willing and motivated to learn?

Are they connected to the feeling of being alive?

Do they feel that they matter?

How often do you dance and sing and create as a community together?




Thursday, 22 August 2013

Imagine A Child's World - 2 Years Old

 This poem was written by my dear friend and colleague,  Penny Vine, Early Years Consultant, CNVC Trainer.  Penny tells me she was inspired to write this after reading a piece on imagining a child’s world by Warwick Pudney and Eliane Whitehouse, authors of Little Volcanoes, Helping Young Children and their Parents to Deal with Anger.
 Lines in italics are copied from their writing. 
Imagine yourself as a two year’ve been on the planet for 24 months... what might your body feel like? 
Imagine not being able to see people’s eyes unless they remember to crouch down when they interact with you? 
Imagine being woken from your warm bed, dressed quickly, having toast put in your hand and put in your pushchair and wheeled quickly to nursery and your parent is running late and gets cross when you cry and you don’t have your hug as you usually do? 
Imagine being unable to tell anyone you’re so tired and they try to engage you and you just want to lie down, somewhere warm next to your Nana who makes you feel safe?   
What might you feel when you hear the sound of someone shouting, someone shouting loud? 
What might it be like to be running along and someone shouts “Hold my hand...don’t let go...” 
Imagine seeing a poppy for the very first time, you crouch down and look and look and you want to stay forever looking into this deep well of  red and a hand pulls and says “Come on we’ll be late now!” 
Imagine forgetting your blankie, the one you always remember and feeling poorly and blankie’s not there? 
Imagine an adult telling you it’s time to get your coat, gloves and hat on now when you were right in the middle of the most exciting construction you have ever, ever made? 
Imagine playing near the bushes looking at a wiggly worm, when someone appears and begins to shout and says “You know you mustn’t go where I can’t see you!” and you don’t really know what she smile because you’re scared and you’re not sure what to do as this has never happened before and she says “Don’t you smile at me young man!” 
Imagine watching everyone’s mum and dad come to collect’re sat on the carpet...tears are hear someone say “There’s no need to cry...she’ll be here soon” and you want to know what soon means and you want to cry more...but you don’t... 
Imagine the most comforting thing alive was a tone of voice saying noises that meant nothing but familiarity.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Sizzling Hot

As I sit on my balcony in Athens feeling the glorious sunshine here, I receive numerous texts from UK Twitter about the continuous proposals and changes to how services for children and families through the early years are being supported and offered.

Its seems that the climate is not the only cause of raising temperatures !

New qualifications, funding, organisation, testing, formality, cries for humanity, equality, justice, creativity and play. 

Presenting wisely during these Sizzling times can be extremely challenging. 

I always enjoy reading Julian Grenier's blog on these matters. 

When I return to the UK at the end of October to resume my work in Education I wonder what I will find there. 

What is certain for me is that no matter what the changes are, I will continue to lead workshops and programmes that speak to the heart of humanity. Raising standards aimed at children reaching their full potential, strengthening families and communities. 

If you would like to know more see

Here in Greece I'm working with those who come to rest, to recuperate, to reflect, to contemplate;  joining people in reconsidering their life styles, their values and perceptions about what really matters. If you would like to know more see

Here are some extra tips for reducing the Sizzling.
Most of these were taken from a social network posting that my friend and colleague Karl Smerecnick made, concerning how to  cope with the heat. 

Tips on keeping cool

  • Wet down your hair (especially at night). 
  • Wear a wet shirt and turn a fan on yourself. 
  • Wear hats outside (and sunblock!)
  • Drink plenty of water. 
  • Make slush puppies
  • Wear a cold washcloth around you neck. 
  • For quick relief use an ice rag to the the bottom of the soles of your feet, this helps the core temperature and the heat drop quickly and heat.
  • Drink cool water infused with cucumber
  • Drink cool water infused with mint and lemon
  • Eat cooling foods such as cucumber, yoghurt, most berries, sweet fruits, sushi, seaweed salad!
  • Run cold water over your wrists and the back of your neck 
  • Finish every shower with freezing water. 
  • Have a little siesta. 
  • Breathe slowly
  • Walk in the woods
  • Visit the sea
  • Wear a bandana doused in peppermint oil...if its dry heat, keep the bandana wet because it evaporates.
  • Wear cotton clothes allowing your skin to breathe. 

I hope you enjoyed reading, feel free to add on the comments section


Thursday, 4 July 2013


What kind of world is it my friend 
that little children see? 
I wonder if they see God first 
because they just believe? 

Do they see strength in caring eyes 
who watch them as they play - 
or maybe love through gentle hands 
that guide them on their way? 

Do children dream of future times 
when they would be a king - 
or just enjoy their present life 
while with their friends they sing? 

And when the day is over - 
as they close their eyes to sleep - 
do children look forward to tomorrow 
with its promises to keep? 

If this is what our children see 
then it should be no surprise - 
the world would be a better place 
if we all had children's eyes. 

Tom Krause - 2000 
Inspiring Confidence, Hope & Worth in Every Child 
Motivational/Inspirational Educational Keynote Presenter

Monday, 24 June 2013

Empowerment Through Compassion

I am reminded over and again of how much I love sharing nonviolent communication, the work of Dr Marshall Rosenberg.  

Last Sunday with my fellow facilitator Karl Smerecnik,  we provided some fun exercises which were designed to support people to explore how: 
  • self-acceptance is the foundation for empowerment
  • we transform our beliefs to have greater freedom and peace
  • empathic listening as the key to navigating tough and uncomfortable situations
  • awareness of our intention empowers us to ask for what we really want.
Having fun responding to the messages that are so difficult to hear from others in every day life does sounds rather strange and yet it is true, I hear people laughing as they hear their own inner thoughts and I witness changes in people regularly, even when there are situations that seems so stuck!  

When we are fully aware of all that happens to us  - what our inner voices say and we connect fully to our feelings and wants, with empathic understanding, we are able to think more clearly and we often discover solutions to problems that we didn't know were possible. 

We learn that we can hear messages and we have the choice to respond in many different ways. 

This is how Dr Dan Siegal explains the process:

"Response flexibility enables us to pause before responding as we put a temporal and mental space between stimulus and action. From a neurobiological perspective, this space of mind enables the range of possibilities to be considered, to just "be" with an experience, to be reflected upon, before engaging the "do" circuitry of action. 
Response flexibility offers the individual a way of choosing to be the "wisest self" possible in that moment."

NVC Process is

What are we observing that is affecting our wellbeing?

How do we feel in relation to what we are observing?

What are the needs,values,desires etc that are creating our feelings?

What are the concrete actions we request in 
order to enrich our lives?

 Words are Windows (or are they walls?)
by Ruth Bebermeyer

I feel so sentenced by your words, 
I feel so judged and sent away, before I go I've got to know
Is that what you meant to say?
Before I die to my defines,
Before I speak of hurt or fear,
Before I build that wall of words, Tell me did I really hear?
Words are windows, or they're walls, 
They sentence us or set us free, 
When I speak ad when I hear, 
Let the love light shine through me. 
There are things I need to say,
Things that mean so much to me,
If my words don't make me clear, 
Will you help me to be free?
If I seemed to put you down,
If you felt I didn't care,
Try to listen through my words
To the feelings that we share

Want to know more ?

These are some of the comments that participants shared with us at the end of the day:

“This is a very rewarding process and I am very grateful for these group workshops.”

“The two NVC workshops I have been part of have been strengthening events within themselves but have continued to resonate with me in the weeks that followed.”

“It was great to have the space to look at thoughts, feelings and needs in such a simple straight forward way.”

“The workshop enabled me to understand that past events don’t have to dictated my emotional responses – or that I can understand and move past that response.”

“I gained more clarity about how I can achieve better communication with others.”

“The workshop highlighted many areas of my life that these skills would help improve – all relationships such as work, family, children, friends, partners, etc.”

Next group meets on 10th November in Forest Hill, South East London 9, Havelock Walk SE 23 If you would like to know more do email me 

Thursday, 20 June 2013

More Great Childcare - Collaboration, Networks, Support

In the early years sector it has taken years to build networks and support systems that work together and target the training needs of the providers. Relationships between advisors, officers and settings in many authorities are working positively, even collaboratively with some settings, towards improvement. 

I have been involved in helping to forge these relationships in some boroughs and we have undertaken some fantastic transformational work and seen amazing improvements. Forward thinking authorities know that collaboration is about co-creation. Its the function of genuine communication. 

"In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed. " Charles Darwin 

There is more work to be done in this arena, settings working together to evolve practice and projects, to support each other with staff with training.  Every child matters and we want the very best for our children and families. Networks, training days and programmes specifically designed with care and consideration to support settings is all coordinated by the early years department in local authorities. 

The proposals in "More Great Childcare" are suggesting that the local authorities should not continue its quality assurance, support and training role any more . Instead, it suggests making Ofsted the sole arbiter. This could have a huge impact on the quality of provision in the sector.  

I'm wondering what your thoughts are about this, will you share ?