For the past 9 years I have dedicated myself to gaining a deep understanding of child development and the main factors that effect and influence young children's cognitive development, sense of self, belief systems and overall wellbeing. Throughout this period I worked in Early Years settings across a number of schools, most recently as Head of Early Years at St Nicholas Preparatory School in Kensington London.
During my time as a teacher, I became acutely aware of the connection between how a child’s self-beliefs, along with their ability to understand and articulate their feelings, impacts on their behaviour. This in turn affects everything around them and, crucially, their learning and development.
I was saddened to realise how little time and content is focused on a child’s personal, social and emotional development and how little support there is available to help equip teachers and parents in nurturing these crucial areas. So, I began researching and training in a variety of techniques and supportive tools that help encourage and nurture positive behaviour and emotional wellbeing in children.
The biggest game changer came when a parent in my school at the time delivered an introductory workshop on 'Positive Discipline'. This approach was created by the wonderful Dr. Jane Nelsen, who has dedicated her life to researching and creating a program for care givers to support their children and maximise development of positive behaviours and life skills. I connected with the core message and purpose at the centre of 'Positive Discipline' straight away. As a trained Montessorian, it complimented the foundations of the Montessori philosophy, through empowering and supporting each child to flourish and be the unique individual they were born to be. I was very inspired to learn more and went on to read many of the Positive Discipline books series. Then in 2014, I was lucky enough to attend a three day training workshop with Jane Nelsen herself. I can honestly say those three days changed my life!
After my training I was so excited to return to school and start trialling and implementing all I had learnt! Over time I was able to see first-hand the incredible impact these methods had on the children under my care. The atmosphere became calm, respectful and cooperative, whilst having a buzz of curious and confident learning through independent exploration. The children became confident communicators, aware and able to manage their feelings and behaviour. They developed skills to express empathy and make well thought through decisions. Parents and teachers wanted to learn more about the techniques, so I began sharing my knowledge through workshops with hugely positive outcomes. The most powerful and supportive collaborations for children are provided through consistency, when parents and teachers use the same ethos and approach at home and in the classroom.
In 2013 Barbara Isaacs, the Academic Director at Montessori Centre International, heard about the work I was doing and contacted me to ask if I could write an article for the Montessori International Magazine about the use of positive language, from there my Q&A 'Ask the Expert' column was created. Through this column I am able to share my insight and offer support to a much wider audience of parents and teachers.
Over the coming years I continued to build on my knowledge of techniques and practices, based on cutting-edge research into human behaviour, psychology and brain science. In 2015 I was promoted to Head of Early Years at St Nicholas Preparatory School, during this period I supported my team of staff towards embedding strategies and creating environments that nurtured positive behaviours and well-being in each classroom. Between 2016 - 2017 we went through both an SIS School Inspection (21 – 23 March 2017) and Montessori Re-Accreditation (10 May 2016). Our Early Years provision achieved the judgement of Outstanding from SIS and successfully achieved the MEAB accreditation. Our focus on the children’s emotional wellbeing and nurturing of positive behaviour, was sighted as a major factor towards these achievements. This was a fantastic outcome and further more re-enforced the positive impact this approach was having on the children, staff and parents.
“Personal development, behaviour and welfare are excellent. The children develop self-confidence and independence. Behaviour and conduct form the basis of much of the early years work and there are clear and well understood strategies for promoting this effectively.”
School Inspection Service report for St Nicholas Preparatory School, 21-23 March 2017, DfE No:213/6390
In July 2017 I made the huge decision to leave my role at St Nicholas in order to focus predominantly on sharing my research and practices through workshops and articles. That September POPP&T was created! Through POPP&T I deliver workshops focussed on helping children and adults towards developing positive behaviours and mindsets, that help them to thrive in all areas of their lives. My worskshops are mentally, emotionally and physically beneficial, through sharing insight, into practices that nurture self-care, self-esteem, resilience and flexible minds, that help individuals to navigate challenges with greater success and to live more authentic and joyful lives.
Children aren't born with the ability and experience to, manage their behaviour, understand and articulate their feelings and make well thought through decisions. These are life skills that I am passionate about helping you to nurture within your children. This lack of insight often leaves teachers and parents feeling overwhelmed and under skilled. Together we can create extraordinary, empowering and fun experiences for your children that create life long positive results. Please don’t spend another day feeling your parenting or teaching isn’t quite what you want it to be, I am here to help and share my experiences with you. I look forward to hearing from you and helping you with an expert guiding hand.
'Ask The Expert' Q&A Column - Montessori International Magazine
For more advice about child development issues, feel free to take a closer look at my 'Ask the Expert' Q&A column, which can be found on the 'Articles' page of my website and in the Montessori International Magazine. Here I respond to parents' and teachers' questions around a wide range of child development issues. Through this column and my experience in schools, I am exposed to both unique and familiar issues parents and teachers face every day with children. I am proud to offer advice and practical support with positive and effective lifelong results.
Certified Positive Discipline Educator, Positive Discipline Association
Diploma in Montessori Pedagogy, Montessori Centre International
BA(Hons) Dual Honours Degree, Keele University
Early Years Education, Northampton University
Ask the Expert Q&A columnist, Montessori International magazine (researching current child development issues)
Transcendental Meditation beginners course, London
Transformational Breathing, with Rebecca Dennis, Breathing Tree
Supporting Pupils Mental Wellbeing, London
Applying Emotional Intelligence, London
Implementing Mindfulness, London
Making sense of British Values, Leicester