Blog

Blog for British Association of Professional Nannies

From Small Acorns….

When I was asked to write a blog for the British Association of Professional Nannies it took me right back, over 30 years, to when I was a Nanny.

So, how does a Nanny become an Author?

After achieving my NNEB Qualification, in my home town of Sheffield, I worked as a daily Nanny for a couple of local families. When my employer left work to have her 3rd child I took the big step of taking a ‘live-in’ job in London.

It was very exciting to move to Hampstead and experience lots of new places with the family. I was lucky enough to travel with them, staying in Los Angeles for 6 weeks over the Summer. This sounds very glamorous, but it was actually quite demanding because I was working every day, looking after 3 children, ages 2,3 and 10 years. I did go back to visit new friends in Los Angeles, on my own, twice over the next year though, which was amazing!

Now that I’d found my feet in London I wanted to ‘live-out’, so I worked as a daily Nanny for another family in Stoke Newington. After having their second child they decided to move back to New York. They asked me to go too but I decided I couldn’t leave family and friends in the U.K.  America was just a step too far!

I never really had a ‘life plan’ so, still being in my early twenties I wasn’t sure what to do. I’d enjoyed nannying, I loved the children, but I found it quite isolating and lonely. I’m very sociable and love to be around other people.

I went home for a while, then I had a complete change of career, I went to work in a brand new ‘Toys R Us’ Store in York. I loved this new working environment with lots of work colleagues around me. It was far more structured, and I was given regular appraisal from my Managers. This is where I found out something about myself that I hadn’t realised before… I’m very ambitious!

Within 6 months I’d been offered a full-time position, promoted to Supervisor, and enrolled on their Management Training Programme in Leeds. It was long hours and hard work, I learnt so much about retail, customers, products, employees etc.

After 4 years with Toys R Us I was Deputy Store Manager at their Doncaster Store.

In my late twenties, I started to think about having my own family which would have been very difficult as a Retail Manager because of the long working hours. Reading a magazine in my Dentist’s Waiting Room I had a ‘Lightbulb Moment’… a woman who couldn’t find a suitable Nursery for her child opened her own. With my NNEB qualification and some Business experience I thought ‘I could do that’ … So, I did!

Around 6 months later, after finding suitable premises and leaving my ‘Toys R Us’ job, my 1st Nursery opened in Lincoln. Within 4 years I opened 2 more Nurseries and 2 Kids Clubs. Stepping Stones Day Care Ltd. employed 40 staff and cared for hundreds of children, across 3 sites, in Lincoln.

I also had my daughter!

I’ve always been interested in the Nature vs Nurture Debate. Why am I so ambitious and driven? Was this part of me when I was born or am I a product of my environment?

My belief is that, although we definitely have some natural talents and personality traits, most of our opinions, values, work ethic and knowledge comes from our families, peer group and the formal education we receive.

Despite not achieving good exam results from School, I had a hard working, supportive family who encouraged and advised me. I worked hard at things I was interested in and built a successful career around those interests. A reminder of the great responsibility we have as educators and carers.

The one thing I hadn’t learnt to deal with during this time was stress. With a young baby and a lot of responsibility with my Nursery Business I became quite unwell. In 2005 I was diagnosed with ME / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and I decided to sell the Nursery Chain and concentrate on getting well.

Fortunately, during the last year at Stepping Stones I had the idea for my inclusive story books. An Ofsted Inspector said that we needed to reflect diversity more in our resources. When I looked for books featuring disability I couldn’t find anything suitable so I realised there was a massive gap in the market.

Around the same time, I was attending a Business Development Programme where I met a variety of Business Owners. When I spoke about my ideas for inclusive story books they were full of support and encouragement. One of the participants was the Managing Director of a local Print & Design Company, who had recently published a children’s book. This was obviously meant to be!

He introduced me to Karen, the illustrator and Hattie was born. The 1st title, ‘A Day at the Zoo’ was available in January 2006. Hattie and George have a fabulous day, meeting lots of animals during the story. George uses a wheelchair but this isn’t mentioned in the text. He isn’t defined by his disability.

The stories were inspired by days out with my daughter, Harriet. They have positive images of disability throughout and educational content, relating to the EYFS Curriculum, perfect for all young children.

Since then, I’ve written 3 more titles; A Day at the Farm, A Day at the Seaside and A Day at the Park.

I’ve got lots of ideas for the future, at the moment I’m researching a ‘Hattie and friends’ animation for television.

We definitely need to see more diversity on children’s television… Move over Peppa Pig!

 

For more details about ‘Hattie and friends’ or to place an order please visit: www.hattieandfriends.co.uk

I always love to from you, you can email me here: lesley@hattieandfriends.co.uk

You can Follow me: Facebook / Instagram:    @Hattieandfriendsauthor

Twitter:     @Hattiesfriends

Linked In:  @LesleyBerrington

 

 

Ms Lesley Berrington

Author / Publisher

 

Inspiring Imagination and Creativity

 

You were born an original. Don’t die a copy.       John Mason

 We’re all complex, unique individuals, born with our own imagination and creativity. We only have to listen to children play to understand that their imagination has no limits!

As educators we need to nurture this, encourage and inspire every child to develop their natural ability. We must be enthusiastic about their ideas, giving them space, time and support to develop them. This will build their confidence to believe that anything is possible.

As an Author I feel very privileged to bring inspiration and wonder into a class of children when I talk to them about my books. Children will, of course, learn about books, authors and illustrators but when a ‘real life’ Author visits their class it’s a special day!

I tell the class about where my ideas come from and how I create my characters. The children listen intently and enjoy seeing proof sheets and original illustrations. Children are encouraged to write a question for my Q&A session. One of my favourite questions is, ‘Can anyone be an Author?’

I love to answer, ‘Yes, they can. Would you like to be an Author?’

It’s very rewarding to see a class full of aspiring authors and illustrators after my talk.

Children never disappoint with funny questions too. One child obviously thought that I was a particularly hard-working author when they asked, ‘Do you ever sleep?’

After listening to my stories about ‘days out’ a few schools have started a creative writing project with the theme, ‘A Day at the …..’ This allows the children to be creative and imagine a day out anywhere!

Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.

Albert Einstein.

My books feature positive images of disability throughout. Disability isn’t mentioned in the text, this means each character is accepted for who they are, not defined by their disability. Sometimes my books provide an opportunity to discuss disability but sometimes it is just observed and accepted.

Disability is part of life and needs to be reflected in children’s books. All young children accept differences, their curiosity will raise questions and they develop attitudes from the answers they receive.

We must show through our attitudes and actions that we value all children equally.

 

Lesley Berrington

Author, ‘Hattie and friends’

Collaborations!

 

 

It’s been such an exciting week at Hattie HQ!

I’ve been collaborating with a few people to bring the inclusive message to more people.

Claire from @Clairescobbles on Instagram contacted me to ask if she could paint some very unique ‘Hattie and friends’ stones.

The results are absolutely stunning! I can’t wait to take these to schools with me. I’m sure they’ll inspire many discussions about disability and inclusion.

That’s not all! Gitte contacted me to ask if she could read one of my books on her You Tube channel. She chose, ‘A Day at the Seaside’ and you can hear it here. It’s beautifully read with all the voices, sound effects and giggles! Great job Gitte. It’s a fantastic opportunity to check out one of my books… have a listen!

Recent Reviews on Twitter!

I’ve had some fabulous comments/reviews recently that I’d like to share:

‘I just love your stories and I’ve not seen any other books that compare! Inclusion is not about highlighting differences but accepting people for who they are. Hattie and friends rocks!’

Teacher, London

‘Lovely use of storytelling from Hattie and friends to promote inclusion and diversity’

Educational Psychologist, Belfast

This is a great initiative, especially in the current climate. Teaching diversity to really young children is key to changing society for the next generation.

Assistant Headteacher / SENCO, London

These are just a few of the lovely comments I’ve had on Twitter. It makes me very proud of the ‘Hattie and friends’ series!

If you use Twitter I’d love to connect with you: @Hattiesfriends

Twitter & School Invoices

 

 

Wow, around 500 new followers on Twitter over the last 6 weeks!

It’s been amazing to get involved with all the dedicated educators who regularly contribute and support each other. I’ve made some great contacts and had a few more orders too!

I’ve written a blog for Edge Thinking which stands for ‘Education for Greater Equality’. You can read it here: https://www.edgethinking.org/all-news

It’s certainly been keeping me busy at a time when I haven’t been able to visit primary schools.

If you’re on Twitter please ‘Follow’  @Hattiesfriends

Also, just to let you all know that I can send an invoice with your order, to be paid within 30 days please.

Just e-mail me to enquire: lesley@hattieandfriends.co.uk

Follow @Hattiesfriends on Twitter!

During the Corona Virus Lockdown I’ve been spending a lot more time at home so I’ve been concentrating on getting my Inclusion message out there in different ways.

In June I set myself a challenge to get 500 Twitter followers and I’m very nearly there!

I’m connecting with lots of teachers and childcare professionals and I’m slowly getting the hang of it. I’d never used Twitter very much so I’ve got a lot to learn!

If you’ve got a Twitter account I’d love you to ‘Follow’ @Hattiesfriends I’ll be announcing a ‘Summer Giveaway’ next week so this is the perfect time to join me.

See you there!

This is the ‘Summer’ image from our ‘Seasons’ poster set, only £6.99 for a set of 4 laminated posters. Just take a look on the ‘Products’ Page.

 

Early Years at the Heart Conference

I had a lovely time at University College Birmingham last week, introducing ‘Hattie and friends’ to delegates at their 1st Early Years Conference.

All the Childcare Professionals were very interested in my inclusive books and resources.

If you’d like me to come to your event just get in touch!

 

It was lovely to see this comment on social media later from a happy customer :

Got some wonderful literature today, thank you for signing them, ‘a day at the seaside’, is already my favourite xx

Newark Book Festival – July 2019

A fantastic weekend at Newark Book Festival! This is the first time I’ve had a stall here and it was great fun. I met so many people who loved my inclusive books, I feel newly inspired to show them to as many people as I can.

I also won 2nd prize for Best Dressed Stall, a voucher for a local restaurant. I think I’ll be spending that with my Dad who was a fantastic help all weekend.

I’ve got lots of contacts to follow up; teachers, parents, authors, illustrators.

I’ll definitely be going again next year!