Review of ‘How To Keep Children Safe’ by Jo FitzGerald   2 comments

Pre Amble

Back in June 2018 I attended the Pre- school Learning Alliance conference in London. It was the first time in a long time that I had travelled to London or attended a national conference due to a long period of ill health.

There has been a delay in gathering my thoughts within a blog due to that same ill health, but better late than never, I am now able to do so.

At the conference I was delighted that despite the fact I had been away for so long, and was clearly still not well and relying on my rollator to move around, people were very kind and made a point of coming up to speak to me, One of those people was Jo FitzGerald, who I do not know apart from interaction on Social Media.

Jo approached me and gave me a copy of her book ‘How to Keep Children Safe’ which is a parent’s guide to helping young children deal with potentially worrying and dangerous situations. Although I no longer run a childminding setting (having retired from registered childminding) I am Granny to 11 grandchildren ranging in age from 19 down to a few months. As  some of my grandchildren are on the autistic spectrum and some receiving support for mental health issues, I was immediately interested in the title because worrying and potential dangerous situations were part of the things I was dealing with, when supporting the grandchildren. Naturally anything that could support myself, the children’s parents and the children was of interest to me.

So when Jo handed me the book and said ‘I would be very interested in your opinion Penny’, I said ‘I will be delighted to read it and give my opinion’.

And I did read it, several times, just to make sure I had understood everything, because the trouble of being on high doses of morphine (as I was at the time) you do struggle to concentrate, to focus and to remember.

Now several months later, I am on less morphine and able to focus much better so I have read it again, and the guidance at the back of the book. Unfortunately the website address given was not working, so will need to check that later

 

My Review

Jo FitzGerald  from Tiny Sponges, is a mum, grandparent, teacher, blogger, and writes from her own scary experiences and experiences of supporting children.

The book states that it is suitable for children from as young as 4, and I think with the right support even younger children could benefit from a scaled down version, provided the adult explains very clearly in basic terms and without too much additional scary information.

The book itself is not scary and is very reassuring , and with child friendly rhyming text. It states clearly that scary situations don’t happen all the time, but if they do, the best thing is to have a plan – one that has been discussed with trusted adults such as parents / grandparents / teachers, and where possible practiced through role play or just talking the plan through regularly.

When my own youngest child was about 2, I lost her in a busy shopping centre – not for long but it was very scary for myself and for my child (and the ones not lost, but caught up in the situation). From then on I started to talk to my own children and the children I childminded about scary situations such as getting lost, not being able to see Mum or Dad, or me as their childminder. I felt it was important to recognise that not all children think they are lost as they might think they were safe doing whatever it was that they had wondered off to do – and it was the parent that was lost!

In Jo’s book she does cover the scenario about if you can’t see your adult which is good.

A few years after I had implemented teaching children what to do in these situations, one of the families I childminded for went on holiday to France. When they returned they told me I had potentially saved their child’s life and certainly had made a very scary situation far less stressful than it could have been. Their son who was under 3, had managed to get separated from the rest of the family in a busy city. He only knew a few French words such as Hello, goodbye, thank you, and so when he got lost the family were very worried. However, he was not lost for long because he had followed the plan I had practiced with him and the other children, and had found a person in uniform – in this case a French Policeman, who like most French people spoke fairly good English. The child was quickly reunited with his family.

Therefore I fully support the idea in’ How To Keep Safe …’ about making plans because I know it works.

The book does not only cover things like getting lost, or fires, it also covers things like people who might want to hurt you and terrorists. I know children do worry about these things because it is on the news, and they overhear family and other adults talking about these things. I also know some of them have active imaginations either on their own or with a group of friends, and will create imaginary situations where they do get hurt, or where there is no way out. So it is very important these days that adults do overcome their fear that they will scare their children by talking about these things and somehow make things worse – because they won’t. If the child knows the plan and knows what to do, the child will be reassured – and less likely to panic if they find themselves in such a situation, which could make things worse. So I would urge all adults with responsibility for young children to tackle these subjects.

My own comment for improvement in the book is about the images as they are a little stereotypical with a man in dark clothing in the shadows in one image of a ‘scary person’, and a smiley lady in another as a ‘safe person’. I think it is important to make children aware that ‘scary people’ can be male, female, old, or young – and so can safe people. I do like the suggestion that a ‘safe person’ could be wearing a name badge or be in uniform but there are ways to tell if safe. I used to tell the children, safe people are often with other people, so family groupings, often will have small children with them, or will be in a shop.

I like the idea in that insurance advert where it says ‘Could be them, or them, or them’ showing nuns, a dog, an old couple as possibly being responsible for damaging a parked car. Maybe adults reading the book could use pictures of likely safe or scary people within the role play with children to help them make good choices when selecting a ‘safe person’?

I also recommend that adults read the ‘Things to Talk About’ at the back of the book before sharing the book with a child because the suggestions are really helpful in extending the story so the most can be made of every page.

I shall be keeping the book on my bookshelf to share with grandchildren and their parents. I will also be sharing with my local Home Start group, as I am becoming a Trustee and think this book will be useful in their work with families and children.

Finally I have already shared the book with one of my daughters who works for a national children’s charity, and directly with the children age 5 – 12. She was impressed with the book (although shared my concerns about some of the images). She also thought some examples of plans would be useful – well actually I have read there are examples of plans on the website, so once the website is back online, I will be looking at these – as will my daughter. Thanks to Jo’s generosity a copy of the book has been sent to my daughter so she can show it to her work colleagues.

 

Many thanks to Jo FitzGerald for asking me to review her book, as I have enjoyed doing so, and think I will  return to many times over the years.

 

Posted September 2, 2018 by psw260259 in My thoughts on current childcare issues

2 responses to “Review of ‘How To Keep Children Safe’ by Jo FitzGerald

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  1. Thanks for your review Penny! The book you have is an advanced reader copy, we edited the final version. The website is up and running and the plans all available.

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