Wendy White, Managing Director of Wendy Woo Ltd
Designer of My Mood Stars – a brand-new educational toy helping Early Years children to recognise their feelings
When I left school, I wanted to be Mary Poppins! The thought of being a ‘practically perfect’, kind and magical nanny that all children loved and obeyed never left me, so I joined an agency to make my dream come true.
My first nanny job was looking after two mischievous grandchildren of a retired admiral and his wife; forty years later, I’m delighted to say I’m still in touch with those grandchildren.
Time went by and I got married and had three children. As they grew up, it was a common sight to see many of their friends at the family home – enjoying doorstep picnics in the summer and hot chocolate in the winter – and it was those memories that inspired me to become a registered childminder in 2000.
Since then I’ve been busy – taking care of dozens of children and earning three ‘Outstanding’ inspections from Ofsted – as well as creating My Mood Stars, which was conceived as an innovative way of complying with the introduction of the Early Years Foundation Stage for 0-5-year-olds. One of the Stage’s prime areas is Personal, Social and Emotional Development, which I was drawn to because of my own childhood experience of being emotionally abused by my father. I’d always found it difficult to communicate my feelings when I was younger, so I wanted to create a resource that children of all ages, abilities and backgrounds could access and better understand their emotions.
My Mood Stars are eight super-soft stars made from plush fabric whose faces depict different moods such as sadness and shyness. Babies and toddlers especially can become frustrated or withdrawn if they’re unable to express themselves verbally, but interacting with the stars can change that – prompting conversations with their childminders as to how they are feeling on any given day.
Parents and carers of children with autism and Asperger’s syndrome have responded to them positively, and recently a youngster used the stars to make a disclosure of abuse.
The ultimate goal is to have a set of My Mood Stars in every Early Years setting in the UK, as I believe they’re an invaluable visual and developmental aid that can help a great number of children.