Mum's the word

28th June 2013 at 01:00
Seven-year-old Layla's quick thinking averted a road accident - and her book about her mother's epilepsy could save more lives

When Layla Reid wrote her Epilepsy Book for Kids, she intended it to be a guide to help other young children cope with having an epileptic parent.

But the simple pocket book - which Layla (pictured) wrote when she was 7, in her own handwriting and with her own illustrations - is increasingly being used in schools to help children understand the condition.

Now Layla, from Bristol in the South West of England, has become something of a celebrity. She appears in a film, Four Chambers (available on YouTube), which paints her as a truly inspirational person, and she was a runner-up in the UK Young Epilepsy Champions Awards this year.

Recently, she put her knowledge to good use. She saved her mother Sarah and baby sister Lauren from being hit by a car when her mother suffered an absence seizure - which leaves the person confused and apparently daydreaming - while crossing the road in traffic.

Layla was inspired to write the book after her mother tried, and failed, to find a child-friendly book that explained epilepsy in simple terms. And the self-confessed bookworm wrote it in only one evening.

The book introduces the Reid family, and goes on to cover what to do when a person has an epileptic seizure - either a fit or an absence seizure - and how to call an adult or emergency services. "I'm so proud of her," Sarah Reid says of her talented daughter. "I never thought in a million years it would be published. She's a clever girl."

Layla, who recently gave a children's workshop at her local library, wants to write more books to help children understand other health conditions. "My mummy also has allergies and sometimes depression, so I would like to write guides about this," she says. "My grandad has diabetes, and I have been asking him about his condition and how it affects his life so I can write about this, too.

"I love writing stories and I don't always just want to write about health. I like making up adventure stories for my baby sister.

"But when I grow up I want to be a teacher. It's a job where you get to do reading and writing and that's what I want to do."

For more information about Epilepsy Book for Kids, visit

Class questions

What is epilepsy? What effect does it have on sufferers?

Are there things that people with epilepsy cannot do (for example, drive a car)?

Would you be able to help if one of your classmates had an epileptic fit? What would you do?

How can you help if your mother, father, brother or sister has epilepsy?


Care and responsibility

Children who care for their siblings or parents often miss out on key aspects of childhood as they take on responsibility far beyond their years.

Almost 10,000 five- to seven-year-olds are now carers for their relatives, an increase of about 80 per cent in a decade, according to statistics released in May from the 2011 Census for England and Wales.

But how can you help other young children to understand the ways in which the lives of child carers differ from their own? And how can you best support students in your class who care for others?

The Children's Society has in the past called not only for support for these children but also for measures to be put in place so that they do not have to care for relatives. Being a carer is different from living in a family where a sibling or parent has mental or physical needs that have to be taken into account.

Find resources on child carers and advice on providing support at www.tesconnect.comresources


A lesson from Africa

When former street children in Uganda returned to the classroom to teach younger street children to read, no one predicted that the visit would have an impact more than 4,000 miles away.

But it inspired one teacher to introduce a similar programme in England. Students aged 15-16 at Brune Park Community School in Hampshire have been using Yes We Can Read, a phonics-based programme designed to develop reading for meaning among poor readers or non-readers in Uganda. The scheme has been so successful that it is being expanded, with students aged 11-18 coaching four- to 11-year-olds.

"Reading ages have increased significantly and the improvement in confidence, behaviour and attendance has amazed us," headteacher Richard Kelly says. "One student, who was in trouble in and outside school, came in just to teach a looked-after girl whose reading age of 6 had not improved throughout primary school... She has now reached her chronological reading age."

For more information, go to

Further resources

See how UK charity The Children's Society teaches schools to support children who care for family members in this Teachers TV video. bit.lysupportyoungcarers

Refresh your knowledge and improve your practice by completing the Carers Trust's e-learning module on how to support young carers. bit.lycarerselearning

Experiment with sound and instruments to create rainforest-inspired music in this composition lesson from HamiltonTrust. bit.lycomposerainstorm

Support early phoneme, grapheme and initial sound recognition skills with this collection of games and activities from jambam. bit.lyshortphonicsgame

Thinking of setting up peer mentoring in your school? This guide from wgenterprise is a great place to start. bit.lypeermentoring


Sound beginnings

Writing a book, or excelling at mathematics or science from a young age, often leads to children being labelled as prodigies - sometimes unhelpfully.

But students are often fascinated by child geniuses such as Mozart (pictured right), who composed and performed before European royalty from the age of 6. By 17, he was a court musician in Salzburg, Austria.

If you want to enthuse children about music and composing, however, try more modern examples of stars who were famous from their youth. Michael Jackson was singing and dancing with his brothers (pictured above) aged 5 and had his first solo number 1 at the age of 13. Stevie Wonder was signed to Motown at only 11; Tori Amos joined the elite Peabody Institute in the US aged 5, although she was expelled at 11; and Bjork studied classical music from the age of 5 and released her first album at 11.

Whatever children's level of skill, these stories will inspire them. But be sure to explain that it was usually love and passion for music that made these children work so hard. Enjoyment should always be the key factor.

Related resources

Deepen your understanding of the issues that young carers face, and learn how to establish a support framework, with this resource pack from the Carers Trust. bit.lysupportingchildcarers

liz_alston2004's poster offers strategies that readers can use to overcome difficulties. bit.lyReadingstrategies

This zoo-related resource from CultureStreet asks students to write and create their own picture books. bit.lyzoobook

Students profile a musical genius in this homework activity from lec211187. bit.lymusicalgenius.

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