Slime time!

By | Education, fun for children, Mental health, Uncategorized | No Comments
by Sharon Me
Creator and Director of Artpod Ltd

Are your children obsessed with Slime? Have they taken over the kitchen with home-made recipes from YouTube, only for you to hear the cries of it didn’t work! Like all good recipes and experiments the devil is in the detail and with a few kitchen ingredients you can have some great fun with your children.

There are several different ways to make Slime, and you can, of course, experiment with using different ingredient sand different amounts to produce varying textures, colours and consistencies.

Here is my favourite Slime to make at home – corn flour Slime also known as Oobleck. This recipe is brilliant for all ages and abilities and is the easiest to make and play with.

• 1 cup of corn flour
• Up to a quarter cup of water
• Plastic sheet to keep your kitchen table free of mess!

Mix the ingredients together adding a small amount of water at a time in a bowl and you’re done! Yes, that’s it! The more water you add the more dribbles you will get and the more corn flour, the thicker the Slime.

This Slime is, in fact, a non newtonian fluid, which means it simply cannot make up its mind as to whether it is a liquid or a solid! A good way to explain this is by showing how different forces work.

Ask your children to try and pick up the Slime in a ball and they will find it is quite tricky to pick up and that it runs through their fingers.

Next, ask them to pick some Slime up and quickly roll it into a ball in their hands really, really fast. The motion and force of the movement will keep it in a ball until they stop rolling, at which point it will trickle through your fingers again. All very messy but great fun!

Experiment with making more Slime by increasing the quantities and your little scientists could even try walking on Oobleck! This time, make the Slime in a large washing up bowl so that it is ankle deep. Use at least two packets of 400g corn flour, add water and mix to the same consistency as before.

Then ask your little scientists to try the following experiment.

Take their shoes
and socks off, roll up trousers or skirts and then challenge them to jump up and down on the Oobleck and see what happens.

It is a good idea to hold their hands at this point as they can get very excited (also put some old towels down in advance to soak up the splashes!)

Your little scientist will find that the force of jumping up and down causes the Slime to become temporarily solid – however, the second they stop jumping they will start to slowly sink into the Oobleck, which usually creates giggles galore!

To escape from the Oobleck, lift one foot up at a time and let the Slime dribble into the bowl before stepping on to the towel and then repeat with the second foot. Again, hold their hands to help them keep their balance.

Glow-in-the-dark Oobleck
If you want to take the science a bit further you may want to try to make glow-in-the-dark Slime – all you need is cheap indian tonic water to replace the regular water in exactly the
same quantities.

Tonic water will fluoresce under ultraviolet light, owing to the presence of quinine. In fact, the sensitivity of quinine to ultraviolet light is such that it will appear visibly fluorescent
in direct sunlight. You can also try making a mini darkroom with a regular pop up tent and a small black light torch or UV torch. This will make your Slime really glow!

Cleaning up afterwards
Remove any large quantities of Slime and put it in the bin.
Any additional splashes on clothes or carpets are best left to dry as the corn flour dries back into a powder and can then be vacuumed up. Then wipe over the surface with cold soapy water.

Sharon Mee is Creator and Director of Artpod Ltd who design and deliver parties, workshops and events for all ages and abilities. Creativity and fun are at the heart of what we do!
We believe in the power of the imagination and experimentation and that through the process of creating something, magical things can happen!

There’s a puncture out there with your name on it!

By | family, Health, Safety, Uncategorized, Winter | No Comments

So said the marketing campaign from Bridgestone at the launch of DriveGuard, their “game changing tyre innovation, which places safety and convenience in every driver’s seat. ”Contentious comment? Yes! Good solution for safer family driving? Read on and find out what we thought…

On average, every driver can expect to have six punctures in their lifetime and 27% of all roadside emergencies are tyre related. And don’t forget, a flat is not just an inconvenience. If a puncture happens rapidly, you have less control, less braking capability and are more susceptible to the prevailing road conditions. If it happens slowly, you may not even be aware you have a puncture for some time. That can affect your fuel consumption, road handling and even braking distances, particularly in wet or icy conditions. That is why all cars made after November 2014 are now required by law to have a Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) built in. There are a variety of systems from the various car manufacturers as well as third party products that can be retro-fi tted to older vehicles, but fundamentally the TPMS alerts the driver that tyre pressure is low and that there may be a problem with one or more of your tyres. Over time, all tyres will lose pressure, including your often forgotten spare, so regularly check and top up your pressures as per your car manufacturers recommended levels. Whether you’re on the school run, driving to work, going home or meeting with friends – there’s never a convenient time for a puncture. In fact, in 23% of cases, punctures happen during the evening or late at night which adds additional stress and anxiety to the situation. Of these, more than 50% happen in inconvenient locations and no driver wants to fi nd themselves stranded, changing their tyre on the side of a busy road, in the dirt, in the rain, in the dark. Particularly if you’ve a young family on board. It’s perhaps no surprise that 72% of women and 33% of men don’t change their own tyre. However, if there’s no cellphone reception to call for assistance – you’re on your own!Where is the spare? Has it any air in it? Is it under all the luggage? Where are the locknut keys? Where is the jack? No wheel spanner! Is that skinny temporary thing really the spare? You fill it with what!?
With over 60% of drivers experiencing a puncture in the last four years – leading to feelings of helplessness and insecurity combined with lost time of up to three hours – the Bridgestone team have comeup with a very, very good answer to the problem. DriveGuard can, in practically all conditions, help prevent accidents resulting from punctures, sudden loss of pressure or other types of tyre damage. It provides a safe and reliable solution, allowing drivers to wipe their hands clean of inconvenient puncture scenarios.So how does it work?
At the moment of puncture, you still have complete control over the vehicle and are made aware of the problem by your PTMS on the dash. You can continue to move with the traffic without immediately having to pull over or risk driving on and shredding the tyre. A flat tyre leads to rubber deformation which generates heat or friction; by using a special patented compound, Bridgestone has created a high-tech cooling fi n design in the sidewall that channels the increased heat from the sidewall towards the rim and thus helps to preserve the tyre.Based on state of the art technology, DriveGuard’s sophisticated tread pattern helps evacuate water to resist hydroplaning, while engineered sipes increase the number of biting edges to enhance wet road traction. As a result, Bridgestone DriveGuard has achieved the highest rating in wet grip performance (EU Tyre Label: A grade) with short braking distances, while offering a level of comfort comparable to conventional tyres, placing it at the frontline of road safety.The new age DriveGuard technology uses a proprietary high-tech cooling fin design as well as supportive and tough reinforced sidewalls which allow drivers to maintain control and continue driving safely and comfortably for 80km at up to 80kmph (50 miles at 50mph) after a puncture; fast enough and long enough to arrive safely at their desired destination or to seek assistance at a convenient service point.We drove a standard saloon car, with a deliberately punctured tyre for over 10km, and it handled just like a normal car. In fact, one of the other review teams managed to have a SECOND puncture during testing, and drove trouble free with both front tyres blown!“Bridgestone DriveGuard empowers you to keep moving and avoid the immediate burden and unsafe circumstances of a fl at tyre; drivers get to choose when and where they have their tyre replaced – within the indicated speed and distance limits. Our revolutionary new technology will considerably contribute to road safety and give drivers additional peace of mind and convenience while on the road,” said Eduardo Minardi, Executive Chairman of Bridgestone EMEA. Bridgestone DriveGuard eliminates the need to carry a spare tyre and is environmentally conscious due to being fully recyclable. That means less weight so less fuel and 20% fewer tyres required per car so less material required.Despite the impressive safety benefi ts and convenience advantages, a full set is only marginally more expensive than any other premium tyres of the same size. Your vehicle will be safer, lighter and have more space on board.So, in our opinion Driveguard offers a major contribution to road safety and all family cars should have them fi tted whenever practically possible!


Pregnancy myths

By | baby health, prenancy, Uncategorized | No Comments

Pregnancy is an exciting time for expectant parents but it can also be a daunting minefield of conflicting professional and personal opinions. As bump grows, mums and dads and grannies and grandpa’s (not to mention colleagues, neighbours and strangers at bus stops) impart their wisdom, asked for or otherwise, and often it is at odds with the midwife’s official guidance.
Spatone natural liquid iron supplement looks at some of these “In my day…” gems of advice to see if any of them still hold true.

Myth 1: How you are ‘carrying’ the baby can tell you the sex.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The shape and height of your bump is determined by your muscle tone, uterine tone, and the position the baby is in, not by the sex. The only way to know is via an ultrasound scan or amniocentesis and even then it is not always possible to be completely sure.

Myth 2: You shouldn’t drink coffee while pregnant.

You don’t need to give up caffeine entirely, the current advice for is to limit yourself to (ACOG 2010, FSA 2008, Jahanfar and Jaafar 2013) 200mg of caffeine a day – this equates to drinking approximately two mugs of tea, two mugs of instant coffee or one mug of filer coffee a day. If your habit exceeds these amounts try a
de-caf version in the afternoons, it may help you sleep better too!
Myth 3: Heartburn means baby has lots of hair.

Heartburn is a common discomfort during pregnancy because your stomach is pushed higher by the growing baby. It is no way an accurate predictor of baby being born with a full head of hair. Lots of women who experience heartburn give birth to bald babies!

Myth 4: You shouldn’t eat smoked salmon when pregnant.

Pregnant women can eat smoked fish and are not advised to avoid it currently. Fish is good for mothers-to-be because it is a good source of many vitamins and minerals, as well as essential omega-3 fatty acids like DHA. There are some types of fish you should limit to two portions a week, this includes oily fish like salmon. There are also fish you should completely avoid like swordfish. The NHS website provides a full list.

Myth 5: You are eating for two.

In the first six months of pregnancy our energy needs do not increase. The average woman of normal weight pre-pregnancy only needs about 200 extra calories per day in her third trimester to promote her baby’s growth. That’s roughly the number of calories in a piece of buttered toast and a banana. Gaining too much weight can result in gestational diabetes and a struggle to lose the weight
post birth so think twice
before eating a double helping of dessert!

Myth 6: Lying or sleeping on your back will hurt the baby.

While you won’t harm your baby if you lie on your back for short periods of time, lying on your back after 16 weeks can be uncomfortable. After 16 weeks it can make you feel faint as the baby presses on major blood vessels. Sleeping on your side might be more comfortable and as your bump gets heavier you might find it better to prop yourself up with pillows so you are almost sitting.

Myth 7: Guinness is a good source of iron.

Mums and nans are forever telling us about the daily dose of stout they consumed during pregnancy because it is a good source of iron and a lot of people still believe this old wives tale. In fact Guinness and similar stouts contains no more iron than standard beer and you would need to drink a whopping 35 pints to get your daily intake of iron. But more importantly, pregnant women should avoid alcohol altogether as not only does it carry an increased risk of miscarriage but may be harmful for the unborn baby.

Lessons for life

By | Education, Uncategorized | No Comments
by Richard Taylor-West
Headmaster, Shoreham College

A few years ago, standing at the back of an assembly hall I heard a former pupil, who was setting up at the time to make a presentation to our pupils, say “Wow, I thought we just did English and maths at school but now I see that we learnt a lot more. And I thought I had learned most of that myself.” This is a true story.

He was commenting on an assembly that had just delivered a package to about 90 pupils of what we in schools call PSHE and its broader cousin SMSC. In other words, Personal Social and Health Education and Spiritual Moral Social and Cultural education.

As a parent, you probably know a bit about PSHE, or have at least heard about it. Your children may have even come home and told you about it. They might have said something along the lines of: “Well, we did this stuff today about eating the right fruit, or whatever…” They might have said: “We looked at managing hazards and risk.” They might have said something more dramatic: “Yeah, we did drugs at school today.” This would have grabbed your attention slightly more, especially if phrased that way. Sessions in SMSC might be described differently:
“Well, we talked today about what is most important to us. Stuff about values.”

There was a time, which I remember as a young teacher, when teaching staff could be overtly cynical about this material. Perhaps I was too, once upon a time. They felt it was just a bolt-on to the real lessons, so to speak. It’s not always easy to get pupils to engage in it either – but then teaching never was straightforward.

Attitudes in schools to this kind of work have changed very positively in recent years and we think that is right. The government, and Justine Greening in particular, is beginning to take this material very seriously too, particularly in the areas of the challenges of the online world, digital safety and the complexities of positive relationships between young people. We are currently getting advice from one of the country’s leading LGBT associations, Allsorts Youth Project, in how we might be able to support all of our young people.

There has been talk that PSHE will become compulsory in schools in the next few years and, as far as our school is concerned, they will be pushing at an open door. We do strongly feel that PSHE and SMSC both generate lessons and materials for the pupils that are superb lessons for life. Our pupils, for instance, learn about budgeting: what is a loan, what are percentage rates, and what is an overdraft? Are short-term loans at 1259% a good idea? I will leave that rhetorically hanging. What does it in fact cost to run a house in Brighton and Hove? An eye opener for some! (And might enable them to appreciate their parents a little more.)

We run sessions from one end of a spectrum to another. We have tutorials on table etiquette (rather quaint you might say) but then again we have programmes that look at the dangerous and corrosive nature of peer pressure and gangs.

One thing you can certainly say is that PSHE and SMSC provide material that is rarely dull. Though the pupils will sometimes say that when asked what they have done at school. ‘Nuffin,’ is what you may hear. I would not believe that, if I were you. In most schools they are doing far from nothing and they are doing all that they can to counter the kind of junk they might be learning online!

There are parents who will perhaps be concerned that we spend too much time in schools looking at this kind of stuff. After all, what’s it got to do with their GCSEs and A-levels? Well quite a lot actually, much research says. According to the PSHE Association, which is currently working closely with the government, it is as clear as this: “We have gathered a wealth of evidence demonstrating that the knowledge, skills and attributes taught within PSHE education have a positive impact in a number of areas, including emotional well-being, academic attainment and preparation for the world of work.”

Sitting at a conference recently, I heard quite a surprising claim: one of the world’s largest online companies no longer looks for ‘straight-A pupils’ any more. What they look for are young people who have strong core values, resilience, are good at relationships, are adaptable and who have a wider sense of the world in which they live. This makes sense to us here and we are committed to delivering the best lessons for life that we can through our PSHE and SMSC programmes to all of our age groups. (We try to get the best grades for them too, of course.)

One of the most frightening things that I was reminded of at the same conference was the famous axiom that the concentration camps built by the Nazis were constructed by the finest engineers in the world. Their maths and physics were superb – but what value systems were they taught? Did they have lessons that countered prejudice and racism? Obviously not. Quite the opposite. Suddenly, PSHE looks more relevant than ever to me.

At our school, our pupils have a range of teaching days and timetabled sessions across juniors and seniors given over to PSHE and it is, along with SMSC, interwoven with form time and assemblies. We aim to cover a wide range of topics including Fundamental British Values – an understanding of democracy and compassion for others, for example – but we also give the pupils access to careers information and ways of considering themselves and their place in the world in terms of relationships. We also have a Leadership and Skills programme that challenges them to learn to face challenges – outdoor expeditions, for example – that take them outside of their comfort zones. We are certainly doing what we can to give them the best possible lessons for life.

Please call 01273 592681 to find out more about what Shoreham College can offer you, or to arrange a personal visit at any time of the school year.

Five favourite toys for under fives

By | family, fun for children, Toys, Uncategorized | No Comments
by Kerin McDonald
Fennies Day Nurseries Ltd

Our five favourite toys for under fives come from a form of play that we use in everyday life at Fennies Nurseries called ‘Loose Parts Theory.’ It is not a newly invented form of play nor are the ‘must have toys’ anything new, but they are all magical and treasured by children and therefore loved by us and by parents. The ‘toys’ don’t have instructions and can be played with on their own or in combination. Better still, they inspire creativity and inventiveness and can be found all around us, in nature and around the home.

1. A stick
What is it about little boys and sticks, or little girls and sticks for that matter? The stick is our number one for good reason. Sticks can become anything from swords to pirate flags to wands, pens and markers. They can be used in high action adventures or to build dens or they can be used for drawing in the dirt or sand, or to practise writing and numbers. A stick can be a boat or a raft and raced under bridges or they can be bridges themselves. Children play with sticks on their own or combine them with other sticks or toys (or with other children). Sticks can be any shape, size and colour and are also super in a great big pile of sticks. Bigger seems to be better although there are no limits to the size of a stick, (other than what can be held, at which point a stick becomes a log.) We have an assortment of smaller sticks adorning our nursery hallways and these are regularly updated for newer and ‘better’ sticks. Best yet, sticks are cost-effective toys and, in this case, they do actually grow on trees.

2. A box
A toy nearly as versatile and valuable as a stick. Boxes come in many different sizes, shapes and colours and can be used indoors and outdoors. Boxes transform into ships, cars, trains or any mode of transport. A box can be a chair, a den or a cave. If a large box is squished on one side it becomes a slide. Boxes can be used on their own or combined to become building blocks, treasure chests or beds and they can become houses and resting places for teddies or dolls. It is no surprise that more often than not, new expensive toys are discarded in favour of the box and wrapping they came in. Boxes come in all shapes and sizes, very large and very small boxes are favoured and boxes with lids stimulate even more imaginative play. You might have to buy something to get a box or you can get boxes free of charge from supermarkets or shops.

3. A cardboard tube
Hours of fun once the paper towels, toilet roll or wrapping paper are used. A cardboard tube brings delight and wonder to children of all ages but especially those under five. Tubes come in a variety of sizes and children adapt their use accordingly. A cardboard tube is most commonly transformed into a telescope or a megaphone, however, it can be as versatile as a stick. Cardboard tubes are not as robust as sticks but they are a more practical choice if being used indoors. Tubes can become tunnels, funnels or slides for other toys. Cardboard tubes are not free, however, you will find that many items around the home have a cardboard tube inside them and once they have been played with over and over and over, a cardboard tube can be recycled.

4. Water
We are not sure if water can really be classified as a toy as it needs a receptacle, however, it is marvellous to play with. Ironically, children don’t always love being in water but they do adore playing with water. Water, requires close supervision but there doesn’t need to be a large amount to excite or inspire. Water can be swished, swirled, splashed, bubbled, spilt or poured. It is a wonderful texture and makes great sounds and movements. Water can also be magically transformed into ice or snow which has infinite possibilities for never ending play.

5. Dirt
Finally, a controversial toy or play thing, yet one with endless play opportunities and with probably the highest success rate with children under five. Dirt is fun and children absolutely love to get messy. Dirt can be dug, spread, piled, heaped and used in all manner of ways that only children understand. Dirt can be found in many different places and if you add water, dirt gets even more exciting as it miraculously changes into mud! Although children love to bring dirt inside, it is really an outside toy especially when combined with other toys or water. Dirt is by its very nature, dirty, but it is easily washed away and it is worth the clean-up for such a wonderful toy.

Kerin McDonald is a mummy of two boys under five and is Head of Marketing for Fennies Day Nurseries Ltd, a group  of ten, family run nurseries across Surrey and South London.
Established 25 years ago, Fennies offers wonderful childcare and learning for children aged three months to five years.

The importance of after-school and holiday clubs

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by Leanne Day
Sussex Multisports
No longer is the Ofsted report and school visit the only consideration for parents when selecting their child’s school, now the importance of extended hours childcare is also very relevant. More and more parents are feeling the pressure of needing to drop their children to school at 8am and pick them up later than 3pm. This is where after-school clubs and school holiday clubs really do play a part. In fact a recent survey by breakfast club provider Kellogg’s found that more that 27% of working parents believe that without access to breakfast and other wrap-around clubs, they or their partner would have to give up work.

Benefits of after-school and holiday clubs
After-school clubs allow children the chance to let off a bit of steam outside the classroom in a safe, stimulating, familiar environment where there is no pressure. Children can benefit emotionally and behaviourally if they feel a positive connection to other people and the relationships that are created between staff and children in an after-school club are based around fun and not just academic qualities. These clubs also give children an opportunity to mingle with others within their school with whom they may not get to interact with during normal school hours. In addition, mixed ages are able to play together, with older children supporting younger ones and siblings being able to play together too. Learning to be open-minded and respectful of others in these environments is key.

Types of after-school and holiday clubs
Team sports – Many after-school clubs focus on a team sport like rugby, football or hockey and are great for keeping your child active but also for learning to work in a team environment and to appreciate others.

Extended learning – Some children may prefer a club that offers a means of extending learning, whether it be maths, drama or learning a musical instrument – these are all great ways to expand their mind.

General after-school clubs – Many schools are now providing a club that allows children to just play in a safe and friendly environment with the people they know. Arts and crafts, computing and other such activities allow children to be relaxed at a time in their day when they would be doing the same or similar activities if they were at home. It is not all about learning new skills and building confidence, just being contented and happy!

Many after-school clubs also offer opportunities not found at home – pool tables, table tennis, role play and so on. The children also learn to independently get their own healthy snacks at the relevant times.

Timing – If children are doing an after-school activity connected to the school, such as choir practice or school sports, they can often still join in with after-school clubs when that activity has finished, with flexible booking times and discounts for siblings.

Homework – Familiar staff are always on hand to provide a safe stimulating environment and if need be, assist with homework or just act as a games partner. For working parents, this guarantees that a familiar person will always be on hand to help with any school queries as well as overseeing pastoral activities.

To grow a young mind you must first plant a seed…

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Children learn from growing things. People of all ages can enjoy gardening, growing and nature, but children in particular will have lots of fun and gain special benefits.

Gardening is educational and develops new skills including:
• Responsibility – from caring for plants
• Understanding – as they learn about cause and effect (for example, plants die without water and weeds compete with plants)
• Self-confidence – from achieving their goals and enjoying the food they have grown
• Love of nature – a chance to learn about the outdoor environment in a safe and pleasant place
• Reasoning and discovery – learning about the science of plants, animals, weather, the environment, nutrition and simple construction
• Physical activity – doing something fun and productive
• Cooperation – including shared play activity and teamwork
• Creativity – finding new and exciting ways to grow food
• Nutrition – learning about where fresh food comes from.

Frightening research, as part of a survey by Unilever, reveals that almost three quarters of children spend less time, on average, outdoors than prisoners! The survey questioned a nationally representative sample of 2,000 parents of five to12 year olds and found 74% of children spent less than 60 minutes playing outside each day. UN guidelines for prisoners require “at least one hour of suitable exercise in the open air daily”.

Parents in the UK are almost twice as likely as the global average to admit that their children spend less than half an hour playing outside per day, while almost one in five said their offspring do not go out at all for recreation on a typical day. British parents also estimated that their children spend 26%, on average, of their free time inside in front of a screen.

We need to help redress this balance and get our children off computers, tablets and phones and get them outdoors, interacting with nature and out in the garden growing, discovering and exploring.

When they are indoors we need to get them off their computers and screens and doing something fun and creative.

Interestingly, the highest sited reason for UK children not going outdoors was the weather. Let’s face it, we don’t always have great weather in the UK – it can be cold, windy and rainy – but on most days it is possible to put on a coat, wellies, hat and gloves and still go outdoors, at least for a little while.

There is certainly no App that can replace the outdoors!

Founder of Willow & Wild Box, Roz Harvey says, “It’s actually really frightening what current research tells us about how little time today’s children spend outside and how we have all become detached from nature and the natural world around us.”

Roz Harvey set up and runs Willow & Wild Box and the School Gardening Programme
Telephone: 01435 408625

A guide to international child relocation

By | family, Legal, Relationships, Uncategorized | No Comments

If following a relationship breakdown you are thinking about relocating abroad with your children, you will need to be aware of the relevant legal rules. You will need specialist advice from a solicitor to help the relocation to take place smoothly. In the excitement of a move abroad, taking legal advice may not be the first thing that comes to mind. However, making sure the legal boxes have been ticked will mean that there are fewer complications following the move, leaving you and your family to enjoy your new home.

When do situations of child relocation arise?
The desire to relocate with children often occurs in international families where one parent is from another country and wishes to return to their home country following a relationship breakdown. This commonly happens when that parent wants to be closer to their family or maybe they have a new job offer abroad. Sometimes the parent has a new partner who lives aboard or they together decide for lifestyle or other reasons that a relocation is the best thing for their new family.

Can I just leave with my children if I want to relocate abroad?
Relocation to outside of England and Wales requires permission of the other parent and anyone else that has parental responsibility (as indeed does a holiday unless there is a relevant Court Order already). Parental responsibility gives a person rights and responsibilities for the children which includes the right to decide whether a relocation takes place. A mother will automatically have parental responsibility. A father will also have it if he meets certain criteria. Sometimes, others may have parental responsibility too, such as grandparents. Your solicitor will check all this for you.

How do I seek permission to relocate with my children?
You can seek permission directly or with the assistance of a solicitor. Seeking specialist legal advice at the earliest possible stage is sensible as your solicitor will provide you with lots of useful advice about how best to increase your chances of gaining permission. At the beginning, you may not want the other parent to know that you have a solicitor. Therefore your solicitor will guide you on how best to ask for permission yourself. It is always a good idea to get the permission in writing and your solicitor will advise you about this.

Relocating with children without the necessary permission is child abduction and this is why it is really important that you have specialist legal advice early.

What do I do if the other parent refuses their permission to the relocation?
Unless some exceptions apply, you would need to attempt mediation with the other parent. Mediation is an alternative way of resolving a dispute without going to Court. An impartial and professionally qualified mediator will assist you to reach a mutually acceptable settlement after exploring the issues around the relocation. Your solicitor can recommend an appropriate mediator and you can continue to consult with your solicitor in between mediation sessions. If mediation is successful and you reach an agreement with the other parent then it will be possible to make that agreement legally binding so that once you have relocated, you cannot be accused of child abduction. If mediation is not successful, your solicitor will advise you about making a Court application for the Court’s permission for the relocation.

Is my Court application to relocate with my children likely to succeed?
The success of your application will depend on very thorough planning. You will need to show the Court that the relocation is in your children’s best interests. Most parents will only be considering relocating if they truly believe it is best for their children. One of the things your solicitor will do to show this to the Court is to prepare extremely detailed written evidence setting out why your relocation is important to your family, how it is in your children’s best interests and how it can work taking into account the practical factors such as the children’s development, schooling, housing needs and contact with the other parent. This is a very involved part of the legal process and you will need to work closely with your solicitor on this.

What happens when I have successfully relocated with my children?
You may have some things to tie up either just before you relocate or shortly after, depending on what the relocation Order specifies. This might be registering the English Order in the country to which you relocate, this can be helpful for both parents. Your solicitor will help you and put you in touch with a lawyer in the other country if needed.

Permission to relocate will give you peace of mind that you have legally done what is needed and so your move cannot be undone.

Mandeep Gill is a specialist Family Law solicitor at Venters Solicitors in Reigate. Mandeep’s particular expertise is in international children cases.
She can be contacted on 01737 229610 or via email,  mandeep.gill@venters or visit www.venters

Maximising family time

By | family, fun for children, Uncategorized | No Comments

Family time is important for your child’s development and happiness. In a world where we’re all so busy with our daily lives and work commitments though, it can sometimes be hard to find time together. This means we need to make sure we’re making the most of the time we do spend together, and make this time valuable and memorable too. So how can we do this? We’ve come up with a number of tip top tips to help.

1. Plan in your ‘dates’
One way of making the most of the time you spend with your child is to set aside perhaps one day a month or one night a week, where you do something you all enjoy together alone. You could go and see a movie, visit the park, or even play in the garden together. Maybe you could even set this time aside and mark the dates on a calendar. This will be a great way of not only remembering when you’ll be together, but also showing your child how much you value the time you have with them.

2. Turn daily tasks into ‘together time’
Are there any jobs you could get your children involved in doing with you, rather than just coming along with you? Do you need to go food shopping maybe? Well, why not turn this into ‘fun’ time and find food together. Need to make dinner? Then involve them in the cooking process. This will also benefit them as they’ll learn cookery skills and get to be creative with food. Doing jobs like this together might be messier and longer, but children should gain happy memories from it and you’ll be making the most of the time together too.

3. Tell a bedtime story
Another great idea is to tell them a story before bedtime. Rather than just saying ‘goodnight’, you could find a book in the library – there are loads of books out there for younger children – or if you’re feeling extra adventurous, why not make one up? That’s always fun! Their imagination will run any way you choose, which is great for their future development.

4. Have dinner together
Instead of eating dinner separately, why not eat at the table all together where everyone interacts? Having dinner together means you can ask
your child questions about their day or what they enjoy – they’ll love the fact you’re taking an interest, and it may teach them valuable social and developmental skills too.

5. Play games together
Instead of mum being in the living room watching television, dad on his laptop in the kitchen and the children in their rooms playing video games, why not turn all this off and have a good family game session and make the most of the time in the house together? It should be really funny, memorable and enjoyable, and whether your family’s favourite is Cluedo, Monopoly or Uno, your children will appreciate the time you spend with them – you also get to have a break from phones and the Internet too!

Kathryn Marchant is a mum of two and Marketing Manager at Novabods, a game that provides fun learning for 5-7 year olds. Kathryn specialises in writing content to support parents and give them helpful hints.

Dealing with our children’s stress

By | children's health, Health, Mental health, Uncategorized | No Comments
by Antonia Beary
Headmistress, Mayfield School

Every other news headline seems to be telling us that our children are stressed and miserable. How can this be when, arguably, there has never been a better time to be alive (at least in the First World)? Our standard of living is higher than ever: what used to be considered luxuries like central heating or television, are now basic necessities. There are many exciting opportunities available for all of us to travel, learn and communicate. But perhaps too much choice is not always a good thing. Perhaps, in working so hard to offer our children the things that we didn’t have, in making things easier for them, we are actually depriving them of more formative experiences.

Now don’t misunderstand me. Undoubtedly there is an ever-increasing range of pressures on young people. Clearly there is pressure to perform in school from an early age and testing is taking an increasingly high profile in a young person’s life. 11+ exams have much to answer for in this respect. They face unrealistically and consistently high expectations of academic achievement, with consequential loss of all sense of perspective. This is exacerbated by relentless, unfiltered exposure to social media and explicit advertising, not to mention – albeit more insidiously – the implicit assumption that any view, and increasingly all choices, are equally valid; resulting in an inevitable undermining or at least confusion over moral values. How can we help them?

Well, don’t expect them to be perfect. Certainly don’t wrap them in cotton wool and try to solve all their problems for them, although conversely don’t entirely cast them off to fend for themselves. Taking responsibility is difficult enough for adults, let alone children, so allowing boys and girls to make potentially life-changing decisions for themselves can be immensely stressful. As parents, our job is to guide and to step in to make those difficult decisions, while teenage brains (let alone their hormones) are in a state of flux. We are able to see the bigger picture. Sometimes we have to be unpopular, but this setting of boundaries is a crucial part of being a parent. While there may be some similarities, the role of parent is far more important than the role of friend.

It’s a difficult line to walk and one that all parents have to accept that they won’t always navigate as effectively as they might hope! Individuals have to make their own mistakes, but they need to be well supported by appropriate pastoral care and firm boundaries. In this respect it is key that schools and parents work together and league tables don’t give you any indication of how well this is done! At our school, we encourage our girls to be independent and to be aspirational, albeit to expect to achieve their goals through hard work. However, managing expectations is important. Mistakes are a vital part of their journey. You can’t always do your best (if you could, it would just become average). Sometimes being just good enough will get you through.

Retaining a sense of perspective is key. A certain amount of stress is normal and, dare I say it, healthy. While undoubtedly the number of individuals coping with mental illness is growing, now that we have a generation which is increasingly confident in talking about mental health issues, the term is being used increasingly loosely. What does “issues with mental health”mean? We are told that most teenage girls are miserable most of the time. That’s certainly not what I see on a daily basis.

We need to realise that not every emotional issue is a threat to mental health. Young people, in particular, get stressed and have periods when they feel low; when they feel overwhelmed by everything from the pressure of school work (yes, A Levels are harder than GCSEs, and rightly so), to the state of the world we live in. Feeling emotional does not mean necessarily that you are struggling with mental health issues – it suggests you are a normal human being in a difficult world. Each individual’s malaise will a take different form. This too is normal: we are not all the same. In fact it’s quite important that children learn how to deal with pressure and manage situations not working out quite as they (or you as parents) might have hoped. What is important is that they develop strategies to cope and do not always feel they have to manage on their own: teachers, family and friends are there to support and help them discern a way through.

This is not to say that individuals don’t suffer serious mental health issues: clinical depression is a serious medical condition which needs to be supported professionally. But we need to have a sense of proportion. There is a difference between bruising your knee and amputation – one is irreparable, but a bruise (much as it may hurt at the time) is part of everyday life. In fact, I would go so far as to say that cuts and bruises cannot be avoided if you are living life to the full and being fully human. We don’t want our young people to be reckless, but we do need them to be able to take risks and even get bored occasionally. Being creative means that they will get things wrong and this can be stressful, but it is not life-threatening. If necessity is the mother of invention, fewer choices and less sense of entitlement might just be the best way to help your children achieve the success they deserve.

Antonia Beary is Headmistress at Mayfield School, a leading Catholic independent boarding and dayschool for girls aged 11 to 18.
She is also currently Chair of CISCand Hon Treasurer of GSA.